How Did He Do That? Part 7

11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
 Jesus is very pointed in this passage that He wants the remnants collected up so that nothing is wasted. We tend to look at portions of our lives as “wasted”. We evaluate some of the time we use in school as unnecessary or of no value. Jesus didn’t waste a thing!

God wastes nothing!

As I look at my own life I can see this played out beautifully as I realize that everything I do as a part of my daily routine now basically began with things I never thought I’d use. Whether it’s the use of sign language to “hearing” communities, to the writing skills I employ on this blog, God wastes nothing! Many of us may fall into the trap of trying to script our lives by what we think are important talents or skills that we have to offer God and yet God will surprise us every time with what He wants to highlight as trademarks of our lives. His hand is masterful at what He chooses to bring out of us to glorify Himself! No one would have imagined that a couple of fish and loaves of bread could go so far…yet they did. No one thought Jesus would bless what a little boy had to give and yet He did! God wastes nothing…no gift, no talent, no one! What do you feel like is un-usable to God? What “small” offering, talent or skill do you possess that you keep to yourself thinking it is of no use to God?

The smallness of an offering doesn’t matter to God!

This principle can be no clearer than the instance with the widow who cast her last few cents into the offering at the temple.

1 He looked up and saw the rich dropping their offerings into the temple treasury. 2 He also saw a poor widow dropping in two tiny coins. 3 “I tell you the truth,” He said. “This poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For all these people have put in gifts out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21: 1-4

We don’t want to give something small because we love the show!

We live in a society that has bought into the the belief that “bigger is better” and more substantial. It’s all about numbers and business, right? It’s about being the senior pastor or having a mega-church. It’s about wanting more when we have not been good stewards of something small! It seems to me that God is always interested in “smallness”. Why only 12 disciples? Why not 8,000? Why use a little boy when surely there were entrepreneurs in the audience! Jesus wants to be the star of the show. God will not share His glory with another!  Isaiah 42:8. God wants us to be humble in our actions, not self-glorifying religious zealots! Many in America have no problem giving the “big” things to God…but what about the small things? The things that we feel like don’t really matter…because they do matter!  We would do well to look around us and notice the small things that we want to hold onto because we feel like they are insignificant. Would anything change if we let it go? If not, then why hold onto it? What possesses you to not let it go? Freedom in Christ? Grace? Has God asked you for it? 12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. 1 Corinthians 6:12-13

God is more interested in ALL than SMALL

God was pleased with this woman’s gift because she gave out of her “smallness”. It was out of her poverty that she gave, not her abundance! Yet whether smallness or abundance, the point was she gave all she had. It’s one thing for a poor elderly widow to give her “two cents” but quite another for a young thirty-something to give his tithe, much less his “all”.

The tendency is to come to God and ask what is the least we have to do instead of what’s the most we are able to do.

Is God wasting His time with you? Has God trusted you with opportunities to make a difference? Has God wasted entrusting you with finances, wealth, and affluence? Has God given you much while you have given Him little?  Luke 12:48b says: “Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.”

The fragments are still useful to God!

When we are dealing with God, it’s easy to buy into the mindset that God only uses “whole and holy” things. But we have to remember that God is the One Who makes things whole and holy…not us! The sin, the past, the regrets, the struggles, the failures, the “wish-I-would-have’s” are all fragments that make the stained glass windows of our souls for His glorious light to shine through! Those fragments are the things God uses to bring glory to Himself. We don’t want to give these fragments to God because we want to feel good about our gifts to Him. God on-the-other-hand wants us to feel good about our God! He wants us to revel in His grace, His power and His delight to do more than we ever could comprehend. God can and will do great things with whatever we give Him. He wastes nothing! Not even the junk in our lives! When the question comes up of “how did He do that”, may the response be “by His grace, through His power, with this offering.”

1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, 2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truthcommending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.  7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but notforsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.  13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.  16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while welook not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:1-18

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

How Did He Do That? Part 6

11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Have you ever wondered what God is gonna do with this?  What is going to do with these “leftovers”? What good are leftovers? What good is this tired old talent or way of doing things?

Did you know that the average American produces about 5 pounds of trash a day?

Did you know that Americans throw away about a half-a-pound of food each day?

Did you know that up to 295 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year?

These facts are staggering to consider when there is so much poverty in the USA and around the world! Knowing these statistics makes what Jesus did at the end of this passage all the more beautiful! Jesus instructed the disciples to collect up the leftovers so that nothing would be wasted. He was going to send the food back home with the boy! The boy’s small offering would now be rewarded as a blessing to his entire family and perhaps even the whole village!

What are you wasting?

After an event like that in our culture, many people would not have given a second  thought about simply discarding the leftovers. No one would have wanted to take the time to collect it up and store it up for use in the future. No one would have wanted to take the time to carry it back home. Who has time for that??? But this was evidently important to Jesus.

Jesus didn’t waste an opportunity to be a blessing for the future.

He took something that was right now and prepared it to be a blessing for the next day. What many would have left or thrown out, Jesus prepared for tomorrow. Just because something may seem old or tired or used up doesn’t mean it is! It may need to be repackaged, refreshed, or reheated but it can be recycled to be sure! Jesus will take what we have given Him and prepare it for the future if we are willing to use it again. Don’t simply discard a practice, a program, or a principle because it’s “old”. Certainly be open to new ways and practices. Technology and social media are wonderful new inventions that can go far in reaching people and making an impact in this generation and future ones. However, don’t ignore the things that have worked for years and simply do away with them because they seem “old”. Allow Christ to prepare it for tomorrow. This will require us to place it in His hands once again. Maybe it’s old and tired because we have “made” it? Allow Him to remake it and it may just very well be a blessing for the future!

Jesus looked to the future to impact the present.

Where did the blessing of the fish and bread come from? A little boy! No one would have suspected the blessing for the entire throng to come from a kid…and yet it did! Jesus didn’t reject the gift of the kid. How often do we dismiss what kids or youth have to offer because we feel they would have little to contribute? How often do we not include them in discussions about church and future church because we really don’t want their input or feel like their ideas would be valuable? Jesus demonstrated that He could use a kid and what a kid had to offer to bless those who were present and even beyond! Perhaps we need to survey what kids like and dislike about church? Maybe we need to include teens and even kids who don’t attend church to find out what we could work on to reach future generations? Maybe we need to give some more responsibilities to the youth and make them feel like a bigger part of God’s redemptive plan?

Jesus didn’t waste an opportunity to be a blessing beyond those who were present.

Have you ever been part of the “outsiders club”? You know what I mean, right? You’re sitting with friends who begin talking about a trip they were on but you didn’t make. They have their inside jokes, their stories that just aren’t as funny or special to you because you were not there! Frankly, you just don’t care!  That’s what is so awesome about this part of Jesus not wanting anything to be lost. He didn’t want others who were not there to miss the blessing either! He sent the baskets full of bread and fish back with the people. He didn’t hoard it or simply make enough for the ones present. He made more than enough for those present and then sought to be a blessing to those who were not. He wanted to include as many as possible in the blessing of this gift from the little boy. He wanted to bless others who were not there so they could share in the story! How have you tried to hoard blessings for yourself? How could you include others in the story and blessings of Jesus? How have you been limiting what God is placing in your hands to be a blessing to others?

Even though wasting food is tragic and inexcusable, wasting time and opportunities are more so! Jesus didn’t waste this food and He certainly didn’t waste time or opportunities. May we be faithful followers and do as He has shown us!

George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

How Did He Do That? Part 5

11And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.
Have you ever wondered what part do you play in God’s mission? As hard as it may be to believe, God has a role for you somewhere down the line. Part of how God does what He does is through us.

This passage clearly states that Jesus took the bread, blessed it and then gave it to His disciples to distribute to the rest of the crowd. On another occasion in Mark 8:1-10 we see Jesus doing something similar. He took the bread, blessed it and gave it to his disciples to pass out to others. What was Jesus doing in these instances? He was showing that how He does things is through us…with us as an extension of Himself.

The disciples enjoyed being close followers of Jesus. They loved getting the nitty-gritty teaching up close and personal. What Jesus was teaching them here, albeit subtly was that serving is as important as teaching. He was teaching through serving. Far too many people simply want information, “teaching” but Paul holds nothing back when he says that knowledge just “puffs up.” Service keeps us humble.

Precepts without practice results in pride.

Jesus taught a great deal of Truth but He also embodied that Truth. He did more than teach…He lived it out among them. He served and He expected His disciples to serve. And with a crowd like this there was no better time to serve! It is ridiculous how many people just want to talk about Jesus stuff and never do what Jesus did!

John 13:13-17 shows us Jesus heart for His disciples modeling His example:

13You call me your teacher and Lord, and you should, because that is who I am. 14And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other.15I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. 16I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. 17You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.

Jesus disciples His Disciples to make a difference.

Yes, the miracle is from the Lord! He broke the bread and blessed it. But then He bequeathed it to His disciples to serve. It is no different today. Jesus is constantly putting things back into our hands to serve others with. He is not holding back…But are we? Are we keeping blessings to ourselves? Are we spiritual hoarders? Are we not making a difference because we don’t want to serve others? Perhaps the real miracle is not that Jesus could produce food to feed over 8,000? Maybe the real miracle is that we are the ones He’s using!

The method is the miracle!

In this case and throughout His entire life Jesus was handing off ministry to others. Sure there were times when only He could do something miraculous. However, there are plenty of times in the scripture when Jesus passes the torch on to His disciples and encourages them in being like Him (Luke 9:1-6, Luke 10:1-20, Matthew 28: 18-20, Acts 1:8). What is important for all disciples of Christ to remember is that we cannot mishandle what the Lord has willingly and graciously placed in our hands! He has entrusted us with the Bread of Life!  How is the Lord asking you to pass something on? How has He given you something to give away to another?

 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA

How Did He Do That? Part 4

 11Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat. John 6:11
Have you ever wondered: “how did He do that?” Have you ever thought that it would take a miracle for something to work! Here’s a classic case where Jesus did something incredible.

This passage says that Jesus took the bread in His hands. This is where the miracles begin. To get to the place where we are scratching our heads in wonder and amazement, we have to let go of what we are holing onto.Jesus did something great for all that were there because of what was placed in his hands.

Never underestimate what Jesus can do with whatever He has been freely given!

Other passages tell us that there was a little boy who had these fish and bread. He could have held onto it but he freely choose to let it go and let the Lord use it. How often am I tempted to hold onto what I have? I can easily find myself operating out of a scarcity mentality and discover that my faith is not as strong as I thought. Whether it’s with money, or things or even the homeless fries at the bottom of the BK bag, I can seek to grab more and keep more for myself rather than share. Not this little boy! He let it all go in complete trust and expectation of something great.

Let Go and Let God!

To be sure he knew what he gave the Lord…it wasn’t that much, especially for so many. Phillip even chimes in to this same sound confirming that a few fish and some bread would barley make it past the first couple mouths. But it wasn’t about how much the boy gave; it was about who he gave it to!

Jesus was not concerned about how much it was but that He had something to work with!

Don’t miss what I’m saying. I believe Jesus could have commanded rocks to become bread and called for quail to come and visit them to be dinner. Surely Jesus could have done that. However, Jesus was pleased to have these items in his hands from a generous little boy seeking to give all he had to the cause! Too often we can become caught up in the quantity or even quality of the offering. We can begin to measure things and try to “out-do” the next guy with something bigger or better. We can even go the opposite route and not give anything because we figure it would never measure up at all. Hogwash! Christ cares more about our heart in giving than in the amount we give. He is able to take whatever we give and expand it, multiply it, and use it beyond our comprehension! I can assure you that this little boy had no idea what Jesus was gonna do with his small sacrificial offering!

Anything in Jesus’ hands is a sure bet!

I’m sure there were people in that crowd that had no idea what was going on. There were probably more than a few who had an interest into what Jesus was gonna do about this crisis because they were starving! And then there were a few who were expecting Jesus to be a colossal failure. A couple of fish and bread? I can hear the crowd up front murmuring. I can hear the doubt in the disciple’s voices. I can see the bug-eyed boy as Jesus takes the bread and breaks it and starts to pass it out. And he breaks it again…and again…and again…and again. And it doesn’t stop until they are all completely full. They couldn’t eat one more morsel! Who would have thunk it? How could this be possible? NO WAY! But it happened and there were thousands who would have testified that day that those fish and that bread was the best they’d ever tasted!

How did He do that? By blessing a small offering from a little boy. By breaking what was taken and making it available to all. Jesus can and will do amazing things with whatever He is given. It doesn’t matter from whom it comes or how much it is; He can and will use it to be a blessing to others.

 George Lockhart is a missionary with Vision 2 Hear and serves as the Youth Pastor at New Vision Church in Fayetteville, GA