Jesus as Lord amidst the Leaves

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Autumn is a beautiful time of year in upstate New York. The trees boast of beautiful colors along the hillsides painting a gorge of grandeur. We went on an outing to Letchworth State Park, a visible sanctuary of splendor. During our hike, a scripture and a song were playing in my mind.

He who trusts in his riches will fall,
but the righteous will flourish like foliage.
Proverbs 11:28 NKJV

While walking along the trails of the park, we noticed that multitudes of leaves had already fallen upon the ground. We became aware of the crunching sound under our feet. There was no visible beauty in the brown leaves that covered the ground and crumbled with each step we took. The withered yet crispy leaves were like the fallen riches mentioned in Proverbs 11. When we trust in riches, we trust in things that are uncertain and undependable. Like the dried leaves, riches can be blown away by the wind. It is possible for them to be here one day and gone the next. Leaves fall, and so can those who trust in riches. Proverbs 23:4 NLT warns, “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” Another scripture to remember is I Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

What a contrast between the dry leaves beneath our feet and the leaves that still hung on the tree branches overhead! Splashes of orange, gold, red, yellow along with a few remaining green leaves remained attached to the sturdy arms of the tree. The fall foliage painted a pleasing portrait for the eye to behold. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Although Jesus uses the terms vine and branches, we can make the comparison of Jesus being the tree and we as believers are the leaves. Just as the fall foliage flourishes, so will believers flourish. Psalm 34:15 declares, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry.” and Psalm 55:22 says, “Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.

I will look up for there is none above You
I will bow down to tell You that I need You
Jesus Lord of all 

I will look back and see that You are faithful
I look ahead believing You are able
Jesus Lord of all, Jesus Lord of all

These phrases are part of the song I Will Look Up by Elevation Worship, and these are the words I was singing while hiking through the park. As we meandered along the trails, I was beholding the glory of God in nature and discerning His greatness supernaturally. When I looked up I saw the beauty of the leaves still attached to the tree and I realized that nothing was above our God, Creator of heaven and earth. (He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them– He remains faithful forever. Psalm 146:6) When I looked down, I saw dried leaves and I was reminded of my need of my Creator. (God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth.Isaiah 42:5 NLT) When I looked back upon the trail we were hiking, I saw again the natural beauty behind and the faithfulness of Jesus to guide every step I have ever taken. (Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. – John 14:6) When I looked ahead, I got another glimpse of the beauty of the park we had not yet seen and I also believed Jesus would guide each step I was yet to take throughout my life. (A person’s steps are directed by the LORD. How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24)

Throughout this day, we became aware that fall was a good description of this season as we watched leaves fall from trees. Also, the fall foliage offered us a beauty not visible at any other time of year. There were lessons to be learned from the leaves we walked upon as well as the lovely leaves we stopped to gaze upon that were still attached to their branches. However, the primary lesson learned is declared in the final phrase I quoted from the song by Elevation Worship: “Jesus Lord of all!” Jesus was evident in everything we saw and experienced throughout our day at Letchworth State Park. Philippians 2:10-11 expresses it well, “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (my emphasis) Other scriptures that confirm the lordship of Jesus are Romans 10:9 (If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.) and I Corinthians 12:3 (and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.) According to Wikipedia, “Jesus is Lord” is the shortest creed of faith expressed in the New Testament.

My Reader, will you declare with me, “Jesus is Lord”?


 

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Be a Prays-er

Prays-er” is a word used by Cindy Jacobs in the book Possessing the Gates of the Enemy. The uniqueness of this word Cindy created has given me much to think about. Most of us will say that we are pray-ers who talk to God asking for His help in situations in our own lives and in the lives of others. However, if I say I am a “prays-er” I am describing myself as a person who praises the Lord while I am praying. As a praiser, or prays-er, I choose to praise Him because of who He is, not because of what He does for me. I praise Him because He is the Creator of all things and the One who has given me life. I praise Him because He is my Savior, Lord, Healer, Deliverer, Defender, Provider, Protector, etc. He is loving, gracious, merciful and kind. God is good! He is worthy of my praise! Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.” I want to fulfill this scripture by being a prays-er.

