Saturday, January 19, 2013

I DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FISH: A Principle On Missional Living

As you read this post title you may think that you know what this blog is about!  You may but then again you may not.  As I have shared this title with other Christians their first conclusion is that it is a blog about needing to reach more people for Jesus. They feel the fish represents the souls of men and the lack of fish indicates the urgency to reach them for Jesus.  While that would be a wonderful blog to write about and while that particular need is real and should be addressed those who feel that way would be off track and miss the purpose for this blog.  So with that in mind I want to encourage you not to turn off this blog just because you feel you know what the content is all about. Read this blog and learn an amazing and vitally important principle for living an effective mission life.  I am convinced if you do you will be encouraged and empowered to live an even more dedicated and powerful life for the mission of our Lord.

So what do I mean by the title? What missional living principle can we learn from the statement, "I Don't Have Enough Fish."?  To understand this we need to look at John 6:1-13:

"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."
So now I think you are beginning to understand what I mean by the title.  Here Jesus assigned a task for his disciples to go find or buy food for the crowd of over 5,000 people so they could eat.  The Bible said that Jesus assigned that task because he already knew what he was going to do and so he could test them to reveal the state of their faith.  Phillip looked at the practicality and impossibility of fulfilling that request. Not even half a years wage would be enough to feed that many people.  Andrew began looking for a solution and found a boy with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes but then he quickly realized that the need was far greater than the resources that were available.  The interesting thing is that both of these men were correct!  There wasn't enough money and there wasn't enough food!  From a practical standpoint Jesus' request was impossible.  Andrews statement says a lot about the faith that all of the disciples had at that point in their life.  When he said, "... but how far will they go among so many?"  All they could see was the size of the of the task and how limiting the resources were.  What they didn't see was how powerful the one who request the work to be done!  They're faith had not grown to the place where they could say with full confidence that God can do anything, through anybody, including them and their small resources.

How many times have we found ourselves to be just like the disciples in this story? We are faced with a task given to us by our Lord and as we look around to see what we have and as we look inside to see what we have to offer we quickly realize that we are sadly and greatly inadequate in the needed provisions to accomplish the task.  We look and all we see is our sad and puny self and we give up, never attempting what Christ is commanding, because our faith hasn't grown to the place where we can sincerely say that our God is able to do anything, through anybody, including me.

I just love the way Jesus handled the situation.  He didn't rebuke them or scold them. He just told them to have the crowd sit down.  It's almost as if he was saying, "Ok, get everyone comfortable because I'm about to show you, my disciples, something that will absolutely blow your minds!  And blow their minds it did!

Then as the people were sitting down on the grass and getting comfortable Jesus took the bread and fish and blessed it.  He asked our Heavenly Father to use what was provided to meet the need that was apparent.  After praying over it he had the disciples begin to distribute the food as far as it would go. In this Jesus was showing how sincere and powerful faith is demonstrated. Jesus took what they had available, prayed for God's blessing and then started meeting the need with what they had.  It was as simple as that.

The disciples began to meet the need with what was available and were not going to stop until one of two things happened. They would stop if the resources ran out or they would stop when the need was met. Either way, whatever came first, they would stop then and only then.  To much of their surprise and amazement it wasn't the resources that ran out first - it was the need that was met that came first.  Can you imagine with me how the disciples must have been when Jesus gave them the fish and bread and said after his prayer, "OK guys you're on. Go distribute the food!" I don't if they were laughing under their breath while doing what he said or if they were thinking that what Jesus was asking was a total waste of time. The Bible doesn't say what they were thinking but I know what I would be thinking and I can assure you it wouldn't sound like much faith.  But they were faithful in doing what Jesus asked and as a result they were able to experience God's power.

When they finished distributing the food everyone had eaten. When they had finished collecting up the remains there were 12 basket full of food. One basked collected by each  of the twelve disciples.  Now that' what I call amazing.  You see when we give God all that we have for him to use to meet the needs that he has revealed we discover that God's blessing are overflowing to his faithful servants.  And what an important lesson was learned about the missional lifestyle that Christ commands us to live.  What exactly is that principle?  It's this:

It's Not The Size Of What You Have To Offer God That Makes The Difference
It's The Power Of God That Bless' It That Will Multiply It"

To often I hear Christians saying that they can't be used by God to accomplish anything of tremendous success or importance but they don't have anything to offer God that is big enough for such a result!  If we learn anything from this story it is that it's not the size of your gift you offer to God that matters!  God can take whatever you have and use it to accomplish whatever he chooses with it. Your gift has no determination on God can or cannot do with it.  Can can do anything, through anybody using whatever they give him to use.  Do you believe that?  Do you believe that can and will take whatever you have to accomplish great things?  If so that's wonderful!  But if not this is the area your faith needs to grow to!

So here's a simple process to assist you as you step out in faith and offer to God whatever you have, great or small to be used by him to shine the light of Christ back in this spiritually dark world:

  1. Recognize the need that Christ is revealing to you.  
  2. Access what resources you have to meet that need.
  3. Offer those resources to God for his blessing.
  4. Start meeting that need until one of two things happen - either the need is completely met and no longer a need or when you're resources run out.  It's a good bet that the need will be met before the resources run out. 
  5. When the need is met collect what remains of the resources and stand amazed on the increase of God's blessings.
In conclusion: Don't worry about how many fish you have! It matters not! Concentrate on how big your faith is and believe that God truly can do anything, through anybody, including you and whatever you have to offer him.  But remember faith without deeds is dead! In order to prove your faith once you've asked for God's blessing you have to step out on faith and start distributing the bread.


I would like to encourage you, empower you and equip you as you develop the missional life that Christ has commanded us to live and to shine Christ Light in this dark world.  If have developed a Facebook Page called:  THE ORDINARY CHRISTIAN.  Log on and become a fan by clicking "LIKE" and you will begin receiving daily inspiration to live this missional life.