Pastor Mary Ellen
Sunday August 3, 2014
Psalms 145:18-19, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:13-21
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ:
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Last week we saw Jesus teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven. We noticed that He used many similes and “liken” the kingdom to many things. These things than give us a feeling for and a seed of an idea of what the Kingdom of Heaven is like.
One of the examples Jesus uses is that the Kingdom of Heaven is like leaven or yeast that multiplies rapidly under the right conditions. A small amount can be added to a large amount of flour and it can significantly change the nature of that flour. That is it is not just flour anymore but flour that can multiply and become more than just flour it can become the basis for bread. This bread if leavened flour is used can feed more people than bread made from unleavened flour.
That is the principle at work here when Jesus feeds the 5,000 men plus all the women and children with them. He blesses the 2 fish and 5 loaves and they become more than just a meal for 1 family. They become meals for 5000 families.
Many of us try to make it on our own. When we need or think we need something we will depend on our own abilities and skills to earn the money we need in order to obtain the object of our desire. Many of us don’t even want to wait until we earn the money but use credit cards or loans to obtain things. We are becoming a nation of people who are in debt because of our ever increasing standard of living and our appetite for more and more things – An appetite that can never be satisfied with the things of this world. We think that new car, TV, computer or other device, clothing, etc. will bring us to happiness and contentment but we only achieve that temporarily at best when we try to satisfy ourselves with the things of this world.
I know you have all heard this before. This is not new for you. It is called living within a “scarcity mentality”. It is based on the fear that we will not be able to provide for ourselves the basic necessities of life. When we insulate ourselves by buying more and more things above and beyond the basic needs of food, water, clothing and shelter we think we are safe and secure. Not only that we think we are better and more powerful than others. Our belongings become a source of pride.
So we have pride and fear at work here two things that separate us from one another and from God. When we are motivated by these 2 things, we are using what I have come to call “bad fuel”. Fuel is what gives us the energy to get things accomplished. For example, good fuel comes from eating the right food or putting the correct gasoline in your car. If you are running your car on fuel that is not made for your car it does not perform correctly or doesn’t work at all. Same with food – if you are not eating the right foods you won’t work correctly and you may end up not being able to function at all.
Jesus knows this. He not only teaches about this, He brings it into reality here in the feeding of the 5,000 families. A good teacher uses a variety of techniques to teach. I remember as I was going through the required courses in college for teaching high school, that when we engage the students by using at least 2 of their senses they will retain the lesson better. The more senses we as teachers engage in the learning process the more the lessons are solidified into the students’ beings and the more likely what we are teaching will be retained and put into practice. The lesson literally will become who the student is as a person.
Here is the point of all this – we were made with the desire for the infinite. Our desire will not and cannot be satisfied with anything on this earth. It is only satisfied through faith and our relationship with God through Jesus Christ. When we use fear and pride to fuel or motivate us that is not what Jesus teaches us. We are not following Jesus when we do this. Love is the motivation and eternal life with Jesus is the goal – object of our desire.
Jesus wants us to be able to live and love. He says that we will be provided for. That there is life beyond this life in which our needs will be all be met. He tells us not to worry about accumulating goods and that God the Father knows what we need and he will provide.
Nothing on this earth belongs to us. It all belongs to God. He is the one who blesses and multiplies. When we are in His will He will provide in abundance. Do we really believe that? We don’t have to live within a scarcity mentality with fear and pride as the fuel. We can live within the Kingdom of Heaven where love is fueling everything that we do.
I believe that God has a plan for St John’s. I believe that we need to catch His vision for us and when we do we will be blessed and provided for so that God can bless and provide for others through us.
This Fall, we as a church will be engaging in listening prayer for what God’s plan is for us. All groups and committees will be asking God for His vision for the group of people we call the church of St John Lutheran LCMC in Stacy, MN.
There are 2 questions we will consider during this process:
1. What is breaking God’s heart and yours in the communities you find yourself in?
2. What does God want you to do about it?
The mission of St John’s Lutheran Church is to believe, serve and worship in a way that makes Jesus Christ’s grace and love known to the communities we serve.
In other words, we are to be Jesus with skin on to our family, neighbors, and co-workers. We are to go out from St John’s equipped to be disciples and make disciples wherever we find ourselves.
If we are in God’s will we will be blessed and our efforts will be multiplied just as the 2 fish and 5 loaves. Let’s truly rely on God to give us the provision we need to be able to do this.
I know this takes a leap of faith that is to trust in Jesus and give Him our time and talents. It is nonsense to do so in this world. However just as Jesus teaches us we bring our good talents to Him for His purposes and He will multiply them and they will bring many people to realize that the true satisfaction for their needs is not found in this world. It is to return to the infinite and loving God who created them. He will provide all that we need to be able to sow these seeds to those in our everyday lives if we give Jesus a chance. If we give him our best He will honor it and you will be uniquely qualified to be able to influence those within your lives. Those you see everyday in all the communities you are involved in.
Let us pray:
Thank God our Father for the provision you give us every day.
Jesus we bring you our gifts and talents. Please multiply them as only you can do so that we are blessed and in turn can be a blessing to others so that all people are given the chance to come to you.
Holy Spirit stir in our hearts the righteous desires to seek you out for our every need. Dispel the fear and pride in our hearts and let Jesus’ love be the good fuel that motivates us to be Jesus with skin on to everyone we meet.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen