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Harder and Harder

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February 2013
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Today’s Bible reading: Leviticus 14:1-57; Mark 6:30-56; Psalm 40:1-10; Proverbs 10:11-12

Chapter 14 in Leviticus covers the process of cleansing someone from a skin disease. Again, the priest is the one who is responsible for conducting the examination of the infected person.

Certainly it was rare for someone to be cured of leprosy. There was no known cure for this disease. Sadly, it is likely this cleansing ceremony was performed very infrequently.

But when a person was cured of this disease it was very much like getting a new life. The person, who was living in isolation, could reenter society. How great that must have felt. Leprosy in the Bible is synonymous with sin. Being cured of leprosy was like being born-again today – having your sins forgiven. What a great experience!

In Mark 6 today the disciples return home after being sent out by Jesus in pairs to cast out evil spirits. They were not allowed to take anything with them. If they were to take anything with them it could give the impression that they had ulterior motives and weren’t 100% dedicated to serving God.

In today’s passage they return home and immediately go off to a place to rest at Jesus’s suggestion. God isn’t a slave driver. He knows we need rest. God expects us to work hard but to also give ourselves some rest. That is why God gave us the Sabbath – a day of rest. Notice that the Sabbath is a gift. It is a gift from God.

But when you travel with Jesus you find that it is difficult to get anytime to yourself. That is precisely what happens in Mark 6:33-34. Even though they all needed some rest, Jesus begins to teach the people because He could see that they were like lost sheep. They needed to hear what He had to say more than He needed rest. When it comes to talking to someone about Jesus we need to follow this example. We may be tired. Or late. But when God presents an opportunity for us to talk to someone about the most important topic in their lives, we should not find any excuse. We need to be willing to sacrifice our comforts and needs for someone else’s greater need.

Its interesting that the disciples, who had been with Jesus for a while, and were in His presence right then, did not think of asking Jesus to provide for the people when it got late (Mark 6:35). They saw a human solution – tell the people to leave so they can get something for themselves to eat. They didn’t seem to think of a divine solution even though they were in the presence of God Himself.

Isn’t that they way we approach problems? We try to come up with all kinds of ways to solve something. And we can come up with some decent ideas. But the solution that God can provide will always be better. The tricky part is remembering to stop thinking about how we can solve the problem in our own strength and instead ask God to provide a solution using His greater wisdom and strength. In this story today we see that God provided more food per person than anyone of them could have purchased on their own. God is willing, and able, to provide more abundantly than we can imagine. He loves to give to His children.

After a long day, including a delay in the rest He was seeking, Jesus goes off to pray by Himself. This is a good example. Despite being exhausted, He prayed. Fatigue didn’t drive Him from prayer. It drove Him to prayer. So often I am tired at the end of the day and don’t bother having prayer time with God. But that is the time I need it most. When we are tired, hungry, angry, etc. we are most susceptible to sinful thoughts and behavior. That is the time when we most need to force ourselves to converse with God.

The incident in the boat in Mark 6:48-51 is just like life. We work harder and harder getting nowhere through our own efforts. But when Jesus comes on the scene, the obstacles vanish and He takes over and gets us where we need to go. We just have to let Him climb aboard our boat. Notice Jesus says to them “Don’t be afraid. Take courage! I am here”. We have nothing to fear when Jesus is part of our lives. Easier said than done, I know. But it is truth and is something we all need to learn.

One of the most difficult things for us to do is to wait patiently. But God moves at His own pace. That is not to say that His pace is wrong. It isn’t. It is our expectations and impatience that is wrong. When we wait patiently, as David did in Psalm 40:1, God will respond. He will rescue us and bring peace to our lives.

What a great truth we read about in Proverbs 10:12 today. “Love makes up for all offenses”. The most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten son. So that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life”. How many of us have offended God? All of us. Yet, God still loves us. His love is more powerful than our sin. His love is more powerful than our offenses.

No matter what you’ve done God loves you. He could never love you less. He could never love you more.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post


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