People respond differently to God. We see this all the time. Some people are interested in God, some people aren't. There were a variety of responses to Jesus in Mark. Jesus describes why some people respond differently than others in Mark 4:1-20. This is the critical question: what kind of soil are you?
The Pharisees brought many accusations against Jesus during his ministry. Out of all those charges, only one was labeled unforgivable--blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. They essentially said Jesus was empowered by demons, rather than by the Holy Spirit. Often we are quick to judge or condemn people, ideas, and movements that look different from ours. But Jesus welcomes all who do the will of the Father.
The Pharisees distorted Sabbath and weaponized it. Jesus understood God created Sabbath for the good of the people. They didn't see the world the way Jesus did. Eventually, their hearts grow so hard that they start to plot Jesus' death. The hardness of their hearts determined their ability to see.
Jesus showed us that God does his best work at places like Levi's house, not the temple. Our mission is not getting lost people in the church so much as it is getting Christ in lost people. Worship and other church events are like halftime. They matter, but they are not where we play the game. That means we have to actively go where lost people are.
We all have certain boundaries that we don’t want to be violated. During Jesus’ life, there was a certain religious group (The Pharisees) who had rigid boundaries. They believed these boundaries shouldn’t be violated. A controversy is created when Jesus violates a major boundary of the Pharisees. It raises the question: how should followers of Jesus live out what Jesus taught today?
Life is often challenging. We encounter new difficulties and obstacles every day. Sometimes those obstacles stick with us for a long time, either turning into bad habits or simply hindering us from taking the next step forward. Through faith in Jesus, we can experience breakthrough into new territories and arenas of experiencing God's goodness. Through our own faith and of those around us, we can break through!
It's difficult to say "no." There are so many expectations placed on us that choosing how to prioritize our lives is no easy task. Thankfully, we have Jesus as our example. He understood his Father's will and made it his life's mission to see it come to fruition. Even when his ministry grew so large so quickly, he wasn't controlled by the expectations of his followers. Jesus lived on mission, which dictated the way he lived his life
What does it look like when the Holy Spirit moves among a group of people? And how do they respond? We catch a glimpse in Acts 13. The church at Antioch is praying and fasting when the Holy Spirit calls Paul and Barnabas to a mission, to a purpose. What would it look like and how would we respond if the Holy Spirit decided to move among us? There is more purpose for us.
It's easy to lose hope for something better, especially when you're not seeing any signs of hope. This was the case for Ezekiel. He was a priest in exile in Babylon. But God gave him a vision for something better, something in the future. It was a sign of hope for Ezekiel that God wasn't done with Israel. It was a sign of hope that there was more. It's also a reminder for us that there is more... more power.
What precedes a spiritual awakening, the conditions that create the kind of environment for God to move with power? There are probably multiple ways to answer. But, one thing is certain. Prayer precedes an awakening. If we desire spiritual awakening, we should be in prayer. There is more through prayer.
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