Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You are precious in My sight and honored…fear not, for I am with you.”
Isaiah 43: 4,5
God Is My Strong Salvation
“God is my strong salvation;
What foe have I to fear?
In darkness and temptation
My light, my help is near.
Place on the Lord reliance;
My soul, with courage wait;
His truth be thine afflance,
When faint and desolate.
His might thine heart shall strengthen,
His love thy joy increase;
Mercy thy days shall lengthen;
The Lord will give thee peace.”
Today’s Study Text:
“(Jesus) gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled.”
Matthew 14: 19, 20
“Called To Serve”
“The most deeply felt obligation on earth is that which the Christian feels to imitate the Redeemer.”
What does it mean to me to live a life of service for Christ?
What lessons can I learn from Jesus’ life which guide me in my treatment of those around me?
“Discipleship is more than getting to know what the Teacher knows. It is getting to be what He is.”
Juan Carlos Ortiz
“A life spent in the service of God, and communion with Him, is the most comfortable and pleasant life that anyone can live in this world.”
As the disciple Matthew shares in the details of the events which transpired on one miracle-filled day in the life of Jesus, it wasn’t just Jesus who found Himself busy satisfying the needs of a hungry multitude. Matthew, as did all the disciples present, had a part to play in relieving the hunger of those assembled around Jesus.
This brings me back to a point I’ve made on more than one occasion as we have taken familiar Biblical stories and passages of Scripture and asked God to reveal to us the depth and beauty that we may not have uncovered during previous study.
I know that as a youngster, I had heard the amazing story of a little lad with five loaves and two fishes. I’d even wondered how I would have felt if Jesus told me He needed my lunch to feed a huge crowd of people. But it is the details of a story like this which too frequently get buried in a quick once-over of a Biblical passage. So I want to take some time to unearth the less common highlights found in this story.
In his thorough “pastoral perspective” on Matthew 14: 13-21, Clifton Kirkpatrick reveals this particular lesson from the feeding of the 5,000. As he notes, “We learn from this account about being disciples – about the awesome responsibility that God has entrusted to us.” Then Professor Kirkpatrick says something I had not really given much consideration to in the past: “Jesus did not feed five thousand. He told the disciples to do it.” And then in summarizing what happened he concludes, “God has entrusted us to be the body of Christ – the hands and feet through which God’s work is done in the world. God does not work alone, but through people, you and me. To follow Jesus is to express our faith in concrete acts of love, justice, and compassion toward others.”
However, it isn’t only the lesson that we are God’s hands and feet of service, sharing His love with those in need, which we can garner from this story. There’s a second lesson which caught my attention, and it is this: when we have been given a task to do for Jesus, He will supply what we need to accomplish His work effectively. I gain great encouragement in my own life from what was written by Pastor Charles Stanley, who inspires us with these words. “When God gives us a commission, He always equips us for the job. God has made provision for our needs before the needs ever arise.” And all I can say is, “Praise God for this fact!”
Bible commentator Professor Dock Hollingsworth offers further insight into the part Jesus’ disciples played in this feeding drama: “The disciples (were) responsible for feeding the hungry, even if the size of the task (was) daunting to them.” Just because, from their perspective, the reality of the situation screamed out, “You don’t have enough food to feed these people,” didn’t mean the disciples should shrink back from the work they had been assigned. As Hollingsworth writes about the disciples, “they wanted unmet needs to go away.” And quite frankly, sometimes I’ve found myself with the same small thinking, when I find needs to be greater than my resources. However, Professor Hollingsworth continues with this take on the situation. “Most Bibles give a heading to this story that reads something like, “Jesus Feeds Five Thousand.” Actually, Jesus gives food only to the disciples, who then feed the others. While it is clearly the miracle of Jesus that feeds the multitude, this does not reduce the call to discipleship to a call of passive piety. Our call is to active ministry that meets human need.”
A number of years ago, I read words written by Mary Glover, reporting from a weekly feeding line, just a mile and a half from the White House. It is my personal prayer that these words will reflect the prayer of service for others that I want to fill my heart today: “Lord, we know that you’ll be coming down the line today, so, Lord, help us to treat You well, help us to treat You well.”
Jesus Calls Us O’er The Tumult
“Jesus calls us o’er the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless sea,
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, ‘Christian, follow Me.’
Jesus calls us from the worship
Of the vain world’s golden store,
From each idol that would keep us,
Saying, ‘Christian, love Me more!’
In our joys and in our sorrows,
Days of toil and hours of ease,
Still He calls, in cares and pleasures,
‘Christian, love Me more than these.’
Jesus calls us; by Thy mercies,
Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
Give our hearts to Thy obedience,
Serve and love Thee best of all.”
Cecil F. Alexander
“Teach me to kneel in spirit before all whom it is my privilege to serve,
because they are your children: to look for the family likeness, however
homely or unspiritual the appearance of those to whom I am sent, however
lowly my sphere of service and their need may be.
I will be grateful for everything, you give me to do…willing to use very
simple things as the instruments of love – the towel and the basin, the cup
and plate and loaf, willing to do the most menial duties for the sake of love.
Come. Lord! Come with me: see with my eyes: hear with my ears: think
with my mind: love with my heart – in all the situations of my life. Work
with my hands: my strength. Take, cleanse, possess, inhabit, my will, my
understanding, my love.
Take me where You will, to do what You will, in your way.
For where You are, there would Your servant be.”
“O Lord, let us not live to be useless, for Christ’s sake. Amen.”
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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