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A glimpse back at the passionate example of John the Baptist gives us a reminder of what godly men always do and always face. Christ's subsequent feeding of the five thousand reminds us that He expects us to meet the needs of those around us. And that often our lack of concern for others and our tendency to depend only on our flesh severely limit our ministry.
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Got a Problem? Get a Plan.
We spoke last week briefly about how little aware we were as a country, waiting to see some of the outcomes of the election, and how we don't put our hope, hopefully, in any one party having control of Congress or any one party having its representative in the White House. What our hope is, is that Christ would continually reign in our hearts as King, and then through that, that others would come to know him. Then as we are literally one-by-one transformed, we know that our nation will follow.
That doesn't in any way mean that we don't take our great privilege in a democracy, and even responsibility, to vote lightly. We do that, but then we trust in something greater than what we ourselves can impose. I want to read to you the words of a previous president, Lincoln, here just for a second. It's going to allow us to go where we're going the rest of the day, I think, in a way that makes some sense. It's several paragraphs long but just listen.
"It's the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God. To confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all of history, that those nations are blessed whose God is the Lord.
We know that by His divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to the punishments and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven, we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown." Folks, if that was true in the 1860s, it's certainly true in the year 2000. But so is this next sentence he wrote.
"But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens." Signed, Abraham Lincoln, October 1863.
Y'all that's what happened about 140 years ago as one man stood before the nation and said, "We have forgotten God, and the horrors that are now upon us are no doubt a result of that," as the nation was split. Sound familiar? His solution was that we would come back together, not in hopes that a certain side would win, but in the realization that we are sinners who have rebelled against God and in need of grace, who need to get our hearts right, not our party in the front.
So he appointed a Thursday, not so that people could gather to eat, and not so that there would be great football games on television. But so that we might, with one heart and one voice, solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledge the Lord. You know, I tell you what. I will watch some football this Thursday. I will eat some this Thursday. But every day, as worshippers of the living God, as people who do have this Jesus reign in our hearts as this president did.
If we don't remember what every day is about, and especially when we as a nation call ourselves together to be remembering our blessings and the gracious hand of God who has made us more bountiful than any other nation in history. Woe to us. Woe to us. Not just one day a year, for that's dead religion. If we don't, as a people, come the realization that knowing God is the greatest joy, that knowing God is the absolute best. Whether it's this year or five years or 50 years from now, as a nation and as individuals, we will be held to count.
Today, what we just offered to you here is that if you don't know this God that Abraham Lincoln knew so well, we invite you to talk to us. We invite you to consider him. We invite you to know this Redeemer that we have sung of already. I pray for you and I pray for me that we would with one voice solemnly, reverently, wholeheartedly acknowledge him, not just on Thursdays in November but every day of our lives. We believe the greatest joy of our lives is knowing Jesus. We acknowledge so much as we pray ourselves into a time where we'll look at his Word. Let's pray together.
O Lord, if there's a problem in this land, it's not with those folks who don't believe. It is often, too often, those of us who say that we do. We don't live our lives like all that we once thought gain we now count as loss. Folks who hear us talk about knowing the living God who can make a difference in every aspect of our lives don't see us live as if we've come to that realization. So they look other places for answers and not to you.
As a group of folks that are gathered together here who want to serve you, we acknowledge that sometimes in still seeking after the same things we fail miserably, and we thank you for your grace. As we start this whole time together, we say thank you for loving a heart like ours. What we do today is come back together, and we purpose to study your Word and be encouraged from the Scriptures, to say one more time that we want to be wholly devoted to you.
We want when your eyes go to and fro throughout the earth looking for those who you might strongly support, we want that you would stop here, not that we might be great but that your name might be great as people observe us, your people. So today as we look at your Word, would you remind us again that knowing you is the greatest thing that we could do? Not just knowing you intellectually, not just assenting and agreeing to it, but to experientially trust and live by faith. We thank you for the grace that you've extended to us, and the grace that we, therefore, get to extend to one another as we flat blow it.
I pray for courage for a lot of us this week as we go back to family members who have seen us blow it so consistently and yet one more time try and be people whose lives are different because we have a relationship with you. I pray we wouldn't just go into it with a will and a flesh that's determined to be good this time, but that we would go into it filled with our relationship with you, knowing that what we need for them we get from you. May we be an abiding people. Teach us the importance and significance of that again today. In Christ's name, amen.
