I’ve been reading in the mornings this past week in the Gospel of Mark. I came to chapter 8, where ‘4,000 souls were fed with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish’. They not only had enough but they had more than enough:
“And they ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven [large provision] baskets full of the broken pieces left over” (Mark 8:8 AMP).
After this observation, Jesus and His disciples at once get into a boat and go to the district of Dalmanutha (or Magdala). When they arrive, guess who arrives to greet them? The religious leaders of His day:
“The Pharisees came and began to argue with and question Him (Jesus), demanding from Him a sign (an attesting miracle from heaven) [maliciously] to test Him” (verse 11).
Look at Mark 8:12 and notice how Jesus reacts to their questioning: “He groaned and sighed deeply in His spirit”. Is there really a difference between asking God the Father a question and questioning our Lord and Savior? Does Jesus ‘groan‘ and ‘sigh‘ when we ask in prayer? That depends!
The Difference by Definition:
Dictionary.com defines a ‘question‘ this way: (noun)–“a sentence in an interrogative form addressed to someone in order to get information in reply.”
In today’s modern technology, we have available to us GPS tracking devices. These amazing devices are invaluable when visiting a city you are unfamiliar with in finding an address; from point A to point B. But I can vividly remember getting into some heated discussions with my wife while I was driving; her designated duty was to read a map, give accurate directions to me, then folding the map back up as it was before(I never could do that); then re-insert the map back into the car door side pocket. Many times I would have to stop at a gas station and ask the question: “Do you know how to get to such and such street? I need directions?” Boy, am I dating myself or what? Many gas stations today don’t even have attendants.
The Macmillan Dictionary defines ‘questioning’ as, “showing that you have doubts; a questioning tone in one’s voice”. In verse 11, the Pharisees did not just ask Jesus a question but were questioning Him. There voice tones might have sounded like this : ‘Let’s see what you can really do Jesus; like performing a miracle.’ Jesus knew that they were “questioning” Him. That’s why He responded with a question: “Why does this generation demand a sign? Positively I say to you, no sign shall be given this generation” (Mark 8:12).
Reasoning in ‘Questioning’ Has Its Doubts:
Reasoning will often bring second thoughts with it and the enemy, the devil, knows this and will seek and seize upon the occasion and devour us, “like a lion roaring in hunger”—1 Peter 5:8.
The Word and The Lie of Second Thoughts–Genesis 2 and 3:
“And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden [delight]” (Gen. 2:8).
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; But the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17).
God’s command was plainly stated to Adam and Eve: ‘Eat from every tree in the garden except…one tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you do…you will spiritually die!’ There should be no doubt here.
The First Recorded Words in the Bible from Satan:
THE ‘SUGGESTION’ and THE ‘CONTRADICTION’–
“Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?” (Gen. 3:1).
Satan introduces second thoughts by getting us to reason; words that are open to contradiction through “questioning”, the “whys” the “what for s” in the happenings in our lives; giving us doubts about what God has already said in His Word.
Eve replies to the serpent’s questioning, “We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die” (Gen. 3:2-3). The seed of doubt had been placed in the woman’s heart. Eve begins to mix-up the words that God spoke, with her own interpretation; her own thinking. God never told them they couldn’t touch the fruit; and ‘second thoughts’ are introduced by suggestion.
THE CONTRADICTION: “But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die” (verse 4).
Our Preoccupation with Asking “Why”:
In our questioning, our “How come s”, the “whys”, the “what for s” is an attempt at gaining control. If I could understand the “why” things happen, then maybe I can affect the “what”. The fallacy, is that we think we are the ones running the world and not God. The fact is, I’m powerless over my friends cancer. I can ask questions about God, the way He runs the world from today until tomorrow but I am still just as powerless–just as confuse.
There is one true power God has given me in all my confusion–the Power of Prayer. Every experience a person undergoes, God creates two possible scenarios:
1. What will happen if you don’t pray.
2. What will happen if prayer takes place.
Even though we are not in control, we can do our part to arouse God’s mercy through heartfelt prayer.
John the Baptist’s questioning.
At Jesus’ baptism, we know that John the Baptist was there: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him” ~ Matt. 3:13.
Then in verses 16-17, John hears the Word of God: “And when Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And behold, a voice from heaven said, This is My Son. My beloved, in Whom I delight!” John saw and he heard who Jesus was; God’s only Son, the Messiah. But now see where the “questioning” comes into John life and circumstances.
THE CIRCUMSTANCE: “Now when John was in prison heard about the activities of Christ, he sent a message by his disciples” (Matthew 11:2). John the Baptist knew who Jesus was.
THE “QUESTIONING”: “Are You the One Whom was to come, or should we keep on expecting a different one?” (verse 3). John had found himself in a circumstance that he was powerless. Suggestion and then doubt entered his heart which conflicted with and confused what he already knew.
1 Peter 5:8 us to be vigilant and cautious at all times in our circumstances; for that enemy of yours…
King David’s State of Mind–Psalm 13 [READ]
Verses 1-2: In his ‘circumstances‘:
1. He feels forgotten by God; forgotten forever.
2. He is agonized at God’s silence toward his prayers.
3. His relationship with God seems broken.
4. He questions [questioning] God’s providence and protection.
5. He thinks that God has turned His face away from him.
6. He is in a state of being forgotten.
7. “How long” is used 4 times in the first two verses showing an inner struggle; a “questioning” in doubt. David knows the goodness and faithfulness of God, yet devastated by God’s silence in time of need.
8. His heart is filled with sorrow everyday with constant anguish, grief and pain.
9. He constantly wrestles with his thoughts; there is warfare going on in his mind and heart.
10. His enemies are victorious over him; he feels crushed by those who are against him.
The question for each one of us: “Are there questions in our lives that we face each day like Davids?” Of course there are!
Now Notice the Change of Direction (verses 3-6):
“Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; lighten the eyes [of my faith to behold Your face in the pitch like darkness], lest I sleep the sleep of death. Lest my enemy say, I have prevailed over him, and those that trouble me rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your mercy and loving-kindness; my heart shall rejoice and be in high spirits in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.”
~ His questioning and complaining turns to prayer for help.
~ He prays for attention and answer: “Give light to my eyes” (Psalm 13:3 NIV). Strengthen my faith and revive my spirit; “My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries” (Psalm 6:7 NAS). Having problems and difficulties from co-workers, who at times seem like you enemies? Are you hiding in caves as David and his men did?
~ His prayers changes his perspective of his circumstances:
“I have trusted, leaned on, and been confident in Your mercy and loving-kindness…” (verse 5 AMP).
His prayers bring faith, hope and assurance [a new confidence]:
FAITH: “NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of things [we] hope for, being proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]” (Hebrews 11:1 AMP).
HOPE: “For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees. But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure” (Romans 8:24-25 AMP).
Psalm 13 ends with Verse 6:
With praise and thanksgiving; with the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord, David’s situation had not changed as so often our particular circumstances haven’t changed. But David’s perspective had been changed from questioning to Praise and Thanksgiving!
Remember God’s two possible scenarios he gives each one of us in our questioning: “What will happen if you don’t pray” and “What will happen if prayer takes place.”
I hope the information given in this blog will give you increase in your faith and hope; with confidence in your circumstances today. Even if you are not seeing it at present. Remember, we are not just living in the enough but the more than enough.