Imagine a Miracle

  • Imagine a Miracle
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • October 7, 2018
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10-8-18 Sermon from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

Today, we’re going to look at a miracle.  It’s one of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ.  In fact it’s so famous that it’s the only miracle He every did that’s recorded four times in the Bible. It’s commonly called the “Miracle of Feeding the 5,000.” Really there were far more than 5,000 there.

 

Jesus never did a miracle to show off.  But He always did miracles to teach principles.  In this miracle, we have the story of how to have a miracle in your own life—how do you prepare for a miracle?

 

Someday you’re going to need one.  You may need one this week—a financial miracle, a health miracle, a relational miracle in your family with your kids/husband/wife.

 

From this story we find four key essentials to receiving God’s miracles in your life.  Mark 6:34-37, “When Jesus saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them so he began teaching them.  By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came and said, `This is a remote place.  Send the people away so they can go and buy something to eat.’  But Jesus answered, `You give them something to eat!’  They said, `That would take eight months of a man’s wages!'”

 

What we have here is a problem.  It’s a large, very hungry crowd. They’ve been out in the middle of the desert all day to hear Jesus Christ teach.

 

As the day wears on, and there’s not even a McDonald’s in sight, there’s a real problem here.  When you have a problem and need a miracle, you need to do four things. They’re all a part of this story.

 

 

  1. I admit that I have a need.

That’s the starting point.  If I want God to work in my life, I’ve got to admit it—“God, I need Your help!”

 

For many of us this is pretty difficult.  We don’t like to admit our problems. We like to hide our problems, cover up our problems, blame other people for our problems, pretend our problems don’t exist.

 

But the first principle of this story is God doesn’t work in your life until you ask Him to.  He doesn’t save you until you ask Him to.  He says, “Ask and it shall be given.”  Over twenty times in the New Testament, we’re commanded to ask.

 

So I come to Jesus Christ and say, “I’ve got a major need in my life.”  God won’t help until you admit you need help for it.  We don’t do this because, when we have problems, we tend to either procrastinate, pass the buck, or worry.  All three of them are in this story.

 

Notice what the disciples did:  They said, imagine the expense! “It would take eight months of a man’s wages!”  They did a little cost analysis.

Their anxiety goes into overdrive and I can imagine Peter and some of the other guys saying, “Jesus!  How are we going to feed 5,000 people? How are we going to transport the food out here?  How are we going to keep it warm?  Who’s going to clean up the mess? Who’s going to pay for the liability insurance?”

 

What they had forgotten was who was there with them—Jesus Christ, the Son of God standing right by them.  This is the guy who can turn stones to bread.  He’s standing right there and they’re looking for a Taco Villa.

 

We do this a lot.  When we have a problem, we forget that God’s with us.  He’s said, “I’ll help you if you’ll just come to Me.” But first I must admit that I have a need.

 

  1. I assess what I already have.

I assess what I have to work with.  I do a little realistic analysis of my resources and I ask myself, “What have I got? How am I using it?”

 

  1. 38, “Jesus said, `How many loaves do you have? Go and see.’ When they found out, they said, `Five small loaves of bread and two fish.'”

 

Why would He say, “Go see what you’ve already got.”  Because here’s the second principle when you need a miracle in your life.  First, you admit you have a need, then second, you assess what you have to work with.

 

The second principle is God always starts with what we have.

 

You take the energy you have and give it to Him.

You take the time you have and give it to Him.

You take the money you have and give it to Him.

You take the relationship, the talent, or whatever it is that you have and say, “God, here’s what I have.”  You do an evaluation of it.

 

Notice v. 36 Jesus said, “You give them something to eat.”  You feed them.

 

How would you like to be a disciple and have Jesus say that to you?  You’re standing there, “Lord, look at these 5,000 people!  They’re all hungry!” and Jesus looks at you and says, “Why don’t you take care of this problem.”

 

The disciples responded, “Lord, this is impossible!  It’s humanly impossible.  It’s financially impossible.  It’s practically impossible!  We can’t do this!”

