MORE THAN ENOUGH
GOD’S PROVIDENCE

by Pastor Martha-Jean Fitch
April 15, 2018
TEXT:  John 6:1-15

 

 

(Begin with a children’s sermon based on a sermon found in the book edited by Lois Keffer called “Every Season Kid Pleasin’ Children’s Sermons, p. 96-97, “Catch and Release”.)

 

            I invite all the kids to come up and join me here in front of the sanctuary for a few minutes.

 

            Hey there!   You know, I was really in a hurry this morning to get to church and I had to leave the house without eating breakfast!   But I didn’t want my stomach growling in church, so I packed a snack.   I brought along two kinds.   I have goldfish crackers and one of my favorite kinds of breads – this nice flaky croissant.   I’m pretty hungry.   Do you think it would be okay if I ate right now?

 

            No, that would be rude, because all of you are here and you might be hungry too.   Is anyone hungry?   Hm-m!   Since some of you are hungry, what could I do with my goldfish?

 

            That’s a good idea.   I’m hungry and I did want my snack, but I’m willing to share my goldfish with everyone.   I’ll take one… and now, each of you can take one.  

 

            Even though I didn’t get to eat all the goldfish, I feel good that I shared.   And look there are some left over for later.   I think I’ll eat my bread next.  

 

            Wait!   Maybe some of you are still hungry and would like a bite.  But I’m hungry, too!   What should I do?   I already shared my goldfish.   Do I have to share everything?   Should I share…should I not share?   Share?   Not share?

 

            I know!   Let’s see if God saying anything about this in the Bible.

 

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish.

But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

 

That boy had gone out for the day to listen to Jesus teach.   He brought a snack because he knew he would get hungry before he got home.   Was he the only one listening to Jesus?   No, the Bible says there are about 5,000 men plus women and children.    Do you think that the boy was the only one who had food with them that day?   No – probably others had food.   But do you think anyone packed enough to feed over 5,000 people?   No.   Do you think that little boy knew what would happen if he gave Jesus his bread and fish?

 

            Well, let’s see what happened:

 

11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted.

 

            The boy was willing to give everything he had to Jesus and Jesus used it to feed lots of people.

 

            Hmm.   I still have my croissant bread.   I could keep it to myself and I wouldn’t be hungry anymore.  Or, I could share it with all of you so you can have a blessing too.   Who wants a piece?

 

            Let’s pray:   Dear Lord, thank You for the example of the little boy who shared.   We want to share what we have so You can use it to bless other people.   Please help us be generous every day.   In Jesus’ name, AMEN

 

            As the kids are returning to their seats, I invite you to get your Bibles and we will look closer at Scripture today from the gospel of John, in the New Testament.   Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…near the beginning of the New Testament.   We will be reading John 6:1-15.

 

            This story of the Feeding of the 5,000 is a very familiar story to many of us.  Some scholars believe that it is the greatest miracle Jesus ever performed.   And interestingly, this story is the only miracle that is found in every gospel.  It seems that this is a story that is so important that God wanted to make sure we really heard it – again and again.  

 

            If we were to read this in Mark’s gospel, we would learn that the disciples had been busy with Jesus – teaching and healing – they didn’t even have a chance to eat.   So, Jesus said to them, “Come with me, by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  So, they crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee – where there was a remote, desert place, where they could be alone.    Jesus and the disciples were tired, and they were hungry too!

 

            And as I read John’s version - what I want you to do is hear the story today with fresh new ears.   As I read it, I want you to imagine where you are in the story.   Who do you most relate to?   If you had been there that day – who would you have been?

 

            Let’s hear the story as told in John 6:1-15:

 

1After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick.Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.)

             Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him.

 

In reading the other gospel accounts, we hear that Jesus had compassion on the crowds – and so He sat down and taught them all day long.  When it got late into the day, people were tired and hungry, so the disciples tell Jesus to send the people away so that they can go eat.   But Jesus ….

Turning to Philip, (he) asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?”He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

 

            There were WAY TOO MANY people – there was not enough food – not enough money to provide for everyone.   It was just impossible.

