Worship Set

Rise and Sing – Steve Fee
Happy Day – Tim Hughes
Glory to God – Steve Fee
Great in All the Earth – Tim Neufeld and Jon Neufeld
His Glory Appears – Hillsong

Transcript


God’s in it! How God grows your faith

#4 God’s in the Serving

 

Opening

  • Hi Everybody.
  • There was an earthquake last week off the California coastal town of Eureka. No one was seriously injured, and only minor damage occurred to a few buildings.
  • In fact, over 1000 earthquakes, ranging in magnitude, struck the US last week. 
  • So when I first heard about an earthquake in Haiti, I wasn’t alarmed.
  • It wasn’t until later on Tuesday afternoon, when I got an email from a friend who is closely connected to the situation, that I realized gravity of this humanitarian crisis. 
  • And from that moment on, I’ve been doing what many of you’ve been doing. Watching, praying, and even questioning.
  • I’m honest enough to say that in the moments when the brokenness of our world creates such havoc, my faith, my trust, is challenged.
  • My friend informed me that in the church network he’s working with in Haiti, over 70 of their pastors are dead.
  • How God? Why God?
  • And then you hear the songs, and prayers, from people in the middle of the crisis; the people on the streets, the people who have lost children, and parents, and friends, and homes, and they’re singing to God, they’re praying to God, and I don’t about you, but I think “That’s big faith.”
  • And that kind of unshakable, unmovable, get you through the crisis, and be there in the everyday faith is exactly what God is trying to build in everyone of us.
  • Today, we’re going to continue in this series, “God’s in it” and we’re going to see how God grows our faith, through serving.
  • Before we do, let’s pray.

Message

  • Your faith, and my faith, is really important to God.
  • A few weeks ago we introduced an idea, or a concept, that I want to begin by revisiting.
  • If you have your outline, you can pull that out, because I want to jump right in by going back to a principle that I think is critical for all of us to understand, as it relates to faith.
  • The principle centers on this idea. The opening chapters of the Bible, in Genesis, is the story of humanity breaking their relationship with God, and breaking it over one primary issue; the issue of trust.
  • The Genesis narrative is the story of man saying to God, “You don’t know what’s best for me. You don’t have my best interest at heart. You’re holding things back from me God. And because of that you can’t be trusted.”
  • And the relationship was broken.
  • And, the rest of the Bible, everything that follows, the rest of the story is about God re-establishing that relationship.
  • And the principle I want to remind you of is this:

Reminder: God’s primary mission is re-establishing a Trust Relationship with humanity.

