“Thy Will” vs. “My Will” – Praying Like Jesus

“Thy Will” vs. “My Will” – Praying Like Jesus

“Thy Will” vs. “My Will”

Praying Like Jesus

By Sherry Thomas and Bethany Lockett

In the early years of my marriage, conflict was frequent. Something as inconsequential as which direction the forks were placed in the dishwasher would result in a serious argument.

I would pray over our disagreements, often asking God to help my husband see that I was right. “Lord, please change my husband.” My heart attitude toward prayer was about controlling my circumstances and proving that I really had my family’s best interest at heart.

As time went on, I just felt more overwhelmed. This finally forced me to see past the immediate circumstances and change the way I prayed. In desperation, I began to pray, “Lord, please change me.”

In Matthew, we get a peek into Jesus’ understanding and practice of prayer. 

Jesus’ prayer life is shockingly different from that of the Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day. Although they were commended by others for their beautiful, passionate, and public prayers, Jesus denounced them for praying only to receive the admiration of others in Matthew 6.  

His rebukes came to fulfillment in Matthew 23, known as the passage of the “Seven Woes on the Teachers of the Law and the Pharisees.” Jesus did not hold back on His opinion of their practices, saying “You snakes! You brood of vipers.” He condemned them for being like a cup which is cleaned only on the outside and a tomb, which looks beautiful and white but is full of death on the inside.  

Jesus was less concerned with the method of their prayer (both private and public prayers are appropriate) and more concerned with their motivation. He criticized their self-focused approach, believing “righteous” actions could control their own hearts and circumstances. 

In contrast, Scripture tells us Jesus routinely woke up early in the morning to pray. He also prayed after full days of serving and teaching, during times of severe trial, and throughout the day to give thanks. His prayers expressed and empowered His desire to submit to the Father completely.    

Jesus introduced the true motivation for prayer in the first section of “The Lord’s Prayer” and modeled its impact throughout His life and ministry.  

A model of motivation

Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be thy name – Matthew 6:9

There should always be a direct correlation between the One receiving our prayers and what we say. While my name does not actually hint at my character or attributes, every single one of God’s names declares who He is.

So, how does the name you use for God affect your prayers?   

In this prayer, Jesus taught the people to acknowledge: 

  1. God is Father (the Good Father loves you)  
  2. He is in Heaven (He has unlimited resources)  
  3. His name is Holy (He is the only One worthy of worship)  

Acknowledging different attributes or qualities of God tends to change the tone of our prayers, rearrange priorities, and sometimes change requests altogether. At times it can prevent us from asking God for something that is contrary to His nature. 

There are many names for God throughout the Bible. Jesus frequently used the name “Father” (Greek: Patḗr or Aramaic: Abba). Similarly in the Old Testament, there are many names for God that reveal His character. In the Psalms He is called El Shaddai (meaning Lord God Almighty) or Jehovah Jireh (The Lord will provide).  

One of my favorite names for God is “El Roi” (The God who sees me). He is the God who clearly sees me and chose to love me anyway. With my focus on El Roi, I confidently approach Him for daily guidance and in times of struggle.  

These contemplations in prayer release me from the fear of failure and feelings of insecurity. They remind me to submit my desires and my life to Him because He is good, and His ways are perfect. 

When we remember God’s attributes and His names, we adopt an attitude of worship within our prayers. By remembering His character, God ultimately works to re-shape our own. 

Positioning our hearts

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10

While it’s tempting to assume Jesus lived a perfect life solely because He is fully God, we must remember He became man and was tempted and struggled just like we do. His temptations, pains, and trials were no less severe than ours – the difference was He was determined and intentional in accomplishing God’s will. He always sought unity with the Father, and He accomplished this through prayer. 

We have to ask ourselves, are we praying to prove we are right or to manipulate God into seeing our way? Or are we ready to be changed by God and submit to His will over our own?  

In the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night Jesus sought His Father in severe distress, Jesus asked for an alternative solution to the cross. Three times He asked to avoid the wrath of God; however, each time He asked, He also reaffirmed His commitment to do the will of His Father. With those prayers, Jesus walked confidently to the cross, and three days later walked victoriously away from the grave. Jesus illustrated that submission to the Father’s will is rewarded with peace that far outweighs our pain. The same is true for us. While circumstances don’t always change, anxiety can be replaced with peace. 

