Have you ever been in a situation where you’ve tried every alternative, exhausted every option, and overturned every stone until there is nothing left but to cry out to Jesus?
At one point or another, we all encounter a set of circumstances that will utterly exhaust our personal strength and resources so that there is nothing left to do but come to Jesus.
Thankfully, He is willing to be our last resort. But even though we know He is gracious and kind, we still hesitate coming to Him at times. When desperation overrules hesitation and we are finally face to face with Jesus, what will we find? Anger, frustration and disappointment, or compassion, mercy, and grace?
In Mark 5:21-43, we encounter two daughters and a father who were desperate for Jesus to help them. Watch or listen to our study of this passage and learn how Jesus’ character should cause us to call out to Him as our first choice instead of our last resort.
Our Small Group & Bible Study Training event on Sunday was a great time of learning how to study the Bible and how to prepare for small group discussion. If you missed it, we’ve put together a page on our website with links to some wonderful Bible teachers, free online resources to help study, and a short & simple break-down of the inductive Bible study method. Check it out at Refuge.mn/study.
As evening descended after a long day of teaching the multitude, Jesus tells His disciples their plans for the night—“Let us cross over to the other side.” The command is straightforward, but there’s an additional meaning with an application when we dig into what happened next.
During the night voyage, a violent windstorm came up and waves beat the boat (Mark 4:37). This storm was unlike any other. There was something dark about it…something demonic.
The disciples panicked, but Jesus was…sleeping. Sleeping? Like the disciples, we question why Jesus would be sleeping during such a storm (Mark 4:38). He was probably tired after a full day of preaching and teaching. But He was able to sleep because He said, “Let us cross over to the other side.”
And that’s where we find the application. If Jesus says, “Let us cross over to the other side,” then He’s going to the other side. It doesn’t matter how strong the wind or how high the waves—even if they are demonic—He will get to where He needs to be. Jesus had an appointment with a man who had his own personal demonic storm. And nothing would deter Him from getting there.
Maybe you’re on the boat with Jesus. The wind is beating you, the waves are battering you, the storm is relentless, and there is no peace in the midst of the storm. Take heart! Jesus has promised to get you to the other side. At His word, peace will come.
Perhaps you’re on that other side, battling a long, personal storm that seems to have no end. Take heart! Jesus has come for you. A word from Him will settle your troubled heart and bring you peace.
In either scenario, we see that both the disciples and the man on the other side simply came to Jesus. You can too—right now. Just come to Jesus. He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
In Mark 4 and 5, Jesus encounters two different storms. They were different from one another—one was an external storm, and the other was internal. But these storms were also different from the typical storm clouds and thunderclaps. These storms were more severe.
These two storms were satanic.
The first was a storm that directly threatened Jesus and His disciples. The second was a tempest that had tormented a man to the point of unimaginable suffering.
And Jesus confronts the dark force behind each storm to bring peace.
What did Jesus do? How did He react? Is Satan any match for Jesus? Watch or listen to our study from Mark 4:21-5:20 as we see how Jesus rules and reigns over the natural and supernatural.
In Mark 4, Jesus tells a parable about a sower, the seed that the sower scatters, and the types of soil the seed falls on. Fruitfulness does not depend upon the sower and His ability to sow; nor does it depend on the seed and its ability to grow. But fruitfulness is determined by the condition of the soil.
In this parable, the soil represents our hearts. And it causes us to pause and consider the condition of our own hearts…
Is your heart hardened by life (or maybe by others)? Does it seem like no matter how many times you hear the Gospel, it just doesn’t quite pierce your heart? God wants you to know that there is hope for you. Your heart needs to be softened—He can do that for you, but He needs your permission.
Maybe your heart is harder than hard—stony and cold. There is hope for you, too! God wants to remove your heart of stone and give you a new heart—one sensitive to Him (see Ezekiel 36:26).
Is your heart crowded by the cares and concerns of the world? Is the deceitfulness of riches choking out fruitful living for Jesus? There is hope as you pour out your heart to the Lord and tell Him your cares and concerns. He can guard your heart and mind and give you true peace that lasts when you ask Him.
