Monthly Archives: September 2014

Who To Trust?


In our Bible study in John 6 we have seen Christ feed 5000 people and then use that miracle to point us to this spiritual reality: Christ is the Bread of Life.  He is the eternal satisfaction to our spiritual hunger.

Christ comes to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee and then they go to the synagogue in Capernaum (v. 59).  The Synagogue becomes the stage for our text.  Jesus interacts with some of the people who had been among the 5,000 the previous day, and had follow Him across the Sea of Galilee (23).

Map

Who we trust determines what we believe and what we believe determines what we do.

The Purpose of the Gospel of John is the purpose of this passage:

John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

We are introduced to four groups of people in our text, and we will see that all them take the same four steps in their reaction to Christ.

DTBRThe “Jews”

Decision – The Jews had already made a decision not trust Christ (5:18)!  The “Jews” are a group that usually opposed Him. They trusted tradition more than Christ, though He demonstrated who He was, they chose not to believe in HIm.
Trust – Their choice of who to trust led to their deliberate avoidance of the main point – a choice of unbelief.   We all do this at times.  There are time when we know the other person has a valid argument but we focus on a small detail to avoid dealing with the truth.

They argued about His origin (vs 41-42) and ignored the point that Christ made earlier: He is spiritual satisfaction (vs.35-40)

We all have a “God shaped hole” in our lives that we try so hard to fit other things into that void!

Christ responds by sharing that God’s responsibility is to draw men to Christ (vs. 43-46)

Our responsibility is to believe in Christ. Those who listen and accept what the Father says, come to Christ for eternal life (vs. 47-51).

They argued about a literal interpretation (vs. 51) – they ignored the point that Christ is eternal life.

Christ responds by intensifying the spiritual application. Note the response of faith or the lack thereof:

John 6:53-56 – Then Jesus said to them, “ Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him

The law of Moses expressly forbade any drinking of blood on penalty of being cut off from the people (Lev 17:10–14).

The progression in thought in vv. 51–54 is significant.

First, Christ said he gives his flesh “for the life of the world” (v. 51). Then he says whoever has not partaken of his flesh and blood has “no life” in him (v. 53). But then whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood “has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (v. 54).

Christ makes a distinction between the spiritual bread of life He is offering and the physical manna from heaven their fathers ate in the wilderness (vs. 57-58). One group is physically dead the other has spiritual life.

Belief – Their unbelief led to their continued rejection of Christ

Result – eventually to be part of the group that called for Christ’s crucifixion (18:3, 31; 19:7)

It all begins with a decision of whom to trust!

The followers (from the multitude)

Decision – to trust only what they could see (physical provision) (vs. 26).

Trust – The object of their trust – personal provision of bread – forced them to look for more physical satisfaction (6:26-30).

Jesus answered them and said, “ Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “ This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Therefore they said to Him, “What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do

As long as they got what they wanted, they were believers in Jesus.  They were not looking for signs of who Christ was, only for what they could get from Him

Belief – Their trust in the physical left them unable to believe the spiritual (60).  Christ forces their attention from the physical to the spiritual.  He reminds them that the Holy Spirit provides life for the spirit of man in eternity, not the satisfaction of their stomachs.  It is only for those who believe and only for those that the Father draws (vs. 65, cf. vs. 44)

“And He said, “ Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father

Result – Their lack of belief caused them to permanently reject Christ (vs. 66).

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more

The Twelve

Decision – made the decision to trust in Christ (vs. 67-68).

Then Jesus said to the twelve, “ Do you also want to go away?”
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Trust – Their trust led to belief in Christ’s Words (vs. 68)

You have the words of eternal life.”

Belief – led to spiritual understanding (vs. 69).

“Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Result – Spiritual understanding changed eleven men who then influenced every part of the world.

Acts 1:8b “… and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

 The Betrayer: Judas

Decision – Judas was one of the twelve, and he claimed to trust in Christ.

Trust – He faked it for a while.

Belief – In reality he was motivated by the physical, not the spiritual.  Judas stole money from the group (12:6) and eventually he betrayed Christ for 30 pieces of silver (Matt. 27:3).

Result – same as the Jews who admitted up front they did not believe: Judas played a key role in the group that arrested Jesus by betraying Jesus with a kiss.  His actions revealed what he trusted in.

Ok so let’s apply this to our own lives!  What will you do with Christ?

Remember the statement we made at the beginning of this study: Who we trust determines what we believe and what we believe determines what we do.

  • Who do you believe based on the facts? (58)
  • Who do you trust? (57)
  • What do you believe?
  • What action results from your belief?

What will you do with Christ?

Perhaps you are not sure who or what you are trusting in today.  Work backwards… Evaluate your actions and decisions, they will reveal what you really believe.

Do you want to change the “results” or actions in your life?  Then place your trust in Jesus Christ, believe that He is who He claims to be!

God had John write these things for a reason:

John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Download the pdf version of this study Who To Trust?

Going On To Spiritual Maturity


Going On To Spiritual Maturity.jpg.001

Becoming a Christian happens when you turn from your sin to Christ and receive God’s forgiveness by faith Jesus. John calls this being “born again” (Jn. 3:1-18).

Birth is a wonderful thing but ecoming a Christian is just the beginning of a new life.  God’s plan for His children is that they go on to spiritual maturity.  This requires growing in our understanding of God and His word.  True saving faith results in obedience and maturity.

