The Joy Stealers Are At it Again

The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.) Mark 7:1-4

These Pharisees had the ability to suck every bit of life right out from under you if you weren’t careful. I doubt they smiled or had any joy in life. They were supposed to be defenders of the law but, as Jesus would later point out, they were as guilty as the rest, and they knew better.

We discussed this a few days ago, how the takers in your life can zap all your energy from you. These Pharisees were like that but they had authority over people. Obedience to their law and traditions was paramount. They were so rigid and unbending in their approach.

How’s your joy?

I know it seems like a random question based on what I just wrote, but these Pharisees stole people’s joy of living. Is anyone stealing your joy in life?

Reclaim it today. Even in he most dire of situation, you can have joy. I didn’t say it was easy, but it’s possible. But you first have to locate the joy stealers in your life There may be more than one. Root them out and be done with them. Again, not easy, but necessary.

Then, find joy in the simple things of life: a peaceful hour in the morning, your kids growing to be Godly and appreciative, your faithful spouse, the possibilities are endless.

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Give and Take, Take and Give

53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. 54 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. 55 They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:53-56

Jesus was very generous with His limited and energy. After news spread yet again that He was in town, they flocked to hear and see him. This time, though, they knew that only touching Him would heal them.

Very few, however, wanted to touch Jesus for being who He was, as in our culture, we just might want to shake someone’s hand as a touching gesture. No, they were coming for what He could do for them. Ironic, then, that He would teach that loving others would be so important.

The disciples saw what was going on. They saw His generosity and putting up with people that “took” from Him all day long. They also saw Him retreat when He needed a break from the masses.

Later we’ll see people tending to Him – Mary and Martha both come to mind. But those who put Him first throughout the Gospel narrative are few and far between. The givers are the exception and not the norm, especially in the heat of ministry.

The relationships Jesus had with the people were “one-offs”. He would probably never see them this side of heaven again.

However, with the disciples, they absorbed knowledge and experience from Jesus, while Jesus received satisfaction that they were learning and would one day do what He was doing.

We all know this truth, but you will have people who take take take from you if you let them. Their expectations from you are high and they’ll voice their disappointment in you if you let them down. Every healthy relationship is give and take. A one-sided relationship is quite unhealthy for all involved.

Seek to broaden your existing relationship so that it’s give and take. Since you probably knows what the unhealthy, one-sided relationship looks like, pray for those around you who are in such a situation. You may not be in a position other than to pray, but pray you must.

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Perfect Communion with the Father

45 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. Mark 6:45-46

Jesus needed alone time, that is, He needed to be alone with the Father. While He was always in communion with the Father, He needed that one on one that aloneness brings. He sent the disciples away and he sent the people away, then hiked up a mountain side. He was no doubt exhausted from His recent activities.

We have no idea what He prayed or how long. When you have perfect communion with God the Father you don’t need to be longwinded or chatty.

We get but a glimpse of this communion, but Jesus had it all. Resting in the Lord. Perfect peace. All of those and more. Maybe they chatted; maybe they didn’t. But obviously He found strength to continue.

This is just a gentle reminder of how we gain strength for each day: communion with the Lord. Ours won’t be perfect as His was, but it will nonetheless be sweet.

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Enjoying the Journey

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 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 6:32-34

The people had leaders, both spiritual and political, but they wanted someone they could get behind. They were going out of their way to find Him and follow Him. The good news about his landing spread fast. Mark tells us they were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus knew the abuse they had been living under. He was facing similar abuse but at a much higher level. They wanted Him dead. And today wasn’t soon enough for them.

I think they people were hungry for truth. Yes, the miracles and healings and the exorcisms certainly were a draw, but they longed for the truth and traveled great distances to find it. He was the Truth they were seeking. Finally.

Don’t gloss over the passage because you’ve read it 200 times before.

Those people – those pathetic shepherdless people – are us.

We seek the truth as they did.
We seek to be taught.
Many of us have gone great distances get a glimpse of Him, to learn from Him, and to teach others about Him.

As has been said by many preachers, we’re merely beggars showing other beggars where to find bread.

Were the people satisfied with what they saw and heard? I think so.

Question is, do we come to Him with that expectation as well?

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Your Point of View

30 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:30-31

The disciples finally got a chance to inform Jesus about their adventures, and adventures they were, I’m sure.

One at a time. One at a time, gentlemen.

Even though six pairs went out, all twelve had stories from their viewpoint. Not only did Jesus hear their stories but so did the other disciples. Could there have been a little “oneupmanship” going on? Possibly, but the point is they all heard the stories. How is that significant?

All our stories are different. Even as I grew up with my brother, my view of a story – any story – was unique even if we experienced the same event.

I recall singing in churches as a chorus throughout Great Britain in 1990 or so. About 50 college-aged men, each seeing the same event from our own eyes, recalled things about each experience that was unique to us.

Our testimony of what we are doing now in Christ is as important as it was when we told the world about how we were saved. People can try to refute the Bible but they can’t refute your experience. It’s yours and always will be.

What are you experiencing these days?

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