This is post #10 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #3: Peacemakers Take an Honest Inventory of Themselves.
Today’s Lectio Divina: The apostles then rendezvoused with Jesus and reported on all that they had done and taught. Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. So they got in the boat and went off to a remote place by themselves. Someone saw them going and the word got around. From the surrounding towns people went out on foot, running, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus arrived, He saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them. When His disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they can get some supper.” Jesus said, “You do it. Fix supper for them.” They replied, “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?” But He was quite serious. “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.” That didn’t take long. “Five,” they said, “plus two fish.” Jesus got them all to sit down in groups of fifty or a hundred—they looked like a patchwork quilt of wildflowers spread out on the green grass! He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted His face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples, and the disciples in turn gave it to the people. He did the same with the fish. They all ate their fill. The disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. More than five thousand were at the supper. Mark 6: 30-44 (MsgB)
If you read the Gospel stories carefully, you’ll find that Jesus of Nazareth, so very often, involves His disciples with the ministry He is doing, never seemingly content with doing the miraculous exclusively on His own. This amazing loaves and fishes story is one great example where Jesus pulls His friends into the story rather than allowing them to sit comfortably on the sidelines, watching this God-man from heaven pull off yet another miracle.
You see, Jesus came to earth not only to save women and men from our sins but to also gather up of bunch of rag-tag common people, redeeming them from their sin and self-centeredness, and then proactively involving them with all the good God was doing around them. And as we see near the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus then commissions these same co-workers to continue His work long after He has departed for heaven.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28: 18-20 (NIV)
As we have discussed earlier, Jesus’ first coming not only completed God’s plan of human redemption, (as Jesus said from the cross, “It Is finished.”) but it also initiated or inaugurated a whole new dispensation of time the Holy Scriptures call The Last Days. And it’s during these Last Days, as the Holy Spirit is poured out on all flesh, when those who choose to follow the Master, giving our lives for His glory and purposes, are called and commissioned to keep the words and works of Jesus alive and well until His second coming, a day yet to be determined in some not-so-distant future.
That’s why everything Jesus said and did was carefully orchestrated by God, the Father, so that there would be a continuation of God’s redemption plan from the day Jesus ascended into heaven, right up to the day He splits the sky, returning to consummate that same Kingdom (God’s right to rule and reign) which was inaugurated with His coming in the first century.
Now, here’s a very important piece I want you to take note of.
In the loaves and fishes story here in Mark’s gospel, Jesus asks His disciples a very important question that’s a key point for us going forward in this podcast/blog series on becoming peacemakers for the cause of Christ.
Let’s look at the story once again. Jesus and His disciples have stolen away for some quiet R & R, but because of the Master’s popularity, a multitude of people found out about their location and came in droves to hear and see this Rabbi from Nazareth in person. As the hour got late, everybody’s stomachs were growling, including the disciples’ (who hadn’t eaten before they left for their retreat with Jesus).
As Eugene Peterson translates it, “When (Jesus’) disciples thought this had gone on long enough—it was now quite late in the day—they interrupted: “We are a long way out in the country, and it’s very late. Pronounce a benediction and send these folks off so they (and we?) can get some supper.”
Jesus, knowing that this was yet another great opportunity to teach His disciples some more Kingdom principles, replied to them, “You do it. (You) fix supper for them.”
They replied (much like you or I probably would), “Are you serious? You want us to go spend a fortune on food for their supper?”
But (Jesus) was quite serious (when He asks)… “How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”
Mark tells us in his gospel, that taking an inventory of the bread didn’t take very long.
“Five,” they said, “plus two fish.”
If you have a red marker, you might want to circle verse 38 in this story.
“How many loaves of bread do you have? Take an inventory.”
You see to Jesus, He can make dinner for 5,000 out of nothing. But rather than do that, He’d rather teach His disciples that in order to work alongside the Divine, we must believe that God always prefers to partner with us in doing His work instead of doing it alone.
Did you get that?
When you and I decide that we are going to serve Jesus, giving Him our all in all in following Him, know that Jesus will rarely, if ever, work His wonders completely by Himself. His preference, my friends, is to always work alongside us, taking the treasures we have been given by Him, and as we willingly re-invest those treasures for His glory, He does what only God can do. A God-sized miracle!
This Kingdom principle is so very important as we live in this unique time called The Last Days, yet sadly, it is so rarely taught. You see, this dispensation of time is all about the Holy Spirit being poured out on all flesh. Jesus is the One and Only Son of God, but now, because of His first coming, He has opened up the floodgates, calling and commissioning regular ole people like you and me to be adopted into the Holy Family, precious sons and daughters who can learn to live like our ancestors, Adam and Eve, were called to live. You and I are called as stewards of God’s goodness (see Genesis 1: 26-28) in a world where good is being challenged to the hilt by flesh and evil every moment of every day.
And it’s the plan of God’s Kingdom, in this dispensation, to call people like you and me unto Himself. Women and men who will humbly take an inventory of all the good Jesus has deposited into our lives and willingly respond to the Master, “Well, Lord, there’s not a lot here (2 fish, 5 loaves) but in and through You, this will be enough!”
As I see it, this Kingdom concept of only being able to give away what Jesus has given us and that God’s plan has always been to work through us is beautifully displayed in the ancient writings of St. Teresa of Avila.
Christ has no body but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes with which He looks with compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world. Yours are the hands. Yours are the feet. Yours are the eyes. You are His body. Christ has no body on earth but yours.
My Prayer: I stand amazed, Master, that You are never content in doing God’s work by Yourself. Your heart for pro-actively involving me both surprises me (for who am I to help the Son of God?) but it also blesses me (I am humbled to be asked to help the Son of God). Holy Spirit, I welcome Your leadership as I step boldly into this position of helping the Master do His work. May I do it for the greater glory of God. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
A Few Questions to Ponder: So, as we did in the last podcast/blog session, let’s take another personal inventory. This time, let’s look for some more good treasure that Jesus has deposited into my life over the years.
*This is the third in a variety of practical suggestions/resources we will make throughout this blog/podcast series. We call these exercises:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4: 9 (NIV)
Tool #3: Taking An Inventory of Fruit & Gifts.
What stands out as I survey the treasure? Maybe the fruits of the spirit might be a good starting point? See Galatians 5: 22-23 (NIV)…
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Or, what about the wonderful gifts mentioned in Colossians 3: 12-15 (NIV)…
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Which of these fruits/gifts seem to be most evident in my day-to-day life? And now, as I report my inventory back to Jesus, am I willing to give Him permission to use these treasures in caring for others in need?
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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