2 Sep 2012
September 2, 2012
This Is A Biggy....Promise Of Blessings
Luke 9: 10 - 17
When the apostles returned, they told Jesus everything they had done. Then he slipped quietly away with them toward the town of Bethsaida. But the crowds found out where he was going, and they followed him. And he welcomed them, teaching them about the Kingdom of God and curing those who were ill. Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, "Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this deserted place."
But Jesus said, "You feed them."
"Impossible! they protested. "We have only five loaves of bread and two fish. Or are you expecting us to go and buy enough food for this whole crowd?" For there were about five thousand men there.
"Just tell them to sit down on the ground in groups of about fifty each," Jesus replied. So the people all sat down. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people. They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!
Today we have yet another miracle that Jesus performed....and it's a biggy....as if healing people, calming storms, raising the dead were not enough....he feeds 5 thousand men that were counted, not including the women and children that were present. See Matthew 14:13-21 and John 6:10 for reference to the women and children that were there.
Matthew, Luke and John all reference 5 thousand loaves, 2 fish and 12 baskets of leftovers. Mark references either another time, or the facts blurred over time.
But let's start at the beginning....I've gotten ahead of myself.
Recall that the 12 Apostles were sent out by Jesus to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God. He gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. They preached the Good News while they healed the sick. Luke 9: 1-6. So now they had returned and to give him a report.
In wanting to move on, he and the apostles attempted to slip quietly away. Ah, well, that didn't work very well. The crowds found out where they were going and followed him. One might think that he was needing some quiet time, hence the quiet slip to go elsewhere. Yet, Jesus welcomes ALL of them, teaching them more about the Kingdom of God and curing those who were ill.
Okay, so next per the story, there are 12 apostles...all men...who's stomachs were probably grumbling. Remember they were not mentally exalted like Jesus or as driven yet probably. Some things took more priority than others apparently. Or perhaps not, and they were just truly concerned about the others lest they be there all night curing people now in a faint from hunger and low blood sugar. Either way, they recognized the time to eat food....a different kind of refreshment than Jesus was offering for their spirits. So they told Jesus to send them away to eat and sleep. Maybe the apostles were getting tired, too, by this time, or again, they were being concerned for the others.
So concern for others or themselves, Jesus said, "You feed them." Can you imagine the look of astonishment on their faces? I'd be like, "Are you nuts....there's 5 thousand out there of men alone, not to mention the amount of women and children! How in the world are we going to do that?" Ah.....but Jesus wasn't of THIS world. In his world, 5 thousand plus was 'a piece of cake' to feed. Ha...pun intended. In their astonishment, they got pretty sassy speaking to Jesus. "Impossible!" they protested. Heh heh heh....had they not already seen some pretty remarkable miracles from Jesus? This was about to be a biggy. 'Praise the Lord I tell myself....let all the whole earth praise the Lord!' From Psalms.
As if he was saying, 'Dear, just add another place setting for the company', Jesus said,"Just tell them to sit down on the ground in groups of about fifty each." Can't you just see them shaking their heads in astonishment still, as they passed the word as to what to do? The folks all sat down as instructed.
Here comes the miracle. 'Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish, looked up toward heaven, and asked God's blessing on the food. When was the last time you looked up toward heaven and asked God's blessing on anything in your life? Breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples to give to the people.
"They all ate as much as they wanted, and they picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!" Note the exclamation point is in text.
Ask God's blessing on what you have and then give in abundance. In abundance, not from abundance. You don't have to have much to give. OBviously based on todays lesson. Recall in Luke 6:38 Jesus said, "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving - large or small - it will be used to measure what is given back to you."
Here, Jesus gives a classic example of how to do that....he puts his words into action. He says what he will do and he does what he says. He teaches and leads by example. He proves he is a man of integrity, a man of his word, a man of honor with credibility.
In Luke 11:13 Jesus says, "You fathers - if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" And if he will give you the Holy Spirit....the fullest gift in the Kingdom of God, why would you not want to give to those in need as well? You see, the world IS round.
