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Compassionate Providence

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
August 7, 2022 7:00 pm

Compassionate Providence

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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August 7, 2022 7:00 pm

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I have your Bibles with you today.

Turn with me if you would to Mark chapter 8. We're going to be looking at verses 1 through 10. disciples answered him, How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place? He asked them, How many loaves do you have?

They said seven. And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground and he took the seven loaves and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people and they set them before the crowd. They had a few small fish. Having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. There were about 4,000 people and he sent them away.

And immediately got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Father, I pray for our sick this morning. I pray for Esther Carol who had a scary episode Friday.

Help her to heal. I pray for Nicole Lohse as she battles with vertigo and dizziness. I pray for Linda McCatherin, Wanda Abercrombie, and Karen Starcher. Help them all to heal.

I pray for Peter Ellsworth that they will be able to put in the stent without complications next week. Lord, have mercy on our sick. Father, we are looking at a passage of Scripture today that answers the question, does Jesus really care? We know that Jesus is, was, and always will be perfectly without sin.

We know of his creative power over sickness, demons, and sin. Does he really care about us? When we lose loved ones to death, when our hearts are ripped in two, does he care? When we have a loved one who is callous to the gospel, we have prayed and begged and cried out to you, does Jesus care?

Does he care for their lost soul and our broken heart? Father, use this passage to help us get into the heart of Jesus. Help us to understand that a no answer from Christ is not a lack of compassion.

Help us to learn how to trust our compassionate provider. We love you, Lord. Open the Scripture to us today, and give us ears to hear. For it is in the precious name of Jesus that we pray.

Amen. When I read this passage a moment ago, you might have been tempted to say, wait a minute, been there, done that. Doug, you preached on a very similar situation just a couple of weeks ago.

That's right, I did. In Mark chapter 6, we read the story about Jesus feeding a huge multitude of people with a small little bit of bread and a small amount of fish. And Jesus did that. So what is Mark doing here? Has Mark just got confused, and is he repeating the same story that he's already given us?

And the answer to that is no. It is a very similar story, but there are some differences. Number one, the multitude in this story has gone three days without food. The multitude in Mark chapter 6 only went one day without food. Number two, Jesus fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish.

He feeds the 4,000 with seven loaves and a few small fish. Number three, in Mark 6, the word for fish is different than in Mark 8. In Mark 6, the word for fish means just any kind of fish, period. And the primary fish in that time in the Sea of Galilee was called St. Peter's Fish.

It's what we know as tilapia. But in Mark 8, the small fish that are spoken of here are more like sardines or smelt. And then number four, in Mark chapter 6, the number of people that he fed was much larger.

5,000 men, not including the women and the children, probably about 20,000 in all, but here in Mark 8 there are only 4,000 that have been fed. Now, if you're still not convinced and you think this is still the same story, and I want you to go down with me in this same chapter to verse 17 through 21, and I think this answers the question. Jesus, aware of this, said to them, chapter 7, and he said to them, Do you not yet understand?

Jesus mentions both miracles in the very same conversation. What does that prove to us? That proves to us that the Bible is the Word of God. That proves to us that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, that we can absolutely trust it. Oh, yeah, there'll be times that I'll be going through a passage of Scripture, and I don't quite understand it, and it seems odd to me, and I'll say, wait a minute, something seems to be wrong here if I begin to study what I realize that what's wrong is something with me and not with the Scripture.

And what do I need to do? I need to pray about it. I need to dig in the Scripture, and when I do that, I will find that God's Word is true. It is always true.

Folks, in our society today, we are being told that there is a multitude of genders. That's what some people want to think. That's what some people want to feel. That's what some people want to believe. It is not true.

How do we know that it's not true? Because the Scripture tells us. In Genesis chapter 1, verse 27, the Scripture says that God created man in His own image, in the image of God created them. Male and female, He created them. How many genders are there? How many sexes are there?

There are only two, male and female. The Word of God says it. That settles it. But the feeding of the 4,000 takes place in an area called Decapolis. This is Gentile territory. This is the area where Jesus came in. He cast the demons out of the Gadarean demoniac. This man was a pitiful man. He lived out in the graveyard. He had supernatural demonic strength.

He was a man who could not be bound by fetters and chains. He was a man that everybody in town was scared of. The children saw him and they cried. The women saw him and they fled.

