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?

 

 

Advertisement

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?

 

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?