Their Hardened Hearts

Mark 8:14-21

The disciples had forgotten to bring bread,
and they had only one loaf with them in the boat.
Jesus enjoined them, “Watch out,
guard against the leaven of the Pharisees
and the leaven of Herod.”
They concluded among themselves that
it was because they had no bread.
When he became aware of this he said to them,
“Why do you conclude that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
Are your hearts hardened?
Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
And do you not remember,
when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand,
how many wicker baskets full of fragments you picked up?”
They answered him, “Twelve.”
“When I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand,
how many full baskets of fragments did you pick up?”
They answered him, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”

From the New Life Study Bible:

Jesus rebuked the disciples for their hard hearts. Today the Hardhearts believe:

(1) that poverty is always caused by laziness; helping the poor only enables them;

(2) that worship is best conducted in one way- our way- which has worked very well for forty years, thank you, and need not be changed;

(3) that evangelism doesn’t apply; people will never change anyways, so we don’t need to do it. Joining the Hardhearts requires only one pledge; you must refuse to listen to Jesus’ questions. Don’t be a hardheart. Be open to Christ’s truth. Let him soften your heart.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you allow Christ to “soften” your heart? It’s difficult to accept new ways of thinking. It’s hard to believe in God all the time. What’s EASY is the opposite: To believe in nothing; to think that change is not possible with any one or any thing; that evangelism can soften a heart or two. Shift your way of thinking and accept that your once hardened heart, is now softening for the love of Christ.

 

Helping our Unbelief

Mark 9:20-24 Jesus Heals a Boy Possessed by an Impure Spirit

When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

 Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he answered.  “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”


This passage from the gospel of Mark can easily be applied to us today. Why, although we believe in God, do we struggle to have faith when faced with the daily difficulties of life?

It seems easy and natural to have faith when things are going great in our lives.

Got a promotion at work – “Thank you God!”

Kids came home with a stellar report card – “Our prayers were answered!”

Avoided an accident on the roads – “God must have been watching over me!”

But it’s when things don’t go so well that we start to lose faith in God, right?

Can’t find a job after months of searching and praying about it – “I can’t believe God is letting this happen!”

Another school shooting in the news –  “Why doesn’t God stop this?”

Sudden death of a friend or family member – “Where are you God?”

But it’s at these crucial times of our lives that we need our belief to be restored and delve even deeper into our faith. It’s so much more than just believing in God. It’s believing in what the Bible says, as His inspired Word. It’s also learning from the people in the Bible. Many of us focus on just the Gospels but we can learn alot from the other books, especially the Old Testament.

Think of people like Abraham and Moses and David and Job. They had their own trust issues with God, too. Just because they lived in a completely different age as us, they weren’t that much different than we are. They prayed to God. They argued with him. They went against his wishes sometimes. They weren’t sure of His plan for them.

What can you do to help your unbelief during tough times?

  • Strength in numbers: Ever notice that when society tells us to just “give up” and “There is no God,” and call us names for believing in an all-powerful God, there’s a huge surge in Christians right there proclaiming the Good News? It’s almost like they wait for a disaster to make their faces known. 🙂 Draw yourself near to them. Hang out with them. Talk to them. You will find there are more people who feel the same way you do (and struggle with their faith just like you too).
  • What’s the Lesson? As much as it may seem that problems keep piling up, search for the silver lining.  What can you learn from all this negativity? What can be done right now to help get things right again? You’ll find the answer is usually something in line with “Keep the Faith.” There’s always a reason that something didn’t work out the way you thought it would. You have to believe, as difficult as it may be, that there was a reason.
  • Listen to Him, not him: In other words, listen to God’s voice, not the voice of society that says to do something different. The other voice might be louder.  Listen to His voice. In order to hear it, you have to be quiet. And you have to be patient. Two characteristics that are very challenging, but necessary to keep the faith.
  • Look for the Good: Even in a sea of evil, there is always good. They say, whoever THEY are, that Good Triumphs Evil. And it’s true! Except Good doesn’t make the headlines. It’s usually the bad stuff. But do you ever notice, for instance, when a natural disaster occurs, people from all over get together to help? Items get donated, experts fly in to help with search and rescue, money is sent to help rebuild destroyed cities. And when something terrible happens in a town (small or large) complete strangers start asking “How can I help?” That’s faith. Some might say that’s just faith in humanity, and not necessarily God. But who created those people? Who created those helpers?

Fit in Your Faith Today: When challenged with difficult circumstances, do you find yourself struggling to believe? Take some of the steps listed above to restore it. Reignite the fire in your heart when it’s struggling to stay lit.  Open your Bible and picture the words being said directly to you. Because He is speaking directly to you. The question is, are you listening?