MESSAGE SUMMARY - April 5, 2015
HOPE - “Possibilities”
As a pastor I frequently hear the needs and concerns of people. I have found that it doesn't matter where we are in life, there is always part of us that is longing for more. It may be that we are all set in one place but struggle in another, such as our home, marriage, kids, etc. We wonder: is this it?, are we stuck with this?, or is there hope?
I want to start with a passage. The key verse is verse 20 but in order clearly see what is being said we will start with verse 19. This will give us the foundation we need for our new series.
Ephesians 3:19-20 says, "May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."
After you come to grips with the reality that God loves you, then you will be made complete. There is a natural process: experience God's love - be made complete - have his mighty power - then experience God taking you beyond what can be imagined (your longing for "more" is fulfilled).
Let's deal with something, a twist, before we go on. I am not a prosperity preacher. "More" does not equal having a Maserati. We have been highly pressured with the thought, "if I believe enough, then 'more' will come to me."
The story of the feeding of the 5,000 which many of us heard as children is a great place to begin our journey of finding "hope" and finding "more."
1 - Am I in the Right Place?
Matthew 14:14 says, "Jesus saw the huge crowd as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick."
Jesus had gained a significant following.
Matthew 14:15 says, "That evening the disciples came to him and said, 'This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.'”
Christ's disciples want to send the crowds away. They have had enough at this point. To them the problem is the crowd and the solution is to send them away.
Matthew 14:16 says, "But Jesus said, 'That isn’t necessary—you feed them.'”
Jesus says that what the disciples want isn't necessary. He wants them to feed the crowds.
I want to camp on something for a moment. We saw the disciples plan. They give, give, and give and want to be done. Send them away so we can have you to ourselves. This is where I want to camp, "Send them away." They don't want to be with the crowds. They don't want them here. They want them to move on. Because of this they were ready to miss the opportunity God had for them. They were ready to miss what God was about to do. This is not unlike us.
Let's start with a question: "Am I in the right place?" Sometimes we follow the wrong people - we are in the wrong place - we never discover God's plan.
One Valentine's day I took my wife to a very nice restaurant. When we got there they were overbooked. I had made a reservation there with a credit card. Whoa! I had my suit on which I usually only do at Easter and Thanksgiving. After mentioning the availablility of a big table, the hostess had us follow her and another couple did the same. She said, "if you want to share the table you can sit here." She put us on the spot. Neither couple wanted to - wrong people, like on a cruise ship. It seemed like we were each waiting for the other to give up and leave. We ended up sitting together. It was harder for them than for us. They were a dating couple and we could sense she was upset and sending out vibes to him - "your dead meat." There was nothing romantice about the setting. There was just small talk. We were stuck at the wrong table with the wrong people. We thought we had no other options.
God says: "I can't do what I am doing there. It's not that they are bad people, they are just not the right people. Elsewhere is the only way get what I had hoped for, you see." The only way for the disciples to encounter what God was going to do was for them to love what God loves and to love who he loves.
2 - Redefining Impossible
Matthew 14:17 says, “'But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish!' they answered."
The disciples think the crowds should be sent away because they only have five loaves and two fish.
Matthew 14:18 says, “'Bring them here,' he said.
Jesus just tells them to bring what they have to him.
Matthew 14:19 says, "Then he told the people to sit down on the grass. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he gave the bread to the disciples, who distributed it to the people."
Jesus took the disciples loaves and fishes and blessed them. The disciple's natural reaction was to think what they had was not enough. Our own ability limits our vision. We look at our own resources and determine what we can do. As long as we are in this pattern, we are stuck.
I have this loaf of bread and I am dividing it up by breaking pieces off but I will soon come to the end of the loaf. Often our vision is limited to the loaf and dividing it up. Or we can be so afraid of how little we have that we don't share at all and it isn't selfishness it's fear. So often our pattern is simply to divide up the loaf we have. Divison is not the answer. God has additional loaves he is waiting to provide. God does not use division.
It is only at the end of division - when we are out - that we discover what God can do. He can do things we never imagined. God size things are what he does and it is humbling. It is very humbling when we are "out" in regard to our home, our marriage, our kids and need God to show up with something else.
Is our vision God-sized or rather God-shaped? Is it his table, his people or is it you-shaped? A God-shaped vision forces us back to him where we ask, even beg, for him to work.
3 - The Love of Leftovers
One last thing:
Matthew 14:20 says, "They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers."
There was no rationing. They ate as much as they wanted. And then my favorite part, leftovers - good ones. Picture bringing two left over pieces of cheesecake home after eating at the Cheesecake Factory. You might ask, "how do you end up with two extra pieces of cheesecake?" Good Question! Why does the God of the universe end up extra bread and fish? This is a beautiful part of the story. There were 12 baskets of leftovers. This is really good bread (from earlier illustration). It is from a French bakery. Why so good? Why not Wonder bread? Because I am taking it home with me after the service. I put the illustration together and knew I could do that. I know how to take care of myself - I get the good stuff. If I know how, certainly God does.
Matthew 7:11 says, “Bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” GNB
You know what he is saying? As messed up as we are, we still know what this looks like. What I love about this passage is how it starts out awkwardly, "bad as you are." This is helpful because even if you are feeling this - bad about yourself, where you say, "you don't know the bad in my life" and you are afraid because of it - God loves you. Even if you are at the wrong table with the wrong people, God says, "go where I am going and love who and what I love. Trust me!
Bow with me. You have been praying, hoping, wondering and now you are think this is it. I don't want to complicate things. God loves you. You don't have to run. Even if you have been at the wrong table with the wrong people, God is saying, "trust me and come back."
All across this room, may we experience God's love, though it is too tough to understand. God loves you and he says, "trust me." May we be reminded by the "leftovers" that God is good. We really can live fully for God. God really wants to take care of us.
Posted on Sun, April 12, 2015
by Alan Porter