  • God wants you, and God wants me, to trust him.
  • And what we’ve discovered is that he uses a number of different things to build our faith, to grow our trust.
  • We’ve been talking about that. Teaching, Disciplines, Relationships, and today, we’re going to talk about how he uses serving.
  • Almost every person I know who has big faith, looks back on their lives and they identify an opportunity they took to serve the kingdom of God as a significant step in growing their faith.
  • Every time.
  • I ask people, all the time this question, and every time, people who have big faith say there was a point when they were invited to do something, and they accepted the invite, and that step is what took them to a new depth of faith.
  • I still remember being asked to participate in a mission to the Navajo Reservation the summer after my freshman year in college.
  • I was a mildly interested Christ follower with pea sized faith, and taking that trip was the last thing I wanted to do.
  • And today, if you were to ask me to pinpoint the spot on my spiritual timeline when I reached a turning point, I would point to that trip.
  • It changed everything.
  • Because, as we’re going to see today, God grows our faith, he stretches our faith muscle, when we serve.
  • One of the best examples of this in the Bible is also one of the most familiar.
  • I want to turn your attention to Matthew 14, we’ll begin with verse 13.
  • Now, as soon as we start this story, as soon as some of you hear this, some of you are going to go, “Oh, ya, ya, I know how this ends up.”
  • And others of you, if you grew up around the church or Christians, you might have heard this one quite a few times before, you might think, “I could deliver this talk, maybe even better than you, Brad.”
  • But before you start checking out, before you start skipping to the end, I want to tell you that in the middle of this familiar story there is a conversation or statement that Jesus makes to his disciples that I think describes better than anything else in the whole New Testament the issue that all of us will wrestle with at some point or another as it relates to this issue of serving God in way is out of our comfort zone.
  • So let me just read this story to you, and we’ll talk about that part when we get there.
  • Matthew 14:13
  • 13When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.
  • Now, what he heard had happened was that his cousin, John, better known as John the Baptist, had been put to death by Herod.
  • Herod had arrested John because John kept talking publicly against Herod’s marriage to his own sister, it was wrong, it was illegal, and John kept making that a sermon illustration and so Herod and his sisterwife eventually got sick of it, had him arrested, and eventually, beheaded.
  • And that was Jesus’ cousin.  And Jesus loved him.
  • So when he hears about it, he decides to go away, by himself, and to mourn his death. But it didn’t really workout to well.
  • Matthew 14:13
  • Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns.
  • So they hear Jesus is heading across the lake to be by himself, so they just all walk around the edge of the lake to find Jesus.
  • Not exactly the most sensitive group of people, right?
  • “Hey Jesus, sorry hear about your cousin and all, but we need, we need we need.”
  • So they go looking for Jesus.
  • Matthew 14:14-15
  • 14When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15As 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.”
  • So these guys, they walk half the day to find Jesus. They’re with Jesus and he’s healing them.
  • Jesus is a lot nicer than I would be given the circumstances, right?
  • I’d probably be zapping them with lightening for not leaving me alone, but not Jesus. He’s compassionate, and he’s healing them.
  • And I like the way they talk about that like it’s no big deal. That would be a big deal, if you and I saw that; like masses of people getting healed.
  • So that’s what they’re doing. And they’re tired. And it’s getting late in the day. And, and, Check this out, they’re in the middle of no-where.
  • And so the disciples come and say to Jesus, “These people are hungry, we’ve got to do something about this.” Which, if I had to guess what they were really thinking, it was more like, “Yo, Jesus, we’re starving. Let’s get these people out of here so that we can get some grub. Cause we’re hungry, man.”
  • You know what that’s like, right? That ever happen to you?
  • Someone is hanging around your place around dinner time and you know you don’t have enough to go around – no, this isn’t a stove top stuffing commercial and Jimmy can’t stay for dinner.
  • I’m reading that into the text a bit, but it’s not hard to imagine.
  • “These people need to eat Jesus; (and so do we). Send them away.”
  • Now, this is where this story gets really rich as it relates to your experience.
  • Matthew 14:16
  •  16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
  • They’re out in the middle of nowhere.
  • And Jesus says, “I recognize they’re hungry, and I recognize there’s no food around here. But guys, guys, they don’t need to go anywhere. You feed ‘em.”
  • Now, this is the tension that every one of us will face, at some point or another. If you’re not facing it now, you’re going to face it.
  • It’s that tension of when you sense that somebody has a need, there’s something that needs to be done, there’s a volunteer that’s needed, there’s a resource that’s lacking, there’s a position that needs to be filled, there’s a group of people who you’re compelled toward, and you’re thinking, “You know, I probably ought to do something with this. Somebody’s got to do something about this.”
