Right In Front of You
Feeding the 5000 | Dr. Marty Baker | September 20, 2009
Good morning and welcome to The Creek. I am so glad that you are here. I want to take this time to welcome all those in our Grovetown campus and all those watching across the world on the net. Today we are continuing our series called Inredible.
When I was a kid, I had a real competitive spirit. That nature was more than on the playing field, but it showed itself in every area of my life. My parents still laugh and talk about my drive to be first. They love to tell the story about me being the first one in line for the school bus. Every morning long before the bus arrived, I would go outside and put my books in bus line so that I could be in front. I wanted to be the first one on the bus. Patty will tell you that she was the one that the bus driver had to blow the horn in order to get her out of the house. Not me. I wanted to be in front.
I guess that passion to be in front came from my Dad. We’ve had season tickets at Carolina for over thirty years. We were always early for the games in Columbia. We liked to watch the team and so forth.
I can remember going to our first away game at Clemson in the 1970s. My Dad always wanted to make sure that we arrived on time, so we left very early that day. When we pulled into the parking lot, I thought it was sort of strange that we were able to park so close to the stadium. We jumped out of the car and headed into stadium only to discover that the gates were locked. They did not open the gates until three hours before the game. Needlesss to say, we were at the front of the line that day.
There’s nothing like being in front. When you are in front, you have a clear view of everything, but even then, sometimes you miss can something.
Have you ever been looking for something that was right in front of you all the time? A few weeks ago, Patty’s mother admitted to us that she was on her cell phone talking with her sister. They were engrossed in the conversation when she started looking for her essentials. You know we do that … you start gathering your keys, your wallet and so forth. As she was doing that, she said, “Oh no, where’s my cell phone?” She told her sister. Her sister tried to help her retrace her steps and asked her, “When was the last time she had it?” Then, she remembered that she was talking on the cell phone.
My Dad always had a slogan that he used to describe something that was right in front of you, but you couldn’t see it. He would say, “Son, if it were a snake, it would have bitten you.” That was his way of saying that you cannot see the forest for the trees. Both of these sayings talk about things that obvious to most people but for whatever reason you cannot see them.
So many times in life, the answer to our question is obvious. It’s right there, but you cannot see it. The solution to your problem is right in front of you. You already have what you need, just open your eyes.
Today I want to talk to you about the time that the twelve disciples of Jesus faced a huge dilemma and the answer to their challenge was right in front of them, but they could not see it.
This story happened along when the news of Jesus’ miraculous power began to spread through the region. As a result, crowds of people were flocking to Jesus, so much so that Jesus could not even get a moment alone.
The Bible says that Jesus and his twelve closest followers snuck away to a remote location for a little "R & R". The crowds found out where they were and crashed the party. There were probably five thousand men, five thousand women and possibly five to ten thousand children. All of these people went to this remote location and found Jesus.
Jesus had compassion on them and He began to teach them and heal them all day long until dusk. Now here’s the problem.
15 As evening approached, 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 themselves some food."
16 Jesus replied, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat."
Now, the disciples knew that this was phycially and finannically impossible. In fact, they were quite offended that Jesus would ask them to do it. He knew their budget and feeding this many people simply was not in the budget.
37 ... They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"
In essence they were saying, “Jesus, this is impossible.” What you need to realize is that Jesus loves impossible situations. He loves a challenge. He loves it when all of your human options have run out and your back is against the wall.
Some of you feel like that right now. You are in an impossible situation in your family, in your personal life or maybe in your business.
Some of you are wrestling with situations that have come your way and you do not have any control over them. This is how the disciples felt. These people just showed up and now its dinner time and there were no restaurants in site. Jesus looked at the disciples and said, “Take care of these people.” These guys were stressed out trying to figure out what to do.
This was a test for them. Jesus knew that this was an impossible task. He used this situation to test their faith. Jesus wanted them to struggle with what was going to happen before He worked the miracle.
Has that ever happened to any of you? Or does God always give you the answer right when you ask? Not here. In my life, it seems that God allows me to struggle. He gives me an opportunity to see how impossible the situation is.
Some of you are facing some impossible situations. I want you to go home this week and think about the impossible situation that you are facing.