Psalms is probably the best book of the Bible for references to praise. (My Reader, you may want to do more research on your own regarding praise scriptures as I cannot begin to be inclusive in what I share. I just want to create within you a desire to become a prays-er.) Psalm 145:3 is a good starting point for praise. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 100:4 instructs us, “Enter gates His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 150:2 NLT says, “Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness!” David and the other writers of the Psalms were definitely prays-ers!

As a leader of the Israelites, Moses sets an example of the importance of praise when he personally declares in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” Moses refers to the Israelites as well as himself when he says in Deuteronomy 10:21, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.” Flipping a few more pages of our Bibles, we find other references to praise.
I
Chronicles 16:9 instructs, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.” Reading a little further in this chapter, I Chronicles 16:25 says, “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.” None of these people limited their conversations with God to requests. They praised God for who He was. They were prays-ers!

Being a pray-er, requires more of us than asking God to help us and meet the needs of those around us. Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Petitions are a part of prayer but so is praise. When we praise the Lord for who He is, we will worry less because we will become more aware of His character and nature. When we praise the Lord for who He is, our faith is built up and we have the confidence to thank Him for what He is going to do. Praise is a powerful part of prayer! Be a pray-er and a prays-er!

Since there are scriptural references to praise in both the Old and New Testaments, praise is not restricted to a particular time period. In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord declares, “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.” This is amazing! One of the reasons God created us is so that we can become prays-ers! Moving into the New Testament. we read I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Praise is pertinent for us today! God desires our praise – He wants us to be prays-ers!

Acts 16:25-26 tells us, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” The combined power of prayer and praise resulted in freedom from the bondage of prison. The same wonder-working power of God is available to us. Paul and Silas are an awesome example of prays-ers!

Praise is mentioned in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. Daniel 2:20 says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” John says in Revelation 5:11-12, “Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” It is interesting that the angels also praise the Lord. One of my favorites scriptures is Philippians 2:9-11, “God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This indicates to me that I will be a prays-er not only while I am alive on earth but throughout all eternity! What a privilege!

I am a pray-er, a person who prays (talks to God), but I am also a prays-er, a person who praises (lifts God up and honors Him for who He is). I acknowledge with the prophet in Isaiah 25:1, “LORD, you are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” I personally declare Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” and Psalm 145:1-2, I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever.”

My Reader, will you be a person who praises the Lord in addition to being a person who prays to God? I encourage you with the words of Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Be a prays-er!

Remember (re-member) with Communion (come in union)

communion-2

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In many churches, the first Sunday of October is observed as World Communion Sunday. With this emphasis in mind, let us take time to think about this sacrament today. According to a note in the Life Application Bible for Matthew 26:26, there are three names that reveal three aspects of the Lord’s Supper. First, it is referred to as the Lord’s Supper because it commemorates the Passover meal Jesus ate with His disciples. Secondly, it is called the Eucharist, the Greek word for thanksgiving or gratitude, because we thank God for Christ’s work for us. Lastly, it is denoted as Communion because it is through participating in this sacrament that we commune with God and other believers. Each name that may be used for this sacrament brings out a different dimension of it.

No matter which term is used, I ask, “Why do we as Christians observe this sacrament?” Jesus answers this question in scripture.

Do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:19b

When Jesus spoke these words, He took two traditional parts of the Passover meal, the passing of bread and the drinking of wine, and gave them new meaning as representations of His body and blood. He used the bread and wine to explain what He was about to do on the cross. He was asking His disciples to remember Him and what He would accomplish through dying on the cross. This is what He continues to ask us to do when we observe this sacred meal with the body of believers. Jesus tells us what to do and why to do it.