  • You kind of feel that nudge from God say, “You meet it. You meet it. You feed them.”
  • You ever get that? You hear about a need, you see a need, you get excited about something, something God-sized, and it’s like, you know, deep down, God’s nudging you, saying, “Come on. I want you to do it.”
  • If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.
  • But here’s what we do, and I love this. We do exactly what the disciples do.
  • Check out verse 17.
  • Matthew 14:17
  • 17“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
  • In other words, we can’t do it. You got the wrong guys. We’re not prepared. We don’t have the resources to meet that need.
  • To put this in perspective, in today’s dollars, to feed these people, this one meal, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars.
  • And, Hey Jesus, last time I checked I didn’t have that laying around in my checking account, and, I don’t have tractor trailer filled with loaves and fishes.
  • What we’ve got here are, oh, about five loaves, and two fish, which, did we mentioned that we’re hungry, will barely feed us.”
  • This is just like me. I feel the nudge. I get the hint. “You feed them”, and I’m guessing you’re response is like my response.
  • “No, no, no, no, I don’t meet those needs, I PRAY for the people who are going to meet those needs. I feel like this is something I should pray about. God please send someone to help these ladies in my neighborhood; God send someone to those students over in student ministries, or those kids in adventureland. Oh I heard about those trips they’re doing to third world countries, God send some people to go on that trip so that it’s no longer third world, and maybe they’ll build a Hilton, and then I’ll go. God could you do that?”
  • And God’s going, “I want you to do it.”
  • “I’m just praying for people who will go do it.
  • See, it’s hard to imagine ourselves being the ones to actually feed them.
  • Because, when we picture ourselves in those environments, or in those situations, we’re keenly aware of what we don’t know, or don’t have, or the skills we lack, or the things we’re not capable of, that are necessary to meet those needs.  
  • They’re going to ask me a hard question. I’m not trained. I don’t know the Bible. I can’t afford that. I don’t have time. I’m no good at that. I can give you all kinds of reasons why I shouldn’t do this thing.
  • But there is going to be a time in your journey when you’re going sense something that you can’t get away from, and it’s not guilt, it’s just God, and He is saying, “I want you to be involved and to meet that need.”
  • Look at what happens next. Jesus says,
  • Matthew 13:18
  •  18“Bring them here to me,” he said.
  • Jesus this all we have.
  • But Jesus says to them, what I think he says to all of us.
  • Just bring me what you have.
  • “God I didn’t finish college. How far’d you get? I got through two years. Well just bring me that.”
  • “But I hardly know the Bible. Well, bring me what you do know.”
  • “I don’t have that much time. Well bring what you do have.”
  • “But I don’t have enough experience. Bring me the experience you do have.”
  • That’s all he wants.
  • And that’s what they do.
  • Matthew 14:19
  • 19And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples…
  • I want you to imagine this.  This had to be hilarious. I would have loved to have seen the look on the disciples faces.
  • Here are the disciples, they’re all facing Jesus.
  • You, imagine you’re Jesus just for a second. And I’m standing in front of you, like the disciples.
  • Then behind me, or behind these guys, is this crowd of 5000 people, and they’re all facing Jesus.
  • And Jesus takes this little bit of bread and fish, and breaks it up and hands it to twelve guys.
  • So basically, you have enough food in your hand to feed you.
  • And they’re standing there looking at him like, what do we do? Is this for me? Thank you.
  • Are they gone? Are they still there? Have they left yet?
  • And Jesus just gives back to them what they handed to him, and then, do you know what they did?
  • Do you know they did?
  • I want you to catch this, because, if you could take this into your journey with Christ, it would blow your faith up big.
  • Listen to what they did.
  • Once he handed them the bread and the fish, they did what they knew how to do, because that’s all they could do.
  • They didn’t know how to feed five thousand people.
  • But they knew how to turn and serve the food that they had.
  • They simple did what they knew how to do.
  • Listen to how it’s stated
  • Matthew 14:19
  • And the disciples gave them to the people.
  • They did what they knew how to do, trusting that Jesus would do something unusual. 
  • They did what they could do, TRUSTING, that Jesus would do what only Jesus could do.
  • They did what they knew how to do, trusting that God, would do what only God could do.
  • When you feel that internal nudging that says I want you to serve, I want you to sign up, I want you to go there, I want you take that trip, I want you to fill that spot, or join that team, when you get that nudge and you’ve got all the excuses in the world as to why not you especially right now, when that happens, your responsibility, and my responsibility, every time, is really really simple.