As we said a minute ago, we're in the middle of transitioning to a system that'll help us, we think, flow through worship a little bit better than we have. So not everything we normally have up there is up there. If you have your Scriptures today, please turn to Mark 6. One of the reasons we would hesitate putting Scriptures up there sometimes is because we think folks would maybe sometimes stop bringing their own Bible with them.
We're glad to see that has not been the case here, don't ever want that to be the case so that when you come here early, you can spend some time on your own, you can make some notes in your Word that are encouraging and instructive to you. We're going to cover a large hunk today rather quickly.
When we started, those of you who are just visiting or are guests of us today, in Mark, when we first looked at chapter 1 we came across this character John the Baptist. We spent much of our first week as we've been studying this story of Christ, talking about the one who said that he was coming. There were several points that we pulled out about this man John the Baptist that today I will also highlight once more.
We ended last week in verse 13. In verse 14 really down through verse 29, Mark takes a look back at an event that happened to John the Baptist. John had been a faithful man and had fearlessly preached the truth. In fact, if you'll look specifically at verse 17 with me, it says, "For Herod himself had sent and had John arrested and bound in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, because he had married her."
Verse 18 says, "For John had been saying to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.'" What we see is that John, this guy, was not just bold in certain circles but that he was consistent in proclaiming the truth. I want to remind you that much of this we covered the very first week we were together. So verses 14 through verse 29, if you want some insight into those you can go back and get the very first tape in this series, TheGospel of Mark.
I want to remind you today of just three little applications about John. It's significant why Mark sticks it back in here as he tells this story. It's because Jesus has just again taken on the mantle as prophet. People rejected his message in his hometown, Jesus used the proverbial saying, "A prophet is not welcome in his hometown." Almost as a reminder of how true that is we, through the life of John, get a glimpse back at how Israel had always treated its prophets, rejecting them, and often killing them.
"Jesus then gathered," it says, "his disciples to him, and he gave them authority, and he sent them out." That's what we looked at last week. We're reminded again what happens again when God sends his disciples out. What you see happen to John here in verses 14-29 is what's always going to happen to faithful men and women. It happened to Jesus, it happened to John, and it's going to happen to his faithful Twelve.
We need to be aware that it's happening even today. If we are faithful, this is what the Scripture says. Second Timothy 3:12, "Indeed, all those who live godly in Christ Jesus, all those who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted." It's just going to happen. In our land, it's not typically physical, but there are folks all across this world who do suffer physical persecution because of their faith.
Today, I don't know if you know this, but all around the world the last four or five years, there's been a growing awareness of that. Always the Sunday before Thanksgiving, churches gather to talk about the persecuted church. I don't know if you know this, I didn't until a couple or three years ago when it came to my attention, but there have been more people who have died for their faith since 1900 than that died from the time of Christ all the up to the nineteenth century.
In the last 100 years of our civilized world, more people have died for their faith than in the previous 1,900 years combined. Great men and women have got their priorities straight, just like John did. John was one of the first martyrs for Christ. Stephen was the first who really, fully understood, but John, himself, was a member of the persecuted church.
I want to give you three quick applications that are true of John, that are true of faithful brothers and sisters around this world today, and that, frankly, need to be true of us. Great men, and again we highlighted these for an extended time in the very first time we went through a chapter in the book of Mark. Great men speak the truth wherever and to whomever. They are not selective.
They don't ask themselves, "Will this help me advance in business? Will this help me close the deal? Will this make this girl still hang out with me and go out with me? If I'm too bold, too clear about my convictions, if I let this guy know that it's important to me to be truly united with somebody who's passionate about Christ, will he not ask me out again (and he's so cute)?
If I don't deny my faith, will this government that is antagonistic towards the persons who are followers of Christ, will it cost me time with my family? Will it cost me my life? So maybe I'll just modify the message. If I don't tell Herod the truth about his relationship, his adulterous, incestuous relationship with the wife of his brother, maybe I can keep preaching out here. Yeah, God surely doesn't want me in jail because then I can't take the message of who Jesus was. And that's so."
