4 Soul-Strengthening Truths for Weary Souls
In this blog post, we will consider some application points from Mark 6: 30-44 where we see our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, and how he cares for us, how he feeds us, how he nourishes us, and how he alone can satisfy our weary souls. The Lord desires to nourish and care for us. We also learn, or are reminded, from this passage, the reality that we all encounter to some degree or another during our life, during our pilgrimage following after the Lord Jesus Christ, how we get weary. It's a reality that we do get weary at times while following our Lord and our Master. When we read this passage, we see that the disciples are tired from doing gospel ministry and Jesus' prepares a time for them to come away with him for repose. Their plans get interrupted and the disciples need to adapt to Jesus' greater plan as He also makes this an occasion to instruct them and prepare them for a life of self-sacrifice in the school of Christ and at His service. As we serve the Lord long-term, surrendered to Christ's Lordship, we too will get tired. Here are 4 Soul-Strengthening Truths for the Weary Soul. I pray these truths will be encouraging for you, as they were also for me during this season.
I. When Living For Jesus It Is Good + Right To Get Alone For Rest and Reflection
You may be weary today, you may not be, but give it time, and if you're not today, you will be soon. Eventually, you get weary in the walk as you obey Jesus Christ and follow after him. One aspect of this first point is that being a disciple, I want us to remember, is costly. Missionaries understand this well, but all Christians need to remember the cost to being a disciple of the Master. Jesus made it clear, "If you want to follow me, it's not a walk in the park. Deny yourself, pick up your cross, that instrument used to torture and kill people, pick it up and come after me. Deny yourself. We need to always be mindful of that truth. It's what we signed up for. And the sad reality is that too often, most of us get tired, not for the same things that had the disciples tired in this scene today. We get tired for pursuing our own desires and passions, usually. Rare are the moments when we tire ourselves from evangelizing too much, from going to the lost, from making disciples, from doing things that we know we should do, but we just don't. Rare are those moments. Often we can even get tired from taking a vacation. You go on vacation and it's so tiring driving around, doing this, doing that and you get home and feel like you need a vacation from the vacation. Sadly, we get tired for all kinds of things, but we don't often get tired for obeying our Lord and our Master. When we do obey Jesus, and we apply ourselves though, and we proclaim the gospel, we need to be mindful, it's normal and it's right that you will get tired, even when you're doing it fully in the power that God gives you. Our flesh catches up to us. It can only handle so much. We need time to rest, to reflect, and to recover. Jesus showed that when he showed them his desire in verse 31, "Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while."
Sadly, we get tired for all kinds of things, but we don't often get tired for obeying our Lord and our Master.
Take into account when you do obey the Lord and you do go to the lost, opposition comes in then as well. It's not easy. People ridicule you. People make fun of you. Persecution happens. Opposition and all these kinds of things make you very much needing a rest. But God knows our limitations. He designs avenues of refreshment for us. Prayer is a primary thing. Are you praying? Are you devoting time to that? Fellowship. Such a blessing it was when we had lunch together here in Italy after not being permitted to gather in the home for over a year. Wow! It revived me, it really did, to just finally be able to hang out again after all the restrictions. Worship, Bible reading, daily rest, times to get away, times of solitude. I want to add here the idea of fasting as well. Often when we're weak on the journey, it's because our bodies are too well fed that our souls are almost starving. Sometimes it's good and it's right to put aside food a little bit so you can dedicate time to getting your soul well fed. Probably nothing has transformed my life more than actual God-enabled fasting. It is reviving and strengthening to our souls.
The exhortation from this first soul strengthening truth would be - live wholeheartedly for Jesus, really do it, but keep yourself refreshed as well. Live wholeheartedly and spend yourself, but live at the fountain. Have one of those camelbacks on your back. Drink as you go. Be well nourished.
II. Christians Are Called To Have Compassion For The Lost
Our Lord had compassion on us, and He calls us to have compassion on the lost as well. The Lord Jesus here, he shows us that God is full of compassion. He spent himself feeding the people and caring for their souls. He demonstrated His compassion towards us when he came for us and lived in our place perfectly, fulfilled the law of God for us, and when he died on the cross. While we were still sinners, he died for us. We read this in Romans 5:8. He showed his compassion. Let us never doubt his compassion towards us. He makes time here, we see in this passage, to shepherd, to teach, to care for souls, and he does it daily for us still today. He wants us to be well-nourished, and to do the same, to care for other souls, to disciple one another, to go to the lost.
So our exhortation here would be - let us be proactive, intentional, in serving others, in proclaiming the gospel, and in showing compassion.
How is your compassion today for the lost?
III. Everyone Has Countless Guides and Shepherds, But They Need Jesus the Good Shepherd
What do I mean by that? False guides and false shepherds really do abound. Dare I say the biggest one in this land (Italy) would be the pope himself. A few years back, he actually told people, "If you follow us on Twitter, and you do this or you do that, you can earn yourself some indulgences..." It's as if he said, "Look how good I am to you guys... Earn yourself some indulgences, earn yourself some grace, follow us on Twitter and talk about this conference that we're putting on." There's the "shepherd" of the people here, feeding them nonsense and poison while misleading the masses. It's really, really tragic. And today, there abounds, self-help gurus and all these kinds of things and they work to make us feel good about ourselves so that we never come to the realization we need a savior. Yet we actually need to deny ourselves and trust in the One who is perfect and righteous, Jesus Christ. Dare I say this as well, even today, I saw there's a transgender hour at the public schools in America. They have a lady come in who's actually a guy and supposed to be a lady, but looks like a monster, and "she's" teaching ("it's" teaching) kids proper things about what life is... I saw the picture, and I almost had a heart attack. It's just astonishing. There are the false guides and shepherds of our day, leading astray the masses. Everyone has countless guides and shepherds, but we need the Good Shepherd.
