In the New Testament, there are only two miracles recorded in all four gospels. The resurrection and feeding of the 5,000. Today’s message is based on the latter. Although the four gospels describe the miracle in slightly different ways, all of them describe the outcome in a similar fashion – “And they did all eat, and were filled.” Productivity is a notable fact in Jesus’ ministry and the ministry of the twelve.
In Ministry, we face many problems and un-productivity is one of them. Understandably the problem of ministerial un-productivity has knocked off many Pastors and Christian Leaders because un-productivity kills passion.
There are many reasons for lack of productivity in ministry and I cannot address all of them in a sermon. However, the miracle of feeding the 5,000 teaches us 6 helpful principles for a productive ministry. [Image Credit: Lawraence OP]
Read Matthew 14:13-21
(1) Motivated by Compassion and Urgency
Once the late Colonel Harland Sanders (Founder: Kentucky Fried Chicken) was on an Air Plane when an infant screamed and would not stop even though the mother and flight attendants tried their best. Finally, the Colonel asked if he could hold the baby. He gently rocked it to sleep. Later a passenger said, “We all appreciate what you did for us.” Colonel Sanders replied, “I didn’t do it for us, I did it for the baby.”
Jesus wanted to be alone, probably because he was tired and grieving the death of John the Baptist his cousin, or maybe both. But he had compassion for the crowd the moment he saw them because they were like sheep without a shepherd (Mark 6:34). He immediately taught them many things and healed their sick friends. John says it was nearly the time for the Jewish Passover Celebration, in order to indicate Jesus’ earthly ministry was coming to its end, (John 6:4). Apparently, Jesus wanted to set free as many people as possible, before his hour of death.
While there are many men and women in the Church, who serve God faithfully and sacrificially there are also people whose ministry is motivated by the wrong reasons. The Bible says these are the people who worship their belly (Philippians 3:19). You can do the right thing for the wrong reasons.
Therefore service should be motivated by compassion for the lost and urgency to preach the Gospel to everyone, before the day of judgment. Otherwise, we minister for the wrong reasons.
(2) Depend on God for Wisdom and Power
A sign is seen in a textile mill, “When your thread becomes tangled, call the foreman.” A young woman was new on the job. Her thread became tangled and she thought, “I’ll just straighten this out myself.” She tried, but the situation only worsened. Finally, she called the foreman. “I did the best I could,” she said. The foreman replied, “No you didn’t. To do your best, you should have called me.”
Over 5,000 people were starving and Philip one of the 12 wanted to send them away so they can buy food. Jesus told him to feed the crowd and he totally freaked out! Andrew said even the combined wages of many months will not be enough to feed such a big crowd. Their natural minds couldn’t grasp the power of God. Jesus, however, knew what to do. He was just testing his disciples (John 6:5-9).
In Christian Ministry, we must totally depend on the wisdom and the power of God because the Ministry presents us with challenges we can’t handle on our own. God always has all the answers and knows the best course of action for every situation.
(3) Anointing comes upon what we Have
A well-known fact is, that most of the fortune 500 companies in the world today, actually started inside a garage or a basement. I learned, that Google whose net worth is $36.9 billion at the time of this sermon, was started in the garage of a house.
Jesus instructed the disciples to find out how many loaves they have? They returned with 5 loaves and 2 fish. The demand surely exceeded the supply. But with that scanty meal, we find Jesus feeding 5000+ people. This is indeed a very common pattern in the Bible.
(A) In Exodus 3:13 the Lord asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” Moses said, “It’s my staff”. God anointed the staff and Moses could perform miracles with it.
(B) In 1 Kings 17:7-15 the widow in Zarephath had only a handful of flour and a little cooking oil. God blessed these and the widow didn’t run short.
(C) In 2 Kings 4:2 Elisha asked the widow “What do you have?” The widow said, “Nothing but some olive oil” God blessed that and the rest is history!
Anointing comes on to what you already have. Never feel sorry when your resources are insufficient or not the latest and the best. God is perfectly capable of anointing and expanding the little things you have if you just use them.
(4) We need to share our Resources
In the year 1991, Linus Torvalds who was a student at the University of Helsinki wrote a new Operating System now known to the world as Linux. Instead of selling this project to the highest bidder, Linus released it to the internet free of charge, which allowed others to build upon it.
Maybe you have not heard of Linux or its founder Linus before but the name Android is for sure. Today everyone can afford for a smartphone thanks to Android and Android is based on the Linux Operating System. Linux has cut down the costs of web hosting so much, that preachers like me can publish our sermons on the Internet without worrying about high costs. Linux is in your Cable TV Box, in your Car’s CD Player. It’s even in your Microwave Oven. None of these would have been possible if Linus had decided to profit from his invention or keep it for himself. Talk about the power of sharing!
The 5 loaves and the 2 fishes belonged to a young boy, (John 6:8-9). He could have put that meal on auction and sold it to the highest bidder! But he shared his meal and masses of people were blessed.
Likewise, the Church will be able to influence the world on a much broader scale if we share our resources with each other.
(5) We need to be Team Players or we Fail
Herman Edwards, who once coached the “Kanas City Chiefs” said this about teamwork. “The players that play on this football team will play for the name on the side of the helmet and not the name on the back of the jersey.”
While preparing this sermon, I asked myself the question, “If Jesus could multiply 5 loaves and 2 fishes, why did he need the disciples to distribute the food?” The disciples often attempted to outsmart each other and Jesus intended to teach them the power of teamwork. Many believe that teamwork is a modern concept. It is not so. The concept of Team Work is as old as the Bible.
(A) In Exodus 31:1-6 individuals who possessed various skills worked as a team to build the tabernacle.
(B) Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 emphasizes the benefits of teamwork and the possible pitfalls of not teamwork.
(C) 1 Corinthians 12:20-25 Paul teaches us the importance of teamwork in the body of Christ.
Ministry is not a one-man show. It’s a huge task that requires teamwork. Ministry without teamwork will always fail.
Maybe you are doing all of these in your ministry and still not seeing results. But I want to urge you to keep sowing those seeds. For the Word of God says, “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.” Psalm 126:5
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