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Lessons from a Picnic - Part B

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February 19, 2023 5:00 am

Lessons from a Picnic - Part B

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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February 19, 2023 5:00 am

This story ranks in the "top ten" of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ. In fact this is the most famous of all His miracles as it alone is recorded by all four gospel accounts. But this is far more than a Sunday school tale. This extraordinary picnic was not just a free meal for five thousand folks; it provided lessons for both ancient and modern disciples. Here are four profound truths that emerge from this lakeside lunch.

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Unknown, unnamed, insignificant does not mean unimportant or useless. That's the big point.

Something really little or insignificant or someone small and insignificant when placed in the hands of Jesus Christ can bless a multitude of people. to enjoy, you need some good friends and family around. You obviously need a picnic blanket and a basket, and maybe a Frisbee or a football to play with. And of course, you need food. After all, a picnic just isn't the same without the food. But what if you had a picnic where it was just some friends and your family you had to feed, but thousands of strangers all happened to show up? What would you do then?

It seems like an overwhelming problem, doesn't it? And the disciples would have agreed with you. We continue today in John Chapter 6, so if you'll open your Bibles, we'll join Skip Heitzig as he resumes our study. Now let me give you a little insight into Philip's character. It'll help.

Philip is the guy who later on will say, Jesus, just show us the Father. And that's all we need. That'll be sufficient. We'll be happy. Duh, yeah, I mean, who wouldn't be happy with that? Just show us God, the Father.

We'll be happy from then on. So you see, Philip is the guy who had to see everything. If he didn't see it, he's pessimistic.

If he can't figure it out in his own mind and apply the math and, okay, well, I can see how this would work. Okay, now I have faith. It doesn't take any faith if you can figure it out.

And so here's the test and Philip failed it. Man, this is the reason why your wives have more faith to pray for a broken car than you do. Honey, I'm just going to pray that God will fix your car. Why bother? I know what's wrong with it. All your prayers on earth aren't going to fix it.

But they don't know it like you know it. He has faith in God and so often he'll answer that simple prayer of faith, won't he? Well, here's Philip. He's a calculating pessimist. I heard about two neighbors. One was an optimist, always joyful, always trusting God, smile on his face, believe the best. But his neighbor, both of them were farmers, his neighbor was a pessimist, woke up every morning with a sigh. Maybe you know somebody like that.

Maybe you are somebody like that. So one morning the sun was shining and the optimist got up and he said, what a beautiful bright sunny day God has given us. And his neighbor said, yeah, if that sun keeps shining, it'll scorch all of our crops. Next day it rained. And the optimist, true to form, said, what a gift God is giving us to water our crops and give them a drink. And the pessimist said, the rain doesn't stop.

It's going to wash all our crops away. And so this went on like all the time. One day the optimist decided to give the ultimate test to the pessimist, take him duck hunting.

He had something in mind. There they were out in the boat with their shotguns. The ducks flew up. They pulled the trigger, shot a couple of ducks. They fell to the water and the optimist couldn't wait. He smiled and twinkling his eyes, said to his dog, go get him.

His dog gets out of the boat, walks on the water, gets the ducks and brings them back again, walking on the water. And the optimist smiles and goes, what do you think of that? And the pessimist said, oh, your dog can't swim, can he? That's a pessimist.

When two pessimists meet at a party, they don't shake hands, they just shake heads. That's Philip. Philip is calculating need and cost, need and cost, need and cost. Here's where he made a mistake. He actually made a mistake in his calculations. He calculated need and cost and he didn't factor in Jesus next to the need and the cost. That's the mistake in calculating.

And here's why. Difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work. For Philip, this is impossible. For Andrew, Peter, John, it's all impossible. But factor in Jesus and now difficulty must be measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work. Now, you might want to defend Philip because you weren't ready to say that he failed and you might want to say, well, Philip had an excuse. He didn't know what Jesus was going to do.

I would disagree with that. Philip was there when Jesus turned the water into what? Wine. That's pretty cool. That should be like, wow, that's pretty cool. Jesus was there or Philip was there when Jesus healed the nobleman's son.