The men saw him and they ran to protect their family. And Jesus cast the demons out of this man. When Jesus did, the demons went into a herd of swine.

2,000 pigs. They went crazy and they went running over a cliff and they drowned themselves in the sea. This wild former demoniac was now at perfect peace. He was filled with joy.

The frustration and the anguish and the destructiveness and the insanity now was completely and totally gone. And he went to Jesus and he said, Jesus, I want to come with you. But the townspeople came and they said to Jesus, get out of our town. We don't want to have anything to do with you.

You destroyed all this property of the pigs. Get out of our town. So Jesus granted their request and Jesus left town. But he turned around, he looked at the former demoniac, and he said, no, you can't go with me.

He said, but this is what I want you to do. I want you to go back to your people, back to your family, back to your hometown, and I want you to tell everybody that God brings into your path about me. I want you to be my witness. I want you to go back, tell them about your deliverance, how you were set free from the demonic bondage. You go back and tell them about me. Go back and be my witness. Wow.

Wow. I think that's a glorious and a wonderful thing to see that. But, brothers and sisters, something major happened after this. Something major happened because in just a few months period of time, when the 2,000 pigs killed themselves, the people that were there, these Gentile people, they got upset and they told Jesus to leave. And then just a few months after this, these very same Gentile people come back and they are so enamored with Christ that they won't leave. I mean, they're excited.

They're physically hungry, but they're more spiritually hungry, so they're willing to even do without food to be with Jesus. Now, here's the question. Why did they change? What motivated them to change?

What changed their mind? I believe with all my heart that it was the witness of the former demoniac. This man joyfully and faithfully told everyone he could how Jesus had changed his life, how Jesus had set him free. He says, he gave me back my sanity. He gave me back my family.

He took the confusion and the frustration totally and completely out of my mind. Look at what Jesus did for me. He said, you want to know who Jesus is? He said, I know who Jesus is. He is our long-awaited Messiah.

He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Son of God. That's who Jesus is.

He changed my life, and he can change yours. He said to them, quit running from Jesus and run to Jesus. Come to Jesus. Come to Jesus. He will give you a new eternity. He will give you a new heart. Did it work?

Look, I believe it did. In a period of just a few months, 4,000 new Gentile followers of Christ are going with him, and they are so excited about him, so enamored with who Christ is, they don't even care that they've been without food for all this time. They are so hungry for Jesus. Folks, what a message this is for us. How can we keep our mouth shut when we have the greatest news that this world has ever heard? We are living in a culture that is absolutely collapsing. We are living with an economy that is exploding.

We are living with politicians who are just corrupt to the hilt. Is there help? Is there hope? Yes, there is hope.

There's hope for America, but it's not in a political party. It's not in some politician. It is in the Messiah. Folks, it's in Jesus Christ.

He is our answer, and he is our only answer. Now, we're Reformed Christians. We believe that God is sovereign over everything. We know that God is sovereign even over our salvation.

So some Reformed Christians get lazy, and they say, well, if God's going to save who he wills, it doesn't matter what I do. Let me tell you, it does matter what you do, for Jesus has commanded you to take the gospel to a lost world. He has commanded every single one of us to go and tell that Jesus is a loving, compassionate Savior, and to give that message without compromise. That Jesus Christ is our Lord. He is our Savior. That he died to break the power of sin. That he rose from the dead in order to break the power of death. Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me. Folks, if you die rejecting Christ, then you will spend forever in an eternal God-forsaken hell. If you breathe your last breath, rejecting Jesus Christ, you will spend forever in absolute torment.

Trust him now before it's everlastingly too late. Folks, our culture is not hearing that message, and we need to understand that. Our culture is not better than the pagan culture there in Decapolis.

It's not any better. And if a former demoniac could go into this culture and turn Decapolis upside down, what's holding Grace Church from turning Harrisburg upside down with the gospel? Folks, here's the message that we need to, or the question that we need to ask, the question that we need to answer. Do we love Jesus enough to carry out the great commission?

Do we? Do we love Jesus enough to cause sin, sin? Do we love Jesus enough to be willing to be persecuted if necessary?

I got four points I want to share with you today. Point one is the compassion of the Lord. Look at verses one through three. In those days when again a great crowd had gathered and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away. Jesus looks out over this huge crowd of people.

