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Friday, October 22, 2010

5000

I'm preparing a message on one of the most passages of scripture: "The Feeding of the 5000" in John 6:1-15. When preparing a message from a famous passage such as this is sometimes difficult because I begin to remember all the sermons, lessons, and illustration I've heard in time past. However, this particular study is becoming very enriching for me and I wanted to share some of my observations on the text thus far. Most of this information may never reach the sermon this week but it will soon or later.

  • While a lot of attention is placed on the lad with a small lunch. The focused attention is not on the lad and his lunch but on what the disciple saw Jesus do with the lunch.
  • The disciples learned from the miracle that God can be trusted with every care of the world, even hunger.
  • The disciples learned that God cares about every detail of our lives: sickness, pain, and need
  • The bread in Jesus' day was cheap food but for the people it was a gourmet meal. Don't complain about what God provides it may short circuit an even greater blessing. There was sufficient leftovers at the end of the miracle.
  • This miracles teaches that a true is not an event but continuance. Jesus fed the 5000 and then sent them home satisfied and not empty handed
  • "after these things ..." - this is the 4th miracle performed by Jesus. The disciples saw Him turn water to wine, raise a dead son, and heal a man at the pool of Bethseda who laid there for 38 years. Why is this significant? If we, Christians don't believe God's ability to do the impossible, who will.
  • In Matthew, Mark, and Luke in their account of the miracle they mention "a lonely place". Why is it a lonely place with so many people there?
  • The miracle is in the leftovers
  • When following Jesus, He never sends you away empty handed
  • "200 denarii isn't enough to feed so many people" is this a statement of good stewardship, being cheap or frugal, or recognizing reality?
  • Lesson to learn: the reality of a situation can cloud your faith of the situation. When reality meets faith, faith will always when.
  • God demands active participation when meeting the needs of others.
  • Short on money, short on food, trust God He can still make it happen for you.
  • Here's a biblical account of a 3 dimensional recession: physical - sick people in the crowd, spiritual - lack of faith, resources - not enough food or money.
  • Life has many lessons and the best time to learn is when you're short on everything.
  • Many people follow Jesus for all the wrong reasons but still get blessed. The text says "many followed Jesus because of the signs and wonders He performed"
  • Was there anything significant about the ppl in the crowd of 5000? Yes, they were hungry.
  • What dies the txt mean that Jesus had compassion?
  • The difference between Jesus and the disciples in this story is that Jesus cared about the needs of others while the disciples wanted to send them away hungry.
  • This story is truly a miracle but what can we learn practically from the miracle?
  • This text also teaches us that the needs of people a great and too great for one person to handle.
  • Spiritual bean counters are necessary in the work of the Lord. We should count the cost before moving ahead. There's really nothing wrong with bean counting.
  • This text is also a lesson on vision. Vision will always exceed budget. However, God will make up the difference when the vision is in line with His will.
  • "there's a lad here..." - a lad oftentimes refers to the age of person or even the maturity of person. The lesson to learn is God can use an immature person to be a blessing to the God's people.
  • Jesus thought a plan through before asking how much money was in the account. True leadership thinks before it acts.
  • This miracle has so many lessons to be learned:
    1. There's a lesson to be learned on faith2. There's a lesson to be learned on leadership3. There's a lesson to be learned on servanthood, sacrifice, stewardship4. There's a lesson on leadership and lay people relations5. There's a lesson on vision and church work6. There's a lesson on ministry and people relations
  • The lad in his young age understood the significance of being actively involved in the ministry of meeting peoples needs. Don't count out what our young people understand about the ministry. Take what they have to offer no matter how small or large their contribution maybe. It's worth it!

This study was birth out of my message from last week on "Can We Live Again" from Ezekiel 37 the story of the valley of dry bones. Our church is faced with a huge monthly bill with few people resources resulting in few financial resources and all that goes along with it.

The feeding of the 5000 helps me as I remind myself of an observation in this passage:

Jesus teaches us a good lesson on leadership do not panik in what may seem as a stressful situation. Huge need to be met with little resources. God is able to make up the difference! And I believe it!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Can We Live Again - Ezekiel 37:1-14

As it were, the devil one day decided that he was going to have a yard sale and in this yard sale he would have for sale all of the weapons in his arsenal. And he would sale them to some sinister creature that would take his place. So he made the advertisement that his weapons were for sale.

Then one day walking up his drive way he saw a dark, hideous sinister creature looking at him and saying to him,” I want to be the next enemy of the world”.

