Remember

Right after the passover God wants to make sure that the Israelites will remember what He did for all time.

Exodus 13

14 “And in the future, your children will ask you, ‘What does all this mean?’ Then you will tell them, ‘With the power of his mighty hand, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the place of our slavery. 15 Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, so the Lord killed all the firstborn males throughout the land of Egypt, both people and animals. That is why I now sacrifice all the firstborn males to the Lord—except that the firstborn sons are always bought back.’ 16 This ceremony will be like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. It is a reminder that the power of the Lord’s mighty hand brought us out of Egypt.”

In our lives God has worked a lot, and maybe when you were less spiritually mature God did a work in your life and you forgot about it, well as you grow older maybe God will remind you of that time in your past that He has been with you.  As you grow you should realize that those times are important, and that you need to pass them on to help the faith of others.

Sometimes we need something to be so obvious and in our face, as a symbol on our hand in order to remember what God has done, and He understands that.

Then right after telling the Israelites to never forget about what He does for them and to pass it down for generations He leads them to the Red Sea and then leads them across it, which had to have been one of the most amazing events to see ever.

Exodus 14

19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

I’m sure this cements their faith in God….

Meanwhile in Mark 4 we see another example of God’s power over the water.

Mark 4

35 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

The disciples would have known the story of the Exodus inside and out, and this showed them very clearly that God was working, and that Jesus must be serving God to have these abilities. Through the rest of the book, and in the other Gospels we see their lives changed by the message of God, and in the rest of the Exodus we will see how many of the Israelites receive God’s instructions, and I think Jesus summarizes the different responses we can have really well in Mark 4.

14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

The disciples will take a little while to catch on, but by their example that we see later in the New Testament we see that they were the good soil in this parable, and in Exodus we will start to see that many in the Israelite community represent the footpath or the rocky soil in this parable.  It is important for us to maintain our connection to other strong Christians and continue to read God’s word so that we can grow deep roots and weather the storms of life, so that we can be a good witness to others and keep the faith.

Chris Mattison

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 13-14 and Mark 4

Completely Astonished

Matthew 8:14-34 and Mark 4-5

Jesus – how well do we really know him? It is easy to look at passages like today’s and quickly dismiss them as familiar. Oh, yeah, this is where he talks about the parables of the Kingdom of God for awhile, drives out a bunch of demons (whatever those are), calms the storm and heals some people. He was a pretty cool guy.

Indeed, but if we look at these stories more closely can we learn anything that we might not have caught back in our preschool Sunday School days when we may have first heard these amazing and true stories of the Son of God. I enjoyed reading the Wiersbe NT Bible Commentary that pointed out in these chapters of Mark we see that, “God’s servant, Jesus Christ, is the Master of every situation and the Conqueror of every enemy.” (p101). We see him provide victory over danger (the storm), demons, disease and even death! In a world that still has some very real issues with fear, anxiety and worry (and maybe even demons?) – we would do well to take a closer look at this man Jesus – as well as how people responded to him when they were face-to-face with this one-of-a-kind conquering hero servant.

To help me look at Jesus more deeply, I made a chart of what Jesus DID in these passages – his actions and how he responded to various people (and demons). And, then, as I am also interested in how I ought to respond to Jesus – I included how a broad range of people reacted to Jesus, his teachings and what they personally experienced.

My Jesus column included things like:

Jesus saw – both the crowd and then also individual needs

He touched – Peter’s mother-in-law and Jairus’ daughter

He taught – to the crowd in parables and with further explanations for his followers

He slept – in the boat, through the storm (even though we also know some nights he stayed up praying all night)

He spoke – and the demons obeyed

He went with Jairus

He knew power had gone out from him

He ignored what others said (regarding the girl being dead or asleep)

I love the presence of this man. Not shaken by a storm or by a legion of demons (in the Roman army a legion was a group of 6,000 men) or by sickness or even by the science of death or by those who would argue or laugh at him. He knew what they didn’t. He knew he was the Son of God and God would use him to display God’s greatness and power and compassion and wisdom.

And some people (and demons) of his day would see this – and react in different ways. So, on my chart of how others responded to Jesus I included things like:

Peter’s healed mother-in-law – Got up and began to wait on him

Those who heard of Jesus – Brought demon-possessed and sick to Jesus

Teacher of the law – Vowed to follow Jesus

Disciples – Followed him; amazed at Jesus; still terrified – even AFTER the winds and waves obeyed Jesus; questioned who Jesus was (needed to know!)