Four thousand Gentiles. He has been teaching them from sun up to sun down. And they have stayed right there with him. They have missed food.

They haven't eaten in three days. Jesus looks at them, and they are so mesmerized that they're just sticking there. They're staying there.

They will not leave. Wow. About 30 years ago, I went to a seminar at Greenville Theological Seminary. And it was a seminar very small.

There's only about 20 people that were there. And the subject was the teaching of Jesus. Jay Adams was the pastor, and he was the one that was doing the teaching.

I had read some of Jay Adams' books on counseling, found them very helpful. I'd never heard him teach before. Now, he opened the Bible in front of us, 20 people, and he started teaching. I have heard messages before that were powerful. I have heard preaching before that was riveting. I have heard teaching before that was just very poignant. For some reason, this was different.

I was absolutely mesmerized. He was teaching on the subject of Jesus's teaching, and it was like he took us back to 30 A.D. And it was like we were there just learning exactly how Jesus did it. We started at nine o'clock that morning, took a 45-minute break for lunch, closed out at four o'clock in the afternoon. He took his Bible. He closed it back up. He said, well, that's it. I could not believe it. It had been seven hours.

It felt like about 10 minutes. We got in the car. We headed back here to Harrisburg, and I was with another pastor, Steve Stout, and I said, Steve, did you get as much out of that as I did? And he said, absolutely.

And I said, I might be wrong, and I'm not saying that Jay Adams is anything like Christ, but I said, I felt today maybe just a little tiny bit of what it might be like to sit at the feet of Jesus and have the Holy Spirit just grip you. That's what these people were experiencing. They were so captivated that they could not pull themselves away. They were so hungry for spiritual food that they forgot about the physical food that the body needs. Jesus looked out at them.

He felt compassion for them, and so he spoke to the disciples. He said this, these people are hungry. They've gone three days without food. If I tell them to go home, some of them will faint because of a lack of nourishment.

Some of them live a long way away. Let me ask you something. Have you ever been in a situation where you've gone through extensive suffering and you've prayed about it? You've asked the Lord for help and for some reason nothing happens, so you're still going through that suffering. You know that Jesus has the power to get you out of that situation or to remove that suffering.

For some reason, it's just not happening. And you wonder and you ask yourself the question, does Jesus really care? Does he really care? Let me assure you of this.

Let me assure you of this. The problem is not a lack of compassion on Jesus' part. Jesus cares. When I'm going through a situation like that, I need to pray, and I need to ask the Lord, what are you teaching me through this? Are you teaching me to be more dependent?

Are you teaching me to be more patient? Are you using this situation that I might go through this time of suffering in order that I might help somebody else that's going through the same thing? The Risener recently wrote an article on suffering, said this, "...suffering is largely a mystery to me. While God's grace and presence have been unimaginably rich in my pain, I still don't understand why particular believers who love God endure loss after loss until they feel hopeless and confused, covered in darkness. I don't understand why people who have not strayed from God's path but are looking to him in all things feel defeated and dragged into the dust.

I don't understand why God's people, whom he treasures and protects, are led like sheep to the slaughter and not alone in my bewilderment. The Bible reiterates that the reasons for suffering can be mysterious and confusing, and from our vantage, incomprehensible. In the opening scene of the book of Job, for instance, we are taken into heaven and are witnesses to a dialogue between Satan and God. We realize from their interchange that there is much more happening in suffering than any of us can see, for sure in Job's life, but also in ours. Ephesians 6 12 says, "...for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities and rulers of darkness in this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places." God has his purpose, which are for both our good and his glory, though we may not understand them until heaven. Until then, we live with the seeming paradox that God is both sovereign and good, and yet his people can still suffer unthinkable loss even when they're faithfully trusting him.

Paul said that even in our darkest moments, especially in our darkest moments, God is working for our good. Most of you know that 27 years ago, while I was pastoring this church, my wife of 23 years left me for another man. I was broken, I was shocked, and I was absolutely devastated.

It was totally unexpected. I hate divorce. I know that God hates divorce. All of my preaching ministry, I preached hard against divorce. When I'm doing counseling with people with marital problems, I beg them, don't get a divorce, and that all of a sudden it was happening to me.

My wife told me, you keep the kids, which I praise God for, but I begged her to reconcile and she would absolutely not. I'd never been in a depression before. I went into a depression then.

