The Abundant Life

. Please read.(1King 17: 7 – 16.)    I want to tell you this story
A great prophet from the Old Testament, Elijah, was living in a cave, drinking water from a brook and being fed by ravens sent by the Lord. But the brook dried up because of the great drought. The Lord came to him and told him to go to Zarephath and to stay there. God told him a woman would supply him with food. When he got there, the widow was there gathering wood. He called to her and asked her for some water and some bread. She had no bread but had just enough flour and oil to bake some bread for her and her son for their last meal before they would surely die. Well, Elijah told her to use that flour and oil to make HIM some bread and bring it to him and then to make more for herself. He says, “The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.” She did as Elijah had told her. And there was an abundance of food – more than enough for Elijah, the widow, and her family. Now, some time later, the son became ill, very ill, and actually stopped breathing. Elijah took the son and carried him to the room where he was staying. He laid him down on the bed and hovered over him three times and cried to the Lord. The Lord heard him and brought the boy back to life. The Lord was shining abundance of love and caring to Elijah and to the son and mother. Elijah, the widow, and her son believed and held strong in their faith. They were granted the abundance of food and life as she cried to Elijah. “I know that you are a man of God and I know that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.”
Look at the three principles of abundance illustrated here:

1) Receiving the word of the Lord (faith);

2. Not looking at your circumstances (faith);

3. being obedient (faith).

These are the main keys to abundance. The commonality of all three is stated in one word – faith As Hebrews 11:1 states, “…..Faith is the evidence of things not seen.” In order for abundance to be part of your life, you need to have faith. You must Know that you Know that you Know. God is more moved by faith than needs. Oh, He may feel your pain but is not always moved by it (Hebrews 4).  God is moved by actions (faith). When we begin to take action to line up with His word – when we align ourselves with God through our faith and prayer life and acting on that – we put ourselves in a position to receive abundance. And abundance we receive.   And then, the ball is back in our court to be speakers of abundance and sowers of abundance.
Job 22:28 – You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you ; so light will shine

     Ps 20:4 – May He grant you according to your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your purpose.

       John 15:7 – If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

       I Jn 5:14 – Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

      Ps. 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
What is this telling us? It is telling us that our God is a giving God. He wants us to be showered with abundant life. A life that is so full, spiritually, that it can hardly hold more. When we are filled with abundant love, abundant faith, abundant action to give to others, and abundant energy to go and make disciples of all nations, we are enveloped in the essence of God. Yes, all this is from God and only from God.
In the story above from 1 King 17, we see that there was abundance as the Lord promised. There was great abundance, not any lack. In that place of dryness and cracked earth, there was abundance of oils and flour. Elijah was obedient and because of this obedience, he was used to bring forth abundance, great abundance. And this abundance NEVER was used up. It was there, every day. And as a need arose to restore a boy’s life, God was there to whisper the air back into the child’s lungs and bring him back to life. Abundant treasures given to those of faith.

So how does that impact you and me? It affects us the same way it affects that widow and her son.
Mark 4:24-25 – 24 Then He said to them, “Take heed what you hear. With the same measure you use, it will be measured to you; and to you who hear, more will be given.  25 “For whoever has, to him more will be given……
Yes, we need to take heed. The more abundance we sow and the more abundance we reap (in faith), the more we will receive. We need not fear the storms of life for they prepare us for the abundant life that is to come from that storm.

WL Scott I paraphrase often as his ideas and love of our Lord is just terrific. He says here and I do paraphrase: When we go through the storms we must come out better than when we went into them. Storms reveal strengths and weaknesses so we can shine better before those in darkness. God needs a holy vessel to work in so those people who will be in our midst should feel the love as if God himself was breathing on them. The more we go through the storms the sweeter we should be in the things of God. The storms are not here to kill us but to wash the dirt off of us so the holiness inside of us presents the glory of the King. We must not despise the storms but welcome them so the fullness of Jesus Christ may shine like the sun on a dark mid-night. I hope you and I will be able to go through the first time. (end of paraphrase)

Here is where our abundance resides – the other side of the storm. At the end of the storm, at the end of the path is the golden light, a light as bright and as abundant as God’s Glory could possibly be – because it IS God.

