“Bring them here to me,” [Jesus] said. Matthew 14:18
“Stone Soup,” an old tale with many versions, tells of a starving man who comes to a village, but no one there can spare a crumb of food for him. He puts a stone and water in a pot over a fire. Intrigued, the villagers watch him as he begins to stir his “soup.” Eventually, one brings a couple of potatoes to add to the mix; another has a few carrots. One person adds an onion, another a handful of barley. A farmer donates some milk. Eventually, the “stone soup” becomes a tasty chowder.
That tale illustrates the value of sharing, but it also reminds us to bring what we have, even when it seems to be insignificant. In John 6:1–14 we read of a boy who appears to be the only person in a huge crowd who thought about bringing some food. Christ’s disciples had little use for the boy’s sparse lunch of five loaves and two fishes. But when it was surrendered, Jesus increased it and fed thousands of hungry people!
I once heard someone say, “You don’t have to feed the five thousand. You just have to bring your loaves and fishes.” Just as Jesus took one person’s meal and multiplied it far beyond anyone’s expectations or imagination (v. 11), He’ll accept our surrendered efforts, talents, and service. He just wants us to be willing to bring what we have to Him.
Reflect & Pray
What have you been holding back from God? Why is it difficult to bring that area of your life to Him?
Jesus, help me to surrender whatever I have to You, knowing You can multiply a little into a lot.
Peter was a professional fisherman. He knew how to gauge weather conditions, where to cast nets for the likeliest haul, and when to end an unproductive session. Because of his expertise, he may have silently questioned Jesus’ instructions, which we read about in yesterday’s devotion—Peter may have thought, Why let down the nets when we’ve caught nothing all night?
Sometimes Jesus asks us to do something that seems unreasonable. It might involve leaving a job or ministry, taking on more responsibility when life already feels overloaded, or accepting an assignment that seems better suited for someone with a different skill set. Yet, because of the One who asks, it’s the right thing to do.
Scripture talks about many people who faced such a choice. Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:2). Noah was told to build an ark on dry land because a flood was coming (Gen. 6:14). Joshua was given a military strategy of marching around Jericho instead of attacking it (Josh. 6:2-5). Gideon, who was young and unsure, was told to send most of his warriors home before battle (Judg. 7:2-3). They all obeyed and then experienced God’s power.
Don’t let human logic dictate whether you follow the Lord. Trust in Him as Peter and these other faithful believers did.
“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
This stunning statement is founded on the unalterable attributes of the triune God (Romans 8:31-35). God Himself secures our salvation; who then can possibly undo His work?
- “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1).
- “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).
- “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me” (Psalm 56:11).
God Himself is the giver and the protector of our salvation.
- “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).
- “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28).
- “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
What can possibly undo the work of the omnipotent and omniscient triune Godhead and Creator of all things? It is utter foolishness to yield our eternity to the Savior and then conclude that our feeble efforts could somehow thwart a work of eternity. HMM III
And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples.
Just prior to [His] miraculous multiplying of the bread and fish, Jesus “went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples” (John 6:3). That fact is noteworthy. It seems plain that Jesus withdrew purposely from the great press of people who had been pursuing Him.
There are some things that you and I will never learn when others are present. I believe in church and I love the fellowship of the assembly. There is much we can learn when we come together on Sundays and sit among the saints. But there are certain things that you and I will never learn in the presence of other people.
Unquestionably, part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by aloneness, by inactivity. I mean getting alone with God and waiting in silence and quietness until we are charged with God’s Spirit. Then, when we act, our activity really amounts to something because we have been prepared by God for it….
Now, in the case of our Lord, the people came to Him, John reports, and He was ready for them. He had been quiet and silent…. Looking upward, He waited until the whole hiatus of divine life moved down from the throne of God into His own soul. FBR130,133
Lord, I come in quietness and silence to wait for You to fill me. Amen.
And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
John the Baptist possessed…the right kind of vision, a true spiritual discernment. He could see things as they were.
The Holy Spirit came like a dove, descended like a dove, putting down His pink feet and disappearing into the heart of the Son of God.
I wonder out of all those crowds who saw the Holy Ghost come?
Only John the Baptist. I do not think anyone else had the kind of vision that was necessary to see Him….
John the Baptist was a man of vision in the midst of men who had no vision. He knew where he was in his times. The drift of the hour or the trend of the times in religion would never carry him away. CES132-133
To serve the present age,
My calling to fulfill—
Oh, may it all my powers engage
To do my Master’s will. HCL358
The central event in all human history is the crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary. It was here that the war between good and evil reached its climactic battle, and to the superficial observer it must have seemed that evil had triumphed beyond any possible doubt.
The strange and wonderful thing is that the New Testament writers, far from remembering the cross though a haze of tears, actually celebrate it as the place where Jesus ultimately triumphed over Satan. You would expect the leaders of a new religious movement to keep quiet about the fact that their founder had died a criminal’s death. Those early Christians, in fact, gloried in the cross. What seemed at first glance to be a terrible tragedy was actually the key move in God’s master strategy!
Jesus’ willingness to go to the cross is all the more remarkable when we remember that He was the most sane, the most balanced, the most life-loving man who ever lived. When we read the story of Jesus in the Gospels we are not in the company of a religious fanatic with a death-wish lodged deep in His psyche.
This is the man who rescued the wedding celebration at Cana in Galilee by changing water into wine; this is the man who ruined every funeral He ever attended by raising the dead to life. And this is the man who, in the most poignant moment in the New Testament, pleads with His Father in Gethsemane that He might be allowed to take another road than that of the cross. Only the deepest conviction that the cross was the one way in which evil could be defeated could have led Him to say, “Yet, not what I want, but what You want” (Mark. 14:36, NRSV).
The cross is a place of victory because it demonstrates the justice and love of God. The daring assertion of the Gospel writers is that God turned the most evil act in history into the supreme act of righteous love.
The cross is a place of victory because it deals with the sin of mankind. The cross is the ultimate confirmation of the condition of humanity. But the paradox is that the cross is not only the place where our sinfulness is starkly displayed; it is also the place where God deals with that sinfulness.
The cross is a place of victory because it defeats Satan and the powers of evil. The victory has been won at Calvary. Insofar as we enter into the victory of Christ by faith we will share that victory.
Chick Yuill, This Means War