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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Trusting to Jump into the Pool of Life

While spending the night at a motel, we walked past the swimming pool and observed the following scene. A father was encouraging his small daughter to jump into the water. Actually, Dad was inviting the girl to jump into his arms because the father was already in the water. The little lass was hesitant because the water was much deeper in this location than where she had previously been playing in the shallow end of the pool. The father was asking his child to trust him and take a risk. It would be fun. Although this was not an unusual interaction to be happening during a family swim time, the Lord asked me to look more closely as He wanted to reveal something to me through this encounter.

The young girl playing in the shallow water was enjoying herself but the father wanted to interact more personally with his daughter. He desired to be closer to her. Maybe he wanted to teach his daughter how to swim or help her overcome a fear of deep water. Our Heavenly Father has a similar yearning for us. Although attending a worship service on Sunday mornings has value for us as believers, God longs for a deeper personal relationship with each of us. (Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Hebrews 10:25 NLT says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.”) God does not want us to be content to only “play church” for a couple of hours every Sunday. This represents a person with a shallow faith. Our Heavenly Father holds out His arms asking each of us to trust Him and jump with both feet into a commitment of living with Him and for Him 24/7. (John 3:16-17,36 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.)

Let’s create a spiritual setting for our swimming scenario with our Heavenly Father. He invites us to jump into the pool of life with Him. Isaiah 51:15-16 says, “For I am the LORD your God, who stirs up the sea and its waves roar – the LORD Almighty is His name. I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’”

Are we, as believers, ready to jump into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father? Deuteronomy 33:27 says, “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” These are safe arms waiting for us! In case, we fear something unsafe might happen after we jump, Isaiah 50:1 assures us, “Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.” When we jump into the arms of our Heavenly Father, we have the opportunity to jump into the His Word. We can trust our Heavenly Father because of promises He has given us.

I want to encourage you to quit playing in the shallow end of faith and jump into a deeper relationship with God. Let me share with you some scriptures that will give you confidence to trust our Heavenly Father with your life.

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 145:18

He will not let your foot slip–
He who watches over you will not slumber;
Psalm 121:3

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.
Psalm 56:3

I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation.
Psalm 13:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 

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Breathe!

One of summer’s special gifts that I enjoy is the fragrance of flowers filling the air. In May I sense the smell of lilacs and in June I fill my lungs with the aroma of roses. I love to sniff the sweet scent in the air. Respiration is an automatic function of my lungs but when I smell a delicate floral fragrance I become aware of my body’s task of breathing.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

The ability to breathe is a God-given gift. Through His breath, God gives life. If I can breathe, I am alive. If I cannot breathe, I am dead. These are facts relating to the human body. We know there is life in a newborn baby when he cries and inhales oxygen into his tiny lungs. I wonder what it was like for Jesus to take his first breath as a human being. He was God and He participated in the first act of breathing life into mankind. Then when he was born as the son of Mary, like all babies, he took his first breath of oxygen. Inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is essential for all of mankind.

And with that He breathed on them
and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:22

While living on earth, Jesus breathed the atmospheric air. When He died upon the cross, He quit breathing. After His resurrection and before His ascension, He breathed a new life into His disciples. He breathed the Holy Spirit upon them. They received a presence and power of the Trinity never before experienced by mankind. In this passage of scripture Jesus extended peace to those around Him and He still offers that same peace to us. If I am uptight and anxious, I take a deep breath to calm down. I am actually inhaling the peace of God. Then as I let our my breath, I am exhaling the worries of the world. In both cases, I am breathing spiritually as well as physically.

Just as there are physical and spiritual benefits of breathing, there are physical and spiritual ramifications of breathing. Paul refers to these in his second letter to the Corinthians.

But thanks be to God, who always leads us
as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession
and uses us to spread the aroma
of the knowledge of him everywhere.
II Corinthians 2:14

Rochester, New York is known as the Flower City and Highland Park is internationally famous for its wide variety of lilacs. When we go to see the lilacs in bloom, the aroma of the various shrubs leads us from one bush to another. While the flowers vary in colors from light lavender to deep purple, we are also aware that some bushes are more fragrant than others. The entire park emits the floral fragrance of lilacs. The bushes seem to lead us in a procession just as Paul tells us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Christ. I like the conclusion of this scripture in the New Living Translation, “Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”

For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved
and those who are perishing.
II Corinthians 2:15

Several years ago we were in Melbourne, Australia for an extended period of time. While my husband was working, I had free time. Since this city is known for its many gardens, I spent time wandering in these beautiful spots. The roses were in bloom and their fragrance would overtake me at unexpected times. I would simply stop and breathe in their perfume because I was not in a hurry. As the saying goes, I took time to smell the roses. Just as the rosy aroma in the air was pleasing to me, Paul informs us that we are to have the same influence upon those around us. The beginning of this verse in the New Living Translation says, “Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.” We are to be the aroma of Christ infiltrating the world around us.

Currently, I become aware of the gentle breeze blowing through the window near my computer desk. The breeze is breathing on me and the room is being filled with floral scents of the rose bushes outside. While I inhale the fragrance of the atmosphere around me, my mind is filled with the aromatic scriptures I have meditated upon.

My Reader, I extend to you the perfume of a bouquet of posies and promises. Breathe in the breath of God while you inhale your required oxygen.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

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The Peace of God or A Piece of God

peace-2piece-of-pie-2In his book I AM, Steve Fry says, “Peace is the evidence that we have submitted to God.” Scripture talks about a peace that surpasses all understanding. I can only experience this kind of peace when I completely trust God with everything in my life. This included the good, the bad and the miraculous. Steve Fry goes on to say, “The rule of peace begins when we no longer want answers, but only want God.”

In other words, I cannot just have a piece of peace. This concept is contrary to what I perceive when I think about a piece of fruit pie. If I had baked an apple pie that was setting on the kitchen counter and I wanted some to eat, I would cut a piece for myself and leave the remainder of the pie. A whole pie would be too much for me to eat. This is not how the Lord does things. I find His spiritual fruit pie in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” I notice that Paul says it is “fruit” – not “fruits” – of the Spirit. In other words, I cannot simply cut myself a piece of peace without also having a serving of self-control and seven other things. God serves me with His sovereignty. I must not question what the Lord puts on my plate.

God wants me to understand His rulership and authority over my life. His sovereignty goes beyond my knowledge, and even goes beyond my sense of His presence. When I grasp this concept, I will be able to experience true peace. This peace comes only when I trust God and submit to Him not because of what He does but because of who He is. With this in mind, I want to share some scripture verses that describe the kind of peace available.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are
steadfast, because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26:3

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may
have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take
heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body
you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

And the peace of God, which surpasses all
understanding, will guard your hearts and
your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 ESV

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace
at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
II Thessalonians 3:16

As I look at each of these pieces of peace, I see that surrendering to God’s sovereignty is significant to my experiencing the peace of God. I cannot allow my own understanding, or lack of understanding, to allow me to cut out pieces of the whole pie God prepares for me. One piece of apple pie may satisfy my hunger, but my spiritual hunger will only be satisfied when I accept without question all that God hands me. The peace of God comes when I submit to each piece of His personal plans and purposes.

So, Lord, take me into a deeper understanding of your ways. And, Lord, give me your peace. I do not want to settle for just a piece of your peace!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

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