The Total Abundance we all dream for ourselves and others (after the storms) is not money, not a magnificent home or car or anything material on this earth. That isn’t even the long range goal on our path. Do you see the light at the end of the road? There is the Total Abundance for which we have been working and striving and sharing with others.
May your dream of abundance be the cradling within God’s arms without a care in the world. You are home and this eternal home is the abundant mansion for which we all seek.
I will see you there!






1Thessalonians 5:16 -18Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, this is is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

What has been the best thing that happened in your week? What has been the worst thing?  It’s easy to be thankful  and celebrate when nice things happen, harder to be thankful to God when not so nice things happen.

It says in Bible – give thanks in all circumstances – (all situations) (1 Thess. 5v18) No matter what happens in our week, good or bad – we should always thank God. And why? No matter what kind of week we’ve had – God is still the creator, still our heavenly father, he’s still the biggest and still the best, he doesn’t change and still deserves our thanks.

What do you think we always thank God for, even if we’re having a hard time? Think about; meditate about that and let’s do that now: Take a moment here and thank God for the good and bad that has happened to you. Celebrate.

Now, please continue that break and read Nehemiah chapter 12.
The Jews : God’s chosen people, encounter disaster when they stray from God’s ways and protection. Babylon’s soldiers lay Jerusalem’s temple and walls to ruins, and lead all but the poorest from Jerusalem, into captivity. The prophet Isaiah foretold that they’d be forgiven, refined by their suffering and would return from exile. It takes time. Nehemiah works in the court of king Artaxerxes, but feels called by God to rebuild Jerusalem, miraculously the King allows him to do this. Despite opposition, the Israelites put huge effort into rebuilding the massive walls of Jerusalem, the city that was their cultural home, which has been uninhabited for 160 years!

Now in Nehemiah 9, the Wall had been completed – Ezra reads from the book of law; the Israelites have great confession of their sin & forefather’s sins that lead them being in exile and Jerusalem being ruined. In Nehemiah 10 People recommit to God; there is the writing of an oath to obey God’s law again: leaders seal their names on it. And it is recorded forever in Nehemiah10.

In Nehemiah 11 the Holy city, built by God – needed a population, leaders settle there and people cast lots 1/10 go to live in this city – moving from their homes! – Huge sacrifice and what a show of obedience; the leaders who settle are listed in Neh 11. Neh 12 –Work is done, people are there -Time to celebrate!

A celebration was also held in our Bethel Thursday night. We celebrated the blessings from God, family treasures, friendships, our trials, love of pets, gifts of patience and forgiveness. The list goes on and on.

All of those examples of celebration were for a reason, in response to something significant, something good happening. Celebration is reactive; it’s something that we want to do. It’s human nature to want to mark special happenings and it’s enjoyable; it benefits us, it feels like a ‘right’ response.
The dictionary says of the word celebration – “holding of festivities to mark a happy event, public praising of something.” The bigger and better the event, the greater the celebration. Fundamental to any celebration is ‘thanks’, giving ‘thanks’ to the person who has made the whole thing possible.

In Neh 12 we see a celebration of thanks for what God has achieved: The rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls in Nehemiah as well as being a good demonstration of how God works through a leader and a corporate body.  This is a great analogy of what God does in our lives when he rebuilds them through Jesus Christ.

Like the Israelites in exile, we start from a place of utter ruin, a consequence of our sin, where there appears to be no hope; we’re born into a situation where we’ve strayed from God and are cut off. But God is calling us, and has a plan for us. The rebuilding work starts when we request forgiveness for our sins. God can then start his healing work, there’s opposition and there’s cost.  But, a truly miraculous and wonderful new life is built, and its creator is very worthy of celebration. By looking at this monumental event in history, and it’s a fitting celebration, I hope, we can be encouraged to celebrate God and his on going rebuilding work in our lives.

I’m talking about a lifestyle of celebration, where we thank God for significant works, but also apply an attitude of celebration to our daily lives.

