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Faith Connections

Recorded on March 21st, 2021

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When we are faithful, we return to the same bedrock foundations when we’re in need…

Transcript of Sermon:

Today we’re continuing on in our journey through the book of mark we are in mark six this is our last stop in the bookmark or mark 6 we will be doing mark 6 45 through 52 not through 56. if you want to follow along with me the scripture will be either in your bulletin or on the screen behind me or on your screen in front of you scripture says immediately jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to bethsaida while he dismissed the crowd after leaving them he went up to the mountainside to pray later that night the boat was in the middle of the lake and he was on the land alone he saw the disciples straining at the oars because the wind was against them shortly before dawn he went out to them walking on the lake he was about to pass by them but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought he was a ghost they cried out because they all saw him and were terrified immediately he spoke to them and said take courage do not be afraid then he climbed into the boat with them and the wind died down they were completely amazed for they had not understood about the loaves their hearts were hardened this is the word of god for the people of god thanks be to god so i have to admit to you that as a southern california girl i know very little about critters although that we’ve been here quite a long time now i was going to try and just tell you off the top of my head but i’m guessing 16 17 years something like that so i should i’m probably more native georgia now than i was native californian but i’m getting used to critters i’m getting to learn to love some of the critters that are in my backyard when i was in california i didn’t pay any notice to critters except for rats because rats are bound in california they show up in your garage they show up in your attic they show up in places you don’t want them to be but that’s really about it but when you move to georgia well there’s all sorts of critters everywhere there’s nice critters like deer and there’s birds and they’re beautiful and they’re just everywhere everywhere you look there’s beautiful little gods creatures well when we moved here first of all we lived right on a lake and on this lake there were ducks and we loved these ducks so much first of all the fact that there were ducks just right out of our back door and we were really silly human beings and we thought it was so cute that we started feeding them regularly which our neighbors hated because they knew what was going to happen if we fed these ducks regularly and we were not even stupid and didn’t know what would happen if you fed these ducks regularly so we would go out about the same time every day and put some food in our backyard and the ducks would come up out of the water making all their cute little noises and eat the food but if we forgot or missed after a certain amount of time the ducks we realized would knock on our back door with their little beaks can you believe that one day we were wondering what that noise was we go down to the basement door and there’s a duck at our door saying excuse me but there’s no food would you please feed me because these ducks had made a connection they had realized that if they showed up at this place there would be food and they never forgot that if they showed up at this place there would be food and if they made enough noise or if they annoyed us enough we would make sure to put food out there well sure enough the cute ducks kept coming but then then the really gross annoying geese started coming and they’re not ducks they’re not nearly as cute as ducks they’re critters i don’t love nearly as much as i love ducks and they ate all of our hostas which i didn’t even know what the name of them was until a neighbor told me but they were really pretty plants until they were eaten by the geese and then geese leave a mess and if you don’t know what kind of mess i’m talking about then you don’t know geese very well but they left a mess all over our backyard and that was our life because we decided to feed the critters in georgia so we learned a lesson right don’t feed the critters in georgia or you thought we did but we really didn’t learn that lesson we didn’t learn that lesson because we think we’re still a little california naive and we like critters still a little bit more than we probably should and so when we move to this house here in where we live in this area we love the birds so we started feeding the birds and joe got me this little clear bird feeder that goes up against your window so the birds can come and you can see the birds really close and so can our cats and we thought that would be really cute right the cats and the birds all together it was kind of like our very own you know zoo right in our own house but it didn’t quite work the way that we thought it was going to work can anybody guess what came instead of the birds anybody you know you live there you don’t get to say anybody squirrels that’s right squirrels it wasn’t birds it was squirrels squirrels would show up and eat the little seeds that the birds had but i didn’t mind it so much because you know what they were pretty cute they would sit there they’d make cute little faces they would look at me all cute through the window because it’s right outside my office and so they would look at me and i’d look at them and then my cats would get in on the thing and i get to watch my cats get all excited about the squirrels and for a while it was really really cute and there were some other critters we decided to feed because it’s just the way we are we decided to feed our male people they’re not really critters they’re humans but we thought it would be really nice to feed our male people so the for the past few years we’ve been feeding them at christmas time never had any