20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Thanksgiving in America has become a celebration of all matters of opulence. We eat a huge turkey “stuffed” with bread. We engage in a feast of desserts and sweets and treats, before, during and after a grand meal. Even our vegetables are celebrated in excess: sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, creamed corn, salad upon salad.
We come together and drink wine and celebrate our huge families, or our huge amount of friends, or our huge amount of food and festivity. We argue over politics and social justice and how the government should spend its copious amounts of cash.
And then we go shopping and celebrate our own cash hoards. Huge sales, huge expenditures, huge tvs, huge toys, huge crowds, huge SUVs to put it all in. It’s just more and more and more. All in celebration of our abundance.
Our God is the God of abundance. He is a God of provision. Of leftovers. Of fullness. But we’ve lost the plot in favor of celebrating ourselves and our own achievements, our own leftovers. What if we stopped looking at ourselves and our great prosperity, and started to look to God for our fulfillment, our nourishment, and our joy?
God loves to take care of His children. We’re often just so caught up with taking care of ourselves that we forget that God wants to be our provision, and give us leftovers besides!
Look what happened in Scripture with Elisha:
42 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” 43 But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’” 44 So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.
2 Kings 4:42-44
The servant immediately looked to find provision among the worldly offering presented by the man from Baal-shalishah. He looked at the food and instantly decided that there was no way that food would go all the way around. But Elisha doesn’t look at the food, he looks instead to the provider of the food: God, who made the food and brought it to them.
Elisha then proclaims the Lord’s provision, “they shall eat and have some left”. Elisha knew that God is a God of leftovers. He didn’t doubt it, or look to himself. He knew.
In the New Testament, the Disciples got the same opportunity to look to God for provision. They knew the scriptures and the story of Elisha. They had learned these stories from history since their childhood. But when the time came to proclaim the provision of the Lord, they looked instead to themselves.
15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.”
The Disciples fell into the same trap we are all guilty of at times. They looked at what they had instead of what God could provide. Jesus had given them the perfect chance to fall back into the grace and provision of the Father, and instead they panicked. Their response to the people’s need for food, “send them away to take care of themselves!”
It had to break Jesus’ heart to have His beloved friends so quickly turn from trusting God in the invisible things, but not trusting Him in the physical things. They looked to themselves instead of the promises of God. Even though they had the Holy Scriptures to know that God could provide for them.
Jesus is patient, though. He would not waste the lesson He wanted to teach because of His friend’s lack of faith. Instead, He spoke with authority and faith to His Disciples.
8 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
God is the God of leftovers. Isn’t it time we celebrated Him instead of ourselves?
give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”