Summary: the beginning of a new year - a challenge to commitment

Here we are …Lord!

Here we are at the beginning of 2004. Another year lies behind us and a new year lies before us. I never make New Year resolutions – mainly because I never keep them. I start off with good intentions but that is all they ever seem to remain – good intentions. So today as we, the people of God, begin a new year together I want to share with you some thoughts from John 6 and the feeding of the 5000. What I want to share with you I believe is important for us all to take on board as we begin a new year together.

The Scene – Jesus has crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee and a great crowd follows him – mainly because of the miraculous signs that he did. We often encounter that in the gospels – people who are only following to be entertained by another miracle – that can be true today also. Yet note that Jesus does not chase them away. In fact when evening comes he is concerned about their welfare – verse 5. He asks the disciples – Where will we get the food to feed these people? He knew that the majority of these people were not truly interested in Him or why He had come but only in the miracles He performed. So there is a simple lesson for us there right at the beginning of this sermon – we are to be concerned for the welfare of people, even if they are not interested in the message of the gospel.

The Answers

When you look at the answers given by the disciples you realise how little they had understood at this stage about Jesus and who He was.

Philip – 8 months wages would not be enough to buy bread. Why is it when a problem arises the first thought in most people’s head is – money will help? Money is more than often not the answer. Look at the society in which we live – people spend their entire lives chasing money and to what end? My grandfather often said to us ‘you can’t take it with you.’ Or as the old saying goes ‘there are no pockets in a shroud.’ Money is not the answer to this situation. Even if the disciples had 8 months wages between them – it was evening and there would have been no where to purchase the bread needed.

Friends money is not answer to your problems today. You might think it is. We could be tempted as a church to focus solely on the debt for our new building and believe that clearing the £5550,000 would be the answer – but it would not. Yes we need to pay the debt but that is not the heart beat of this congregation, it is not even our first priority for 2004.

Andrew – I just love Andrew in the gospels. He is a real people person. He is always bringing people to Jesus. Here he brings a little boy who has his pack lunch at hand. Now think about this for a moment. There are 5000+ people sitting on this hillside and a little boy offers Andrew his pack lunch. What would your reaction have been? ‘That is very kind of you but run along now.’ It would have been easy for Andrew to laugh at the meagre lunch as an answer to the problem before them.

Friends how often do we miss the opportunity to answer the problem before us because we believe what has been offered is too meagre and insignificant in the face of such a problem. It took great faith on Andrew’s part to bring that little boy and his lunch to Christ Jesus – but that was the key – he brought them to Christ. Learn a lesson there friends – it is not the resources that you bring to Jesus that matters – it is the fact that you bring them to Jesus. Again the little boy could have looked at his pack lunch and thought – ‘No sense offering this – it is just about enough for me, but it would not satisfy this vast crowd.’ But he did bring it and offer it to Jesus. It was all he had but he was willing to put it at the disposal of Jesus. We too can be guilty of thinking that what we have to offer is insignificant and worthless in the face of such a problem. We then think it is not worth offering to God. This little boy could have thought – this is too little in the face of so many. This lunch is not good enough to present to Jesus. If I give this lunch up there will none for me – it is too big a sacrifice to make. Let us be honest those are the thoughts which often enter our hearts when we face a problem or encounter a situation. The devil comes and whispers despair into our hearts.

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