problem but this year we decided why do we only feed them at christmas time why don’t we leave the little gift basket out there all year long and so this year we decided after christmas we’re going to leave the goodie basket on the porch well i guess you know where this story is going one day i’m in the middle of a meeting and i see we have one of those little ring doorbell cameras and i see through the ring doorbell camera a squirrel jump up and take out some peanut butter crackers from the mailman thing run away with it and the funny thing about that was is that i had been noticing that the candy bars and the treats were going away at a rate that i didn’t think was quite right because we weren’t getting that many packages and so my poor children had been inquired of many times as to whether or not they were eating all of the male people’s candy and i had been really thinking that they would you know i was like just tell me the truth it’s okay if you’re eating the candy bars i’ll still love you you won’t be in that much trouble i just need to know how much more to buy are the male people really taking this much candy i mean i asked them multiple multiple times if they were the thiefs of the candy because i was really thinking that they were the thieves of the candy but when i saw that squirrel take those peanut butter crackers i realized not only was i a terrible mother because i really thought my children were the thieves and they weren’t granted they may have taken one or two but it wasn’t all of them it was squirrels so joe and i go back through our read camera and sure enough there’s picture after picture of squirrel taking a snickers bar squirrel taking a mars bar squirrel taking um what else oh peanuts yeah they like the peanuts big surprise but all these things day after day the squirrel came back to the place where the food was because the squirrel had made a connection that this was a place where if it showed up daily it would get fed so we put it in a new bucket and this bucket has a lid and i thought no problem we fixed the problem now somebody in this audience had told me that’s not going to work alyssa and i said well we’re going to give it a try and she said that’s not going to work miss joyce and i said it’s going to try well sure enough it didn’t work next thing i know the squirrel’s inside that bucket it’s learned to lift up the lid it’s in the bucket because it’s determined it’s going to persevere it’s going to get that food so then we put a five pound weight on top of that bucket guess what the squirrel did it figured out after some time how to push the weight off the bucket and then get in the bucket and get the food nothing we do has deter has deterred this squirrel or squirrels i can’t tell if there’s one or five or ten who knows from getting this food so the interesting thing to me as i was reading this scripture i kept thinking about these squirrels see these squirrels have the brain the size of a walnut a walnut yet they are smart enough to figure out that there is a place that has the thing that they need in order to survive they’ve made a connection they’ve kept that connection and they go back again and again knowing faithful that there’s going to be the thing that they need and that if they work hard enough they’re going to get it yet in this scripture what we see happening with the disciples is that even though they’ve seen jesus do miracle after miracle even though they’ve seen jesus feed people just minutes ago or probably hours ago from where they are in the middle of this lake even though they themselves have been empowered with the power of jesus to work miracles themselves they still can’t maintain the connection of faith the constancy of faith of understanding who jesus is that when they’re in the middle of something difficult their first go-to isn’t what it’s supposed to be it’s not strong like those squirrels and it was interesting to me because i think as humans the disciples are a really great picture of who we are the disciples function just like you and i do in the middle of struggle in the middle of strife we tend to forget all of the stuff that we’ve just learned or that we knew before about who god is and what god can do for us and we start to operate out of this survival instinct this this primer this primal type living yet the primal type living for a squirrel is remembering the connections that were made to its life force to the thing that will give it what it needs to survive and that’s what we need to do with our faith and that’s what we’re going to look at today so if we turn to our scripture in chapter 6 i want to look through what happens here i want to do what we did last week i want to go back in put our feet in the feet of the disciples i want to put us in their place because i think that we will be able to understand well what they’re going through we’ll be able to understand well what it is we need to take from this moment in order to have a better living faith in every moment of life not just the easy moments of life or ones right after church and so what we see here is that it says immediately jesus made the disciples get into the boat well immediately what what happened just before this last week we looked at what happened just before this it was the feeding of the five thousand jesus and the disciples had tried to get away to a quiet place because the disciples had just come back from a big journey they had been sent out by jesus to do the work for the very first time now let’s remember what that might feel like you and me are told by jesus go and share the good news but i’m also going to give you the powers that i have powers to anoint the sick and powers to send out evil spirits in people and they did that they went for the very first time and they did that work and they were coming back from that work excited to tell jesus about all that they had done and seen and as soon as they get back from that work they are crowded by people they can’t get a word in edgewise with jesus and jesus says okay