Sunday, January 30, 2011

How Does God Feed You? And Why Should I Care?

Please read Mark 6:30-44

With just one month into 2011, most resolutions have probably waned or vanished altogether. As followers of Christ, it's exciting to remember that we have the unfailing love of God and the constant promise of renewal through His Grace. There is no need to wait for New Year's or spring or any other outside prompting. God helps us to see our errors, forgives us, and shows us how to correct them and to grow closer to Him. God is never boring! Every moment with Him is full of promise and transformation.

This month is almost over. As we say goodbye to this month and welcome February, we need to ask ourselves a question: How can this month be different from all the other months in my life? We will be looking at the same passage this week as we did last Sunday. Let us look to God’s Hand to show us how to depend on His leading and on His providing us with all we need to walk this Walk of Faith.

Today, we will be looking at six statements or questions that deal with this miracle.

First: the background.

The “Feeding the 5,000″ is the only miracle recorded by all four Gospels.

Disciples came back from their mission, they were tired and hungry, did not have time to eat. They needed rest.

Jesus just heard about the death of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13).

Jesus wanted Himself and His disciples to withdraw from the crowd so that they can have some rest.

They headed to Bethesda, by boat to discourage the crowd from following them. Trying to get away from them.

Bethesda – City name means “Fisherman’s house”, it was home of Philip, Andrew and Peter.

They were looking for a Mini vacation!

Crowd there was in deep need; much physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. The people sought teaching and healing. They were already gathered at the place, before Jesus arrived.

Mark 6:34 says that Jesus had compassion on them because they were sheep without shepherd.

How do we respond when they invade our privacy?

So many times, when we are tired and weary, under stress, and people come to us in need, and we try to avoid them. They come with hope of getting something, to share or to have fellowship. Are we available to their needs?

Jesus had compassion on them; He welcomed them not out of duty or obligation, but out of love and care & God’s Will. You may want to think of an incident, when you are so tired and need rest, and your friend comes and you start thinking, “Oh, no, how do I get rid of him?” Need to be careful!

Jesus was a caregiver—first to His disciples and then to the crowd.

Jesus taught them about the Kingdom of God, healed them (for hours). (During this time, the Beatitudes were being shared as well as teachings on being Poor in Spirit and what the Kingdom of Heaven was like. HUGE topics and spiritual battles.)

Jesus must be teaching well, that crowd did not disperse in the evening; they were too engrossed into listening to Jesus. (Of course! As NO ONE TAUGHT LIKE THIS MAN, with such authority!)

Think of any church meeting, when preacher goes little long, and people start looking at their watch. Not this way with Jesus. Not a sin to look at the watch but there are things that must be more important. Only two hours a week in worship is not enough for any believer.

“Give them something to eat”

Crowds were not worried, but the disciples were. It’s like the 12 came and tells Jesus, “its time to close, let them go.” Jesus reply is startling, “Give them something to eat.” – What!?

Was Jesus serious, 5000 men, women, and children? They didn’t have enough money to feed them. It is like an eight-month’s wages, thousand of dollars, were they going to use all that for feeding them one meal?

I am sure they were trying to think practically, "Let them go." But Jesus’ ways does not seem practical at times.

Read Judge 6-7: Gideon’s army of 300 men winning against 150,000 Midianites.

“What do you have?”

Jesus asks another question, “What do you have, go and see?” Don't just wonder what is for your use. Get active. They found a boy with five loaves of bread and two fishes

How can a few pieces of loaves, fishes feed the 5000?

Totally inadequate, impossible to feed them all, but this is all they had.

Jesus prepared them for a Miracle – All were hungry, He didn’t want chaos, disorder, shoving, pushing. He wanted to organize, to give order to the crowd.

Disciples don’t understand, “Why is He doing that?” However, as confused they were, they followed what He said. Sometimes you just got to do what He said to do! Jesus wants us to act in faith, though it may sound foolish or silly or unlikely at the time. Jesus did not do miracle first and then told them about organizing crowd. He readied the crowd and His 12!

Prayer of thanksgiving –most important part of miracle. It came from God! Giving thanks to The Father, not credit on Himself, but exalting God, the Father. Thanking and blessing God. He then broke them and distributed them.

