Today's devotional is taken from Mark 6:30-44. It seems that every time I read these verses I notice something new and I marvel at the word of God that is living and active.
In keeping with this I would like to focus on the topic of "time stewardship."
As we begin, remember that a short while ago Jesus sent out his Apostles to preach The Good News and exercise authority over unclean spirits and to heal the sick. We learned last week that their ministry was so successful that it came to the attention of Herod Antipas the ruler of Galilee. This week we will see Jesus intensify his training of the Apostles as he tries to help them see the "unseen."
As always, read the verses through several times until you are familiar with it, and spend some time in prayer about the things you have read.
It seems like eating on the run isn't a uniquely 20th century phenomenon. Although God designed man to be able to go without food and rest in times of emergency, he also set apart one day in seven to be a day of rest from our labors. Jesus recognizes that the Apostles are getting close to their limit and he suggests that they find a quiet place to enjoy some rest. A good steward will plan rest into his schedule to keep from suffering burn out.
I know that some of you will push yourselves beyond reason to serve God and a willing heart is precious to God, but remember that God managed to get along quite well without you and his plan will not fail because you take needed time off.
Look at your calendar, do you have time set aside for your ministry?, I hope so. Do you also have time set apart for rest? If you don't, then take time now to schedule it for the rest of the year!, and don't allow yourself to use that time for anything else.
If Jesus waited until the Apostles were completely exhausted, what would have happened When their "shore leave" got canceled?
Since things always seem to come up, it is all the more important to care for your needs so you can respond to emergences with love and compassion. If you meet unexpected problems with a bad attitude, you need to reevaluate your schedule and spend some time in prayer and meditation to get your heart back on the right track.
The Apostles seem to be in touch with the fact that the hour is late and the people need to find places to buy food before dark. I wonder if their own fatigue and hunger were also in their thoughts? When our own needs are urgent it is difficult for us to lift our eyes off the carnal and focus them on spiritual things. Jesus is about to force the Apostles to do just that.
Jesus' outrageous proposal finds the Apostles off guard. Their first reaction is to look to their own resources. What would your Church do if one morning 5000 people showed up at a prayer breakfast unexpected? I think Jesus wanted the Apostles to fully grasp their inability to respond to the need and to turn to God to provide them with all they needed.
What follows is a very typical meal time that one would expect to see when an army was preparing to eat while on the road.
The commanders would direct the soldiers to sit in groups and wait for the food to be passed out by the officers in charge. There is nothing remarkable about this picture except the source of the food. Imagine what it was like for the Apostles to watch as the bread and fish multiplied in their hands as they passed it out! WOW!
Have you ever wondered if you are facing a situation for which there is no solution? I'm sure the Apostles must have thought that about the 5000 hungry men. It's at times like this when we desperately look around for an answer from our own resources, but this is precisely the time when we should be still, pray, and wait for God to meet our needs.
Being a good steward of our time can help us to maintain a close relationship with Jesus, but all too often emergencies call us away from our leisure time and our devotional time. God knows that leisure time and devotional time are both needed for our spiritual health, so ask God to help you with your time management so you can be a fruitful servant.