When John had an opportunity, he spoke the truth wherever and to whomever. Not as a club, but with gentleness and reverence, as in keeping with the commands of the Scripture. When you say something, sometimes, if it's true, it doesn't matter how you say it, it's going to be a club to some people. It's going to offend them, and it's going to make them want to harm you. But great men like John speak the truth wherever and to whomever. Great men are willing to suffer for their convictions.
John was. It cost him his freedom, and eventually, it cost him his head. Because Herodias was not real fond of that guy in the kingdom who was saying the things that he was about her, calling her to repent. The reason they can do that is because they live with an eternal perspective. You're going to find out the reason Jesus so eagerly bore the cross for you and for me is because he lived with an eternal perspective. He knew that this life wasn't all there was, so he could live in a way that frankly the world couldn't do anything with.
Paul is a great example of this. When Paul was being tested and was being persecuted, he simply said it this way. He said, "For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." What do you do with a guy like that when you have him over a barrel? Paul said, "You can kill me if you want, it's going to be good for me. But it's better for you if I remain here. So if you don't kill me that's great, then I'll just stay here, and I'll just continue to preach the kingdom of God to you and talk about his love for you, even those of you who are destroying the likes of me."
He says, "Kill me, it will be better for me. I'd love for you to. But if you keep me here, whether it's in chains or whether you let me free, I'm going to keep on helping you. So what do you want to do?" Tough to deal with a guy like that. That ought to be the way that we live. That's what great men do.
We saw last week that Jesus sent his disciples out. Faithful disciples always go, they don't sit and soak and sour. When Jesus calls men to himself and tells them to follow him, we do what he did. We go out and we teach. We go out and we train. We go out, and we do it together in relationship. We don't tarry when people reject the message, but in love, we keep moving on. We testify to the goodness and greatness of God. We went through all of that last week and more.
Now, today, we see that these men come back. They've been out, we're not sure how long. In verse 30, begin to read with me in Mark, chapter 6. This is what it says. "The apostles gathered together with Jesus; and they reported to Him all that they had done and taught. And He said to them, 'Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while.' (For there were many people coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.)"
There's not a faithful person in this room who at some point in their ministry has not experienced the reality of that verse, even today. You've been working hard. You've been at the kids' soccer game, and it's time for a study to start. It's time to encourage somebody. You've got a relationship with a person you're trying to deepen with so that you can have an opportunity with authenticity, integrity, and relationally to speak the truth into their life. Somehow dinner just gets moved down.
If you're like me, you eat a lot of ramen noodles around 10:30 or 11:45 at night sometimes. You don't even have time to eat, because you sometimes just get in the midst of some great, busy ministry. I don't know how many Sundays our moving team has missed breakfast. Because they start at 5:00 and they don't get done with the setup and whatnot, there are a lot of McDonald's wrappers, eventually, that are in these trash bags because somebody finally goes out and says we're going to die of starvation. Go and bring it to us.
This is what was going on right there. Verse 32: "They went away in the boat to a secluded place by themselves." Or at least that was the hope. Then we come across this little section we're going to focus on today. You need to know this is a very significant section of Scripture. Whenever God's Word has something, it's important, but when God's Word cares to take the time to repeat it, to go back over it, you might think it's something significant.
There are 35 different miracles of Christ that are in the Bible, 36 if you count the resurrection. Of the first 35, there is only one miraculous work of Jesus that is recorded by all four gospel writers. By all four guys that God in his sovereignty decreed would leave a written record of the life of Jesus Christ, there's only one miracle that shows up in all four. It's this one. That tells me that there's something especially significant about this story.
Some people will tell you that the significance of this story is that it comes at a pivot place in the ministry of Jesus Christ. He's beginning now, in the light of the rejection of the people that he came to save and to be their Messiah and to turn them around as a nation in national repentance so that they would be the people that God wanted them to be, so that the world would see in fact that there is a living God who does bless his people and they would begin to walk in righteousness.
Then they would declare, as a nation of priests, the love of God and the whole world would be won into relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Those people had rejected their King. So the question becomes, what's going to happen to the Kingdom in light of the rejected King? Jesus begins to take the message now not just to the Jewish people, not just to Israel, but it's spread out now into the Gentile region, more and more. Some people say it's the pivot point. That's when this transition happens, and that's why it's recorded all four times.
