Monthly Archives: December 2018

The Great Multiplier

Have you ever felt inadequate for a task you were facing? 

Certainly the disciples felt this way when Jesus told them to feed a crowd of five thousand who had gathered to hear him preach and heal those who needed healing.

“You give them something to eat,” Jesus told them, but they protested, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish.” They complained about how much it would cost to feed so many.  Then Jesus instructed them to have the crowd sit down in groups of fifty.  He took the five loaves and two fish, gave thanks, broke them and gave them to the disciples to distribute to the crowd.  Luke reports, “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.” (Luke 9:10-17)

Jesus took what was insufficient and made it sufficient to serve his purposes.  He does the same thing with us.  He takes our resources and talents that are usually insufficient for the task of taking care of God’s creation and building his kingdom, and makes them sufficient. 

When my wife and I were first married in our early 20’s, I was silently apprehensive about whether I could be a good father when we had children.  I felt grossly inadequate for the task.  I had trouble imagining myself as a father doing all the things that would be necessary and appropriate to raise children in a Christian home.

When our first daughter was born, much of that apprehension started to melt away.  My first stop upon leaving the hospital was to visit our church and thank God for her birth.  Five adult children and thirteen grandchildren later, I look back and see how God’s grace took my early inadequacies and made them adequate.   Surely there were mistakes, but he took my desires and love and those of my wife, and multiplied them to serve his purposes.   One of his purposes is to build and perpetuate his kingdom through family.

Jesus is the great multiplier.  From the very beginning he took a handful of uneducated fisherman, a despised tax collector and others, and transformed them by the power of his Holy Spirit to lead the most profound revolution the world has ever seen.  He has done the same thing with people throughout the history of his church – many of whom were initially leading sinful lives.

He is doing the same thing today with us.  He takes our inadequate prayer, desires and efforts, and multiplies their effect to enable us to bring his presence to the people and circumstances of our lives.

As we prepare to celebrate God becoming one of us in the person of the baby Jesus, let us remember that he takes us as we are, and by his grace and with our cooperation, multiplies us into what he wants us to be and enables to do what he wants us to do. 

Grateful Witness

When we experience a blessing from God, do we tell other people about it?

The Gospel of Luke tells the story of Jesus delivering a man named Legion of many demons.  Luke reports, “For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. Many times [the evil spirit] had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains.”  (Luke 8:26-39) Matthew reports that he was so violent that none could pass where he was.

After Jesus had delivered him of many demons, the man begged to go with Jesus, but Jesus said, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.”

Jesus calls us to be a witness to him and his action in our lives. (Acts 1:8)  The psalms and St. Paul encourage us to give thanksgiving in all circumstances. (Psalm 100:4; 1Th. 5:16)  So, how do we tell people what God has done for us without sounding prideful or boastful?

Jesus alluded to this question in his Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector wherein he warned the disciples about being self-righteous.  The Pharisee prayed about what he had done, thanking God that he was not “like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like the tax collector.”  He went on to say, “I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”  Jesus then said, “But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner.” 

Jesus declared that it was the tax collector, not the Pharisee, who went home justified before God.  The Pharisee was not thanking God for what God had done in his life, but rather what he, the Pharisee had done – a self-described righteousness. 

As I write this week’s post, I am completing my 79th year and there is so much that “God has done for me” – loving parents who gave me a Christian heritage, a loving wife of 55 years, five children, four of whom are raising Christian families of their own, and a daughter with special needs who has taught us a lot about God’s ways.  God gave me the opportunity to engage in meaningful and rewarding work that hopefully served as a thread in advancing the fabric of his creation.  He has given me various opportunities of ministry to represent his Word and hopefully contribute to his kingdom.

But these are just some of the highlights.  There is so much more.  One of the greatest things God did was reach out to me at a time when my life might have gotten off track, and allowed me to experience his presence in a new and personal way.

He has done all of these things while I am still a sinner, often failing to live up to his message of love and selflessness.  But this is not unique to me.  He offers the blessings of himself to all who invite him into their lives.

So I offer thanks to God for all that he has done for me, not out of pride, but as a grateful witness to his grace, love and care.