How Do We Feed 5000 People

How do we feed 5000 People?
Pastor Stephen "Red" Shumate
January 10th, 2016
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How do you feed 5000 people?

Every year at Christmastime, our church puts together food boxes. And this year we put together 125 – 40lb boxes of food for needy families.  Just how much food is that?  How many people it will feed or how long that box will last?  I’m not sure… but for arguments sake,  let’s say…1 box would feed a family of four 2 meals a day for one week.  At 125 boxes…that equals 7000 meals.

Alright, well I guess that answers the question of "How do WE feed 5000 people?"
It only takes us 1 year of donations, 3 months of buying food, 1 month of packing and delivering and after all that.  And truthfully, if we do all that, we ARE doing good…this is no small feat for a church our size.

And yet, about 2000 years ago…Jesus fed 5000 people with no problem, in about an afternoon with only 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread...

Luke 9:10-17 – Feeding of the 5000
10 When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus all that they had done. He took them along and withdrew privately to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds found out, they followed Him. He welcomed them, spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and cured those who needed healing.

12 Late in the day, the Twelve approached and said to Him, “Send the crowd away, so they can go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find food and lodging, because we are in a deserted place here.”

13 “You give them something to eat,” He told them.

“We have no more than five loaves and two fish,” they said, “unless we go and buy food for all these people.” 14 (For about 5,000 men were there.)

Then He told His disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about 50 each.” 15 They did so, and had them all sit down. 16 Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them. He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets of leftover pieces.

Now before we get into what we are going to learn from this scripture, there is something that I want to point out that we are not going to learn from this scripture…

Many times when you hear this scripture, the primary lesson will be about faith…we need more faith…and if we rely on God anything can be accomplished.  But I don’t really believe this is what this scripture is teaching us.

Notice here, Jesus never said to the disciples…”Oh ye of little faith.” Like he did when they were in the boat and a storm came up (Matthew 8:23-27).

In that situation…they were afraid, they were scared and they were more focused on what was going on in the world around them than they were on Jesus.  And the moral of that story, is that we have no reason to worry or fear, because Jesus has his eye on us.  And the storms we go through, he will get us through them.

This is not the lesson he was teaching the disciples in this scripture.  In fact, they were not afraid in this instance and they were not worried.  Instead they had a workable plan ready to put into place but Jesus stopped them.

He didn’t stop them because of their lack of faith,
He didn’t stop them because he was trying to teach them something
He didn’t stop them because what they were doing was wrong.
He stopped them, because He was in the middle of teaching and healing and He wanted to continue the work he had started.  And since He had work to do, He took care of all of the problems that came up like miraculously feeing 5000 families.  It would have been impossible for the disciples to make that happen.

So this story is not about a lack of faith, but instead, being obedient in the face of the impossible, when Jesus is working.

So what does this look like in our lives?

When we follow Jesus, there will be times when we find ourselves in impossible situations.  And in these times, it is only natural for us try to come up with a plan on our own…But then sometimes we might find that God stops us…

Not because we have a lack of faith,
Not because we are doing something wrong,
Not even because he is trying to teach us something
But instead because he is in the middle of doing something.   And so he may stop us and ask us to do something different, something that is impossible as far as we are concerned.

What does this mean for us?

Be on the lookout for these moments so that we can be obedient when the time comes.  These moments will look different for each one of us.  I doubt any of us would be called on to suddenly feed hundreds of people but Jesus might call you to:

Love someone when you think it is impossible to love them ever again.
Or He might call you to have a conversation about Jesus, when you think that person is an impossible case.
Or He might call you to give when you don’t have any extra to give.
Or He might call you to stay and talk to someone when you have places to be.
Or He might call you to be a friend to someone who you just don’t like at all.

Whatever the case may be, when you find yourself thinking “Well, that’s impossible, I just can’t do that” consider if God is calling you to that situation and asking you to do something that you would not otherwise do.

When we find ourselves in this impossible situation…then how are we to respond?

Simple obedience. Just do what God tells you to.  In our scripture Jesus told the disciples to put the people in groups of 50, then Jesus went and provided the miracle…the disciples were simply obedient.

What next?

Well, what did Jesus do?  He prayed, but look carefully at how he prayed.

“Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them.”

His prayer was…a blessing.  He blessed the food.  He did not plead with God for a miracle.  And when we find ourselves in the impossible situation, then we should pray a blessing over our efforts, instead of praying by pleading. Because when we pray by pleading with God we are we are praying with worry, or with doubt with a lack of faith.  “God pleeeaaasssee….do this or do that…”

Here is the thing, God called us to this miracle situation.  He is already planning the miracle. He has put us there, so we there is no need to pray with doubt, worry or fear, instead we just need to pray His blessing over the situation.  ”Father bless what we are about to do in your name?”

And what we will find, is that if God has asked us to face the impossible, we are obedient in facing that impossible situation, and we pray his blessing over what we are about to do…guess what we will find will happen more often than not….

Our cup will runneth over…
Vs 17
Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them. He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 Everyone ate and was filled. Then they picked up 12 baskets of leftover pieces.

In our scripture the disciples ended up with more food than they started with and and often times, when God blesses us, what we will find is that we end up with more than we started with.

Take for instance, that person who you believe is impossible to love.  Simply go into that situation every day, pray God’s blessing on the situation, and just do what He asks you to do…show love a little bit at a time and what you will likely realize is that by the time God finishes teaching and healing in that situation, you will end up with more love in your life than you started out with.

Or when that day comes, when you just don’t have another minute to give someone to help them…be obedient, pray his blessing over what you are about to do…then stay and help…and what you might find out…is that you end up with more time than ever to accomplish those things that you just barely had time to do…

So as we follow God…
1.  Look for those impossible situations in your life that God has led you to.
2. Be obedient in what He is asking you to do.
3. Pray his blessing over your obedience.
4. Watch for his blessings to overflow.

What seems impossible to you right now?
What is it that God is asking you to do?

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