I lost 40 pounds. I could not eat or sleep. I felt that I would never be happy again. I tried to cling to Romans chapter 8 verse 28.

Now we know that God works all things together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. And I prayed, Lord, this is the deepest hurt that I have ever experienced. My heart is broken. My Christian witness has been tainted. I preached hard against divorce and now it's happening to me and I can't change it. The Lord gave me an answer in 2 Corinthians chapter 1 verses 3 through 4. Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

You know my story. Cindy and her family were in our church at that time and Cindy's husband, Coley, great friend of mine, passed away and died. The Lord drew Cindy and I together. We've been married now for 25 years.

I did not know that marriage could be this wonderful. But how has the Lord used what was for me an affliction, a tribulation, and an embarrassment? How did the Lord use that? He has used that because I can't tell you how many folks have come to me since that time and asked me for help as they're going through the same thing. We have a radio ministry here and back 27 years ago, I shared with our radio audience what had happened. And since that time, still up to today, I hate people calling me, saying, Doug, what happened to you has happened to me. I've gone to my pastor. He doesn't have a clue as to what I'm going through. Could you help me through this?

Could you show me what I need to do? It's given me time after time after time the opportunity to share the Word of God with these people and to help them know through my experience how God is faithful. That no matter what they're going through, no matter how hard it is, Jesus cares and He will never leave you nor forsake you. Point two, the concern of the disciples.

Look at verse four through five. And His disciples answered Him, how can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place? And He asked them, how many loaves do you have?

They said seven. So Jesus had laid out the problem for the disciples. The huge crowd had not eaten in three days. And they live far away and they have no food to eat. They need food and they need it right now. Jesus turns around to the disciples and says to them essentially, guys, you got any suggestions?

Listen to what they say. They say, we have almost nothing. How do we feed all these people here in this desolate place?

Wow! Have they forgotten what happened just a few months before this? Had they forgotten that how Jesus fed the huge multitude of congregation, probably about 20,000 people? Had they forgotten how Jesus took the bread and the fish in His hands and it just multiplied and they began to grab it and they took it out and they fed all those people and there were 12 basket fulls left over. No, they hadn't forgotten that.

They would never forget that. So why did they say what they said? I think they did it to see what Jesus would do.

They also had another dilemma. The folks they were ministering to here were Gentiles. And when they went back to the Jewish Talmud with all of its rules and regulations concerning don't eat with the Gentiles, don't fellowship with the Gentiles, don't have anything to do with them, they thought, wow, what's going to happen now? If Jesus feeds all these Gentile people, if we chow down with them, what's going to happen? They said, Lord, this is dangerous here. If you do this, then the religious leaders, they're going to try to destroy you and they're going to try to destroy your ministry. Oh, Jesus, we got to be careful.

You got to be careful. Very interesting the take that Jesus has on that. He doesn't give it a second thought. He could care less what somebody thinks. Folks, I want you to know that our Lord Jesus Christ was never intimidated by anybody.

Why is that? Because He's the Son of God. Well, rest assured that when Peter spoke up years later in Acts chapter 11, he went to Jerusalem and when he got to Jerusalem, there were Judaizers that were there that came to him and said, Peter, we don't like what's going on. You're sharing the gospel with Gentiles. You're fellowshiping with Gentiles.

You're eating with Gentiles. Peter, this is not right. Peter just had a great experience. He was up on a rooftop in Joppa and he was praying and the Lord put him in a trance and all of a sudden he saw a vision. In that vision, a great sheet came down with all these non-kosher animals in it. The Lord said to him, Peter, rise and eat. And Peter said, oh no, Lord, I'd never eat anything that's unclean and common.

And the Lord said, don't you dare call that common and unclean that which I have cleansed. And Peter knew what he was talking about. And all of a sudden there's a knock on the door. Some people from the family of Cornelius are there. They said, please come with us.

Cornelius needs you. Peter went and they got to Cornelius' house. Peter had the opportunity as this Roman centurion to share the gospel with him. And when he shared the gospel with him and his family, they came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. And the Holy Spirit came down and power and filled them and they knew that this was of God. And boy, the Judaizers were shocked when they heard this. And I'll guarantee you when Peter's telling them that story, he's also thinking back to what happened here in the feeding of 4,000 Gentiles. And he's thinking to himself, if Jesus fed 4,000 Gentiles and Jesus told us to minister to them, Jesus never sinned. What he did was right. And so if we're doing that, that's what we need to do because it's holy and right.