 

            Have you ever felt like Philip?   Overwhelmed – feeling like there is just not ENOUGH.   I know I really struggle at times with that feeling of NOT ENOUGH.   Sometimes I look at my schedule and I say, “God – there is just not enough time.   I can’t get it all done – there is just not enough time.”   Have you ever felt like that?  You look at your “to do list” and it is just too much.  Or maybe you have a lot of demands on you time from your family and job and you feel pulled this way and that and you think: “God there is just not enough of me to go around!”   Or maybe, you look at your checkbook or your pile of bills and you think, there is just not enough money.   You see the needs around you – you hear the call to help or to give.   “Lord, there is just no way. Send them away.”    The situation is seems impossible.   There is just not enough!

 

            Or maybe you relate to Andrew.   Look at verse 8:

 

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 

“There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish.

But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

 

Andrew says -  I have a little but it doesn’t amount to much.  Ever felt that way?  I have a little bit of money – a little bit of talent – a little bit of time – but boy, do they seem so inadequate.   Especially when the need is so great.   It seems like my contribution would be like a little tiny drop in the bucket compared to the deep need around me.

 

            Do you know what Philip and Andrew had forgotten?   They had forgotten that who Jesus was – the “more than enough Son of God”.    Hadn’t they seen Jesus turn water into wine?  He had performed dozens of miracles – from healing a man who was unable to walk for 38 years to raising up a little girl who had died.   And even the wind and the waves obeyed Him – as He stilled the waters in the midst of a storm.   Standing before them was the “more than enough” Son of God who could do incredible, powerful things in the face of impossible situations.   As the disciples were calculating what it would take to take care of the needs around them and thinking about how they had so little to meet those needs – somehow, they had forgotten to put Jesus into the equation.   All they could see was scarcity when standing right before them was the abundance of God!    

 

            Oh, how much that sounds like you and me, doesn’t it?   So often we live our lives out of scarcity rather than abundance.   We are quick to focus on what we don’t have rather than focus on the incredible blessings and power we do have in Jesus.    We even do that in the church, don’t we?   We can’t do this.   We don’t have enough people.   We are just too small.   We don’t have enough money.   We can’t do this ministry – start a new program – we can’t reach out to the needs of this community – or even the world.   It is too overwhelming!   We don’t have enough.   But what are we doing?   We are leaving Jesus out of the equation.  We forget that when we give what we can to the Lord – He can multiply it.   He will give us the energy – the strength – the resources – the time if we just give it to Him.    

 

            Look at what Jesus does with the little that the boy gave to Jesus.   Look back at the text, at verse 10:

 

10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So, they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with

 scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

14 When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” 15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force

him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

 

            Incredible isn’t it?    The text says the men alone numbered 5,000 men!   If you include the women and children – the number could be about 12-14,000 or even more!

 

            How in the world did such a miracle happen?   Have you ever thought about that?   Perhaps all the food just appeared after Jesus prayed – all the food just multiplied immediately and the disciples picked it up and started serving it.   That is possible.    Jesus had the power to do that amazing miracle.

 

            Or maybe, as the disciples went out among the crowd, their baskets just never were empty.  The bread and fish just kept multiplying in the baskets as the disciples passed them out.   They just had enough – actually more than enough, because they had 12 baskets of left overs when everyone had eaten their fill.

 

            But there may be another interesting thought.   A lot of scholars, like William Barclay, speculate that it was probably very unlikely that the little boy was the only one with food with him.   The people had been traveling – they were pilgrims, making their way to Jerusalem.   Surely, they had brought food for the journey – but they were just not sharing.  Perhaps they were thinking – there may not be enough – I need to keep this for myself.   But perhaps – in the presence of Jesus – listening to His teachings, hearing His prayers – seeing the witness of this little boy who gave his all - their hearts were changed.   They moved from selfishness to compassion.  Maybe they all got out their food – and instead of eating the whole sandwich for themselves – they ate half of the sandwich and shared the other half with a neighbor.

