Saturday, January 24, 2009

Everyone Had Enough

Micah 7:1-20; Mark 8:1-10 / Psalm 103:1-22

I. The People Were Hungry

A. Not all the challenges believers face turn on true doctrine or world-view; sometimes people have more immediate needs. “In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them,” (Mark 8:1)

B. Compassion is a fundamental attribute of Jesus; though that compassion does not always take the same form in every instance, it is always part of the mix. I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat:” (Mark 8:2)

C. Jesus taught believers to look for people with problems; He did not specify which problems. “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17)

D. The obvious answer anyone can see isn’t always the one on God’s mind; Christians should be cautious about jumping to obvious conclusions. “And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far.” (Mark 8:3)

II. The Disciples Evaluated the Situation

A. Obviously the problem was too big to handle. “And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness?” (Mark 8:4)

B. The impossible expectations of the Almighty God are part of what make Christianity so interesting; God’s sovereign grace is at the heart of both the Christian’s hope and the believer’s message. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:23-26)

C. “No” is never the appropriate answer from a believer to God; self-centeredness has a way of coming up short because it neglects the resources at God’s command. “And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven.” (Mark 8:5)

D. Ezekiel had a better grasp of reality; God’s resources are always more important than the resources of believers. “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest.” (Ezekiel 37:1-3)

E. God’s people act because God commands, not because they have the resources to be obedient. “Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 37:4-6)

F. When the prophet did what he was told to do, the impossible became obvious. “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.” (Ezekiel 37:10)

III. Jesus Solved the Problem

A. God did what the believers could not; Bible-believers will note a recurrent theme. “And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people.” (Mark 8:6)

B. Rather than continue to argue that the task was too large, the disciples acted on what they had, leaving the problem to God; God blesses what He commands. “And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them.” (Mark 8:7)

C. Everybody had enough and in the end the disciples had far more than they had when they began to give all that they had. “So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets.” (Mark 8:8)

D. Faithful obedience will demonstrate the unlimited capacity of God to do what needs to be done. “And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.” (Mark 8:9)

E. Doing the impossible is all in a day’s work for the Lord. “And straightway he entered into a ship with his disciples, and came into the parts of Dalmanutha.” (Mark 8:10)

Talking Without Seeing

Psalm 53

I. Fools Talk Too Much

A. Atheism in words and deeds demonstrates evil; bad principles produce bad lives. To the chief Musician upon Mahalath, Maschil, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.” (Psalm 53:1)

B. Fools cannot see God but He can see them; Spurgeon said, “Where God’s eyes see no favorable sign we may rest assured there is none.” God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.” (Psalm 53:2)

C. Jesus picked up on the theme. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:16-21)

D. No one can reject God and do what is right. “Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Psalm 53:3) “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

II. Foolish Ignorance Is Invincible

A. The ignorance of God--which controls wicked people—astounds; God’s frequent statement of this doctrine must imply that it really matters to Him. “Have the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread: they have not called upon God.” (Psalm 53:4)

B. The anthropologist who blames Christianity for the world’s problems calls everything else in the syllabus into question and shares in the destruction of lost souls by erecting barriers to missions. The ignorance of the fool is a repeated theme of Scripture; Total Depravity was Bible doctrine long before Paul wrote Romans. To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the LORD. There were they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the righteous. Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, because the LORD is his refuge. Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when the LORD bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” (Psalm 14:1-7)

C. Ignorance will turn to terror when God is ready. There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.” (Psalm 53:5) The earthly mind envies those who obtain mercy but will not seek mercy itself.

III. Everything Will Improve in the End

A. Eventually God will avenge His chosen people on their enemies; “He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. “Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.” (Psalm 53:6)

B. With God, punishment ends and rejoicing follows. A Song of degrees. When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream. Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them. The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.” (Psalm 126:1-4)

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