Others say it's recorded because it's the miracle that affected the most people. It's recorded because 5,000 men, and during the counting system of the day, they didn't count children and women… So you'll hear me say that this 5,000 that he fed was probably, with integrity, anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 to as many as 17,000 people who were there who were gathered, if you assume that most men had a wife, and most men and wives had children, multiple children. The number grows very quickly.
They say, just because of the sheer amount of people who were blessed, it was recorded in all four accounts of the life of Jesus. But I'm going to tell you, I think there's something much more significant. This is what we're going to focus on, this one thing that I believe is the reason that it's there again and again and again for you and I to make sure we don't miss it no matter what book you pick up to read about the life of Christ. This is one thing he wants us to be squared on.
What you're going to find out is that what Jesus is going to show the disciples is that he can meet the needs of the people he came to serve. He expects them to meet the needs of the people who he loves and who he's eventually going to die for. What those disciples need for those people, they're going to get from Jesus. He wants to drive that home. So we have this story. I'm going to read through it once. We'll come back and have some fun picking it apart.
"The people saw them going, and many recognized them and ran there together on foot from all the cities, and got there ahead of them. When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things. When it was already quite late, His disciples came to Him and said, 'This place is desolate and it is already quite late; send them away so that they may go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.'
But He answered them, 'You give them something to eat!' And they said to Him, 'Shall we go and spend two hundred [days' wages] …" Two-thirds of a year of work. "… [just to buy some] bread and give them something to eat?'" Verse 38: "And He said to them, 'How many loaves do you have? Go look!' And when they found out, they said, 'Five, and two fish.' And He commanded them all to sit down by groups on the green grass.
They sat down in groups of hundreds and of fifties. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them; and He divided up the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up twelve full baskets of the broken pieces, and also of the fish. There were five thousand men who ate the loaves."
What's the significance of this story, and what makes it so stinkin' significant that out of the 35 miracles of Christ this is the one that is repeated four times? Let me just make a quick observation as we get started. If you go back and you look at verse 34, it says, "And when He went ashore, He[Jesus]saw a great multitude, and He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things."
You see behind me that one of the first observations I make when I look at this passage is that I'm reminded again, if you want to be effective in ministry, if you want to be somebody that's going to really have an impact in people's lives, you necessarily have to have the characteristic of compassion.
The reason Christ was so passionate about his work is that he had compassion on those who were like sheep without a shepherd. You remember the story. He sat there over Jerusalem, and he wept. He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how long I have longed to gather you as a mother hen does her chicks. I wanted to gather you under my wings, give you protection, give you cover, give you provision, give you what you cannot have as vulnerable little baby chickens." And he wept over them.
A ministry that will forever be near and dear to my heart because it's what changed my life is the ministry of Young Life. You've heard me mention that. There are a number of folks in this room who continue to be serving the Lord through the ministry of Young Life. The guy who founded that little ministry about 55 some-odd years ago, when he was walking down a road in South Dallas, came across Woodrow Wilson High School and was burdened with the kids who were at Woodrow Wilson High School and so desperately wanted them to understand the message of grace that he now as a young man had fully come to understand.
He would go to that high school, and he would sit there, and he would think strategically, "How can I take what I know now and take it to these kids?" Rayburn's heart was broken for high school kids in a way that God has allowed to multiply out to eventually, in 1979, break through a very self-willed, selfish, insecure kid living in Kirkwood, Missouri, and continued to reach kids at this high school and all around this city and all around the world.
Rayburn had a couple of statements that I learned early on when I was on Young Life's staff and that are repeated often there and need to be repeated here. One of them was this. He said that until you learn to cry for your kids, you won't die for your kids, talking about the way you minister to those high school kids. Until your heart is broken by them, until you see them as sheep without a shepherd, until you realize the pain that they're going through because of the fact that they're without God and without hope in this world, you'll never be the kind of leader you need to be with them.
A servant leader who gives themselves wholeheartedly and sacrificially to those kids. Until you learn to cry for your kids, you won't die for those kids. Until you stand over the city and say, "O Dallas, O Dallas, how I long to gather you under my wings as a mother hen does her chicks," you're not going to be the kind of leader, servant leader, ambassador, minister in this town that God wants you to be, me to be.