That was pretty cool. Philip was there when all those miracles happened in John chapter two and three in Jerusalem the Nicodemus made note of. Philip was there when the man at the pool of Bethesda 38 year lingering disease was healed. But he didn't calculate it here. Here's what his answer should have been. When Jesus said, Philip, where can we buy bread? He should have turned to Jesus and said, Jesus, there ain't a bakery big enough to do it. But you don't need one. I've been watching you. In fact, you rather like these impossible situations.

So I can't wait to see what you're going to pull off. That would have been a pass for the test. Philip, however, is focusing on inadequacy, not Christ's ability. Here's a third great lesson from this picnic lunch. People are part of God's plan. Now, this is a story about people.

There's a crowd of people. There's Philip. There's Andrew.

There's a little boy. And all of them will be used by Christ. The boy, Philip, Andrew, all of the disciples to distribute the meal. And so the point that comes to mind is that people are part of God's plan. Let's look at verse eight. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him, there is a lad, a little boy, who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many? He'll show them in a minute what they are among so many. Jesus said, make the people sit down. In other words, get them ready for a meal.

Now, there was much grass in that place, and so the men sat down in number of about 5,000. There's two more people that are introduced. Andrew, an apostle of Christ, and this little boy. Now, Andrew, what do you know about Andrew?

You're probably, if you've been a Christian long, you're thinking really hard. You're going, Andrew, huh, that's a tough one. Andrew, what's he known for? Can you think of any book that Andrew wrote in the New Testament?

None. The Gospel According to Andrew, not there. Andrew's Epistle to the Romans, not there. Can you think of any great sermon that Andrew preached?

He might have, but it's not recorded. You know what he's known for? Being Simon Peter's brother. You grow up with older brothers or sisters, and you can relate.

I was. I can relate immediately. Look at verse 8.

One of his disciples, even John has to write it, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, because otherwise you'd go, who? But now you go, oh. See, I grew up with that. Oh, you're Rick's little brother.

Yeah. Oh, you're Jim's kid brother, Bob's little brother. See, I was number four. I had three older brothers.

I walked in their shadow. That's what Andrew is known for. He is absolutely an unknown apostle, and many would consider insignificant.

But let me tell you what he is known for. He's known for the guy that brought people to Jesus. It was Andrew that brought Peter, his brother, to Jesus. It was Andrew that later on in chapter 12 will bring a group of Greeks that is seeking to have an audience with Jesus.

He'll connect them. Andrew will bring them to Jesus. He's the guy who brings the kid with the loaves and fish to Jesus. So he's the guy bringing people to Christ. And so I say thank God for all of the Andrews, whether they're known or not, but they're always connecting people with the guy who can fix things.

Those are Andrews. Most of us have heard of Dwight Lyman Moody, the great preacher of Chicago. Oh, yeah, D.L.

Moody. But how many of us think of Kimball? You go, Kimball? Kimball was the guy who witnessed to Moody in a shoe store and led him to Christ. He was the connector. He was the Andrew. We've all heard of Martin Luther, but how many of us immediately think of Philip Melanchthon?

We go, who? Only the guy who taught theology to Martin Luther, encouraged him to write, translate the New Testament from its original languages. Billy Graham, the world has heard of Billy Graham, but how many know about Mordecai Ham? That was the evangelist preaching in the tent in the 1930s when young 16-year-old Billy Graham heard the gospel and walked forward.

These are the Andrews that connect men and women to Christ. And then notice there's the boy. Now, what's his name? We don't know, right?

We don't know and we'll never know until we get to heaven. He's not mentioned. In fact, John, out of the four gospels, is the only writer who mentions there was a boy.

Matthew, Mark, and Luke just say there were loaves and fish. There's no mention at all of a boy whatsoever. So he was like a lot of kids that day on the slope. Insignificant, poor. You say, poor?

How do you know he's poor? Well, he brought barley loaves. Now, I want to clear something up in your mind. You're thinking, that poor little kid lugging around big loaves of bread and fish. No, a loaf of bread was the size of a pancake. You know what pita bread is? A little flat pita bread, five of those, made out of barley.

Barley is the grain for the very poor. And the fish, don't think of big catfish, big salmon. Now, the word in Greek is pickled fish. A little sardine is about that big. In fact, what it was was like a relish.

It was a spread that you put on the bread just to give it some flavor. That's what he had. Now, I can just picture him at home that morning.