Let’s break it down into three parts.
• 1. Significance of celebrating God
• 2. Process for celebrating God
• 3. Fruits of celebrating God

1. Significance of celebrating God
It’s our chief end ch.12, v.43 “and on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy ” Here are a people wrapped up in God. They’ve left their homes to work on this thing; they’ve witnessed God’s work in their lives, helping them accomplish this massive feat in an incredible 52 days. This wasn’t party emotion turned on just for the day and forgotten about the next.
Celebrating God means living our lives in worship of him. It’s more than singing songs on a Sunday. It is the total submission of all that we have and are, to everything that we know of God.
We are made to be beings that celebrate God that enjoy God, that thank God, and when we do, we’re fortified, like those walls. “Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

We celebrate, thank and praise God because it’s our chief end!

Levites were the teachers of the time, they were busy people. There must have been at least one Levite who drew Nehemiah aside; and said, ‘Look Nem, I haven’t got time for this, I’m really busy next Tuesday, isn’t it more important to do God’s work than to celebrate it? There are people who have come to this city to live, whose homes aren’t built yet; they need our time most.’

There must have been someone who thought that. And yet, not only was this an all inclusive act of thanksgiving, but they brought people in from the surrounding countryside too! v27 “.the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication”  What Nehemiah demonstrated was that the job wasn’t actually finished, until God had been thanked and his works celebrated. It’s part of the process. He was right too. Nehemiah was around before Jesus, but Jesus taught this very thing through parable of the ten lepers. (Luke 17 : 11- 19)

We celebrate God and give thanks because it’s what we feel, what overcomes us, and we don’t want to leave God waiting for it. v43.” The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. ”The whole thing was designed as a public event, the choirs and instrumentalists walked on the top of the walls, not like the Queen’s tea parties, where only a select few get in. This couldn’t be more public!

The witness comes in v.43 the people were ‘rejoicing because God had given them great joy’. Ahhh Haaaa! There’s the witness: expressing the joy of God.

People must have said: I want to know what this thing is that you have that gives you such joy! Real joy! You’re so full of Joy about this God of yours, you can’t keep it in. I want that! Is that what people would say about our worship in our churches or here in our Bethel? Or in your day to day life – your daily act of worship in the week, at home, at college, in the office?

John the Baptist said – that ‘He (Christ) must become greater, I must become less’ (John 3 v30)   That’s what we do in our public worship, our celebration of God’s miracles….. Make God greater, and make ourselves less

2. Process for celebrating God

It is Planned . The Levites were brought to Jerusalem from the surrounding region for this day, the singers were brought in from the villages, the people the gates and the wall are purified before the two choirs march in opposite directions around the walls. This celebration of God was very well planned.

There is confessions. v.30 ‘When the priests and Levites had purified themselves ceremonially, they purified the people, the gates and the wall’. Before anyone sang a word in thanks, there was purification. The people were cleansed first, then the project was cleansed. This would have been through a sacrifice where a sacred animal suffered death in the place of the people. Before these believers could stand before a holy God, they had to have a clean heart.

It’s important to start from that place of forgiveness, as it focuses our thanks on God when we celebrate , not on us. When God has done a work in our lives, or if we’re thanking him simply for who He is, there is a temptation to celebrate ourselves as if we had a bigger part to play than our simple obedience. ‘Apart from me (says God) you can do nothing’ John 15 v 5.

The Psalmist wrote – ‘you do not delight in sacrifice or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart. Psalm 51 v16-17’ External ritual achieves nothing when un-confessed sin lurks in the heart.

Someone said that ‘holiness precedes happiness’.  It’s hard to celebrate even God when our sin hasn’t been dealt with first. And yet when we confess our sins they’re removed ‘as far as the East is from the West ‘(Psalm 103 v 12)  What a glorious starting point ! Makes you want to praise God doesn’t it? Celebrate!!

We thank from the heart.

The Fruits of Celebrating God – God is always seeking to do good things in us.
When we are obedient, because of his graciousness, he heaps blessings back on us. When we thank him, we benefit! There are lots of benefits to celebrating God’s work

There’s Unity
Giving praise to God is a profoundly unifying experience. In Jerusalem the priests, Levites, leaders singers and masses join together in worship of God, there’s no distinction as to which ones are rejoicing with great joy – they all are! When we come together before God, we become aware of our equally deep need for God’s forgiveness, and stuff that might divide us can only fade into insignificance compared to the wonder of what Jesus has done for us all. It’s very hard to hold on to a sinful thought or habit, when we expose ourselves to God in humble adoration.
In our Bethel on Thursday night and every Thursday night, we come together as one to celebrate. What joy there is in each heart as we open them up to our Lord.

