“Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.” (John 6:11, NIV)
Background and Setting
“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” (John 6:1–13, NIV)
The Master’s Plan
After healing many, Jesus was followed by large crowds because of his miracles. He asks a provocative question of his disciple Philip. “How will we feed so many followers?” Sometimes, God asks you a stretch question, designed to get you to go beyond your comfort zone and what you know you can do. The question was based on Jesus knowing what HE was going to do because he has all power. Andrew, another disciple, dares to come to Jesus with a tiny amount of food that can not come close to feeding the crowd assembled. But did he have a mustard seed of faith that maybe, just maybe, Jesus could perform a miracle with a little bit of food? I think so.
Calm in the Midst of Crowds
In the behind-the-scenes with Jesus, tensions were mounting. What about this idea of feeding all these people? What good can the small amount of food from a small boy do? Meanwhile, the multitudes are waiting for Jesus to continue doing his miracles. In the midst of this, Jesus takes his time. He tells the crowd to sit down.
Jesus is in front of a large crowd of hungry people. The situation seems desperate. What will happen? The people are restless, the disciples are worried. But Jesus will not be rushed. He will do things decently and in order. Thanks must be given before the miracle occurs. Jesus will lead them in giving thanks to the One who provides their daily bread.
The text says that Jesus knew what he was going to do. He knew he was going to do a miracle and feed the 5,000. Again, moving patiently and methodically, Jesus gave thanks before he distributed the loaves that miraculously multiplied. He did the same before he distributed the fish. Jesus thanked God in faith for the miracle before it happened.
Jesus Our Example
Thankfulness for food may have been part of Jesus’ daily routine. Is it part of yours?
As you approach Thanksgiving Day, make sure to order your Thanksgiving Day celebration to make time to give thanks. Don’t rush it. Give all in attendance a chance to express their gratitude as well. God’s provision for us is miraculous. Take time to remember that every day, not just on Thanksgiving, each time you set down to eat of the food God provides for you.
It is God’s will that we be continually conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, each day becoming more like him. Christ was thankful. Pray that you become more thankful to the One who provides everything for your nourishment.
Wife of famed preacher Charles Spurgeon, Susannah was crucial to the successful ministry of her husband. Find out more about how God used her. Read this review of a book about her.
— Read on www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/october-web-only/susannah-spurgeon-life-legacy-ray-rhodes.html
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.
Look around this beautiful earth that we live on and remember who created it and sustains it. There is no God like our God! None can compare and none even make the claims of our God.
Psalm 95:3-5 expresses the completeness of God’s power and creation in the way typical of ancient Hebrew poetry.
The first two lines, a couplet, are the background and explanation for the following two couplets. Because the “Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.”, everything is made by him and belongs to him.
The next two couplets explain the breadth of God’s power and possessions. Just as in English we say “From A to Z” to explain something that is comprehensive, so these verses beautifully describe God. The verses are repeating the fact that God created everything but using different examples.
Both the “depths of the earth” and “mountain peaks belong to him.” So too “the sea is his” and “his hands formed the dry land”.
What does this mean for your everyday life? The God who is above all things and created all things has the power to intervene in your life. Whatever problem you are facing, God can create a solution for you.
Knowing that you are loved and forgiven by the Ruler of all brings freedom, peace and joy. So no matter the trials of your life, keep praising God and his power to rescue you.
The Lord reigneth; He is clothed with majesty. The Lord is clothed with strength, wherewith He hath girded Himself. The world also is established, that it cannot be moved. Thy throne is established of old; Thou art from everlasting.
The Lord rules and reigns over the earth he created. He is strong and cannot be moved, forever and ever. You know you can trust a God like this. He is in control and you can lean on his strength and his steadfastness. God is on his throne and he’s not going anywhere!
In Exodus 23:4-5, Moses tells the people,
“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.”
These surprising words were counter-cultural in Palestine at the time of the exodus of the Israelites. Not just avoiding evil behavior but doing good to an enemy is the core of this command.
This law impacts 3 participants- the nation, the enemy and the individual who was wronged. Each has implications for dealing with enemies among God’s people today.
In Exodus, God gives his people, Israel, laws designed to protect them and create a strong, unified nation from a group of ex- slaves. God planned the formation and maintenance of Israel to preserve his written Word and bring our Savior into the world. It was important to regulate the behavior of individuals for the good of the nation. Over 600 laws, in addition to the Ten Commandments, showed the ways of mercy and justice for the success of Israel. God understood that the strength of a nation depended on how individuals handle enemies within the camp. What can we learn about how to treat those who oppose us in the church today? For the strength of God’s people, the church, you must overlook offenses. Anyone you view as an enemy you must help at any opportunity. Don’t let your heart be hardened by seeing one in need and refusing to help. Unity in the church depends on it.
The enemy who has a need requires help for his full functioning as a productive member of his family and community. Anyone who can help should, including an enemy. The kindness to an enemy defined in the law extended to his animals. Why? Domesticated animals were very important to the livelihoods of the people. A lost or incapacitated animal could destroy a man and his family. Even an enemy should be concerned. What should you remember about this today? Each individual matters to God because he or she is created in the image of God, even the one you view as an enemy. God cares for your enemy and you should too, enough to help when needed.
God, the Creator of mankind, knows the hearts of people. God wants what works best for an abundant life. God desires the avoidance of destruction and bitterness that come from revenge, hatred and hurtful behavior towards enemies. God wants what is best for individuals as well as nations. For healing of the wronged, God realizes that nothing works better than helping the enemy in his time of need, repaying good for evil. Within the church today, peace with an enemy is found by helping him. If your enemy needs help, help him and in doing so help yourself.