Get out two pieces of paper. On one write down everything that you can do about the situation. On the other piece of paper, write down everything you cannot do about the situation.
Most of you are action-oriented people and you can quickly think of things that you can do to change your situation. For instance, you can get a part time job, take your lunch to work, go to counseling and so forth. Now consider the things you cannot do. Yes, there are some things that you cannot do and these need to be on your paper. For example, here are some things I cannot do.
Things I cannot do
I cannot force another person to change his or her mind. Even God has chosen not to do that. So you can’t force another person to change their mind. You can pray that God creates situations that will encourage them to change their mind. You can be nice to them and love them over with kindness, but you cannot force anyone to change their mind. Here’s another one.
I cannot re-write the past. What’s done is done. I can regret it. I can cry about it. I can learn from it. The past is the past. It is what it is. Now, the Bible teaches us that Jesus can forgive us of our sins and give us a second chance, but your past is your past. You can’t re-write it. Here’s another one.
I cannot always figure out why.
Yes there are some things that I will never know the reason why. Why did this happen? Why did that happen? People say that everything has reason. I don’t know if that’s true. Here’s what I know: I can’t always figure out the why, I have to learn to trust in the One who knows more than I do.
So, what’s on your page? I want you to write all those things you cannot do on a piece of paper and give it to God.
Then pray, “God, I need Your strength!” Maybe you pray a three word prayer, “God, help me.” Sometimes the shortest prayers are the best prayers.
You will be amazed at the answers that come when you stop trying to figure it out by yourself and you realize that God wants to connect with you. That’s why He allows problems to come our way. He wants us to connect with Him.
Tom Holladay tells a story about a group of engineering students who were given this problem: “How long should a three pound beef roast stay in a 325 degree oven for the center to reach a Temperature of 150 degrees?”
These students went to work. One student did this series of experiments. Another kid went out and bought a roast and a thermometer. He put it in the oven and watched the clock. Another one got out a spreadsheet and did all these mathematical calculations on the conductivity of roast and figured it all out. But the kid who got the quickest answer was the kid who picked up the phone and called his mom: “How do you cook a roast?”
Sometimes, the answers to the most important and biggest questions of your life are not figured out logically. They are discovered relationally. The reason God allows impossible circumstances in our lives is to remind us of the fact that He is there. We can turn to Him.
“God! How do You cook a roast? God! How do You figure out this problem? God! How can You help me with this situation?”
Connect with Him relationally. Talk to God. Put your trust in Him.
Back to the story. These disciples had a problem, a big one. They needed to provide food for 5000 men and their families. The need of this endeavor tripped up the accountants among them. They did the math: 10,000 adults that’s $5.00 each, $2.95 for kids. We can’t do that! That’s impossible. We don’t have that kind of money. There’s no way.
Jesus said, "Tell me what you do have. Don’t tell me what you don’t have. Tell me what you do have."
8…Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up,
9"Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?"
If Andrew would have stopped once sentence sooner, he would have been the hero of faith in this story. If he would have said, “Look! Five loaves! Two fish! You can do it, Jesus!” But, instead, he continues, “But how far will that go among so many?”
So many times we talk ourselves out of the miracle that God wants to do in our lives. Both Philip and Andrew said that it’s impossible. The need is too great; the resources are too small.
The point of the story is that there is no situation, whether it is a need or a problem that is too great for Jesus Christ.
The disciples had already decided that this situation was impossible. They knew that there’s was no way to feed this crowd with two fish and five loaves of bread.
How many times have you done that? You’ve have looked at the situation and said, “There’s no way. That will never happen.”
Let’s take the next step. How many of you are looking at situations right now and you have already decided that nothing can be done. There are two questions that I want you to consider.
1. What have I decided is too big for God to accomplish?
Over the last several weeks, I have talked about this. Do you remember me saying, “God is bigger than you think?” I told you that at times I put God in a box. I treat him as though he can do miracles, but only the miracles that I can think of. God is bigger than you think and God is bigger than your box. What have you decided that is too big for God to accomplish? Second question.
2. Where have I decided I have too little to make a difference?
These disciples had a little bit … two fish and five loaves, but in their minds that was not enough to make a difference. How many times do we do the same thing?