 

Has God ever asked you to do anything impossible?  If you’ve been a believer for any length of time I guarantee you He probably has.

 

Why?  God loves to ask His children to do the impossible. Why?  He wants to stretch your faith. He wants you to see that He can be trustworthy.

 

Sometime in the future, you are going to have some problems come up and you won’t have the slightest idea where they came from.  A crisis is a crisis partially because it takes you by surprise.

 

  • Someone will get that phone call in the middle of the night that gets your heart racing and your adrenaline pumping and you hear that there’s been an accident.
  • You hear that a loved one has been taken to the hospital or has passed away.
  • You will be called from the school and they say, “We’ve got a problem with your child.” On and on.

 

You don’t know what those problems are.  That’s part of what makes them problems.  They’re going to come up. But, God knows the answer before you even know the problem. He’s not going to be surprised by it.

 

I come to Him and admit I have a need and here’s what we have to work with—the little talent, the little ability, the little wealth, the little time that I have.

 

 

  1. I give God whatever I have.

In the book of John it tells us that in this story a guy named Andrew, one of the disciples, found a little boy in the crowd who’d brought a sack lunch.

 

It wasn’t much.  It was just five little barley loaves (probably little muffins) and a couple of fish (probably dried sardines).

 

This little boy became the hero not because he gave it to God.  He gave what he had to Jesus and said, “Here’s all I’ve got—five rolls and a couple of fish.  Lord, You can have these.”  So he gave God what he had.

 

This is the third principle: God uses whatever I give Him.

 

Notice the Bible says “Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish.  He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people.”

 

This is interesting.  I don’t know how He did it but evidently, as He broke the bread, it just kept multiplying and multiplying.  He’d break off a piece and there was still a piece there.  He kept on doing it and doing it and it multiplied and everybody could see it—the whole crowd.

 

That’s why it’s recorded four different times by four different eye witnesses. God likes to use ordinary things to do extra-ordinary things.  God likes to use ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary tasks.

 

Notice the kind of giving that this little boy had that sparked a miracle.  First he gave it willingly, he gave it cheerfully and he gave it immediately.  The Bible tells us in the book of Matthew that the little boy volunteered his lunch.  He said, “Here!  Take mine!”

 

He did it cheerfully.  He didn’t do it grudgingly or complaining or resenting or worrying—“I’ve got to think about what I’m going to eat!  What am I going to eat if I give my lunch away?”  He did it cheerfully.

 

He did it immediately.  He didn’t hesitate.  He didn’t know what God was going to do with it.  But he gave willingly, cheerfully, and immediately.  That’s the kind of giving that sparks a miracle.

 

I saw a bumper sticker a long time ago.  It said, “God loves a cheerful giver, but He accepts from a grouch.”  That’s funny but it’s not true. God does not accept from a grouch.

 

Why?  Because God doesn’t want your money if you give it grudgingly.  He doesn’t want your time if you give it grudgingly.  He doesn’t want your talent if you give it grudgingly.  Why?  Because God doesn’t need it.  He wants what it represents—your heart.

 

God is more interested in the attitude of your giving than He is in the amount of your giving.

 

If you ever feel like you’re pressured to give, or pressured to do something and you feel begrudgement, let me tell you right up front, God says, “Don’t bother!  I don’t need your money.  I don’t need your talent. What I want is your life.”

 

That’s why the Bible says “Where your treasure is, your heart is.”  If you can’t give it with the right attitude, God says forget it!  Don’t bother!  It doesn’t count.

 

I’ve discovered that the most miserable people are the people who feel guilty when they’re not generous and then resent it when they do give.  Either way they’re miserable.

 

Yet the more generous you are with your money, with your time, with your life, with your talent, with your encouragement, the more God is going to bless it.

 

That leads us to the fourth point.  After I admit that I have a need and I assess that I have to work with and I give what I have to God.

