God of Miracles – Week Four – Leaders’ Guide
VIDEO: Show tonight’s video here: God of Miracles – Week 4
ICEBREAKER: Before we discuss the feeding of the 5000 answer this question. Do you prefer going to a really nice restaurant and enjoying a high quality but expensive meal? Or do you prefer going to an all you can eat buffet, where the food isn’t of the highest quality but it is unending?
[Q] Briefly discuss the message from Sunday.
[Q] Name one thing that stood out to you from Sunday’s message.
[Q] Is there one question from Sunday’s message that you would like to ask or discuss?
[Q] Do you have a new way of dealing with anxiety after being reminded that Christ calms life’s storms? Share with your group.
APPLY THE BIBLE:
[Leaders’ Background and TIP] Early Christian tradition indicates this Gospel was written by John, the disciple, and son of Zebedee. The Gospel claims to have been written by the beloved disciple, an unnamed figure so designated only in this Gospel (21:20–24). John, son of Zebedee, is almost certainly the beloved disciple and author of this Gospel, but some doubts remain since John is not mentioned by name.
John is divided into two main parts. In the first section (2–11) the focus is on both Jesus’ ministry to “the world” and the signs He performed. Jesus performs seven signs that meet with varying responses. The disciples see the signs and believe (2:11). Some see the signs and still reject Jesus, as is illustrated by those who knew of the raising of Lazarus and yet did not believe (11:47). Moreover, there are some like Nicodemus who seem to be “secret believers” (3:1–2; 7:50–51).
The second major section (12–21) reveals Jesus’ teaching to His disciples and the triumphant “hour” of His passion. Jesus instructs His followers that they will experience the presence of another Comforter (or “Paraclete”), the Holy Spirit. The disciples must live out their love for Him in obedience to Him. They must live as He lived. He is the good shepherd, and they are His flock. His flock will hear His voice and follow Him. True believers are those who obey Jesus. He is the vine and they are the branches. Their life and unity is found in Him. Further, they must be known for their love for one another, sacrificial love, and even laying down of one’s life for others.
LEADERS’ TIP: Don’t assume that your group knows anything about this passage. This is one of the few miracles which is found in every Gospel account! Share with them the background of what is going on. Many will remember John the Baptist from Pastor Tim’s message during week 1. In Matthew, Mark and John’s gospel accounts, the feeding of the 5,000 occurs right after Jesus walks on water, the message from Sunday! Be sure to make the connection that even after seeing Jesus walk on water, the apostles did not understand the power of love of Jesus Christ, but don’t be too hard on them (as we often are), we are so very similar every day!
Background on John 6: 1-13 We learned that Jesus had commissioned his disciples to go and minister in his name throughout the countryside (Mark 6: 6-13). While his disciple were sent out on their ministry trip, Jesus had gotten word that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been executed by Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great (who tried to have Jesus killed as a baby in Matthew 2: 16-18).
But Jesus had just gone VIRAL! Everyone wanted the great miracle worker from Nazareth to minister to them. In the gospel of Mark, we read that when Jesus saw the crowds and he had compassion on them and was teaching them many things late into the night. And that is where Jesus and his disciples discovered the problem of getting enough food to feed their guests.
[Q] Have someone from your group summarize the story. What parts of the story spoke to you?
[Q] Where were Jesus and His disciples going? Based on the background, what do you think Jesus’ mood was? How about the mood of His disciples?
John 6:1 Sometime after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias),
Jesus and his disciple are getting away for 2 reasons. Jesus wants to spend time with His disciples and grieve the loss of his cousin, but also wants to debrief the wins, losses, and learnings that His disciples experienced when they went and ministered without him.
The mood was heavy. Jesus was probably processing his grief at the loss of his cousin. The disciples probably felt Jesus’ mood, but also full of anticipation because of what the disciples had experienced and they couldn’t wait to share with Jesus what they had seen and done.
[Q] What was the Jewish festival that they were about to celebrate? Why do you think that is significant?
