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No Doubt About It

In Mark Chapter 8 we see Jesus has a large crowd gathered around Him as He taught. The crowd was so enamored at Jesus and His teaching that they did not want to leave and who could blame them I mean after all this is the Word teaching the word. After 3 days of this they had all run out of food and as a result Jesus has compassion on them all. Not wanting to send them home because he was afraid they would be too weak to make the journey and would faint along the way, as some had come from far away, He looked to the disciples to intervene.

The disciples in response to this asked Jesus where were they suppose to find food out here in the wilderness they were in to feed all of these people, I mean it wasn’t like they could go sown the street to the local Chik-Fil-A and get some of those delicious pre blessed chicken sandwiches with waffle fries and a coke for everyone. But truth be told Mark 8:4 is a very sad verse to me mainly because of the many times it plays out in my own life. You see sometimes I suffer from the debilitating disease of doubt.

What makes Mark 8:4 so tragic of a verse though? I mean it is a fairly reasonable question, here the disciples are way out in a desolate place, a wilderness and there are throngs of people, 4000 men to be exact so with women and children included possibly around 12,000 people were sprawled out at this location and there was no place close to go get enough food to feed everyone. However, the tragedy of Mark 8:4 comes to light because of what has already transpired in Mark 6:30-44. You see the disciples have already been in this very scenario before with even more people and Jesus took a mere 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish and performed a miracle where He fed everyone until they were full and in fact they had 12 baskets of bread left over!

Now the feeding of the 5,000 took place around the Sea of Galilee which was predominately Jewish inhabitants and the feeding of the 4,000 took place around the area of the Decapolis which was predominately Gentile inhabitants. Regardless of the fact that there were two different groups that made up the majority of the crowds the same Jesus was there and so when the disciples ask where they will get enough food to supply to those gathered they are literally asking the question to the One who has feed 5,000+ with a little boys lunch previously.

Don’t you just want to yell at your Bible when you read this…”Duh! Hello! Jesus will provide don’t you remember what He did earlier”? But aren’t we guilty of the same thing? We find our self in a desolate place, we find ourself in a spiritual wilderness and we place that situation and our lives into the hands of Jesus and He performs a mighty miracle and provides what we need in full and then some only to find ourselves later in another desolate place in another spiritual wilderness and we start to panic, we get filled with worry, we are overcome with anxiety and fear and we wonder where our help will come from…”Duh! Hello! Jesus will provide don’t you remember how He did so earlier”?

You know what causes us to ask where?…to look else where other than the hands of Jesus? The same thing that caused the disciples to do so…Doubt. Doubt that Jesus could, doubt that Jesus would, doubt that we should bother Him with whatever the need may be.Now doubt is not sin in and of itself. To have doubtful thoughts is not sinful but don’t let those seeds of doubt the enemy tries to sow into your life nest in your mind because lingering doubt is at the heart of pretty much all sin. I mean just look at the very fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Satan enticed Eve and subsequently Adam to sin by placing seeds of doubt in their mind about God and His word.

PRIDE arises out of doubt that God truly makes a better God over our lives than we do. ADULTERY, SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE, HOMOSEXUALITY, ALL LUSTS stem from the doubt that God’s planned design for physical intimacy is to be between one man and one woman in the confines of marriage. GREED, THEFT, COVEOUTENESS all stem from doubting the provision of God. ABORTION the doubt that all life is truly sacred and created by a good and loving God. Doubt left unchecked by the truth of God’s word and our past experiences of God’s love, faithfulness and provision cause us to commit  the 2 F’s, forcing and fleeing.

Saul was king over Israel and a war with the Philistines was going on. Saul had been commanded by God through the prophet Samuel to go to Gilgal and wait on him and Samuel would come and sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings and then give Saul further instructions. Saul got anxious and doubted God’s provision and protection over the army for they started to panic and slip away and so when Samuel  didn’t show up exactly when Saul thought he should Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself, which he was not in any position or authority to do. As soon as Saul finished Samuel comes and sees this grievous violation and when Samuel asks Saul to explain himself Saul said because his men were scattering and the Philistines were close by ready to attack he said he “forced” himself to sacrifice the burnt offerings (1 Samuel 13:12 NASB).

When we doubt God and His timing and His plan for us by forcing things we open up doors we shouldn’t open, we fight battles we shouldn’t fight and we take on roles for ourselves we shouldn’t take on. We must never doubt God’s timing is perfect and His plan is victorious. We must fight the temptation doubt produces in our lives to force open doors God has not opened for us and to run ahead of God. We must trust God and His timing and His plan for our lives.

Doubt if it doesn’t cause us to force open doors and run ahead of God will cause us to flee from God and what He is calling us to. Take for instance Jonah. Jonah was called by God to go to the evil and wicked Ninevites and call them to repentance. But Jonah doubted God needed him to carry out the delivery of this message and he doubted that the Ninevites even deserved the message so “Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord” (Jonah 1:3 NASB).

Fleeing from your problems is a race you will never win. It only delays the inevitable and causes the problem to grow and fester. When we flee from our problems we are really fleeing from opportunities to see God perform and work mighty miracles in our lives and the lives of those around us. We must stand firm trusting God that He will provide for us exactly what we need to carry out what He has called us to regardless how desolate of a place we find ourselves in.

Oh, and how did the feeding of the 4000 end up, you know the story we started off looking at?  Well all present ate until they were full and 7 baskets of bread were used to hold the leftovers and these were big baskets too. The Greek word for baskets used here is spuris, which is more descriptive of a large hamper, it is the word used to describe the basket used to lower Paul down in to escape the Jews who desired to kill him in Damascus (Acts 9:25).

You may be in one of those desolate places right now, you mind find yourself in a spiritual wilderness and you maybe wondering where…where will your miracle, where will your help come from? Let me tell you what I lose sight of myself more often then I would care to admit; take your life and place it into the care and control of Jesus by placing it into His hands. Just like the few loaves of bread and small fish Jesus used, our lives even though they are but vapors, can be used to be a blessing to multitudes of people. So don’t try to force open doors and don’t flee from your problems just trust in the Lord who is the author and finisher of our faith. He will see you through, no doubt about it.

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth – Psalm 121:2