I ask you, has your heart been broken lately by watching the news, reading the newspaper? By the lives of your neighbors? By the lives of your kids' friends? By the lives of some of the folks who are in this room that don't know what it means to live not just with a polite agreement with the Scriptures but with full devotion to Jesus Christ?
Are you grieved that there are people in this room that their marriages have never had the life and the joy that they should have because they've never lived in accordance to the Scriptures? And they continue to be defeated by anger and self-will and their own manipulative agenda to get what they think they want.
Does it break your heart? Does it make you cry at the pain that folks experience who don't really walk with Jesus Christ? Rayburn would also say that kids don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. He would say you have to get in there and develop authentic, loving relationships.
One of the core values of our church is just that. That we would be an authentic people and that we would be committed to the uncommitted. That we would be a welcoming family. That we would invite them into community. That we would intentionally pursue community with lost folks, not treating them as a project but treating them as people and letting them know that we care so that they might know that all we are is a very weak testament to the fact that God cares in their life.
To say, "You need to know how much he cares for you that he would have me make the sacrifices to prioritize my life in such a way that I could get to know you, build a relationship with you. Serve you so that you might know how much he cares about you." Your neighbors, frankly, don't care how much you know about Jesus Christ until they know how much you care about them as individuals. Not as somebody to put a mark on your belt. Not as somebody to fill up one of these empty red seats. But as somebody that you genuinely care about.
Have you forgotten what it's like to be without God and without hope in the world? Have you forgotten what it's like to bury a friend that doesn't have assurance at the grave? Have you forgotten what it's like to have death looming over your head, not certain of the fact that you have moved from judgment into life?
Have you forgotten what it's like to be a slave to your flesh to feed it by some addiction and be powerless to do anything about it? Have you forgotten that? Have you forgotten how when you lived according to your own will and flesh you didn't have the Scriptures to guide you? You were consistently involved in destructive relationships and patterns and habits. Your pride ruled and wrecked your life. Have you forgotten that?
Jesus had compassion because he knew how vulnerable sheep without a shepherd were. He was going to give his life for those sheep. Where's our compassion for the lost, hurting, and alone in this city? If we haven't made an impact and we're not developing inroads and we're not making a difference, probably it's because we don't really care and we stopped crying over the multitudes. We think it's somebody else's problem. But that's not what Jesus said.
In John, chapter 6, I love it because when John retells this story, he tells it with a little bit more detail. He tells us that Jesus looked out and he saw the disciples standing there and he saw the people and the fact that it was getting late and that they were hungry. And Jesus said to Philip, of all people… You don't hear Philip talked very much about in the Scriptures. Philip does something a little bit later, in Acts, when he leads some Ethiopian eunuch to Christ.
But Philip is not a guy you hear much about from the time that he became one of the followers of Christ until later in the book of Acts. Philip was kind of a hang back kind of a guy. Not especially known for his preaching gifts, not especially known for his leadership skills. Of all the people to pick on, Jesus looks right through the Twelve who are sitting there, and he goes, "Hey, Philip, you get those folks something to eat."
I can just see Philip going, "Aww, come on, man. There's a reason I hang in the back. What are you picking on me for? I'm just kind of back here, I was talking, 'What did he say?' Feed them all? Come on, Jesus, are you out of your mind?" I think Andrew, who had some compassion, apparently got all of it because his brother Simon didn't have any. Andrew kind of intervened in the situation. It says in John that he goes, "Um, Master, there's not a whole lot out there to eat. You know, so what are any of us going to do?" It's not just Philip's problem.
Jesus is taking this very relevant moment, and he's going to use it as a master teacher does to teach and instruct. So he grabs these guys, and he says, "I don't want you to send them away. These people are here because we're ministering to them. You provide for them. They came to us expecting to receive something. Let's not just preach some simple message and walk away. You feed these people."
They were like, "Are you out of your mind? It's 5,000 men. There's a multitude, maybe 17,000 folks who are out there. What do you mean?" Jesus says, "You give me what you got." So they went and they beat up some little kid, took the lunch that his mom packed. Five loaves, little barley loaves, dinner rolls, and a couple of little fish.