The Passover Feast. The Passover is the event that defined the Jewish people, if your Group is unfamiliar with the Passover Feast or how it came to be or you want to be reminded, you should read Exodus 12 together so that your Group can make the connection with the blood of the lamb being used to save Jewish households and Jesus as the Blood of the Lamb who saves us. Jewish people still celebrate Passover as a way to remember what God had done for them. As followers of Jesus, we remember all that Christ has done when we receive communion together.
This is significant in this passage as the Passover remembrance was also the time that Jesus had communion with his disciples for the first time. This event of God’s rescue of His people will also be the way that God uses Jesus to rescue people from their sins.
The feeding of the 5000 is the only miracle story told in all four Gospels.
Perhaps this story has such a secure place in the memory of the church because of the Eucharistic [communion] themes which it carries. This is especially true in John where Jesus’ action over the bread is described with the verb eucharisteo, “give thanks,” rather than the Synoptic [Matthew, Mark, and Luke] Gospels’ “blessing” (John 6:11, 23).
Leader’s Tip – The Synoptic (which means summary) gospels are Matthew, Mark, and Luke. They are all similar and seem to be sharing a lot of material. John’s gospel account seems to have a different focus and has distinctive features from the other 3.
While each Gospel includes this story, each also strikes distinctive notes in the telling. Only John tells us that this event takes place near the festival of Passover (John 6:4). What may seem like an insignificant detail, in fact is at the heart of what the entire chapter claims about Jesus.
At the end of chapter 5, Jesus states that his opponents did not understand or believe what Moses had written (John 5:39-47). We then are ushered immediately into a scene that not only takes place at Passover, one of the great events associated with Moses, but into a text that overflows with echoes of the Passover event. – Brian Peterson
Jesus is said to go up “to the mountain” (notice that it is not simply “a” mountain in verse 3). In fact, the text strangely says that after the feeding, Jesus (again?) withdrew “to the mountain” (verse 15). Perhaps this repeated mention of “the mountain” (another piece unique to John’s account) is intended to recall that other mountain in Israel’s story, where Moses met God.
The people will grumble (verse 41), just as Israel did in the wilderness (Exodus 16:2).
Thus, this text echos of the Passover-Exodus story. If chapter 5 ended with complaints about a shallow, superficial understanding of Moses, then chapter 6 intends to show a deeper, fuller understanding of Moses and the Passover which is now revealed in Jesus.
Verse 14 indicates that the people have made the connections. Faced with this feeding miracle in the wilderness, they remember the promise that God will raise up a prophet like Moses, and they confess that Jesus is that prophet. But they fail to realize what this sign actually reveals. Instead of seeing in Jesus the very embodiment of God’s glory, love, and Word, they see a king, a political or military figure who might serve their desires.
We ought to remember the Passover was a festival of national liberation from a foreign oppressor. It is an act of revolution to want to make Jesus king. The crowds are certainly acting on their beliefs, and acting boldly; but they have missed the point of what has happened. They see Jesus’ gracious gift, but they want a glory for him that fits into their assumptions and serves their goals.
[Q] How often do we fail to see the depths of what God is doing, because we are focused only on what serves our immediate desires and needs?
We fail to realize how graciously God is acting among us, for our sake and for the sake of the whole world. We only see partially and in distorted ways. We need the continuing word of Jesus, and the gift of himself, if we are to move more deeply into the glory of God. This is what the crowds need as well, though it will take all of chapter 6 to tell the story.
[Q] How do we use Jesus to fit into our assumptions and goals in life rather than following Him as the Scriptures portray Him? Why can it be so difficult?
When the Jews saw Jesus, they expected Him to be a conquering king. A warrior Messiah that would rid Israel of Roman rule and establish the Kingdom of Israel for all time. As Americans, we can easily make the same mistake. Some Christians living in America may assume that Jesus wants to “take back America” like the Jews wanted Jesus to take back Israel.