This celebration we read about was not only marking the end of the building project, but the start of a new era for the Jews, through the celebration; they were dedicating themselves to future works. v. 44 ‘At that time men were appointed to be in charge of the storerooms for the contributions, first-fruits and tithes’, v. 47 ‘.all Israel contributed the daily portions for the singers and the gatekeepers’

As we celebrate what God has done in our lives, it’s inevitable that we dedicate ourselves to future works. By looking back at what God has done, we’re encouraged at what he’s going to do, whether that’s celebrating a key event, celebrating the daily working of God in our lives, or simply celebrating who God is.

A lifestyle that celebrates God, equips us wonderfully for the trials of life. We are empowered.

Hebrews 13 v 15 “Let us continually offer a sacrifice of Praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name” It’s only plants that are alive and healthy that bear fruit. Praise is the fruit of a heart that knows Jesus. The spirit of God is a spirit of life.

God did a great work for the Jews, and Nehemiah recognized the importance of celebrating God’s deliverance. We too should recognize the triumph of God, and live a life in celebration of him.

When Paul was in prison for spreading the good news of Jesus- he wrote, in celebration – In Philippians 4v4 ‘Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Let us rejoice and celebrate without ceasing!   Amen





Lord, we come to you this day with great expectations that You will forgive us, redeem us, grant us Your grace, and stand with us forever. We also come to You knowing above all expectations that You will hear our prayers. Be with us as we carry Your word to others and pray for the spiritual, emotional, and physical well being of those we mention and those we hold in our hearts. And as we begin, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You, O’ Lord, our Redeemer. Amen

Isaiah 6:1 – 4 (NASB) 1In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. 2Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.” 4And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. “ Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraph flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.: Then I hear a voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; Send me!” He said, “Go and tell the people………………..”

If you would look at the congregation in our Bethel, you would be amazed at how open each person is when they come and how filled they are when they leave. This worship center is a house of grace, peace, acceptance, and love. And all you have to do is walk in or click in to realize this.
Last week, our theme for the service at Prayer Group, Thursday evenings, was Expectations. What is it that we expect here on this earth as Christians. The night was filled with power and explosive scriptural expectations and accompanying wonderful spiritual music. All participated and the room rocked:

I expect Christ in me to give me stability, for He is my Rock.
Psalm 61:2–From the end of the earth I will cry to You, When my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
Psalm 92:15–To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.

As we worship, we bring something in to the service; we bring in offerings to God. That offering is our lives, given to Him. As we bring our lives to God as a living and holy sacrifice each week, we will have a true experience that is God-Centered, beginning and ending with God. This service should be an extension of the life we are living for Jesus 24/7. At the same time, as we worship God, we also can expect to receive something in return.

Here is where I will turn the podium over to the entire congregation who will share what expectations they have come to realize have been granted to them as worshippers of our Lord. What we expect and receive are real blessings. I wish we could convey all of them here, but this message would be very long so I will condense many into few. Thank you all for participating so joyously!  The purpose here today is that each of you reading these expectations will take a moment to meditate and pray on each one and let it become also part of your life, your expectations here on this earth.

I expect He Who is within me to develop His Character qualities in me as I grow in Christlikeness.
We now “go and tell the people” what the Lord has put on our hearts as to what expectations we have as Christians here on earth.
“When we gather for worship, we should expect to sense the awesome presence of God.” Bob Russell, “When God Builds A Church” p.48. That is what I expect from worship services whether there are two of us or hundreds of us. I expect it wholeheartedly.

If you are an athlete, you expect to perform your best because of your training. When you worship, you expect to worship in love because of your alignment and love of God.,
I expect through worship to be freed from anxiety, depression, fear, and loneliness. Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Through prayer, supplication, and worship, I expect to be a child of God. John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.
I expect through prayer and worship that God will always give me peace & rest even when I think it is impossible. Matthew 11:28-30 – Come unto me all you are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Isaiah had that mountain-top experience and here he was called to his prophetic ministry by God. What a rare and wonderful encounter he had. He had that true worship experience; and he was expecting and did have a true sense of God’s presence. He expected a conviction of his own sinfulness 6;5 but was granted total redemption and moved forward in God’s light and direction to “tell the people.”

