The Chosen – Book Three – Day 34

Day 34

LOAVES AND FISH

Part 3

“Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.” (Mark 6:39-44)

The people were satisfied-which isn’t something we hear very often because we humans rarely are. Not only did Jesus turn five loaves and two fish into a meal for thousands, but there were also twelve baskets of leftovers-one for every disciple to fill up, stare at, and wonder why he never doubted Jesus in the first place. By this point they’d experienced so many miracles, they should’ve considered the problem an opportunity for Jesus to do another awesome thing. Unfortunately, the disciples were too much like us: often full of confusion, fear, and doubt.

Alas, we’re so slow to learn. In spite of the disciples’ cluelessness, the people were fed and the baskets were full-and we all get to benefit from the story, because the truth is, our lives would radically change if our perspective on God’s generous provision would change.

If only we believed the Bible when it says He pours out blessings on His children.

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” (Malachi 3;10)

If only we understood that, for those who follow Jesus, God’s provision is continual and bountiful and soul-satisfying.

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

If only we truly comprehended His grace and what it has accomplished on our behalf.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Bless the disciples’ hearts. It would take a few more years and about fourteen more chapters in the Gospel of Mark for the early followers of Jesus to really get it. To understand that no matter the circumstances, God’s faithfulness to provide would prevail. Thankfully, in the end they got it, and it enabled them to go into all the world proclaiming the truth about Jesus, even unto death (Mark 16:14-20). They’d seen and experienced too much to do anything other than lean in, offer their loaves and fish, and trust that the same One who fed the masses would generously provide all things.

And He did.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

PRAYER FOCUS

Acknowledge that God has the power to do all things. Thank Him that He promises to satisfy the needs of His children and ask for help to believe Him. Pray for opportunities to share the good news of Jesus with those who are lost, trusting that God will provide the words, time, and resources required. Thank Him for allowing you to be part of His great work.

MOVING FORWARD

  • Do you believe that God generously provides for those who follow Jesus? Why or why not?
  • What’s the difference between having everything you want and being satisfied?
  • Read 2 Corinthians 9:8. What is the natural result of God’s abundant provision?

 

 

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The Chosen – Book Three – Day 33

Day 33

LOAVES AND FISH

Part 2

“And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, ‘This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered them, ‘You give them something to eat.’ And they said to him, ‘Shall we go and buy two hundred denaril worth of bread and give it to them to eat?’ And he said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’ And when they had found out, they said, ‘Five, and two fish.'” (Mark 6:35-38)

“You give them something to eat. You. These people that I love are not someone else’s problem. I have, in fact, made them your problem.” Ok, that’s not a direct quote, but you get the idea because Jesus had actually created the circumstances the disciples now found themselves in. After all, He was the one who talked for a really long time in a desolate place-too long, actually, because now the crowd was hungry, and the hour was late.

Of course, it wasn’t in the disciples’ power or pocketbook to feed so many. For goodness’ sake, they’d just come back from the mission field where all their needs had to be met by God because they had nothing. And He often used other people to provide. “Jesus charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff-no bread, no bag, no money in their belts-but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there.'” (Mark 6:8-10).

So, different scenario, same God. The One now telling the disciples to feed the people was the same One who told them to take nothing on their journey because He was going to provide in their moments of need, be it food and shelter through the hospitality of others or through straight-up miracles. And big things happened as a result. “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:12-13).

Here they were in need again, only this time they were the hosts, and they were flummoxed. How could that be? These guys had just been empowered by Jesus to heal in His name when He wasn’t even with them. Yet not one of them considered that He was the solution to the food crisis. Listen closely and you just might hear faint knocking on hollow heads because, honestly, they should’ve known better.

Perhaps being exhausted made them forget. Or perhaps every new situation requires a refresher course in faith. Either way, Jesus was patient with their sarcastic question (Shall we go and buy two hundred denarri worth of bread and give it to them to eat?) and posed one of His own: “How many loaves do you have?” In other words, “The people in front of you are in need, and you have access to the One who (1) loves them, and (2) has power to do all things. So, bring Me what you have: your small-but-growing faith and a little boy’s lunch (John 6:9), because provision originates and abounds from My hands.”

Spoiler alert. Everyone got fed that day and it was the disciples who handed it out. Jesus didn’t make food appear in people’s laps (although He easily could have). Instead, He enlisted His followers to help. What a gift that was, not only for the hungry crowd, but also for the men who got to lean in and see a whole new kind of miracle, as well as people dearly loved by God being satisfied and forever changed.

But more on that in a minute.

PRAYER FOCUS

Thank God for being the great provider. Thank Him for the specific ways He’s caring for you now. Bring Him any need that has caused you to feel overwhelmed or afraid. Ask Him to take your little offering of faith and to use you to care for others in need.

MOVING FORWARD

  • What is your greatest need right now?
  • What are some needs around you that God wants you to lean into? If you don’t know, ask Him to show you.
  • What are some things God has already provided you with (money, time, talent, influence, etc.) that you could offer up to be used by Him?

 

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?

 

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.