Five thousand people-- must have taken some time. AND ALL were fed and satisfied!

Jesus’ final assignment for His disciples:

“Go and gather broken pieces.” To make them realize that God’s provision is more than adequate. (He, in fact, later on reminds them about it in Mark 8:19) Profound impact on disciples, all gospels have account of it. How does it impact you?

Why this miracle?

This miracle created a problem for Jesus’ ministry. Popular for providing but not so much in the spiritual sense.

In was also a Lesson of Discipleship for His Disciples. Do what He tells us to do!!!

“What do YOU have?”

Of course, our resources are way inadequate for the needs of this world. But we are to bring what we have to Him. And put it into His Hands.

There may be a need for clear vision and planning. This is not always the case. Time is sometimes an issue. We must be open to His leading: stop what you are doing, look and see what He is doing and go do it WITH Him! He will in turn, bless them and place them back into your hands, multiplied, more powerful than you can ever imagine. Too often, we are overwhelmed by the need, and give up, questioning adequacy of God.

When we see the world, we are stunned by the need all around us. People are deserting God. So much of pain, and suffering, persecution, hurt, wars. And we realize that our resources are very limited. We might feel we cannot help due to lack of resources, so we hold back: Don’t!

Jesus is looking for people who are ready to believe, trust Him, who are willing to bring whatever little they have. (Instead of complaining or stepping back.) God’s provision is more than adequate. Are we ready to trust Him, believe that even though the task is immense! Our God is more than sufficient!

All we need to do is to bring our resources, use our gifts, talents, time, energy, and He is going to bless them and multiply them. Our role in all this is to agree with is plan to make disciples. We need to discover out spiritual gifts and work inside that framework.

Consider this truth! (APPLICATION)

Q: How does five loaves of bread and two fish feed 5,000?

A: God’s math doesn’t need to add up.

Now, I can understand the saying: “… the wise man (who) will invest everything he has in the life of Faith.” ~Michael Eaton. Rather than holding back on what we have, hoarding it for ourselves, we are to extend our influence—our resources—to the needs around us. God invites us to be investors for the Kingdom of God. This is not only about money, It is about having the Holy Boldness to do many things to spread the Gospel and then wait for God’s blessing to come in.

Some of the things we do, we do them because of time restraints. The Singapore Team has come here for the past three years. They had invested a large amount of money in their outreach into our neighborhood. They spent a lot of time in prayer before they came. While they were here, they engaged in extended prayer times for the Work of God’s Spirit. Ken-San spoke three times this past Christmas. At one meeting, only a few came and heard his message. On Christmas Day, he spoke again and the response was very positive! Five adults FROM OUR OWN NEIGHBORHOOD responded that they wanted to ask Jesus into their lives. Three others indicated interest in learning more about the claims of Jesus. Question: can you put a price tag on that? Sure a lot of money was spent. But also, five of our neighbors have new life.

But, now, what is our response to that? Invite people from Singapore to come again in 11 months and do it all over again? I think not. We need to do that work—as a Church Body. We need to be the ones who give up our five loaves and two fish so that Jesus can touch our efforts and bless them and feed others in our area with the Good News. If we don’t, then we better not open ourselves to teams from outside our area to do the work for us. We need to be the ones who do the outreach.

We should never stop investing with the Gospel in as many places as we can. Whenever we as a Church engage in Kingdom activity, we offer the Holy Spirit something He can and often will use to save people’s souls.

Wasn’t that what Jesus was aiming at? Was it to feed the people with bread and fish or was He interested in meeting special needs of the people? They looked at this miracle as proof that He could be the political leader of Israel. Jesus was looking to set them free from the bondage of being self-centered and careless and free from the dullness of life. Of being concerned more for the needs of people’s broken hearts.

We are broken people. Jesus did not come to fix us! He came to make us new! That is the Power of the Gospel. To take away our cold hearts and to give us new hearts that is made in the likeness of our Creator God.

What do you have to give to Jesus today? Something small? It does not matter—not in His Hands! Five or 5,000 loaves of bread. Two or 20,000 fish. When He touches our gifts, a miracle happens. Let Him touch what you are & what you have and see what happens!