In our vulnerable moments, God welcomes our cries and tears. And when we offer those requests with a heart of submission, God gives us the peace and strength to endure our circumstances. Surrounded by betrayal and insults, Christ walked to the cross with peace and resolution. Through His sacrifice, we too can face the trials of this world with courage when we submit to the will of our Heavenly Father in prayer.   

As I reflect on our marriage, I see the ways the Lord has drawn me closer to Him. He used Bible Study Fellowship to help me understand that His Word was a far better guide than my feelings, experience, or worldly wisdom. I realized that I had to let go of my need to control every situation and submit to God’s will for our lives. Today, our marriage is stronger, and we continue to see the deep impact of diligent prayer in every area of our lives. 

Sherry Thomas

Guest Contributor

Sherry Thomas was a child when she believed in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ, but it was as an adult that she understood the importance of growing in her relationship with Him through Bible study and prayer. She joined Bible Study Fellowship more than 10 years ago after the Lord called her out of a corporate job to become a stay-at-home mom. Sherry is happily married to her husband Jacob, who was an International Controller for Bible Study Fellowship. Today, Sherry homeschools their five children and the whole family participates in BSF classes in Lubbock, TX. She also enjoys serving in women’s and young adult ministries in their community.

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Sharing the Easter Story

Sharing the Easter Story

Sharing the Easter Story

The Easter story is troubling and thrilling. Jesus willingly submitted himself to betrayal and beatings, accusations and arrest, contempt and crucifixion and ultimately death. He could have stopped it, but He did not. Why? Because God himself, in the person of Jesus, was making the salvation of sinful people (you and me) possible. The Easter story is a story of deliverance, hope and restoration. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus teaches us that God can bring beauty from brokenness because He is making all things new.

This Easter, encourage family and friends with the truths of the Easter story. This resource is a place to begin.

Read the Story

Easter accounts are found in Matthew 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, and John 18-20. Click on the text below to read scripture references to share the Easter story. For those with young children, consider using a children’s Bible for support. 

The Arrest - Read the Passage

Mark 14:32-50

They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. The men seized Jesus and arrested him. Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” Then everyone deserted him and fled.


The Trial - Read the Passage

Mark 14:53 – 15:15

They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

“Crucify him!” they shouted.

“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Crucifixion - Read the Passage

Mark 15:16-32

The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.

And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the Jews.

They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!

Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.


Jesus' Death - Read the Passage

Mark 15:33-41

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, He’s calling Elijah.”

Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Noe leave Him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take Him down,” he said. 

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how He died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joseph, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.


Jesus' Burial - Read the Passage

Mark 15:42-47

The Burial of Jesus

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead. Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died. When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph. So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock. Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where he was laid.


The Resurrection - Read the Passage

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.

His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.

The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Ideas for Digging Deeper


Begin by identifying confusing words or phrases. Define those words, discuss confusing concepts, then ask “What would you like to know more about?” Using your Bible and notes from the Matthew study, look for the answers together. Share your favorite part of the Easter story, then ask your friend or family member to share theirs and explain why. 

Find the Attributes of God: Challenge your children, friends, or family members to find the attributes of God that are displayed in the Easter story. For younger children, list those that are relevant and put them into a basket. Have each child choose an attribute to define and find in the story. 

Discuss the Secular versus Christian View: Talk about the differences between how the secular world views and celebrates Easter versus how and why Christians celebrate Easter.


Bring the Easter story to life by inviting your children or friends to get creative! Start by discussing ideas about how they can express their thoughts about what Jesus did. They may want to create a poem or song, paint a picture, draw, make a video, or simply write a letter to God.

Make a Family Video: Record a 30-second video of your family telling the Easter story in a quick, fun, and creative way. Use music, props, or costumes as desired. Then send it to some friends or family members who will enjoy it or who need to hear the true Easter story.

Send Homemade Cards: Make Jesus-themed cards or crafts, and send them to elderly relatives or residents of a local nursing home who are currently unable to receive visitors.


