Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lessons from the Loaves {Mark 8:1-9}

Jesus had great compassion on the Gentiles; and the Jews, including His disciples, just couldn't understand this because they had always been taught that the Gentiles were nothing more than worthless dogs.
This miracle {The Feeding of the 4 Thousand+} mustn't be confused with the former Feeding of the 5 Thousand+ miracle in Mark 6. These are two entirely different feedings. They were to a different crowd and had different purposes. The first crowd had been mostly Jews but this crowed was mostly Gentiles. The first miracle ended with 12 small lunch pails, if you will, of leftovers. This time there was 7 large baskets full of the leftover scraps. 
1.) The Captivated Crowd (v.1)
"In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat..."
These pagan people were so enthralled with Jesus Christ that they came from far away to go see and hear from Him in the wilderness, listening to all He had to say for three days, forgetting their need to eat because they were so drawn to the Son of God.
These are pagans and they are sacrificing their comforts because they are so captivated with Him. We are the children of God, certainly not pagans, and yet how seldom are we so entirely captivated with Christ that we do not think about eating, drinking, and how far we have to travel to hear the Word of God preached!
2.) The Compassion of Christ (v.2)
"I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:"
Though this was a crowd of pagans, Christ felt for them and wanted to supply even their simplest need to eat. These were Gentiles who knew little or nothing of His commandments but Christ had compassion deep in His heart for them. This was a lesson for His apostles to not ignore people simply because they are ignorant about the decrees of God. He wanted them to know that mercy, grace, love, and compassion are attributes of Himself that He desires us to imitate.
"He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion." ~Psalm 111:4
"Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." ~Micah 7:18-19
"It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness." ~Lamentations 3:22-23
com-: with, together
-passion: to suffer, feel deeply
So Christ suffers and feels deeply with us! Those that the multitude looked on with pride and disdain, He looked on with humility and felt compassion in His heart.
Our God sees our physical and spiritual weaknesses and He immediately feels for us. That is our God and that should be us towards our brethren: friends and enemies.

3.) The Callused Disciples (v.4)
"And His disciples answered Him, 'From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?'"
Jesus had just recently feed a large crowd miraculously. They had already beheld His power and compassion. And yet they looked right at Him and asked how they could possibly satisfy this crowd's hunger. They should've known that He was willing and able to do what He had already done before. How could they be so blind?! That's a good question. Why are we so blind?! Why do we doubt God even when we have experienced and seen such great displays of His miraculous grace in our own and other's lives?
4.) The Commanding Lord (vs.5-9)
"And He asked them, How many loaves have ye?" And they said, Seven." v.5
a. How many loaves? 
This is almost humorous. It's as if He's saying, "Here we go again...Ok guys, we had 5 loaves last time when I miraculously fed a large crowd, how many do we have this time?" He doesn't need them to tell Him that because He, being omniscient  already knows how many loaves there are. He was only reminding them of how little they had and how powerful He is. Who is sufficient to do such great things? Only Christ.
b. Sit down.
"And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground:..." v.6
The people were to be passive and He would be active. The people were not synergistic partners in this miracle. They were to sit in a submissive position and receive from Christ. 
c. From His hands
"...and He took the seven loaves,..." v.6
Christ asks His disciples to give Him the loaves. Everything must be put into His hands. Nothing will be blessed or increased until it rests in His palms. They have and He took. This is a picture of Christ making us willing in the day of His power to release our grip, give everything to Him and let Him do the rest.
d. He gives thanks.
"...and gave thanks..." v.6
This teaches us that, no matter how small a thing, we should give thanks. It is all of Him and He deserves all our praise and gratitude.
"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." ~1 Thessalonians 5:18
"Better is little with fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble therewith." ~Proverbs 15:16
e. He broke the loaves
"...and brake,..." v.6
He broke once and kept on giving. He did not break these small biscuits into 4 thousand+ little pieces so that each person could have a crumb to put to their tongue. He was creating a feast from nothing. And so it was out of the fullness of Himself that He satisfied them. He is God. Only He can do this. Every person needs a miracle of grace to do away with humanity's greatest common problem: sin. And God is the only way to supply this need and the only One to perform this miracle.
f. Jesus involved the disciples.
"...and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people." v.6
He gave them the job of distributing the results of the miracles from His hands. He could've easily made it fly over to these people or immediately fill their bellies with this bread and fish. But He desired for His disciples to be apart of the delivery. He did not require them to cook or prepare -- He only needed them to deliver what He had already made perfectly. It is not our job to spice up God's message. We should humbly and thankfully give it to hungry souls straight from His hands.
g. They ate and were filled.
"So they did eat, and were filled:" v.8
He gave them a meal that they would never forget. Not necessarily because it  was the most delicious thing they had ever eaten, though it may have been. But because He satisfied their hunger like no one ever had or ever could. We all have a gaping void in our souls and we can attempt to fill it with anything in this world and it will never satisfy. In fact, it will only widen the void. But just a taste of Christ and that void will be filled to overflowing for all eternity!
h. Baskets of leftovers
"...and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets."
Even when we have exhausted ourselves serving the Lord and delivering His message to hungry souls until they are more than satisfied -- there will still be a full storehouse left to give from. We cannot exhaust the goodness of and blessings of God. He will always have baskets full even after the feast.
i. He dismissed the crowd.
"And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away."
This seems like an impossible task to ask a multitude who have just feasted from the hand of the Son of God to leave. But nothing is impossible for Jehovah. With a word, He caused this multitude to obey Him.

And so they were filled. Christ had felt deeply for their needs and He did not stop until He had perfectly satisfied their needs. 
"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." ~Philippians 4:19
"Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." ~James 1:17
"But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." ~Romans 5:8
"Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people." ~Hebrews 2:17 

It is one thing to satisfy a crowd's 3 day hunger. It is quite another things to sacrificially atone for the sins of a whole host of sinners. And yet He is all-sufficient for both. Only One can satisfy thousands of hungry stomachs at once and thousands of hungry souls as well. And His name is Jesus Christ. He is the Bread of Life.


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Poem about...

Not even a pin drop or whisper.
Just a hollow dull hush surrounded by
White walls and empty halls.
It’s deafening itself to not hear a thing,
Not the slightest hum or ring.
No voice to break the nothingness
All is blank and quietness.

My own voice cries out in the midst
But it seems to bounce off the blanks and disappear
As if there was no one to hear
Or worse yet, I fear,
That this silence must mean
He doesn’t care anymore.

But I know that can’t be true
Because He said, “I will never leave you
Or forsake” and that’s a promise
That He did make for times
Like these when everything feels
Empty and deserted.

So since He isn’t answering me
And I know He continues to hear and see
Because He is not indifferent
But compassionate, He must be choosing
To hesitate to teach me
Something large and great.

Dear God, is it the white spaces that
Give the world its meaning? Is that
What I should be gleaning from this test?
Because now that I think about it,

The blank page is what prepares the writer to start
To pour out the feelings caught up in their heart.
And the pauses in a song
Are what takes each note and beat
And turns them into something complete
And we call it music.
Otherwise it would run together
And just be noise to us.
Is that it Jesus?

Do You want me to see
That it is the empty spaces on the wall
That makes those paintings in
The artist’s hall stand out?
For surely if they were all fused into one
It would just be colors and confusion.

Are you silent to let me ponder on
The promises you have already given?
Is that what I’ve been missing and postponing
In the midst of all my whining and moaning
And giving up on You?

Lord, teach me in the silent times,
While I’m surrounded by white blanks,
To pour out my heart in praises,
Gratitude and thanks.
Make my heart stronger,
Deepen my weak faith, lift up my head
And let me feed on more than bread,
Instead let it be all the precious words You have said.

Let me get more out of it than
Assuming Your cruelty or neglect to me.
Try my soul in the fire of

©Allix Brunson 8/6/11

This poem was inspired by excerpts from this sermon my pastor preached last Sunday.