We see the needs, but then we say, “Well, I don’t have enough to do anything. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have enough energy or whatever.” We have already decided that what we have is not enough to make a difference.
We do this all the time. A lot of us have a fill in the blank sentence in our minds whenever there is a need. We say:
When I get more__________
then I’m going to __________.
Just fill it in. When I get more energy then I’m going to spend time with my kids. When I get more time then I’m going to serve in the ministry here. When I get more experience then I’m going to lead. When I get more money then I’m going to give like I would like to.
Here’s the truth of the matter: You’ll never have enough for the great things that God wants to do in your life! The needs are too great. Our resources are too small.
The reason that you are in this situation is that God wants you to come face-to-face with the fact that your abilities and your resources are not enough to accomplish the task. You cannot do it on your own. It’s too big. It’s too hard.
You need a higher power. You need a power that is greater than yourself. You need the power of God in your life! Listen, He wants to help you with this problem. He wants to move this situation. He wants to be a part of the process. He wants to show you His power.
"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see." When they found out, they said, "Five-- and two fish."
Jesus said, "Good enough. Give them to me." He takes the five loaves and the two fish and he prays and blesses them. Jesus passes the baskets back to them and he told them to start passing them around.
They are like skeptical and think, "Why?" He says, "Just do it." They start passing them around. Reaching in and taking out. Reaching in and taking out until all of the crowd was full until they picked up twelve baskets full of leftovers.
It was a miracle. Jesus fed thousands of people with two fish and five loaves of bread. He used what was right in front of them. He used what they had.
Here’s the point: God wants to get you involved in what He is doing. God can do it without you, but He often chooses not to. He wants you to use what you have. He says, “What’s in front of you? What do you have?” Are you willing to be a part of what God is doing in this world?
God asks us to do our part. God wants us to step out and trust Him especially when things seem impossible. God loves to take whatever we have and then multiply it to accomplish His purposes in the world.
It doesn’t matter how much or how little it is, all He ask is, "So what do have? Are you willing to let me use it to serve others?
That’s been the story of Stevens Creek since the very beginning. God took whatever we could offer Him and then multiplied it for his purposes to accomplish his vision. The first day that we met, we passed the plate and collected $369.00. What you see today came from original seed that was planted.
A few weeks ago, we asked you to give to help us launch our Grovetown campus. We said that it would cost around 130k for that launch and we added maintenance items on this property that we needed to address and we wanted to help a start up church in Texas so our goal is 175k.
Well, I know that it is still coming in, but to date we have received over $120,000. Your investment has already produced a return. As you may have heard, we had over 350 our first week in Grovetown. Over 40 brand new families attended that service.
Now to the Creekers in Grovetown. You are already one of the largest churches in your area, but it’s not about numbers, it’s about people. I need you to be nice to people. I need you to invite your friends. I need you to pray bold prayers.
God asked us to be willing to use what we have been given. He wants us to be a part of what He is doing in this world.
God loves to take ordinary people and do extraordinary things through them. You see that story again and again throughout the scriptures.
ž God took DAVID, a little scrawny kid with nothing but a slingshot and drives back an invading army.
ž God took MOSES, an outcast with a criminal record and nothing but a staff and set over a million slaves free.
ž In today’s story, God took a little boy and his "Happy Meal" and he fed upwards to fifteen thousand.
There’s one more part to this story
12When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, "Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted."
13So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
Think about this. Jesus took two fish and five loaves of bread and multiplied it to feed 5000 people. Then, when everyone was full, the disciples collected twelve basket of
Do you think that was a coincidence? Why twelve? Think about it. Jesus had twelve disciples. Jesus wanted to make sure that everyone of those disciples who were wondering how in the world this was going to happen had a full basket of bread left over.
Some of you are wondering how in the world can you get out of the situation that you are in. You are wondering if your life can ever change. It can. You can … through Jesus Christ.
When you invite Jesus to lead you and guide you, He direct you and change you into a new person. He wants to give you a new start. He wants to take what you have and multiply it.
It won’t be easy. Everything will not go your way, but in the end, you will prevail.
Closing Thoughts and Prayer
As you leave today, you are going to receive something that will help you remember this message. In fact, you are going to receive a few fish made out of bread. Take it with you and let it be a reminder that God the answer to your problem is right in front of you.