It says in today’s passage, “You have no idea how God works.” This statement was made by Jesus to Peter. Like many Jews at that time, Peter had a very different understanding of the Messiah. But this message can be said of us many times as well.
Too often we try to put things in God’s mouth, we try to say how God thinks, and yet we have no idea how He works apart from His Word and what He shows us through the Spirit. When you encounter something that is not clearly spelled out in the Bible, there is no way to say, “God says…,” just as there is no way to predict how God will move in a situation. There are many He might perhaps possibilities, but are you for certain?
Let us agree that we serve an amazing indescribable God. Let us remind ourselves today that we do not always know what God is doing or how He is works, but we can always trust in Him.
“But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. ‘Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.'” – Mark 8:32-33 [MSG]
Many people will agree that the Bible mentions some type of “do not fear” phrase 365 times and these same people hold that God left us these phrases so we have one for each day of the year. The Bible verse I return to often is Isaiah 41:10 which tells us to “fear not.” That’s where FearNot Ministries was born.
In Mark 6, the disciples were in the middle of storm that produced great wind. The disciples were struggling. Through this storm, there was Jesus walking on the water. It frightened the disciples. Who can say what was going through their minds? But Jesus told them not to be afraid. Then he said, “Take courage! I am here!”
Take courage. Jesus is here. If you’ve accepted Him into your heart—if you believe in Him and He is your Lord and Savior, He promised that you would receive His Spirit. God is always with you. So take courage. No matter what you are going through. Take courage. He is with you.
“They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” – Mark 6:50 [NLT]
Life is not always easy. In fact life is usually not easy. Difficulty seems to find me. There’s always a challenge. There’s always a trial. There’s always something going on in a person’s life. That’s why there’s a quote that tells us to treat everyone nice because we don’t know what they are going through.
I’ve heard many times the question, “Where is YOUR God?” Where is God now? Why are things not easy for you since you accepted Christ? Why are you having these troubles—doesn’t your God care?
We are promised that the narrow road is difficult. It’s a difficult road and it does not make everything instantly smooth. Things don’t suddenly come easy. Mark 10 even tells us that yes, we will receive a hundred times as much as what we leave behind, but that comes “along with persecutions” (v. 30 NIV). The road is difficult but we are not alone. Christ is with us each step of the way. Keep moving forward on this difficult road. He is faithful.
“But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” – Matthew 7:14 [NLT]
This lesson is on the Parable of the Foolish Rich Man. The passage to read is Luke 12:13-21. The key verse is Luke 16:13. The front page of the activity sheet is divided into two sides. The object is to have the children list what they think both types of people would look like in their opinion. The one side would be those who are rich toward God and the other side would be those who are like the foolish rich man. On the second side, there is an activity to look through the passage and notice all of the key words that focus on the self. There are a few verses included with the lesson for the kids to reflect upon further with parents at home.
To open the class, I am going to ask some questions that would give the children options of seeing how people could put God first or put money or themselves first. From there, I am going to tell the parable and have a few students read some verses. I got some granola (honey and oats) to share with the children as I discuss this abundance of crops. Then we will discuss further using the activity sheet I created (front and back). Our craft will be something I’ve seen around in the past. We will make silos using toilet paper rolls. I am going to get the tubes of toilet paper covered with white paper before class and glued at the bottom to save time. They will decorate the silos and then instead of filling them with crops, fill them with blessings from God. Then every night they can pull out a blessing and thank God. When the blessings run out, they are encouraged to fill the silos up (or even fill up as they see more blessings).
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“Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.’ But he answered, ‘You give them something to eat.’ They said to him, ‘That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?’” – Mark 6:36-37 [NIV]
As I was reading the Book of Mark last night, it was very confrontational. The disciples were with Jesus and a large crowd of people. It’s estimated that there were five thousand men so there were most likely at least ten thousand people if counting women and children. It was getting about the time to eat and the disciples suggested that the large crowd get sent away so they could find themselves some food. In all fairness, the disciples were considering this because they wanted the people to have the time to get food. But Jesus saw things differently because God sees a much bigger picture. While the disciples saw the large crowd and limited food and thought logically that the people would need to leave and hunt for food, Jesus saw what was lacking and did what only He could do to fill the need.
Sometimes we like to send people away because we don’t want to help. Helping might require a sacrifice and time we aren’t willing to lose. Sometimes we see what we are lacking and immediately want to turn in the other direction. But Jesus said to the disciples “YOU give them something to eat” and sometimes He tells us that WE are to do something—not send people away in need, figuring they will find what they need elsewhere.
Today, if God is calling you to do something—do it. Trust He will make the way. Trust He has a bigger picture. You never know what He may do through you unless you allow Him to use you like only He can.
Sample excerpt: “The hardest item to overcome when thinking about having faith is fear. Fear is certainly difficult to cope with at times. Fear and worry can be scary. When we are afraid, it changes how we cope with everything else in life. It is vital to understand that our God is big enough. It’s also important to understand that God gives us everything we need in life to get through each obstacle. We need to have our ears and eyes open to see and to hear. We must have faith that He has it covered, because whether we admit it or not, He has it covered.”
I recently began reading the Gospel of Mark for my own personal studies. There is a word that is repeated over and over again in the first chapter, a word that continues throughout the book. The word is “immediately” and if my math is correct, it occurs ten times in the first chapter alone. Immediately when Jesus is being baptized, the Spirit descended upon Him. Immediately He went into the wilderness. Immediately Simon Peter and Andrew left their lives as they knew them. Immediately the leprosy left the leper. Again and again the word is used.
