What Do You Have?
B.I.: Jesus didn’t seem to ask questions because he needed information, but for our transformation. His simple question, “What do you have?” invites us to move from paralysis to action.
This message was launched out of ideas presented in Conrad Gempf’s book, Jesus Asked
This is a special weekend.
We took time to share a simple, but profound rite of passage together and.
We begin a 3 week series focusing on 3 unique topics related to the family.
· Next week = aging parents
· The week after = fathers
· This week = posture.
o Not the “sit up straight” for the family photo kind of posture.
§ Nope. It’s the life-altering posture of the heart.
o And we have one particular member of the family in mind – you.
§ Because if you get this right, it can change everything.
§ And when a family gets this right, well then Katie bar the doors (whoever Katie is).
TRANSITION: To discover this posture we return to one of the many brilliant questions Jesus asked.
He does ask some pretty profound questions, which I never noticed til I read a book titled Jesus Asked (by Conrad Gempf). It through me into a study of Jesus questions a couple of years ago, which continues today. In fact, in the Bible I’m currently reading you’ll find questions from God underlined in red and the rest in green. But I digress.
Jesus asks the same question, on two different occasions, which give us the key to this life-altering posture. The 1st is in Mark 6:35-38.
We pick up Mark’s record of this event, at the end of what’s been a long day. Mark says there were at least 5,000 men in the crowd, not counting women and children.
The disciples bring a legitimate concern to Jesus and say: “This is a remote place and it is already very late. Send the crowds away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.
But He answered, “You give them something to eat.”
They said to Him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” (Mark 6:35-37)
Rob’s translation: Say what? There’s thousands of people here! It’s like feeding everyone that came to Christmas Eve services at Grace (9,000) or having enough food to feed everyone at Hinkle Fieldhouse – with all the stores closed!
That’s impossible! We don’t have any food or money. It would take us months to work and get enough money to feed them all.
Jesus response: Oh rats. I thought you had enough food. Oh well, too bad. Let em starve. Goodnight everyone…
NOPE! No sermon. No scolding. No arguments. Just a question.
Jesus asks this (Hmmm, Jesus asks, sounds like a title for a book): “How many loaves do you have? Go and see.” (Mark 6:38)
You do your work – find out what resources we have, then we’ll go from there!
What’s He up to?
Out of thousands of people they find 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. That’s it!
I’ve seen teenaged boys eat that for an appetizer!
So Jesus tells them to have the people sit in groups on the grass. The crowd sits in large groups of 50 or 100 - imagine large, middle-eastern, extended families and villages together. I imagine that’s how Mark came up with the 5,000 number – he counted the ‘elder’ representatives.
Jesus takes the 5 loaves and 2 fish – not much, but He took what they had - looked up toward heaven and blessed them. Then, He breaks the loaves & fish into pieces and give them to the disciples who see that it’s all distributed.
Matthew, Mark, Luke & John all recorded this event. They were there (that must have been awesome) and they said everyone had plenty to eat!
No one left hungry!
In fact, there was not only enough, but more than enough.
When it was all done, there were 12 baskets of leftovers! One for each disciple, because I imagine God thinking; “I never want them to forget what I can do with whatever they have – if they just bring it to Me and trust Me.”
There’s the posture: Palms up. Here’s what I have.
Story – I see ways in which that has been true in my life.
1. Driving VW – Harlem Ave, Chgo. Thud, scrapping noise. Battery?
Get it to parking spot at apartment where we lived as newlyweds.
Up to 3rd floor to get tools and out to work on it.
Neighbor across hall comes out, sneers, chuckles and gets into his nice new car. One of many ‘interesting’ interactions with him and his wife.
2. Shoveling snow – he’d mock me for doing what the landlord should have been doing (never thanking me for the clear path to his car!).
3. Laundry – they’d take it out mid-cycle
Grrrrrrrrrrr! Confrontation?! Wait. Let’s hit em with kindness. Fold it!
Something happened toward the end of our time there, just before we moved out of state. Both of us were expecting children at same time. They softened.
We had them for dinner. It was great.
We both moved about the same time: us to Mich., them to another suburb.
We wrote letter: wish we’d have gotten closer sooner.
2 years later – Laura calls! She came to Christ & didn’t know who to talk to!
