How can we feed 5 thousand with so little?

Mark 6

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Everyone knows the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. It is one of the classic stories that we first learn in bible school! While it is a very simple story, there is hidden meaning in the words. Yes, it is a story of how incredible Jesus was, and it showed how faithful people were to him, but what else does it mean?

Mark 6:34, is where Jesus first notices the people gathered on the shore. He says they were like, “Sheep without a shepherd”, and he has compassion for them. He sees people who are lost and makes sure to go and guide them towards life and hope.

But the thing I want to focus on is when he talks with the disciples and feeds the people.

Mark 6:35-44.

Once it was late, the disciples went to Jesus and told him that he should send the people away so they could eat. Jesus responded and told the disciples to feed the crowd of people. I can only imagine the looks on their faces! They responded, asking Jesus if they should go buy 200 denarii worth of bread. Finally, Jesus tells them to go and see how many loaves of bread are in the crowd – five loaves and two fish.

            Now imagine being a disciple at this point. They have seen Jesus do miracles, but this must seem nuts! They have nothing close to being enough to feed these people, but they knew he would somehow do it. This is what God wants us to be like with our faith. We may feel like we are standing in front of a mountain, but God wants us to trust him and know that with his strength, we can do anything. Whether that’s feeding five thousand or climbing a mountain.

Jesus then looks to the heavens while breaking the loaves and dividing the fish, and there was enough to feed and satisfy everyone, and there was extra.

This story touches my heart because it describes how we can do so much with only a little. We do not start with everything we think we need, but God provides abundantly more than we could ever imagine as we work to reach his people. No matter what our purpose is, God provides everything we need, we just must have faith and be patient, knowing that whatever we are called to, God will provide.

-Hannah Eldred

Application Questions

  1. When have you felt there was no way you would have enough (resources, finances, companionship, wisdom, or faith)? How did it work out for you? In what ways do lean times help grow your faith?
  2. In what ways has God shown Himself to be faithful in your own life, in His word, and in the lives of others?

Our Bodies Belong to God

1 Corinthians 7

June 8

1st Corinthians chapter 7 presents us with Paul explaining to the church the importance of Christian liberty in marital relations. This chapter is all about the importance of the Christian concept of marriage and how it needed to be established in the early church.

            In Paul’s letter he writes about the principles of marriage, but he also writes about singleness, in 1st Corinthians 7:4 Paul says,

            “A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does.

In a marital relationship, the husband and wife belong to one another, just as we belong to God in our relationship with him. We can also see this in how Elihu speaks to Job in Job 33:6.

            “Look, you and I both belong to God. I, too, was formed from clay.

We all belong to God in everything we do. We are to trust God in his decisions for our lives and the places we are to go, just as our spouse is to rely on us in our relationships.

            Paul also speaks of singleness in chapter 7. Paul says in 1st Corinthians 7:8-9, and verses 32-35.

            “I say to the unmarried and to the widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, since it is better to marry than to burn with desire.

            “I want you to be without concerns. The unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord. How he may please the Lord. But the married man is concerned with the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and his interests are divided. The unmarried woman is concerned about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy both in body and in spirit. But the married woman is concerned with the things of the world, and how she may please her husband. I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but to promote what is proper and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.

Paul isn’t saying we shouldn’t be married or have relationships, but he is saying, that when we are in them it is important to not lose sight of your faith, and to devote yourself to God first. Sometimes our seasons of singleness are God’s way of pulling us closer to him, and that is one of the most important periods in our life. We have an opportunity to be devoted to only God and spend time learning who he wants us to be.

This is where I have been in my life lately. I’m realizing that my relationship with God must come first before I am able to have a relationship with someone else, so that we can strengthen each other through our faith in Christ. God wants a relationship with us, and for us to trust in him first and foremost.

-Hannah Eldred

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Whether you are single or married, how can you deepen your devotion to God?
  2. What is the person to do who is married to an unbeliever? Why?
  3. If you will be choosing a spouse, what does Paul say he/she has to be? Why?
  4. If you are married, how can you work (ideally, together, with your mate) at keeping God first?

God is Working

Genesis 37

February 5

In our lives we all have dreams. We have plans and wishes that we hope and pray will come to pass someday.

Joseph is born, the son of Jacob, favored by his father over his other siblings. Jacob was the golden child if you think about it. He was hardworking, honest and kind. That is why his brothers hated him so much. Joseph reported his brothers wrong doings to his father, which made his brothers see him as a snitch. But the fact that their father, Jacob, loved Joseph more made their hatred even worse. Joseph was a young man of integrity, blessed by God with dreams of leadership and prosperity. These dreams and hopes brought jealously from his brothers. Because of this, his brothers set out to get rid of Joseph by selling him as a slave, where Joseph went through many hardships. Regardless of how tough things got for Joseph, he kept his faith, and God’s plan was brought to the light.

Even though Joseph’s brothers were in the wrong for their actions, Joseph also acted in pride when he went and talked about his dreams. We all have our short comings, but what matters is that we learn from them and let God rule our lives.

Joseph was called by his brothers, “the dreamer”. But because of their cruelty, he became a slave. He went through challenges. But because of Joseph’s faith, his struggles turned into blessing.