 

Perhaps that’s what makes this the biggest miracle that Jesus did.  He changed the hearts of everyone present.   Instead of being a “not enough crowd” – their hearts and the minds were transformed by focusing on the power and the abundance of God.   By putting what they had in the hands of Jesus – their gift was multiplied and there was more than enough to go around – even to the point of having leftovers. Jesus changed the hearts of all those present…and was able to provide them with everything they needed

This year’s theme for our Stewardship campaign reflects that good news.   It comes from II Corinthians 9:7-8 and says:   You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”   Isn’t that incredible – when we give what we have, with a heart full of love and gratitude to God – God can be trusted to give us what we need.   If we put our trust in God and offer Him what we have – it can be done.   And the miracle is – God can not only multiply our gift – but there will be left-overs!   We can have more than enough!!

 

I truly believe our God is able to exceedingly more than we could ever ask or imagine.   He is a “More than Enough” God.   When we give what we have to Him – our time, our talent and yes even our money -   he will provide what we need – with plenty left over to share with others.

 

Wouldn’t it be amazing?   Wouldn’t it be incredible if all of us, like that little boy so long ago, would take what we have and give it to Jesus – and then we watched God do a miracle here at First Christian?   If we saw our gifts being multiplied overflowing – so much so that there will be leftovers to do more and more ministry to make Spirit filled, Christ centered disciples of Christ?   I believe it is possible because we have a “More than Enough God!”

 

As we end, today, I want you to pray about how God can work in your life.   Do you believe you have a “More than Enough God”?   Can you be like that little boy and give Him what you have and trust Him to provide?  Can we trust God to do a miracle in and through us?

 

Let us pray:

 

In this very room there's quite enough love for one like me,
And in this very room there's quite enough joy for one like me,
And there's quite enough hope and quite enough

 power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus ... is in this very room.

 

PRAY

 

And in this very room there's quite enough love for all of us,
And in this very room there's quite enough joy for all of us,
And there's quite enough hope and quite enough

 power to chase away any gloom,
For Jesus, Lord Jesus ... is in this very room.

 

INVITATION

 

 

 

 

STORY FOR 2ND SERVICE AT THE BEGINNING,

IF THERE ARE NO CHILDREN TO DO THE CHILDREN’S SERMON

 

Tony Campolo, pastor and professor, is known for being rather blunt in his preaching and teaching. He was invited to speak about missionary work during a World Day of Prayer service. A woman leading the meeting announced to those gathered that she had a prayer request from a missionary in Venezuela. The missionary was a doctor who had given her life to serve the poor in the barrios of Caracas. She needed $5,000 to put an addition onto her medical dispensary. The addition was desperately need to make it possible to handle all the sick and infirmed who were coming. The leader of the group then asked Dr. Campolo, “Would you please lead us in prayer that the Lord might provide the five thousand dollars that is needed by our sister in Venezuela?” Before he could catch himself, Campolo said, “No! You already have all the resources necessary to complete this mission project right here within this room. What I will do is take all the money I am carrying on me and put it on the altar. And I’m going to ask everyone else here to do the same. No need to write out checks! We’ll only accept cash! After we’ve all put the cash we’re carrying on the altar, we’ll; count it. Then I’ll ask God to write out a check for the difference.” Campolo only had $2.25 in his wallet and pocket but he put it all out on the altar. The leader smiled benevolently and said, “We’ve all gotten the point, haven’t we?” He responded, “No! I don’t think we have! My $2.25 is on the altar. Now it’s your turn!” Though somewhat taken aback by the aggressiveness of his request, she opened her wallet and pulled out $110 and slapped it down on top of his meager offer. Then he said, “We’re on our way! We’ve got $112.25. Now it’s your turn!” Campolo pointed to a woman who was sitting in the front pew. She looked around and smiled a bit. Then she got up and came to the altar and put her cash on top of theirs. He got the next woman to do it, then the next. It took him more than 25 minutes to take up the offering as one by one, woman after woman came and placed her money on the communion table. When they had finished, they counted it. They had taken in more than eight thousand dollars. With no time left to preach, Campolo remarked. “Why should we ask God for five thousand dollars when He had already provided us with more than eight thousand dollars.” He then offered a prayer of thanks to God for freeing them to be generous with what God had already provided.

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