Rob & Susan: I want you to reach your neighbors.
But they look down on us – don’t respect us. We don’t have any money. We have lousy cars that always need work. What can we do?
Get into the right posture.
“Bring what you have to Me and I’ll take it from there…just don’t give up.”
TRANSITION: This lesson is so important the Scriptures record Jesus teaching it again! He desperately wants the disciples then – and disciples now – to get it. Mark records a similar event, in another region, only two chapters later. Mark 8:1-9
Another large crowd had gathered around Jesus, this time Mark counts about 4,000 men. They’d come from towns & villages that were miles away. They were following and listening to Him for 3 straight days. What an indication of their spiritual hunger! But they’d run out of food they’d packed for the journey. Jesus knew this and called His disciples together: Listen guys, I have compassion for these people; they have already been with Me three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance. (Mark 8:2-3)
It wasn’t all that long ago when these same disciples were faced with a similar situation. How do they respond? “No problem!! Let’s see what we’ve got and go from there. We’ve got this one down!”
No. They respond like I would – overwhelmed with the need compared to the resources at hand.
Disciples: But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? (Mark 8:4)
There’s thousands of people here and well, there’s not a McDonald’s for miles!
What does Jesus do?
Give up because the need is too great for the resources on hand?
Scold the disciples? - “Can’t you guys learn?” This is the 2nd time! You are so clueless, I give up!”
Nope. Jesus asks a question: “How many loaves do you have? (Mark 8:34)
Same question. Similar situation. Different time and place.
The Disciples take inventory: We’ve got 7 loaves and a few small fish – that’s obviously not going to go far feeding 4,000 men, let alone women and children (and voracious growing teenagers!!).
Jesus takes the loaves, thanks God for them, breaks them into pieces and keeps breaking and breaking and breaking… The result? The people ate as much as they wanted.
At the end there are 7 baskets left over.
Again, I love the symbolism here.
You had just 7 loaves, I’m going to leave you with 7 baskets.
Yep. It was Me again. Just making sure you know it. It may take a while but I’m working on your posture.
2 Simple, but Profound Take-aways:
1. Jesus is never overwhelmed by what seems impossible!
It’s a pattern with God – throughout the Scriptures, from the beginning!
A. Take Moses – A simple Jewish boy ends up being raised in the palaces of the Egyptian pharaoh. Unlimited money, the best food, clothes and education possible in that day. Then something happens that altars his life. He sees an Egyptian man beating a Jewish man. This has been going on all over Egypt, but he didn’t know – or want to know. Without thinking, in a rage, Moses jumps in and ends up killing the Egyptian. Instantly he realizes there’s no way this will turn out good so he flee the country. For the next 40 years he lives as a shepherd. No money. No fancy food, clothes or palaces. Forty years – unable to do anything about the unjust persecution happening to millions, in Egypt. Then God comes to him! That mess over there – people beaten, abused, enslaved – you go!
Who am I? This is impossible! Ex 3:11
Me against a pharaoh and his nation?
What do I tell the people and what if they don’t believe? Ex 3:13 & 4:1
I’ve been a shepherd for 40 yrs!
Besides that, I can’t speak to him, I stutter! Ex 4:10
Please, send someone else! Ex 4:13
Finally Moses goes, but things get much worse (isn’t that often the case?).
Now look what You’ve done! It didn’t work and it’s worse! This is impossible. It will never work. I can’t do it! Ex 5:21ff
Ultimately he sticks with it, changes his posture and becomes an incredible, godly man.
God could have answered his prayer and sent someone else, but He didn’t give up on Moses.
This is what we read about him at the end of his life – this reluctant shepherd that God used to rescue a nation.
There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel. Deuteronomy 34:10-12
Enormous need. Few resources. No problem for God. This theme continues throughout the Scriptures – even in the face of the most desperate of circumstances, which brings us to ‘Good Friday’.
B. Jesus and the Resurrection
- The brutality and hopelessness of that ‘Friday’ – He’s unjustly taken, tried, pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
- It’s so painful Jesus pours out His heart, “If it’s possible to take this from Me… I wish there was another way, one that’s less painful for me, let alone those who’ve given everything to follow Me! YET, I have complete trust in You – even in the face of death…so not My will, but yours be done.”