Through prayer, the gift of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice becomes personal. Ask non-Christian family members or friends if you can pray for them. Make a list of their prayer requests, and commit to pray for each one. A week or two later, follow up with those people to see how they are and get an update regarding their request.

Post a list: Write a list of people you know who need to hear about Jesus, make copies, and post them on your most-used mirrors around the house. Encourage everyone to pray for those people each time they look in the mirror.

Play a gratitude game and end with prayer: Share your gratitude through a game (similar to the “I’m Going on a Picnic” game). The first person says something like, “I am thankful for Jesus.” The second person says, “I am thankful for Jesus and that He died on the cross.” The third person says, “I am thankful for Jesus, that He died on the cross, and that He rose again,” and so on. See how many things you can add to the list. If you have younger children, help with the repetition part. Once the game ends, express your gratitude to the Lord in prayer. 

Prayer Prompts for children: Teach your children how to pray with three simple prompts.

God, you are: Use the attributes they learned in the discus activity.
I am: This is a chance to talk about why Jesus had to die. (Our sin)
Please: Because Jesus died, He made it possible for us to ask God for anything.


Listen and sing along to a variety of styles and genres: worship songs, hymns (both old and new), children’s music, and even classical music such as songs from Handel’s Messiah. For inspiration, check out BSF’s Easter playlist on Spotify.

Make your own music: If any family members have musical talent, play live Easter music. For younger children, create your own instruments or use pots and pans as drums to make a joyful (noisy) noise to the Lord. 

Share songs from the past: Pull out old CDs, cassette tapes, or vinyl records that contain songs about Easter or related themes. Introduce your children to not only the music but also the singers and bands you enjoyed listening to as a child, teenager, or young adult. (Of course, you can probably find most of those songs on a streaming service, but that’s not nearly as fun!)

Create your own playlist: Help your child set up an Easter playlist on your mobile device and play it throughout the day. Or ask friends to contribute theirs, then make a shared playlist

Gather through video: Invite your extended family and friends to join you in an online video chat and sing together. Consider appointing one person to be the conductor as you join in a disjointed praise to the Lord.

How do you share the Easter story?

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Grief, Guilt, and God’s Goodness

Grief, Guilt, and God’s Goodness

Grief, Guilt and God’s Goodness

Discovering God’s comfort through a lifetime of grief

By Bethany Lockett – BSF Editorial Assistant

After decades of grief and pain, Sandy Stubbs finally felt ready to share her story. During last year’s BSF Share Day, Sandy walked to the microphone, took a deep breath, and gestured to the road behind the church where her class gathered.   

“You know that (traffic) light up there?” she began. “That light was put there because of my child’s death.”  

As she recounted her sorrow, Sandy also reflected on God’s abounding love as He continued to give her peace and hope in her darkest moments. 

But, as she would soon learn, her story was not over. God would miraculously extend His comfort once again. This time, through an unknown connection to a listening BSFer. 

Walking with grief 

Forty-six years earlier, Sandy woke up in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. Unable to move and in immense pain, Sandy sobbed. 

Earlier that day, while driving with her 5-year-old son, David, Sandy’s car was struck by a drunken driver. When she regained consciousness after the accident, she was told that a nurse had already taken her son to the hospital. She assumed he was mostly unharmed.   

In the ambulance, Sandy kept herself awake by imagining doctors rolling her past her young, scared child in the hospital. She planned to tell him everything was going to be all right.  

But when they arrived, Sandy discovered that her son had been taken to a different hospital and his injuries were extensive.

David died later that night.

Days later, as she lay in her hospital bed, Sandy wondered, “What kind of world is this if cruel people are allowed to live and little David, who could not even make an angry face … this innocent child … had been taken? How can there be a God?” 

Through her pain, Sandy cried out to God. All she could manage was to say “God if you’re real and if you’re there, help!”

She described a sudden feeling that a “10-gallon bucket of peace” was dumped on her head, covering her completely and providing instant comfort. After this experience, Sandy and her husband, David, accepted the gospel and clung to the comfort that they would see their son again in Heaven.

