HARDNESS OF HEART

SERMON BY CHARLES FINNEY

"Have ye your heart yet hardened?"--Mark 8: 17

 

Christ had just wrought the miracle of feeding the four thousand men with seven loaves. In teaching his disciples shortly after, he warned them to "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees." They did not understand him, and supposed that he gave them the warning, because they had forgotten to take bread with them. Perceiving their blindness, he said:--"Why reason ye because ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand ? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes see ye not? and having care hear ye not? and do ye not remember?"

In speaking from these verses I inquire,

I. What is hardness of heart?

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Relationships in Heaven

Q. If we will see our loved ones in Heaven, what about widows who have remarried? Will they want to be with their widow or their new wife? Odd question I know.

A. Thanks for your question. The Bible speaks much about heaven, but says very little about how our relationships in heaven will work. Marriage, in particular, will not exist in heaven. (Mark 12:25) It's hard to imagine relationships free from sinful influence, isn't it? Think about people existing together in complete harmony, without a single selfish thought to disrupt the bliss! We can hardly envision such a place, and that shows us a little bit of how thoroughly corrupted our relationships are here on earth. Heaven is chiefly about God, not people. Over and over again the Bible describes heaven as God's dwelling place. The mystery, then, is that this great and awesome God desires to share His dwelling with us! Looking at Revelation 4, 5, 7, 21, and 22, we see that God is at the center of the heavenly praise. In light of this, I think other relationships seem to be such a side note that they are hardly worth mentioning in comparison with the joy of worshipping Christ with people of every tribe and tongue. To directly answer your question, I would have to say, it won't matter.

Jesus as Described in the Gospel of Mark

Q. Who is Jesus Christ according from Gospel of MARK?

A. Dear Friend, Thank you for your recent question,"Who is Jesus Christ accoding to the Gospel of Mark?". First of all, you need to know that I am no theologian, just a Christian who loves the Lord and sharing about Him with others. Looking into the first 2 chapters of Mark only, we see how Jesus' authority is confirmed by God the Father at His baptism when heaven is opened and the announcement made:"this is my beloved Son..."(Mark 1:10-11) Then in the rest of the first chapter we see His authority demonstrated in His calling of the disciples, teaching the Scriptures (vs 22),over unclean spirits (vs 27) and over disease. In the second chapter of Mark we see the authority of Jesus to forgive sins (vs 1-12). It is recorded that even the doubters of that time said that no one could forgive sins except God. Jesus knew their thoughts and told them that to prove He had the power (and was therefore God) that he would show by healing the man's physical body as well that he was for real, not just a talker. I hope, friend, that you will come to know this Jesus who has the power to forgive your sins as well and to heal you from the inside out! I will pray for you.

The Prayer of Faith

Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. -MARK 11:24.

These words have been by some supposed to refer exclusively to the faith of miracles. But there is not the least evidence of this. That the text was not designed by our Savior to refer exclusively to the faith of miracles, is proved by the connection in which it stands. If you read the chapter, you will see that Christ and His apostles, as they returned from their place of retirement in the morning, faint and hungry, saw a fig tree at a little distance. It looked very beautiful, and doubtless gave signs of having fruit on it; but when they came nigh, they found nothing on it but leaves. And Jesus said: "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And His disciples heard it" (Mark 11:14).

" And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.

" And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto Him, Master, behold, the fig-tree which Thou cursed is withered away.

" And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.

" For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith"(20-23).

Then follow the words of the text: "Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them."

Our Savior was desirous of giving His disciples instructions respecting the nature and power of prayer, and the necessity of strong faith in God. He therefore stated a very strong case, a miracle - one so great as the removal of a mountain into the sea. And He tells them, that if they exercise a proper faith in God, they might do such things. But His remarks are not to be limited to faith merely in regard to working miracles, for he goes on to say: 
" And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses" (25, 26).

