TOPIC FOR THE MONTH OF APRIL: THE POWER OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD IS RELEASED WHEN WE GIVE
Text: John 6:1-15
If you take a true poll, most people you would encounter would not say that they have bought into the notion that bigger is always better. But when we look at the actions of those same people we polled, you would find that they have truly bought into the notion, BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER. If a little is good, more is great. Unfortunately, many Christians have also bought into the same philosophy. The thought seems to be that the bigger church is the better church. The bigger church is the successful church. The bigger church is the model for us to follow. I submit this question to your; does Jesus always use the biggest, the strongest or the greatest to accomplish His best work? I answer that question like this, 1 Corinthians 1:27, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;" A closer look at this message would leave us to understand that concept, that God is not moved by the biggest, the strongest or even the most popular, He uses small things to show himself strong. Is it not written in Judges 7:2, "And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me." God wants to show you that He is the biggest, He is the strongest and that He can do anything but fail. It is written, Jeremiah 32:27, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? Nothing is to hard for God. He can still take what you have and multiply it into a harvest that you have no room to receive. The book of Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
A farmer will tell you that their crop began with the planting of the first seed. When we plant the seed of the Word of God through faith, coupled with our first fruits and trust God to multiply it, the response of God is simple, Proverbs 3:10, "So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." If you want to increase, I submit to you, plant and get ready for a harvest. Understand, your crop will not grow overnight, but with continued prayer, praise and living a life pleasing before the Lord - YOU WILL REAP IF YOU FAINT NOT. The New Living Translation of Galatians 6:9 says it with simplicity, 'So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up." Remember, a seed presses through the a dark and lonely place (in the dirt) before it reaches the light. Your seed will not fail you. Obedience produces abundance, read 1 Kings 17:14-16.
A great author by the name of C. S. Lewis once said, "I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare."
There are several different kinds of giving that we focus on in the Kingdom of Christ:
Tithe: the first tenth of income that is given to the storehouse
Treasure: general offerings given after the tithe
Talent: those natural and spiritual gifts that God has blessed us with
Time: Personal investment into the kingdom of Christ
Think about some of the small things that God has used to do incredible things:
A small stone killed Goliath
Jesus chose twelve men to change the world
Jesus stilled the storm with a few words
Small things in the hands of Christ can accomplish amazing things. I want to examine a familiar story and see how Jesus can use the small things of life to do great things:
1 Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Feast was near. 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. 7 Philip answered him, "Eight months' wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" 8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up, 9 "Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?" 10 Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. 12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted." 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. John 6:1-15
Jesus was being followed by large crowds for several reasons. Looking at a simple chronology of events in the ministry of Christ, here are just a few things that had already happened:
Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount
Jesus brought the widow’s son at Nain back to life
Jesus calmed the storm
Jesus cast demons into a herd of pigs
Jesus healed the woman with bleeding and restored Jairus’ daughter to life
Jesus had sent the 12 out on their first missionary journey
John the Baptist had been beheaded
John says that Jesus was performing signs, not miracles. The purpose for the language was to show that Jesus was doing miracles as signposts to revealing Himself as the Messiah.
The crowds were following Jesus wherever He went. Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee to either spend time teaching the disciples, spend time in prayer or both. The point is that Jesus is interrupted by a massive crowd making their way to Him. As the crowd approaches an immediate problem arises, people need to eat.
Jesus asks Philip and important question: Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?" The question is meant to test Philip and help stretch his faith. The word here for test, means to challenge to bring greater strength. The purpose of the test is to help Philip grow. Philip immediately looks not at the way the food might be provided but the means the food would be provided.
Philip raises the point that it would take 200 denari to give such a crowd a single bite of food. This sounds like a small cost but consider that a denari was an average day’s wage. The amount comes to eight months worth of wages. Philip is looking at the problem that they have no means of getting such a large amount of food. There was no money and there was no source of ample supply. Remember that Philip has seen signs that prove that Jesus is powerful. He has seen signs that prove Jesus is the promised one of God. Even with all of these signs, Philip is still wrapped up in the means of supplying these people.
Andrew brings Jesus the lunch of a small boy. The boy likely heard the discussion and offered his lunch to assist. The boy has a lunch of five barley loaves and two fish. Barley was considered an inferior grain and was commonly used by the poor to make bread. Most barley loaves were small and not the size of a loaf we might get from the store. These loaves were likely about the size of a large biscuit. The fish were likely preserved to make it easier for traveling or working. These fish would have been small, probably a little larger than sardines. The lunch would have barely fed the boy.
Jesus started small with a five loaves and two fish. The gift of the boy seems insignificant in comparison to the need. Notice what Jesus does when He gets the food. He immediately tells the people to sit down and He prepares to start passing out the food. Jesus pauses to thank the Father for the provision. There was no way that the food would even feed one person but Jesus thanked God for what He had given.
We seldom are thankful for the things that God has provided. Look around you, we have been blessed in amazing ways. How did most of you get to church today? You drove a vehicle, be thankful. How did you get in the door? You walked on your own two feet, be thankful. How do we get to worship here today? Because we have a church building, be thankful. We are in the process of adding on to the church, be thankful. Absolutely everything that comes to us is by the gracious hand of God.
Jesus started small and finishes big! Jesus divided the meal out to the people. Jesus trusts God that what has been provided will be enough. Jesus made the impossible a reality that day. Jesus placed His trust in God and watched a miracle happen in front of Him. The same could be true of our church. We need to trust God or a multiplying, exponential outpouring of His power and provision.
Jesus takes the gift of that boy and does the impossible. Jesus feeds the people until they were satisfied. Every man, woman and child ate until they were full. There were five thousand men present and the entire crowd was likely closer to 20,000.
Jesus brought satisfaction to the people. He brings satisfaction to the hungry heart. Jesus fills from the bounty of His divine grace. The leftovers were amazing. Jesus began the meal with five loaves and two fish. The meal ends with everyone full and twelve baskets of leftovers. Remember that the boy gave up that small lunch but he helped thousands of people. He also left full. He too ate until he was satisfied and was far greater than if he had held on to his small lunch. There are rewards to giving to the Kingdom. When we make selfless, sacrificial offerings, God does amazing things.
The size of the gift is not necessarily the issue. The point is that we must give with the right attitude and the right spirit. Otherwise, the gift means nothing and it is self focused.
When we give to the Kingdom, nothing is impossible. Is it not written, Matthew 19:26, "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible."
The impossible is nothing in the perspective of God’s divine ability. When we give to the Kingdom, our gift is multiplied. Remember these final words of this simple reality:
a.) One little lunch satisfied many
b.) One little lunch made a difference
c.) One little lunch revealed the power of God
d.) One little lunch changed lives
e.) One little lunch strengthen people’s faith
Now, what about you?
a.) What does Jesus want to do in your life?
In this moment, Christ is speaking – calling some just to follow, some to trust and believe, some to obey.
b.) How can He use you?
If Jesus can use one little lunch to do so much, what can He do with your entire life?
c.) How can Christ use the broken pieces of your life?
Christ lets nothing go to waste. Why not allow Him to have the “wasted portions of your life? Let him take what appears to be broken and useless and turn it into a blessing
Jesus is calling “let’s do lunch.”
Practical Application: God wants you to take what you have and offer it back to him and bless you with more. Will you be obedient today to the Word of God and give of yourself, time... increase?
Scripture Reading: Luke 6:38-40