Although the term Communion is not used in scripture, it is the term I am thinking about today. Join me as I develop my own interpretations of the words COMMUNION and REMEMBER as they relate to the celebration of this Christian sacrament.

So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh
of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise
him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.’”
John 6:53-56

When I look at the word COMMUNION, I dissect the word to say “Come in union.” The word invites me to come into union with Christ by partaking of the elements of bread and wine, or grape juice. The bread is a symbol of His body and the wine is a symbol of His blood. There is nothing magical that turns bread and wine or grape juice into the body of Jesus, but they are symbolic of Him. It reminds me that Christ and I are one. John 17:21 NLT records Jesus’ prayer for all believers, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me” Jesus prayed for a unity in mind and spirit to exist between Himself and all those who believe in Him. Paul speaks of the reality of this in I Corinthians 6:17, “But whoever is united with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.” In the verses from John 6 that were quoted at the beginning of this paragraph, Jesus describes the partaking of the bread and wine as being an act that allows us as believers to come into union with Him.

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you,
that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body,
which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He
took
the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in
My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the
Lord’s death until He comes.
I Corinthians 11:23-26

In these verses, Paul is remembering what Jesus did for him. He is also giving all believers the same privilege of partaking of these elements of bread and wine when they understand and remember that Jesus died for them and the forgiveness of their sins. The bread and wine are symbols to remind Christ’s followers through the ages of His redemptive sacrifice. As I correlate the word REMEMBER with the word COMMUNION, I divide the word as “re-member.” The prefix “re” means again while the word “member” denotes a person who is part of a group. With this concept in mind, I view communion as an opportunity to join with the family of God with Jesus. Romans 12:5 says, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” I am a part of the this family because of Jesus’ body being broken and His blood poured out for me. John 1:12 NLT says, “But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” When I am re-membered with the family of believers, I am privileged to remember what Jesus did for me and to come in union with this body of believers when celebrating the sacrament of Communion.

Whether we use the term Lord’s Supper or Eucharist or Communion, this sacrament is observed in all Christian churches. Some bodies of believers celebrate this sacred meal every week, some once a month, while others maybe only once every quarter or every three months. However we choose to observe it, the important thing is to obey the words of Jesus, “Do this in remembrance of me” as stated in Luke 22:19b.

This Sunday we will have the privilege to come in union with other believers around the world to observe Word Communion Sunday and remember again the actions of Christ. As we partake of Communion and remember what Christ did for us, may we first and foremost come in union with Jesus and then come in union with other believers as we re-member, think again, of what Christ did to make it possible for us to re-member, be made one again, with the family of God.

 


A Tenderized Heart

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In a recent conversation with my daughter-in-law, she made reference to there being a time when God tenderizes our hearts while He prepares us for something more. When I first think of tenderizing something, I relate it to the process of breaking down tough spots in meat before it is grilled. Can I find any similarities between tenderizing a steak and tenderizing our hearts? Let us answer this question by looking at a couple of scripture verses in Ezekiel.

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes
Ezekiel 36:26-27

A heart of stone is a heart full of sin. Jeremiah 17:9 NLT describes the condition of the heart by saying, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” This verse confirms my need of a new heart! A heart of stone refers to a hardened heart that refuses to hear from God. Ephesians 4:18 NLT states, “Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against Him.” Only God can change this condition of a person’s heart. Being born again is how God replaces a heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:7, “You must be born again.” (To apply the meat tenderizing process, I might say that thawing a hard frozen steak is similar to removing the hardened heart of stone.)

By accepting the new birth offered to us by Jesus Christ, we can be born again and our sins are forgiven. God’s forgiveness removes the sin and stone from our hearts. Going back to my primary scripture for today, Ezekiel describes the heart now as a heart of flesh. Flesh is softer than stone but the Lord offers more. Paul warns in Philippians 3:3 that we are to “put no confidence in the flesh.” (For tenderizing meat, I can say that when the steak is thawed it becomes a pliable piece of beef.)

