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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

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John 9:24-34: Simple courage.

John 9:24-34: Simple courage.

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out. NIV

The blind man’s parents passed the ball to him. Once he found it at his feet, he did not lack ideas for what to do with it. He showed considerable pluck, and took the clerics on – even toying with them it seems (27). They had no good arguments against his healing or against his words, so they did what people often do in such circumstances. They picked up mud and threw it. I pray that faced with hostile people, I will not hide, but stand up for Jesus, and offer my testimony. They may wipe their secularised boots all over it, but let them hear it.

Within this passage you can read the famous statement of (25): ”One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!” This is the story of every Christian. Through the telling of this story we too are gradually being brought to see Jesus, who is ”the light” (5; see also 1:4,5). He is opening our blind eyes.

PRAYER: Lord, I know I can all too easily play the coward. So please give me the courage I will always need to stand up for you.

John 9:13-23: The cost of discipleship.

John 9:13-23: The cost of discipleship.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”The man replied, “He is a prophet.”18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders,who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.” NIV

Religious people can become so concerned about the meticulous observance of their self – made rules that they don’t care about people. Instead of rejoicing over a remarkable healing of a man with congenital blindness, the Pharisees pursed their lips, shook their heads, and got very angry with Jesus for doing this miracle on the Sabbath. With Jesus, there was a pattern of such happenings (see e.g. Chapter 5).He would not allow His compassion to be tied up by their rules. Jesus knew that at the heart of the Sabbath there lies God’s heart for saving people. He was clear in His thinking that it was a day for doing good to others. But religion stinks!

The healed man’s parents make a fascinating case study. They were not as supportive of their son as you might expect them to be. To be excommunicated from the synagogue would mean not only loss of status within the Jewish community but loss of many other privileges. They were probably fearful for their livelihoods, and even their lives. There is a cost involved in discipleship. Jesus urged people to count that cost before embarking on a course to follow Him. This pair took out their ready reckoners and decided it just wasn’t worth it. They couldn’t afford it. They were hardly lovingly supportive of their son. They pushed him to the front where he could take the flak and not them. Christianity costs!

Revelation is often progressive. It takes time. By the end of the chapter, this wonderfully healed man will come to a fuller understanding of who Christ is (35-38). But even here he is on his way (17b). It’s a beginning. His spiritual eyes are gradually opened.Let’s be patient. Give people time. Above all, give God time. ”When surrounded by fear and anger, the only way through is to glimpse whatever we can see of Jesus, and to follow him out of the dark and into the light.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’, p.139. Jesus enlightens!

PRAYER: Lord God, I pray that no threat or fear will ever make me disloyal to you.

John 9:1-12: A walking display case.

John 9:1-12: A walking display case.

“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.“I don’t know,” he said.” NIV

The purpose of a believer’s life is to be a ‘display cabinet’ for the work of God (3; cf. Matthew 5:14-16, 1 Peter 2:12, Psalm 18:28a).The work of God is transformative (8,9). Under the touch of Jesus Christ, some people change so much that they are barely recognisable as the same person. This is to His glory.

Like Jesus, we only have a brief life span in which to illuminate the world with heavenly light; to reflect the glory of Jesus – like the moon lit up with the rays of the sun (4, 5). We don’t have equal amounts of ‘sand’ in the egg timers of our lives, but this sand is running through. It is right to want to make your days and hours and minutes count. ”Only one life. ‘Twill soon be passed. And only what’s done for Jesus will last.”

Jesus’ work is creative. There is no evidence of a canned or pre-packaged approach with Him (6, 7 and 11). Jesus healed many people of a variety of conditions, but He didn’t have one way only of working. He did what He saw the Father doing. He kept in step with Him. That resulted in an enormous creativity of approach. Be prepared! Jesus may work in ways that take you totally by surprise.

It’s interesting that Jesus told the blind man to go and wash in the ”Pool of Siloam” (7) – a word which means ”Sent”. One of the themes in John’s gospel concerns the fact that Jesus was sent into the world by the Father, and the cure for spiritual blindness lies in His God-given mission.