After Sandy recovered, she and her husband had three more children. They celebrated birthdays, Christmases, and school graduations. Life seemed hopeful.

But their journey of grief was not over.

As Sandy’s daughter grew into a young adult, she began to abuse drugs. Sandy prayed persistently and shared her faith.

Tragically, Sandy’s daughter died at the age of 21. 

The couple was devastated. Once again, they found themselves mourning the loss of a beloved child. 

As Sandy and her husband sorted through their daughter’s belongings, they discovered a journal with a small cross. The journal included Scripture, a plan of salvation and these simple words:

“If you think it’s funny that I have this cross, know this … I belong to Jesus.”

Once again, Sandy experienced God’s gracious comfort that she would see her child again.

Living with guilt

Although she held to this hope, Sandy continued to be overwhelmed by guilt and grief. She felt like a failure as a mother. She even called herself a “50 percenter,” because in her mind she had only been able to keep half of her children alive.

Although she had never spoken about her feelings to anyone else, Sandy shared her struggle with a dear friend. Together, they prayed for Sandy’s freedom from guilt.

“That night when I went to bed, I was awakened by this thought; I know it came from God. It was, ‘Sandy, what do you want for your children? What is your heart’s desire for your children?’”

“And I said, ‘God, I want them to worship you and serve you. I want their lives to glorify you.’ It was like He spoke to me and said, ‘Well, 50 percent of them are here with me right now, in person, glorifying me. It’s the other two you’ve got to worry about.’” 

Sandy realized she was a 50 percenter — she’d just been focusing on the wrong 50 percent!  

Reborn in grace

As Sandy stood before her BSF class less than a year ago, sharing her story, she talked not only about losing her son and mourning her daughter. She also shared about God’s enduring faithfulness and her deliverance from guilt.  

Finally, Sandy felt free.

But her story was still not over.

As she collected her belongings, a fellow BSFer approached. 

The woman asked, “Did anyone ever tell you that a nurse picked up your son and took him to the hospital?”

Sandy recounted how the hope of David’s survival had kept her alive in those moments.

Locking eyes, the woman said, “I am that nurse.” 

For the first time, Sandy learned that 46 years ago this woman had driven by the accident and stopped to respond. She was not only a nurse, but the head of her trauma department. A bystander with a connection to the city government ordered a police escort to the hospital at the nurse’s request. David arrived at the hospital before Sandy was transported from the scene of the accident.

“God in His mercy gave my child absolutely the best care on his way to Heaven,” Sandy said. “There I was, still in the car, and my child was already being cared for.”

“I’m telling you God has given me every opportunity to be comforted. I mean He has [been there] in the strife and heartache and trouble and trial. How can anyone doubt a God who sends a police escort to the hospital?”

“God is good. He is pure good.” 

God’s goodness

Through our own suffering, we can relate to the pain of sin and death in this life. We grieve losses, experience doubt, struggle with guilt, and wonder whether God is really good after all. Even as we recount Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension in Matthew 26-28, we so often identify with the sorrow and suffering of the crucifixion and lose sight of the victory of Christ’s resurrection.

But, like Sandy, we trust that God is listening to our cries for help. In our moments of sorrow, we know the story is not complete. Will you allow God to bring you unexpected comfort today? Will you ask him to be present with you in your darkest moments?

“God is good. He is pure good.” 

Bethany Lockett

Editorial Assistant

Bethany Lockett is an editorial assistant at Bible Study Fellowship Headquarters. She is a third generation BSF-er and native Texan. She joined BSF after graduating from Wheaton College where she studied spiritual discipleship in a digital world.

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The Power of Humility

The Power of Humility

The Power of Humility

How Jesus transforms our view of status in Matthew 18

By Karen McNary – BSF Director of Global Cultural Engagement and Community 

I was about 10 years old when I had my eyes examined for the first time. I was able to function in school and sports activities, but slowly, and over time, my eyesight worsened. I didn’t notice my faulty vision, but my parents could see the difference. 