let’s go to a quiet place so that you can rest and so that we can talk but they can’t get that because they try to they get on a boat they travel to this place with this quiet deserted place but people follow them there and that’s how they end up feeding the 5 000 people because they’re in a deserted place people need to eat jesus teaches them the disciples say okay great you’ve taught them but now they need to eat and they’re far away from any food what are you going to do about it and the men had just been doing miracles themselves these men who’ve been walking with jesus for all of this time don’t say hey jesus perform a miracle for us or hey jesus would it be okay if we produce food for these people they say jesus let’s send them away and instead jesus said you feed them and they take the existing food and somehow manage to feed thousands of people with just a few loaves of bread and a few fish and this is immediately what happens before they’re sent off in a boat so jesus says after everybody’s been fed okay now it’s time i want you to go i’m going to stay here and have some quiet time and i’m going to send the people home and now let’s try and remember what the disciples might be feeling at this time again they are still wanting time with jesus they’re still needing to rest but they’re still wanting to tell jesus their stories they’re still wanting to have one-on-one time it’s like going home from a great semester at college having all a’s and having your professor tell you is the best project they’d ever seen and wanting to tell your parents all about it but your parents time after time keep getting caught up in some other conversation or interactions with other people and you don’t get that moment with them and this is what’s happening to the disciples so yet again they’re pushed off from having time with jesus not only that they’re told to go without jesus into the boat and to sail across to bethsaida where jesus would meet them now let’s remember that this isn’t just a lake right this is the sea of galilee which is a very very large lake you can’t see across to the other side of it the winds that that happen to them in the middle of this are going to be like a big storm it’s not just going to be a wind event that you might see here where the wind the trees are blowing no this is really like having a gale force winds very typical for this lake and so the disciples go they get on the boat and they begin rowing across the water and jesus goes and begins praying on the mountain in solitude which is one of the ways that jesus always took time to restore himself now as humans what i feel with the disciples is that my expectations have not been met see i’m big on setting up expectations i don’t know about you but i have them and i don’t want to have them but i always have expectations when i think about what’s going to happen next i have some idea of what i think is going to happen and then when that doesn’t happen i get disappointed or i feel let down or i get frustrated and sometimes we get mad because the way that things happen are so frustrating i’ve heard story after story from people about trying to get appointments to get their shots to be vaccinated and how hard that is and how many times they’re rerouted to another phone number or to another location or to another something and it’s just one thing after another and your expectation after expectation is just dashed for something so simple it should seem it’s not even a big life crisis but it’s something that is important and at the same time every time that happens you get a little bit angrier you get a little bit more frustrated and the disciples their expectations were not met and so they lose part of that connection that they had of understanding the character of who jesus is and we’re told that later that night the boat is in the middle of the lake as the disciples are in the middle of the lake they know that they are without jesus they know that they are alone and they are alone and we are told that they are struggling they are struggling to row they are struggling to do their best to get to the other side and they are having a difficult time of it and if that was me i know the things that i would be thinking if jesus had just come with us we wouldn’t be having this problem if jesus had just stayed with us he could fix this for us or if we could have just stayed with jesus we wouldn’t be in this place right now as humans we tend to think of our struggling situations and we think of all the ways that we shouldn’t be in the place that we’re in right now or all the ways that we could have figured out not to be in the place that we are right now yet we are in that place and so often we feel alone and stranded in that place the disciples here feel very alone and struggling but the most interesting thing happens next it says jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars and this is something that i think we have to pay attention to because as you’re reading this you might just pass by jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars and he went to them but if you think about it this is three o’clock in the morning what does it look like at three o’clock in the morning it’s pitch dark at three o’clock in the morning not only that but this lake is huge so they should be far enough away that he can’t really see them yet jesus sees them in their struggle jesus sees the disciples in their struggle and the reality for you and me is that jesus sees us in our struggle regardless of how far away from jesus we feel regardless of how far away from our faith we feel regardless of whether or not we even have a relationship with god jesus sees us in our struggle it may seem impossible to you that jesus would see you in all of your need in struggle but he does you are seen your struggles are seen your needs are seen holy and completely by your creator now what’s interesting to me is that not only are you seen but no matter how hard you’re trying to hide sometimes you’re seeing i know that in my