My name is David Vaughan... Thought I should reintroduce myself to you online and here in person! After my time away, I’m glad my church keys still work! Donna and I had a great time away which I’ll talk about in just a second, but I watched all of the messages while I was gone and was so inspired and informed by the teachers. Last week Jereca was very clear and practical. I just love her heart and her teaching style, and what a champion FOR our Schools.
Enjoyed Conor‘s message as well two weeks ago. Such a good-looking guy even with ketchup, mustard, and mud all over him. He’s like Captain America. I guess after hearing JT's message on homelessness we could call him Captain Underpants. But I was inspired and informed by JT’s message, too. I continue to marvel at JT‘s ability to fully immerse himself into his messages and turn moments into movements. It’s a gift, and we are so blessed to have him and all the talented people we have leading us (and I guess I’m going to make sure I stop now if I see a person sitting down there at the traffic light at Steve’s BP!).
I am glad to be back and continue our Summer of Love Series as we keep talking about removing physical barriers to create spiritual opportunities. We do want to tell folks about Jesus when we help them solve their problems otherwise, we’re not any different than any other group out there that helps people. Today I get the opportunity to talk about food, one of my favorite subjects because eating is one of my spiritual gifts. And since feeding people is one of the seven of our Solve 7, it works out nicely. How many of you love food?
I mentioned that we had a great time away on my annual summer study break and part of what made it so awesome was the opportunity to sample some southern food. Donna and I spent the majority of our time in South Carolina where they are known for their shrimp and grits, low country boil/seafood, barbecue, and desserts (but remember a sliver leads to a slice, to a slab, to a slob!).
But the best is their biscuits! I turned 60 on July 8 and for my birthday Donna designed a biscuit tour for me with visits to the seven best biscuit places in Charleston. My favorite was called The Vicious Biscuit.
Nobody likes to be hungry. And giving hungry people food was primary to Jesus' ministry. Not just physical food, but spiritual food. Feeding people in the name of Jesus has been a hallmark of Christianity since the time of Jesus, as well as part of our DNA here at Whitewater. Because people can’t hear the story of Jesus with their ears if their stomach is growling because they’re food challenged.
What I want to show you today is that we can feed ourselves as well as the multitudes - both physically and spiritually, if we just trust Jesus. I’d like to do it in the context of Matthew 14:13-21 and the feeding of the 5,000.
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were leftover. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
This is a significant miracle because it’s the only miracle other than the resurrection, that’s recorded in all four Gospels. Must have been important to record and remember. This became the world’s greatest fish fry. They went from a fast to a feast. This is what the kingdom is really about - feasting on the bounty of the church working right and a Savior that loves you very much. Jesus is a cosmic cook that wants to feed you the bread of life. I have learned just to say to Him, "where He leads me I will follow, and what he feeds me I will swallow!"
So many great lessons here in this scripture for us today, but I want to give you two lessons from the World’s Greatest Fish Fry, along with some powerful and practical ways to apply it this week.
Lesson # 1 - Little is much when you put it in The Master’s hands. Just obediently bring what you have and put it in the hands of Jesus. This little boy had a prepared mom who packed his lunch. I had a mom like that growing up. She packed my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (with the crust cut off) in my Batman lunch box and sent me off for the day! I was prepared. And even though this little lad was likely hungry, too, in trust and obedience, he gave up his little lunch so everyone could have a happy meal...a buffet! Because big doors swing on small hinges. So everyone moved from the land of hungry to the land of plenty. The land of ‘not enough to plenty enough!’
Maybe you’re thinking you’re ‘not enough’ in your life right now. My talent is not enough, my looks are not enough, my money is not enough – I’m not strong enough or smart enough or good enough. But with Jesus, your ‘not enough’ is more than enough. A little math lesson for ya... 5 loaves + 2 fish + Jesus = equals Plenty. Because God’s cosmic math is different than yours.
Have you factored Jesus into your formula – your equation? Do you want subtraction and division (we’ve got enough of that!) or do you want addition and multiplication? Do you have a scarcity mentality (like Phillip here) or a plenty mentality like Jesus? Ephesians 3:20 says…"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,"
Let me encourage you with this - whatever you’re facing right now in your life, use God‘s math/Jesus' math. I don’t know what you’re starting with, but I know what you can finish with. Because Jesus is bigger than any problem and dilemma you’re facing right now. You can be enough because HE is enough.
Lesson #2 - Jesus can bring blessing from what is broken. It says Jesus gave thanks, blessed, and broke the loaves. Notice God breaks and also blesses. Some of you are in a season of blessing right now – share your plenty, your food. Some of you are in a season of breaking (your heart, your will, way of thinking, your habits) - learn from it – SUBMIT! God never uses anybody greatly till he breaks them deeply. God can use any situation, any person, even if it’s cracked, as long as it’s clean. He specializes in bringing blessings from brokenness.
Remember - Jesus came into this miracle with a broken heart and broken spirit himself. He performed this on the heels of facing great grief. He just lost his beloved cousin and friend, John the Baptist. But Matthew says here he had compassion on people. Even in the midst of his own grief/brokenness/loss, He cared. He’s never too busy to heal the broken. Psalm 34:18 says "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Jesus has a perfect solution to your pitiful situation!
It’s hard to bless others when you’re the one who needs a blessing, but that’s what we’re called to do. It’s hard to be compassionate when life is crippling you, but that’s what Jesus asks us to do. Our world is broken in so many ways right now. You don’t have to be Simone Biles to have a breakdown. This COVID/Delta variant is causing all of us to have physical, emotional, and mental breakdowns. And let me just ask for your patience, trust, and wisdom as our leaders here figure out again, how to navigate these unprecedented and choppy waters.
But in the midst of our own hunger for healing, (like the little boy) may we also comfort others. May we bring Jesus our grief, loss, brokenness, anxiety, and fears today. May we bring to him our short supplies, our inadequacies, and doubts so he can breathe His blessing and favor over it and us, multiplying all we offer so others can be fed. How can you bless the broken right now? There are several ways:
1. Brown Bag it this week… Just as the little boy brought his lunch to Jesus, we’re asking you to do the same with a brown lunch bag. As you leave today, you’ll get a bag with a list of items to bring back to church next Sunday (in the bag or not!). Or stock the shelves for the Food Pantry. Lots of options! Maybe skip lunch one or two days this week or ‘brown bag it’ and use the money you would have spent on that lunch to buy these items.
2. Participate in our Solve 7 Food Pack...It’s next Saturday, August 14, 9am-noon, out at A Child’s Hope International. Details and sign-ups are on our website). And don’t forget about the Shoes For Souls today!
3. Bring your brokenness and be baptized next Sunday. Be clothed with Christ, by going All-In and all under the water. Because Jesus is not just talking about physical hunger and food here in this text today, ya know - Jesus fed 5,000 but only 500 followed him after lunch because they were looking for a "bread Messiah." Are you more interested in Jesus or what Jesus provides? Check this out in John 6:25-27…When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
So the most important thing to pursue in life is Jesus because He will meet your needs here and there.