This is a sermon I did on July 12th (Scripture John 6:1-11):
I recently heard a 6-year old boy talk about how God is in the snow. I’ve never thought about that before. I don’t know about you but when we had the winter that we had this past year, my first thought is not how God is in the snow. It’s more like, “oh my goodness, this winter is never going to end! I’m sick of the snow.” But in the mind of this 6-year-old, God is in the snow. I do believe that God is everywhere and in everything but when I see snow, my mind has never gone to how God is in the snow. But really, knowing and believing that God is everywhere and in everything should give us this ultimate faith where God is in everything, in every circumstance, in every situation, in every trial, in every church, in the heart every believer. This ultimate faith where we never doubt because we have the comfort in knowing the truth that He will never leave us nor forsake us but yet sometimes we do not trust God fully.
We have a vision of bringing more people through the doors of this church, as is the case with many churches in the Maritimes. Part of this vision is about relationships. Building relationships within our church and community, so this has been my prayer for awhile now. That God would guide us in the ways in which we should go next. And He has been leading and guiding us. But I think we have all been there where we pray for a long time about the same thing and it seems God is silent. So in that time of waiting for God to answer prayers, the attitude of our prayers can shift slowly from “excited to see God work” to “hoping” God would answer prayer.
In the Scripture read this morning, we read that on that day Jesus crossed the Sea of Galilee, people began to follow him to the other side because they saw all that he was doing, the healing and the miracles. And when Jesus looked up He saw all the people coming toward Him. Verse 10 tells us there was about five thousand men were there. Now that’s just men. During the time that this would have been recorded, it was quite common to document events by mentioning only the men because women and children had a very low status in society during this time. So if this is the case, this is not taking into account women and children, which leaves the possibility of there being approximately 20,000 people there. Just to put that into perspective for you, that’s all the students at Acadia University and Dalhousie University combined. Or all the people who live in Wolfville, Gaspereau Valley, Greenwich, New Minas, Kentville and Coldbrook combined. 20,000 people. Some argue that it could have been just 5,000 people and if so, that is still staggering.
So after seeing all of these people, Jesus asks Phillip, “where shall we buy food for these people to eat?” And Phillip was a good one to ask because he was from Bethsaida. A fishing town so Phillip would know where to get the food. But Jesus didn’t actually want to know where to get food. Verse 6 tells us He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
God does that a lot. He puts us in situations and circumstances to test us. It may be a financial situation that seems impossible. It may be health issues that seem to never end. Or it may be the future of a church. Or maybe you have 20,000 people in front of you and five small barley loaves and two small fish to feed them all. God puts us in those situations to test us, to see how far we will trust Him. Jesus asks us, “what are we going to do now?”
Philip responds, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” What a human thing to say. Jesus asked for a human solution knowing there was none highlighting the miraculous and powerful act He was about to do. The wheels starting turning in Phillip’s head as he began to assess the probable cost of feeding so many people. But Jesus points out here that financial resources are not the most important ones.
God taught me this lesson recently when I went to the dentist and learned I had to get my wisdom teeth out. Since the Acadia plan only covers 50% of wisdom teeth extraction, it would cost me some money. As I was talking to the receptionist, she quotes me at $737. I politely said, “okay!” and began to walk home. But in my mind, I was budgeting like crazy and I could feel my anxiety rising. During my 15-minute walk home, I was dwelling and brainstorming on how “I” would make this happen. Then I got a call from the Dentist Office. It was the receptionist and she said, “I’m so sorry Kayla, I misquoted you. You would only have to pay $244.” I thanked her over and over and then hung up. As I hung up, God began to convict me. I did what Phillip did. The wheels began to turn in my head as I began to assess the probable cost. But financial resources are not the most important ones.
Like Phillip, I didn’t trust God to provide the resources. How often does God ask us what we are going to do and we often respond by doubting and taking matters into our own hands. We forget that God is everywhere, in every situation, in every circumstance, in every trial, in every church, in the heart every believer. We can get so caught up in this world and our busy culture that we even forget that God is even in the snow. Sometimes God asks us only to test us for he already has in mind what he is going to do.
We are all a praying people. But I bet you can all agree with me when I say sometimes we pray about the same thing for a long time and we don’t see anything happening. We don’t see God moving in the situation or in the person and the enemy likes to plant thoughts in our mind to change our attitude. It’s a very human thing to do. Like Phillip, our automatic response sometimes can be on the flesh. What can “I” do. How much is this going to cost. Where am I going to get the resources? But like Jesus taught Phillip that day, as children of God, we do not have to depend on human resources. We have a divine resource that we can depend on.
We are disciples of Christ. He is constantly growing up and stretching us. In the midst of all that, sometimes it really sucks. Sometimes we wonder what God is doing and even question how God can be a part of it all. Sometimes nothing seems to make sense. Sometimes He puts us through things in life to see how much we truly trust Him, how much we will truly trust Him in the midst of it. How quick we are to rely on our own understanding! God stretches our souls sometimes and it hurts and its rough and its frustrating. But the soul is like a violin string; it makes music only when its stretched. What a beautiful thing. God brings us through trusting Him more than ever and depending on Him more than ever. In the midst of stretching our soul, He is bringing us closer to Him.
So as I continue to pray for God to lead, guide and direct our church to build relationships within our church and with people in the community, God is already working. Sometimes God puts us in situations to test our faith and behind the scenes He already has in mind what He is going to do. We live in a culture where we want results quick but our timing, more often than not, is not God’s timing. God works despite us, even when we do not put our full trust in Him.
Since we are all human, I think we can all agree that we would have had the same reaction as Phillip. Whether you believe there was five thousand that day or 20,000, how would you respond if Jesus asked you, “where are we going to buy bread for these people to eat?” If I’m going to be honest with you and with God, I would have probably have said, “Uh, I don’t know! All we have is five tiny loaves of bread and a two fish which will feed like three people! So I don’t know, that’s impossible” Then I would probably proceed by budgeting in my head and letting my anxiety rise.
But really, being in a relationship with someone means you also trust that person. Being Christians means we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Furthermore, being in a relationship with Jesus Christ means we have direct access to God. We have divine leading in our lives. The only thing eternal is God and if we truly trust Him, we depend on Him in all circumstances. The wisdom of the Proverbs in chapter 3:5-6 tells us to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” A deeper look at those two verses tells us that means a deep reliance on God, and settled confidence in His care and His faithfulness to His Word. “Your own understanding” is often what humans perceive to be the right course of action. Trying to figure things out on our own. It doesn’t make any sense when you stop to think about it. Trying to figure things out on our own when we have the glorious gift of a never failing, ever-trustworthy faithful God who already has in mind what He is going to do.
So maybe you are in this place now and if you’re not, its guaranteed you will be in the future. If you are in a place where God is asking you, “what are we going to do?” God is asking because He is testing you. But be comforted in knowing He already knows what He is going to do. He wants to see how you will respond. He wants to see how far you are willing to trust Him. He wants to see how much you truly rely on Him. Remember, He’s in the snow. He’s everywhere, in every situation, in every believer’s heart. He is already working. He already knows what He is going to do. He just wants to see if you will trust Him in that truth. God seems like He is quiet sometimes, but remember, the teacher is always quiet during a test.