I’ll never forget how surprised and excited I was the first time I put on my new glasses. Before glasses, I only saw a plain brown door. Now I saw a brown door with beautifully textured wood grain. Trees that looked like a large green mass became beautiful, filled with unique, individually shaped leaves. Until my eye exam and glasses, I didn’t realize how incomplete my view of the world was and how much more there was to be seen. 

I needed a doctor and a diagnosis to see clearly. I needed the truth. I needed a solution.  

Like a doctor diagnosing a patient, Jesus is faithful to correct our spiritual vision. For the early Church, He spoke directly to their view of others. But Jesus doesn’t simply diagnose a problem. He offers a new view.  

Shifting Focus

For those who lived in the ancient near East, status was extremely important. Through the early Church’s cultural lens, social or political status determined greatness. Those associated with rank and position were revered. When disciples asked Jesus, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” in Matthew 18:1, they were seeking a path to position, focusing on the value of their status among men.  

But Jesus offered a different view.  

Rather than defining greatness by the standards the disciples would have expected — accomplishments, reputation, and high rank — Jesus challenged them to view status through a biblical lens.  

In Matthew 18:3-4, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” 

This teaching is true for us today. 

How we see and relate to each other must not be based on man-made systems. Instead, Jesus encourages us to view ourselves as little children.    

To become childlike, as Jesus said, is to view ourselves through eternal reality. Like children, we are helpless. The depth of our disobedience strips away our man-made, earthly status, leaving us equal under the weight of sin. Wealth and position can’t cover our trespasses. But through the sacrifice of our Savior, we find hope. Through Christ alone, we become children of God. Instead of striving for status, we can simply be grateful. Through this new view, we see serving as a privilege. We are just as honored to share in His sufferings as His blessings.  

Childlike humility can also be seen when we renounce any notions of self-importance. When we look through Jesus’ lens, we see no second-class citizenship based on ethnicity, no world ranking designation based on economics, nor a caste system that views some as superior based on birth. In Christ, all have the same status — daughter, son, friend, valued and greatly loved by a great God. 

Seeing through Jesus’ lens leads to being other centered, not causing others to stumble, and actively seeking the good of those who are vastly different. At the foot of the One who is righteous, we should be happy to surrender our right to be right.

Humility for The World to See

What influence for Christ could we have if the unbelieving world saw diverse believers relate to each other in this way?  

How can we begin to let go of our incomplete vision and put on the “glasses” of childlike humility?  

  • Accept entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven: Everybody enters the community in the same way — by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus. All who believe in Him have access to the Holy Spirit for guidance, wisdom, and understanding of His Word. Only in Christ can we have corrected vision. The path is narrow, but open to all.

  • Allow God’s Word to examine you: How we approach God’s Word – either as a window examining others or as a mirror examining ourselves – matters. God’s Word encourages, equips, and uplifts, but  it also rebukes, corrects, and trains in righteousness. We need the whole counsel of God to be conformed to His image. 
    • Adjust behaviors based on God’s Word: God’s Word is meant to be lived, not just learned. We can trust the power of His Spirit to help see and live in a way that magnifies Him, matures us both individually and collectively, while also setting us apart from the rest of the world.  

    As cultures around us continue to become more chaotic and controversial, may we see clearly as Jesus sees, through a biblical lens, and live as He did in humility, forgiveness, and graciousness to enemies as well as friends.  

    Karen McNary

    Director of Global Cultural Engagement and Community 

    Karen served as a Children’s Leader, Substitute Teaching Leader, Teaching Leader, Area Personnel and most recently as a Skills Coach for BSF prior to joining the staff in April 2021. She is originally from Louisville, Ky. and for the past 20 years has called  Charlotte, NC home.  She has been married to her husband, Keith, for  27 years, and together they parent three three young adult sons who attended the BSF School Program for many years.


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    Pray for Christians in Nigeria

    Pray for Christians in Nigeria

    Bearing Persecution with Joy

    How to Pray for Christians in Nigeria

    By Bennett Rolan – BSF Editorial Manager

    Halfway through his morning commute, Luka’s senses are on alert. As he walks through the streets of Jos, Nigeria, Luka scans his surroundings for subtle changes. Even a slight shift in the mood or crowd could indicate immediate danger. 