- One can only imagine the depth of despair for His followers that Saturday. It’s only one day, but oh the despair of that day and then comes Sunday. The miracle of His resurrection shakes the world – forever! The impossible happens. It’s the hope that drives our faith.
- Before we go any further I want to linger a bit longer on the hours before the resurrection. We must not gloss over what happened: falsely accused, lied about, sent to jail, imprisoned, unjustly sentenced to death, betrayed, mocked, spit on, beaten, tortured, faced incredible suffering, pain and agony.
- Jesus suffered horribly then - and because our world is still broken - He suffers now, any time there’s human suffering.
- But there’s something about suffering and God’s Presence in it. Those who know resonate with these profound words of Paul. “I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings...” (Philippians 3:10).
o Know Christ – sure!
o The Power of His resurrection? Sure. Victory. Power. Miracles. The impossible comes true. Absolutely.
o But the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings? Timidly and reluctantly I say, yes.
- Paul’s on to something.
o (1) First, He sees that at the greatest point of suffering in all of history - we see the greatest transformation!
We see eternity-altering good, rise out of what was so evil.
o (2) Second, He knows even in the face of suffering there is something deep and precious God can do in our lives.
§ Choose it for myself? No way.
§ Experience the deepest transformation ever? Yes.
- Jesus isn’t overwhelmed by anything – even suffering - because even suffering can be redeemed. It’s all in the posture.
Story - Though nowhere near as intense as what Jesus faced, I still see this thread running through my own life.
Riding El in Chicago, 3 rude ‘thugs’ cussing out a woman. I’m feeling paralyzed. I don’t have a weapon or ‘shirt-busting’ muscles. I’m smaller than all of them. I can’t do anything.
- The 3 guys get up, leave, then reach in the window and slap her as the doors to the train close.
- I jump up and go over to her – as did everyone behind me!
- We tell the conductor to stop & make a report.
- We all talk (from quiet, alone, to a ‘group’) and agree – if only one person would have moved…
- I realize I could have gone over and offered her a seat: come on over and join us so these guys can catch up…
Transition: I wish I had the eyes and mind of Jesus. I didn’t see what He saw. I was paralyzed. I thought there was nothing I could do. What seemed impossible to me was never a problem to God. I needed to shift my posture.
Review: #1) Jesus is never overwhelmed by what seems impossible!
And we don’t have to be either. It’s why He asked this simple, yet brilliant question again: not for His information, but our transformation. Which leads us to our 2nd simple, but profound take-away.
B. Jesus figures His followers don’t need to be overwhelmed either.
Every time you turn around, He’s doing things, telling stories and asking questions to get people to change their posture.
a. Why do you worry – food, drink or clothes? Matt 6:25-34
Matthew records the barrage of questions Jesus asks.
i. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothes?
ii. Look at the birds…they don’t plant or store food, for YOUR heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you more valuable to Him than they are?
iii. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
iv. And why worry about your clothing?
v. Look at the lilies of the field…they don’t work. If God cares so wonderfully for them…don’t you think He will care for you?
vi. Why do you have so little faith?
As essential as these things are for living, you’re too consumed with them. You’re not only missing out on the beauty of the life I’ve intended for you – but you’re too consumed to bring that beauty to others!
b. Then there’s a life threatening storm at sea, with seasoned fishermen fearing for their lives. He’s asleep. They wake him up with terror in their eyes. He calms the storm and does it again, with questions (Matt 8:23-27).
i. Why are you so afraid?
ii. Where is your faith?
He’s not afraid or overwhelmed and He is clearly bothered by the fact that they are.
Why? Because they don’t have to be.
This isn’t just something for Jesus – it’s for ANYONE who follows Him.
c. At the last supper, once again Jesus says He’s going to be jailed and killed but will rise again. Then He says: “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith (John 16:1 NLT).” Things will get rough, but I’m telling you now. There’s no need to be surprised or lose heart. It will seem impossible – to everyone else – but it doesn’t have to seem impossible to you!
d. At some point the disicples finally say; “Show us how to increase our faith.” (Luke 17:5 NLT).
We’ve been watching You day in and day out and it’s pretty obvious we don’t have the faith you have. Not only that, You’re exasperated with us when we don’t have the same faith. How on earth can we have that kind of faith?