Some people want Jesus to fit into their own goals and assume that by being “religious” or “spiritual,” He will make our lives better (however we define what better is). There is a false teaching that says following Jesus will actually make you healthy all the time as well as financially sound as well. All of these views do the same thing, they put Jesus in a box and they force Jesus to serve our needs rather than serving Him. However, Jesus doesn’t stay in that box for long, and He is always challenging our views until we see Him as He is.
In your group, there may be a mixture of these views. People may see Jesus as a means to an end. The people saw Jesus as a way to get a free meal, so help your group make this connection. It can be so difficult to see Jesus as He is because we’ve been taught from a young age how to see Jesus and how to think about Christ. We need a true renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) to have the ability to see and understand what the Scriptures are teaching about Jesus as He truly is, not how we want Him to be.
[Q] In verse 6, we read that Jesus was testing His disciples, because He had in mind what He was already going to do. Think about your present circumstances and situations. How do you think God is testing you? How are you currently responding? Does it provide you any comfort knowing that Jesus already knows what He is going to do and He also is guiding you through each test? Do you see any connection between Sunday’s message and this text? What could God be trying to teach you?
Leaders Tip – Here we are trying to connect the text to what the people in your group are going through. The disciples had an impossible task before them, a task they couldn’t do on their own. They needed to draw on resources beyond them. This, in many ways, is the test that God gives us. He puts us in situations where we have to choose to trust in Christ, or in our own resources.
James says to “Consider it joy” when we face trials of many kinds (James 1: 2-4). Because that is how God builds endurance in His people so that we would lack nothing.
Help your group see their struggles and trials as ways God is testing them teaching them to grow in their reliance and trust in Him. Help them see the connection between Sunday’s message on getting out of the boat and trusting Jesus and this text. If Jesus is at work in our testing, He has a plan that He is walking us through in our struggles and our trials. He is helping us to look to Him for our resources and help rather than our own abilities alone.
In verses 7-8, we see an exchange between Jesus, Philip and Andrew. Philip is from the closest town in that area. That is why Jesus asks him about where to get bread. Philip, in all of his practicality, can’t imagine feeding all of these people. Philip has no idea what to do.
[Q] Can you relate to Philip? Share with your group a situation you may have been in and you did not know how to respond.
As the leader, start with your own situation. Is there something that you don’t know what to do with? It could be a situation with your kids, with your parents, or at work. A situation that seems beyond what you have the ability or the resources to know how to handle. As you share your story, it will help your group be able to share what they are wrestling with and what they are struggling with. As you listen to your group share their story, listen closely to opportunities to help them to see how God wants to do something in the midst of it.
[Q] Andrew brings a boy to Jesus with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. Barley loaves were the food of poor people. These 5 loaves and two fish were nowhere near enough. Still, Jesus takes the little that was offered to Him and used it to multiply into a great miracle! What life lessons can we learn?
This story shows us that we need to bring to Jesus whatever we have.
NT Wright says this about Andrew and Philip’s response:
Philip doesn’t know what to do. Andrew doesn’t either, but he brings the boy and his bread and fish to Jesus’ attention. The point is obvious, but we perhaps need to be reminded of it: so often we ourselves have no idea what to do, but the starting-point is always to bring what is there to the attention of Jesus. You can never tell what he’s going to do with it—though part of Christian faith is the expectation that he will do something we hadn’t thought of, something new and creative.
Discuss with your group what they can offer to Christ in the face of struggles and problems. Bring to Jesus your situation, whether it is your fault or not. Jesus is known to be able to transform and bring good things out of difficult situations. Bring to Jesus difficult family members, co-workers, neighbors or bosses. Bring to Him situations that seem impossible and trust that God can bring creative solutions to those situations. Help your group see that there are ways they can bring Jesus into those situations.
[Q] Look at verse 10-11. Jesus had the disciples make the people sit down. In other aspects of the story, Jesus has the disciples distribute the food. It seems that Jesus often included people in His miracles. People do what they are responsible for, but then Jesus does what only Jesus can do. In your situations and circumstances, what is it that only YOU can do, and what is it that only God can do?