He's going to go out and play. There's a big crowd and his mom going, honey, just a minute. You can't go out without your lunch. She's making the lunch. She had no clue that that little lunch would feed so many people. And that little boy would never forget it. Here's the big point. Unknown, unnamed, insignificant does not mean unimportant or useless. That's the big point. Something really little or insignificant or someone small and insignificant when placed in the hands of Jesus Christ can bless multitudes of people.

Question. Could Jesus have performed this miracle without the boy? Could he have performed the miracle without Andrew? Could he have performed the miracle without any of the disciples distributing it?

Absolutely. He could have gone like this. And in and out burger, boom, instantly plopped everybody's lap.

Burger, fries, coke, everything. But it didn't happen that way. And the point is he uses people to do his work.

He uses people. Now, I don't know, but perhaps some of you have been thinking of your life lately and you kind of got down into the doldrums and you're going, you know, I'm really not all that gifted and all that talented and I don't have that much to offer. My response to that with all due respect is how dare you. Look at your littleness above his greatness. The issue isn't what you have to offer.

The issue is when you place yourself in his hands what he can do. Now, here's the mathematics of a miracle, five plus two. Five loaves and two fish equals not much. But five plus two plus Jesus Christ, sky's the limit.

You place that in his hands and he does this. So never forget to factor in the unmitigated power of Christ when you commit your life into his hands, what he can do with you. So problems don't escape God's view. Perplexities test faith in God's power. People are part of God's plan.

Here's the fourth and final lesson from this picnic. Provision is abundant in God's time. You know the story, but let's read it in verse 11. Jesus took the loaves and when he had given thanks, and he must have done that publicly, so if you're ever wondering, should I pray when I eat in a restaurant? He gave thanks. He distributed them to the disciples and the disciples to those who were sitting down and likewise the fish as much as they wanted. And notice this, so when they were filled, they were filled. This was an abundant provision. He said to his disciples, gather up the fragments that remain so that nothing is lost.

Therefore, they gathered them up and filled 12 baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten them. Then those men, when they had saw the sign that Jesus did, said, this is truly the prophet who is to come into the world. Boy, this is just like the Lord, isn't it? Not only does he do a miracle, but it's exceedingly, abundantly above what anybody can ask or think. Okay, so go back for a moment and remember how Philip was calculating, right? Remember he goes, okay, five, 10, 100, 200, $10,000. Philip was calculating on the bare minimum. Verse seven, it says that every one of them may have a little.

I'm figuring out what it takes to just give everybody a bite. Compare that with verse 11. They had as much as they wanted. He calculated on the minimum, Jesus provided the maximum. Can't you just see Philip's face when somebody goes, hey, Philip, bring me some more bread and fish? I still am hungry.

Oh, okay. Abundant provision. Then verse 12, he said, gather up the fragments and they gathered up 12 baskets. So what is this all about, keep Galilee clean campaign?

No. It's about economy. Why 12 baskets?

I've read books where commentators get very eloquent. Pages are filled with the meaning of the 12 baskets and the 12 tribes of Israel that try to make a correlation. I think it's much simpler than that. How many people were gathering up the fragments? How many disciples were there?

12. Each of them had a basket. All Jewish males 2,000 years ago carried a basket to keep their stuff in it, their bag, and they filled it up with stuff, with food.

There were 12 baskets that remained. In other words, Jesus not only provided free lunch for everybody that day, but breakfast for his 12 for the next day. An abundant provision. God provides, and provision is always abundant in God's time. It doesn't mean you're gonna eat gourmet food every day. This was simply barley and fish.

But they were all filled. God will provide. There's two passages from the Psalms that came to my mind. I want to share them with you. Both are written by David. Both written by David when he was older. He had learned a few things in life. Psalm 37, David said, Once I was young, now I am old, but I have never seen the godly forsaken, nor have I seen their children begging for bread. It's a beautiful promise.

The second one is Psalm 23, his famous Psalm. Here's part of it. You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. My cup runneth over. Can't you just picture a host pouring a drink for the guest and it just goes to the top and just overflows? I do that as a joke sometimes to my friends.

Pouring water in a restaurant, just keep pouring, keep pouring. But the symbolism behind that is it's an abundant provision. My cup runneth over.

Now I know a lot of people who just don't view their life that way. Like the pessimistic farmer, they would say, My cup leaketh under. And that is because it seems that we write our miseries in marble and we write his mercies in sand. We so quickly forget his goodness.