 

  1. I expect Him to multiply it.

I expect God to multiply whatever I give Him.  Notice what happened in v. 42.  This little boy brings his lunch of just a couple of fish and five loaves and it says, “Everyone ate and had enough.”

 

What do you not have enough of in your life?

Time?  That means you’re not giving it to God.

Money?  That means you’re not giving it to God.

Relationships?  You’re not giving that area of your life to God.

 

Whatever you give totally to God, He multiplies.  He blesses it in return.  God has set it up in the world, a principle called “sowing and  reaping.” “Whatever you sow [whatever you give away] you’re going to reap.” Lubbock is a farming community so we should get this principle. It should resonate.

 

If you give away your time to help others, you’re going to find you have more time than you would have if you saved it all for yourself.  Money, reputation, anything.

 

The Bible has set it up this way.  The universe runs on the principle of sowing and reaping.  Why?  Because God wants to teach you to become a giver.

 

You can’t be like God unless you learn to be generous.  “God so loved the world that He gave.”  He wants us to learn to be like Him. Here’s the principle: You always reap back more than you sow.

 

If you criticize other people you’re going to be more criticized back.  If you judge other people, you’re going to be more judged back.

 

God says, “Give Me whatever you need more of and watch Me multiply it.”  It’s the principle of sowing and reaping.

 

Mark 10:27, “All things are possible with God.”  The key to this verse is that God likes to do miracles through people.

 

God could have just rained down bread on those people or turned a bunch of stones to bread or done any kind of thing that He wanted to.  But instead, He worked through people.  He worked through the little boy who gave his lunch, He worked through the disciples who passed it out.

 

In the days ahead, LakeRidge is going to need a miracle. We find ourselves in the midst of our Imagine Campaign where we have been focusing on Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.”

 

We find ourselves at a moment in time where, praise God, our congregation has been growing and with that growth has come mounting challenges for the future. But these are exactly the kind of problems we want to have. So we’ve been imagining:

  • New and innovative spaces created to draw children in to learn about Jesus.
  • Environments designed with teenagers in mind so they can connect with God and peers.
  • Spaces available to our senior members with first floor ease of accessibility.
  • Intentionally dedicated spaces for college students and young adults.
  • Inviting spaces for hospitality and connection with others.
  • Security upgrades and enhancements for the well-being of our congregation.

 

The price tag for this project is large – $4,750,000. However, LakeRidge has a history of imagining and accomplishing the impossible by faith. We will tackle this project, trusting God as we move forward together.

 

While we all cannot give the same amount, we all can sacrifice. For this reason we encourage everyone to think in terms of equal sacrifice, not equal gifts. To “sacrifice” means to willingly give the best I have for a greater purpose.  Each of us can do that. Each of us can have a part.

 

The purpose of the “Imagine” campaign is not to divert needed funds from the general church budget. Rather, our offerings should be over and above our normal weekly giving. This is where the sacrifice comes in for each of us.

 

Giving by faith happens when you decide to give an amount that will require God’s help to fulfill. My family will be meeting to decide what we feel God is compelling us to sacrificially give. But instead of worrying “How can we afford this?” we’re thinking, “We can’t wait to see how God miraculously provides what we’ve committed to give in faith.” He has provided in the past and we expect Him to do it again.

 

This is our opportunity to not only imagine, but to do something significant that will outlast our lifetimes. It is the opportunity to make a permanent difference with our money and leave a legacy for future generations.

 

We know that buildings don’t change lives, but what goes on inside of them does. When we invest in God’s work we are investing in eternity and that is exactly what we plan to do together next week on Commitment Sunday. I hope you will plan on being here and that you will join me in making a gift or pledge as part of the campaign.

 

Someday you’re going to need a miracle. Our church certainly does.  You may need one this week—a financial miracle, a health miracle, a relational miracle in your family with your kids/husband/wife.

 

In the moment may we follow the example Jesus laid out for the disciples of:

 

  1. Admitting to God that we have a need.

 

  1. Assessing what we have to work with.

 

  1. Giving to God whatever we have.

 

  1. Expecting God to multiply whatever we give him.