Demons – Begged Jesus; recognized Jesus as the Son of the Most High God; and had no choice but to obey him

Those who saw the changed life of the formerly possessed man – Scared of Jesus; pleaded with Jesus to leave the area

The man formerly possessed by “Legion” – Begged Jesus to let him go with Jesus – but followed Jesus’ direction to stay and tell others of what Jesus had done for him

Jairus (synagogue ruler with a very ill 12 year old daughter) – Fell at Jesus’ feet; pleaded earnestly for his sick daughter

Poor, sick, desperate woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and spent all she had on doctors who only made her worse – Found Jesus; secretly touched his clothes, confident this would heal her; when healed and Jesus questioned – she fell at his feet, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth

Mourners – Laughed at Jesus

Jairus’ 12 Year Old Daughter – Raised from the dead and walked around

Saw Jairus’ Daughter Raised – Completely astonished

Even though these events happened 2,000 years ago, there are still those who laugh at Jesus, and those who don’t understand and ask him to leave. I pray our eyes are opened and we spend more and more time, “completely astonished” at what he has done. May we turn to Jesus again and again when we are hurt, scared, fearful, spiritually unhealthy, haunted by demons, and in need of wisdom and hope. May we bring our friends and family to him for healing. May we be active and vocal in serving him and telling of what he has done. And, like the disciples who watched him calm the storm, may we remain a bit terrified at what he can and will do. His reign is not over, in many ways it has not even truly begun. The best is yet to come.

Obviously we can’t take just one passage (of which we still have only brushed the surface) and say we know all there is to know about Jesus. There is still so much more. The things we have already read, like how he told the healed paralyzed man to, “Go and sin no more.” and the stern warnings he had for the ‘holier than thou’ Pharisees. As well as all the exciting things we have yet to read in the coming months and days – washing the feet of his disciples, his prayer for those who will believe, the agony of his crucifixion, the victory of his resurrection, the mystery of his ascension and the completely astonishing coming return of Jesus. Now is the time to get to know him and share him. The best is yet to come!

– Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Matthew 8:14-34 and Mark 4-5.

Tomorrow we will read Matthew 9 & 10. Come follow along as we learn more and more about Jesus and how we can respond to him, on our Bible reading plan…

Growing Faith

Mark 4 14.png

Mark 4

    In this chapter Mark tells of some of Jesus’ arguably most famous and well known parables.

The first is the parable of the sower and soils. “3 “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; 4 as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. 8 Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” 9 And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”” (NASB).

After Jesus preached this to the crowd from a boat, his disciples were confused as to what its meaning was. Jesus then explains what it meant in the next verses.

“13 And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.20 And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.””

 

After this Jesus tells them to shine their light and not hide it. He also says to be careful as to what they listen to.

 

The next Parable is the parable of the seed. It compares the kingdom of God to a man putting his seed on the soil. It grows, but he doesn’t know how. The soil grows the seed one section at a time. This too is how our faith grows. When the crop is ready, it will be harvested.

 

The final parable is probably one of the most well known parables in the Bible. It is the parable of the mustard seed. A mustard seed is the smallest seed grown in soil. But, almost miraculously, it grows into a very large plant. In this, Jesus shows that, no matter how small your faith is when you start your walk in the faith, you can grow it so much. This gives me so much hope. To know that, even if my faith is very small at times, I can grow it like a mustard seed and become strong in my faith when I grow it in the right conditions.

 

Later that day, Jesus took his disciples on the boat. While he was sleeping, a huge storm overtook it. His disciples became very scared (wouldn’t you?) and woke up Jesus asking him why he didn’t care that they were going to die. So, Jesus got up and said, “Hush. Be still” to the waters. And it immediately became calm. He then scolded his disciples asking them if they had no faith.This further scared the disciples. (But wouldn’t you also be scared if your friend could calm the sea?) They started to wonder who Jesus really was and what power he had if he could do all of these things.

 

Mark 4 is a great chapter for many reasons. Not only does Jesus show us that we need the right conditions to grow our faith and also that there is hope for even people with the smallest of faith, but the actions of his disciples also teach us something.

They are confused as to what his parables mean and also seem to continually lack faith. Our first thought may be to judge them. They literally had JESUS, the one who saved us from our sins, right in front of them! How could they not see it? But, if you think about it, how many times has God put things right in front of your face that you didn’t see until afterwards?

Furthermore, the disciples reveal Jesus’ compassion and patience. Jesus kept leading them even when they didn’t understand or were reluctant and scared to follow.

Jesus will do the same for you. Even though your faith may seem as small as a mustard seed, all you need is to trust in him and follow the word. Always remember that Jesus died for you. He loves you that much. Even when you have little faith.

-Samantha Stokes