Has someone asked you to help them? Have you helped them? Or have you stood on the shore with a lifesaver and watched them drown in a sea of stress, affliction, crisis, debt, problems, etc? Have you told them you would help them? Have you told them you love them? Has God helped you? Has God loved you? How can you not help them? How can you not love them?
When you ask God for something, do you expect to receive what you ask for? Has someone asked you to help them and told you specifically what they need? God gave us an example to give what is asked. Should God continue to give to you if you are not going to give to him....to others for him?
Jesus was given and he gave eternal life, forgiveness of sins, food for those in need - both spiritual and physical. He healed the sick, calmed storms and raised the dead. We are to do no less. He wants us to do BIG miracles. For some, like the widow who gave her last penny to help others, it's a huge miracle to let go of what we have to help others. But let go we must, if we are to be blessed by God.
Jesus gave the instruction to give....after he asked God to bless what he was going to give. In this case it was food. Do you think that he would not bless you if you helped others by giving them money, clothes, shelter, transportation or other? If God can do this with food .... he can and he did .... imagine what would happen to your bottom line if you gave. But make sure your heart is right. If you are giving just to get, you won't receive the enormity of the blessing he wants to give you....only the others on the receiving end will receive the large portion through you from God. If you give to help another, wanting them to be blessed, then look out.....God will pour out a blessing upon you as well. Do you need a miracle in your marriage? Give. Do you need a financial miracle? Give. Do you need better transportation? Give. Do you need employment? Give. But give into the Kingdom of God, as a helpmate to God, to help others, so that he will want to mightily pour out a blessing on you. Give love, give money, give rides for others, give by helping others, give clothes....give of what you have little to receive much. Give of what you have greatly to receive more. Give your heart, pour Jesus into the hearts of many. Be filled to overflowing with Holy Spirit and all he has to give you.
Jesus gave 5 loaves and 2 fish to the masses. But folks, they were not only fed and satiated with grain and fish, they were fed spiritually. Give....pour those blessings onto others with thanksgiving for all God has done for you, and God, in his gratefulness with thanksgiving, will pour unto you. You will learn of a spiritual blessing so great your heart and soul will be barely able to contain it.
The biggy? The miracle of God's blessing. It was huge that day when more than 5 thousand were fed. It was huge when the apostles and the masses learned the importance of what it means to ask God to bless what you have. It was huge that they got to see the miracle in that blessing that occurred as a result. Many people sought Jesus. That day they were taught, they learned, they were healed, they were fed spiritually and physically, and ALL were mightily blessed through it all.
Are you desperate for a miracle? Does the depth of your heart cry out to be blessed by God? Do you have needs that need to be met right now? Give to God. Give to others in the name of God for God. Give from what you have, not from what you have not.
I know of an Atheist who gave $20,000 over time to a friend in need who was a Christian Minister. She received well over $100,000 in return from another source....I believe God blessed her. I know of a person who gave of her heart, who had no money, to help another with no money, and gained $3600 a month in income while she did, from completely different sources....I believe God blessed them all. The world really is round. God really does say thank you. Will he say thank you to you today? This week? Do you know of a need in your circle of friends, your community, your spiritual family? Don't boast, just quietly give. Can you only pray because you truly have nothing? Then pray your heart out. Has someone asked you to help them? Trust God and give to them. Pour.
Remember: "If you give, you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full measure, pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, and running over. Whatever measure you use in giving - large or small - it will be used to measure what is given back to you."
Don't forget to give your greatest gift.....Jesus. Telling his story....your blessing for that most assuredly will be eternal life.
