Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Throwing Bricks

My scripture today comes from Mark 6:30-44.  I want to begin by asking you all an important question….Does God Have To Throw A Brick To Get Your Attention?  A young and successful executive was travelling through a rough neighbourhood, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar.  He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed on set of parked cars, no children appeared . Instead, a brick smashed into the side of the Jag! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown.The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what do you think you are doing? That’s a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?" The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister...please, I’m sorry but I didn’t know what else to do," he pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car."It’s my brother, "he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can’t lift him up." Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He’s hurt and he’s too heavy for me." Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay.  "Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shaken up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.   It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: "Don’t go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!" God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don’t have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us. It’s our choice to listen or not.  And one of the bricks that God throws when we are in the fast lane - you can hear echoing down the portals of history from the story of the feeding of the five thousand in Mark’s Gospel. And this is the words of Jesus when he said to his disciples:  (Read Mark 6: 30-44)  Verse 31 tells us:  "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." We live in a society where we are often very busy. Often I look in my teaching job and wonder how I will survive the week. I am in such a rush.  Yet Mother Theresa once observed: God is rarely found in the midst of noise and restlessness. Instead he is the friend of silence.  The disciples were on Cloud 9.  They had come back from a very successful mission trip. Mark records that the disciples “drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them” They wanted to keep on going. God is at work – how wonderful.  Conventional wisdom would have said: “Strike while the iron is hot. Put another evangelistic campaign together. “ But JESUS said: “Pull aside with me for rest” Rest is so important if we are going to complete the course.  By resting in Jesus, we see three principles which shine out of the story of the feeding of the five thousand.

 I. God is in control.   Our problems don’t go away, but we acknowledge that God can deal with them.

II. We will be surprised that God will use our meagre resources- in ways we cannot dream about

III. When God acts, He supplies liberally.

So let’s take a few moments and let’s look at each of these principles.  1. The first principle is that God is in control.  You know there is a temptation in life to be overwhelmed by things. The disciples were probably going to burn out if they had not drawn aside. How many of God’s people haven’t finished the course - because of burn out. In the fall of 1904, Wales experienced a monumental religious awakening that shook the nation. It turned Wales’ coal mines into sanctuaries. Pubs closed as did the local brothels, and scheduled sporting events were cancelled.  God used a young man called Evan Roberts (1878-1950) as the prime mover in this Revival and he rose to national prominence. The Welsh press was for several months full of stories about Roberts - and the revival meetings he presided over.  Yet after six months of intensive labour, Roberts withdrew from his ministry - an emotionally and physically broken man. Sadly, he did not return to public ministry for nearly twenty-five years. Evan Roberts suffered from “Burn out”.  Jesus recognized that we all need rest – time to draw aside regularly and spend time with God. And as we do so - our problems take a different perspective.  If we are going to be successful as Christians, we need to acknowledge that Christ is the source of all we do. And so we need to spend time with Him, in prayer and Bible Study, recharging the batteries and receiving our guidance from him.   2. The second principle is that God can take our meagre resources and use them spectacularly. Almost immediately after the time of relaxing with Jesus, the disciples are confronted with a massive problem – how to feed 5000 people – with no supermarkets to buy from. (in Mk 6:35-42)  It seemed an impossible problem. But they did the only thing they could – they brought the problem to Christ.   In one of the parishes where my friend, Mary lived as a child her mom told the story about parish treasurer,  Sylvia Chesterman of a small church who despaired of paying the Parish Share for that year - with so few people in church giving regularly. The previous year, the Church had defaulted and  she just couldn’t see how they could possibly pay this particular year either.  So when the bill for the Parish Share came, she took it into church and laid it on the altar. Within six months, God had provided and the parish share was paid in full. We might feel, like the disciples, did that five loaves and two fishes weren’t going anywhere, but our gifts in the hands of God can be multiplied spectacularly.  Often we think that what we have to offer isn’t worth offering. Jesus took the five loaves and two fishes to feed 5000 people. God provides but he uses the little we have to kick start the process.  3. The third principle is that when God supplies the needs, everyone goes home satisfied.  What has often surprised me in this story is the fact that there were 12 baskets left over. Symbolic of the 12 tribes of Israel and that Jesus is sufficient to meet all their needs.  Perhaps but looked at a bit more simply - people didn’t just eat a little – they ate a lot – and there was still some leftover.  When God supplies our needs, we don’t have to worry. He cares for us just as we do for our children  If you are anything like me, you worry. My mom had a wonderful saying: Why pray when you can worry.   When I am tempted to worry, I find the words of Jesus so encouraging:  In Matthew : 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ’What shall we eat?’ or ’What shall we drink?’ or ’What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.: (Mt 6.25-34)  And thereby lies the key. We as followers of Jesus are called to seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness.  There is a temptation to look at all the problems we have and despair. However, Jesus challenges us today to draw aside and bring Him our problems. Or does God have to throw a brick at us to get our attention? Amen?

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