Above and Beyond…

 


These two stories that we’re going to look at in this post have a lot of content to them. They are both layered with some really interesting truths; as I was going through both of them, there was a bunch of stuff just flying off the pages at me. I don’t have enough time to write about them all today…but trust me, we will certainly re-visit both of these amazing stories in some later posts.

For the sake of today’s subject, I want to dive into the concept of God’s generosity and what His definition of supplying for all our needs really is.

When God meets a need, He likes to bless us with more than enough. He’s not a ‘barely-get-by’ God. He likes to go above and beyond.

In 2 Kings 4:1-7, we read about the widow who had a large amount of debt that needed to be paid immediately. The only thing of value that she had was a small pitcher of olive oil…but that small amount was more than enough for what was about to happen.

God used the prophet Elisha to perform a miracle; Elisha tasked the woman and her boys to go and borrow as many empty containers from the neighbors as they could.  Notice that she was commanded to get empty containers. Upon first glance that would defy human logic.

I mean, if I’m in dire straits, and the only thing of value that I have is a little flask of oil, and the repo man is about to come and take all I have, the last thing I’m going to do is borrow from my neighbors a bunch empty containers. I’d want to borrow something of value…something that I could use to pay my bills.

Ahhh…but here we see the logic of God versus the logic of man. If man solved the problem then man gets the glory, hence it wouldn’t be a miracle!  But I digress…this is a subject that I’ll need to talk about at another time…more to follow.

Anyways, when the woman and her boys had returned with all these containers, Elisha told her to start filling them up one by one. This woman was going to see God do the supernatural; she was about to see physics defied!

Now I can imagine the woman being skeptical with the first container; she was probably looking at the little pitcher, that held the last little supply of olive oil, as she slowly poured into another borrowed container. To her amazement that little pitcher didn’t run out, but instead was able to fill each and every one of the containers that she and her sons had borrowed from the neighbors.

In fact, she was so astonished by what she was seeing take place before her own eyes, she wasn’t even keeping track of how many containers they had already filled up. 2nd Kings chapter 4, verse 6 says “…When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.” He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.” Then the oil stopped.”

But God wasn’t done yet…when we move on to verse 7, we read how she went and told Elisha what had happened; his reply was “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.”

Not only did God meet this woman’s needs, He ensured that they had plenty to live off of.

Another story in the Bible that echoes this same principle is when Jesus fed the multitude from just five barley loaves and two fish.

This story is written about by both John and Matthew. In John chapter 6, we read about a large crowd of people that had been following Jesus. According to the accounts provided by John and Matthew, there were about 5000 men, not counting women and children, so if you factor all of them together, that’s probably about 15000 to 18000 people total.

Take a look closely, both Matthew and John annotate that Jesus was the first to notice that the crowd of people were hungry. I think that is significant and characteristic of the Lord. In Matthew chapter 6 verse 8, Jesus says, “…your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” This is kind of a side note, but I think it’s worth mentioning, because we can often find ourselves stressing about whether or not God even notices the challenges we’re walking through…yet here we see that Jesus was the first to address the fact that the crowd of people hadn’t had something to eat and that they were hungry.

Any ways…like I said at the beginning…there is a lot here between both of these stories.

We read on further that the only source of food readily available was a small lunch basket that belonged to a young boy who was willing to share; it contained five barley loaves and two fish.

Jesus took the small meal, and looking toward Heaven, blessed the meal and started portioning out the meal to His disciples for them to distribute throughout the crowd. Each person in the crowd took a portion for themselves and then passed along to his or her neighbor who then broke off a portion and repeated…and so on and so on.

We’re never told how long it took everyone to get a meal and eat, but what we do know is that everyone, over 15000 people, had eaten their full and were satisfied!

I like the way the Message Bible translation describes it. In John chapter 6, verse 11 it says “…All ate as much as they wanted.”

­But the story and theme of above and beyond doesn’t end there. Not only were thousands of people fed to the point of satisfaction, with a meal that came from such small and meager beginnings, but Jesus took it a step further. He upped the game by leaving leftovers. And not just a couple extra plates to go, but there were 12 baskets full of leftovers…12. If my math is right, that’s one basket for each one of His disciples.

Did you notice that? The same Jesus who just fed thousands upon thousands of people buffet style, also had the mind and consideration to make sure that His core group of guys had a big take home bag.

That’s the kind of God we serve. He is the God of more than enough…above and beyond…far more than you can ask or even think.

Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there is so much more that we can dissect from these two stories. Even as I was reading them, there was so much that was jumping out at me; all these nuances and little nuggets of truth that were just waiting to be mined and pieced together. As the Lord leads, I’ll meditate on them, digest and then write…I can’t wait to share.

But until then, I want to focus our attention on how generous God really is. He’s not about letting us barely get by and simply making it.  Think about it…God went all out and spared no expense when it came to the cost of our souls. He knew that the only way to cover the bill for all of humanity was to send His only Son…Jesus Christ. And God did that free of charge…no catch or IOU sent to us…. He covered the tab.

That fact, in and of itself, is more than enough…but then Jesus said in John 10:10 “…I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

My takeaway from this is simple: When asking God to meet a need, don’t be surprised when He meets the need and then goes above and beyond the parameters of the need and gives us extra blessings, in addition to what we’ve already asked for.

Abundance and overflow is God’s way of doing business with man. His generosity knows no bounds. He is kind, warm and compassionate. The Lord is endless in His love and limitless in His giving.

 

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