We can often be slaves to our temptations and sins. We get sidetrack by the things in our lives. The thing is, that when we really look at it, we choose what we let rule our lives. We have the power to move mountains with God on our side. God is working in us, our lives, and our world. Even in the struggles, he is working.

God has a plan for every one of us. That doesn’t mean it is going to be easy and without hardship. It does mean however, that we are going to receive God’s promises through our struggle, and it is going to be better than anything we ever expected or imagined.

-Hannah Eldred

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What in your life are you struggling through, or what temptation are you facing?
  2. How can you use your situation to grow?
  3. What is your dream for your life? How do you think God can use that?

Tomorrow we will read more of Joseph’s account in Genesis 45.

Like a Child

Matthew 18

January 18

Sometimes, looking at today’s world it is apparent that people work so hard to gain acceptance, money, and higher position in jobs or in social groups.

I have experienced this when I was younger in middle school and high school. Let’s be honest, when we were all young teens, we all strived to achieve something like this. Whether that be within sports, a club, or our friend group. I have seen this today as an adult. We all want to have a good job, get good pay, and have a great reputation. We all want to grow up and be great in this world, to have our name remembered by society.

But look even further back. Look back to when we were young children. Young kids playing on the playground, digging in the dirt, or catching butterflies. That is what God wants us to be like still! Not that he wants us to dig in the dirt and catch butterflies, but he wants us to live life care free. He wants us to live life to the fullest, to have an almost childlike faith, full of wonder and love!

This weekend I had attended Refuel as a young adult and I experienced this concept. During our recreational time we went out to the lake behind Sarah Major where we had our worship sessions. I was out there with a few friends and we were just in awe of the beauty of the ice on the lake. We sat by the lake while talking and laughing, but it felt like we were children again reveling at the beauty of God’s amazing work. This is how life should feel everyday. It should feel exciting, beautiful, and full of love.

When Jesus’s disciples asked him who was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, they were asking him about how they would be viewed in the kingdom. They wanted to know what positions they would have in the kingdom. Jesus responded saying, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3).

Jesus did not come to set up a political order, or put anyone first. He came to suffer and die for our sins because of his love for us.

To be like a child is not about being mature, and wise. To be a child is to know that we are not in control of our own lives. To be a child in Jesus’s eyes is to depend on him and receive everything through him and his Father.

So, the greatest is to be the one who is a child. To be humble, aware that we all lack power, and depend on God to provide what we need. Love one another and live as children loved by God.

-Hannah Eldred

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Is there a place in your life where you are trying to control your circumstances? What is it, and have you talked to God about it? How can you let go of that thing or circumstance? How might humility play a part?
  2. What is your favorite memory from your childhood? Focus on that throughout the day and remember what it was like back then. Are there any qualities you had back then which Jesus would commend that you have since “grown-out-of”? How can you bring some of that back?
  3. In the Parable of the Lost Sheep Jesus shows the Father’s love and concern for the little lost sheep that has strayed from the shepherd’s care. Who do you know who has strayed and how can you pursue them with God’s love this week?

Freewill and our Battles

Psalm 81-82 (and Job 33-34)

It’s no secret that life can be difficult, and we are always tempted to do things to our liking and understanding. Everyone has their own image set out in front of them, of what THEY think their life should look like. But God has a different image of our lives. Sure, it may be close to our perfect life, but God’s will and our will hold different opportunities, even if they are similar. 

Psalms 81-82 are called, The Call to Obedience, and a Plea for Righteous Judgement. (NLT)

Psalms 81:6-12

“I relieved his shoulder from the burden; His hands were freed from carrying the basket. You called out in distress, and I rescued you; I answered you from the thundercloud. I tested you at the Waters of Meribah.

Listen my people and I will admonish you. Israel, if you would only listen to me! There must not be a strange god among you; you must not bow down to a foreign god. I am the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. 

“But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel did not obey me. So, I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own plans.

The people of Israel back in this time had chosen with their own free will to go against God’s commands and do what they desired at the time. This led to their pain and suffering that God would again bring them through as a lesson of his love and power. The truth is that his plan is all knowing, created with love and perfection. He knows every part of us from the hairs on our head to the tiny wrinkles of our skin. He knows who we are meant to be, even before we are born, but he lets us choose our own path. 

The purpose of this devotional is not to tell you that every path is going to be easy. The purpose is to show you that life is going to be hard, there are going to be valleys of trial and consequence, there will be mistakes. All those things are why free will exists. God gives us free will because he wants us to learn from our past and push for what he knows we are capable of. Because “People make choices and those choices have consequences, and if knowing my will were part of every human decision how would anything happen?” (From the movie, An Interview with God) This quote, and scripture are pointing out that to really reach our full potential we must go through rights and wrongs. We must make the decisions without knowing the result because those choices will bring us to our full potential. 

God says, “I gave them over to their STUBBORN HEARTS to follow THEIR OWN PLANS.” Our Father wants us to choose his way for us in our lives, but he will not force us to. This also does not mean he doesn’t care when we choose our own way. This simply means that he is going to watch and let you learn from your mistakes. He is going to let you fall because then he can pick you up and you will learn from the mistakes after. Learning from our mistakes are some of the greatest parts of our journey. They are the things that make us who we are, and who God intended us to be. 

-Hannah Eldred

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Job 33-34 and Psalm 81-82

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