17. Are the resources too few?

Meditations on “God of Transformation: 17:  Are the resources too few?

Matt 14:16,17   Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”   “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Yesterday we considered the feeding of the five thousand, and even calling it that, highlights the problem – the need is too great – and when the need appears too great we can be made to feel hopeless in the face of it. There are too many starving people in the world. It is hopeless! There are too many non-believers in this country; we are outnumbered, it is hopeless. Well humanly speaking that is true but crisis equations or spiritual conundrums work differently. Imagine it like this: MASSIVE PROBLEM + tiny human resources = inactivity and no change to the MASSIVE PROBLEM and if that is what you work with, that is how it will be.

But consider a different approach: MASSIVE PROBLEM + tiny human resources + intervention of God = Transformation. Our problem, all too often, is that we focus on the tiny resources and say, “We can’t do this!” We allow their smallness to keep us looking at them hopelessly and so we fail to turn to the Lord and say, “Lord, what do you want to do with these resources and what part do you want me to play in this?”

The two feedings of the two crowds have exactly the same elements, MASSIVE PROBLEM + tiny resources.  Well they are resources adequate for one  or maybe two people but look at them in the light of the MASSIVE PROBLEM and they are dwarfed  and appear simply as tiny resources that are completely inadequate for the situation. Both sets of feedings (the 5000 and the 4000) have the same transforming element – Jesus! Size, magnitude, volume, whatever are no problem to the one who helped bring the world into being and now upholds it. Here he changed food; at a wedding he changed water into wine. It’s all the same, he is the God who can transform our material circumstances; we’ve just got to believe in him and believe he is here for us – and then be available, because as we said previously, he loves involving us.

If you want an Old Testament picture of transformation that we have not covered (well not this part anyway) look at Moses arguing with God at the burning bush. Moses has shrugged off all of the Lord’s arguments to use him until eventually, the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” (Ex 4:2) Now, as we’ve said many times before, when the Lord asks questions it is not because He needs knowledge but He wants to draw your attention to something.  Moses looks at his hand: “A staff,” he replied.”  You see, it doesn’t need a great deal of revelation to see what you have that the Lord wants to transform; you just have to stop, pause, think, look and take note of what you have.

“The LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.”  What? Let go of it and let me do something with it. You have a gift (yes, you do) but you hold it tight because it is precious to you, you value it, it’s all you’ve got. All right, now let go of it and let me transform it!

“Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it!”  Wooah! What happened, that’s not my gift anymore! No it’s not, it’s God’s and He’s showing it to you in a different form, the form of the snake, Satan the enemy  because even a gift or an ability can be used by the enemy to bolster you and stop you going on to receive the full blessing of the Lord. It is still yours but it’s being shown you in a different form.

Now you need to take hold of it and use it for God’s purposes: “Then the LORD said to him, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. “This,” said the LORD, “is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob–has appeared to you.” (v.4,5) When you take control of it as the Lord directs, it will be transformed again and that transformation will convince others and bring changes. It may be that that picture may be a picture of what has to happen to your life. You may need to lay it down for the Lord and He may need to transform it, initially into something that does not look good, but then He will transform it back into something that in His hand can do great things. Moses is going to take this staff and hold it out over the land and see things change. The ‘staff’ may your gifts or it may simply be your will. Very often the first tiny resources to be changed are us, but the Lord looks for our willingness and availability.

Jesus takes the tiny resources, the loaves and fish, gives thanks, breaks them and hands them to the disciples. OK, you take them and feed the MASSIVE PROBLEM with them, and when they do, the tiny resources appear as MASSIVE RESOURCES feeding a TINY PROBLEM! Heavenly algebra is good isn’t it!

Sometimes it simply needs the wisdom of God to bring transformation. This happened many years ago. I caught a vision from heaven about reaching out to a local needy community providing a Saturday morning club for 6 to 8 year olds (I didn’t see those younger and those older seemed too daunting, so this was the age group I was left with). I shared it with the church and only one person responded with enthusiasm. In fact most other people said, “We’re too busy or too tired, and there’s not enough of us to do something like this.”  We prayed and felt we should go to the youngest house group we had and ask their advice. We went to them and said, “Look this is what we’re going to do but we need ideas and we think you’d do better at coming up with ideas than us. Can we brainstorm ideas for ten minutes and see what we come up with for us?” Ten minutes later we had a board covered with about thirty ideas and then one of the group said, “Hey I like those, I could do that” and another joined in and said, “Yes, me too.” Before we left that evening we had a full team and shortly after started a work that lasted a number of years. It needed a vision that people could buy into but to get there we needed the Lord’s wisdom first.

What MASSIVE PROBLEM is there, out there in your community, that the Lord wants to do something about? What has He put on your heart but you’ve said, “Oh no, it’s too big and my resources are too small!”  Talk to Him about your need of His wisdom and then listen and get ready to move.  He’s just waiting to transform your tiny resources!

126. Recognised

Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 126. Recognised

Mk 6:53-55   When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there. As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus. They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.

The travels of Jesus are well documented in Mark.  In Mk 2:1 Capernaum (at the north end of the Sea of Galilee) was identified as his home. In Mk 5:1 they sailed down the lake to the south-east end of the lake to the area of the Gerasenes where he delivered the demon possessed man and the pigs died. Then he crossed the lake (5:21) and later returned to Nazareth (6:1) his original home town where there was little faith. After this he travelled from village to village (6:6), then to a solitary place on the lakeside (6:32) and then back up north and landed at Gennesaret on the north west coast not far from Capernaum.

Now it is worth checking back on each of these locations because again and again he is swamped at these places by crowds (2:2,2:13, 3:8,3:20, 4:1,5:21,6:31,34,54-56)

With a casual reading of Scripture it might be very easy to miss the significance of all this.  First we should note that there was a great hunger and a great need in the land and second, that Jesus was clearly meeting the need there by bringing healing. Again, because it is so common in the Gospels it is easy to forget it, but clearly there were many sick people and many demon possessed people, for these were the two primary needs that people brought to Jesus – and he healed and delivered them. And examination of the Old Testament Law indicates that whenIsraelobeyed the Lord they would receive all His blessings – which would include good health – yet that is clearly missing from the land. This would indicate a poor spiritual health of the people as well.

Now when you look at the state of the modern Church, we may find exactly the same thing, an absence of good health. We may thus question the state of the spiritual health of the Church at large. we may further suggest that this is yet a further reason to cry out for God to come in power and revive His Church today.

We may go a step further and suggest if the Lord came in power, the Church might truly act as the body of Christ again and we may then see the works of God that draw the crowds. May it be so!