Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee…He that formed thee…Fear not; for I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.”
“‘When thou passest through the waters’
Deep the waves may be and cold
But Jehovah is our refuge,
And His promise is our hold;
For the Lord Himself hath said it,
He, the faithful God and true:
‘When thou comest to the waters
Thou shalt not go down, But THROUGH.’
Seas of sorrow, seas of trial,
Bitterest anguish, fiercest pain,
Rolling surges of temptation
Sweeping over heart and brain –
They shall never overflow us
For we know His word is true;
All His waves and all His billows
He will lead us safely THROUGH.”
Annie Johnson Flint
Today’s Study Text:
“But Jesus said unto them, ‘They need not depart, give ye them to eat.’ And they say unto Him, ‘We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.’ He said, ‘Bring them hither to me.’”
Matthew 14:16-18, KJV
“They Need Not Depart”
“Caring is the greatest thing, caring matters most.”
Friedrich von Hügel
What do I take away from the words of Jesus, “They do not have to depart?”
How have I witnessed personally, God’s loving care for me in my life?
How do I reflect God’s care in the lives of those I meet each day?
“God loves you as though you are the only person in the world, and He loves everyone the way He loves you.”
Augustine of Hippo
“If we seek first the kingdom of God, and make that our chief care, we may depend upon God to add other things to us, as far as He sees fit, and may cast all care upon Him.”
The sun was going down and the “multitude,” five thousand not counting women and children, had not left. The result? There were, as many Biblical scholars estimate, over 15,000 people in a congregation of hungry folk. What would happen? What were the disciples to do? And most importantly, what would Jesus do?
Our answer is found in a brief sentence spoken by Jesus. “They need not depart.” How I love those words, for in my personal experience those four words sum up the ministry of Jesus. No matter how messed up our lives, we need not depart. No matter how little we have to offer, we need not depart.
Pastor Warren Wiersbe, in his wonderful expository survey on the book of Matthew, entitled Meet Your King, expands on Jesus’ reaction to the dilemma faced by a huge crowd of people who were hungry at the end of a long day:
“It takes little imagination to picture the embarrassing plight of the disciples. Here were more than 5,000 hungry people and they had nothing to feed them! Certainly the disciples knew that Jesus was powerful enough to meet the need, yet they did not turn to Him for help. Instead, they took inventory of their own food supply and their limited treasury. When they considered the time (evening) and the place (a desolate place), they came to the conclusion that nothing could be done to solve the problem. Their counsel to the Lord was, ‘Send them away’…Jesus watched the frustrated disciples as they tried to solve the problem…He wanted to teach them a lesson in faith and surrender…the steps we must take in solving life’s problems.”
There are so many lessons for us today in this experience but I’d like to dig a little deeper into the two qualities Pastor Wiersbe identified – faith and surrender.
I want to do this by first looking back into the Old Testament and the prophet Elijah who was sent by God to live in the home of the widow of Zarephath – in the heathen nation of Phoenicia. As you may recall, all this lady had to eat was a jar of oil and a small portion of meal. This meager supply appeared totally inadequate to feed three people for one day, let alone years. But as we found out – the oil never ran out and the meal lasted until the famine subsided. Just think of the faith found in the heart of this widow woman as each day, she went to get her bottle of oil and began to pour and looked in her sack of meal to find that yes, there was enough. In the words of Father Andrew, “Great faith is not the faith that walks always in the light and knows no darkness, but the faith that perseveres in spite of God’s seeming silence, and that faith will most certainly and surely get its reward.” From a personal viewpoint, especially during the past couple of years, when it has been extremely difficult at times for me to see God at work, I’ve had to learn the tough lesson that the deep and abiding faith I claim I want imparted in my life by God, is not a faith which demands I have the future all laid out before me with not a bump or detour to be seen. Instead, heaven’s faith is about grasping my Father’s hand when it is the darkest and being willing to put one foot in front of the other every moment of the day. Sometimes it means that I may see events transpire which alert me to the fact that God has ordered specific circumstances around me to best fit His plan for my life on a given day. And yet, there have been other times when I’ve felt like I was fumbling around in such a fog I feared I might step off a cliff at any moment. I appreciate the practical words of author Anne Lamott who gets to the heart of faith with these defining words: “Faith includes noticing the mess, the emptiness and discomfort, and letting it be there until some light returns.”
It is the willingness to hold on in “spite” of the harsh realities around me that brings us to the second quality identified by Pastor Wiersbe and this is surrender. The definition of the word “surrender” is to “relinquish possession or control of to another.”
For a moment put yourself in the position of reflecting on the most baffling circumstance in your life. A point in time where you felt as though our heavenly Father’s loving care had been completely removed from you. Your faith, your trust on divine intervention, was at its weakest point, and yet the words of Jesus were heard saying, “Don’t depart from me. Hang on a little longer. Wait and see what happens. Press closer to Me and let Me take total control.” I ask you, “How does it sound, when we are at the end of the day, facing hunger and confusion, to know that if we have faith in our Father and in turn surrender everything to His control that He promises He will care for us?” This is what an alive and breathing faith is all about. And as Scottish Pastor J. H. Oldham assures us, “A living faith is not something you have to carry, but something that carries you.” In the words of Jesus, “Do not depart. Stay with Me and trust Me.”
In his poem, “Divine Care,” Francis Quarles penned this simple prayer:
“Lord, I’m a child; so guide my paces, then,
That I may learn to walk an upright man:
So shield my faith, that I may never doubt Thee,
For I must fall, if ever I walk without Thee.”
Our Burden Bearer
“The little sharp vexations
And the briars that cut the feet,
Why not take all to the Helper
Who has never failed us yet?
Tell Him about the heartache,
And tell Him the longings, too,
Tell Him the baffled purpose
When we scarce know what to do,
Then, leaving all our weakness
With the One divinely strong,
Forget that we bore the burden
And carry away the song.”
“Cast your burden on the Lord, releasing the weight of it, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the consistently righteous to be moved, made to slip, fall or fail.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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