Monday, October 19, 2009

Devotion: Set It Before Them

We’re familiar with Jesus feeding the 5000 (see Mark 6) and the 4000 (see Mark 8), but God has been miraculously feeding people throughout history. He provided manna to sustain the children of Israel in the wilderness, and water from rocks. There are multiple accounts in the Old Testament where God provides food for people in need. Here we have the record of God providing bread for a hundred men in the midst of a famine:

A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God [Elisha] twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. "Give it to the people to eat," Elisha said.
"How can I set this before a hundred men?" his servant asked.
But Elisha answered, "Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: 'They will eat and have some left over.' " Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD.
2 Kings 4:42-44

Today I’d like to draw your attention to the phrase “set it before them.” This is obedience in action, passing along God’s provision for their needs. God gets the glory, and we get to participate in the miracle. No boasting allowed! (see 1 Corinthians 3:21 about boasting) Note that God could have caused barley loaves to appear on everyone’s plate – but He chose to use someone to serve. He still operates this way today.

Our Lord orchestrates many situations – both everyday and extraordinary – so that you and I are given something in order to serve others.

We are blessed with food and clothing and shelter. Our families, friends, and even enemies need these things. Our task? Set it before them.

We have the fullness of God’s peace, and experience grace upon grace from the Lord, encouraged daily by fresh mercies. Our task? Set it before them.

In Christ we have power to rejoice and laugh, and mourn with those in pain. Our task? Set it before them.

We have the Gospel message itself. Our task? Set it before them.

In all these things we see the pattern: God provides, and we set it before others.

The result? Our giving allows other people to experience God’s provision, and disciplines us more and more into Christ-likeness. Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of giving in order to save people and glorify God.

So I encourage you today to look for opportunities to give from what God has provided you and set it before others. The world rarely understands how much you have to share, but they will recognize God’s love and power when you do.

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