When it comes to faith there are two parts. There is God’s part and our part. God will always do His part because He is always faithful, but we are also required to put forth the effort. Not in the sense that we are “earning” our miracle, but that we can prepare to receive God’s answer. Remember, God will always give us the miracle that we NEED, which may not always be the miracle that we want.
Every situation and circumstance is different when it comes to what we are supposed to do in a situation. For instance, if we are having struggles with our health, our role is to seek God’s healing touch, seek medical attention and then continue to pray for healing. If it is in the area of relationships, whether trying to find a future mate, our responsibility is to trust that God has made us fully and complete in Him and that we are not looking for anyone to complete us. And with that understanding, you cultivate a healthy community where if God chooses, He can bring a person in your life.
Help your group know where their responsibility ends and God’s begins. Prayer is a big part of our responsibility. God will NOT answer 100% of the prayers not prayed!
In verses 12-13, Jesus provided enough food for all 5000 to have enough to eat themselves, and not only that, they had 12 extra baskets. John is asking us to make a connection here to the Old Testament where God provided Manna for the people while they were in the desert. In the desert, the Manna was only to be used for the day…but here Jesus had more than enough. What is John trying to show us about the nature of Jesus?
Christ did not just meet the need; He lavished them with so much food that there were “twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish” left over (Mark 6:43). God will shatter the pint-sized expectations of what His followers can do if they would learn to bring Him what they have already been given. “Little is much when God is in it.”
In Jesus’ math 5+2=5000! Imagine applying that math in your own life. Where do you need to put in Jesus’ hands’? Is it your job? Your job, business, marriage, kids, your ministry? Open your hands and give it to Jesus. Remember: He can do exponentially more with it than you can!
[Q] Share with your group something that you may think is insignificant or you may think does not have a huge impact that God will do something miraculous with. Speaking it out loud is the first step in admitting your need and stepping out of the boat!
Encourage your Group to put it in Jesus’ hands through prayer. This could be a great way to pray for your group to get them in a posture to receive a miraculous touch from God.
[Q] Principle Five of Kerry Shook’s Book, Find your Miracle states this: Only God can provide a miracle, but you have to put yourself in position to receive it. How can you position yourself to receive God’s provision? Here are some common ways to pray:
We want to reiterate to your Group: we cannot earn a miracle. But we can put ourselves in a place where we can expect to receive from God. As we’ve seen in this story, help your group put all the pieces together. Help them see where they can offer themselves to God in this situation. Or offer the situation to God and trust Him with the outcome. Help them see where God may be inviting them to participate in the situation to see God at work in that situation. Ask if there are any sin issues that they may need to repent of so that they can experience God’s blessing in that area of their life.
If there is a health situation. God may be calling that person to pursue prayer for healing as well as going to the doctor. But not just going for prayer once, but continually going to God for prayer and healing (Matthew 7:7).
Career. If it’s looking for God to come through for a job situation, offering that situation to God. Writing your resume and praying it to the Lord and praying through every job interview and giving it wholly and completely to God. Trusting Him with the outcome no matter what it would be like. Also looking to God for your provision while your searching for a God.
Relationships. If your in a conflict with a family member, pray through ways to make Matthew 5: 44 come to life: But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Position yourself by finding ways to love, bless, do good and pray for those that your having relationship conflict with.
Other. Help your group bring any situations that are on their minds and hearts to Jesus. Help them search the Scriptures to find stories and verses that could connect to their particular struggles and situations.
Read John 6:25–59. The people were waiting for a political savior like Moses to help them find freedom from the Romans. In these verses, Jesus explained to them that it was God, not Moses, who gave their forefathers manna in the desert and that God now offered them the true bread from heaven.
[Q] What does Jesus say God requires for someone to eat “food that endures to eternal life” (John 6: 27–29)?
To believe in the one that was sent by God. Jesus was sent by God into our world. When we put our faith in Him, we prioritize our lives around what is eternal and what will last forever rather than what is temporary.