He knew he was not worthy and expected nothing but was given forgiveness and instructions instead. He expected God’s presence from there on out and had it.

I expect God through Jesus Christ to instruct and lead me. Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
I expect God to lead me. I expect to always walk with our Lord and be guided in righteousness. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. and Proverbs 23:18 Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.
And all of us expect that we will be protected and kept safe and live in spiritual peace.
I expect God to always provide for me1 Tim 6::17 – Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant not to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us for everything for our enjoyment.

I expect to live my life under the total protection of God. Psalm 32:7 You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance, and Psalm 34:18 – The righteous cries out, He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and save those who are crushed in spirit.

I expect that the Lord, my God, will deliver me from my troubles. Psalm 34:18 The righteous cries out; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are cursed in spirit.

I expect that God will continue to set me free. Psalm 118: vs. 5-6. In m anguish, I cried to the Lord and He answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

And all expect to be servants of our Lord throughoutour time and follow Him in whatever way He leads us.
I expect my life to be a light in darkness drawing people to the heart of God so they can experience His great love and kindness through the Lord/Savior Jesus Christ by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Proverbs 23:18 Surely there is a future and your hope will not be cut off.
I expect to continue working toward and create with the help of my associates an on-line church for all those who desired spiritual direction, love, care, and access to our Father in addition to or in place of due to not being able, physically, emotionally, or spiritually to attend a church in a building. Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
I expect to live a life of love toward every people. Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectations of the wicked will perish

I expect “tomorrow” will come. Because then came the morning and night turned into day.
I expect to walk before all people with respect and honor no matter how they treat me. Ephesians 2: 8-9. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing. It is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that one no one may boast.
When we realize how sinful we are, we do not have to feel like we are finished! God’s grace shines though our weakness. If you cannot forgive yourself, or if you think God cannot forgive you, you are saying that sin is bigger than God. We do expect that we are forgiven and redeemed and held close in our Lord’s loving arms.
Each week, (each day) we should leave our place of devotion a different person. Whenever we are in the presence of God, we should NEVER be the same. We know beyond expectations that we become a better person as we hold out our hearts and turn them over to the Lord.
And as we do so, I expect each person to feel open and free to express themselves in what ever way they choose to show their love and worship of God.

 I expect that in our Bethel people feel free express themselves to God during our worship.
 I expect that each person can feel free to raise their hands to God during the music in our service. I expect them to feel free to clap and do lots of toe tapping. I also expect that if a person does not feel like expressing themselves that way, they will not be forced into doing it.
 I also expect those who want to raise hands will not look down at those who do not feel comfortable doing that.
 I expect people to feel free to shout out “amen” if they want to.
 I expect people to feel the peace and acceptance and grace of our Lord in this Bethel where we worship.
Come to worship ready and expecting to be in the presence of God. When you come to worship, bring your sacrifice with you, the life that you have given to Jesus. We expect you to come and enjoy the fullness of God in your life with other Christians.
I know there are those that say these are unrealistic expectations for any person to accomplish on the earth. If these are unrealistic then Satan has more power in our lives than the Holy Spirit has who lives inside every Christian.

None of these expectations are out of reach for those seeking to please God. . What a miserable life if you ever thought that God could not give us the desires to do right before Him. I refuse to believe that seeking to live like Jesus Christ is impossible to do on this earth.

Yes, my friend, I do expect to be led by the Holy Spirit into all truth, which is the desire of Father God (Abba) for my life on this earth. I expect it is yours also.  How do I know (expect)?  The Bible tells me so!

Believe and you shall be blessed. Come; join us in our Great Expectations!  We will be expecting you.



