Daily Archives: October 3, 2017

Today’s Scripture – October 3, 2017

Luke 9:12-17 (NIV) Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”
He replied, “You give them something to eat.”
They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish–unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)
But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” The disciples did so, and everybody sat down. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

The disciples had compassionate hearts that legitimately cared about the needs of these people out in the wilderness. But as far as solutions were concerned, they were seeing with earthly eyes, and that severely limited them.

Keep in mind that these twelve men had just experienced several weeks of living on God’s provision. But that provision had always come through people in the towns in which they had proclaimed the gospel. There were no houses or shops out here, so they put this need in a different category – one in which they could depend on only earthly solutions.

They decided among themselves that the best solution was to send the people home, so that they could find some food for themselves in the houses and towns along the way. But Jesus’ solution was for the apostles to feed this hungry crowds of thousands themselves.

Taking quick stock, they found that they could come up with five loaves of bread and two small, smoked fish, the spoils of a young boys food supply (John 6:9). But, compared to the need, this seemed pitifully inadequate.

Since the disciples seemed unable to connect the dots, Jesus seized the opportunity as a teachable moment. He gave the twelve disciples tasks to do: first, have the people sit down in groups of fifty; then, after He had blessed the food, keep distributing it to the people until everyone had had enough; and finally, gather up the twelve baskets full of leftovers.

Notice that Jesus did not pray that the food would be multiplied to feed all of those people. The prayer that He prayed was the traditional barakah, or thanksgiving, that the Jewish people prayed before their meals. It is a prayer of praise and thanksgiving for what God has already provided, not a prayer looking for more. Jesus knew that the Father had already determined that He would feed all of the people with the scant provisions available, just as He had promised. So, in faith and trust, Jesus thanked the Father for His adequate provision, and then directed the disciples to start distributing the food.

Father, all too often we are just like those apostles, seeing the enormity of the needs, and the paucity of our resources. You have promised to provide for our every legitimate need, if we will seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness (Matthew 6:33), just as Jesus did. Help me in every situation to never determine what is possible based on my resources, but to listen carefully while You tell me what is possible with Yours. Then help me to move forward with faith, trust, and thanksgiving for what You have promised, and what You will surely do. Amen.

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Today’s Scripture – October 2, 2017

Luke 9:10-11 (NIV) When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

The apostles returned to Jesus full of news about the various missions that they had been on. They had each experienced God’s blessings, God’s provision, and God’s power for ministry as they went out in obedience to Jesus’ commission. But Jesus was so overrun by needy people who were crowding around Him, that they had no chance to share.

So Jesus loaded them all into a boat (Mark 6:32) to go off for some quiet time, where they could wind down away from the crowds, and be able to share their experiences. It was a great strategy, but it didn’t work out exactly as planned.

When they got to their destination, they found that there were thousands of people there waiting for them. The people had seen Jesus and the disciples in the boat, and had been able to determine where they were headed and beat them there. At that point, Jesus had three broad actions that He could take. He could simply put back out to sea and find another place to land. He could send the people away, berating them for barging into a personal retreat. Or He could set aside His own agenda, and that of His disciples, and minister to the crowd.

It’s no surprise that Jesus chose the third alternative. And it’s no surprise that He did it without grumbling or complaining. He welcomed the people graciously, as if they were His sole agenda. He taught them about the kingdom of God. And He healed all who were sick. Those people, far from being an interruption to His agenda, were the very reason that He had come into the world. That was a vital lesson for His disciples, both then and now.

Father, it is easy to mistake our agenda. We can easily get to thinking that our agenda is church work, or social work, or, especially for pastors, study and preaching. And we can easily resent people whose presence interferes with those agendas. But we need to take a lesson from Jesus. His agenda is our agenda: telling people about the kingdom of God, and helping them to find the physical, emotional, and spiritual wholeness and freedom that spring from that reality. Thank You for this lesson. Amen.

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