PRAYER: Thank you Lord that you want to make my life a display case for your glory. May it be.

John 8:42-47: ‘Liar, liar.’

John 8:42-47: ‘Liar, liar.’

42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.’ NIV

David Pawson said that on one occasion he was invited to speak to a group of clergymen, and he was introduced as ”a preacher who STILL believes in the devil.”

Are you surprised that the world is full of hatred, violence, killing, murder and mayhem?

Are you shocked that the world is filled with lies?

We find it hard to trust the press. It’s not that everything we read is false, but we know that everyone has an angle. As we stand at the batting crease of life, so much information is bowled at us with a hair-raising amount of spin. We are pulled all over the place trying to deal with it. We are mesmerised by it.

We also find it difficult to believe the politicians. This widespread cynicism is sad, and somewhat misleading, because there are, I’m sure, many good and honest people in public office. But we believe we have been lied to by our leaders again and again. We are convinced that General Election campaigns are full of hype and false promises just to gain the most votes.

So do you find it strange, then, that a good number of people in the world ”still” believe in the devil, who, Jesus said, ”was a murderer from the beginning.” Also, it is the case that he does not hold ”to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (44).

Now I believe many Christians have been successfully lied to by Satan. They’ve been sold a pup. He has fathered families of lying offspring in hearts and minds. He has sown his seeds of falsehood in many a Christian field, and they have grown up into ugly choking weeds.

I know this passage deals primarily with the children of the devil (44): unconverted people who could not understand Jesus (43), or love Him (42); who could not hear Him (47) and who did not believe Him (46). They, in fact, wanted to kill Him (44). They had been duped by the many lies of their ”father”.

But today I particularly have in my heart fellow believers who are living well below the level of their privileges; who are not enjoying all that ‘abundant’ life means, because they have swallowed at least some of Satan’s lies. I pray that they may come to know the truth which sets free, then ”hold” (31) to that teaching for the rest of their days.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, by the power of your Spirit, please break these dark Satanic chains entangling and crushing so many hearts. Shine your light so brightly and your truth will set free.

John 8:31-41: No room…

John 8:31-41: No room…

31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’33 They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?’34 Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it for ever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you are doing what you have heard from your father.]39 ‘Abraham is our father,’ they answered.‘If you were Abraham’s children,’ said Jesus, ‘then you would do what Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are looking for a way to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the works of your own father.’‘We are not illegitimate children,’ they protested. ‘The only Father we have is God himself.’ NIV

”…you have no room for my word” (37b).

When Jesus, the ‘Logos’ – the living ‘Word’ – was born in Bethlehem, there was no room for Him in the inn. Later on in life, as the Word spoke His word, He found there was still no room for it in many a heart.

How about you? Have you got room for His word today? Room for all the space it will require? Room for every aspect of that word? Making room for the word of Christ will almost certainly mean that some other things have to go. In with the new and out with the old! 

Do you make room in your life daily for this word – not just to read it but also to apply it?

Somebody said something like this, ”We belong to a church that will permit us to not obey Christ’s word; but it will not allow us to say that’s what we’re doing.” We (for whatever the reasons) tolerate a lot of bad behaviour in church life without challenging or rebuking it.

There are people in churches today who profess strong religious affiliation (33, 39a, 41b), but who have little room, if any, for the word. The sermon must be no more than five minutes, and they certainly want the preacher to cook up something bland. They don’t want any red hot ‘vinderloo’ strength sermons. They may not be so extreme as to wantto kill the clergyman, but they will definitely oppose him, snap at his heels and run him out of town if at all possible. Many an evangelical preacher has suffered at the hands of unconverted congregants. When people are set against the gospel, and don’t want to know the Biblical Christ, they show their true colours. They reveal their spiritual parentage. They show just how much they resemble their ‘dad’.

