Mark 7:13, “Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.”
Deuteronomy 4:2 clearly states “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it . . ..” This same thought is repeated in the New Testament in Revelation 22:18-19 with very stiff penalties. Religious man is very swift to observe the part about not diminishing any of God’s commandments, but there seems to be an unwritten law that adding to them is okay. Every denomination has its own set of “do’s and don’ts” which aren’t found in scripture, and like those of the hypocritical Pharisees, their unwritten laws usually have to do with outward appearance.
We need to remember that adding to God’s commandments is just as bad as taking away from them. We need to speak when the Bible speaks, and be silent when the Bible is silent.
The commandments of God and the traditions of men are not the same thing and must always be clearly distinguished. Any attempt to place them on the same level will always result in making the Word of God of none effect. You have to either “lay aside” the commandment of God to keep the traditions of men or you have to “lay aside” the traditions of men to keep the commandments of God. Church liturgy is tradition, as well as many of the “do’s and don’ts” taught by churches today. We can neutralize the positive power of God’s Word toward us, and nothing will do that quicker than elevating man’s traditions above God’s Word. God’s Word is still true… Romans 3:3-4 and will not return to Him void… Isaiah 55:11.
The Word will not profit anyone who doesn’t believe it, but God’s Word itself doesn’t lose any power. If some do not believe God’s Word, does that make God’s Word of no effect? The answer to this question is a resounding “no!” God’s Word still has its power to save, and it will profit you when you mix it with faith.
He Blesses What We Already Have
John 6:9, “There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?”
Notice that Jesus didn’t just turn some of the stones into bread as Satan had tempted Him to do in… Luke 4:3. We find only one instance in scripture where God created a supply to meet a need… Numbers 11:21-23. Usually, the Lord simply blesses what we set our hand to do. The resources were totally inadequate to meet the need in this instance, but when the Lord blessed it, there was more than enough.
Jesus didn’t just teach the disciples, but He trained them also. He was constantly trying to involve them in these miracles. Just a matter of days later, He again asked His disciples what they could do to feed the multitude of four thousand men. It was like He was saying “You missed this question when I asked you how we could feed the five thousand men. Now, here are less people and more food. What would you suggest this time?”
Instead of remembering the previous miracle, they acted like they had never seen Jesus feed the multitude and they looked at their own resources again… Matthew 15:32; Mark 8:1. Likewise, we all too often try everything we can do first and forget God’s supernatural power until all we can do is pray. Many people have missed their miracle because they never took that first step of faith and used what they had. This young lad was certainly credited with part of this miracle for offering what he had. When in need, we should seek God’s direction for something to set our hand to, and then trust Him to bless it and multiply the results of our work.
Rest And Re-Fire
Mark 6:31, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”
Jesus often separated Himself from others so that He could spend time with the Father. Here, we see Jesus calling His disciples apart for rest and leisure. Many zealous Christians have neglected the needs of their physical bodies and have, therefore, cut their ministries short through death or severe illness. Likewise, many have failed to take the time to be still and know God… Psalm 46:10. This will also cut your ministry short through non-effectiveness. One of Satan’s deadliest weapons against those involved in ministry is busy-ness. We must balance our time ministering to others with our time of being ministered to by our Father. If the devil can’t stop you from “getting on fire” for God, then he’ll try to stop you by getting you “burned out.”
Remember, the reason Jesus and His disciples were going to this remote place was to get away from the multitude for awhile and rest. This rest was not optional, but rather, a necessity. Jesus and His disciples were taking a much needed vacation. However, the multitude followed them and their vacation ended even before it began. Surely, Jesus and His disciples were just as disappointed as you or I would have been. But instead of anger or bitterness, Jesus was moved with compassion.
Later on in the evening, Jesus went up into a mountain and prayed until the fourth watch (3 to 6 a.m.). The Lord intends for us to take care of these physical bodies as can be seen by Jesus’ actions in taking His disciples aside for rest. But when this purpose was frustrated by the demands of the ministry, Jesus gave priority to the spirit man and stayed up all night praying and getting the spiritual rest He was needing. We should follow His example and always put the needs of the spirit ahead of the needs of the flesh.
