Friday, March 17, 2017

Loaves and Fishes

When I was on my medical mission trip recently, I had the opportunity to get to know members of our group a lot better. One of the women who went stated she really wanted to know the Bible better. She had a basic understanding of some things, but she didn't have the experience of learning the Bible stories like so many of us who have grown up in the church. I started to think, I wonder if she would know the story of the loaves and fishes. It's a great message to build faith and look inward at our hearts to check our motives. We can read it together.
JOHN 6:1-14

Jesus had been healing people of different diseases. By speaking His Word after seeing one's faith, if they had an illness or infirmity, Jesus would heal them. Obviously this started to get people's attention. Some may have been curious. Some may have been skeptical. Some may have wanted to be healed, too. The Bible says regardless of the reason, many followed for the miracles (verse 2). Are you following Jesus? What is your motivation? Is it to get something you want? Check your heart. Are you drawn to Jesus because you want more of Him or you want more from Him?

Jesus went up into a mountain and sat down with his disciples. I just came back from my medical mission trip in a mountainous region. It was magnificent to see mountains everywhere I looked. They were all around me. I was in the valley, but how amazing to have scaled the mountain with Jesus, my Savior, and sit down with him like the disciples did. Jesus is with us when we have to climb the spiritual mountains in our lives too. He doesn't leave us in the valley, he takes us up higher.
The passover feast of the Jews was coming up. Jesus was up on the mountain and from that view he could see the crowd approaching. When you are on the mountain with Jesus, following where He leads, you can see things coming at you from afar off and start preparing for it. Jesus starts preparing the disciples for the crowd of people who are coming after Jesus.

Jesus looks right at Philip. He could have asked any of the disciples but he questions Philip as to what should be done. This is a time of feasting. These people will be hungry. Jesus asks the disciple how he can provide food for them. Jesus has a plan! He always has a plan! But He wanted to see what Philip would do in this situation.

Philip looked at it from a financial standpoint. He knew it would cost a lot of money. If they had the money, how could they afford to feed everyone? Has God placed something in your heart to do and you start wondering how you can afford to do it? There is something very important God has placed in my heart to do and I know that we will but I do not know how we will get the finances we need to make it happen. It's easy to look at our situations from a financial perspective, and start to worry, but the Bible says in Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Another disciple, Andrew, looked at the physical situation. He sees a young boy and thinks it might work but there just isn't enough. He sees something that if there was just more of it, it would do. What do we need God to multiply in our lives to fit the great need? There is nothing that God cannot do. In Jeremiah 32:26-27 we read, Then came the Word of the LORD, unto Jeremiah, saying, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for Me?" I can answer that! No, LORD! There is nothing my God cannot do!

Both of these men, Philip and Andrew, are sitting right next to the answer! Jesus already knew what He was going to do. I wonder if any of the other disciples had ideas of how to feed that many people. That is a lot of people to feed! In verse 10, the number is 5,000 men. That's a lot of appetites to fill! This doesn't even say how many women and children were with these men. That is a lot of food to prepare. A small dinner party can cost a lot of money, but to feed 5,000 men...Philip was right to think it would be astronomical to pay for the food. So how could they minister to these people and help them if they couldn't feed them?

The Bible doesn't say if there was an exchange between Jesus and the boy. Was the boy willing to give up his five loaves of barley and two small fishes to Jesus? Did he just offer it up? Or was he asked of Jesus and then quickly obeyed? Did the boy hesitate and wonder how he was going to explain things to his mother when he had given all the food away. All we know is that Jesus took what the boy had, all that he had to offer, and multiplied it to meet a greater need!

In verse 11 it says they ate as much as they wanted! They were full. They didn't just get a bite or nibble. They didn't have an appetizer or snack to "tide them over" until they got somewhere else. No, they were with Jesus and He is the God of more than enough! He will fill up empty stomachs and bless hearts and lives until they overflow!

I love that in verse 12, Jesus tells the disciples to gather up the remaining fish and bread so that nothing is lost! He didn't want one crumb to go to waste! There was a big blessing in store for the obedient boy and Jesus wanted to make sure he got it all!!!

The boy gave all that he had. This must have taken a lot of faith, but we are to have that childlike, trusting faith to just simply obey! The boy may have been on his way home to feed his family with whatever fish he caught that day and some bread, but instead the boy obeyed Jesus and there is no mention of the child even being a little reluctant to give all that he has to Jesus. Yet when we are asked to give something up, or to give something away, how quick do we obey? How quick are we to make excuses and only want to give a portion, not the whole thing? This boy was rewarded for his obedience and by giving all that he had, he was blessed with even more than he started with. God is so good like that!

We can't forget the other people in the story. We talked about the disciples and we talked about the boy. But what about all those men who ate the food? They had to see the bread and the fish multiply and multiply, row after row, man after man grabbing and eating until they are full! In verse 14 it says they believed in Jesus after seeing this miracle. That should make anyone a believer! Sometimes God allows us to get our backs against the wall and seemingly no way out, so we can put our faith in Him and watch Him work it all out for our good and for His glory. It increases our faith! It builds our confidence in Him. It teaches us that He is for us, not against us. He is our ever present help in our time of need. He will bless us with what we have need of. He loves us. He cares for us. He can do exceeding abundantly more than we can ask or think!

Let me encourage you with these scriptures in closing! Don't be afraid to take your needs to Jesus. Give Him all you got and watch Him multiply it to meet the needs of you and so many all around you! You cannot outgive God!

Psalm 68:19
Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.

Romans 8:31
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

I John 4:19
We love Him, because He first loved us.

I Peter 5:7
Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you.

Ephesians 3:20
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.

~Bridgett Owens