This is not an 80-pound grouper. This kid's carrying this lunch. He gets mugged by 12 godly men. They take it to Jesus, and they say, "This is all we have. The kid's yelling, and people are getting mad because we just mugged the one with food." Jesus said, "Give it to me." You know the story.
It says he broke it, he blessed it, and then he said, "You tell the folks to sit down in groups of 50 and 100." I want you to think with me for a second. What is Jesus doing? He's about to teach the disciples one very simple principle. It's one you and I need to be reminded of today. He said, "You sit those folks down out there. You get them in groups of 50, and you get them in groups of 100."
You have 12 guys. You've got 5,000 men. Take it just to 10,000 with me. How many groups of 50 or 100 is that? It's a whole bunch. If you have 12 guys serving that many tables, how many times are they going to have to walk back and forth? You might think to yourself, "Well, they can't even probably carry enough food to serve 50 people or 100 people." So even amongst those little groups of 50 and 100, there was more than one trip.
Every time, Jesus says, "You, Peter, you start. Take it to that group of 50." And lo and behold, there was enough food for Peter to fill his arms and walk over and give it to those people. Then, all of a sudden, what happened when he took a basket? He gave out all that food. Then what happened to that basket? It was out of food. So what did he do? There were some folks who started to get the idea that dinner was being served, and he only got about 30 folks into it.
So they're looking at him, and he's looking at them, and he's looking at his basket, and he goes, "Look it, I don't even know where that came from. What do you mean?" What did he have to do? Just say it. Where did he go? Back to the Lord. He has his empty basket. What he began by faith now he has to go back. On the way back, he runs into Andrew, and he says, "Andrew, what are you doing?" He says, "Man, I cannot believe this." "I can't either. Let's go back and see if we can get some more."
They're probably, the first few times, trying to run ahead of each other to make sure they get there first in case it's going to run low. You have to put yourself in that situation to remember that these are human men who don't really yet fully understand who it is that they're dealing with.
So they're, I'm sure, racing as fast as they can to get back before this good thing stops until they make three or four or five trips and they realize that every time they go back, Jesus has more than enough to fill their stinkin' baskets. Then they started walking slow. They are probably having a ball, but they are getting this message pounded into their mind again and again and again.
What's the message? What you need for them, you get from me. "What you need for them, you get from me. You go, and you give everything you've got, and you do it as a reminder that I'm giving you the provision to love to minister to serve to care for those people, not according to your own flesh and what you can make in your own kitchen, but what you need for them you get from me. When you're out there serving them with what I've given you, and as you get depleted, where do you need to go?" Back to him.
So I say it simply this way: We need to be in constant contact with Jesus to be effective in ministry. That's what it means in the Scripture when it says to be filled with the Spirit, to walk in the light, to be filled with the knowledge of his will. That's what it means when it says in the Scripture to "pray without ceasing."
Don't ever break off that relationship, because the second you go somewhere else to fill that basket to feed the folks that God's calling you to serve this week, you're going to be embarrassed because there's going to be nothing in that basket. Jesus is driving this point home. He said it this way.
He said in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that in order to abound in ministry, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain…" We want to be people who abound in Dallas this week, but before we abound, it's been well said, we must abide.
John 15: "** …apart from Me you can do nothing."**"You need to be in constant contact with me. Do you want to be an abounding church? That's great. Then you be an abiding church. Don't be a church that's full of all kinds of energy and desiring to do great things for me. Walk with me, be a humble people. Learn your Word. Be involved with community that spurs you on to love and good deeds. Gather corporately for prayer, individually for prayer, and when you're done on your knees, walk with me by faith. Don't ever do it on your own."
If you want to abound and be effective for Christ, you have to be in constant contact with him and abide with him, because apart from that you can do nothing. This is what Jesus said in John 16, verse 7. He said, "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.""If I go, I will send him to you." All he's saying right there is that the Helper, the word in the Scriptures is paraklētos in the Greek, which means one who comes alongside to help. It's one of the many names of the Holy Spirit.
What he says in the midst of this is, "Look, I know that right now, you guys are scared to death that I'm going to leave you." The last night that he is with them, he shares this idea. "It's better that I go away." Now how can it be better that he goes away? You ask people who are alive today if they could have an intimate, constant, abiding, filling relationship with the Holy Spirit or if you could have Jesus tag along with you 24/7/365, which would you rather have?
