Compassion for the Crowd
“In those days there was another large crowd with nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have already been here with me three days, and they have nothing to eat” (Mark 8:1-2 NET).
As I sit in the airport waiting to board my flight to Adana, Turkey, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the immense devastation and suffering ahead of me. The country of Turkey, or Turkiye, was rocked in early February by two back-to-back major earthquakes, and I am deploying to assist Operation Blessing’s international disaster relief team. The thousands of people affected by this disaster have many immediate needs: food, water, shelter, and medical aid.
It can be easy to feel disheartened and discouraged when we start to think about the significant needs locally in our communities and internationally around the world. But before we lose hope, let us look back to the story in Mark to see how Jesus responds to the needs in front of Him:
“Then he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. After he took the seven loaves and gave thanks, he broke them and began giving them to the disciples to serve. So they served the crowd. They also had a few small fish. After giving thanks for these, he told them to serve these as well. Everyone ate and was satisfied, and they picked up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full” (Mark 8:6-8).
What is Jesus’ response to seeing the hungry people around Him? He meets their immediate need miraculously!
We see in this passage that genuine compassion for the crowd leads Jesus to action. The same should be true for His followers. We may not have the natural ability to multiply bread and fish on demand, but God has gifted each one of us with time, money, and other resources to use for His glory. When we see a need around us, love and compassion from the Holy Spirit should push us into action.
Who is the “crowd” in your life that Jesus is calling you to have compassion for? Who has God placed on your heart to help? No matter how daunting the task is at hand, you can find motivation and reassurance that God is calling you to action for His purpose and glory. Remember that the disciples had to begin distributing the food before they could see that the food would not run out. When we step out in obedience and faith with compassion for others, we make room for Jesus to move in miraculous ways.
Jesus, thank You for your compassion and love for me. This week, show me who You are calling me to meet the needs of specifically. I know You are not overwhelmed by these needs, so give me the boldness to turn my compassion from You into action that points people to who You are. Thank You that I can be a part of Your plan to reach my community and the world! In Your name, I pray. Amen.
Streams in the Desert – March 3
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And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him (Mark 9:26).
Evil never surrenders its hold without a sore fight. We never pass into any spiritual inheritance through the delightful exercises of a picnic, but always through the grim contentions of the battle field. It is so in the secret realm of the soul. Every faculty which wins its spiritual freedom does so at the price of blood. Apollyon is not put to flight by a courteous request; he straddles across the full breadth of the way, and our progress has to be registered in blood and tears. This we must remember or we shall add to all the other burdens of life the gall of misinterpretation. We are not “born again” into soft and protected nurseries, but in the open country where we suck strength from the very terror of the tempest. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
–Dr. J. H. Jowett
Faith of our Fathers! living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire and sword:
O how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious word.
Faith of our Fathers! Holy Faith!
We will be true to Thee till death!
Our fathers, chained in prisons dark,
Were still in heart and conscience free;
How sweet would be their children’s fate,
If they, like them, could die for Thee!
Numbers 11:14, 16-17 14I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me…
16The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. 17I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.
There is only one man that is meant to be the leader whom all look to, Jesus of Nazareth. God brought Moses to the place where he recognized that carrying the burden of all the people was not meant for an under-shepherd. Jesus is the Great Shepherd, and He employs many under-shepherds. Even when we cast our burden upon the Lord, it can just get to be too much for us to deal with. We were meant to share the load with our brothers and sisters in the faith. As we gather with them, God places His Spirit upon them (now within them) so they can be His instruments. They help God ordained leadership carry the burden of the people.
When we try to carry it alone we find ourselves facing depression as Moses was here. He asked the Lord to put him to death. The people’s many complaints just became overwhelming. But when we stand together with a team filled with the Spirit, we share the load and build one another up. Each finds his place of ministry and we work together as God intended.
Jethro had given Moses this advice earlier, but what was lacking? The elders needed the Spirit to enable them to carry Moses’ burden for the people. A worker can do physical activities and make decisions, but a Spirit filled worker helps to carry the burden for the people.
Meditation: Do I rely on the Spirit to help me carry the load in the fellowship I attend?
Sanctification Isn’t Passive – In Touch – March 3
By: Charles Stanley
Did you know that God didn’t save you just to keep you from hell and get you into heaven? His top priority while you are here on earth is to shape you into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). But at this stage of our sanctification, He doesn’t do it all for us. We have a responsibility to cooperate with Him and actively participate in the process. Yet many Christians have a passive attitude about the life of faith. They tolerate sin and smooth it over with the age-old excuse, “Nobody’s perfect!”
When you received Christ as your Savior, you took the first step in your walk with Him–a walk that will last the rest of your life. However, you also stepped into spiritual warfare with Satan. The Enemy may have lost your soul, but he’s going to do everything he can to hinder, sidetrack, and discourage you. The last thing he wants is a saint who’s on fire for the Lord and useful in the kingdom.
But many believers have abdicated their responsibility to live holy lives. In fact, some of them look and act just like the unbelieving world. Sexual immorality is one area of compromise that the apostle Paul addressed specifically, but in truth, we should abstain from anything that interferes with godliness.
Have you allowed something in your life that shouldn’t be there? If so, you need to drop it now. You don’t want a thread of sin to become a rope, then a chain, and finally a cable that traps you in a stronghold. Turn back to the Lord, and let your sanctification continue.