Thought for the Week - 28th February

Helen Watkins

Mark 7: 24-30

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.  He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.  In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an impure spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Lord,” she replied, “even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.

Mark 8: 1-10

During those days another large crowd gathered. Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”

“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.

“Seven,” they replied.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people, and they did so.  They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.  The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  About four thousand were present. After he had sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.

These are two well-known stories that we’ve all heard over the years.

In the first story, the woman ran to Christ and begged Him to help her daughter.  She must have heard what He was doing and known that this was something different.  As parents and grandparents, we can know the feeling of hopelessness or bereft-ness, where we don’t know what to do or where to turn.  We know what it’s like to beg someone to do something to help us.  This woman knew what this possession of her daughter entailed and was in an awful predicament.  But she knew where to go to solve her problem.  As a gentile, she would have known nothing of a Messiah, but she had heard of a man who could help her – she was willing to do anything she could to help her daughter.  What would we have done in that situation?

On Sunday we heard a testimony where someone had been delivered of a fear of darkness.  When these things come upon you, what do you do?  Do you shut down and hope it’ll go away?  Do hear the voice of God and act upon it, or do you not act upon it?  Or do you run away and hide, hoping that God won’t talk to you about it?  Often the biggest thing of fear is fear itself… the fear of the unknown, the fear that we have to do something about it.  It can often be easier to live in a fear and be bound, because we can control it.  We might hate it, but it can be easier for us to live in it than go before God and asking Him to take it away.  Yet Christ deals with these things so quickly and painlessly!  In a moment of time, He will deliver you from a circumstance that has held you captive and has robbed you of so much.  The enemy will tell you to stay where you are, not to make a fuss and to leave it alone.

This woman had a daughter who was possessed by something awful.  She needed for it to go, but she didn’t know how.  So when she found this man who could help, she wasn’t content to let it go until she had her answer.

We find it hard to wait on God, to be slow and cautious, and deliberate about things.  We rush off and we sometimes find the anointing of God uncomfortable.  But it’s the most gentlest and wonderful place in the world to be… because in that anointing, we are safe!  You are safe from all things.

This woman who came and fell at His feet was as humble as anything.  Yet we find humility hard.  We think we’ve been around a long time, we know our bible’s well or take meetings etc.  But when something prevails upon us, we need to be humble so that we can be changed.  This woman begged and threw herself down!

Christ said to her that first He should feed His children (i.e. the Jews).  At that point, Jesus had only come for the chosen people, the Jews; those God had made a covenant with.  The Gentiles would have to find their own way.  But I think even in that moment, He knew that He was there for all.  Christ comes for all who call His name.  He comes and brings us good things… He feeds us banquets not scraps!  But sometimes we can feed too much.  We stuff ourselves so fat that we forget what God has done for us.  In those times, we need to be lean again, so we know what understand the feasting and build ourselves up on the good things of God.

This woman was ahead of her time.  She didn’t know the plan and the purpose that God had for the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  Christ told her that her answer was good – she would have taken anything!  She would have even taken the scraps left by the dogs.  How often do we want to hear the voice of the Master encouraging us?  Sometimes we need to listen for the voice of God saying how well we do and encouraging us, keeping us on the straight and narrow.

This woman had a spiritual insight, which can be sadly lacking in a church, is a very rare gift to have.  We can have the gift of knowledge and other things, but spiritual insight – discernment – is a big thing.  It tells us when God speaks to us, to know when to lead, to move, when God is telling us something that we don’t want to hear but we listen and understand.  This woman acknowledged that even the dogs were fed – that this Man fed the people spiritually and physically.  What do we think spiritually of problems when we are faced with issues?  Do we run to God straight away?  Or do we sit back and mull over it?  Do we listen to what God is saying on a matter?  This woman showed humility – she believed that He would save her daughter and He was her only hope.  Sometimes we can have too much hope in other things!  The natural has its place, but our first call should be the things of God.  Ask God to direct your path.

This woman was desperate… how desperate are we?  To grow, to move on, to die to self?  There comes a point where we can’t stay where we are.  Sometimes we come to a blind corner or dead end.  We need an energy and drive to come back.  But we get embarrassed, thinking “oh I’ve done this, I’ve done that”.  So what!   We are desperate to be changed and move on.  It doesn’t matter who sees us, only that we have the desire to move on.  We need not condemnation, but a commendation to move on.