There's probably not an individual in this room that on a moment's reflex wouldn't go, "Give me Jesus. Give me the man. Give me the one I can touch, feel, breath, be encouraged by, let him speak truth into my ear." This is what you need to hear from this Jesus. He says, "No, it's better that you have the Holy Spirit."
Who is not just some impersonal force but is the third person of the Trinity. Not the third most important, but the living God who is alive. Folks, let me tell you the reason there's powerlessness in the church is because we don't know much about walking with God in the power of the Spirit. The Spirit of God dwelt where, when Jesus was here? It was tabernacled in him. He was fully God, fully man. Whenever Jesus did a miracle, he said he did it by the power of the Spirit. Or if you will, in relationship with the Father, never on his own because he's the perfect man.
What is the perfect man but a perfectly Spirit-filled and directed man? Jesus is not as you and I are, who receive a filing of the Spirit and then can be effective. Jesus always was filled with the Spirit because he is the visible image of the invisible God. All the fullness of God eternally has dwelt in him. He came in the incarnation, was not a good man becoming great. The incarnation was God taking on the flesh and walking as a man would walk.
As we've said repeatedly through this series, limiting by his own choosing, for the glory of the Father and the good of humanity that he wanted to identify to redeem, limiting his own self-use of his deity for his own benefit but walked as you and I walked. As the perfect man, he always surrendered to the Father. He was a Spirit-filled man, all the while remaining God.
Jesus said, "It's better for you that I go because the reason that you men, you disciples, are having effective ministry is because you're being encouraged by me. The Spirit of God tabernacles inside of me, and when I am with you, you can do great things because you're encouraged by me, instructed by me, exhorted by me, enabled by me. But when I leave, you don't need to be with me. You can do whatever it is that I want you to do by the same power of the Spirit that exists in me today. So he says, "You wait."
The very last thing he said when he was with his disciples after he had died, and he had come back from the grave, and he was with them for forty some odd days… In the book of Acts, it says, "Gathering them together…" Meaning his disciples. This is the resurrected Jesus. "…He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. 'Which,' He said, 'You have heard of from me.'"
What did the Father promise? This is what we in the church commonly call Pentecost, which just simply means fiftieth day, which is the time that God sent, in the form of a mighty rushing wind, for the first time, this promise that had been around ever since the prophet Jeremiah, the prophet Isaiah, the prophet Ezekiel spoke of this incredible blessing, which was the indwelling of the Spirit of God in folks who knew him.
At this moment, the Spirit came upon them. It was now not necessary for them to be with the physical Jesus, who was very shortly after this verse ascended into heaven. But they waited, and God sent the Spirit so that they could continue to walk in him and could continue to serve the world that they lived in. What the world needed they could continue to get from him.
Now not just one Jesus located in a physical locality in one place in time, but that he would be with them always. He would go before them and behind them. He would be with them on the mountain and in the sea. They could go to 12 different places and have a relationship with the living God. They needed to be reminded of this. Jesus did not leave them here as an orphan.
They could serve and minister to people. What those people needed, they were going to get from Christ in them, the hope of glory. Do you know that's exactly what Paul wrote to you and me? If you want to be a blessing to your family this week, don't just be somebody who's motivated by good music. Be somebody who goes back to Jesus.
If you're anything like me, my brother and sister-in-law are here today, and they've seen me screw up more than one Thanksgiving. When I go, "Man I'm going to be different this time. I'm going to put up with the craziness of my sister and the craziness of my, you know, this, my brother, all right." They're going to put up with the craziness of me. And all our flesh gets involved. I, oh man…I did it again. I popped off at the mouth.
It's because I'm sitting there and I'm going, "This is how I feel. This is what I want to say. This is what I want to do." I'm not giving them what they need from him. What folks in your family, at your place of work, what your friends need today, they get from Jesus, Christ in you, the hope of glory. He teaches this thing four different times because it is the central message of how we can be an abiding, abounding church.
Are you overwhelmed at the task before you, the neighbors that God wants you to reach, the lost folks in your life? Are you overwhelmed at the hurt and the pain? Do you think they need to talk to a professional counselor? No, they don't. They need you, a loving, sprit-filled, scripturally-informed follower of Christ. But I want to tell you something. You need to spend time with Jesus.
