Grace and Peace to you in the Name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Welcome to the Monday Morning Bible Study on the Gospel of Mark. I hope that as you have taken the time to share this Bible Study with me on Mondays and Tuesdays, that you have considered inviting others to share it with you. The writer of Mark has so much for us to ponder in our relationship with Jesus, and today's short passage is no exception. More on this in a little while. Please continue to pray for Kandice and her wife Lisa in Hawaii. Kandice is battling cancer that has developed in her torso core. She has developed some new tumors, so her doctors are now looking for a new approach to battle the old tumors which were shrinking, and the new one that seems to not be affected by the old treatment plan. Also pray for Jeff H., and his wife Karen, Jeff has a similar kind of hard to treat and inoperable cancer which was just discovered. Give thanks for Jeff's current good quality of life, but his future of more than 12 months is really in doubt.
I had an in-home fall on Saturday late in the day. I am thankful to God that I was not more seriously injured. A am still very sore, and the gash on my elbow will take some time to heal. I have come away from this event knowing that it was the Lord's pause to what was going on in my head and heart at the moment the fall happened. God uses both the good and the difficult things in our lives as opportunities for growing our faith and love for His always present Grace.
I am never quite certain how I will move from my opening into the study today, yet once again the Lord provides, as He always does. Let's just review a bit. Today's reading follows the feeding, teaching, and healing of the 5000 men and their families. Jesus sends His Disciples off in what appears to be an attempt to keep them from hearing the tempting calls of the people to make Jesus the king of Israel. On Galilee the Disciples fall victim to a stormy headwind, that keeps them from making any progress toward shore. Jesus has dismissed the crowds, and gone into the hills to pray, but on his return to Galilee, He sees His Disciples in their struggle. He walks to them through the waves and stills the storm so that these men, and perhaps a few women, who are the ones he loves for their faithfulness, can continue to get to the shore. They have left the feeding of the 5000 to move on to other areas around Galilee, but on landing they are recognized. From here you know what happens! People rush into their communities to bring out all who are ill and in need of healing. They are brash about reaching out to just touch Christ's clothing, and as we continue through the passage, village after village offered Christ the same response. They all came to get what they wanted from Jesus, AND THEY GOT IT! Christ offered His healing to all who came, village after village after village. The Gospels are loaded with just such overwhelming numbers of needy people who come to take from Christ what they want, His power to heal.
I guess such reaching out to take what we want is a part of human nature. The people in these villages were hardly any different to what we continue to be today ourselves. There is definitely a reason why Mark continues to include these kinds of stories of Christ's life experience with the people who he has come to save. They all seem to be after what they can get, and not what they can give! On Sunday in my sermon, I spoke about how we often attempt to serve Christ to get saved, when the opposite is where we need to be in our lives of faith. We are already saved by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. So, we are saved to serve. And we receive from the Spirit the “yes” of faith, and faith itself, and through Christ we have forgiveness, life with God, and Salvation, all already done and complete for us. But how do you and I respond. We seem to continually come to Christ to get, instead of approaching Christ to give. When our children are at home growing up, they have a lot to give me in their lives. A house, food, warmth in the winter, cooling in the summer, allowance, "drip” (that’s cool clothes for we older folks), a car to drive, Nike shoes, and so much more, and try as we might, we work to help them understand that life is about giving, at home, and in the world. Our journey of faith is exactly the same. Churches seem to be able to offend members easily when member giving of time, talents, and resources are sought, even when the Church has been in their midst to Baptize, Commune, marry, bury, teach, provide rich worship experiences, and so much more in the Name of Christ. Yet in all of that we seem to do a lot of getting, and a lot less giving. We all probably have experienced friends who only use us, and who find it difficult to give of themselves in the relationships we have with them. That seems to be human nature with our relationship with God too. When was the last time that you actually told Christ that you love Him, and are thankful for every opportunity to serve His Gospel and Truth with people you meet in your life? I have to tell you, it is so refreshing on the prayer chain when we are able to give thanks to God for having answered our prayers, but we often do not hear when God's intervention has been received. We really just need to be mindful of all of the giving which is possible for us because we have already received so much through God's love for our lives in Jesus Christ. As I approach the ripe old age of 74 in a few months, I am giving my thanks and love to God for providing me each week that I am able to be playing the preludes and hymns, and selecting music and worship setting and hymns appropriate for the Church Year Seasons, and most especially, to offer for the good of the Gospel's work, the sermon for the day. All I have needed to continue being a servant of the Gospel has already been shared with me by my Savior and Lord, and my giving will be to continue as long as I can to proclaim my love for our Savior, and to encourage you to do the same.
Tomorrow we will move into chapter 7 of the Gospel of Mark.
In Christ's Love, Pastor Kim