The devil takes him through his yard sale and begins to show him all that he has for sale. As they begin to walk up and down the rows of tables they see on the tables weapons like
-covetousness
-lust
-worry
-envy

and as this dark sinister creature sees all of these things he says, “my goodness what wonderful and powerful tools these would be in my hands to stop the work of God in the earth and to keep the people of God from being what God would have them to be”.

But then the devil turns to this sinister creature with a smile on his face and says to him, “yes these weapons have been used wonderfully and yes of course they have accomplished the work that I have wanted them to do, but I want you to see the weapon I have used the most to bring down nations and to cause people to give up on serving God and to stop great things from happening in the world”.

As this sinister creature awaits wringing his hands anxiously to see what weapon that the devil is talking about, the devil reaches back in a corner and pulls out a weapon and written at the top of this weapon is the word, “DISCOURAGEMENT”.

The devil presents this weapon before him and says, “by this weapon I have toppled kingdoms, I have stopped people that were excited about the things of God and excited about serving God, I have stopped them dead in their tracks, by this weapon I have stopped people that have made a good start with God, I have made them to give up and lose hope and lose heart, by this weapon I have conquered and by this weapon I have overcome more than by any other weapon in my arsenal. And by this weapon you can well continue on the work that I have begun”.

I want to tell you, that the single greatest weapon that the devil has to use against the people of God is discouragement. The discouragement we see in the valley does not stem from the dry bones from a lack of faith that these bones can live again.

Picture the scene if you will, each Sunday, Ezekiel stands at the cliff of the valley opens his bible, reads his text, gives his topic of discussion, starts to proclaim the Word to silent, lifeless, and hopeless situation. He preaches hard each week, extends the invitation, and no one comes down the aisle. How discouraging can that be? And many of us pastors/preachers, we preach each week to dying and dead generation but no life has come. What do you do when it seems as if your work is non-productive? What do you when there's no life in a church and its members? What do you when you've tried everything possible and the bones don't come together? I'll tell what Ezekiel did, he stayed at the task he was assigned by God.

Many of us are discouraged in life personally and spiritually because we’re too busy looking at the condition of valley rather than the possibilities that can come out of the valley. Life would be so much better if we just learned to stop focusing on bad conditions and start focusing on the possibilities.

We must always keep in mind that, God specializes in breathing life into dead situations.

This may well be the devil’s weapon of choice, when we look at the lifeless valley but I declare what seems lifeless, dead, hopeless, and a waist of time is nothing more than an opportunity to see God work a miracle in our lives and church.

This text offers three (3) facts about the restoration life (Let me says also that these principles are universal. It applies to us individually but also to the church collectively):

I. The Power of God Restores Life – v. 1-3

The Prophet Ezekiel is taken to the valley of dry bones and God asks him the question: “Can these bones live?” God starts Ezekiel mission with the start of question just like Jesus did in John chapter 6 in the story of the feeding of 5000. In John chapter 6 Jesus asks His disciples; “Where shall we buy bread for these to eat?” However, the question was asked not because Jesus did not know what He was going to do. But He asks the disciples to test their in the midst of an impossible situation.

Understand church that before life can be restored, we must have the faith life can be restored. The hardest work in restoration is not the situation in and of itself but getting Christians to see the possibilities of life. I think there is another way of question the same question in a different way: “Do you believe there’s life in the valley?” Or, “Do you believe God can do anything?”

If you can’t get past this question, then that which is dead will remain dead no matter what you do.

(Footnote: Too many people in the church are working in the church but don’t believe that the church can live again.)

I like Ezekiel’s response the God’s question in v. 4: “O Lord God, You know.”

The Living Translation says: “Lord, you alone know the answer to that.”

Illustration: John 11: “The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead”

Point: God has the power to raise dead stuff.
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II. The Proclamation of God’s Word Restores Life – v. 4-7

Ezekiel preached a message of hope in a hopeless situation.

And that’s what preaching is all about, preaching a message of hope; “All is not lost.” Just because the valley looks dead doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

If we’re going to see life being restored to the people of God and the church we must PREACH THE WORD. This text says that restoration starts with the preaching of God’s Word.

Point: The Word of God can change things.

Secondly, we must TRUST THE WORD OF GOD. It’s one thing to preach the Word of God but it’s a totally different thing to believe and trust that which is being preached.

Point: You can depend on God’s Word.
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III. The Promises of God Restores Life – v. 8-14


What does God promise when life is restored? God promises complete restoration.

God promises unity – v. 7-8

God promises strength – v. 10

God promises freedom – v. 11-13

Point: It’s not over until God says its over.