The Chosen – Book Three – Day 32

Day 32

LOAVES AND FISH

Part 1

“And Jesus said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:31-34)

The disciples were genuinely depleted of their resources. They had just returned from their first preaching/healing/traveling tour, which would’ve been totally exhausting (Mark 6:7-13). No doubt they were physically spent since they had walked everywhere-which means their feet probably hurt (think first-century sandals on rocky terrain) and they were sleep deprived (think new bed in every new town and no beds in some towns). They were likely mentally and emotionally spent too, since Jesus hadn’t allowed them any provisions for the journey, not even an extra tunic (think no suitcases, no wallets, no resources of any kind). Not to mention that ministering to hurting people every day would’ve been plain hard. While God was faithful and all their needs were met, the experience was a lot to process.

They needed a break and Jesus knew it, which is why He invited them to rest.

Except they didn’t get to because thousands of people showed up.

With news of the supernatural spreading fast, the people of the city recognized Jesus and the disciples and followed them to the desolate place. What a disappointment that mustive been: to expect rest and be greeted instead by “sheep without a shepherd.” Oh, the sheer chaos in that place as men, women, and children clamored to hear, see, and be seen-every one of them with their own burdens, wounds, skepticism, and curiosity. And Jesus had compassion on them. After all, He knew God would continue to provide the strength and energy he and His followers would need to help the hurting masses.

Incidentally, sheep are needy by nature; without a shepherd, they don’t last very long. In Jesus’ day, shepherds worked and slept outdoors, moving their flocks to cooler pastures when the sun threatened to kill them from heat exhaustion. They sheltered them in caves to protect them from hyenas and jackals. They remained hyper-vigilant to keep them from falling into ravines and crevasses. It was difficult and relentless work. And here in front of Jesus were people he likened to sheep:  dying from the heat exhaustion of Rome’s oppressive taxation and brutality, their souls led astray by hyenas and jackals dressed as false teachers, frequently falling into the ravines and crevasses of tribalism and division, untended to in a valley of fear, shadow, and death.

The need was great, but Jesus was about to lean in.As for the disciples? Not so much. They were tired and also wide-eyed. Because not only do we human quickly forget what God has accomplished in us and through us (think super recent healing/preaching/traveling tour), we also tend to think the problems in front of us are someone else’s to solve.

And that’s a big problem.

PRAYER FOCUS

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:1-4, 6)

MOVING FORWARD

  • Are you or have you ever been profoundly tired (physically, spiritually, emotionally)?
  • How has God been faithful to meet your needs and to also invite you to rest?
  • Where do you see great need around you? Where do you see sheep without a shepherd?

 

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Daily Scripture Series – Feb. 1st

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

We may have experienced troubled relationships that lhat left us feeling wary-or even afraid-of trusting someone’s promise of love. We may even feel this way about God’s love, wondering where the catch is. There is, however, no catch. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

God has proven His love because of our sinful state separated us from God, He reached out to us by giving Jesus to die on our behalf. Because of this, our sins are forgiven, and we can look forward to eternity with Him.

Whenever we wonder whether we can truly trust God’s love, let’s remember what Christ did for us on the cross. We can trust His promises of love, knowing that He’s faithful.

Daily Questions

  1. When or why have you found it difficult to trust God’s love?
  2. How can knowing Jesus died for you change your response?

Daily Thoughts

Dear Jesus, thank You for the great love You showed us by dying for us. Let Your love change us, heal us, direct our relationships.

Romans 5:6-8

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Bonus Information

Reconciliation restores those who’ve been alienated. paul uses the word recocile more than any other New Testament author, often multiple times in a passage; for example, he uses it three times in Romans 5:10-11. He also uses it in Romans 11:15, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, and 1 Corinthians 7:11 (related to human reconciliation).

Today’s passage highlights the necessity of Jesus’ death for our reconciliation to God. But that isn’t the end. Our reconciliation through His death leads to our salvation through His life. Paul writes, “How much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!” (Romans 5:10). Notice that there are two different tenses used: we have been reconciled and we shall be saved. Paul says that both the death of Jesus and His resurrected life are necessary to our salvation.