Making room for Christ’s word will entail perseverance (31), ‘holding’ to that word through all kinds of circumstantial ‘weather’. Holding doesn’t mean merely having a theological standpoint. It involves practising your beliefs day by day. The truth believed and lived out through a lifetime will produce a life of genuine freedom. We are called to the obedience of sonship, in which we obey our Father because we love Him. It’s not because we have to but because we want to. In Dan White junior’s excellent book, ‘Subterranean’, he talks in one chapter about how the current education system extracts people from life situations where the knowledge they are learning should be worked out. It separates them from life in the ‘real world’. It takes them into the academy and away from the ‘coal face’. He says that the way people learn in the world has also affected teaching in the church. But ”What matters…what is dynamite is what is truly practiced” (p.36).

Making room for Christ’s word will result in purity (34; see also Psalm 119:9, 11). There is power in Christ’s word to set you free from sin. But do you want this liberation? Or have you got quite used to your life being enemy occupied territory? Have you accommodated yourself to the presence of invaders in your life who really ought not to be there?

Warren Wiersbe makes the point that Satan imposes slavery that seems like freedom (2 Peter 2:19) – and I will add that we can quite enjoy it.

”The swallow would not thank you to be freed to live on carrion, but only to mount again into the sunny air. Jesus frees us by the truth. The slavegirl will no longer serve in the house of her cruel oppressor, when she learns that the act of emancipation has passed and has no longer any claim upon her.” F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.466.

PRAYER: Lord, by your grace, I open my life to your word today. Let it shape all I am and do.

John 8: 12-20: ”Lighten our darkness”.

John 8: 12-20: ”Lighten our darkness”.

“12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’13 The Pharisees challenged him, ‘Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.’14 Jesus answered, ‘Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are true, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two witnesses is true. 18 I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.’19 Then they asked him, ‘Where is your father?’‘You do not know me or my Father,’ Jesus replied. ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also.’ 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple courts near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his hour had not yet come.” NIV

In John’s gospel you find a number of repeated themes. There are key words and phrases which come up again and again. Three of them are found in this short section:

  1. ”Light” (12). This is another of the ”I Am” sayings in the fourth gospel. They are undoubtedly claims to divinity.

    There are at least two ways in which we may think of God/Christ being ”light”:

  • Light is about clear sight: He brings illumination into our lives. He reveals spiritual truth to our hearts. He gives understanding. He also sheds light on our way. He shows us what to do/where to go. He guides our feet in His paths. At times He may only give enough light for the next step. But that is enough. And when you take it you’ll probably be able to see a further step;
  • Light is about a clean conscience: He brings holiness into our lives (1 John 1:5ff). As we walk in the light of Biblical truth we find that we are on the sunlit road of godliness. To walk in the light means to live in openness before the Lord and fellow believers, confessing our sins and experiencing the cleansing of the blood of Christ.
  1. ”Testimony”/”witness” (13, 14, 17, 18): There is a legal air to this. Jesus is verified/affirmed as God’s Son. He is who He says He is. Of course, as God, Jesus knew precisely who He was and where He was going (14,15). He could capably testify to Himself, but the Pharisees would not accept this (13). However, because the Father also testified to Him, there was the required twofold witness (17,18).
  1. ”Hour” (20). It was not yet ”time” for Jesus to die. When He did die it was obvious that God was in control, not wicked men.This was not a tragic waste of a young life, but a purposeful death. It could not happen outside of God’s timescale.

This section of the fourth gospel opens with the words: ”When Jesus spoke again to the people…” (12). Note the little, but so important, word ”again”. Here is an insight into Jesus’ perseverance. We read in (7:43) that ”the people were divided because of Jesus”. Yes, there were those who were open to Him and interested in Him; in fact fascinated by Him. But others were aggressive and abusive and some wanted to kill Him. Yet Jesus would not be silenced. Like a rubber ball He came bouncing back!! When Manchester United won their first European Champions League title under Sir Alex Ferguson (then just plain Alex), they had to slowly but surely claw their way back into a game that they were losing at half time. In the closing minutes they equalised through Teddy Sheringham, then ‘super sub’ Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came on and won it for them with virtually the last kick of the match. In his post match interview Sir Alex, as I recall, said something like this: ”I’m so proud of my team. They never gave in; they just kept going. The famous nineteenth century preacher C.H. Spurgeon said, ”By perseverance the snail made it to the ark.”

