We have all been there; making a New Year’s resolution is nothing new. For as long as any of us can remember we have always had a way of making a new start, or fresh changes to our lives in the coming of a new year. Being a follower of Christ, this often times involves our relationship with God and our connection to Him. I pray that these words find you looking for something new, and a heart that is able to accept the changes necessary.
I was sitting in our United Methodist, West Ohio Conference, Annual Conference this past year and I heard a message that stuck with me. Do Not Be Afraid. There is Enough. This was designed to give us compassionate hearts, ones with which to serve our fellow man and place the needs of others before ourselves. I have taken this a step further and added, You are Enough. This indicates that we are to have a faith that is not afraid of outcomes, that there always seems to be enough resources when God is involved, and we have every gift and talent that God has called us to use for His glory.
At DeGraff and Maplewood United Methodist churches, we are starting our year with this as our theme to build our spiritual lives around. This comes from Matthew 14: 13-21. Jesus and the 12 disciples perform the miracle of feeding the 5,000, not including the women and children, with just a five loaves of bread and two fish.
There is so much depth in this text, but it comes down to four points in which we can build our spiritual lives around, and potentially change the world around us.
Connect With God – At the beginning of this passage Jesus withdraws to a private place to be alone with God. If we acknowledge that Jesus is indeed God in human form, why would He need to be alone with God? The point Jesus is making to us, is that even being the Son of God, He still needs to have time alone with God. We can find this connection when we read Scripture and study His Word, and when we set aside time to pray. If it was good enough for Jesus, then it should be good enough for those who say they believe in Him.
Give Them Something – The disciples are concerned that the people, who have gathered in such a large number, might be getting hungry so they ask Jesus to dismiss them so that they may go home, or somewhere else to get food. Jesus tells them, “You give them something to eat”. Jesus is telling us, as well as those disciples, that it is our job to give to those in need. Jesus knows that our representation of Him, will shine so much brighter when we are willing to give to those in need. This means money, food, time, and energy are all being asked of us to give, and even possibly outside of your own church. Jesus knows the benefit and blessing involved in being His hands in feet to a world in need.
Use Your Gifts – Jesus has the disciples bring to Him all that they have been able to gather. Five loaves of bread and two fish were all that they could find. I am sure that they thought there was no way that this was going to feed this large crowd. Jesus takes their meager offering, and He gives thanks to God and blesses what they have. He then asks them to begin feeding everyone. In the hands of God, our gifts and talents; many of which we don’t feel have much of a purpose or benefit; can be used to make miracles happen in the lives of others. Are we willing to let God bless and use our talents so that others may be blessed in our using them?
Make Disciples – When the disciples had finally fed everyone, Jesus asked them to go back and gather up the leftovers. There were twelve baskets of leftovers. Is it coincidence that there were twelve baskets left over? There are twelve disciples, and there are the twelve tribes of Israel. Each of which represents the outpouring of God’s grace and mercy to more than just those in attendance of this miracle. Jesus is calling us all to follow Him and become disciples of His, so that we will have the capability of loving others to this relationship as well. He calls us to this relationship, not for our benefit, but so that others would see His great work in us, and want to follow Him as well.
You can join us at Maplewood or DeGraff United Methodist if you would like to hear more. We will be covering each topic in January and expanding our spiritual relationship with God to give us the ability to; Do Not Be Afraid. There is Enough. You are Enough. We will be expanding our Facebook live presence at each church, as well as utilizing Facebook for interactive Bible Studies. We will do more with less, and love more than deserved. Will you join us?
The writer is the pastor for Maplewood and DeGraff United Methodist Churches.