He is pleased with His people.  He is pleased that we make an effort and search for Him.  But there is always more.  Think about what stumbles us and bring us to our knees.  Is it ill health, our family, our work, our friends, our work in the church?  They will be different for everyone.  We can do little things to make changes!  We can reach out to the Lord when we worship, we can pray out loud, we can help out in Sunday School, Mother and Toddler and Youth Club.  Think of something you find difficult to do… all these are steps are things that will help us go on in the things of God.  Read your bible, listen and discern.

In the second story, Christ feeds 4,000.  He had already fed 5,000.  He had compassion for them!  It’s like us coming into church… He feels compassion for us and would feed us until we could take no more, so that we might grow and go on in Him.  He desired to feed them both physically and spiritually.  He recognised what they needed.  We should be the same – we should look around and seek what people need, whether it’s physical or spiritual things.  We should be aware that people have needs – whether it’s company, a meal, some furniture.  We need to show that we can be as Christ was.

Are we like the Disciples, when they wondered how they were going to feed everyone?  They had already seen Christ feed 5,000.  And yet here they were, wondering how everyone would be fed.  Are we the same, thinking of a 101 reasons why we can’t see a miracle happening or something being turned around to the things of God?  Christ gives us the tools!  The miracles occur, but not always in the way we think.  The most important things are belief and obedience!  Belief might be difficult – after all, we are human – but we can still be obedient.  We can pray and ask God to be made willing to be willing.  Let that be our first thing!  We have a poverty mentality, we rush off and try to do things in our own strength, when instead we should be going to God and asking.

Christ was aware of what was happening with His people and saw what needed to be done.  He was looking at the practical as well as the spiritual.  He prayed about it.  We also need to be practical as well as spiritual… attending meetings, coming under the anointing of God, placing ourselves where God is, and avoiding what is not.  We must avoid the things that are tripping us up.

I am reminded of the story of a poor beggar, who prayed to God so that he might be fed.  He was instructed to place an arrow in his bow facing east… wherever it fell, he should dig for treasure.  He shot many arrows, dug in many directions, and yet found nothing.  A voice from heaven told him that he was told to put an arrow in his bow, but not to draw it with all his might!  He was then told to shoot his bow gently so that the arrow would fall close to him, for the treasure was near.  The poor beggar had only listened to part of what he had been told.  We are very much the same!  We need to be fed, we want the riches of God, and yet we only hear half a story.  Before we know it, we’re half way down the road wondering why something isn’t working.  And then we come back and blame God!  Yet we haven’t listened to half of what He’s told us… and His way would have been so much simpler!

Looking at both the stories together (in the bible verses above), both times Christ was in the centre.  Without Christ at the centre, we have nothing… no faith, no walk, nothing to anchor us or keep us going, and nobody to turn to.

We have to be desperate and humble enough to beg, just like the woman!  How desperate are we for prayer?  Even if we’re not desperate, we need to seek it.

The disciples couldn’t do anything themselves – they were clueless and didn’t know what to do.  We are like that sometimes.  And when we are, we need to turn back to the Master for direction and instruction.

We have to rise above what drags us down and chained to the floor.  Often they’re normal, little things.  But we need to be inspired that Christ was victorious.  He didn’t even need to go to see that little girl – she was healed!  He never passes a cry, He always hears and is always victorious!  It’s not always in the way we expect, much like the beggar and the arrow.

We still have to face hardships, we have to have belief, we still have to have obedience, and we still have to have humility.  If Peter hadn’t seen these miracles, do you think Christ would have said to him “feed my lambs”?  Much like Peter, we too have to start off with the small things, so that we’re ready for the big things… we need to know Pentecost, we need to know that anointing and moving, and we need to know Him.  The Disciples had to trust that Christ knew best, even when difficulties arise.  Christ knows best!

If you were never to hear another sermon and never had fellowship again, would we wander away?  Or would we search?  God never lets us go… unless we decide to move from Him.

Not condemnation, but a commendation to move out into the things of God and know Him deeper.

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