In Junior school, we regularly said this prayer at the end of the day. It seems appropriate to quote it here: ”Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee O Lord, and by thy great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night.”

John 7: 1-13: Family matters

John 7: 1-13: Family matters

“After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.’ For even his own brothers did not believe in him.Therefore Jesus told them, ‘My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.’ After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.10 However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. 11 Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, ‘Where is he?’12 Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ 13 But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders.” NIV

It is a dangerous thing to be a Christian in this world (7, 11, 13).The world hated Jesus, and it will hate those who walk in His steps and speak His words; those who expose it; who show it up for the dark and dismal place it is. People do not like conviction of sin. 

”The world has nothing against you, but it’s up in arms against me. It’s against me because I expose the evil behind its pretensions.” The Message.

So the opening verse of chapter 7 shows that it is fine to act wisely to protect yourself, so long as that does not conflict with doing God’s will. Jesus was willing to die, and He knew that He would, when it was the right ”time” (or ”hour”). This is a repeated theme in John’s gospel. (We will come across it again in verses 6-9). Jesus wanted all His movements to be according to a divine timetable. He wanted all He did to be in the will of God – not just His dying, but also His living. It seems that He could not have been too far behind His brothers in leaving for the ”Feast” (8). Even so, He was on a different timetable to them. Frank Laubach tells how he got to a place in life where regularly, during the day, he would ask God that he might do His will in what came next. To look to the Father in this way became a habit and pattern in this missionary’s life. Jesus was not going to take His orders from his brothers, however much He loved them. He was not under their authority.

”Live on God’s schedule and you will always have God’s help.” Warren W. Wieners be: ‘With the Word’, p.693.

There is encouragement here for all those who have family members who don’t understand them; who are out of sympathy with them because of their faith. Jesus’ brothers did ”not believe in him” (5). What they said to Him sounds hurtful. There is no indication in the Bible that Jesus ever ‘wanted’ to be ”a public figure” (4). They just did not ‘get’ Him at all. But it looks like later on, at some point – probably after His resurrection – his brothers came to faith (Acts 1:14). So don’t give up. Don’t stop praying for your family. Don’t lose heart. Keep living a life of dedication to God, and keep on shining His light into their darkness. It’s the kindest; most loving thing you can do for anyone.

There is, in this passage, another reminder that Jesus divides people (12, 13). So it will be until the end of time. This is one big reason why it is dangerous to be a believer.

”But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ”You are my God.” My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me.” Psalm 31:14, 15.

Prayer: Lord, help me to be both courageous and wise. I don’t want cowardice to force me into hiding when I should be highly visible in my witness. But I do need the wisdom to know when to take a lower and quieter profile. Help me to know your will and timing in everything.

John 6:60-71: How to empty your church.

John 6:60-71: How to empty your church.

“60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you – they are full of the Spirit and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.’66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.67 ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve.68 Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’70 Then Jesus replied, ‘Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!’ 71 (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.)” NIV

A while ago I saw an extract on the news, of an interview with the then England football manager, Sam Allerdyce. He explained that he had developed a certain toughness through the years and gave every impression of a man relishing the challenge. He said with a smile, ”Bring it on boys!”

Leadership is tough, and it is an art to be able to have the hide of an elephant and yet retain the heart of a child. It’s a delicate balance to be able to combine softness and strength. A lot of us are not made of the sort of stuff that smilingly says, ”Bring it on.” We’d avoid it if we could.

But as a preacher you must be prepared to speak the ‘hard’ truth (60). You don’t have to be hard in your manner; but you must not put the hard truths of the gospel in a blender and mush them up.