In addition, we have idols of our hearts, that we put in the place of God to give us satisfaction, meaning, purpose, and relief. Countless idols, but Jesus is the true Shepherd. He laid down his life for us. "I am the good shepherd, I lay down my life for my own." He's the one people need to go to. Let us continue to go to him, to abide in Him, every hour and every day. Let us implore others to turn from sin and to run quickly to him without hesitation. He's the shepherd that we all need, and he alone can satisfy the hungry soul. Idols never truly satisfy. Jesus is the bread of life. We get this from our passage today. He satisfied everybody holistically this day.
In John 6:35 we read, "Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger. And whoever believes in me shall never thirst." No other guide, no other shepherd, no other pastor can do that. Christ alone satisfies the weary soul.
IV. We Need His Strength
We need his strength. Where do we get this idea today? These disciples were exhausted, tired, in need of rest, in need of time to ponder and to reflect. They may very well have been asking themselves, "What in the world is going on? What am I doing?" They were doing things beyond their natural ability, and it was good and right to rest. The reality is, sometimes we need rest. Sometimes we really do, we need it more than other times. If you're a mom and a dad and you got little ones, I know we need rest, special amounts of rest. It's as if we don't sleep for years. They have a thing here in Italy called the "ora di riposo". After lunch, everybody's supposed to take a nap. But when you have little ones, nobody naps. I haven't napped in years. I used to love those "riposo" times. After a big lunch (main meal of the day in Italy, not breakfast), you clonk out for a little bit, wake up, have an espresso and it's back to work. When the little ones come the "ora di riposo" doesn't exist anymore. I long for those days. We can be weary from the little ones. Yet it's a great joy at the same time, a great privilege, a great honor to raise them, and to care for them. So sometimes we need rest, and sometimes we need it more, but always, here's the point, we need God's strength to bear fruit, to honor the Lord, and to persevere. Always we need his strength. We will often be tempted, as I reckon these disciples were, we'll be tempted to send people away, to ignore them, or to see them as interruptions.
Interruptions are a big one for me. I'm a get-er-done kind of person. I have more on my list of things to do every day than 10 men can do in a day, but I do my best. I seek the Lord to know which tasks I need to focus on and I get to it, but interruptions always come. It's astonishing. You can't get away from interruptions. But I've learned, I'm learning by God's grace, to embrace the interruptions. As I was preparing this message and pondering these verses just the other day our neighbor interrupted me. He was home from work that morning; he's not usually home. He sees me in the front yard, holding the baby while my wife was in the bathroom. We got into a conversation, and we ended up talking for about an hour. I found out things that I never knew as he opened up to me. He almost came to tears telling me about his life, how he was married one time and got divorced. It was a tragedy for him. But because he's here in a Roman Catholic culture to remarry wasn't an option. So now he's living with his partner for the past 20 years and they have a son who's 17 years old now. He carries this weight on his shoulders because he's been put out of the church. He can't take communion, though he probably doesn't want to anyway. But the thought that he can't, weighs heavy on his soul. And I finally realized, this is why this guy likes to talk to me. He's very curious, but he's afraid to ask me questions. So by God's grace, I let the Lord interrupt my plans, I put aside the important work I had to do, to be able to nourish and talk to a soul. And sow the Word of God into his life and into his heart, and I trust, I pray, the Lord is working in his life and we'll have more occasions now to see him set free by the good news, Jesus Christ.
Interruptions happen, but we need to see them as blessings and opportunities to embrace so we can nourish a weary and wayward soul and be instruments in the hands of God. And as we do, we remember why we're still here - to be salt to be light in this world.
As we close now, I just want to mention this in passing.
We need to learn to live and depend on God's strength.
We need his strength, we really do. How do we get his strength? Where does that come from? There's not time enough today to actually look at what that means and how we do it, but a few key verses I'm going to read in passing; no comments, just read so we can hear them. I want you to consider during the week, God's strength:
Where does it come from?
How do I get it?
Why do I need it?
In 1 Peter 4:11 Peter says, "Whoever speaks", talking about giftings, and putting yourself to the Lord's service, "as one who speaks oracles of God, whoever serves in the church as one who serves by the strength that God supplies." We're all called to serve others to the glory of God, and we're to do it by the strength that God supplies. Another one we read from Colossians 1:29 from the Apostle Paul. He says, "For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that powerfully works within me." How did Paul fulfill His ministry? By the energy of God, powerfully working within him. How will you fulfill your ministry? Trusting in God's power working within you, that it's a reality. And the last one for us today as we close, 2 Corinthians 12:9. "He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." The Lord says to you, in other words, today, "I see your weakness I see your fatigue, I see what you need. My grace is sufficient. My power is made perfect in weakness. Be okay being weak. Be okay being needy. It's to that soul there that I'm happy to come and fill him with my power so they can fulfill their ministry to the glory of God alone."
In Mark 6:30-44 we see that Jesus is clearly God; he alone does miraculous things. We saw Jesus is compassionate; a compassionate Shepherd. He's our Shepherd, he's compassionate for us, and he alone can satisfy our souls and our hearts. As a result, we can be fully satisfied even now, even in a fallen world, even with the unredeemed flesh we still have, we can be so satisfied that we spend ourselves by his strength in serving others to the glory of God. Amen.
Written by Jesse Schreck
Taken from PMc podcast episode 249 - Compassionate Service With God's Strength - a sermon