[Q] What does belief in Jesus really look like? Is it believing a set of facts or acknowledging a creed? How does this impact how we live and behave?
There are many aspects of what it means to believe in Jesus. There is the INTELLECTUAL aspect of it, where we have the right beliefs that correspond to what the Bible teaches about God and Jesus (Titus 1:9). The word for this is ORTHODOXY. Then there are right PRACTICES that comes from those right beliefs. These right actions are called ORTHOPRAXY. To be fully functional disciples of Jesus we need to have both.
We are called to study the scriptures diligently so that we let the Scripture reshape our thinking so that we think in a way that Christ is at the center of everything (2 Timothy 2:15). While our thinking needs to be reshaped, so does our way of living. If we only have the right beliefs but not the right way of living, we are hypocritical (Matthew 23). This is a charge that Jesus leveled at the Pharisees all throughout his ministry.
There is also another level between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy. This is our attitude. If we have a prideful and dismissive attitude towards others then we are not living incongruent belief in Jesus. Jesus’ attitude was love for people that were far from God and was willing to serve them (Philippians 2: 5-8). If our attitude does not match the radical love of Christ, then we are not living in a consistent way of the gospel.
[Q] List the promises mentioned in this passage for those who come to Jesus as the bread of life.
- They will never go spiritually hungry or thirsty.
- They will eat of it and not die.
- They will live forever.
- They will be Resurrected.
- They will feed on His flesh and drink His blood.
Bread in the ancient world was a staple that people had for every meal. Jesus is alluding to Himself as the bread that people need. Just as we need to feed on physical bread for physical strength, we need to feed on Christ for spiritual nourishment. These benefits are eternal.
When Jesus talks about eternal life, He’s not talking about going to heaven when we die. While heaven is part of God’s plan, eventually Jesus will return humanity to rule and reign on a restored new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21). While the people are thinking that this kingdom will come quickly, Jesus doesn’t give them a specific date or time, He is teaching them that He is not the revolutionary Messiah that will provide them food and a fight, but is actually fighting to bring the fullness of God’s kingdom into the world.
In vs. 35, Jesus gives the first of of His 7 “I AM” statements. Here, He declares that He is the Bread of Life. The “I Am” statement is Jesus’ disclosure that He is God. When God reveals Himself to Moses in the wilderness, He uses the name “I Am” (Exodus 3:14). Jesus makes 7 “I Am” statements throughout the book of John to show that He is God.
Jesus also says:
- I am the light of the world (John 8:12).
- I am the door (John 10: 9).
- I am the True Vine (John 15:1).
- I am the Good Shepherd (John 10: 11).
- I am the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).
- I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).
The people were looking for a political Messiah that would help them find salvation from the Romans. But Jesus was more than that. He was a Spiritual Messiah that would save them from their sins. He would completely change the way they saw themselves and the world. The people came to Jesus looking for a free meal and a revolution (John 6: 34), but Jesus came to give them Himself. The people wanted their needs met first, but Jesus wanted to give them so much more. He was showing them that the miracle of the feeding was meant to help them see who He was.
[Q] So often, we come to God with our list of prayer requests, but God wants to show us who He is. How have you see God reveal Himself to you through answering your prayers (even when it may not happen in the way you thought it would)?
For Jesus, the feeding of the 5000 wasn’t just about filling stomachs, but it was also about leading people to see Him as He was. As you discuss in your group how God has answered prayers, ask your group what they think God was trying to show them about Himself. God answers our prayers out of His abundant goodness, but He also wants to reveal an aspect of who He is in the midst of it. As your group shares ways God has met them through answered prayer, help them see how God is revealing who He is through those answers.
If people in your group are still waiting for God to answer prayers, Isaiah 40: 31 is a good reminder that God renews our strength while we wait. And through endurance, He forges our character and deepens our faith and trust in Him. Kerry Shook reminds us that miracles do not come in the way we expect, God always has a bigger purpose in mind for us.
[Q] Jesus makes His most radical statement, “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” What do you think this means?