As a leader you have to be prepared to face grumbling and offence (61). You won’t always be understood and you can’t always be popular.

In John 6, Jesus preached a message that emptied the church – well, almost. At the end of it He only had twelve left in His congregation. (Actually, He knew it was just eleven: verses 70, 71). But was He a success in God’s eyes? Of course He was! We can be too obsessed with growing numbers. The black and white stats don’t tell the whole story.

Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones tells this story:

”A Brahman came to me confidentially one day and said, ”Your addresses have been very much enjoyed, but there is one thing I would suggest. If you will preach Christ as a way, all right, but say that there may be other ways as well. If you do this, India will be at your feet.” I replied, thanking my brother for his concern, but said: ”I am not looking for popularity, and it is not a question what I should say. It is a question of what are the facts. They have the final word.” I should be glad, more than glad, if I could say that there are others who are saving men, but I know of only One to whom I dare actually apply the term ”Saviour.” But I do dare apply it to Christ unreservedly and without qualification.” ‘The Christ of the Indian Road’, pp.48, 49.

As faithfully as you may preach the good news, the anointing of the Spirit bringing a life-giving word is no guarantee of belief (62, 63). As we saw previously, the mystery of God’s Sovereign grace is at work in every conversion (65). And there were those who believed, few though they were in number. They were not perfect. They included in their ranks Peter, with all his flaws. But he was ever big-hearted Peter; quick to say the right thing on this occasion. Does he not speak for us all? (68, 69). As E. Stanley Jones observed, there is no one like Jesus.

Prayer: Toughen me up Lord to always do and say the right thing; the required thing, in any given circumstance. But please, also, keep my heart so soft towards you, and to every person I meet.

John 6:1-13: ‘…how far will they go…?’

John 6:1-13:

“Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing those who were ill. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming towards him, he said to Philip, ‘Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?’ He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.Philip answered him, ‘It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!’Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’10 Jesus said, ‘Make the people sit down.’ There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.’ 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.” NIV

 Andrew’s response to this food shortage was, perhaps, a little better than Philip’s (7, 9). At least it had a speck of faith in it. But not a lot. He could not imagine what use so small a picnic lunch could be:

”Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (9). He repeats the word ‘SMALL’. It is underlined in our thinking by repetition. 

We face the challenge of smallness in a world that is in love with the big, the bold and the brassy.

Our thinking is often similar:

”I’m such a small person – small in my own estimation – what great thing could I ever do?”

”My gifts seem so small and unspectacular, how could I be of help?”

”My financial contribution to this project is trivial compared to the sums certain people can donate? Does it really count for anything?”

”Our church is so small. We’re not a mega-church. We don’t have all the bells and whistles, the technological wizardry possessed by the church down the road. What’s the point of our existence? Do we have any meaningful role to play?”

The problem is, we tend to equate the word ‘small’ with another word – ‘insignificant’. At least, many of us do. But God doesn’t. Remember David (and Goliath!! Remember him?)

And this story shows that little becomes much when you place it in the mighty Hands of Jesus.

It was said of Hudson Taylor (I think) that he was ‘a man small enough for God to use.’ On one occasion he was being introduced at a meeting, and the convener gave him such a big build up, saying what a great man he was etc, etc. Hudson came to the platform and declared, ‘I am just the small servant of an illustrious Master.’

And look what God did with that one small life! Hudson Taylor placed his perceived smallness into the mighty Hands of God and see what happened. There was a multiplying effect and countless numbers of people were affected for good. Many were converted; many were called into Christian service. The nation of China was powerfully impacted.

It’s not about how small you are, but how big Jesus is. And Jesus already has ‘in mind’ what to do with little old you (6). So fear not.

”Christ often tests us to see what we shall say and do in the presence of overwhelming difficulty, but he always knows the way out…The world is to be fed by the cooperation of Christ and his Church.” F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.462.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I place my life afresh into you Hands today. Please make me more than I ever thought I could be.

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