    Luka’s path to work leads him directly through a Muslim neighborhood. Years ago, he was simply unwelcome here, but today, he is targeted. As a Christian, the days of unrest in the middle belt” of Nigeria have turned into a real risk of persecution.

    While statistics remain unclear, reports estimate that an average of 17 Nigerian Christians were killed per day in 2021. Thousands of school children have been abducted and held for ransom. Rural villages are targeted and burned, resulting in mass killings. In a January 11 attack, 100 homes were burned to the ground and 18 people were killed, including an 18-month-old child. 

    Once I start the journey from my house, I rely on the voice of the Spirit to help me know if there is danger,” he said. I have to know what is happening in front and behind. Once I sense something is not normal, I have to turn around.” 

    As a long-time BSF Teaching Leader, Luka finds confidence in God’s promises, balancing wisdom and faith. 

    God’s grace is sufficient for us in all things and at all times and in all circumstances,” he shared. God’s presence has been a great encouragement. Knowing that what we are passing through is because we bear His name, we can continually go through persecution with joy and that is a blessing. Persecution is scriptural, it is prophesied, and it is fulfilled because God said we shall suffer when we follow in Jesus’ footsteps.” 

    Nigeria is divided religiously, about half of the population identifies as Muslim, while the other half are Christians. Most of the Muslim population lives in the north, while the Christian population mainly resides in the south. In the early 2000s, unrest began to rise throughout the nation because of the emergence of Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and the Fulani militia. 

    Christian massacres were formerly relegated to rural villages, especially in the northern part of the country, but the wave of persecution is moving southward. Located in the center of the country, the Christians in Jos are now experiencing increased abduction and economic oppression.  

    Currently, there is kidnapping everywhere,” Luka said. Christians are the major target.” 

    Hope in the Darkness

    In the wake of increased violence, Luka considered suspending BSF meetings for safety, but class members were determined to meet. The group changed their class time so members could return home during daylight. 

    This has not deterred our members from coming to class. I discovered something about our class members, the more there is attack and insecurity, the closer they grow to God. One thing I learned about BSF members is that they are willing to die for Christ,” Luka said. There was a crisis in Jos two days before our meeting and I was thinking about stopping the class. That meeting we had the best attendance. They don’t want to miss a class because of what God is doing.” 

    As the class continues to study Matthew, Jesus’ teachings encourage those in their darkest moments. Finding hope through the compassion and miracles of Christ gives them confidence to cling to God’s Truth. Exploring Jesus’ fortitude when faced with the cross, and the joy of His resurrection, brings Philippians 1:21 to life — to live is Christ and to die is gain.” 

    A Call to Pray and Remember

    For each of us, the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria reminds us that our days are not our own. Jesus doesn’t promise us safety or comfort. He doesn’t guarantee that our lives will be long. But Matthew 28:20b promises that He will go with us as we walk in faith. 

    In the places where there is no persecution, I pray you will use the privilege God has given to you,” Luka shared. Walk in evangelism, walk in witness, walk in Christ, so we can turn the whole world to Him. We are very needful of the prayers of believers all over the world. While we are passing through this time of persecution, we feel your prayers through the Spirit. It is our joy that you are praying.” 

    Together, let us pray for the perseverance of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Let us always remember their suffering and find hope in their joy. Bound by Christ in His Spirit, may we Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” (Matthew 28:19)

    Bennett Rolan

    BSF Editorial Manager

    Bennett joined the BSF staff in 2017 after working for several publications, Christian ministries and non-profits. She loves to combine her passion for God’s Word and her journalism background to share stories of God’s Work in and through BSF. As a wife to a busy college football coach and a mom to four young children, BSF studies keep her relationship with the Lord grounded and focused. She loves to learn from fellow believers as God faithfully grows her each day.


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    What is your greatest work?

    What is your greatest work?

    Our Greatest Work

    Exploring Jesus’ Mission in Matthew 14

    By Joy Dahl – Guest Contributor

    As we emerge from a long season of uncertainty and isolation, many of us still struggle with ongoing challenges and lingering questions: 

    How do you feel about the future? 

    How do we find re-energizing purpose in our everyday life, regardless of circumstances?  

