Series: Always Relevant: God Is…
Matthew 14:15-21 NIV
Philippians 4:19-20 MSG
Philippians 4:15-17 MSG
Purvey of food will be supplied.
One of the first Bible Stories I remember hearing in Sunday School was Jesus feeding the crowds with two fish and five loaves. I don’t remember how old I was but probably I was 4 or 5 years old.
I’ve taught many many Children’s Sunday school and Children’s Church classes and Jesus feeding the multitudes was always a favorite. After teaching them the story we could make fishes and loaves on paper so they could take them home. I remember the children flying their fishes and loaves outside after church…like a kite. It’s a great story because they can make a visual that will help them remember what Jesus did.
We learn from Matthew 14:15-21 that Jesus was healing and teaching a very large crowd that had gathered, “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 left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.”
The Apostle Paul knew God would supply his needs and the needs of others. In Philippians 4:19-20 he wrote, “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity.”
When we look at what prompted Paul’s words in Philippians 4:19 we have to look at the comment he said in his letter just prior to his promise. In Philippians 4:15-17 Paul wrote, “You Philippians well know, and you can be sure I’ll never forget it, that when I first left Macedonia province, venturing out with the Message, not one church helped out in the give-and-take of this work except you. You were the only one. Even while I was in Thessalonica, you helped out—and not only once, but twice. Not that I’m looking for handouts, but I do want you to experience the blessing that issues from generosity.”
So, even though the church at Philippi wasn’t wealthy, they helped Paul when he started out on his missionary journey. Notice that Paul proclaimed that they were the only church that supported him when he set out.
More than likely that is the reason Paul told them in Philippians 4:19 that God would supply all of their needs. Because they gave sacrificially to Paul’s ministry, Paul knew God would bless them in mighty ways.
Years ago when we first started “going out” in ministry, our first full-time church was an eye opening experience for us.
Since we had been bi-vocational and we had salaries from other sources and we had not been faced with financial issues.
When we interviewed for our first full-time position the salary was not posted or discussed. In those days (I was told) we didn’t ask. In other words, we didn’t have the right to ask salary questions.
We accepted the call to move there and only then were we told how much the salary would be.
When I found out, I wept. It was about $20,000 less than we had been making (and we weren’t making much before). The parsonage was spacious and we knew that would be a huge blessing.
Still, I honestly did not know how a family of six could survive on the salary. So, I prayed.
Then…we found out the parsonage wasn’t insulated and utilities there were astronomically high. The blessing of the four bedroom home parsonage was that it was spacious. The curse of the spacious four bedroom home was that the utility bill was nearly half our salary.
Wow. Seriously, God?
It really was a feed the 5000 on two fishes and five loaves moment.
There seriously wasn’t enough money to pay the bills, let alone eat. My folks knew that. My in-laws knew that.
So, my parents made regular trips to see us in their van and they loaded it with food. My in-laws were cattle farmers and they supplied all our beef and even pork.
My opportunities for employment were very limited. The only jobs readily available were for teachers and nurses. I didn’t get a teaching degree or a nursing degree.
I was able to babysit in the home and eventually I got a part-time job at the local newspaper. One thing led to another and I ended up being editor of the newspaper. The experience I gained as a writer and a photojournalist was invaluable.
During our time there we saw one financial miracle after another. For example, one of the doctors in town was a church member and we never got a bill. Even when I asked for one, he laughed.
There was a woman in town who went to another church and she regularly brought us huge baskets filled with produce and goodies.
Two of my sons were “adopted” as grandsons by people in town. Those relationships helped to forge them to be the men they are today.
One of the men was a retired business owner and he helped one of my sons to start his own business when he was 12 years old. Today my son is a successful businessman.
Another man hired another son on a farm crew. He was the Physics teacher at the high school. My son learned practical Physics and he went on to take many science and math courses in college. When he graduated from college he joined the Air Force. He became a highly decorated expert with a distinguished 21 year career. He has three Master’s Degrees in science related and leadership fields.
My daughter met her best friend at that church when she was in Junior High school. He was two years older. As adults they ended up marrying and 20+ years later they have two children who are in college. I can’t begin to say what a blessing my son-in-law is in our lives.
After all was said and done, the salary numbers didn’t look like they could ever work out, but the truth is, God gave us so much more than we could have ever imagined!
Going to that church is the gift that just keeps giving.
Did Jesus multiply the fishes and loaves for us? You bet. Thousands of times over, going to that church was the gift that just keeps giving.
Spiritual Practice: Multiplication of Blessings
Think of a time when God multiplied the fishes and loaves in your life. Thank God for the blessings!
In God, Deborah