Referring back to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus says in John 3:5-6, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” One’s heart can still be tremendously influenced by fleshly, or earthly, desires even though the heart no longer is a hardened stone. The flesh continues to require the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises us in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Now looking closely at the words of Ezekiel, he promises not only a new heart but also a new spirit in verse 26. This new spirit is the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:5-6 says, “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” This Old Testament promise of a new spirit recorded in Ezekiel is fulfilled in the New Testament scripture of II Corinthians 1:21-22, “Now it is God who establishes both us and you in Christ. He anointed us, placed His seal on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a pledge of what is to come. (The work of the Holy Spirit symbolizes the tenderizing process. When meat is allowed to marinate in specific ingredients, “tough stuff” is broken down.)

I want to further develop this concept of tenderizing our hearts. Before I put a piece of meat into a marinade, often I will pierce it with a fork so the marinade, acting as a tenderizer, will penetrate into the meat more deeply. Now consider this from a spiritual perspective. We all encounter experiences when our hearts of flesh feel as if they are pierced with challenges. However, the Lord works in these poked holes of our sensitive hearts. He will also convict us of any sin that might piece our hearts so we will confess our sin.  The Lord’s desire is to pour the Holy Spirit into our hearts so that not only is the Holy Spirit upon us as a seal but the Spirit penetrates our hearts and flesh. We are baptized, or immersed, in the Holy Spirit. This is first recorded in Acts 2:4, “All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” I believe the Spirit works within us to tenderize our hearts towards Him before He can move in our lives through more manifestations and revelations of His nature and character. Once again looking at Ezekiel, we notice in verse 27 that the outcome of our tenderized heart is that “He will cause us to walk in His ways.” The New English Translation says, “I will take the initiative and you will obey.” This is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit. We no longer have a hardened heart or just a heart of flesh but a heart controlled by the Holy Spirit. We may have to chew on a tough steak, just like we may need to meditate upon what the Lord is showing us. However, it is easier for us to enjoy and digest a more tender steak. Similarly, we can more easily comprehend the will of God and enjoy serving Him for kingdom purposes when the Holy Spirit has softened our hearts toward the things of God. One final similarity I find interesting is that many marinade recipes include olive oil, and oil is symbolic of the Holy Spirit in scripture. Acts 10:38 says, “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him.”

Colossians 3:12 NLT admonishes us, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” A tender heart has a softened quality of being gentle, affectionate and compassionate. It is sensitive, pliable and yielding to the Spirit of God. Tenderizing one’s heart is part of the process of a deep commitment to the Lord. Let the tenderizing begin!

 

 

 

Jesus Sees

Jesus . . . watched the crowd
Mark 12:41

These words are found within the account often referred to as “The Widow’s Offering.” Jesus watched a multitude of people putting their money into the temple treasury, but His attention was drawn to the widow who offered only two small copper coins. Why?

Jesus saw from two different perspectives as He watched this scene play out. Visually He saw a crowd of people giving what was required out of their material wealth and a lowly woman giving as much as possible out of her lack. While spiritually seeing the hardened hearts of men who gave out of pride, Jesus’ spiritual eyes were keenly attracted to the heart of one lonely, humble woman. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

Jesus saw with physical eyes but He also saw with spiritual understanding. Many within the crowd wanted their actions to be seen while in actuality, they only gave out of necessity with a hardened heart. The widow did not want her small contribution to be noticed because she was embarrassed by how little she could give. However, Jesus saw her generous heart and was pleased. Paul gives us some guidance in II Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

One of the names of God is El Roi, translated “the God who sees.” God’s eyes are never shut. He is awake and aware of everything and everyone He has created. He not only has visual perception but He also discerns our thoughts and intentions. His spiritual vision includes spiritual knowledge allowing Him to see with divine understanding. God is omniscient – He knows everything. We cannot hide anything from Him. He knows and sees everything about us – our thoughts, intentions, feelings, and desires as well as our actions. It has been said that we can fool some of the people some of the time but we cannot fool all the people all of the time. When it comes to our relationship with God, we cannot fool Him any time! I John 3:20 says, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.”