Principle: You simply do what only you can do, and let Jesus do what only he can do.

  • The tension you feel, and the fear that you feel, and the ‘oh my gosh I don’t know what’s going to happen’ that you feel, all that is your faith or your confidence in God muscle being stretched and worked and worn out.
  • That’s God doing something in you to build your trust, in him.
  • That’s God doing something to build your faith, in him.
  • And the future of the size, and the strength, and the power of your faith, is at stake.
  • Because, let me remind you, that God’s primary concern isn’t meeting this or that need. God’s primary concern is rebuilding a trust-relationship with himself.
  • If you look anywhere in the world at amazing things that God has done. If you were to look around and just see all the cool stuff that God’s done, you’ll almost always see, right in the middle of it, a person, who said “God I can’t but you can. And so I’m going to do what I know how to do, knowing that you will do what only you can do.”
  • That’s the story of every major movement of God in the world since the beginning of time.
  • And in the process our FAITH muscle gets stretched and we come out of it going, “Wow, look at what God did.”
  • The story continues.
  • Matthew 14:20
  • 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
  • And the disciples walked away from this going, “Aren’t we amazing? We should start a business! Take this show on the road.” NO!
  • They knew they had just been a part of something amazing. They did there part, and then, God did his part, and his part was huge.
  • Now, Jesus didn’t do this because he had run out of miracles; ok, healed the blind, check. Made the lame to walk, check. Oooh, leprosy, that’s gross, check.
  • Jesus had a very specific agenda.
  • He knew that he was handing the whole thing off to this goup of people. And he knew that if their faith wasn’t strong, and their TRUST wasn’t strong, it may not work.
  • So he set out to get these disciples to have big faith in him and TRUST him more.
  • So as soon as 101 is over. He sends them to 201. Verse 22.
  • Matthew 14:22
  •  22Immediately (that’s important, because these stories are linked. They go together, Immediately) Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
  • And that would have been interesting, seeing Jesus dismiss a crowd where he had just healed everybody and fed everybody. “Let’s pray. Ok, everybody stand, we’ll see you next week.”
  • Somehow, he dismissed them, and
  • Matthew 14:23-24
  • 23After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24but the boat (remember, the disciples are in the boat, the boat) was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
  • 201. Now the guys are rowing across the lake. How difficult is that?
  • They’re fishermen. They row all the time. Hey we can handle this.
  • They get about halfway across the lake, and it’s pitch black dark, and they’re rowing but going nowhere.
  • This is like that rowing machine at the gym, out in the middle of the lake. We’re rowing, but we’re not going.
  • And this is something they’re good at, something they are used to doing.
  • The story continues, verse 25.
  • Matthew 14:25-26
  •  25During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
  • This is a sidenote, but one of the things, that gives the Bible credibility, is that the guys who wrote this made themselves look really really bad.
  • And guys don’t normally do that right? Like no matter what, guys, we find a way to make ourselves look good.
  • That’s why you see this dude standing at a mirror, pot belly hanging over his jeans flexing his biceps, saying to his wife, “Hey baby, check these out.” And she’s thinking, “The fat roles or the weak excuse for a bicep?”
  • But see, these guys, even though in church tradition they’re St. Matthew, and St. Mark, and St. whoever, and they’re like superheroes, if you look, and you see what they said about themselves, you see, they’re St. scaredy pants. They never look good.
  • That’s one of things that gives it credibility.
  • They don’t say, “Then we saw Jesus, and we started chanting his name; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. And he walked across, and we rowed and rowed, we were tough.
  • I mean if I’m writing this, and I’m making the whole thing up, and it’s fiction any way; if you’re making it up, and your writing yourself into the story, you don’t write yourself into the story as a coward, and you especially don’t write your buddies into the story that way, unless you want to get sucker punched.
  • So in the story, they see Jesus, and they yell,
  • Matthew 14:26-27
  • “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
  • And in that moment, Peter has an insight.
  • In that moment Peter is like “ahhh, I see what’s going on! We’re standing there and he puts some nasty fish and hard bread in my hand and says feed these people. And I can feed these people, so I turn around, whatever, and there’s this miracle. And then Jesus told us to get in the boat and row across and he knew we couldn’t do that. Jesus, you knew, you knew the whole time, we’re going to be out here getting exercise and not going anywhere, and so there’s gotta be a lesson in here, and I think I understand it.
  • I think that we can do anything Jesus asks us to do, if we’ll just do what we know to do, and somehow trust him, to do what only he can do.
  • And so then, he decides to test his theory. Listen to what happens.
  • Matthew 14:28
  •  28“Lord, if it’s you, (and I am really hoping it’s you. Lord, if it’s you…)” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
  • Now this is so important. Please listen to this.
  • Peter understood, I can’t have good idea at this point. Its not about my ideas, or what I want to do.
  • It wasn’t just, “I’m going to jump out of the boat, and I’m just trusting Jesus.”
  • That’s not faith, that’s stupidity. And a lot of things get done out under the banner of “I’m going to go do this thing and just trust Jesus.”
  • But Peter understood the lesson.
  • The lesson is that whenever the savior asks me to do something I’m incapable of doing; whenever he invites me out of my comfort zone; whenever he asks me to do something that doesn’t make sense to me; whenever he asks me to do something that’s beyond my capabilities, If I simply do what I know to do, he does what only he can do.
  • So he says, “Jesus, come on invite, me. Please, ask me.”
  • (Possible point here)
  • The guys in the boat are thinking, ‘What?’