Holy and right. So they answer Jesus' question and they say, yes Lord, we have seven loaves of bread. Takes us to point three, the creation of a supper, verse 6 through 9.

And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. He took the seven loaves. Having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people. And they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish. Having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. They ate and were satisfied. They took up the broken pieces, left over seven baskets full, and there were about 4,000 people and he sent them away. So Jesus directed the people to sit down, probably broke them up in groups of 50 to 100 like he did with the other great congregation. And then he began to let the disciples distribute the food that was multiplying in his hands. And they began to go out.

And it was done completely in order. Nobody was trying to jump in line saying, maybe we're not going to get something. Nothing like that.

Why is that? 1 Corinthians 14, verse 33 tells us that the Lord, our God, is not the author of confusion, but he is the author of peace. You know, Jesus could not, or could have just multiplied the food and then he could have supernaturally distributed it, given it out to everybody. He didn't do that. He let the disciples be servants.

He let the disciples take part in ministering to these Gentile people. Let me ask you something. When you get an opportunity to minister to someone who's in need, to do it in the name of Jesus, is that a burden to you? Or do you count it a privilege? Is it a frustration to you? Or do you count it a joy?

It ought to be a privilege, and it ought to be a joy. And we should seek out hurting people that we might serve them in the name of Jesus. Well, the people ate until they were completely satisfied, and they were just about to pop, and then there were seven basketfuls left over. I looked up the word for basket here in the Greek, and it's the same word that is used for the basket that they put Paul in when they lowered him down over the wall so they could protect him. So we're not talking about seven little Easter baskets full.

I mean, this is a basket that's big enough that a person could hide in it. I mean, we're talking about a whole lot that was left over. We're not told how the crowd responded here. I have to believe that they were not only full and satisfied, but they were also elated. And they looked and said, we've never seen anybody like Jesus. He's kind. He's loving.

He's compassionate. He cares for us, and He is able to do miracles. So they left, and they left rejoicing, and they left exalting Christ. Point four, the cultivation of the disciples. Verse 10, "...and immediately got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha."

Now, what's the great commission? Jesus gave the great commission right before He was getting ready to ascend into heaven. And He said this to them, "...go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I will be with you even to the end of the age." Jesus and the disciples have been ministering in Gentile territory. They've been ministering to Gentile people.

That's important. What had Jesus done for them? He had healed the sick. He cast out demons.

He fed 4,000 of them with seven loaves of bread and just a few fish. So the disciples saw that care and compassion for the Gentiles was no different than Jesus' care and compassion to the Jews. And that was very important, because they had a new ministry. After Jesus died on the cross, was resurrected, and ascended back to heaven, they had to carry out the great commission. And the great commission didn't just go to Jerusalem and Judea.

It went out to the four corners of the face of the earth. Folks, the church was not just a Jewish entity. Jesus came to save people from every tribe, kindred, tongue, and nation. The true Israel was not just ethnic Jews. The true Israel was everyone who knew and loved the Lord Jesus. It was born-again believers everywhere.

It was despite their race, their social status, their financial status, their ethnicity, or their cultural background. Who is the church? The church of the Caucasian believers in Harrisburg. The church is the Chinese believers in Beijing. The church is the Indian believers in New Delhi. The church are the black believers in Uganda. Folks, the church are those, despite race, color, culture, background, doesn't matter.

What matters is this. Has Jesus changed your heart? Have you been born again? Have you trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior? Have you turned from your sin?

Have you trusted Christ? What was Jesus saying to the disciples? He was teaching them how to carry out the great commission. Folks, that's what Jesus is teaching us through this passage. It's not just the pastor and the elders that have responsibility to carry out the gospel. If you're a child of God, you have the responsibility to tell people that Jesus is our answer.

I want to close with a statement from John MacArthur. He said, Let's pray. Heavenly Father of Hell, we thank you for your precious Word that teaches us about your heart to provide. Teach us to trust you and to be content with what you've blessed us with. May this great miracle remind us that our God will provide for all of our needs according to His riches and glory through Christ Jesus. And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 23:43:31 / 2023-03-14 23:56:42 / 13

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