The same disciplines that a disciple had and the priorities that the disciples had then are the priorities that a disciple needs to have today: to get in his presence, to get in his way, to speak with him, to learn from him. We can do it. That's why he gave us his Word. That's why he gave us fellowship, to spur us in that end just like he gave them the Twelve.
Do you want to do a miracle this week? A miracle of love and giving people what the world goes, "Where do you get that? Where do you get that patience? Where do you get that kindness? Where do you get that compassion? Where do you get that concern?" It's a marvel to the world that you can continually feed a multitude with that kind of selflessness.
What you need for them, you get from him. If you do anything else, whatever you feed them is not going to be lasting food, and it won't be the bread that comes from the Messiah, which is the bread of life. We need to be a people who humbles ourselves and says, "Lord, take my life and let it be for you anything and everything that you want it to be. I surrender to you. I admit that my basket is empty, but yours is not. It's not about my patience."
Have you ever said this, "I just can't be patient any longer?" Well, good. It was never supposed to be about your patience. "I just cannot love that individual. I cannot forgive that individual." Well, it was never supposed to be about your love or about your forgiveness. It's about his. You tell me when the patience and the love and the compassion and the sensitivity and the concern of Christ evaporate. So you have a challenge in front of you this week? Fantastic. Admit your powerlessness over the situation and go to him. Let's pray.
Father, as we move to an exciting time when we get together with those who know us the best and love us the most but who we mess up the most around, I pray that we would not go as a people intent in our flesh to bring them the Bread of Life, the hope, to communicate to them the joy that we have as a family who gathers here together week after week. We worship, we sing, we laugh, we pray for each other.
We so desperately want folks that we know and love and have shared life with to experience that. Yet sometimes we go, and we turn over their bread baskets, not fill them up. It's because, Lord, we don't go the way that you went. We don't go by your power and by your Spirit, but in our flesh, and we always fail there. So we come to you today, and we thank you for the reminder that what we need for them, we get from you.
We need to be an abiding people. That's why we need to learn the Scripture. I pray that we would learn it and memorize it and study it and spend time with you as worshippers daily, that we would be conformed into the image of Christ and be transformed by the renewing of our minds that we might prove, Lord, what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
We thank you for your grace. We even thank you for the grace of sometimes confused, lost, or angry family members that they extend to us. Maybe they'll listen again this week this time, as we go, not full of ourselves, but finding provision in this one. And boy, Lord, we have a room full of Philips here, like, "What me? You want me to share Christ with that person? You want me to love that person? Why me? I'm just back here in the back. Just let me be." No.
God, I thank you that you call out the Philips. You say, "Philip, grow to be like me and trust in me, and you can feed multitudes." I pray, Lord, that we learn to trust in Jesus and not to be limited by our empty baskets. We thank you. We thank you that Christ in us is the hope of glory and not just us full of energy. Take our life and let it be sanctified fully to thee.
Scripture says, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me." It's what's called the spiritual life . It is not the devoted life where you just say "I'm going to live for Christ this week. I'm going to be different. I'm going to change." You cannot change enough to feed a multitude. There is no program in the Scripture to conform and change and transform your flesh.
Your flesh is crucified, and it's not about what Todd feels or what Todd wants or what any follower of Christ feels or wants. It's his life. Christ for you; you for him. Christ in you, the hope of glory. It can feed a multitude. It can change a world. That's his program, that's his plan. The question is…Will we participate? Let's abide this week so that we can abound as we proclaim the goodness of the Lord to a world that is starving. Have compassion. Give him your life. Have a great week.
The most influential person in history is also the most misunderstood and misrepresented. Two thousand years after He walked the earth, Jesus of Nazareth is still a mystery to many people. Whether you admire Him, worship Him, despise him or simply don't know about him, it's difficult to deny that any other single person has had more influence on our world than Jesus has. But how do we come to understand a man who is so commonly misunderstood? Join Todd Wagner for a walk through the Gospel of Mark and look into the life of one man who changed the entire course of human history. See Jesus for who He truly is and learn how He can change the course of every individual life that understands, responds to and trusts in Him. This volume covers Mark 6:6 through Mark 8:38.