Let Us Pray
Dear God, I know that the Apostle Paul spoke of your secret plan in Ephesians 3, that "The Gentiles have an equal share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God's children." He also said that "Both groups have believed the Good News and both are part of the promise of blessings through Christ Jesus." Your plan of salvation is great, wonderful, too special for mere words. To know that I am forgiven of my sins, known and unknown, and to be offered eternal life....that is your greatest gift....one of the promise of blessings through Christ Jesus. Another promise of blessings I've learned today is that when I give, I will receive more blessings as an expression of your gratitude. Your plan of Jews and Gentiles joined together in one church was your plan from all eternity, and it is has now been carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord through his death and resurrection. However, how can we all come together, if we, as Christians, won't even help one another when we cry out? Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, please show me what you want me to do....to give....to others. Truly I have too many clothes....surely I can give from that storehouse. I'm lacking in pet food, but I've just fed and watered that lonely lizard outside my door....I hope that pleases you. The birds will eat what he does not. Perhaps there will be enough left for the raccoons tonight. Like the widow, from my perspective, I have little money, being unable to meet the expenses I do have. But I'm happy to place it where you tell me, Father God. After all, it really is YOUR money that you allow me to have. You want the first fruits, not the last. You want me to show you gratitude first for what you have given me. Although Paul's prayer was for the spiritual promise of blessings, I believe it encompasses all of the promise of blessings. So let his prayer, be mine today....When I think of the wisdom and scope of your plans, God, I fall to my knees and pray to you, Father, Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from your glorious, unlimited resources you will give me mighty inner strength through your Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ Jesus will be more and more at home in my heart as I trust in him. May my roots go down deep into the soil of your marvelous love, God. And may I have the power to understand, as all your people should, God, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep your love really is. May I experience the love of Christ, though it is so great I will never fully understand it. Then I will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from you, God. Now glory be to you, God! By your mighty power at work within me, you are able to accomplish infinitely more than I would ever dare to ask or hope. May you, God, be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Thank you, Father God, for your promise of blessings in my life. What I learned today is indeed a biggy....a gentle reminder of what I knew....but had not been currently practicing. Please fight that foe named Satan to remove from me all his spirits of negativity, depression, unbelief, concerns, fear, trauma, financial destitution, emptiness, pain, sorrow, and everything else that is not of you. Now hurry...fill those areas to overflowing, that are now left void by his leaving, with your Holy Spirit, so that Satan and his spirits can never enter those areas in me again. Thank you Father God. You know the enormity of my needs, Father God. I am ready to receive your promise of blessings in all areas of my life, as I step out giving in your name for you and with you. As Paul says, so do I...."Just think! Though I did nothing to deserve it, and though I am the least deserving Christian there is [maybe.....], I was chosen for this special joy of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasure available to them in Christ. I was chosen by you, God, to explain to everyone this plan that you, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning." Thank you, Father God, for trusting me with so much for so many. I pray I will not ever let you down. I pray this in Jesus' name, by and with the power and authority of the Holy Spirit. I love you. Amen.
Lord,LordJesJeJeJJjEJJJ JJThe LORD is king! Let the nations tremble! T***
Let us hear from Paul as he prays:
When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God! By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope. May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT
Scroll down to read Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving...'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'.
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Our Current Cause
It is time to reach into the community and the world around you to see wherein lies the greatest need. As you choose to focus on these areas, do so with a servant's heart. Whether the need is for children, adults, or animals, or any cause in between that will help those in need, ask God how you can best serve his needs, what path you must take, and how long you should persevere. Sometimes we are to be in the lives of others merely as stepping stones. Sometimes we are to touch those lives forever. Whatever journey you are called to take, whatever team you will be a member, know this: God is with you always...even til the end of time. He loves you, is grateful for you, and will help you along life's way, especially if you are helping others along theirs, persevering with a servant's heart.
Please accept my sincerest thanks....and God's....and may God richly bless you!
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One last thing....
Jesus' Prayer of Thanksgiving
'The Unforced Rhythms of Grace'
"Abruptly Jesus broke into prayer: "Thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth. You've concealed your ways from sophisticates and know-it-alls, but spelled them out clearly to ordinary people. Yes, Father, that's the way you like to work."
Jesus resumed talking to the people, but now tenderly. "The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father - Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I'm not keeping it to myself; I'm ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen."
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn how to live freely and lightly.
Matthew 11: 25-30
And the people said,
I now write most prayers in the position of ' I ' (first person) because most people are sitting at their computer alone, not in groups, and it allows those reading and praying to personalize the prayer as coming from them going to God. Variations may appear on holidays when families may wish to use the prayer provided.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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