Blessed to Bless, Pt. 4

tyler-nix-457491First and foremost, let’s remember the theme of this series: we are immensely blessed, but not for our own good; we are blessed for the benefit of others and for the exaltation of God. Today, as we continue on in our series, we’re doing something a little bit different than as planned; Lead Pastor Andrew Bach shares a testimony of abundance and blessing through a recent experience in the Mosaic Discipleship School. If you are in need of a revival in your faith, the restoration of the joy of your salvation, we would encourage you to take a listen.

John 6:1-5: After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

We are ones called to go when God says go. And what this scripture does so beautifully is remind us that Jesus cares about the practical things in our lives (not just the spiritual). He cares about our spirits, of course, but he cares when we are hungry and when we are sick, too. He cares about us through all of it; there isn’t anything that slips through the cracks of His compassion for us.

John 6:6-14: He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread would not be enough for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted. And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten.

Have you ever considered the boy in this story? What a role he has played! The Bible says nothing about or force or persuasion to coerce the boy to share his bread; he, the one that actually prepared a lunch for himself, gave his loaves and fishes in faith.

Similarly, we as people of Seattle, are dreamers. We yearn to see the impossible. What if God is waiting for you to do yours in order for Him to fulfill His? Maybe He’s waiting for you to take the next step (perhaps your heart beats faster hearing this, because you already know what that next step looks like…).

The thing about faith is that, we only have this one life to experience it. When we die, we are going to be with Jesus; we won’t need the faith that He calls use to have here on earth! Everything will be within our reach; we have to have faith here, and believe in the things unseen. Let us be people that inspire angels with our faith! Let us be people that make a wrong decision in faith than a good decision without any. If God is relational, and He knows our hearts, then He knows whether our decision is one of faith. Even when you are making the wrong decision, if God knows that you have done it in faith, He celebrates.

Jesus is the bread of life. He gives us security in this life of faith (despite the struggles, trauma, disappointments, and heartache) that He is our sustenance. He has made a way for us to receive it. Praise. 

Biblical References: John 6

Questions:

  1. How is God calling you to step into an increase in faith?
  2. “Everyone wants to see a miracle, but no one wants to be in a position to need one.” What is God saying to you about this statement?
  3. Is God waiting for you to do “yours” then He will do “his”? What would that look like for you to do “yours?”

Sermon Recap: Thanksgiving

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This Sunday, we had the incredible opportunity of hearing from Renae Burford about thankfulness (which, as she reveals, is not only a commandment of God’s, but is also immunity-boosting. Praise!).

Firstly, let’s check out the physiological benefits of thankfulness (according to science): it boosts immunity, decreases aches and pains, produces greater interest in exercise, improves sleep and you feel more refreshed upon waking, improves alertness, increases joy, pleasure, optimism and happiness, helps with quicker recovery from stress and depressive episodes, increases capacity to help others, and decreases a sense of loneliness. Not only is thankfulness pleasing to the Lord, but it is actually really good for us.

Thankfulness, by definition is: “awareness of benefits received from an external source; expressive of thanks”. There are 98 times thankfulness is mentioned in scripture, but we are going to look specifically at 5 of them.

Philippians 4:6: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” When we pray with thanksgiving in our hearts, that is the key to receiving the peace of God that guards our hearts and minds.

Additionally, thanksgiving gives us clarity when determining God’s will. 1 Thessalonians 3:16-18 states: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” We are to rejoice, pray, and give thanks at all times, according to the Bible. Friends, we must remember thankfulness is not a tool of denial; the Bible does not guarantee we won’t face suffering in life. What is does promise, however, is God’s goodness in every circumstance (even painful ones).

Thankfulness gives us an alert mind in the midst of confusion. Colossians 4:2: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Scripture also gives us warning when we do not give thanks, as seen in Romans 1:21: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Our minds are sharpened by thankfulness, and they are made dull by lack of thanksgiving.

Thankfulness gives us confidence when we are in need. David declares his confidence in Psalm 118:17: “I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.”

Thankfulness is an alternative to temptation. Ephesians 5:3-4: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper saints. Let there be no filthiness or foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Let your mind be so full of thanks that all the things that bring death and destruction are displaced.

According to a psychologist, “if I want more gratitude, I’ve got to be willing to actually participate in a change process by which I allow my brain to be aware of what it is grateful for.” Let there be thanksgiving; let it be. Allow yourself to be thankful. It begins by being aware of all that you have actually received. Your participation is key, not your circumstance. Thankfulness is such a powerful gift from God for us.

In order to become a more thankful person, we must be aware of its competitors: materialism (which says, “if I have this, its because I earned it”) and entitlement (which says, “because I exist, God owes me this”). Entitlement and materialism kill thankfulness because they cut it off at its beginning. Remember, thankfulness is “the awareness of the benefit received by an external source, or an expression of thanks”. God does not owe us anything, and certainly not just because we exist. Materialism and entitlement are so engrained in us as a society because we are a prideful people, and it is a rarity to admit our dependency on another. We want to be independent. To be thankful means you can acknowledge that you received something that you didn’t deserve, and awe is the right response to such great generosity. Jesus’ death on the cross is the most awesome gift we could ever receive, and to accept it is awesome because we must acknowledge that we don’t deserve such a gift. We are not entitled to God’s pursuit; his love is generous. We cannot earn it, but what we can do is be in awe of his generosity.

When we assume the kindness of God should just be ours because of our existence, we become more susceptible to sin, apathy, and anger toward him. It is your awe that will lead you to love God well, and your loving God well will lead you to joy in obedience (and receive the best that he has for us). Let us allow God’s generosity to lead us into awe of him, and be thankful for all that he has done.

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! See you on Sunday for the beginning of a new series.