FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
The King Of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of Love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.
Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And, where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.
Welcome to the Red Mountain Sunday Recap!
The Sunday Recap is a brief fly-by of what we did during Sunday worship. Did anything land with you from worship on Sunday? What did it make you think? How did it make you feel? What did you find especially sweet or challenging from God's word? What did we sing, read, or pray that left an impression on you?
Food For Thought!
The greatest difficulty in conversion, is to win the heart to God; and the greatest difficulty after conversion, is to keep the heart with God. – John Flavel
Confession of Sin:
Exodus 20:1-2, 15
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. . . .You shall not steal.”
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, even our best efforts are as filthy rags when compared with your righteousness. We confess we are more interested in our own wealth and well-being than that of our neighbors. We confess we are inwardly selfish and greedy and so have stolen from others by what we have done or have left undone. Father help us to see how we fall short of your law to not steal and how we fail to be generous toward others with your good gifts. We thank you that in Christ there is full and free pardon for all our sin; that in Christ you promise to take care of us; and that through Christ we can enjoy your blessings and give them away to others. Please help us to obey your word and to follow your way through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Words of Grace
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. - Romans 8:31-32, 38-39
Confession of Faith: Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q. 23. What offices does Christ execute as our Redeemer?
A. Christ, as our Redeemer, executes the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in his estate of humiliation and exaltation.
1 Long ago, at many times andin many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 butin these last dayshe has spoken to us byhis Son, whom he appointedthe heir of all things, through whom also he createdthe world.
Therefore he hadto be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priestin the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
9ThereforeGod hashighly exalted him and bestowed on himthe name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesusevery knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 andevery tongue confess that Jesus Christ isLord, to the glory of God the Father.
Sermon Text: Mark 8:1-21
1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.
11 The Pharisees came and began to argue with him, seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him. 12 And he sighed deeply in his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Truly, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” 13 And he left them, got into the boat again, and went to the other side.
14 Now they had forgotten to bring bread, and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. 15 And he cautioned them, saying, “Watch out; beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” 16 And they began discussing with one another the fact that they had no bread. 17 And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” They said to him, “Twelve.” 20“And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you take up?” And they said to him, “Seven.” 21 And he said to them, “Do you not yet understand?”
1. We need to heed Jesus' warning (vs. 15)
2. We need to remember Jesus' compassion (vs. 2, 18c)
3. We need to look beyond the obvious till we see Jesus (vs. 12-13)
As a parent of four boys I feel like I spend a good portion of my life looking for things: socks, homework, star wars action figures, essential ingredients to a super hero costume. Sometimes what I am looking for is obvious but often it is not.
The point of this passage is, what you are looking for, what you believe you most need, right now, whatever your circumstances is right in front of you. As we approach the midway point of Mark's gospel we might expect to see the disciples more fully and deeply seeing, hearing, and understanding Jesus. But we don't. Instead they don't yet understand (v. 21).
What is most obvious to them - they are out of bread (v. 14, 16) - has blinded them to what should be obvious but isn't. This raises an important issue for us. Have you ever felt like the message of Christianity and all this talk about Jesus just falls flat with you? Have you ever felt like it is irrelevant? It just doesn't touch down in the areas of your life that are most obviously in need of God's attention? Why is that? What's going on? What are we missing?
The problem begins with our approach to life. In verse 16 and 17 Mark uses an interesting word that is translated "discussing". This word occurs 7 times in the New Testament and never positively. In each case it describes people who are trying to figure out life or Jesus on their own. It's an example of what self-reliance and pride look like. But where does this come from? Why do we do this?
Jesus says it comes from the leaven of unbelief. Right in the middle of the disciples "discussing," Jesus emphatically warns the disciples to LOOK OUT for the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod (v. 16). Leaven is virtually the same thing as yeast. It is an essential ingredient for baking. However, it only takes a very little bit to do the job, to work its way into every part of the dough. Jesus' use of leaven describes the sinister, subtle, even imperceptible unbelief and opposition of the Pharisees and Herod. He sees the signs of this same unbelief in his disciples, especially after watching him feed - through them - not one but two enormous crowds in the middle of nowhere with just a few loaves and a few fish with plenty left over (6:30-44; 8:1-10).
What then can we say the leaven of unbelief looks like? It has two essential ingredients. Trying, frustrating, or disappointing circumstances mixed with a refusal to turn to Jesus for compassion and help. That's where the disciples find themselves. Can you relate?
What can be done about this problem? We need to take another look at Jesus' compassion. In 8:1-10 Jesus feeds 4000 people. It is remarkably similar to the feeding of the 5000 in 6:30-44. What do we learn about Jesus' compassion from a second feeding miracle. First, Jesus compassion is repetitive (v. 1, 2;6:34). In other words, it is inexhaustible! Second, Jesus' compassion corresponds to our need (v. 2). But as the disciples clearly indicate (6:35-37; 8:4) how his compassion will correspond to our needs is often far from obvious to us. Here the disciples are a negative example of faith. Faith means trusting that Jesus' compassion corresponds to all your needs and looking for him to do so in his way. Third, Jesus' compassion is patient. Perhaps you don't see how Jesus' compassion can reach you. The disciples felt the same way...twice (6:35-37; 8:4). But notice Jesus doesn't get mad or dismissive. He is patient. He involves them in sharing and enjoying his compassion (6:41; 8:6). Fourth, Jesus' compassion is penetrating (v. 17-21). Lest the disciples miss the seriousness of their spiritual condition, Jesus asks a flurry (7 in all) of penetrating questions. In the middle of these questions is the haunting, "And do you not remember?"
If that applied to the disciples how much more to us who live after the death and resurrection of Jesus? The antidote to the leaven of unbelief is remembering the compassion of Jesus, which would cost him his very life.
Why does Jesus say, "no sign will be given to this generation" in response to the Pharisees? Because this question, this test, illustrates our propensity to demand something more obvious than what Jesus gives us in his life, death, and resurrection. But we were promised something better than a sign. We are promised a SON!
How then do you look beyond the obvious until you see Jesus? Perhaps we can take a cue from the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). We need to sit at the feet of Jesus until we are satisfied with his compassion (6:42; 8:8).
38 ...Jesusentered a village. And a woman namedMarthawelcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister calledMary, whosat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you areanxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosenthe good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
- What was new or compelling to you? What stood out to you from this passage?
- What questions does this passage raise for you?
- Was there anything that bothered you?
- What is your reaction to the disciples "discussion" in verse 14 and 16?
- How have you or do you see the leaven of unbelief in your life?
- What do you most need to see and understand about Jesus' compassion?
- What is one thing you can do to remember the gospel this week?
Suggested Resources & The Week Ahead
The passage we looked at this week goes to the very heart of our problems...unbelief! The seriousness of this problem is highlighted by Jesus' quoting from all three of the major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel) in verse 18. "Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear?" It's a question God asks his people again and again as they refuse to trust in him and instead seek after other gods and rely on themselves to navigate life.
Therefore, what can we do to lay hold of God's grace in Christ in such a way that it takes deep root in our hearts and pushes out the leaven of unbelief? Let me suggest to you a little book called Keeping The Heart. It's not long but is worth its weight in gold if you want to understand the gospel and grow in grace in every area of your life.
Songs for this week:
All Hail The Power Of Jesus' Name
For All The Saints
Streams Of Living Water
How Sweet The Name of Jesus Sounds
Until next time,