January 5, 2014  John 6:1 -35   Faith

      Stevie Wonder (the singer) and Jack Nicklaus (the golfer) are sitting around the pool talking. Inevitably the conversation turns to golf and Nicklaus is surprised to find out that Stevie Wonder, who is blind, has been playing golf for years.   The golf pro can’t believe it.  He wants some details so Stevie Wonder explains how he does it: “My caddy stands out in the middle of the fairway and calls out to me.   I listen for the sound of his voice and play the ball towards him. Then when I get to where the ball lands, the caddy moves further down the green, shouts out and I hit the ball again.    Nicklaus is obviously impressed but then asks, “But how do you putt?” The famous singer replies: “Well, I get my caddy to lean down in front of the hole and call to me with his head on the ground and his mouth just over the cup. I just play the ball towards his voice.”   Nicklaus finds all this very amazing and then asks Wonder if they can play a round sometime. Stevie agrees but says that because people don’t take him very seriously he only plays for money ­ and he never plays for less than $10,000 a hole.   Nicklaus thinks about it for a minute and then says, “OK, that’s serious money, but I’m up for it. When do we play?”    To which Steve Wonder answers, “You name the night.”

     Scripture tells us that we walk by faith and not by sight.   The just shall live by faith.  God tells us in II Corinthians 5:7 we live by faith and not by sight.   We need to walk in faith in this New Year.   I was thinking about this year and what to preach on.   I know that I do not want to proceed in 2014 without faith.    Let’s consider some verses on faith.   It is impossible to please God without faith.   With man it is impossible but with God all things are possible.   Call on me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things.  Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us.  

     With faith we can be excited about each day.   We can believe God to be with us in good days and in tough days.   Here is a cartoon illustration.   It looked like Saturday morning TV time at the Van Pelt household.    Lucy and Linus were sitting in front of the television set when Lucy said to Linus, "Go get me a glass of water."  Linus looked surprised, "Why should I do anything for you? You never do anything for me."    "On your 75th birthday," Lucy promised, "I’ll bake you a cake."   Linus got up, headed to the kitchen and said, "Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to."   I suppose that many look forward to this year with questions and concerns while at the same time thinking about vacation, work and family time.   As Christians we can look forward to God going with us into the blessings of the year and even in the challenges of the year.    There is blessing for each and every day.   His presence is with us to cheer and to guide.   Moses told God I do not want to go any further unless you go with me.   Last week we offered up to God some things we were looking for God to bless and change and hold that before the Lord.   Jesus is working the answers. 

    In this passage in John 6 we see a miracle and this miracle is recorded in all four gospels.   According to Chuck Swindoll there are 35 miracles that Jesus did.   This is the only one that is mentioned in all four gospels.  When Jesus sees the crowd coming to him he asks Philip how they are going to feed all the people.  Now Jesus knew what he was going to do and Jesus was not going to send them away to fend for themselves.   Jesus saw a need and He was going to meet the need.   He is the same today as He was then.    Jesus is concerned about the people being hungry.  God sees needs.   God sees hunger.   Philip takes a quick look at the people and sizes up the situation.   John tells us that there are 5,000 people in the group but the other gospel writers are clear that is was only the men.  Jewish families tend to be big with lots of children so very conservative number would be at least 10,000 people were fed. 

.  Why do you think that Jesus ask Philip how to feed the people?    Philip where can we buy food for all these folks?   I think sometimes we need to stop and evaluate the circumstances around us.   What is happening and what is going on here?   What are the needs here and how do I minister to those needs.   I think that God also lets us get to the place where we understand that the situation is greater than we can handle.   To simply state that I cannot handle everything in my life and in my family and in church can be very freeing.  God I roll this on you and you tell me what I need to do if anything.  We pray and let Jesus take his half of the yoke.   His yoke is easier than ours.   His yoke is lighter than your yoke.   Life is more pleasant when we lift our needs to Jesus, when we come to him for life.  