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Bypassing the Self-Sufficient

And after bidding them farewell, He (Jesus) departed to the mountain to pray. And when it was evening, the boat (with the 12) was in the midst of the sea, and He was alone on the land. And seeing them straining at the oars, for the wind was against them, at about the fourth watch of the night, He came to them, walking on the sea; and He intended to pass by them. But when they saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed that it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were frightened. But immediately He spoke with them and said to them, "Take courage; it is I, do not be afraid." And He got into the boat with them, and the wind stopped; and they were greatly astonished. Mark 6:46-51 (NASV)
 
Do you find it  difficult in the daily nitty-gritty’s to call on the Lord for help?

Jesus sent his disciples ahead so that He could be alone on the mountain. Several of them were fishermen so rowing across the sea shouldn’t be that difficult. But the wind was against them. The Greek word to describe how they were straining means torture, pain, and torment. They were putting forth incredible effort and getting nowhere. I have days like that. I give something all I’ve got and it goes nowhere. It tells us plainly in the text that Jesus saw what was happening. In the midst of their pain and striving Jesus comes walking on the water and Mark tells us that He intended to pass by them. Why would Jesus do that? Well, He always by-passes the self-sufficient. If we don’t think we need His help He will allow us to row until our arms give out and we finally look up and call out. He immediately showed them compassion and calmed their fears. When Jesus got into the boat with them it made all the difference.

How long do we struggle and toil before we invite the Lord to get into the boat and exchange His strength for our pitiful self-reliance? He wants us to abide in Him and draw our strength and peace from His presence. He delights in being invited into the everyday things of life. Jesus helped Peter with taxes, a family with their wedding, and a crowd with their lunch. Sometimes the Lord will bring contrary winds to blow against us so we will come to the end of our own self-effort and self-sufficiency. He sees and He knows, ask Him not to pass you by.

Father, forgive me for the times I have gone it alone and not asked for your presence and help. Apart from you I can do nothing. In Jesus’ name, amen.

A Flea in the Ear

And when they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. And when they had come out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry about on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. And whenever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and entreating Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured. Mark 6:53-56 (The New American Standard Bible)

On Route 196 between Lisbon and Lewiston, ME is a well-established flea market. Business flourishes on weekends, but the remainder of the week most of the stalls stand empty. Each time I pass it I'm reminded of a time several years ago when, during a visit with our family in Maryland, I encountered an advertisement on a bulletin board in a small shopping center. The notice read "Spirit Filled Revival" to be held in a local flea market - and the dates and times were noted. What a concept! What better place to hold a revival than in a market place familiar to local people where each is trying to scratch out a profit from daily experiences. Conversation is easy, hopes are heightened and clearly the desire to be "well-healed" occupies the thoughts of those who come to buy and sell.

Each time I pass the flea market on Route 196 I think about the healing that took place in the market place at Gennesaret. It seems to me that the Spirit of God moves among the people even in places outside the four walls of a local church. There's an old saying, "A flea in the ear needs to be attended." The thrust of the adage is that a word of caution or warning is worth close attention.   

Father help us to respond to the buzzing you place in our ears and guide us to those places that will be spiritually profitable for all. Amen.

Doing All I Can

She hath done what she could. Mark 14:8 (KJV)

A large rosebush struggles to survive outside my bedroom window – unkempt – ignored – neglected. Weak from a chronic illness which saps my strength, I am unable to properly care for it other than to occasionally snip off a few surviving blossoms to enjoy.

In spite of my inattention, the blooms shine like precious jewels with the dewdrops of God’s rain on their leaves and budding heads. New growth is sprouting out of old, yellow stems. Some of the stems have no waiting rosebuds. They are content just to support the plant itself and not glory in creating its beauty.

Am I willing to support the “plant” of the church body, without being beautiful or “up front”? Behind the scenes I can persevere through the challenges each day brings. How many burdens can I make lighter by my earnest prayers, a phone call or an encouraging note? Only eternity will reveal how the grace of God fashioned and pruned my feeble efforts.

“There is no act too trifling to be made by God the first link in a chain of blessing...” relates Sarah W. Stephen. As I prepare to be that link, the Wonderful Counselor will provide opportunities from my constrained circumstances. Called today to be an encourager, it is only with the Holy Spirit’s help that I will do all I can.

Lord, let me be a sweet smelling fragrance to You as I serve others in Your name. Amen.