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Christian Living

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Grin and Grow with Kathy 04/08/20

Counting on Jesus

If I replace my gray concerns with a focus on Jesus, I color my day with beautiful hues.

STORY: Concerns of COVID-19 Lead to Renewed Focus

As I write this Grin & Grow with Kathy article, talk of COVID-19 and pandemic restrictions have overshadowed all else. This series is studying the word first, and encouraging each of us to keep first things first. But if I’m being honest, the first thing on my mind when I wake is of our current state of emergency. Even though that is the case, I have a choice for what comes second. If I replace my gray concerns with a focus on Jesus, I color my day with beautiful hues.

Pretty much everything distracts me from keeping my gaze on God. My only remedy is to truly focus on Christ. Not just "mean to" but with strong intention. When that happens, everything else fades away. But of course, I'm human, and that strong intention doesn't last forever. I have to renew it over and over and over again. So in this study of first, know that it also needs to be second, and third, and all day. 1.2.3. Counting on Jesus—just like the shampoo instructions to rinse and repeat.

STUDY: Getting to Jesus First

After they arrived at Capernaum and settled in a house, Jesus asked his disciples, “What were you discussing out on the road?” But they didn’t answer, because they had been arguing about which of them was the greatest. He sat down, called the twelve disciples over to him, and said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:33–35 NLT)
  • When was the last time you wondered how you measured up with someone else? Did you feel a sense of competition or comparison? What did your concerns tell your mind and heart, as you pondered how someone else ranked you in value? Did it matter more if the one doing the perceived judging was someone who mattered more to you?
  • How will you be a servant to others? How can you remove a self-focus when the news is all about self-preservation? In today’s situation, what will esteem you as “first” in the eyes of Jesus?

After Jesus rose from the dead early on Sunday morning, the first person who saw him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went to the disciples, who were grieving and weeping, and told them what had happened. (Mark 16:9-10 NLT)

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (John 20:1-4 NLT)

  • Imagine the scene unfolding in your mind. Who was the one who saw the risen Savior first?
  • When Mary Magdalene told the disciples, they ran to the tomb. Who reached the tomb first?
  • Think about the time when you first came to Jesus.
Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said. Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:41-48 NLT)
  • The word “first” used here is regarding the actions a sinful woman took to anoint Jesus from the time he first entered this home. Jesus uses it to teach a lesson. What is it?
  • Who loves Jesus more?
  • Whose sins are forgiven?
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. (Colossians 1:6 NLT)
  • How does the Good News bear fruit?
  • How does the Good News change lives?

STEPS: One, Two, Three

  1. Replace. With COVID-19, all of us are more aware of world news than maybe ever before. Allow God to take your concerns and replace them with the fact that the same Good News that changed your life is still going out all over the world, almost 2,000 years after it first launched.
  2. Rehearse. Think about the time you first heard about God’s wonderful grace. How did it change your life? Your attitudes? Your actions?
  3. Refocus. Think of the simple numbers. 1. 2. 3. When your world gets out of focus, repeat the numbers and put Jesus first.

Copyright © 2020 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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