In Mark 6 we find the Lord and His disciples busy in serving the Lord. Amidst such busyness the Lord counselled that they should go to a place of quiet to rest and be refreshed. Many saw what was happening though, and followed them to where they would alight. Whereupon we read these words. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things (Mark 6:34).
The next verse reads By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. ‘This is a remote place,’ they said, ‘and it’s already very late (Mark 6:35). This would indicate that time was getting on and that it would be best to disperse the crowd as soon as possible. Being aware of this brings the Lord’s approach into sharper relief. Rather than send them away, he chose to teach them. His priority was getting the Word into their lives.
It is as if he saw them wandering through life without true knowledge of how to live. Accordingly, they were, in His sight, sheep without a Shepherd. But how could they find a shepherd? It was through the teaching of God’s Word that they would find out about the Shepherd and the way to find life and live life.
It is further interesting that He taught them many things. He was prepared to stretch them with much from the Word so as to maximise the benefit into their lives.
It would have been so easy to have prioritised getting them home or getting them food, but his priority was getting the Word to them. We must remember this. People need the Words of life that are in Scripture. The world is filled with harassed sheep wandering through life with no shepherd. And we need to teach them.
Here is our church newsletter for August 2017.
I seem to have had several experiences over the last few years concerning certain men who have been hijacked concerning the faith. Here are the characteristics:
- They are male
- They are in their 20’s / 30’s
- They make profession of some conversion experience.
- They have a degree of zeal regarding serving God.
- They profess that they want to learn.
- None of them were with us at the beginning of their confession of Christ.
And what has happened? They have been hijacked concerning the faith. All of them to varying degrees are presently less than useful for the cause of Christ. In many ways it perplexes me. Why has this happened? I am left wondering whether we have failed them. We have labored to provide foundational teaching and to disciple them, but it has come to nothing. I find all the situations so grieving. Perhaps it was that they had all been set on the wrong course before they arrived. This mixed in with the ready accessibility of spiritual gunge online has conspired to their messy condition.
Possibly two scriptures are pertinent here:
- For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God (2 Cor. 2:15-17). This indicates how the church when operating effectively is a dividing place
- They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2:19). This indicates that sometimes the leaving of the church is proof that these people were not of the church.
What ever it is, the Lord knows all. But I am much grieved.
One of the observations from the tragedies earlier in the year in Manchester and North Kensington is that there has been an overwhelming commitment to help in the immediate aftermath of the crises. This cannot be denied and there have been real examples of people wanting to give of themselves for the benefit of others.
It strikes me as intriguing how this has been celebrated in the media. It is as if the ways people have come together is being put forward as an evidence that things are not that bad in society after all. It is as if these displays are paraded as evidence that the secular humanist agendas for our society are working.
It would be my contention though that society draws together in times of celebration and crisis. But these are inevitably only temporary. Whenever, things get to the normal maelstrom of things then all the tendencies to anger, self interest, and nastiness rear their heads pretty quickly.
One of the beauties of being a Christian is to be committed to a local fellowship of believers. In being bound-in with the body of Christ, as has been set in that church, there is the responsibility to be assembling with them on a regular basis. From my earliest days of being a babe in Christ I was blessed to be in a fellowship where there was a commitment to be together. Accordingly, there was the expectation of being there at the services on a Sunday and also at the Prayer and Bible Teaching Meeting on a Wednesday. It was not something I thought about, it was something you did. And I have had the privilege to continue this over the years in other fellowships.
It seems to me to be a freeing thing to not have to think: should I or should I not go to the service. It is all just part of the beautiful responsibility of being in a local representation of the body of Christ. It therefore, perplexes me when there are those who just don’t perceive it that way. The services of the fellowship are attended to on the basis of what fits in with their convenience and arrangements.
In saying what I have, there are obviously times when you cannot be there, ill health, emergencies, holidays, fulfilling responsibilities towards others, work commitments and looking after children would cover circumstances where church attendance has not been possible.
In saying all this we do not want to make church attendance as a means of gaining status with the Lord. Our standing with the Lord is all to do with the grace that is in Christ. We want church to be a place of delight in His grace and a place where we long to be together.
But that all does not take away from the fact that when we bind to a church we bid to supporting the meeting together at the services. If you are a church member and are not at the services you are missed; the body feels it.
What I want to consider here is the presumption that certain things will happen in our lives. At the heart of such an attitude is a perspective that I am in control of my life. James says Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:15-16).
Making our plans is right Solomon says, In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Prov.16:9). But all such plans should be subject to the Lord’s will.
I am not saying that we should always be verbalising “if the Lord will”, but I do believe such a sentiment should be continually on our hearts. This is the godly attitude to life.
I remember a couple sending out address cards for their potential new home upon them getting married. Alas the property purchase fell through.
We need to be careful how we act as regards the anticipation of events.
Well, there are not may of them around are there? Who are they? They are listeners. Not many will stop, be quiet and listen to others. What I am referring to here is listening with interest to the person in front of you. It is about giving them your attention.
This of course flows on from what I talked about yesterday. People who need to talk need to have those who will listen. They need to find those who are interested in them. So often you can start to broach an issue in your life and you know that the person is not interested and so you back off.
Alas so many people are just interested in being speakers. They just want to be heard. They want to have their say. There are lots of talkers and not many listeners is my observation. In fact to find someone who will really listen when you are beset by deep issues is a rare thing.
Here is a ministry that is really needed therefore. So why not pray to the Lord today and ask Him if He will make you a listener. No doubt, you will soon find much to do and be a blessing to many.