 

 

The Chosen – Book Three – Day 31

Day 31

UNBELIEF

“‘Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without horror, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.’ And he could do not mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.” (Mark 6:3-6)

Crowds far and wide were astonished by Jesus’ ability to heal (Matthew 9:32-33, 25:30-31; Luke 8:25, 13:17). They were captivated by the deeply knowledgeable, inexplicably wise, and otherworldly manner in which He spoke (Matthew 7:28-29; Mark 1:21-22, 6:2; John 7:15). But when He returned in His hometown of Galilee, no amount of the miraculous could persuade the people He was anything more than a carpenter’s son.

And Jesus marveled at their unbelief.

It’s hard to imagine doing anything grand enough to make God-in-the-flesh marvel, but the people’s stubborn resistance to having their minds changed did exactly that. The thing is, we read our Bibles and harshly judge the men and women who got it wrong, but we’re all far better at unbelief than we are at belief. We’re quick to resis and slow to surrender. We want more proof, more persuasion, more of our personal expectations met. We withhold faith as though God needs to do more before we’ll accept what He’s already done.

I wonder how often we make Him marvel.

The people in Jesus’ day expected the Messiah to be kingly and powerful and way more impressive than He was. And their unmet expectations led to their unbelief. The people in our day have specific expectations of God too, but the Creator doesn’t owe more to His creation than every gracious thing. He’s already put on display. “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So (the people) are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Because of His kindness and love, God is patient when we struggle through matters of faith. He knows unmet expectations can be painful, confusing, and even derailing for a time. His heart is soft toward us, not wanting anyone to perish in unbelief (2 Peter 3:9), which is why He gives us every opportunity to believe. It’s why He put His power and character on display for all to see through creation itself and then by entering into that creation through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Indeed, we’ve been given every opportunity to believe. But make no mistake; God sees our hardness of heart and our stubborn resistance to having our minds changed. Like the people in Jesus’ hometown of Galilee, if we persist in our unbelief, it will be King Jesus Himself who ultimately holds us accountable for it.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

PRAYER FOCUS

Confess the ways you struggle with unbelief. Of course, God already knows what’s in your mind and heart, but saying things out loud to Him in prayer helps you actually deal with them. Ask God to increase your faith and grow your understanding of what’s true. Thank Him for being patient, loving, and merciful toward His creation, and for giving you every opportunity to know Him and believe in Him.

MOVING FORWARD

  • In what ways are you struggling with unbelief?
  • Read Romans 1:20 and 2:14-15. Underline in your Bible how creation as well as your own conscience bears witness to who God is.
  • How has God proved Himself to you in the past? How should remembering those things impact the way you’re currently struggling to believe that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do?

 

Daily Scripture Series – Jan. 31st

“Blessed is the one…who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-2)

Those who meditate on the Scriptures are “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season” (Psalm 1:3). Just as a tree’s roots reach down into the soil to find the source of refreshment, people who truly believe in and love God will root themselves deeply in Scripture and find the strength they need.

Submitting ourselves to His wisdom will keep our foundations embedded in Him; we won’t be “like chaff that the wind blows away”. When we ponder what God has given to us in the Bible, we gain nourishment that can lead to our bearing fruit that lasts.

Daily Questions

  1. How does the Bible provide a foundation for the way you live?
  2. What can help you meditate on Scripture throughout the day?

Daily Thoughts

Loving God, You’ve given us the gift of Your words in the Bible. Help us to treasure them with gratitude and wonder.

Psalm 1

Blessed is the one wh does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lrod, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither-whatever they do prospers.

Not so wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Bonus Information

Psalm 1 introduces the reader to the whole book of Psalms. It sets up the theme of God’s instruction (“law” or “torah), and it anticipates the twofold path before those who read or hear the Psalms: choose faithfulness to God and find life or choose wickedness and find judgment.

The two themes of righteousness and wickedness will unfold throughout the book. Some psalms explore the trustworthiness of God (Psalm 25), while others wrestle with how hard it is to trust Him when the wicked seem to win (Psalm 73). And the longest song of all, Psalm 119, explores the life-changing power of the words of God.

When we read the Psalms, we join believers in God throughout the ages in ascribing to Him glory, expressing our trust and doubts, and clinging to His promise that He’ll save His people.