life there’s been times that i’ve tried to hide things from myself from others and sometimes even from god things that i hate about myself things that are i feel shame about but the reality is is that jesus sees us not only does jesus see us in that struggle jesus accepts us in that struggle in that shame in that hurt and in that pain and the beautiful thing about our savior is that jesus refuses to leave us there to leave us alone in our struggle and in our pain even if we haven’t accepted a relationship with christ christ is still going to draw near to us but the beautiful thing is if we say yes if we accept christ in jesus draws all the way up to us and walks with us because the thing that jesus does then is he walks out onto the water to meet the disciples in their need and in their struggle there is nothing no act of impossibility that’s going to keep jesus from meeting you where you need to be met you know a lot of times we make the miracle we make this passage all about the miracle of jesus walking on water and we talk a lot about the walking on the water but the walking on the water is almost beside the point here yes it does display to us another part of jesus’s character another part of what it is that who jesus is as the son of god as co-creator of heaven and earth but what jesus intends to do one is just get to the disciples who are in need but then two is to remind them of who their savior is who their creator is and what is available to them in that it says here that jesus was about to pass by them now don’t understand that to me that he was going to leave them there his first intention was just to encourage them to remind them who they are as followers of christ to remind them of his presence in their lives because the truth is that they had everything they needed to make it across the water on their own they had just spent time expelling demons from people they had just spent time teaching people about christ they could do what needed to be done to get across the water but they forgot those connections that they had made they forgot the truth about their creator they forgot the truth about jesus and they weren’t living into that in their current struggle they weren’t going to the well anymore you know those ducks and those squirrels at my house kept going to the well they know where the food was and they would go to it doggedly determinedly knowing with faith that that food would show up the disciples here sit and struggle instead of going to the well of jesus knowing with faith that an answer that would show up they are so frustrated and so outside of what they so disconnected from an understanding of jesus that when jesus walks by they’re terrified their faith isn’t encouraged they’re met with fear instead it isn’t an increase of faith it’s an increase of fear and it’s because their expectation was not to see jesus their expectation was not to find jesus meeting them in this moment their expectation was to continue to struggle and how often do we do that how often do we sit in our struggles looking for an answer in one place completely missing god’s response to us in another place you know i know sometimes when i struggle i’ll give god a list of ways to fix things for me i’ll say if you could just do this and i think we should do this and i think a perfect solution would be this and this is what i’m looking for so i’m waiting and i pray for all those things and i say i trust you i’m waiting i know you’re gonna answer me i’m waiting yet all along here’s jesus walking on the water right next to me and i don’t see it and i don’t see it because my expectation is not to see this my expectation is for my requests to be filled instead of simply for god to meet my needs in the way that god chooses to meet my needs the reality is that the disciples were struggling jesus saw them struggling and jesus met them in their need and you and i as we form our faith as we learn about the character of christ as we learn about the character of god we need to do a better job tending that understanding tending that well so that when we find ourselves doing life good bad or indifferent we never question what should come next because our ties our connections to our faith are strong and so that when we are struggling we are buoyed by those faith ties to christ the character of christ the character of god that we don’t put up these expectations of how god’s going to respond we just know that god’s going to respond and we know we can participate in that like the disciples could have here god saw the disciples struggling and god met their needs but they almost missed it because they weren’t expecting god to respond in that way and so as jesus says here we need to take courage and remember that jesus is god that jesus has the ability to meet our needs in ways that we couldn’t even fathom and so that when we are hurting when we are struggling when we are in need we simply need to hang on tight to those connections of faith that we have already made with christ that we’ve already seen christ do either in our lives or in somebody else’s life and trust that an answer is coming soon it’s not about the walking on water as much as it is the understanding that we don’t have to worry or have trust in ourselves we simply have to trust the one who created us let us pray god we thank you for seeing us in the midst of our struggles even though it seems impossible that you could sometimes and we thank you for coming out to meet us where we are and god today we pray that we would have ties to our faith connections to our faith that are unbreakable that we learn to go back to that place of faith again and again when we are in need that we never question its presence that we always know that it’s going to be there that we are determined and persevering in our faith like the creatures that you created on this earth who survive because of the connections that they create god we love you and we thank you for loving us help us to be determined in our faith it’s in your name that we pray amen