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Sunday 15th August 2021​

Let God use the Little you have!: 

 

John 6:1-21, (read in normal place)

2 Kings 4:42-44 (read just before hymn before sermon)

 

We’ve listened to 2 texts today >

 

Obvious parallels between JESUS’ feeding of 5000,

…..and ELISHA's feeding of the 100

 

And all modern writers agree -

= the crowds who witnessed Jesus feeding the 5000

…….will have thought ‘ wow - this is just like Elisha all those years ago’

 

Because it was a famous and much loved story

 

Important connection for folks to make,

…..as JESUS was gradually  laying down his credentials,

………..so that folks would BELIEVE IN HIM

……………..and thus encounter GOD through him

 

But his early years,

…..was all about putting in the ground work,

……….so that folks (with ears to hear)

…………..could recognize him for who he really was -

 

GODS MAN

 

If i HAD cold called PISGAH back in 2009 (and you didn’t know me from Adam then- 

…..perhaps GATE CRASHED A DEACONS MEETING

 

….and said let me be your pastor - I AM GOD'S choice of Pastor FOR YOU

…...YOU WOULDN’T HAVE CALLED ME 

Can you imagine the expression on Maurice’s face!?

 

But when I DID meet the Deacons back in 2009 -

…..they didn’t meet me based on my claims -

 

They met me because MARC OWEN introduced me,

….because JOHNSTON commended me for future ministry,

 

.because 3 churches and various ministerial boards - HEARD and WATCHED ME

……... agreed that GOD SEEMED to be calling me to ministry

 

IF Jesus had turned up at the age of 30,

...and said ‘believe I am God’s man because I am saying that I am

 

= nobody would have paid any attention to him

(He wouldn’t even have entered the historical record)

 

  • But they SAW the evidence -

              ..the MIRACLES, the AUTHORITY, …. 

 

But there was something else that was just as persuasive…..

 

 =   the HISTORICAL CONNECTION

 

ELISHA was KNOWN as God’s man 

(BIG HISTORICAL HERO FIGURE FOR THE JEWS)

…….and his miracles - including the feeding of 100, = well known and loved

         

 …. - and JESUS was not simply EMULATING him,

                  ……….but actually EXCEEDING him

 

  • Elisha was known as a MAN OF GOD, (famous historical figure)

SO…..JESUS’ ACTIONS

 (and clear parallels with the nations past in passages like today)

                         ………..make it clear that Jesus is GOD'S MAN TOO

 

So the passage we’re looking at today - Elisha’s feeding of 100,

(NOT SIMPLY AN  ENCAPSULATED STORY IN IT’S OWN TIME)

…..was part of the groundwork for Jesus who would come in many 100’s of years time

 

The other thing that links them is the TRUTH behind it -

And it’s the central point I want you to go away with today from this talk:

“GOD CAN DO A LOT WITH OUR LITTLE” x2

 

Today’s readings = Great passages for folks who feel a bit impotent,

...not good enough,

…...or under-resourced or talented

 

Starting in the future,

…..and working backwards in time

 

We read in John 6,

…..that Jesus Christ takes what little we have  (a simple lunch)

 

=  and feeds over 5,000 people with it.

The story of the loaves and fishes is a very familiar one to most Christians.

 

How can we feed that many cries poor old Phillip -

….we have 200 denari but it wouldn’t even buy enough bread for a mouthful each!!

 

IN THE Elisha feeding,

…..the servant - Phillip’s ancient equivalent, looks at the 20 loaves of barley,

…….and say’s “how can I set this tiny amount before a 100 men?!”

 

Q - can you relate to the sentiment behind the cry of both Phillip and Elisha’s servant?

…..I’M just a shy little Christian,

…….in a world that’s getting worse and worse,

………...WHAT DIFFERENCE CAN I MAKE!!!

 

I SUPPOSE I’M JUMPING AHEAD A BIT TO THE CONCLUSION

...but I believe that we are supposed to see both stories,

…..and conclude that it’s not about how well equipped and resourced either person is

 

= but rather see that God takes the LITTLE WE HAVE - EFFORTS OR STUFF

(if we hand it over)

…….breaks and blesses it … THEN MAKES IT MORE THAN IT IS

 

THAT’S THE BIG POINT - 

…..another point (my 2nd today) -

…………is the effect on the people actually BEING FED

 

The pastor MARIANNE UNGER,

…..spoke about the visit she received from a Pastor from LIBERIA

………one that shaped her view of mission

 

We talked in my office for a while.
 

He told me he is a missionary from Africa and he wants to build a relationship with us.
…..He also told me about how he is trying to reach souls for Christ in Africa.

We talked about the problems there>>>   with the civil war and starvation.
…..I was curious to know how he could reach people for Jesus,

…………when they are starving.

= The answer HE BLUNTLY REPLIED = is, you cannot.
…You cannot tell people that Jesus will provide for you when they don’t have food to eat.

 

JESUS ALWAYS BACKED HIS WORDS WITH ACTIONS

 

  • Jesus is teaching about the wonderful miracles of God.

    But if people are starving, 

…...they’re going to find it hard to believe that God will provide for them.

As a part of Jesus’ ministry to the people, 

………...he feeds their souls and then their tummies.

Food is such an integral part of our daily lives, 

………...because obviously, without it, we cannot survive.
 

But as with his other miracles,

…..the ULTIMATE healing power is at the spirit level

 

Fed bodies - will BE WELL for a few more years

Fed souls - will BE WELL for all eternity
 

Which is why the text in JOHN - feeding of 5000,

…...has become associated with our COMMUNION

 

Jesus is referred to as the bread of life,

…….. because Jesus provides our very basic sustenance for eternal life,

……………... which is salvation.
 

When I was reading around this feeding 5000 text a while ago,

…..I realised there were potentially more associations between it and communion,

……….than I had realised

 

BIBLICAL NUMEROLOGISTS for ie -
= Five loaves and two fish>>>>  add up to seven (which is a heavenly number)

The number of baskets left after everyone had enough to eat was 12, 

……...was the number of disciples at the LORD’S SUPPER

Even Jesus’ actions were a foretaste of what would happen at the last supper:
……...Before Jesus distributed the bread, he broke it and gave thanks.

 

And the original GREEK WORD for ‘giving thanks’ 

…...is EUCHARIST

 

There are a number of words that could be used to ‘give thanks’

….but JESUS chose to use the same one here,

…….as he used later in the LAST SUPPER when he broke bread with his disciples

 


The details of the feeding of the 5,000 are very significant, 

………..even the fact that the bread was barley.

If we go back to ELISHA’S TEXT -

we read the similar story of God providing more than enough for all,

……. using simple barley bread

 (brought by a man called a man from Baal-shalishah)

“A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing food from the first fruits to the man of God; twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. Elisha said, “Give it to the people and let them eat.”
But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred people?”
So he repeated, “Give it to the people and let them eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left.”
He set it before them, they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.”

God provides so much for us if we just trust him.
(And of course I’m not talking about iPhones, excess cash or immunity from unwise decisions -

…IM TALKING ABOUT NEEDS)


The servant in this story didn’t trust God, but Elisha did…
……..And out of Elisha’s trust in God - 

…………..came God’s provisions and God’s miracles.

I cannot help but imagine what would have happened if Elisha had not trusted God.
……...Could Elisha have kept God from performing God’s miracles out of disbelief?

 

God can do anything -

But as we pointed out recently in the text where Jesus visited his hometown of Nazareth

…...HE LIKES TO WORK IN PARTNERSHIP


A well known author of prayer writes -

……………. “God is just waiting for us to pray.”

“God wants to act, but God is waiting for us to act first….

…...out of love, out of faith, out of belief, out of trust”

SHE CONCLUDES -

“That’s what God wants from us….God wants us to trust, and God will do the rest.
And when we have belief and trust in God, look what God can do with us”

- Look at what God did with Elisha and a man from Baal-shalishah.
- Look at what Jesus did with a simple little boy at Tabgha.

I believe deeply,

…..that God passionately wants to use us

…………….., if we only we let Him and trust Him.
 

We hand over our LITTLE -

….IN FAITH,

…….and leave him to do the rest
 

There’s a article I read some years ago from a Christian heavily involved in mission,

…..to homeless and mentally ill people,

……...in a town in Pennsylvania

 

She said that she had always believed that many of God’s miracles,

….are commonly delivered through the hands of normal people in normal way’s.

 

Like the miracle of the drs skills in healing a patient,

….or the miracle of volunteers turning up day in and day out,

………………...to serve and chat to people in a soup kitchen

 

She DID believe in more overt SUPERNATURAL miracles,

…..but had only heard of them 3rd hand,

……..and never expected to witness one herself

 

On this one occasion the soup kitchen where she helped at,

….had experienced a unprecedented and unanticipated volume of clients

 

DUE TO A CHANGE IN WELFARE PAYMENTS TO SICK AND UNEMPLOYED

 

This extra need also coincided,

….with a stock crisis

 

(donations had been poor recently,

…..and their food and money was barely enough for normal volume)

 

On the 3rd day of this high demand,

….they calculated that their huge chuck in pot would be empty by mid-afternoon

(It was another busy day

they served until 11pm,

….and the nighttime was the busiest)

 

 They anxiously served, and served,

………..as they prayed and prayed,

…………..as the ladle kept coming up full again and again

 

When the centre closed ===>>>>

….everybody had had their fill

…….and there was still some left over

 

Whether it’s Pennsylvania -

….or Haverfordwest,

 

= the TRUTH REMAINS -

….we bring our LITTLE,

……..we obediently give it God,

………...he blesses it

………...….and then he hands it back to us

 

I want to finish with a quote I read,

………….that I think fits perfectly here

 

God does not call the equipped.

He equips the called.

x2

 

HE’S CALLING YOU AND I -

…DO WE WANT HIM TO EQUIP YOU?

…………ARE YOU WILLING TO ASK HIM?

 

Amen.