Joint Heirs With Christ
Matthew 12:50, “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
We are not just heirs, we are joint-heirs with Christ. It would be wonderful to inherit any amount of God’s glory and power. But, the idea that we share equally with the one who has inherited everything God is and has is beyond comprehension. This is an awesome blessing, but it also places a tremendous responsibility on us.
In the same way in which a check made out to two people cannot be cashed without the endorsement of both parties, so our joint-heirship with Jesus cannot be taken advantage of without our cooperation. Unaware of this, many Christians are just trusting that the Lord will produce the benefits of salvation for them. They are acutely aware that they can do nothing without Him, but don’t realize that He will do nothing without us… Ephesians 3:20.
The idea that God will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, PERIOD, is not true. He has power, but it is the use of His ability combined with the power that works in us. “No power working in us” means no power of God will come through us. The exceeding greatness of His power that is to us-ward who believe is power that is not external, but is internal, within the believer. It is working according to the faith that we exercise in the indwelling Savior. It was this principle that Paul was stating when he declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
The way we place our endorsement on the check is to believe what God promised in His Word and act on it as if it were true. IT IS! Jesus has already signed His name to every promise in the Word. We aren’t waiting for Him. He is waiting for us.
His Chosen Treasures
Matthew 13:44, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.”
The interpretation of this parable is this: the field is the world, the man buying the treasure is God, the treasure is the true believers in Christ. The price that was paid was the very life of Jesus on the cross. Jesus saw, through His foreknowledge, a remnant of people who would receive Him as Lord, and “for the joy that was set before him,” He endured the cross… Hebrews 12:2, and purchased us unto Himself with His own blood…Acts 20:28. He purchased the whole world, but not everyone will receive what He did. Therefore, the Church is hidden (scattered among the world) today.
Father God had the plan of salvation worked out before He even created the world. Most of us would not have created the world and mankind if we had known the heartache and terrible sacrifice this act would cost. But God is not man. In His judgment (which is the correct judgment) the prize was worth the cost.
God knows in advance those who will accept His offer of salvation. The Scriptures teach that we (believers) were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world… Ephesians 1:4. That’s how infinite God’s ability is. We were chosen in Christ before the world began. We are holy and without blame because God sees us through Christ. It was predetermined that we would be God’s children. We have been accepted by God. The Father would no more reject us than He would reject Jesus, because we are accepted by the Father through Christ. We are redeemed and forgiven. We are truly blessed!
His Love Is Our Light
Mark 4:21, “And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?”
Just as a candle or lamp is not to be hid, but rather displayed so that everyone can benefit from its light, so a Christian must let his light so shine before men that they might see his good works and glorify his Father which is in heaven. God has ordained us to go and bring forth fruit…John 15:16. The great commission of the Church is to reach the world.
The early Christians experienced the love of Christ in an intimate and life-transforming way. This motivated them to reach their known world with the Gospel of Christ more than any other generation of Christians has since. They didn’t have the benefits of our modern technology, but they did have the benefit of being full of the love of Christ. Experiencing the love of Christ causes us to be filled with the fullness of God…Ephesians 3:19, and makes us a witness that the world cannot resist… John 13:35.
Today, much of the emphasis of the Church is placed on techniques of evangelism or spiritual warfare. We motivate people to witness through feelings of guilt or punishment if they don’t. Much of our evangelism has become as dead and non-productive as the efforts of the cults whose people knock on doors and argue others into their way of thinking. The Church today needs a revival of our personal relationship with the Lord. When we can truly say with Paul that the love of Christ constrains us, then we will impact our world for the Lord, too. We can’t give away what we don’t possess. We need to personally know the love of Christ in an experiential way before we try to share it with others. Let Him love you, and let His love flow through you to others. The world is hungry for love, real love.
Worldly Cares Are Thorns
Luke 8:14, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.”