  • If you want to get out there get out there.
  • But Peter understands this; “No, he’s got to ask me first.”
  • Because if he asks me, then I know that if I do what I can do, he’ll do what he can do. So come on Jesus, invite me. Invite me out of this boat.
  • Isn’t this amazing? Who would have made this up?
  • Matthew 14:29
  •  29“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
  • Do you know what Peter did?
  • He did the same thing he did when Jesus handed him the fish and the bread.
  • Peter says, “I don’t know how to walk on water. But I know how to get out of a boat, and I know how to walk. And that’s the end of my capabilities. I’ll do what I know how to do.”
  • So I’m going to do what I know how to do, because Jesus has invited me.
  • So I’m going to see if Jesus will do what only Jesus can do.
  • Now, folks, that is the Christian experience to a great degree.
  • I dare you to start praying the Peter prayer.
  • Lord, take me out of my comfort zone.
  • Please invite me out of my comfort zone.
  • God, I want you to use me in the lives of other people, but I don’t want to come up with an idea. I want the assurance that you are inviting me out of my comfort zone.
  • And then, Jesus, I’m going to do what I can do, and I can’t wait to see what you’re gonna do.
  • For some of you, He is already inviting, right now.
  • For some of you, it might mean leaving this church.
  • For some of you, it might mean starting a new church.
  • For some of you, it might mean giving up your Wednesday night to work with students.
  • For some of you, it might mean using your vacation days to go to Africa.
  • There’s a part of you that’s been feeling the nudge, feeling the urge. You keep saying, “Someone’s got to do something about that.” And you’re nervous, and giving the ‘what if’s’ but Jesus is saying “Come on!”
  • I’m inviting you. I want you, to swing your leg over the edge of the boat, and then, see what I can do on your behalf. (Pause)
  • You know what happens next. If you don’t, this is great. Check it out.
  • Matthew 14:30
  • 30But when he saw the wind, (he was reminded of what he couldn’t do) he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little (what’s that word there?) faith,”
  •  This is all about faith.
  • This isn’t about, “I got another idea for a miracle, check this one out!”
  • This is all about faith.
  • There’s an agenda.
  • I’m trying to teach you guys to trust me for what you can’t do.
  • Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt me?
  • You started looking at your ability, and when you looked at your ability, you forgot to trust me, and when you forgot to trust me, you doubted me.
  • And I’m just filling in the blanks here. I don’t know how this went down, but I don’t think Jesus was chastising Peter.
  • There’s eleven other guys in the boat.
  • There’s the guys to chastise. At least Peter said, “Come on call me out!”
  • I think maybe, maybe this is the parent in me, I think he grabs Peter’s hand and he’s saying, ‘Oh, you almost had it. You were so close. Why did you doubt me? Peter you got it, you understood it. You made the right call. You asked the right question. Peter you were so close, why?
  • And I love the way it ends.
  • Matthew 14:32
  • 32And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
  • We suspected it before, that whole bread and fish thing. But I’m telling you, we’re in.
  • Truly! No doubt in our mind. You are, absolutely, once and for all, the son of God.
  • Now, here’s what I want to say. Listen.
  • This principle is so big.
  • If you’re sitting here today, you are benefiting from the fact that there were people, back in this church’s past, a small number of people, who said, Spokane needs a new kind of church, one that’s for people who aren’t into church, and they said, “I’m getting out of the boat.”
  • If you like this comfy building, if you enjoy dropping your kids off in Adventureland, if your family is benefiting from Student Ministries, if your Life Group is providing you support, if you’re jacked about what we’re doing oversees and locally to fill the hole in the Gospel, if you’re benefiting from any of those things, it’s because someone said, “I’m going to get out of the boat. I’m going to do something, sacrifice something, for the sake of something I’m not that sure about. The only thing I’m sure of is that Jesus asked me, and I’m going to do it.”
  • This past Wednesday, I was watching some of our volunteer Jr. high leaders as they interacted with our students here.  There’s hundreds of kids running around, half of them, (the male half), all stinky and weird.
  • And you know what I saw? I didn’t see people who one day said, “I love hanging out with 7th grade boys!” We hear that, you’re on your way to the funny farm, cause no one in there right mind says that.
  • No, when I looked around I saw men and women who said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with a group of 7th graders or 8th graders, I don’t have all the answers; I don’t know how to work ‘sick’ or ‘legit’ or ‘ridiculous’ into a sentence. I just know there was this nudge, and Jesus was asking me, and I just did what I knew I could do.”
  • And God, ever since, has been growing their faith up big, because they trusted him to do what only he could do.
  • So, now, here’s the question:
  • Where is God nudging you?
  • What is God urging you to do?
  • What’s that thing, that keeps coming up, and you keep saying, all I’ve got is a can of sardines and some crusty old bread, but it won’t go away?
  • And see, the issue isn’t “Well if you don’t get over there, then there won’t be enough, whatever!”
  • That’s not it. If you don’t sign up, we won’t have this or that. Nope.
  • See the issue is you.  The issue is your faith. The issue is, God wants to do something in you, and in you faith, and in your intimate relationship with him, and this is one of the areas where you have a role to play.
  • You’ve got to turn around and feed those people with what’s in your hands, even though you know from day one it is not enough.
  • And you’ve got to throw your legs over the side of that boat and take a step even though you don’t know the first thing about walking on water.
  • So my question is this:
  • Would you be willing to do, what you know how to do, and trust God to do what only God could do?
  • Because if you do, you’re going to experience God in a brand new way.
  • And your faith, it’s going to blow up. It’s going to be big, because you trusted him.
  • Let’s pray together.