Helping enemies is one of many revolutionary ideas found in the Bible. The lesson is still important today. Ask God to show you how you can help an enemy.
Today’s Praise (and a lesson on prayer with praise)
Keeping our attention on praise, let’s look at a few verses in Psalm 147. The jubilant writer of Psalm 147 gives many reasons to praise the Lord. Learn how to praise God in your prayer life from these verses.
The order and beauty of these verses can help you formulate your own praise prayer. The high level structure gives a view of all God did for Jerusalem then and continues to do for you today.
Praise God for peace, provision and protection.
Praise God for his powerful Word.
Praise God for his control over all creation.
As you praise God for his sovereignty over all things, take comfort in knowing he can handle anything and everything for you.
The initial command to praise the Lord is essentially said twice in the first two sentences. It is repeated in two different ways for emphasis as is common throughout the Old Testament. This feature, parallelism, is especially prominent in Wisdom literature, Psalms and Proverbs. Look for it. When you see it, pay careful attention as the author intended.
Here is the parallelism:
1. Extol the Lord
1. Praise your God
The God of Two Spheres
The praises are grouped into two categories I call micro and macro.
Micro- Specifically for his people God:
Macro- God’s power in all creation becomes the focus of praise. He controls all of creation with his commands including the:
1) Snow and frost
2) Hail and icy winds
3) Breezes and waters
Turn Your Prayer Into Praise
While written to Jerusalem at the time of the return from Babylon, these verses were are a template for your prayer life today. Do you want to start praying and praising God more easily and effectively? Start with the words or patterns of the psalmist.
Like the psalmist, praise God for who he is and what he has done for you. Recall God’s relationship to the earth and all that is in it. Remember his control of nature.
Make your precious prayer time causes you to focus on God and who he is. Meditating on these truths will bring you the “peace that passes all understanding”. Taking your eyes off of your circumstances and putting them onto your Almighty God will lead to praise.
Start today. You will be blessed.
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts.
God you are great! You are everything and everywhere, all-powerful. This makes you alone worthy of great praise.
I must tell others of all you have done and all you have created. Future generations must learn of you, my great God! You have done so much for me!
In the book of Genesis is found the story of a dreamer with a multi-colored coat, Joseph. Favored by his father Jacob, Joseph was despised by his brothers. They resented him and his dreams.
Blinded by emotion, Joseph’s brothers sold him into bondage. Joseph was separated from his land and his family by his captors. His beloved father was overcome with grief thinking that his favorite son was dead. Joseph’s brothers became his enemies who did unthinkable evil to him.
Provision for Traitors
How did Joseph, a man of God, re-pay this horrible mistreatment? Joseph made sure that in the time of famine these very same brothers had enough for themselves and their families to eat. He settled them in a land of plenty and welcomed them into his royal palace.
Joseph had the power to destroy his brothers. He could’ve ignored their needs. Instead he chose to lavish kindness on them in exchange for the hatred they showed to him.
The Final Reckoning
But was kind to his brothers only to avoid further hurting his elderly father? This was the question that nagged at the brothers as they received Joseph’s kindness. Once Jacob the patriarch died, the depth of Joseph’s forgiveness would be seen. What would Joseph do to his brothers then? It is at this time that Joseph says these words:
But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:15
The story of Joseph is recorded as an example of one who repaid evil with kindness. This principle is repeated throughout the Bible and will later be codified in Mosaic law and the teachings of Jesus. God wants us to learn how to react to the evil we are sure to encounter.
In Joseph is a type of Christ. Both were betrayed for money, without just cause. Both forgave and returned good for the evil given to them. The suffering of both led to the saving of lives. Joseph is a foreshadowing of the glorious suffering of Christ that led to the salvation of all the world!
Ask God to show you how you can return good for the evil done to you.
Going Further: In-Depth Exercises for Bible Teachers
- (Often when Joseph is taught God’s favor is the focus. Remember and teach that God’s favor was seen in the midst of the heartbreaking suffering Joseph endured. Encourage your students to feel the depth of the brothers’ rage and the extent of Joseph’s pain in these first few exercises.) Read the text of Joseph’s brothers betrayal of him. (Genesis 37:12-36) List all the consequences Joseph immediately faced as a result.
- If you were in a similar situation, list the emotions you would have felt at the time of the betrayal.
- Who else was directly affected and saddened by Joseph being sold away to travelers? How do you think Joseph felt about this? How did the brothers feel about this?
- Read Genesis 39 and Genesis 40:33 for more of the personal consequences Joseph faced later in his life because he was a slave in a strange land due to his brothers’ treachery.
- Read over the story of Joseph then read the story of Jesus’ betrayal, suffering and crucifixion. Make a list of all the similarities you see. Then read a commentary comparing Joseph to Christ. (Like H.A. Ironside’s Care for God’s Fruit-trees and Other Messages or Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament) Encourage your students to find Christ each time they read the Old Testament.
- How can you help your students put their enemies in perspective using the story of Joseph? Do you think that doing so may give them hope?
I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
and extol your name for ever and ever.
Is this your prayer? Do you want to raise God’s name high, above your:
3. Negative thoughts
Are you desperately desiring to stay close to God for the rest of your life, all the while praising him for who he is and all he’s done for you?
If you want more praise in your life, ask God to help you to shift your focus. Meditate on these verses and schedule (yes actually add to your schedule on your iPhone or other calendar or reminder app) time to praise God daily.
Get started easily by speaking the words of this Psalm or any other praise Psalm.
God is waiting to hear your praise.
You can change your life from a pity party to a praise party. Watch the Enemy flee from your life.
Today is a new day.
Meditate on the richness of God’s Word to change your life today.