Sunday, June 9, 2019

Sunday Praise & Worship Message - With the Help of Jesus

This past week I have been studying the feeding of the five thousand with five loaves and two small fish. This is a spoiler alert for those who have not read the story or remember the specifics. All five thousand were fed and no one wanted for more. Everyone ate their fill and the disciples collected twelve baskets of leftovers.

As you consider this story, you might have let the miracle end with Jesus feeding the multitude. But, I challenge you to take a closer look at the passage. I had heard and read this story countless numbers of times, but, as I was reading it one more time this week, I ran across something that made me stop and think about my relationship with our Heavenly Father and with His son, Christ Jesus.

Jesus, after hearing that John the Baptist had been beheaded, wanted to take a boat to a remote location and be alone. However, the multitude of people continued to follow. No matter where he went, people came to listen to his teachings and, for some, it was an opportunity to be healed from their afflictions.

As night began to fall, Jesus’ disciples came to him with a problem. The people, five thousand of them, were hungry. The disciples’ solution was to send them away to local villages and let them find and buy their own food. Even though Jesus wanted to be alone, he still ministered to them and healed the sick. He gave of himself even when he just needed to be alone with his thoughts. Remember, he had just received word about John the Baptist’s beheading.

Considering the awesome power that Jesus possessed, he could have easily called for a delivery of manna and quail with a snap of his fingers. With a single command, Jesus could have the angels bring a box dinner for each and every person. There was nothing that he could not do for them.

However, read the story closer. In Matthew 14, Jesus responds to the disciples’ solution of sending everyone away to get their own food, “16 That isn’t necessary—you feed them.

Can you imagine the look of surprise on the face of his disciples. Each probably looked at the other and shrugged their shoulders and scratched their heads. Each had the same question on their minds, “How are we supposed to feed five thousand people?”

Finally, they answered him, “17 But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!

Think about this. Instead of Jesus saying that he would call for a delivery or have the angels making sandwiches, potato salad and sweet tea for all, he tells the disciples to just go and feed them. When they went out on their own, all they found was five loaves of bread and two tiny fish.While the disciples found only meager pickings, Jesus saw a bounty in their hands. 

Jesus did not tell them to try harder or to look to see if someone was holding back their food. He tells them, “18 Bring them here.” 

He does not shake his head in disbelief or disappointment. What does he do? Jesus takes the loaves and fish and looks up to heaven. He blesses the food and breaks them up. He then hands the portions to each of the disciples who then went out to pass out the food. Each ate their share and were filled.

In corporate America, I see the same thing. People go to their managers with problems only to dump the problem on them and walk away. Most do not help their managers work on solutions. Some employees expect their managers to solve all of their problems.

When I think about the disciples, I am sure that they thought the same about Jesus. If Jesus can heal the sick and raise the dead, he should be able to feed people with a wave of his hand or a quick word. Jesus, however, does something that they did not expect. He tells them to feed the people. He was not putting them in a position of failure. He was teaching them a very valuable lesson.

The lesson was faith. If you believe that you can do all things through Christ, then you can do those things. Paul crystallizes that point in Philippians 4, “13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.

All things are possible if we believe that we can do all things only through the strength of Christ Jesus. That was his point with the five loaves and two fish. The disciples saw only the small amount of food. Jesus saw the blessings of God that will sustain all who believe.

Later in Matthew, we see the disciples trying to cast out a demon and unable to do so. After Jesus rebuked the demon and it left the boy, the disciples, in Matthew 17, asked Jesus, “19 Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?

Jesus tells them, “20 You don’t have enough faith. I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” 

Faith is so very powerful in our lives. We can feed thousands, cast out demons and move mountains if, and only if, we have the unshakable faith that we must build daily. That sort of faith does not come easily and requires us to believe that when we possess the strength of Jesus working inside of us daily, we are capable of more. We can feed thousands and millions. We can heal those who suffer. We can cast demons out of our lives. All of these things are possible if, and only if, we have faith even as small as a mustard seed. 

Even when we are at our weakest, we are still able to do so much more as long as we have faith and have Christ Jesus alive in our lives and strive to seek him daily. In James 1, James writes, “5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” God will give you what you need when you need it most.

In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul, in the first chapter, writes, “11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. 13 For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, 14 who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

God provides us with the grace and strength daily to overcome everything we face. It is through His glorious power that we are able to endure and persevere when all may seem lost. As we are filled with joy and strength, we should always thank the Father. Just as Jesus looked to heaven and then blessed the food, we should always look to heaven for our blessing of daily strength, endurance and joy.

When we do those things through the glorious power, strength and grace of our Heavenly Father, it is only then that we are able to stand firm in His grace.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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