Last week we talked about the calling of God, and many of you responded to that call and give it all. You know God has something special in your life, something unique that He wants to do in your life, and through your life to others, so you need to give it all to Jesus.
But I know some were thinking, what could I do for the Lord? I can’t sing, I can’t preach, I can’t earn millions, or counsel or really do anything special.
But I want to declare to you today that the call of God remains, regardless of how little or useless or damaged you think you are. God is interested in your availability, not your ability. Let’s look at this now…
John 6:5-13 (ESV Strong’s)
Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number.
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
This incident occurred in the north eastern side of the sea of Galilee, near where the Jordan river flows into the lake. They were on a mountain side of what is today known as the Golan Heights. 5,000 men plus women and kids had followed him, not to serve or honour Him, because they wanted miracles.
John 6:2 (ESV Strong’s)
And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.
They wanted miracles so much they forgot to bring provisions. So here they are, hungry for miracles, hungry for food. And people are the same today… They are more hungry for truth and salvation than we think.
So here they are, a crowd of probably 15,000 mouths to feed, and no way to solve the dilemma. There are 4 key players in is drama… and each illustrates a different kind of faith… Childlike faith, Pessimistic faith, optimistic faith, and absolute faith.
1. CHILDLIKE FAITH
The first player in this drama is the little boy, who humbly gave everything he had to Jesus. He didn’t doubt, he didn’t hold back some for himself like Ananias and Sapphira, he just gave, and watched a miracle unfold. Childlike faith is innocent, trusting and honest, eager to learn and grow.
Matthew 18:3-4 (ESV Strong’s)
Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Do you have that simple, honest, childlike faith, where there’s no room for doubt because you just trust God?
I remember my kids diving into my arms, sometimes from great Heights. The idea of me dropping them never entered their head, they just dived!
The next 2 kinds of faith are contrasting. But before we look at them here’s here’s a parable to contrast pessimism and optimism.
Psychologists dud an experiment, 2 boys, locked in 2 rooms, one has everything, the other a pile of horse poo.
Pessimism and optimism… It’s not about what you have, it’s about how your see what you have.
2. PHILIP… PESSIMISTIC FAITH
Philip was a local boy from just down the road in Bethasida. Jesus decided to test his faith, asking where they should buy bread.
John 6:5-7 (ESV Strong’s)
Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.”
The ever practical Philip said 200 denarii, a denarius is a days wages, so in modern terms 200 x $150 or $30,000, wouldn’t feed them much. Perhaps he was thinking of ducking down to the local IGA bakery department, but it would still not be enough.
Phil is showing us pessimistic faith. He has faith in Jesus for salvation, but not for His provision. He is stumped, can’t solve the problem and never even considers that God might do something sensational. Are you like Philip?
Christians often exhibit pessimistic faith. We believe God, but when push comes to shove we don’t really believe Him enough to live it. Let me describe this faith.
A. PESSIMISTIC FAITH SEES ONLY MONEY AND HUMAN RESOURCES
Pessimistic faith only see worldly things. It sees only available resources, and stresses the impossibility of things, inwardly being overwhelmed by the hopelessness and impossibility of the situation.
Romans 8:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
This kind of faith is actually carnal. It looks Christian, but it’s focus is purely carnal.
B. PESSIMISTIC FAITH FORGETS PAST PROVISION
Psalms 81:10 (ESV Strong’s)
I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
Scripture is full of remembering the great acts of God, and doing this strengthens our faith for right now.
Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV Strong’s)
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Pessimistic faith forgets God’s gracious provision in the past. As we face the future at Ignite, I know we have to solve the space dilemma. That’s going to take probably hundreds of thousands of dollars, and great favour. But I remember when I started here as pastor, we needed $250,000 from a congregation of 50-60 people, in 9 months. I gave generously, so did everyone, but God miraculously provided. Pessimistic faith fails to remember God’s provision.
C. PESSIMISTIC FAITH TRUSTS MAN RATHER THAN GOD
Pessimistic faith trust in man rather than God.
Jeremiah 17:5-6 (ESV Strong’s)
Thus says the LORD: Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
This faith says it trusts God, but always looks to man first, saving turning to God for an absolute last resort, a final throw of the dice.
D. PESSIMISTIC FAITH RESISTS TURNING TO GOD
This kind of faith only turns to God as a last resort. It’s says, if all else fails pray.
It says, this is impossible, I’ve tried everyone and everything, might as well give God a shot!
We are all guilty of this aren’t we? And there’s nothing wrong with consulting doctors, taking medication, talking to experts or utilising resources, as long as we start with prayer, not relegate it to a panicked, bit part, in the final minutes of the game.
Acts 7:51 (ESV Strong’s)
“You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you.
Pessimistic faith looks and even sounds like faith, but it actually resists God, until all other options fail. It tries to do everything in this own strength.
Zechariah 4:6 (ESV Strong’s)
Then he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.
E. PESSIMISTIC FAITH FEARS FAILURE
Pessimistic faith fears that God’s power will fail and their faith will be weakened and destroyed. Therefore, it is safer to pray weakly, “Lord, if it be your will, handle this problem.”
Now it is not always wrong to pray, “Lord if it be Your will.” Jesus did it on the garden
Luke 22:42 (ESV Strong’s)
saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
James talks about arrogantly claiming to know God’s will
James 4:14-15 (ESV Strong’s)
yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
You can pray “Lord if it be Your will” with complete trust in God, believing whatever is His will is OK by you. Or you can tack it on to your prayer to give God an out if He cannot or won’t do what you want. Listen, He doesn’t need your permission, and He definitely doesn’t need your bail out. He’s God. If He chooses different to you, trust Him.