    Matthew 14 shares the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000. This is the only miracle besides Christ’s resurrection recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; John 6:1-15), so it represents a pivotal event in the lives of Jesus and His disciples. The crowd is numbered at 5,000 men plus women and children, leading some scholars to estimate that the total crowd could have numbered 20,000 people or more.  

    Imagine yourself in the story. Who do you relate to in the passage?

    If you were there that day, would you be in the crowd running to meet Jesus? Would you be the young boy with five loaves and two fish (John 6:9)? While we often focus on the actions of Jesus or the crowd, God also gives us insight through the disciples themselves.  

    Jesus’ Mission

    Mark and Luke tell us that sometime before this day, Jesus had sent out the 12 disciples, two-by-two on a short-term mission trip. Jesus sent them with no money, no food, and no supplies to surrounding towns with His authority to preach repentance, drive out evil spirits, and heal the sick. 

    While the disciples were gone, Jesus learned that Herod had beheaded John the Baptist . As Jesus mourned His cousin, the disciples returned and excitedly reported all they had done and taught. Jesus then shepherded the small group to a solitary place where they could spend quality time together.

    But God had a divine appointment for Jesus and the disciples on the other side of the sea.

    Crowds amassed and Jesus’ compassion poured out through a long day of healing and teaching. The context leaves us to wonder, what were the disciples doing? Were they sitting at Jesus’ feet learning and getting equipped for future ministry? Were they focused on crowd control? Were they stealing away to nap after the “mountaintop high” of their amazing yet exhausting short-term mission trip?

    None of the accounts tells us for sure, but as the day neared an end the disciples encouraged Jesus to send the crowd away so the people could find something to eat.

    And Jesus shocked His closest friends by saying, “You give them something to eat.”

    The disciples had nothing to give. Fresh off their breadless, moneyless, supply-less mission trip, they could not provide for themselves, much less for this enormous crowd. What could they offer? All they could do was bring to Jesus one young boy’s five small loaves of bread and two small fish.

    Jesus worshiped God the Father, giving thanks for the provision and the miracle about to unfold. Then He took the five loaves and broke them in half. Creating 12 small offerings (10 bread and two fish), He gave one to each disciple to pass out. The disciples took their one piece and went into the crowd, working as the hands and feet of Christ among the people. 

    And after all, 20,000 had eaten and were completely satisfied, 12 basketfuls of leftovers remained: One basketful for each disciple to carry in awe as they celebrated the miracle in which they had just participated.  

    This long day concluded with an act of undeniable proof of Christ’s sovereignty and His desire for the disciples to carry out His mission. Their mundane act of service transformed into great work for the glory of God.  

    Our Response

    As Christ’s disciples today, we too are called, equipped, and invited to join His work in the world in our everyday workplace mission fields. We are: 

    • Called to walk with Jesus day-by-day and be transformed in His likeness by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. 
    • Equipped with “loaves and fish” – our gifts, talents, experiences, resources, positions, and circles of influence that we receive and then offer back to Him through our work and service.  
    • Sent with Christ’s authority to join the good works He has prepared specifically for each of us to do (Ephesians 2:10). 

    Friends, all of us are created in the image of God, who works. And all of us work, regardless of the type of work and whether or not we’re paid for our work. Jesus invites all believers to live as His disciples and to work as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:17–20) – right where He has strategically placed each one of us in this season.

    As you look forward, consider this: What provision of “loaves and fish” has God entrusted to you?

    Make a list of gifts, talents, experience, resources, and positions you have. Prayerfully ask Jesus how you can work as His hands and feet in your everyday circles, distributing your “loaves and fish” for His glory. This is our greatest work! Let’s join with Jesus and praise Him each step of the way. Let’s joyfully carry the overflowing basketfuls of blessings which display His continued love, care, and compassion for the lost and hurting people in our world.

    Dr. Joy Dahl

    Guest Contributor

    Dr. Joy Dahl is executive director of Polished, a network designed to gather working women to navigate the workplace and explore faith together. Dr. Dahl, a speaker, blogger, and Bible teacher, earned her doctorate at Dallas Theological Seminary.


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