The Direction of True Faith

March 1, 2017 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Mark | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

If you are familiar with modern television or movie tropes, then you might call this passage in Mark 6 a “flashback sequence” where we learn what happened to John the Baptist.

For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

Mark 6:20

Herod feared John the Baptist, but not enough to repent and “believe” his message. He had John the Baptist killed for his wife’s sake.

And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath’s sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her.

Mark 6:26

Herod feared God a little, but he feared men more. He loved God’s messenger a little, but he loved himself more. This is unbelief, and this was the first step on the way to the unpardonable sin, which the Jewish leaders committed, and into which they led many of their people. They rejected God (John the Baptist, His prophet). They rejected Jesus, God’s Son (consenting to, and helping to instigate, His Crucifixion). And they blasphemed (rejected, always resisting) the Holy Ghost – God’s final witness – when they stoned Stephen.

Even the Disciples – Jesus’s closest followers – had trouble with unbelief.

And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things. And when the day was now far spent, his disciples came unto him, and said, This is a desert place, and now the time is far passed: Send them away, that they may go into the country round about, and into the villages, and buy themselves bread: for they have nothing to eat.

Mark 6:34-36

Jesus was moved with compassion for people. Do we, as followers of Jesus, have genuine compassion? If we do, we will move toward, not away from, people who are suffering. The Disciples saw only the problem. Seeing only the problem is a symptom of unbelief. Jesus saw the potential. Seeing the potential is evidence of faith. False faith sees only problems for God to solve; true faith sees opportunities to minister IN problems. False faith sees only obstacles to be removed, and calls on God only to move us over, past, or around the obstacles without having to deal with them; true faith sees opportunities to stand on the obstacles and get close to God. True faith calls us to stand on the obstacles and proclaim His worth to others.

And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people.

Mark 6:45

Jesus did not send away people who were needy; He sent away people who were greedy. For His Disciples’ sake, He also He sent them away to help them avoid a false “spiritual high.” We often want the excitement of religion. We call it God “moving” or we say we are “experiencing the presence of God” when things tend to get hyped up and emotional during a corporate worship service, but sometimes the best place to experience the presence of God is alone in a quiet place AFTER serving Him publicly, and with the intention of going back to serve Him again.

And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

Mark 6:46

Jesus, the Divine Servant, came to serve men – but only as He served God. We must never forget why we’re serving others. It’s because we serve HIM.

Opportunities / Obstacles

June 16, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Two Sides to Every Comfort | 14 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Opportunities

Opportunities are a great comfort. Many of us would like to get get a call from someone who says, “Hey, I’ve a got this great opportunity for you!” (Unless it turns out to be Amway.) Advertisers use the enticement, “Stayed tuned for an exciting opportunity!” America has even been called “the land of opportunity.” Opportunities are openings or events where, if you take advantage of a situation, you can really benefit.

God comforts us by giving opportunities. He gave you the opportunity to trust Him and be saved; the opportunity to obey Him in baptism; the opportunity to join a great church; the opportunity for free Bible instruction on Sunday mornings (we call it Sunday School at my church). Life is full of wonderful opportunities given to us by God.

The Bible says that no temptation has taken you but such as is common to man, but God is faithful in that – with every temptation – He has made a way to escape – an opportunity to do what’s right – so that you may be able to bear it and to get the victory over the temptation. That’s very comforting!

But there is a flip side to opportunity:

Obstacles

You’ve probably been there: You get stuck in a traffic jam. You’ve got three choices. You can turn around and go back. You can cheat and drive on the shoulder to the next exit. Or you can wait. I don’t have any advice for you when it comes to traffic jams (the older I get, the more I just decide to stay home), but I do have some advice concerning spiritual obstacles: Wait on the Lord.

The good [man] is perished out of the earth: and [there is] none upright among men: they all lie in wait for blood; they hunt every man his brother with a net.

Micah 7:2

Micah prophesied in a time when nobody was doing what was right. It seemed like everything was working against God’s people. Everywhere they turned, there were obstacles.

That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge [asketh] for a reward; and the great [man], he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up.

Micah 7:3

Sometimes this is how it seems to us. We look to the government for help, but we meet an obstacle. We don’t qualify or we’re left waiting on hold. We go to court, but we find out the law isn’t just. We appeal to wealthy or influential individuals, but they are unwilling to help.

The best of them [is] as a brier: the most upright [is sharper] than a thorn hedge: the day of thy watchmen [and] thy visitation cometh; now shall be their perplexity.

Micah 7:4

We remind ourselves that God will make sure the wicked get what they deserve, and we turn to our close friends.

Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom.

Micah 7:5

But even they are no help.

For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; a man’s enemies [are] the men of his own house.

Micah 7:6

Even your family tuns out to be unreliable! So what do you do? Do you say, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em?” Do you cheat? Go around the obstacles unlawfully? Do you go back? Give up? Do you say, “This can’t be the opportunity I thought God was giving me, because it has turned out to be an insurmountable obstacle?” No.

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.

Micah 7:7

Instead, you wait on the Lord to turn your obstacle into an opportunity. If we are willing to wait upon the Lord, obstacles make great opportunities. When you are prosperous and healthy and well-loved by men, people in general don’t give God glory for that. They think you’re lucky or smart or strong. So, how are we going to give God glory? We are going to praise Him in our obstacles, and treat them like opportunities.

“I know God will deliver me when I’m poor, when I’m sick, when I’ve been betrayed.” That’s what we tell people when they ask us why or how we can be so happy just waiting. Then:

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD [shall be] a light unto me.

Micah 7:8

New lights don’t shine bright in already-existing light. New lights shine bright in the darkness. Now when you are delivered, the heathen and the pagans will know Who gets the credit.

Getting Kicked to the Glory of God

January 8, 2014 at 10:51 am | Posted in Nehemiah | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Book of Nehemiah demonstrates the greatness of God. God chose Nehemiah to do a great work. He didn’t choose him because of his training, background, or aptitude, but Nehemiah did recognize the greatness of God.

And said, I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:

Nehemiah 1:5

And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

Nehemiah 4:14

And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.

Nehemiah 8:6

In Nehemiah God’s people go from great affliction and reproach to great joy.

And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.

Nehemiah 1:3

Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.

Nehemiah 12:43

Difficult situations are opportunities to show God’s greatness. We see obstacles when really they’re great opportunities. Nehemiah could have heard the bad news about Jerusalem, and seen a big problem. Do you look at the seats in your local church and get discouraged about how many are empty? Or do you look at those empty seats and get excited about the great opportunity to see them filled? One of the ways that Nehemiah recognized the greatness of God was not because God made it so that Nehemiah had no problems, but rather because God caused Nehemiah to overcome his problems. If Nehemiah had done it on his own, he would have received the glory, not God.

Some people say, “If God is so great, why is he letting my enemies kick my behind?” They forget that getting your behind kicked means you are walking in the lead. Some of us need to start something for God that’s too big for us to finish on our own – so everyone will know it’s God and not us when it gets accomplished.

Nehemiah recognized the greatness of God because he was attacked by enemies.

Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work.

Nehemiah 2:18 (emphasis added)

That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief. And I sent messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?

Nehemiah 6:2-3

Nehemiah recognized the greatness of God, and this caused him to say, “Oh yes,” instead of “Oh no.” Don’t go down there into the plain of “Ono (Oh no).” If you are doing the work of a great God, you don’t have to compromise with the world to get it done. How do you think those mocking, scorning enemies of God felt when they saw the celebration – even standing on the very wall they had tried to prevent? They felt ashamed, but they must have also thought, “What a great God.”


Entries and comments feeds.