Sunday, May 16, 2021

Bad bread

Matthew 16:5-12 / Mark 8:14-21…

We often make category errors in dealing with God. We are thinking about one thing and Jesus is trying to teach us about another. The physical stuff may seem to be more relevant at the moment, but the spiritual stuff should always be given priority so that both the physical and the spiritual are kept in proper proportion.

We always seem to fret about circumstantial things. We lay all the best plans, but the best laid plans are still in God’s hands. To try and control every situation is to be controlled by every situation. Sometimes it is as if God makes sure we forget something so that He can show up to provide something we didn’t even think of.

Jesus shows us again and again that He will meet our needs. What He wants is for our perception of His provision to be focused on the spiritual. Before we say, “Jesus give me food”, we need to be able to say “Jesus give me faith”. Here is the point: If you put your felt needs first you will be in danger of going after false teaching. What good is it to have all things under control, nice and neat and perfectly suited to our imagined situation, all the while our doctrine is leading us to distraction, deception, and destruction?

It is not right to pit the physical against the spiritual. It is not wrong to be a good steward of our natural things. However, it is not right to allow the physical to obscure our aim for the spiritual. It is not wrong to make sure our proportions and priorities are straight.  

It is better to be hungry and holy than to have a full belly and a hard heart. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Here’s your sign

Matthew 16:1-4 / Mark 8:11-13…

The Pharisees and the Sadducees hated each other, but they hated Jesus worse than that. Hatred makes for strange companions in the fight against truth.  

They asked him to show them a sign from heaven. God had already given plenty of evidence. They had seen Jesus perform many miracles before, but they wanted more. They wanted a sign outside of Him, “from heaven”, as if this would prove the truth that was already evident.  The truth is that belief is not a matter of evidence; it is a matter of the will.

Jesus tells them that they can read the weather, but they can’t read the signs. He had been fulfilling prophecy right before their eyes, but their eyes were willingly blind. Jesus points to His coming resurrection as proof that they weren’t looking for proof. In essence He says there is no reason to show them some other sign, because they had bad motives, and they couldn’t interpret these things anyway.  They were just looking to test Him; they didn’t want to trust Him.

How about you? The Bible gives us many signs along the way, but will we be so blind and dark that we think we don’t need to follow them? Will we then beg for a new sign to redemption road when we are already down on damnation alley? He’s already pointed the way, to both places. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Fasting and food

Matthew 15:32-39 / Mark 8:1-10…

Jesus was once again showing that He was the answer to our needs, no matter who we are. When He had fed the 5000, it was a Jewish crowd. Yet He was in Gentile country when He feeds the 4000. The grace of God is available to all who humbly believe in Him (cf. Isaiah 57:15).

We have been seeing an interwoven intercession as we have been following along these passages. Jesus draws us to Himself. We go to Jesus on behalf of people; we have tenacity in our trust, a fighting faith (Matthew 15:21-28 / Mark 7:24-30). We bring others to Him in our prayers, hoping He will give them a personal word (Mark 7:31-37). We follow Jesus, and as we walk along we sit at His feet, coming to know our mission experientially (Matthew 15:29-31).

Another facet of this intercession is fasting. The crowds had come to see the healings, and now Jesus had compassion even while they had not been complaining. The people were fasting, and then they were fed. We feel Jesus’ compassion for certain people that are without the spiritual food they need, even before they may realize it. Jesus makes the first move of compassion in our hearts, and we fast as empathy and enter into intercession on behalf of people.

Apparently, the disciples were just not able to make the connection between one miracle (feeding of the 5000) and another. Still, He uses them to meet the needs of the people. It is intimate intercession. The people knew it was Jesus doing the miraculous, but it is the disciples who distribute. Jesus doesn’t just meet their need, He exceeds it with abundance. He does the same for us spiritually.  If we spend time with Him we will be spiritually fed and there will be spiritual food left over for us to share with others

Come to Jesus, He will not send you away hungry. He will provide and you will be satisfied, in such a way as to be hungry for more of Him.