The Broken Pieces

So when they were filled, He said to His disciples, ‘Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost’ Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.” John 6:12-13

Jesus had suggested that they get away from the crowds to rest. They hadn’t even had time to eat. The people saw He was leaving by boat and a huge crowd followed him. When He arrived John says, “Jesus lifted up His eyes.” He saw the crowd. He empathized with their pain and sickness. He saw they were sheep without a Shepherd and He had compassion for them. Could it be that there are people around you that need your compassion? Jesus lifted up His eyes, maybe we should too.

Mark says that He taught them many things until late in the day. The disciples told Him that they were in a remote place and they needed to send the crowd away so they could get food. They were basically saying, “It’s their problem, we are tired and hungry too. Let someone else worry about it.” Hmmm…how often have you prayed, “Lord, why don’t you send someone do something about this? Why won’t you help these people? Can’t somebody somewhere do something to make a difference?” Please notice what Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.” Often YOU are the answer to your own prayer. Their immediate response was that it would take them months to earn enough money to feed that many people. Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” He asked for what they did have not what they were lacking. When Jesus asked me to do something huge for him, I immediately came up with all of the reasons why I couldn’t do it. He spoke to my heart that He was going to do it, He just needed me to surrender what I had.

The men were the only ones numbered there that day. That number was 5,000. Among those men were women and children that were not numbered. Not significant to report. But of those insignificant, came the lad with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. The one unnumbered. The one not counted. From him Jesus brought forth the miracle. You are not insignificant to God. You are not forgotten. And by all means you are numbered, even the very hairs on your head. Jesus will provide from the most unlikely source, could it be you?

Jesus had them sit down in groups. Our God is One of order, never confusion or chaos. He lifted up the bread, blessed it and broke it.  He lifted up what He had and the Father multiplied it. He also divided the fish among all. The disciples distributed it and all were satisfied. It doesn’t say there was barely enough, they were all full. There were an estimated 15,000 people.

Okay now we get to our subject matter for today. Jesus told them to gather up the fragments so that nothing is lost. They gathered 12 full baskets of what was not eaten. Not only did God provide, he did so exceedingly abundantly more than they could have imagined or thought. But why would it be important for the disciples to pick up the fragments? First of all fragment means: a part broken off or detached; an isolated, unfinished or incomplete part; an odd piece, bit or scrap.

Jesus indicated that He didn’t want anything wasted. Maybe those fragments could be used for their food or perhaps a reminder of what just happened. I personally think that the pieces are important to God, a part of the miracle. Every single fragment, broken part, bit or scrap part of your life is valuable to God.He will leave nothing wasted. All of the good and bad parts will be intricately weaved into your story. Your assured hope and future. The story that only you can share. It is so exciting to me that the fragments of my life are important to God! I am important to God. You are too!

We can rest in the fact that God is completely in control. He knows exactly what He is doing! He was completely in control of every one of these people that were ministered to that day. He was detailed and made sure each one was fed, no one was forgotten. Let Him take the pieces and put them into the grand puzzle of your life and watch the beautiful picture take shape. Without one small piece the picture is incomplete. They are all relevant even the ones you wish you could forget. Offer up to Him what you have and just watch what He will do with it. You can start right where you are, today. My prayers for peace and hope are with you this week!

 

 

 

 

Hidden Treasure

Before I begin this week’s devotion, I wanted to let you know that my first published blog post will be online tomorrow 3/22/16. The website is Blogs by Christian Women. If time allows I hope you will click over to read it. Thanks so much!

“So the man of God said, ‘Where did it fall?’ And he showed him the place. So he cut off a stick, and threw it in there; and he made the iron float. Therefore he said, ‘Pick it up for yourself.’ So he reached out his hand and took it.” 2 Kings 6:6-7

The sons of the prophets’ dwelling place was too small. Elisha lived there too. They asked him if they could go to the Jordan to cut timber in order to build another place for them to live.  They were willing to do the work themselves. In this college, this group of men were content with meager accommodations.

Elisha said yes but then they asked him if he would come with them. He answered, “I will go.” He was willing to help.These were honest men who trusted in the leadership and knowledge of Elisha and would not go without him.

They were cutting timber when the borrowed ax head of one of the men flies off the handle into the water. This would indicate that they were poor since they were operating with borrowed tools. This grieved the man. Most of these tools were still made with bronze at this time, so an iron head would have been valuable. He cried out to Elisha about it and his reply in the key verses for today.

Elisha doesn’t just make the ax head appear. He asked the man to return to where he was when he lost his borrowed treasure. I think he wanted him involved in the miracle. Next Elisha himself cuts off a stick and throws it into the water. The ax head floats to the top. Instead of Elisha picking it up he told the man to get it for himself. The ax head would not benefit him if he didn’t actively reach out and take a hold of it.

I’m not sure where this finds you today but I am seeking. I have been crying out to God for an answer and I believe this was it. The ax head was there all along, they just couldn’t see it for the murky waters. I think the answer to my prayer is right in front of me but because of my clouded vision I cannot see it. What about you? Do  you have a blessing laying right in front of your eyes but you are not seeing it? We have the Holy Spirit available to open our eyes and see what is there. The question is, will you reach out your hand and take it or are you going to let it float on down the river for someone else to find?