This third type of ground is characteristic of a large part of the Body of Christ today. These are people who have received God’s Word, committed themselves to it to the degree that they are able to remain faithful in persecution, but because of being occupied with the affairs of this life, the Word sown in their heart is choked and no fruit is produced. Just as weeds in a garden will steal all of the nutrients and starve the plant, so the pleasures of this life, if we allow them to dominate our thinking, will stop the fruit that the Word would have produced.
Throughout history, the Church has always grown in size and strength during persecution. This is because during persecution we get our priorities straight. We realize our life is in Jesus… John 14:6, and not in things… Luke 12:15, and we focus all of our attention on the Lord. However, prosperity has been far more damaging to the Body of Christ for the exact reason stated here in this verse. God wants to bless His children with things… Psalm 35:27; Matthew 6:33, but a preoccupation with these things will choke God’s Word and make it unfruitful. If we would follow God’s formula for prosperity found in Matthew 6:19-34, we would have the Word bringing forth fruit and we’d enjoy the physical blessings of this life, too.
Notice Jesus said that no fruit was brought to perfection. This type of person will exhibit some fruit, but it will always be small and far short of what it should be. Do you feel frustrated because you are just getting by and are not really experiencing the abundant life that Jesus came to give? … John 10:10 Examine your lifestyle and see if the cares of this life, deceitfulness of riches, or pleasures of this life could be choking God’s Word.
Mark 4:41, “And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
When God created this physical world and all of its inhabitants, He gave mankind authority to rule and subdue His creation. Although God still owned the universe and all that was in it, He gave control of the earth to man.
When man sinned, he began to use this power against God’s wishes. God did not ordain all the terrible things that have happened throughout history, and yet He did not take back man’s right to dominate the earth. Instead, He became a man and took back that authority to Himself by conquest. After Jesus’ resurrection, He said in Matthew 28:18, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,” and then He gave the great commission to His disciples, thereby conferring that authority upon them, also. Jesus becoming flesh was absolutely essential for gaining all power (or authority) in heaven and in earth. Jesus was a “God-man.” As stated in 1 Timothy 3:16, He was God manifested in the flesh, which is a great mystery.
Jesus came in the power and authority of His Father to point men to the Father God. Jesus existed before His advent on this earth in the form of God and was equal with God; yet, He humbled Himself and became a servant while here on earth. He did not come to promote Himself but to give Himself as the way unto the Father.
This is radically different from the way so called “great men” present themselves. The Roman Caesar of Jesus’ day proclaimed that he was God and demanded worship. Lesser leaders ruled by exalting themselves over the people they governed. But, Jesus showed us that “…whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many“… Matthew 20:26-28.
Peace In The Midst Of A Storm
Mark 4:37-38, “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?”
Considering the fact that the boat was filled with water, it is amazing that the disciples had to awaken Jesus. This was not a large ship with cabins below deck but rather a small, open boat and Jesus was, no doubt, “soaked to the bone.” This reflects Jesus’ humanity and how tired He must have been. It also shows that Jesus must have been in a very deep sleep. Medical science has discovered that the deeper we sleep, the more rest our bodies get. This is a clue as to how Jesus could maintain the grueling pace He kept, along only with an occasional all-night prayer time. He was receiving the maximum benefit from His sleep.
Jesus did not say “Let us go out into the midst of the sea and drown in a storm.” He was going to the other side. This shows that the disciples still didn’t understand Jesus’ authority. They were committed to Him as their Messiah, but they hadn’t yet realized that Jesus was Lord even over the physical elements. Many Christians still do this today. They receive the spiritual benefits of salvation but have not reaped the physical benefits of health and prosperity, which are also part of our salvation.
Whichever we focus upon – the storm, or the Lord in the midst of our storm – will determine how we manage the storms we face in life. He is not asleep concerning the things you face in this life, He’s right there in your “ship,” resting, because He knows you’ll both get to the “other side.” His peace is yours. Believe His Word. Rest in His love.