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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Day 80: Mark 8:1-21 & Psalm 81 - Why Are We So Slow to Listen and Learn?

Today's Reading: Mark 8:1-21 & Psalm 81

Get the full reading plan

Why Are We So Slow to Listen and Learn?

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember? - Mark 8:17-18, ESV

It's easy to be very judgmental when reading today's passage in Mark. If we remember that Jesus has already fed a crowd of more than 5,000 people from five loaves and two fish, we have to shake our heads and wonder: Did the disciples really ask Jesus,  How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?”

Then, after Jesus feeds the 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and a few fish, the disciples are confused by Jesus' warning against the leaven of the Pharisees. They think Jesus is rebuking them for not bringing any bread! Really? Have they not learned yet that they don't need to worry about where their next meal is coming from?

Then, just when we're feeling so superior, we should step back and take a look at our own lives and our own hearts. How many times has God provided exactly what we need when we need it? How many times has he shown His grace to be sufficient? And how many times have we missed an important spiritual lesson because our minds were on our stomachs instead of on the kingdom of God?

So, with some perspective, we can see that we are just as clueless as the disciples. But why? Jesus says it is because of our sin and because of a lack of spiritual enlightenment. Our hearts are hard. Our eyes cannot see and our ears cannot hear what they should. What we need is something only the Holy Spirit can apply to us: redemption! We need our sin removed, our hearts softened to be responsive to God, our eyes opened and our ears unstopped. Only then will we be able to truly see, hear and respond to God as we should. 

The good news is that Jesus has already accomplished our redemption and the Holy Spirit will apply full redeeming grace to the hearts, eyes and ears of believers as we trust in Jesus! When we stay in the Word, stay on our knees and stay in fellowship with other believers, God changes us from the inside out. 

Prayer Based on Psalm 81:

O Lord, You are our strength!
Let us sing aloud from the heart to You!
Let us shout for joy to You, O God of Jacob!

You have redeemed us by Your grace
   out of slavery and bondage to sin.
You have called us to follow You
   as Your own people.
You have also tested us
  and You discipline us, because You love us.

We confess our idolatry to You,
   as our hearts are prone to trust in lesser things!
Give us the grace to forsake our idols and worship only You! 
You are the Lord our God,
    who brought us up out of the land of slavery.
    Open our mouths wide, and fill us with Your grace.

Oh, that we would listen to You,
    that we would walk in You ways!
That You, O Lord, would soon subdue our enemies
    and turn Your hand against our foes.
Those who hate You would cringe toward You,
    and their fate would last forever.
But You would feed us, Your people, with the finest of the wheat,
    and with honey from the rock You would satisfy us,
even with Christ the Bread of Life and the sweetness for our souls.

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