April 14 (Palm Sunday)
I Give Up: “Hiding My Faith” – John 12:12
As we reflect on Jesus coming into Jerusalem, his “Triumphal Entry”, there are two things we know for sure - people were praising His name and that in a few days He would have to pay for our sins with His own life. There was no hiding who He was.
Jesus had a way of using every situation to make His love for people and for the Father known. In Mark 12:30-31 Jesus said to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second (greatest commandment) is this: ‘Love y our neighbor as yourself.’” Jesus emulated this in His encounters with people – so much so that He would spend time with the dregs of society. The very least of these He would treat with love and respect. The woman at the well, someone who was ashamed of who she was, is an example of this love. Jesus saw her as who she could be and treated her as such. He taught others to do the same, using the example of the Samaritan – a person despised by the Jews during Biblical times – for doing the right thing. Jesus allowed His faith and the love of His father to shine through on to all who met him.
Jesus was never shy about His faith nor did He hold back His love for other people. This should be the model for us in our own faith. When Jesus rode into town he did not do it in a quiet manner, hiding who He was. He rode in on a colt, a humble King coming to His people. He wanted them to see who He really was, a man of the people who was there to show them the love and forgiveness from the Father.
For modern Christians we may feel the need in some situations to hide our faith. But the model of Jesus says that we should be proud of who we are in Christ. We are to represent ourselves humbly with honor and love for those around us. We need to ‘give up’ trying to hide our faith and be proud of the people God has called us to be and the identity we have as children of God.
Questions to Consider:
I Give Up: “Loving the World” – James 4:4, Romans 12:2
Do you know the Lords prayer? Or could it be that you only think that you do? What we know of as the Lords prayer is one of the shortest recorded prayers that Jesus prayed. John chapter 17 is an entire chapter of the Bible devoted to Jesus praying. In that chapter Jesus talks about you. Yes. Jesus prayed for you specifically.
He said in John 17:9, “I pray for them. I am not praying for the world but for those that you have given me, for they are yours.” He goes further in verse 11: “I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.”
Jesus prayed for your protection 2000 years ago! I hope that you are encouraged by that. He knew there were things that we’d need to be protected from, and one of those things would be the very world we live in!
In verse 14 Jesus says this: “I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.” Have you ever felt like your life is counter-cultural? Does it seem that not everyone gets where you are coming from because you are trying to live a Christian life? That is exactly what Jesus is talking about here. Jesus already knew that the more we would follow him, the more we would actually be hated in the world.
Jesus went on, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus knew that one of the schemes of the evil one would be to entangle you in the world.
This same concept surfaces in one of the parables that Jesus explains in Matthew chapter 13:
20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Do the worries of this life ever seem suffocating? In America, we often pursue wealth ahead of following Jesus. Giving up the world may also mean giving up your focus on wealth and material things.
Questions to Consider:
1.Where in life do I feel (or have I felt) rejected by the world as I seek to follow Christ?
2.What practical disciplines do I need to implement to join in Jesus’ prayer for God to protect me from the schemes of the evil one?
3.What worries in my life am I allowing to “choke the word, making it unfruitful”?
4.What steps can I take toward “giving up” loving the world and all its worries?
Make a list from the questions above and share with a Christian friend, small group, counselor, or pastor for additional insight, support, and accountability.
I Give Up: “Selfishness & Pride” - I John 2:15-17, Jeremiah 9:23, Philippians 2:3-4
It has been said that self-centeredness is the basic cause of much of our distress in life. Many of us suffer from a spiritual nearsightedness. When our interests, our loves, and our energies are too focused on ourselves, we are no good to others. Jesus knew this would be an issue for us and even commanded His disciples to live to serve others rather than to live selfishly. He even told the rich young ruler that “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21). This was to ensure that he would be released from selfishness, and its devastating effect on his life.
Someone once wrote to Billy Graham and asked this question, I remember reading in your column some time ago that you believe pride is responsible for many of the sins we commit. What did you mean by this? I don't see what's wrong with having pride in doing a good job, for instance, do you?
Billy Graham responded, No, it isn't wrong to take "pride in a job well done" -- if by that you mean being satisfied because we have done our best. The Bible says, "it is good and proper for a man ... to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor" (Ecclesiastes 5:18). But this isn't the same as selfish pride -- which is what the Bible condemns. This kind of pride shuts God out of our lives because it makes us believe that we don't need Him. This kind of pride puts self on the throne of our hearts, instead of God. It leads to arrogance because it causes us to think that we are better than others. It blinds us to our own faults and leads to jealousy
and conflict. It also makes us insensitive to the needs of others and causes us to control others instead of loving them. This makes it easy to see why God says, "I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech" (Proverbs 8:13). The Bible also warns us that "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). Be encouraged to not let pride or selfishness keep you from Christ. Be humble at the foot of the cross and be open to Christ’s power in your heart and life.
Additional Scriptures to Study:
Psalm 10:4, Proverbs 11:2, Proverbs 3:7, Ecclesiastes 3:12-13, Exodus 5:2
Questions to Answer Individually:
Questions that Could Be Asked in a Group:
Challenges/Action Steps to Think About for Personal Application:
Selfishness is the attitude of being concerned with one’s own interests above the interests of others and pride leads to an inflated ego. In your prayer time, ask God to reveal to you the ways you have been selfish and prideful. Ask Him to help you overcome these areas.
You have probably heard the saying to “have an attitude of gratitude.” In response to that, make a list of the things you do well and that you are proud of. Take some time to thank God for each of the items on your list and ask Him to use them for His glory.
I Give Up: “The Concept” – Mark 7:1-23 (The Message)
~ Nate Nielson
What is Lent? Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Ash Wednesday is always 46 days before Easter Sunday, which is Sunday, April 21 this year. You may be wondering how Lent can be 40 days if Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter? That is because the Lenten fast does not include Sundays, which are considered feast days (a celebration of the resurrection)—so the six Sundays before Easter are omitted from the 40-day observance of fasting. In many traditions, people give up something tangible for Lent to symbolize Jesus’ sacrifice and to recognize his time in the desert where he was tempted for 40 days. This week we want to explore the question, what if, besides giving up something tangible for Lent – we went deeper?
Questions to Consider:
1. What if what we gave up had a profound effect on our Spiritual Nature?
2. What if we really strove for heart surgery? What if we declared what David did in Psalm 51:16-17 – “You do not delight in sacrifice (or something you’re giving up for Lent), or I would bring it (or do it); you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings (or the giving up of caffeine, swearing or chocolate). My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise!
3. What if we gave up our right to allow sin to remain in our life? What if for Lent this year, we called sin for what it is and gave it up?!
4. What if we obeyed God’s commands in all areas of our lives?
5. What if we thinned out our complex nature, by giving up that which is of the old nature, in order to live under the control of our new Master, Jesus Christ?
Alicia Britt Chole in her Devotional Book, “40 Days of Decrease” says this: “God seems more interested in what we are becoming than in what we are giving up. Faith, in general is less about the sacrifice of stuff and more about the surrender of our souls. Lent, in kind, is less about well-mannered denials and more about thinning our lives in order to thicken our communion with God. Decrease is holy only when its destination is love.”
When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, we show we love Him most by keeping his commandments and “giving up” our old life of sin – when we stop listening to the old master and purpose to listen only to our new master! We are new creations – the old has passed away, the new has come.
Romans 6:1-14 (The Message)