Perhaps your heart is broken and busted up—yet you are eager to hear what God has to say and apply. Take heart—soil that is broken offers the perfect conditions for growth. You have hope—and the promise of fruitfulness that only God can supply.
Whatever the condition of your heart today, there is hope! Whether packed down, full of stones, choked with weeds, or broken, your heart—like soil—can be cultivated to hear and apply God’s Word. This continual transforming work of listening to the Lord and living out His Word will yield a fruitful harvest of blessing in your life, the lives of those around you, and ultimately for Jesus.
Wherever Jesus would go, a multitude would follow. But not everyone who follows after Jesus follows Him for the right reasons. Some look for His miracles—their interest isn’t in Him, His teaching, or the Word of God, but in what He could do for them.
That’s a dangerous position to be in—but not for the reasons you might expect. Jesus taught the multitude…a lot. And every time they heard the Word of God clearly, they would be accountable to it. That’s why Jesus said to “Take heed what you hear.” (Mark 4:24)
It’s great when people are attracted to Jesus. But if their focus is on what He can do for them instead of Who He is, they will not follow Him for long. We saw that in our study of Mark 4 as Jesus begins to teach the multitude in parables. Watch or listen to our study from Sunday and see how Jesus—in His mercy—ministers to those who follow after Him for the right and wrong reasons.
God cannot and will not force you to believe the gospel. He cannot and will not force you to receive forgiveness. You either believe and receive or you don’t.
If you believe and receive God’s testimony about His Son, you’re part of His family forever!
So when Jesus looks around the room and claims that those around Him are His mother and brothers (see Mark 3:31-35), it isn’t a rejection of His birth mother or His blood-born relatives. It’s an acknowledgement of the amazing grace that would accept whosoever would believe and receive into the family of God.
Do you believe this? Do you receive this? Then you are a brother or sister of Jesus and have become a son or daughter of your Heavenly Father!
Do you reject this? Do you refuse this? Heed the warning Jesus gives—there is only a finite number of times that the Holy Spirit will endure being called a liar before He will simply stop giving you His testimony. This sin of blasphemy is unforgivable. Repent today, return today, and receive today what God wants to give you!
Jesus says all sins will be forgiven…except for one particular sin. That particular sin has to do with blasphemy against a particular person. That particular person is the Holy Spirit.
But who is the Holy Spirit and what does He do? What is blasphemy and why would blaspheming the Holy Spirit be unforgivable?
These are great questions with answers we can find in the Bible. It just takes a little bit of digging. Once we start digging, the Lord will direct us as we discover the answers.
Watch or listen to the replay of our study in Mark 3:28-35 and dig with us as we discover the treasure just below the surface of these verses.
Jesus had a strategy for ministering to the multitudes. This strategy changed the world…and it’s pretty simple. He didn’t take everything on Himself—not because He was lazy—but because He knew what would give Him the most impact and intimacy.
Jesus simply poured His life into a small group, who poured themselves into small groups of their own, who poured their lives into…well, you get the idea. If we learn to follow Jesus’ example, there’s no limit to the impact and intimacy for the Kingdom you can make in your community.
Just be with Jesus—then be a really good friend to the few that God has given you. Bless them, love them, pray for them, pour into them well—just like Jesus has done for you. Whether it’s one, two, or three—or eight, ten, or twelve—you can be a good friend in whatever capacity the Lord has entrusted to you.
Last week, we considered how much Jesus wants to be with us. So much so that He has appointed us to be with Him forever. Fellowship with Him is first, foremost, and forever. Everything else is out of the overflow of that fellowship with Jesus—everything else becomes secondary.
But if the secondary becomes the primary way we find our identity—if what we do for Jesus is how we identify ourselves—we’ll be in trouble. God didn’t save us so we could just do amazing things for Him. He saved us so that we could enjoy fellowship with Him—forever!
Our identity, purpose, and worth in every season of life comes from this fact—Jesus wants to be with us and He has appointed us first and foremost to simply be with Him.
Watch or listen to our study of Mark 3:20-27 as Jesus shows us what His radical strategy for ministry looks like.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends