Archives For STRONG Challenge-STUDY

…by Amanda Huber

Today’s reading is the resurrection! Hurrah! I’m placing myself at the tomb as Mary Magdalene. I’m running to get help and returning to see the angels and then Jesus. My Jesus. The words he said were true. I’m seeing it with my own eyes. I’m talking to Jesus after I witnessed him die on the cross. And he is back. He has risen from the dead and is about to ascend to Heaven to be with his Father: Our God. I’m speechless. I’m pinching myself awake from what I think is a dream. I’m anxious to run and tell everyone what I just witnessed. If only they had seen it with me!

 

It comes easy for me to believe. Faith has always been something that I haven’t questioned since I accepted the Lord into my heart. I’m not a “how it works” type of thinker. I appreciate that things work but I really don’t question how. I do however have a lot of relationships with people who question everything. Believing doesn’t come easy to them. They want the facts. They don’t want to be tricked or fooled. Mary Magdalene got to witness the facts first hand and I’m envious. There is no question or hesitation when sharing the news. There is no frustration that I feel when I don’t have the first hand knowledge to share other than my personal experiences which so many people tend to chalk up to coincidence or good luck. I don’t believe in coincidences or luck. I believe in my God. I believe that my God cares so much about me that he aligns up experiences in my life. Some to bless me and my family, some to make me think deeper about things or gain a different perspective, and sometimes, I think God aligns things up in my life just to get me to smile. That’s the God I love.

 

I know life is hard for so many. Life is hard for me too at times. But we Christians have an amazing advantage: the Holy Spirit. It never leaves us. The Holy Spirit is there to help you make decisions, guide you, mentor you, pray when you can’t find the words, and even help you write a blog. Our God is always there. And I’m so very thankful.

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…by Rebekah Jackson

I can’t imagine a darker day.

I can’t even begin to try and feel the emotions Jesus’ followers felt the day they watched Him die.
The Jews had waited generations for their Messiah to come.  Just a few short days ago, they cried, “Hosanna!”  as they welcomed their King to Jerusalem. Now they watched him hang on a cross, between two criminals. He died a death that lacked any bit of honor or respect.

I remember the first time I considered this part of the story as a mother; the first time I thought about Mary, who knew before anyone else that the Messiah was coming.  She was there, watching her first born, Savior-son being beaten and hung on a cross.  She mourned not only as a believing Jew, but as a mother. Where was the hope?  Where were the promises kept?  Where was the life He claimed to have?

I enjoy the stories that make me feel good.  But if I was Mary, John, Peter, any one of Jesus’ followers, I wouldn’t be able to find anything good in this story.  They had put all of their hope in Him, in His reign, and that was coming to an end just as soon as it had begun.  He was leaving them.  Alone.

Alone.  That is a feeling I know.
I had a solid group of friends when I was in high school.  Actually, most of them had been my friends my whole life.  We had grown up together and been part of each other’s lives since before kindergarten.  They were my life.  Even more than my parents and brother and sisters, they were my family.  When things were rough at home, I ran to them.  They loved me, they knew me, they saved me.
And then, just when I needed them the most, they weren’t there.  Every bit of hope I had placed in them, every ounce of trust I had to give was shattered and I was left alone.  Completely alone and lost.  The future was darkness.  I didn’t know where I was going, who was going to help me, how things would ever turn around.

That must be how they felt.  But even more so.  I longed for friends and felt I had none.  They longed for a Savior and watched as He left them in death.

Hope had come to the Jews and now it simply hung dead on a cross.

I know the rest of the story.  I know what happens in just a few short days.  But for now, I’ll consider the hopelessness of Christ’s death so that I can even more fully know the victory in His life.

…by Amanda Huber

Reading John 18, I really connected with this scripture. I’ve been done wrong. Who hasn’t? I have had friends that totally bailed on me, stabbed me in the back and just sat there acting like they didn’t even know me when people were talking poorly about me. I have been accused of things I haven’t done and I have felt helpless about numerous situations in my life. You know who else experienced all of these things and in this chapter of the Bible alone? Jesus! The SON OF GOD! Who am I to think “oh no you didn’t” when even JESUS was treated this way?

 

But Jesus did it right. He always did. He was accountable when the authorities came looking for him. He didn’t let his friends get involved. He knew what he had to do and he did it. “Do you think for a minute I’m not going to drink this cup the Father gave me?” (JOHN 18:11) I certainly didn’t respond that way in my experiences.

 

One of my most dear passages of this chapter is when Jesus is being questioned whether he is the King of Jews by Pilate, the Roman Governor. Jesus responds that he is “not the world’s kind of king” (JOHN 18:36). Pilate asks, “So, are you a king or not?” Jesus answered, “You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice” (JOHN 18:37). Pilate then leaves Jesus and returns to the Jews. Pilate states that he sees no reason to execute Jesus and requests pardoning him in honor of the Passover (which is the Jews’ custom). The Jews didn’t want this. They wanted our Jesus dead.

 

Jesus knew what God had in store for him. He didn’t want to be betrayed and persecuted but he knew that God’s will for his life here on earth was better than anything he could do on his own. He was brought here to earth for a reason. Jesus was brought here to be human. To experience the junk we experience. To be hurt and angry and sad. To be relatable. But mostly, Jesus was brought here to be our role model. To handle these situations with accountability, trust in God, and prayer-filled peace. We should all strive to be not this world’s kind of person. Be different. Be Godly. Be an example of truth.

 

My stuff was completely trivial – whereas Jesus went on to make the ultimate sacrifice. Willingly.

What do you pray for?

Do you pray for your family, health, others’ health, to find someone?

 

I pray for lots of different things.  Mostly for myself, I think occasionally for others, and less occasionally for big things happening in the world (not the model of Jesus’ prayer I know).  I know people pray for family members, big decisions, when tough times come, or when we’re thankful.

So we pray for lots of things…what does Jesus pray for?

 

He prays for us.  That jolts me.

 

One of the things that He prays for that I didn’t appreciate at first but have grown to feel is one of the most important things is for us to be unified.

He prays that “they might be one…so that the world will believe that You have sent Me.”  As we work together and are unified, the world sees Christ.  Makes total sense when I think about it because seeing Christians fight (not be unified) is about the most disillusioning experience a prebeliever can have.

 

Tonight I pray that we would be one.  That I would be able to assume the best, forgive when needed, ask for forgiveness, and serve those around me.

 

I love how God’s Word jolts and resets me.

Enjoy reading,