John 6:1-3 and onward Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias, and a great crowd of people followed Him because the saw the miraculous signs He had performed on the sick  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples…….  And He taught

Watching the Olympics this last week and watching the faces of the families as they watch their loved one compete and even reflecting back on personal exciting memories waiting for a special event to take place or a special / famous person to arrive for a concert helps me to picture what it must have been like at the Sea of Galilee. People were excited about the future with Jesus as king. They had seen him perform miracles; they had heard rumors that this was the Messiah; they had set by his feet while he taught; others had probably heard rumors about him becoming the new king and running Rome out of town. There is one thing for sure – as long as he was around, they were not leaving. Hopefully you have caught the excitement of this event and now I would like for you to follow along with me as John tells us of the event through his eyes. Please read John 6:1-14. I did not post it here as it is long;  but please read it in its entirety before continuing reading this.

Jesus knew the need of his followers. They needed spiritual food as well as physical food.  Mark tells us in his account that Jesus had compassion on them and taught them late into the day-and he also saw their need for food. But how in the world were they going to feed seven to ten thousand people – the account of the five thousand only gives us the number of the men present, not including the women and children. (Luke 9:10)

There are millions of hurting and people thirsting after righteousness today. America has changed. Some people could not tell you what has changed but they know that the moral values are different. They are longing for a righteous savior someone that will not just meet their physical needs but also their spiritual needs. We are in a hurry for everything, but we don’t know what we need. We think maybe it will be in a new leader, a new government or a new job. Yes, but the reality is, happiness and contentment is only found in Christ. He is the only one that can satisfy our innermost needs.

There is something in the daily grind of life that does not give us satisfaction. It leaves us hungry and thirsting for something more. There is a nameless emptiness that keeps drawing man back to something greater then themselves. Men in their chase for wealth reputation, power or wealth, and vast other idols, find that the power they acquire will never be enough, the wealth is never enough, their reputation is never good enough. Nothing will fill the deep hunger that only Christ can fill.
The great crowd that followed Jesus so far from home into the barren wilderness suggests these thoughts. They were, a little world in themselves, men, women, children, drawn from home searching for something that would fill the emptiness. These people had followed Jesus; they forgot their food, forgot shelter, and forgot everything to go with Him.
What was it that drew them? Some are always ready to answer, Curiosity. But it is a very deep, strong curiosity that will drive people so far and through so much. Some were sick and wanted healed. Some had friends they wanted healed. If you asked the people there that day I imagine the answers would be as varied and there were people. Each one would have their own reason.
John uses this word picture; a picture of the vast, hungry, discontented multitudes that fills the world, and the outstanding fact about them is that they are seeking, always seeking. Yet they no not what they seek.

The people today are seeking. The world, the leaders, and the media have promised so much, but at the end of the day it just leaves them hungry and void. Deep beneath the selfish, sordid struggle, the grasping, the greed, there is restlessness, a world-weariness that will never be stilled until the soul finds rest in God.

A mighty urgent question screams out of these passages, that of feeding the multitude. Whole families, including children, find themselves far from home and without food. The situation was distressing and would become even more so, if something were not promptly done. Jesus take his followers to the side; there ensues an interesting conversation and we take bits and pieces from the different accounts. He asks Philip, who knows the neighborhood. “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” If there was a Wal-Mart open 24 hours nearby, he would have known about it. He grew up just down the road in Bethsaida. Philip did a quick assessment of what it would cost for each one to have a bite!

Philip’s response was the same response you and I would have made; Even if Wal-Mart were nearby, it would cost too much money. I love the way the Living Bible puts it, “It would cost a fortune to begin to do it.” To Phillip the task was impossible; and guess what, to you and I it would be impossible, too. Although it is not mentioned in John’s account, Mark tells us in his gospel that Jesus asked them how much bread they had. They responded, “I don’t know?” He told them to go find out and that is exactly what they did. (Mark 6:38).
The Bible leads us to believe that they all went out searching and but only one found anything, the other person from Bethsaida, Andrew. He found a boy with a small lunch consisting of five small barley loaves and two small fish. Instead of Andrew taking the food himself to Jesus, he took the child with him. There is a great lesson with this; we need to take people to Jesus not just their concerns. Can you imagine the excitement of the little boy as he was going to meet Jesus. I love the accounts in the Bible about Andrew. It seems that every time he is mentioned, he is bringing someone to Jesus. Wouldn’t it be great if every time your name was mentioned it would be about you bringing someone to Jesus?