     Matthew records the disciples response is to get rid of the people.   Mark records that the disciples wanted to send them away.  Different disciples could have offered different suggestions.  Philip is thinking about money.   It would have been interesting if Jesus asked Judas since Judas liked to dip into the common purse that they shared.  Judas would have probably swallowed hard at the thought.    Well get rid of the problem or send the problem, away.  That suits me well at times.  May the difficulty and pain just go away.   Well that was not Jesus answer to this need.   He has a greater good in mind as Jesus often does.    He invites or directs the disciples to get involved with the need.  James comes up with a small boy’s lunch which is a little bread and a couple little fish.  It was just the boy’s meal so it is not much.  Well that little lunch in the hands of Jesus meets the need.   The lesson is clear give it all to Jesus.   Everyone is fed and there are 12 baskets left over.   Hezekiah had a little problem in the Old Testament.  Sennacherib comes with 185,000 men to attack Jerusalem and Hezekiah went up to the temple of the lord and spread it out before the Lord and prayed and the angel of death visits the camp of the enemy and they all die.   Wouldn’t it been neat if the disciples said Lord nothing is too hard for you.   We can’t meet this need but you can.   What is up and what is the plan Lord? 

         It is not an easy thing to feed 10,000 people in one spot at one time.   It is a quite an undertaking.   I remember when I lived in Colorado Springs in the late 60’s and early 70’s a place where they entertained like 2,000 people a night and fed them also.   One of the reasons I remember the evening is how they fed so many people so quickly.   How do you feed 10,000 + people?   The other thing that I remember about it is native Americans would sing the Lord’s or Disciples prayer.   If you do not handle things correctly feeding thousands of people at once can turn into a riot especially if they are hungry.   Jesus has the disciples set the people down in groups.   Certainly that will allow the disciples to get between the people so they can distribute the food.   Jesus blesses the food and feeds thousands of people. 

    The people see the miracle and they want to take him by force and make him king so Jesus withdraws from them.   Matthew tells us that Jesus forces the disciples into a boat and dismisses the crowd and then retreats.  Jesus sends the disciples out into the sea and ultimately a storm.   The disciples were safer out in the storm than with the crowds who want to force Jesus to rule them.   Be careful of the crowds.   They are not always on track.   In fact Jesus said the narrow road is the right road.   They decide they want a king.     The storm comes up and Jesus walks out on the water to the disciples.  The disciples are terrified and Jesus calms their fears and tells them that it is Him.  Matthew records at this point that Peter asks Jesus if Peter can walk on the water to Jesus.   It is a good idea to check in with God when you have a decision to make or when you want to do something.   Peter gets out of the boat.   Sometimes we like to sit where it is comfortable but Peter walks on the water.   Did his faith give out on him?  Did Peter fail?   Well we could look at him that way but none of the other disciples could say that they walked on water.  

     Someone has commented that somewhere along the way we have stopped believing in a mountain moving God or in light of this passage a God can enable you to walk on water.   It is not programs or music or a thousand other things.   It is God.  We serve a mighty God a miracle producing God but if you stay in the boat you do not need a miracle.    He is the same today as Jesus always was.  Jesus is the same miracle producing God today as He was sin the New Testament.   He is mighty to save.   There is nothing to hard for Jesus.  You have nothing in your life that Jesus cannot handle.  You will never have anything in your life that Jesus cannot handle.  Mountain moving is not easy or painless and generally requires risk.   What could be more exciting than to have Jesus reach out his hand and life you out of the waters as you start to sink?   That has to be the thrill beyond measure.    What better way could there be than to everyday this year get up and tell the Lord I am expecting you to do a miracle for me today.  I want your kingdom done in my life and in my family and in my church today.  Show yourself strong for me today.  You can do exceeding abundantly above all that I can ask or think.  

      Then we see in this passage these words.    When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”    Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.     Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.    For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”    Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”    That is an amazing question that they asked.   Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”   Well faith is work isn’t it?   How is faith work?   Shellie has been laid up pretty much for the last 2 years.  It has been pain, expense and being at times pretty immobile.  She gets frustrated and when does it end?  We labor in our faith and God teaches us in those valleys and in those difficulties.   Jesus tells us and he told his disciples believe in me.   It is a labor and it is work and at times our faith wavers and we question and we struggle but in the middle of it Jesus tells us believe in Him.  Hold fast to our faith.  He is with us and working as we pray and wait for Him.