How to go from helpless to limitless

Did you know that there is only one miracle in the Bible that is included in all four of the gospels?  Repetition means emphasis.  If God ensures that one story gets repeated four times, it is important.  That one miracle is the feeding of the 5,000. ( You can find it in Mt 14:13-21, Mk 6:30-44, Lk 9:10-17, Jn 6:5-13)

You may know the story.  Jesus and his disciples are trying to get away for some rest, but a massive crowd of people track them down.  Jesus doesn’t treat them like an interruption to his plans.  Rather, he cares for them.  Jesus spends the day teaching and healing the sick.  However, as evening approaches, a concern crops up among the disciples.  They were in a remote place and all these people lacked food.  Jesus gave the mission to his disciples.  “You give them something to eat.”

All they could find was a boys lunch.  He had five small loaves of bread and two fish.  Not bad for a boy’s meal, but hardly the answer for a hungry crowd of 5,000 men plus women and children. What could they do?  They didn’t have the food.  They didn’t have the money to go buy the food.  They were helpless.  Sometimes we find ourselves in those situations.  We just do not have the ability or resources to meet the need before us.  The problem is too big.  What do we do?  God shows us through this episode in the life of Jesus.

1.  Don’t be discouraged by what you don’t have.

The disciples first response was to focus on what they didn’t have.  They didn’t have enough food on hand.  They “only” had five loaves and two fish.  They didn’t have the six months of wages that it would have taken to purchase a single bite of food for all the people.  They exhorted Jesus, “Send them away.”  I can understand the disciples discouragement.  It is where I often turn when I feel helpless and empty handed.  It was an understandable reaction to their circumstances, but we can’t give in to it.  We need to begin to see our limitations in light of God’s power.

2.  Remember what God has done for you and through you before.

There is an important event that happens prior to this miracle that sheds a lot of light on the situation.  Jesus had just sent the disciples out on a mission, a mission in which they were to take almost no resources with them.  They were to trust God, preach the gospel, heal the sick and drive out demons.  Pretty big task, huh?  But, they did it.  In fact, they had such an enormous impact that their success got the attention of King Herod.  When Jesus and the disciples head out for their time of rest, the disciples had just gotten back from their mission.  They saw people repent and trust God in response to their preaching.  They healed the sick.  They cast out demons.  Yet within moments, a hungry crowd leaves them feeling discouraged, helpless and uncertain of what to do or where to turn.  God had just came through on their behalf and yet it was a distant memory.  We do the same.  Don’t do it.  Don’t forget how God showed up when you needed him most.  Don’t forget how he provided for you.  Don’t forget his grace and mercy.  Don’t forget how he used you to help others.  Remember and let it inspire you to trust God to do it again.

3.  Trust Jesus to use what you do have.

This is all the disciples had to do.  Take what they had -five loaves and two fish- and trust Jesus to use it.  We worry about what we don’t have.  We worry about the gifts or the resources that we lack.  God is not concerned about what you can’t do or what you don’t have.  God takes what you have and who you are and does miracles.  Jesus takes our lunch and feeds stadiums.  After Jesus multiplied the food, everyone ate until they were satisfied and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of food.  The crowd couldn’t even receive all that Jesus had provided.  Amazing!  Apart from Christ, we are helpless.  We can do nothing (John 15:5).  But, with Christ, we can do all things (Phil 4:13).  With Jesus, we go from helpless to limitless.   Trust Him!

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