This Thursday, most of us will enjoy a day off from work and will join together with our families. We’ll watch Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, the National Dog Show, and the week 12 NFL games along with obviously enjoying a huge meal followed by endless grazing.
For some of us, it can be a difficult day when broken families try to come together without too much fighting or a day alone when we recall past times with family no longer a part of our lives.
For some, it is the day marking the acceptable time to start playing Christmas music, to put up the tree, and to begin decorating. For others, that time has already come…
Regardless of how your Thanksgiving Day is spent, the purpose of the holiday is to set time apart to intentionally give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. As disciples of Jesus, this ought to simply be another day of being thankful. As Paul wrote and encouraged us, we ought to:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Choosing to authentically give thanks and to be grateful in all circumstances is a tremendously powerful act! As Christians, we are citizens of a kingdom of true abundance. There is never lack and there is always more than enough! This morning, we’re going to learn three keys which work together to unlock the incredible abundance available to us in Heaven here on the earth.
First, it’s important for us to understand that ultimately, God is our provider of everything. He provides as He sees fit. Sometimes, He simply freely blesses us with provision. For example, the breath that we all just took or like the time when water came pouring forth from a rock in the desert or the mana that Israel ate during their desert journey or when the Magi gave treasures to the poor young couple Mary and Joseph, toddler Jesus’ parents at the time. There are times when God simply and freely provides for us.
Sometimes, He provides us with job opportunities and the skills and strength that we need to earn our provisions. For example, Bezalel who was filled with the Holy Spirit who gave him woodworking, masonry, artistic, and many other skills to do the work of building the tabernacle or Paul who was a skilled tentmaker and often used this trade to provide for himself and others while he was ministering. I would even argue that this was the case when Jesus told Peter to go fishing and he caught the fish with the coin in its mouth to provide the finances for their temple taxes.
Other times, He does the miraculous with what we already have. This miracle is the one that we find most often in the scriptures. This is when God provides for us by miraculously blessing what we already have. For example:
Yet the Lord says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
Or in the case of this miracle:
2 Kings 4:1-7
1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
2 Elisha replied to her, “How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?”
“Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except a small jar of olive oil.”
3 Elisha said, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. 4 Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.”
5 She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. 6 When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.”
But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
7 She went and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left.”
In the Kingdom of God, there is always more than enough, always an abundance for our God is an extravagant God. He is able to simply speak and create an everlasting, renewable planet covered with life out of absolutely nothing.
If God can take what this widow had left; a small, single jar of olive oil and provide for her every need, how much more can He do with what we have? How much more is He able to bless the little that we might have causing it to be enough to cover our past debts, current needs, secure our future, and leave an inheritance for our children’s children?
Jesus gave us a powerful lesson recorded by all of the gospel writers and is even recorded as three separate instances in some of the gospels. In these instances, He didn’t provide a lengthy sermon, He didn’t quote a single line of scripture, He didn’t even really teach and explain its meaning. He simply performed a simple act at least three times as an object lesson that spoke powerfully to God’s ability and desire to perform this miracle for us still. We’ll read through the times when this miracle occurred, then learn how to apply it to our lives as well.
2 Kings 4:42-44
42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.
43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
13 When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
29 Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.
32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.”
33 His disciples answered, “Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?”
34 “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few small fish.”
35 He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. 36 Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. 37 They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 38 The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children. 39 After Jesus had sent the crowd away, he got into the boat and went to the vicinity of Magadan.
26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus taught us in a simple, yet powerful way how to release God’s miraculous provision into our lives.
First, He gave thanks for what He had. It didn’t matter what it was, how little it was, it didn’t even matter if it was nowhere near enough to meet their needs. Jesus gave thanks in all circumstances; even for His own body that was about to be broken and blood that was about to be shed.
He acknowledged what He had been given and chose to be thankful for it. Whether five loaves and two fish to feed 5,000 men besides women and children, seven loaves and a few small fish to feed 4,000 men beside women and children, or his own body to provide salvation for all mankind. Jesus first gave thanks to our Heavenly Father for what He had been given.
Second, He broke it. Jesus didn’t take on a poverty mindset, clinging to the little that He had and to selfishly hoard it, leaving everyone else on their own. Jesus broke it in order to give it to everyone else. Although this makes no earthly sense, it makes perfect heavenly sense.
For a disciple of Jesus, extreme generosity should come easy. Since everything is God’s anyways, it is easy to let go of worldly things when others need it more than us. Generous giving should be a common and exciting adventure for us! Even as Jesus said, “freely you’ve received, so freely give.” It is with cheerful hearts that we meet other’s needs. We give not out of compulsion or obligation, but out of gratitude for all that God has so generously given to us!
Doing this demonstrates total and complete trust in our Heavenly Father as our true provider and not our own resources. It reveals that we are His children and trust Him to meet and exceed our every need. It proves to God that we are good stewards (or managers) and can be trusted with whatever He chooses to place in our hands. Have the parable of the talents in mind when reading these accounts. Jesus proved that parable in reality by literally observing this multiplication factor of the food including leftovers.
Being broken is symbolic of being humble. To be broken is to confess that we are wholly and entirely dependent on God alone to provide for our every need. It is to lay down our pride, our doubts, and our fears and to trust completely in God. It is to lean not on our own understanding, but to trust the Lord with all our heart. Jesus broke it.
Lastly, He entrusted it into the hands of his disciples. It was His disciples whom He chose to be the instruments of this miracle. It was actually not in the hands of Jesus, but in the hands of His disciples in which the miracle occurred. This was true for the bread and fish as well as for His salvation. It was not at the feet of Jesus that thousands chose to put their faith in Him, but at the preaching of His disciples.
Jesus provided the way of salvation and entrusted the gospel message into the hands of His disciples; filling them with the Holy Spirit. They freely gave it away and it multiplied so effectively that we are here thousands of years later still putting our faith in Jesus and still making disciples of all nations to this very day.
There is an exchange that takes place through relationship. We trust God to provide and He trusts us to steward and manage that provision.
Each time that this miracle of multiplying a little into an abundance occurred, these three keys unlocked that miraculous provision:
Whether it was a small jar of oil, twenty loaves of barley bread, five loaves of bread and two fish, seven loaves of bread and a few small fish, or someone’s very life, it was these three keys unlocked the miraculous provision of multiplication here on the earth.
In our own lives, let us also embrace these three keys so that God might be able to do the same for us.
Perhaps it is a roof or large appliance that lasts well beyond its warranty, maybe it is a budget that doesn’t work, yet there is money left over at the end of the month, or maybe it is a freezer that just seems to never empty out meal after meal. There is nothing too hard for our God and He is still able and willing to miraculously provide for us today! This morning, let us:
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
At this time, we’re going to celebrate communion together, remembering the ultimate way in which God provided for us. The bread is a bit different. It is similar to mana, another creative and miraculous way in which God provided for His people. Let this stand as a reminder to us that God undoubtedly is our provider and wants to bless us with good things and an abundant life!
4 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
14 When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’”
17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
31 The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey.