Devotional Guide: Preparing for 9/25/11

In case you did not pick up the new Northlake Devotional Guide or if you just left it about home, here is the devotional exercises for this week as we prepare for Sunday, September 25th – week five in our season of reflection on following Jesus as His apprentices in the Kingdom way of life.

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Meditative Reading: This section is too lengthy for a practice of Sacred Reading (p26).  Read the whole thing once, and then choose either 3:7-19, 3:20-35, 4:1-9, 4:10-25, or 4:26-34 for your time of meditative reading.

(Part 1 and Part 2 can be done on separate days.)


Personal Reflection: When passages are listed, reread that section, and then write out your honest, personal reactions to the questions.

  1. 3:7-19. To be a disciple meant to be sent out to do the very things that Jesus Himself was doing.  This is true today as well.  In what ways is God calling you to carry on the work of Jesus in your own context?
  2.  3:20-35. Jesus again stuns our expectations.  He was called crazy.  He was told He was demon-possessed.  His own family didn’t even understand and support Him.  Do you think we are too comfortable with Jesus?  Do you think if we had fresh ears to hear Him we too might be angry, shocked, annoyed, etc. by Him?  How?
  3. 4:26-34. The Kingdom is seen as something that grows outside of a farmer’s knowledge or control. The Kingdom is seen as something small that takes time to slowly and imperceptibly become a transformative presence.  This was not what his audience (nor His disciples) wanted to hear.  Again, His way frustrates expectations.  How is the Kingdom different from what you want it to be?  How does this hiddenness/smallness of the Kingdom frustrate you?

 COMMUNAL DAY: Conversation Starters

(For discussion with your family, roommates, or a group of friends.)

  1. From your reading and reflections this week, what did God teach you?
  2. In 3:34-35 Jesus redraws the lines on who we belong to and from whom we derive our identity.  How do we cultivate a deeper bond with other disciples than we do with people who we happen to be related to or who have like interests/hobbies/personalities?
  3. 4:19 presents a haunting challenge to what the soil, or heart, of a disciple must be free from if the Kingdom is to grow in their lives.  Does the explanation of the “thorns” resonate with your own life?  In what ways are you seeing these things “choke out” growth in Christ for you?

Prayer of the Week: God, we arrange our lives as best we can to keep you at bay, with our piety, doctrine, worship, morality, and ideologies – safe, virtuous, settled. And then you – your dreams, visions, purposes, commands, and our neighbors.  We find you not at bay but probing, pervading, insisting, demanding.  And we yield, sometimes gladly sometimes resentfully.  We yield because you, beyond us, are our God.  We are your creatures met by your holiness, by your holiness made our true selves. And we yield.  Amen.   ~Walter Brueggemann

Jesus Experiment: (Option 1) When Jesus spoke of the Gospel of the Kingdom, more often than not He told stories.  Mark reveals Jesus in Story.  Spend time writing your own simple parable about the Kingdom.  Share it with others.  Discuss what it reveals about your assumptions about the Kingdom.  Invite conversation to further develop your own understanding. (Option 2) For many, loyalty to family is paramount; it is the core source of identity. Jesus understood allegiance differently.  Examine your allegiances to your country, family, ethnicity, job, social group, etc.  Pray confessionally through each of these that Jesus may be your sole allegiance.

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