One additional definition of “to see” refers to meeting with someone. For example, I will see you at a specific location. With this perspective in mind, how can we see and meet with the Lord personally? James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

I ask myself the question, what does God see when He watches me? Does He see agreement between my actions and the desires of my heart or does He discover some discrepancy? These are sobering questions. Too often I may be more of a Pharisee while sincerely desiring to be like the widow. Jeremiah 17:10 says, “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”

In conclusion, we can say that Jesus not only sees our actions visually but He also sees spiritually the intents our hearts. The amazing thing is that He is still willing to see and meet with us. May we be willing to fulfill Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Jesus watched the crowd, and He is still watching us.


 

 

Leftovers Left in Our Hands (Part 2)

When I worked in a fabric store, I would create a fabric remnant if there was less than a yard of material left on a large bolt. I would measure the piece, fold it into a small parcel and mark it at a lower price. Most likely this piece would not be of value to the shopper who had plans for a big project but there was still potential use for it. A customer might purchase a remnant because it was the right amount for a specific project or one might buy it because it was a bargain that could have a potential purpose. Just because the cloth was not on a full bolt of fabric, did not mean it had to be discarded. This leftover fabric was still valuable.

Last week we looked at how Jesus uses our leftovers. (see post for August 16, 2017) This week I want us to evaluate how we use our leftovers. So, what are our leftovers? Although there are many, I want us to focus on one particular life leftover we all encounter. I am referring to the fragments of time within our days that have the potential of being useful leftovers for Gods glory. Let’s look closely at God’s perspective of our use of time.

 

There is a time for everything, and a season
for every activity under the heavens
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a good guideline for use of time. If we are giving our time to the Lord, every minute of our day, even what we might consider leftover time, will have a purpose. When we come to the conclusion of our day, there should not be any minutes unaccounted for.

And who knows but that you have come to your
royal position for such a time as this?
Esther 4:14

Personally, I want to allow the Lord to show me how to fill my day, even those moments that appear to be the odds and ends of time. God wastes nothing and neither does He want us to waste anything. We must strive to use our leftover time constructively because in God’s eye there is no such thing as leftover time. This moment may be God’s ordained time for us to take time to do something we might not otherwise do.

Do not despise these small beginnings
Zechariah 4:10

God uses small amounts of time. What may appear to be a small amount of leftover time to us, is valuable to the Lord. We do not want to waste time and allow it to turn into a useless leftover just because we do not think we have a significant amount of time. These small bits and pieces can be the beginning of big things in the hands of God.

Knowing God is sovereign over every second of our days, let’s look at three examples of odds and ends of time that we can put to use in a positive way.

WAITING AT A TRAFFIC LIGHT
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Although we might consider it wasted time to be stopped by a red light, we can put this time to good use by praying while waiting. We can say a quick prayer for the people in the cars going by. We should not be anxious, but rather perceive the red light as a reminder for us to pray.

WAITING FOR AN APPOINTMENT
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

If we are open to the leading of the Holy Spirit, He will show us how to occupy our time while sitting in a waiting room for an appointment. Maybe we can send a quick text to a person who is having a tough day and is in need of a word of encouragement. Why waste time doing nothing when we can be doing something constructive that will only take a couple of minutes?

TAKING A WALK
A friend loves at all times, 
Proverbs 17:17

All times” includes times when we may think we do not have time. For me, this may be taking time to chat a few minutes with a lonely neighbor in his/her yard while I am on a walk.  My minutes may give that person more moments of joy than I will ever realize. “All times” does not mean only when it is convenient for us. God’s schedule is often different from ours.