I love his faith too; he only finds a child’s lunch, but he willing to bring it to Jesus. I like to give Andrew a lot of credit but just as he gets to the masters feet he says, “But how far will that go among so many?” (John 6:8) It is amazing what happens when we rely on what we can do instead of what Christ can do. He made the same mistake Peter made when he was walking on the water. He took his eyes of Jesus and put them on himself.

The Bible says, “Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.”  The hope of the world lies in the wonderful power of God to multiply the little things that we have and use them for his purpose. There are the things that you have in your basket that you need to give to Jesus. They may represent a small Child’s lunch in your hands, but they could feed the multitudes in Christ hands. The question before you is this. Are you willing to give them to Jesus? What are these small gifts that I have among so many? We, with our small gifts our time, our talents and our treasures what are they among so many lost people in the world today? What difference would it make if I gave them to Jesus? There has to be people better of than I that can offer more than a child’s lunch. Jesus is the answer to the lost and searching people around us and He has called you to be his messenger.

He has also called you to use what you have. Your time, talent and treasure. What could happen if you would dedicate your time to Jesus? The people were willing to sit all day without eating just to spend a little time with Jesus. What are you giving up so that you can spend time with Jesus? Are you even spending time him? If not what needs to change in your life so you can?

On the night that Jesus was to be betrayed, he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to be alone with God. As he prayed and agonized about what was about to come, he walked back over to where Peter, James and John were and found them sleeping. The Bible tells us in Matthew, “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?”

Could we not give God one hour of our day so we, as Christ told Peter in the next verse, “so that you will not fall into temptation?”  We need to spend the first hour of our day alone with the Lord. During your quiet time with the Lord you need to spend time in His Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says this, “All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” We need to spend time alone with God in His word so that we may be thoroughly equipped.
Not only do you have time in your basket, you also have talent in there also. You have a special giftedness that God has given you to be used in the body for the edification of all the Saints. Dr. Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life, calls this your SHAPE.  Warren stated in his book, “Before God created you, he decided what role he wanted you to play on earth. He planned exactly how he wanted you to serve him, and then he shaped you for those tasks. You are the way you are because you were made for a specific ministry.” (p. 235,236) You will not be content in life until you start using your SHAPE to serve God. Here is Warren’s use of the word.

S in SHAPE stands for your spiritual gift. You were given a spiritual gift that is to be used for God. You may have multiple gifts, but you will not have all the gifts. And you do not choose your gifts… God does. A gift is given to us to help the entire community. You can find how that works in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 where Paul lists different kinds of gifts. In verse 11 he states, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives to them (the gifts) to each one, just as he (God) determines.”

H stands for the Heart. Warren states that “Your heart reveals the real you – what you truly are, not what others think you are or what circumstances force you to be.” He also says, “figure out what you love to do – what God gave you a heart to do-and then do it for his glory.” (p233, 239)

A stands for your Abilities. God would not give you the ministry of fixing cars if you were not mechanically inclined. He would not give you the ministry of Sunday School director if you were not organized. You get the point. God gives you certain abilities and he wants you to use those for his purpose.

P stands for Personality. You’re a unique individual created by God for his purpose. There is no one else just like you. God wants to use you in ways that fits your personality. If you’re introverted and shy you probably will feel uncomfortable being a greeter or going door to door. If you are extroverted and outgoing, God will probably not expect you to be an accountant. You get the point: God designed you with a purpose in mind and that purpose will fit your personality.

E stands for Experiences. One of my favorite statements in the book is this, “God never wastes a hurt.” (p. 246) Some of the greatest lessons we have learned in our short time on this earth have been taught through pain. I am sure we all have had experiences that have been deep, disastrous, sad, jubilant, etc. God uses the experiences in our life to help others who are going through the same type of experiences.

God gave you a SHAPE: Now it is up to us to take each one of these that are in our basket and use it for his Kingdom. How do you put all that together in your basket? Spend Time with him and examine how he made you and what experiences you have gone through. Are you spending your Time with the Lord? Are you letting God use your Talents?

Are you willing to place your trust in what you know about Jesus Christ? Are you willing to trust him with your basket with just a fish and some bread in it so that your life can help feed the multitudes and teach them to fish? Are you willing to turn the basket over to our Lord so He will keep it filled?

May God bless each of you as you read and meditate on this message.  Amen