Now the Bible doesn’t elaborate on what the man did with the ax head. I imagine that he would now have to repair the ax so he could return it. He would have to take the treasure and work with his hands to restore it. I wonder if the God sized blessing that awaits us needs us to take it and work with it in order to pass it on to others.

In Genesis God opened Hagar’s eyes in the wilderness and she saw a well for her and her son. Here God’s man brought the blessing forth out of waters they could not see into. I believe if I ask God to open my eyes today that I will see treasure and blessing all around me. It is already there but the heavy demands of life glazes over my vision. I get so focused on the problem that I am not actively looking for the answer. Look up, look down, look forward, look all around you at the blessings that are already there.

Don’t Give Up!

When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Romans 1:12

In Matthew 7:12 it says that whatever you want done for yourself, do for other people. This is true! When I pour words of encouragement and affirmation into others it always returns to me.  We should encourage as we have been encouraged! As our key verse states we need to exhibit solid faith so that others will be encouraged by ours.

Let’s face it life can be draining at times.  We have our faith that holds us steady but we, at times get weary from the journey.  How wonderful is it to get that text from a friend or relative that says, “I am praying for you! Have a great day!” or “You are doing a great job for the Lord! I am here if you need anything!” My daughter and son are that source of joy for me.  They are the ones who either tell me in person or send text messages to encourage me.

As noted in our verse above, getting together with another believer is a great source of encouragement. Often times God will pair you with someone who has already traversed the path that you are currently on. They can encourage you by their story and what God did to assist them.

As you are reading this who comes to mind that could use some encouragement in their life?  Personal notes make people feel loved and appreciated. I read recently of a woman suffering from depression.  She had stopped going to Sunday School and any other church function. She would go to worship service though.  She would wait until the last minute and slide into the back pew unnoticed and worship. One morning however she mistakenly walked into church during the fellowship time.  She shyly moved herself to the end of the back of the pew to avoid all of the people.  Then she spotted him.  A deacon was making a bee line for her.  She shrank down into the pew a little further.  All he did was smile and hand her a note and walked away.

It was a simple hand written note letting her know that she wasn’t unnoticed and she was loved by him and her church family.  They were praying for her.  Her heart soared!  It was all she needed that day.  Just to know that someone else cared for her.  I encourage my kids to smile at everyone at school and be nice.  I have told them to talk to the people that no one else does.  You never know what a few kind words can do for someone.  You may save their life!

Everyone needs encouragement to face life’s battles.  God’s Word is our front line source.  It is all the encouragement that we will ever need!  If you have been treading through your days feeling unnoticed and unappreciated, dive into Psalm 103! It is full of praise for the Lord and promises of His unfailing love and forgiveness.  I have found when I begin to feel defeated, praising God is my remedy. I can’t feel deflated and praise Him for all He has done! That brings me joy!

I want to encourage you friend.  You are doing better than you know. God sees you and cares for you.  He says in His Word that He is with us wherever we go. He says don’t lose heart, He has overcome the world. We, as born again believers, don’t belong in this world anyway, we are just passing through. So keep going! Don’t give up or give in! Do your best and let God take care of the rest!

 

Should I stay or should I go?

Then the cloud covered the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.  Moses could no longer enter the Tabernacle because the cloud had settled down over it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle. Exodus 40:34-35

God had been meticulously specific about the erection of the Tabernacle.  When everything had been prepared according to God’s specifications, Moses was the one who set everything in it’s place.  He made sure it was exactly the way God had instructed.  The result? The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle leaving no room for Moses.  It was completely full of God’s presence. God wanted to dwell among His people.

The Bible says that God decended on the Tabernacle in a cloud.  When the cloud was stationary on the Tabernacle the Israelites stayed where they were.  When it lifted, they moved to follow it. It moved before them during the day and was lit with a fire at night. If the cloud did not move they did not move.  They never set out ahead of the cloud.

There are so many spiritual truths in these two verses of Scripture.  I’ve heard people say, “I don’t need to read the Old Testament.  It doesn’t apply to me.  I’m under the New Covenant.” True you are under the New Covenant if you have placed your trust in Christ, but the Old Testament is rich with so much that is applicable to your life today.

Moses was careful to follow God’s instructions completely.  When He did God showed up. God commands us to obey Him. I think sometimes we follow a little of what He said, the comfortable part. But when it gets hard and painful actions are needed for our growth, we shrink back and stay where we are when God is clearly leading us forward. I wonder what disasters would have befallen the beloved Israelites if they had stayed behind as God moved on? Or how about this: What if they had moved on without Him, leaving Him behind?

Patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit that God is still growing me in. God gives me a glimpse of what He wants to do and I rush ahead trying to “help Him out”. How funny is that? God has the plan, I have no idea where He is going but I am going to jump out there and see what kind of mess that I can get myself into.  Can anyone relate? Thankfully after many lessons, I have learned to wait for God’s best.  I want His best for my life and so does He. I am in a season of waiting now. I have to constantly remind myself to stay put.

When God’s glory filled the Tabernacle there wasn’t any room for anyone else.  When the Holy Spirit enters your life, the old man is gone. There isn’t room for him anymore. Did you read that? There is no room for sin where holiness resides. Why do we hold onto him? He hasn’t brought us much but pain and strife.  It is my prayer today that we would grasp the truth that the old man has been pushed out (dead) and that the Holy Spirit has come. I pray that we would move when God moves and stay when He stays. I pray for radical obedience just like Moses. In Jesus Name, Amen.