We see so many things happening at immediately, not waiting for conditions to be different. The Book of Mark shows us that there is a sense of urgency. We only have so much time and so we must start now. Yet for many of us, when we are called by God to do something, we do not act immediately. Sometimes we do not act at all. We say we are waiting to do it when we have extra time. We say we are holding off till we have the money to start giving. We promise to start doing something when we feel better. We insist when our situations and conditions of life improve, we will start working for the Kingdom.
God never said that He had certain conditions to be met before we could start serving, giving, and loving. He calls you as you are and works with you as only He can. When we give excuses and do not act immediately, we are basically saying that our God is not big enough to use someone who has some issues that need fixed or some imperfect situations that need work. And yet, the Word of God again and again tells us otherwise. God used a slave, a shepherd boy, a fisherman, a peasant girl, a prostitute, a tax collector, a farmer, the son of a prostitute, a murderer, an adulterer, and even a persecutor of those who followed Jesus.
Today, if you are avoiding something, pushing it off till things get better, understand that God can still use you now. All you need to do is to show up. He will do the rest.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
– Romans 8:28 [NLT]
We like to complicate things in life. We can make a three word sentence trivial. Interpretations and experiences cause us conflict. We need to see evidence. We are very doubtful, skeptical of anything. We have so many documentaries showing us proof that something is true, and then so many others to counter that theory. We are a society that needs DNA analysis, sheets full of statistics, a handful of witnesses, video footage, photos, and still we are skeptical.
With us wanting so many facts and to be shown proof, we often will have battles with doubt. We get into a situation that seems glum. Will God really see me through this? Why is God allowing this to happen? I don’t understand. Show me. I need proof. Is He even there? We become skeptical of what God can do in our lives because we allow the doubt to win. We limit God with our shaky faith.
Thomas asked to see Jesus’ wounds to believe, and only then did he believe. The other disciples believed after seeing as well. In Mark 5, Jairus asked Jesus to heal his ailing daughter. Before they could get to his daughter, she passed away. When Jairus was told the news, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid any longer, only believe” (Mark 5:36b NASB). Only believe.
At times we need to only believe. It is hard. Things are not always going to be pleasant and everything is not always going to go well. But God has promised us that one day things will be perfect. This is a promise that I cling to, knowing that Jesus has overcome, and therefore so will we.
If there is something going on in your life right now and you are doubtful, only believe. Only believe that He is big enough. Only believe that He has overcome. Only believe that things will one day be perfect. Only believe that He loves you so much. Only believe.
“Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
– John 20:29 [ESV]
Some people do not know that I am attending an A.B.H.E. (Association for Biblical Education) approved university, majoring in Christian Ministries. I attended college when I graduated from high school, but life has various journeys; after ten years with a different career focus, I was given a new direction.
When I decided to answer the call and take the path before me, I slowly began telling people that I was returning to school. Most people accepted the news with open arms. Some wanted to know exactly what type of employment could be found with a degree from the university I attend. The university has many majors, all geared toward Christian education, ministry, and counseling. When I let one friend know this information, she gave me an unexpected answer. She said if and when there was a time when I would lead a church, she would attend.
It is certainly a great compliment to have someone say they would love to attend somewhere with your leadership. I was gracious with my response; however, as I pondered over what was said, I was concerned. She was putting her entire walk with God in my hands. She was basically saying she was going to sit outside the door, waiting till I came, and then enter. There are a few issues that trouble me. What if it takes me too long to enter the door? What if something happens prohibiting me from entering? What if I am directed in a different direction? Will she simply sit there, waiting, or will she enter? There is a big difference if we attempt to come to God with open arms, or if we are attached to someone along the way. God wants us all back, but He wants us to walk through the door. I don’t believe it is wrong to initially walk through the door with someone; however, one cannot sit in waiting, believing it is the only way.
I do not believe our God is scary. If people who haven’t read the Old Testament open that section up in their Bibles, they may say He is very scary. I will admit after reading some passages, I got the chills. However, if we read the Bible, truly read the Bible, it is very clear that God loves His children. With the situation with my friend, I do not believe it has anything to do with fearing the Old Testament God. She has experienced the Christian tight belts.
The Christian tight belts are those “Christians” who walk around with this belief of being higher above others. They have everything looking good on the outside. Clothing pressed and a sparkling smile. They are saved and therefore they are better. It’s like at the supermarket in the meat department. There is the 95% lean meat which is proudly displayed on the top shelf, and then there’s the 75% ground beef at the bottom. Everyone wants the lean meat, because they know it’s better, but some cannot afford the cost so it turns them away.
People are turned away by the 95% lean meat. People are also turned away by people who attend church and believe they deserve to earn a gold medal for it. As we all know, when we are saved, we are all on the same area of the plane. There is no first class and coach. No one is better than the next person. We are certainly supposed to shine the light to non-believers, and spread the Message. However, the Gospel is not to go out as a “I’m better than you because I know and have accepted this and you haven’t” type scenario.
Our God is compassionate. Our God sent His only Son to come redeem us from our shortcomings. If we look closely at each of our lives, we can all see the evidence of these fallen moments. Even after we accept Christ, they occur. As children of God, we are all family to the King. We are all precious. Remember, that the King came here to serve. The King gave the ultimate sacrifice. We, too, should serve as our Lord has left us a clear example. When we do that, when we show God’s love to others, the lean meat looks appealing. The lean meat is affordable, and doesn’t look to be too high up on the shelf.
Do not sit outside, waiting for someone to take you in the door. If you go to a church and you do not feel right, there are many more churches around the corner. While selecting a church, remember that Bible reading and prayer are important, and will help in the selection process. If you have accepted Christ, do not believe for a second that you are above those who haven’t yet. They also have the invitation; it’s just taking them longer to R.S.V.P. Instead of pushing them away for putting the invitation to the side, perhaps you can show them God’s invitation by sharing your own journey.
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave to all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve; and to give His life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:43b-44 [NIV]