There has been a lot of debate about what this passage means throughout Christian history. For some, this passage is where some get the idea that during communion or the Eucharist the crackers and juice actually turn into the body of Jesus and we actually eat on his flesh and blood.
However, from the context, Jesus doesn’t not mean that we are to be cannibals and literally eat Him. Jesus is teaching the people the meaning behind the miracle. They were looking for literal food, but Jesus is showing them spiritual food. He is challenging them to look beyond the miracle that they want (free food) to the miracle that they need (a relationship with Christ). Jesus is speaking metaphorically, not literally.
When they hear Jesus talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood many were confused because the law said that drinking the blood of animals was a sin (Leviticus 17: 10-14). Some could not go beneath the surface of his teaching and allow Jesus to affect their hearts.
[Q] How have you responded to Jesus’ harder teachings? Do you respond by obeying, or do you ignore or minimize them? What is your bias?
All throughout the Scripture, Jesus says hard things. In our culture, we are so used to picking and choosing what we like or don’t like based on the fashion of the day. If we like what Jesus says, we’ll believe it. If we don’t, we will ignore it or read other places. Many people in your group will be in different stages of their faith journey. Some will read a hard saying of Jesus and have the faith and maturity to trust that Jesus knows more than we do and put their faith in His words. Others, may still be young in their faith and may either ignore Jesus’ sayings or minimize them. Find out how members of your group respond. Whether they obey immediately or minimize and ignore, help them to see what their bias is. If they have a minimizing and ignoring bias ask them some more questions to help them think.
- If you tend to minimize, who should decide what the words of Jesus are valid or not?
- Can we really accept the teachings we like and reject the ones we don’t?
- What about when Jesus says he came to fulfill the law not abolish it (Matthew 5: 17)
In the message, Pastor Tim was talking about our struggle with fear and anxiety. For most people, anxiety is something that many people battle with. When struggling with anxiety, we can keep in mind that we have a God who is a God of abundance. He simply says to give Him our anxiety and our fear, and He will transform them by His power. If you feel comfortable, share with your group what causes you anxiety and fear. Have each person share and then take time to pray for each person. Pray that they can look to Jesus to calm the storms that come upon us and provide all that we need. Do that for each individual in your group, this is a picture of what it looks like to give God what you have and He’ll take the little you gave and make it abundant. He will provide your needs in the midst of fear and anxiety.
CHANCE TO SERVE:
Are you and your Group Members part of our Sunday Dream Team? There are many opportunities for you to get involved every week. Check out the Dream Team page on our Website and encourage one another to use your spiritual gifts to help others draw closer to Jesus Christ!
Both the Old and New Testament’s point to Jesus. When Jesus reveals Himself as the bread of life in John 6, that is not the first time He is seen. In the Old Testament, there are several miracles that God does with bread that actually point to the coming Christ. We’ll look at two of them to go deeper.
The Books of 1 and 2 Kings were written to record history but, more importantly, to teach the lessons of history.
The author’s chief historical concern was to preserve a record of the kings of both Israel and Judah. The emphasis in this record is on the royal actions and also on the actions of selected prophets that bear on the period in which they ministered.
More importantly the author sought to evaluate the monarchy by the standard of the Mosaic Law. Besides tracing the decline of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, he pointed out the reasons for their decline in general and the fate of each king in particular. He may have intended to teach the exiles in Babylon the reasons for their plight so that they would learn from their past. In particular God’s faithfulness to His covenant (blessing the obedient and punishing the disobedient) and the evils of idolatry receive strong emphasis. – Bible Knowledge Commentary
In the story found in 1 Kings, the king at the time is Ahab. Ahab is a wicked king. And because of his evils such as corrupting the Temple with false worship of God’s like Baal and Asherah, as well as offering child sacrifice, God has sent the prophet Elijah to him. Elijah has just stopped the rain and Israel is in a terrible drought. In the midst of this time God sends him to a widow.
Have someone in your group summarize the story.
[Q] Where does God direct Elijah to go next?
