Category Archives: Mark

Plant faith and do things to make it grow!

Mark 4:40

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?” NIV

This is the story of a furious storm that comes up when Jesus and the disciples are all in a boat.  According to verse 38, Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.  The boat, meanwhile, was taking on water.  Verse 37 says that it was almost swamped.

I love what the disciples say when they wake him up in verse 38, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

I totally understand why they are so snippy.

Presumably, the disciples have been working to solve the problem on their own.  They’ve likely tried to steer the boat appropriately, they’ve done all the textbook things to the mast, and, now, have probably begun to bail water, and to see the situation as hopeless.  It is at that point that they finally get to the place where they think they might ask Jesus for help.  When they do, their attitude appears to be that they feel slighted … as if Jesus should have been helping them all along instead of sleeping.

The disciples have it backwards.

They shift to faith only after their efforts have failed.

For us to live a truly victorious, worry-free life, our efforts must stem from our faith.  I don’t think that the placement of this story in the book of Mark is coincidental.  It immediately follows Jesus’s description of the Kingdom of God.  Verses 31 and 32 say, “It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.” NIV

Others of the gospels record Jesus comparing a little faith to a mustard seed.

If the seed of faith is planted in my life, through the Holy Spirit, and if I will fertilize it with study and with prayer and with practice, it will grow so large that it will overshadow everything else about my life.

That’s the kind of believer that I want to be.  I don’t want to be a worrier, or to find myself the recipient of Jesus’s words in verse 40, “Why are you such a coward?  Don’t you have any faith at all?” MSG

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Everything is possible for him who believes

Mark 9: 22-24

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.  But if you can do anything, take pity on me and help me.”

“If you can?” said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” NIV

These verses are from the story of a man who brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus.

I have a dear friend who often quotes this story as one of her favorites.  And, I agree with her.  To me, this story is a vivid illustration of many facets of my relationship to God.  I believe at some level, and I think that level is pretty deep, until something happens to me to make me realize that my belief, my relationship, needs to be even deeper.  The challenge is, when that is revealed to me, not to have that be a frustrating experience.  Instead, I need to view it as a new opportunity to surrender to God, to be obedient to Him, and to experience the joy that comes in a deepening relationship.

I love the father’s response, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  And, when I consider it through the lens of my project, this passage becomes even more meaningful to me.

The boy’s father knows that Jesus can cast out the demon that is tormenting his son.  Or, at least he strongly suspects it.  Otherwise, he would not have brought the boy to Jesus.

I’ll never know what the father meant when he said, “If you can do anything, take pity on me on and help me.”  However, it is interesting to me that the son is the one that has the demon and yet, the father asks Jesus, not to help the son, but to help him.  Why?

Perhaps the poor man is so worn out with worrying over his boy and with the day-to-day trauma of caring for him, that he is afraid to fully trust that anyone, even Jesus, can change the situation.  Perhaps he has trusted other supposed remedies that haven’t worked.  Whatever has occurred in the past, it appears to me that this father has lost hope.

But, Jesus changes everything.

He casts out the demon, no doubt changing life forever for the little boy and for his father.

I want that!  I want to have so much trust and so much belief and so much hope that it would never occur to me to worry.  That would truly change my life.

That’s what I will think about today.

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Filed under Mark, New Testament, Trust, Worry

Mark 4:18-19

The seed cast in the weeds represents the ones who hear the kingdom news but are overwhelmed with worries about all the things they have to do and all the things they want to get.  The stress strangles what they heard and nothing comes of it.  The Message

At the beginning of this project, I committed to search my NIV translation for all of the verses that I could find about worry.

Along the way, I’m looking at worry in all its different forms – fear, stress, anxiety, trouble, etc.  There’s a word search in the sidebar if you ever want to use it.  Personally, I’ve found it pretty useful as I reflect on what I’ve learned so far.

But this morning, I found this verse in the Message translation, and the wording of it spoke to my heart.

This is Mark’s version of the Sermon on the Mount, and, I’ve not heard this concept put more succinctly, ever.

I love the phrase, “overwhelmed with worries.”  Satan uses the tool of worry so effectively.  He makes us believe that our worries are legitimate and overwhelming.

And, look at what the people in this verse are worried about, “all the things they have to do, and all the things they want to get.”  How applicable is that in today’s world?  We’ve created it … we’ve built so much in our society to perpetuate this constant need for things … clothing styles change every season, and every day this week I’ve gotten a new catalog in the mail with the latest furniture for my garden.  Furniture for my garden?  Really?

But, the most stunning part of this passage to me is, “The stress strangles what they heard and nothing comes of it.”

I’m going to meditate on that phrase today, “The stress strangles what they heard and nothing comes of it.”  I don’t want to be that believer.  In the name of Christ, I will not be that believer … I will be good ground, where the word can flourish in me and around me and a difference can be made for the kingdom of Heaven.

That’s my prayer today.

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Mark 13:9-11

You must be on your guard.  You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.  On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.  And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.  Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time.  For it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.  NIV

Wow.  That’s a heavy passage to start a Saturday morning.  This project is proving so interesting to me on so many levels.  I’ve read the Bible through, but, I did it in a year, which doesn’t afford a lot of time to ponder individual verses.  Searching it as I am for what it says about worry, I’m finding a lot of things that I didn’t realize were there.

Of course, I knew that the disciples had a pretty hard time after Christ was crucified.  Many of them were brutally murdered.  Here, I think, Jesus is preparing them for what they will face.  And, they were willing to face it!  I am so thankful that they did.  If they had not carried the word of God forward, I hesitate to think what my life would be like today.

He tells them not to worry “beforehand.”  In the Message, this passage is translated, “And watch out!  They’re going to drag you into court.  And then it will go from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, everyone at your throat because you carry my name.  You’re placed there as sentinels to truth.  This message has to be preached all across the world.” The Message

Sentinels to truth.  I love that image.

You carry my name … I love that on many levels, too.  They are marked as sons of Jesus, and they also are charged with carrying his message out to the world.

It (The Message) goes on to say, “When they bring you, betrayed, into court, don’t worry about what you’ll say.  When the time comes, say what’s on your heart — the Holy Spirit will make his witness in and through you.”

Don’t worry beforehand.  Things are going to be bad, but, the Holy Spirit will go with you every step of the way.  These are timeless messages.  How blessed we are that our Holy Father has prepared us with them.

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Filed under Mark, New Testament, Worry