In conclusion, we discover leftovers are precious to God. Now we have to decide how precious they are to us. From our perspective, leftovers may appear to simply be bits and pieces of time cut out of our days that hinder us from accomplishing our goals. However, from God’s viewpoint, all of these minutes and moments are ordained divine appointments. Our fragments of time are valuable to the Lord. Are we willing to use our leftovers for His glory?

 

 

 

 

Leftovers Left in God’s Hands (Part 1)

I have accumulated a stash of leftover fabric from numerous sewing projects over the years. No piece is big enough to make a new skirt or a pair of curtains, yet I have kept the leftovers because I never know when I might need such a piece as this. Often when a granddaughter and I are having a sleepover, we search through my fabric resources for a craft project. Small pieces have value. Recently while sorting through my sewing stash, I was reminded of Jesus feeding the 5000 and the leftovers from that meal.

When they were filled, He said to His disciples,
“Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments
from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
John 6: 12-13

Join me as I look at these two verses of scripture phrase by phrase. Our focus will be upon the leftovers.

When they were filled”

Leftovers are what is left over after the use of the original intent of whatever commodity we have. These pieces have value beyond there first use. For me it was fabric, while for Jesus it was food. The bag lunch of one young boy placed in Jesus’ hands not only provided the meal for 5000 people but resulted in leftovers as well. I wonder how this boy felt when there were scraps of bread and morsels of fish left after everyone had lunch. Was he happy with the overabundance of food Jesus produced with what he gave or was he disappointed because not all of his offering was consumed in the way he thought it would be? Jesus did the math. He did not just add up what the boy gave, He multiplied it! We may feel disappointed if what we offer to the Lord is not totally used in the way we intended but God has much bigger plans than for us to just be satisfied with what we give to Him.

He said to His disciples . . .”

Jesus asked His disciples to pick up the leftovers. He did not do it Himself. Jesus asked His disciples to gather up the remainder of the meal because He knew the existing crumbs were important. We are not told what the disciples did with the leftovers but I think they gave the baskets of broken bread to Jesus. Maybe this was a prophetic picture of the Last Supper Jesus would share with these same disciples before His crucifixion. I want the obedience of the disciples to be an example of what I am to do with the broken pieces that are leftover from my attempts to serve the Lord.

Gather up the leftover fragments so that nothing will be lost.”

John describes the leftovers as fragments. In Luke 9:17, the phrase “broken pieces” is used to describe the leftovers. Jesus did not want to throw away any part of the boy’s offering that had not been consumed. He did not want to see any small morsels left on the ground because they had value to Him. Like my pieces of fabric, the leftovers were just scraps that were not used for the original purpose. However, just as I may have a future use for swatches of fabric, Jesus had a use for the leftovers of the bread and fish. We do not know what Jesus did with the bread crumbs – maybe He fed them to the birds. It is not important for us to know what Jesus will do with our leftovers but it is necessary for us to give them to Him. Whatever we choose to do for the Lord may be used in ways beyond our original intents.

So they . . . filled twelve baskets with fragments”

Is there any significance that the disciples filled twelves baskets with leftovers? Possibly each basket represented the life of one disciple. Maybe each disciple had brokenness in his life that he needed to bring to Jesus so He could use their brokenness for His plans and purposes. The fragile fragments of each disciple were so important to Jesus that He wanted to deal with each one individually. The same is true for us today. We cannot lump all the shortcomings and brokenness of all people into one basket for Jesus to forgive. We must each meet Him personally.

“left over by those who had eaten” 

Leftovers provide for abundance. If I had not kept the odds and ends of various materials, I would miss out on many fun craft creations to be fashioned with my granddaughters. Today, most likely, crusts of bread and bones of fish are simply discarded. However, we never know what the Lord will do with the leftovers of our lives. Jesus still promises us that nothing will be wasted just as He revealed to the young boy with a small lunch over 2000 years ago. He will use everything, including the leftovers, according to His plans and purposes.

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