Our hearts are desperately sick, wicked, and deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). In an attempt to tame our sick, wicked, and deceitful hearts, we are tempted to turn to legalism, hoping to earn God’s favor through outward rules, regulations, religion, and traditions.
The problem is, legalism doesn’t work. Ever. It can’t heal a desperately sick heart, let alone control it. If outward rules and regulations, and religion and traditions can’t tame a sick, wicked, and deceitful heart, what can be done?
We must be given a new heart. And if you are in Christ, He has given you a new heart…in addition to your old heart, your old nature that is “continually corrupted by its sinful desires” (Ephesians 4:22). Your old nature is still lurking, still deceiving, still desperately sick as it continually corrupts.
Figuring out how to walk in your new nature as a new creation is extremely important. But there is hope—“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). What a promise!
In the book of Acts, Peter summarizes a good portion of Jesus’ earthly ministry: “And you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
We see Jesus healing many as we continue our study in Mark 6. How could anyone find fault with Jesus of Nazareth for going about doing good with God’s anointing? The Pharisees could—and did. They made it their mission to find fault with Jesus. These religious leaders from Jerusalem were devoted to preserving the culture of Judaism instead of Scripture.
Somewhere along the way, they began to believe that their culture was more important than Scripture. Too often, we are guilty of the same thing. We too sanctify our own preferences or write our own set of rules, or preserve our own culture at the expense of Scripture.
When we do, we need to heed the warning Jesus gives us in Mark 7. Watch or listen to our study from Sunday and learn how legalism always fails to accomplish what only love can.
“Immediately He made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side…”
After a long day of ministry, Jesus got His disciples to get in a boat and leave. Not too long after, the disciples found themselves in the middle of a storm.
Just think that through. Jesus made His closest friends go across the Sea of Galilee…at night…into a storm…without Him. And yet, that was safer than to remain with the multitude that wanted to take Jesus and make Him king by force (see John 6:15). Jesus made His disciples go into the storm for their own safety.
Did Jesus have any less concern or care for His disciples when they were rowing against the wind for 6-9 hours when it should have only taken 2-3? No. He was teaching them and making them into disciples. He was stretching their capacity to trust Him. Jesus was teaching them that nothing was too hard for Him. Sometimes it’s the storm that brings Jesus directly to us.
Are you caught in a storm today? Take your eyes off of your circumstances and fix your eyes on Jesus—the Author, Perfecter, and Finisher of your faith. He is the One who will equip you to do what He commands you to do even if what He commands you to do seems impossible.
Is anything too hard for God? Spoken out loud or pondered in the heart, it’s a question that’s been asked time and again. Is anything too difficult for God?
It’s no surprise that Jesus definitively answers that question—through His life and through His ministry. Whether it’s miraculously multiplying five loaves of bread and two fish to feed over 5,000 people or walking on water, nothing is too difficult for God.
But like the disciples, we can forget about what the Lord can do and start to doubt to the point that we’re surprised when He does something that He promised He would do. Jesus knows this about us, but doesn’t condemn us. Instead, He continually calls us to Himself in order to make us into His disciples.
This is just one of the lessons we learned this past Sunday as we took a closer look at Mark 6:45-52. Watch or listen to our study and discover how important it is to keep our eyes on Jesus.
Join us Sunday at 10am (central) as we worship the Lord and continue our study in the Gospel of Mark. We gather in-person at 912 W. St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN; online at https://live.refuge.mn; and on the radio at 96.1 FM (St. Cloud) or at https://refuge.fm.
Jesus calls us to Himself and receives us just the way we are. But He loves us enough to not leave us the way that we are. In order to grow us and increase our capacity to serve Him, there are times where He needs to challenge us and rebuke us. There are times where He needs to be stern and serious with us—even when it seems impossible, or when we’re complaining, or when we are tired.
When you experience these moments, realize that Jesus is graciously, mercifully, sternly, and seriously making you into His disciple. In a just a couple of chapters in Mark, Jesus will tell His disciples and the multitude, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” (Mark 8:35)
So when Jesus sternly and seriously challenges you, let go of your life for Him. Then you will find and experience and receive the life that is truly life! To be someone sent by Jesus at the command of Jesus, you must learn to deny yourself and serve others…even when it seems impossible.
Jesus is gracious when others would be gruff. He is selfless in every way. He also needs to be serious at times. As He makes disciples who would make disciples, He sometimes needs to be stern and direct.
As we continue our study in the Gospel of Mark, we’ll notice that the closer Jesus gets to the cross, the more serious He will be about making the apostles into disciples. He needed to stretch them to make them into disciples and challenge their capacity to be servants.
We read of one of these times in Mark 6:30-44. Watch or listen to our study from this past Sunday and learn how we can be thankful for those times when Jesus is stern and serious.
Join us Sunday at 10am as we worship the Lord and continue our study in the Gospel of Mark. We gather in-person at 912 W. St. Germain Street, St. Cloud, MN; online at https://live.refuge.mn; and on the radio at 96.1 FM (St. Cloud) or at https://refuge.fm.
John the Baptist was thrown in prison because he spoke the truth. He told those who were in positions of power what God’s word had to say about the way they were living their lives. Because he stood up for the truth and God’s word, there were real and severe consequences for him.
Knowing all of this, Jesus gathered His followers and sent them to do the very same thing—to preach the word. To publicly proclaim the Good News in such a way that people realize their sin and want to turn away from it and towards Jesus.
However, Jesus told them He was sending them out “as sheep in the midst of wolves” (Matthew 10:16). Jesus didn’t say this to scare them, but to equip them for the reality of what was coming for them. Eventually, all of the Apostles were killed because of their testimony and loyalty to obediently preach God’s word to a society that had drifted far from it.
The only way these courageous and faithful followers of Jesus could do what they did—knowing the risk it involved—was because they knew Jesus. They understood who He was and they held fast to His word.
Trouble will come for those who take a stand for God’s word in a society that rejects His truth. But having a thorough understanding of God through His word will help you know what’s coming and how God will see you through.
Do you have that assurance, today? Are you prepared for difficult times that may come? If you trust Jesus with your soul, get to know Him more through His word and keep preaching the word! If you have yet to yield your life to Jesus, hear and heed His word—repent! Turn away from your sin and turn towards Jesus. He is willing and wanting to save you!
Life is messy and can often end in difficulty. That was the reality for John the Baptist, the greatest man born of a woman. He followed God wholeheartedly his whole life. And yet, his life on earth ended in a prison cell because of his faithfulness to God and to His word.
We’re living in a society that is drifting from the truth—not only questioning the existence of objective truth, but punishing those who proclaim it. There will be real and significant consequences for retaining loyalty to God and what His word says—especially what His word says concerning sin.
The only way for you to endure the difficulty to come is to have a thorough, working understanding of God through a thorough, working understanding of His word. With this understanding, you’ll be able to know what’s coming, but more importantly the God who is able to see you through.
Watch or listen to our study of Mark 6:14-29 as we considered the sobering reality of the times we live in and the hope extended to all through Jesus.
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