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A Basket Case

"Jesus replied, 'They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.' 'We have only five loaves of bread and two fish,' they answered. 'Bring them here to Me,' He said."- Matthew 14:16-18

With the theme for our year being "Unshakeable Truths" we have spent all of 2016 studying Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, with a series on the Kingdom of God and true discipleship, entitled "Higher Ground". This has been a time for us to have a clearer understanding of God's kingdom; a time for us to have purer motives when it comes to our faith expressions and interactions with others; and a time for us to experience better results in life.

One of the pervading themes in this first message of Jesus is His providing a distinction between the religious observations of the Pharisees, and the true desire and command of God as it relates to topics such as giving, prayer, forgiveness, and putting God first. It is clear that Jesus' message is calling the crowds away from the religious leaders heavy-laden and self-propagating manner of faith, to a true worship walk with God. The primary difference has to do with the SOURCE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. In Matthew 5:20 Jesus warns the flock of followers, "For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." The religious leaders were seeking their form of righteousness through practices and observances, whereas Jesus was calling people to receive this gift and status, through a personal relationship and faith surrender to Father God. The Bible clearly conveys that faith is a gift, not a work, and comes through a heartfelt seeking of God and not a striving of self. Romans 1:17 we are told, "For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed--a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith."

In looking at the above scripture in Matthew, we return to the account of the feeding of the 5,000, which is one of the most well-known miracles in the Gospels. Most of us learned this story in Sunday School, have heard a message on it in church, or have used this miracle to call out in prayer and stand in faith for our own provision needs. Upon reflecting on this story, my attention has been drawn to the source used by Jesus to do this mighty and multiplied work. He asks for the disciples to provide what is in their hands to be used to feed the people. They immediately recognize that there is a major "supply and demand" problem. Jesus is unhindered by their underwhelming resource. The Master Miracle worker takes what they have labeled as "ONLY five loaves of bread and two fish" and makes it the most memorable meal in the history of mankind!

What an encouraging thing that Jesus did not ask them to gather enough food to feed 5,000; to go and sell everything they had to feed 5,000; or even to demonstrate more faith to feed 5,000. The Savior simply said to bring WHAT THEY HAD to Him and he would do the rest. It is from that point of them handing over their limited supply, that Jesus blesses it, multiplies it, and uses it beyond anything they could have imagined. We need to learn that the work of God in our lives is not about us doing more, having every answer, or making lemonade out of lemons. It is easy for us to move into a STRIVE MODE, where we feel that we must get the job done. There is a difference between doing things in our own strength and resource versus handing over what we have to Jesus in an act of humility, surrender, and faith.

* When I bring Jesus my limited faith and weakness, He has a way of strengthening me.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness."- II Corinthians 12:9

* When I bring Jesus my brokenness, He has a way of restoring me.

"Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."- Psalm 51:9-10

* When I bring Jesus my cry for help, He has a way of answering me.

"Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, 'Do not fear, only believe."- Mark 5:36

* When I bring Jesus my ordinary life, He has a way of transforming me.

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us."- II Corinthians 4:7

It is these promises and realities that serve as a great comfort and hope as I walk out my faith and calling. Particularly in this season with our property transition it has been a great reminder that Jesus is not asking me to have all the answers and resources, but inviting me to bring what I have to Him, so that He can make a way, multiply it, and move mightily on our behalf. Today, Jesus is asking "What do you have?" How will you answer this request? Rather, than stalling to gain more or look better in His sight, take what you have, lay it at His feet, and watch Him move in your life. Jesus is asking each of us to bring to Him what we currently have, so that He can take it, change it, and use it for His purpose and His glory in our lives.

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