God tells Elijah to go to Zarephath, a coastal town north of Israel.
[Q] Why do you think God uses a widow?
It may seem odd that God would choose to use a widow who already has little means for her and her son to provide for Elijah, but that is usually how God starts a miracle. He uses small circumstances and situations as a set up for His power to come through.
[Q] Look at the widow’s attitude when Elijah asks for help in vs. 12. How does she respond to him? Do you sense great joy in her obedience?
She reveals with him what little she has. She even shares that she only has enough for her to feed herself and her son, and then after that, she will die. She is clearly not happy that the prophet is approaching her and asking for meager resources.
[Q] How have we responded in similar ways when God asks us for our obedience? Share with your group.
This can be a real moment in your group. There are times when God asks us to obey, but it isn’t something that we are looking forward to. In fact, it may be something that we DON’T desire to do. It could be in the realm of giving our money and time. We know that we should be tithing and that we should be generous with our giving but instead, it’s easier to keep the money for ourselves and our needs, but we end up robbing God (Malachi 3: 8). Or we know that we should serve and use our time to honor Christ, but instead, we use it for our own pursuits. When God asks for our obedience, our attitudes may not align right away with His will.
[Q] Despite the widow’s attitude, how did she respond to Elijah? What does this demonstrate to us?
She did everything that Elijah asked her to. Even though she didn’t seem to have the best attitude, she demonstrated her faith through her actions. While our attitudes need to align with our actions, obedience must always come before our feelings. When we obey God first, He will change our hearts in how we respond to situations.
[Q] What areas do you have where you need to put obedience before what you feel? What are the obstacles that keep you from doing that?
You know your group, some may feel like they can answer this easily, while others may need time to process. Don’t let silence discourage you. This is the deep work of the Holy Spirit where He is bringing conviction. As the leader, we always encourage you to go first and model what this looks like. We used the above examples of tithing and time. Another area where we need to obey before we feel any different is relationships. We may not feel like forgiving others but are called to forgive right away.
[Q] Can you see how this story points to Christ? Share with your group.
Elijah comes to the widow like Christ comes to us. Elijah is asking the widow to trust in Him and put his needs first and then she’ll experience God’s provision. Christ comes to us and says to put Him first, to make Him the highest priority for our lives. To give Him the best in our lives and our resources, and He can be trusted to provide for all of our needs. Just like the widow, God will provide for our needs in unexpected and unprecedented ways.
Read 2 Kings 4: 42-44. This story is a short story, but close to the details of what we read in John 6: 1-13. Elisha, was the assistant to Elijah, but then took over for him. He is in a situation where he needs to feed the prophets of God (about 100 of them).
- Someone came and brought bread to Jesus and Elisha.
- The bread was Barley loaves.
- It wasn’t enough to feed the crowds.
- The disciples and the servant both showed doubt at what their master’s wanted them to accomplish.
- They were able to have more than enough including leftovers.
- There was only fish in Jesus’ story. And more people to feed.
[Q] The bread that was given to Elisha was a first-fruits offering. It was a tithe that the man gave to honor God. One of the patterns we see in these stories is a boy giving the food that he had, a widow giving her last bread and a man giving what He had and God multiplied it. When we bring God all that we have, He is able to do the miraculous. How can we consistently bring to God the best that we have, even if by the world’s standard it isn’t that much?
This is a heart question that we need to wrestle with as individuals and as a group. In many ways, no one can know our heart attitude about things. Only God can truly see our hearts. And this is where we need to be in a deep and abiding relationship with Christ to know if we have truly made Christ the priority in our lives or if we’ve deceived ourselves. You know your group well, and if you’ve been preparing your heart before your group times, then you know the condition of your own heart. We need to continually be bringing ourselves before Jesus for His healing and wholeness. As we confess and repent of our sin He reveals where we’ve been holding back from Him and we have the opportunity to make things right. As we make a consistent effort to stay close to the heart of God, we’ll know that we are giving Him our best, and if we are not He’ll make it known to us and give us the chance to repent and make the right actions.