They’re starting to get it!
Transition & Review
#1) Jesus is never overwhelmed by what seems impossible!
#2) Jesus figures His followers don’t need to be either.
CONCLUSION – In the face of enormous human need and almost non-existent resources, Jesus is undeterred from seeing that need met. He simply asks what we have and takes it from there! He simply says – change your posture.
1. On a trip to South Africa I met an incredible woman known as “Mama Doris”. She lived in a run-down house with nothing but old broken furniture and dirt for a yard. There were kids running everywhere, because Mama’s house was actually an ‘orphanage’.
I’m telling you it was a run-down house! There wasn’t much at all. Mama Doris often wondered where she’d get enough food or clothes for the kids, let alone resources to take care of the aging house. Yet God provided time and time again.
It all began when she noticed how many kids in that area were orphans – as a result of HIV/AIDS. The government wasn’t taking care of them. Relatives either didn’t or did, but died themselves. No one was taking care of them. She said, “These are our kids. Who will take care of them if I don’t?”
· That’s a beautiful way to look at the next generation! They aren’t someone else’s responsibility, they’re all of ours!
Mama Doris is an incredible woman, loving children orphaned by AIDS.
She saw a need far beyond her resources.
Yet her heart was tender to the Spirit of God and she offered what she had!
The result? Children have a home. They are seeing God provide and are experiencing His love because Mama Doris offered what she had and allowed God to take it from there. All He needed was a willing heart.
Sometimes we’re ready to respond but obstacles are put before us by someone else. A youth pastor shared his frustration with a law in his city that prohibited anyone from giving food or clothing to the homeless. While processing this a 13 year old raised his hand and asked, “How about if you invite the homeless to come and eat with you? There’s no law against that, is there?” [From Sticky Faith: Youth Worker Edition, pg 112]
In spite of a legal hurdle, one simple question unleashed a brilliant alternative!
“What do you have?” It’s such a simple question and like most of Jesus questions, they weren’t for His information, but our transformation.
It’s a life-altering posture of the heart. And when one member of the family gets it right, it can change everything. When everyone in the family gets it right, well then Katie bar those doors.
And Jesus said, “Go into all the world…”
1) The world where millions are lost and alienated from God!
2) …where human beings’ bodies, minds and spirits are broken in so many ways.
3) … where many are alone and lack loving relationships.
4) …where time and time again – in spite of the lessons of history – human beings alienate and dehumanize one another by bullying, through prejudice, racism and war. Heck, many of us can’t even get along in our own subdivisions!
5) It’s also a world suffers because of human abuse and neglect.
6) And it’s a world where injustice is found in every corner - crippling poverty, unending hunger, preventable diseases and even human slavery – including children! For the love of God! Who will say NO MORE?
But it’s all so enormous. It’s all so overwhelming.
Yep, that’s the world we are called to love.
Yes, it’s overwhelming.
But Jesus simply asks, What do you have?
Because whatever we have is enough, when He’s involved.
You have enough. You have enough. You and you and you – have enough!
Just bring what you have to Him and He will take it from there!
Do you believe it?
Is there something holding you back? What’s holding you back?
I can think of two scenarios.
1st - SOME – At some point during this message a talent or resource came to your mind, but you realize you’ve not offered it yet. Why?
Maybe you feel intimidated (ah, God can’t use that! Or what if I fail?)
Maybe you’re afraid of letting it go.
Maybe you’re afraid of change.
Maybe you’re imagination is so dried up you can’t even think of a way in which God can work – no problem, that’s pretty much what the disciples had to learn over and over and over again.
Stand & allow me to pray (as others pray silently, too!).
SOME – For others, and I’ll bet there’s many, who weren’t thinking of something you had – but what you didn’t have.
I don’t have time – calendar
I don’t have money – debt, barely getting by
I don’t have the will –
I don’t have the strength, my soul is weary
Stand & allow me to pray (as others pray silently, too!).
Reiterate B.I. & Review
“What do you have?”
Such a simple question, but like most of Jesus questions they aren’t for His information, but our transformation – a transformation of posture.
When one member of the family gets it right, it can change everything.
When everyone in the family gets it right, well then...you know the rest.
TRANSITION TO WORSHIP – stand to join me as we pour out our hearts to God, with open hands.