People with pessimistic faith always want to give God an out, in case He can’t manage to answer their prayer.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV Strong’s)
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Now let’s look at the third player…
3. ANDREW… OPTIMISTIC FAITH
An optimistic, questioning faith loves the Lord and is committed to the Lord. Andrew saw Christ’s concern, so he went among the crowd to search for food. He found and gathered all the resources he could.
A. OPTIMISTIC BUT QUESTIONING FAITH
Optimistic faith is a practical faith, a faith that finds what it can and lays it expectantly before the Lord. No matter how little the resources or how poor the quality, it is all laid before the Lord. The barley bread was cheap bread, the fish were small.
B. OPTIMISTIC FAITH BELIEVES, KIND OF, TO A POINT
Optimistic faith believes, but still questions. It wants to believe, but it’s thwarted when pressured. Faith is like a teabag… It’s true colour comes out in hot water. It believes, but cannot help being anxious about meagre resources.
A questioning faith looks at the need and then looks at the meagre resources, both how little and how poor the quality the resources are, and it questions God. It questions, instead of believing God to take care of the problem.
John 6:9 (ESV Strong’s)
“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”
The need may be what it is, in this event, the need for food; or it may be the need for health, money, deliverance, or a myriad of other human needs. Whatever the need may be, when you strip it all back the fundamental need is for us to learn to trust Christ and not to question and doubt His love and care, wisdom and power. Remember the father…
Mark 9:23-24 (ESV Strong’s)
And Jesus said to him, “‘All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
This is optimistic but questioning faith. It believes, to a point, but it doesn’t quite.
I’m like this often. I have faith, I want to believe and then my faith stumbles at the last minute.
We need to realise that our faith in God is directly proportional to how well we know Him. The closer we are to Him, the easier we can trust Him.
Matthew 6:8 (ESV Strong’s)
for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
4. JESUS… ABSOLUTE FAITH
The final example if faith is Jesus, who shows us positive, unswerving, unshakable faith.
A. ABSOLUTE FAITH GIVES THANKS
Jesus gave thanks before this miracle. There’s not enough thankfulness today. Perhaps the greatest sin in the western world is an ungrateful Spirit. Jesus gave thanks not for the miracle, but before the miracle. He thanked God before He saw the provision and miraculous power of God
Colossians 3:17 (ESV Strong’s)
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
We should give thanks in all circumstances, 1 Thessalonians 5:18. A thankful Spirit opens the floodgates of God’s blessing.
B. ABSOLUTE FAITH FOCUSSES ON GOD, NOT RESOURCES
Jesus directed how the food should be distributed, and then He empowered others to serve it. He never focussed on the problem. He focussed on His Father.
Don’t focus on your problems, focus on God’s possibilities.
Colossians 3:2 (ESV Strong’s)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
C. ABSOLUTE FAITH SEES ABUNDANCE
John 6:12-13 (ESV Strong’s)
And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.
God’s abundant provision is available to us, if we trust Him. That’s why he promises us,
Ephesians 3:20 (ESV Strong’s)
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,
STEPS TO ABUNDANT FAITH
From the account of the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 +, here are some simple steps to grow you faith starting today.
A. START WITH WHAT YOU HAVE
Andrew found a boy who had a small lunch, and he brought the lad to Jesus. Was the boy willing to give up his lunch? Yes, he was! All of it. So don’t wait until you’ve got faith. God begins where we are and uses what we have, even if it only seems a small thing.
B. GIVE WHAT YOU HAVE TO JESUS
Jesus took the simple lunch, blessed it, and shared it. The miracle of multiplication was in His hands, not the disciples, nor the boy! Little is much if God is in it. Jesus broke the bread and gave the pieces to the disciples, and they, in turn, fed the multitudes.
C. OBEY HIS COMMANDS
The disciples had the people sit down as Jesus ordered. They took the broken pieces and distributed them, and discovered that there was plenty for everybody. As His servants, we are distributors, not manufacturers. If we give what we have to Him, He will bless it and give it back to us for use in feeding others.
D. PRESERVE YOUR SPIRITUAL GAINS
Left over were twelve baskets filled with pieces of bread and fish after the people had eaten all they wanted. But these pieces were carefully collected so that nothing was wasted (v. 12). When we make spiritual gains, how can we hang onto those gains and not lose them in the craziness of the world?
The answer… Together.
As your faith grows, preserve the gains and build upon them.
WHAT’S YOUR FAITH LIKE?
Hebrews 11:1 (ESV Strong’s)
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:6 (ESV Strong’s)
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
God loves our faith, even our faltering, pessimistic, optimistic, inconsistent faith. God loves it when we trust Him. At this moment in history, when elections go against us and persecution is increasing, our faith has an opportunity to shine and grow more than ever before.
You can grow your faith by knowing God more intimately, and you do this by reading His Word, coming to church and exercising your faith. The more you believe, the more you step out and trust and see God provide, the more your faith will grow.
1 John 5:4 (ESV Strong’s)
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
We are people of victory, people of promise, a chosen people. We are children of the King of Kings are we need to start acting like it! So let me ask you, what is it you need faith for today? Remember the armour of God? Remember the shield of faith? A Roman shield was not used in isolation, it was used by locking it together with other shields. Our faith grows strong when we lock into church, and
Proverbs 27:17 (ESV Strong’s)
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
Share your faith struggles and build one another up in your most Holy faith.
Philippians 4:19 (ESV Strong’s)
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.