Our conversations so quickly tend toward complaining rather than thanksgiving. Let me tell you a story of one that didn't as I close. Howard Hendricks wrote in a book. It was the very first book sent to me by the Billy Graham Association when I was a brand new Christian.

Howard Hendricks wrote a book on love and in there he writes a story about a family in Dallas, Texas that had fallen on hard times, mom and dad and four kids. They would have their boys named Timmy as they would gather together for family devotion. They'd pray every single night as a family. And one night, Timmy said, Mom and Dad, do you think Jesus would mind if I asked him for a shirt? I just want a shirt.

And Dad said, Nope, I don't think Jesus would mind at all. Timmy, in fact, let's write it down in our little prayer journal. One shirt for Timmy and then he wrote size seven.

I got together and prayed every night, every week for months. No shirt for months. Then one Saturday, a Christian businessman in Dallas, a clothier, called. Mom picked up the phone and the businessman said, Ma'am, I'm going through our July clearance and I know that you have a bunch of boys there and I'm just wondering if you could use anything. I have some shirts. She said, Could I ask what size? He said, I have size seven.

How many? She said. He said, Get this, I have 12. 12 shirts. That night when the family got together to pray and Timmy was starting to pray for his shirt, Dad interrupted him and said, You don't have to pray, God provided. He did. Just then his little brother was all on cue. His little brother comes and brings one shirt, all wrapped up, puts it on the table for Timmy. His eyes got as big as saucers. I'll let Howard Hendricks tell the rest of the story. He piled all 12 shirts on the table, one after the other and Timmy now thinks God is going into the shirt business.

But you know, there's a little kid in Dallas, Texas today named Timothy who believes there's a God in heaven interested enough in his needs to provide little boys with shirts. What problems do you face? What perplexities are you facing?

What impossibilities are in your life? God's going to use it. Moreover, God's going to use you in it. There's going to be other people that are going to hear your story as you tell them in days and ages to come. You know, it's easy to get completely self-absorbed in a moment of need. But when those moments come, we need to remember two things. One, that God loves and He will take care of us and provide for what we need. Two, those moments aren't just about us, but are opportunities to share with and demonstrate to others how God can be the greatest help a person could ever know. And that's going to wrap things up for today.

But before we go, let's see what's going on in the Connect with Skip Resource Center this month. Great marriages are made, not born. God wants you to have a strong, thriving, and fun marriage. The Marriage Devotional, 52 Days to Strengthen the Soul of Your Marriage by Levi and Jenny Lesko is designed to help your marriage not just survive, but thrive. You want to understand God's secret, the secret for fruit in your marriage, in your family, in your parenting. If you feel overwhelmed because your marriage is a long way from where you feel like it should be, or if you feel discouraged and excluded today because divorce is in your story, and here you see God's plan for flourishing and you've disqualified yourself because of what's in your past, let me tell you something.

God never shames you for your past. He always fights for your future. And flourishing and fruitfulness can be your reality. We want to send you a copy of this encouraging resource as thanks for your gift today to support Connect with Skip Heitzig and help expand this teaching ministry to more major cities in the US in 2023.

So request your copy when you give today and get the encouragement you need for your marriage to flourish. The vine has been given the tools to continue to grow. And I love this. And I want this vision in your mind. I want this vision in your heart. If you're empty nesters, if you've been married for 40 years, I want you to have this vision, young people, that you don't have to fear a marriage getting stale.

You don't have to fear getting trapped into something I need to experiment and keep my options open. And I'm telling you, so long as you focus in, cling to the right vine, cling to the Lord, your marriage's growth can be infinite. The Marriage Devotional by Levi and Jenny Lesko. Yours for a donation of $50 or more. Just call 800-922-1888 or visit connectwithskip.com slash offer. That's connectwithskip.com slash offer. And you can also contact us for a copy of today's study, Lessons from a Picnic. It's available on CD for just $4 plus shipping when you call 1-800-922-1888. We continue with our series in the book of John.

Believe 879 next time. So I hope you can set aside some time to join us right here in Connect with Skip weekend edition, a presentation of Connection Communications. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast your burdens on His word. Make a connection, a connection, a connection. Connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-19 04:08:52 / 2023-02-19 04:18:31 / 10

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