There are several elements necessary for our spiritual maturity.

We must take in God’s Word (Prov 2.1)

We cannot grow apart from a steady diet of the Word of God, it is our milk and it is our meat! We take in God’s Word formally and informally.  We take in God’s Word formally by participating in the corporate worship of the church… attending the preaching and teaching ministries of the church, by participating in Bible Studies and discipleship classes.  Informally we take in God’s Word through personal time in the Word and prayer and fellowship with others who also love God.

We must have an outlet to minister to others (Prov. 2.2)

We take in to give out.  This is where we must realize that to grow we must be involved in ministry.  The thought may fill us with trepidation but there can be no growth apart from getting involved in service.  We are to minister to others what God has entrusted to us.  This is done through personal interaction and through the guidance of the local church.

We must cry out to God for strength and help (Prov. 2:3)

The overwhelming sense we have of our own inadequacy and inability when we look at ministry causes us to cry out to God for help.  (Prov. 2.3).  Prayer becomes serious as we plead with Him to help us fulfill our ministry responsibility.

We must return to the Word of God to find the answers (Prov 2:4)

As we minister we realize that there is so much more we must know, so many questions that need answers (Prov 2.4).  This stimulates us to dig deeper into God’s Word to find those answers.

The digging into God’s word results in increased ministry that in turn causes us to cry out to God and dig back into the Word.  With each successive passing through these four steps our roots go down deeper and we find we are growing!

Are you serious about “Going on to Maturity”?  Get into the Word everyday!  Through your church invest what you are learning about God into someone else!  Bathe your study of God’s Word and your ministry to others in prayer!

Searching For Satisfaction


Searching For Satisfaction.jpg.001

In 1965 the Rolling Stones released a song written by Mick Jagger and Kieth Richards that immediately shot to the top of the charts. The song was titled, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction.” This song became the Rolling Stones first #1 hit in the USA, and their 4th #1 hit in the UK.

Many critics consider “I can’t get no satisfaction” to be the #1 Rock song of all time. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed “Satisfaction” in the second spot on its list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, while in 2006 it was added to the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. (Wikipedia)

The song opens with these words and repeats these lines throughout the song:

I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try…

The message of the song laments the emptiness of the sexual revolution taking place in the 1960’s and the emptiness of commercialism.

What Jagger and Richards discovered, and what a generation in the UK and the US affirmed is that in this world you can try and try to find satisfaction, but you will always come up empty!

There is no difference today… and there was no difference in Jesus’ day.

Regardless of what you chase after in this life, no matter what you work to attain, no matter what success you achieve, you will quickly discover that none of it brings satisfaction.

The dictionary defines satisfaction as the fulfillment of wishes, expectations or needs, or the pleasure derived from that fulfillment.

In our text the people were searching for Jesus because they wanted more free bread! The dialogue that ensues is very instructive and incredibly applicable to our own day and time and lives.

There are three important warnings we learn from this discussion between Jesus and the people culminating in the secret of finding lasting satisfaction.

THESE PEOPLE WERE SEARCHING FOR SATISFACTION BUT IGNORING THE SIGNS THAT POINTED THEM TO WHERE THEY COULD FIND IT (22-26)

They searched for Jesus because they wanted their physical desires satisfied.

They searched for Him and eventually found him (22-25). Jesus knew what motivated them to look for him. They were not following the signs, they were following their stomachs (26).

The people wanted a political solution (15). They reasoned that if they made Jesus king, they would have a political solution for Israel, they would get rid of the hated Romans and get free food all at the same time!

They ignored all the signs that pointed to Jesus as the One that satisfies (26a)

Jesus had tried to withdraw to a deserted place to rest with his disciples but the multitudes followed him (6:1-5). When Jesus saw them coming he was “moved with compassion” because they were lost, like sheep with no shepherd.

Drive through any major world city where you have never been before, if you miss the signs you are lost! Earlier this year I was visiting my mother in Oklahoma, USA. We were driving to a restaurant for a surprise birthday party and we were talking. I missed seeing the sign for the exit and ended up traveling miles to the next exit in order to turn around!

These people were in a similar situation. They were not searching for Jesus because they read the “signs” and came to the conclusion that Jesus really is the Son of God. The had seen Jesus heal the sick and create bread to feed 10,000-20,000 people, but they missed completely the implications of what they had just seen!

They could figure out travel logistics and come to correct conclusions concerning Jesus getting to Capernaum, but miss completely the reality that Jesus must be God to have created food for 5000 people!

People today are the same – they can be so clever to figure out how to “succeed” in business, make a buck, win at the “game of life,” or get the girl, but are so blind and ignorant when it comes to spiritual realities staring them in the face!

They were very concerned about today but totally unconcerned about eternity (26b)
Splashed on large billboards in our city is an advertisement for Pepsi Cola that reads: “Live For Now!”

Live for Now.001

“Live for now” expresses clearly the philosophy of the world in which we live. Every generation is sold the same line in a slightly different way, when I was a kid the popular saying was, “If if feels good, do it!” Maybe you have heard someone say, “As long as I’m not hurting anybody its ok.” Whatever the lingo the driving philosophy is the same!

That is exactly what these people believed!

They were living for now! They were serving the god of materialism – “Give us more bread and we will be satisfied!”

Jesus told a parable in Luke 15:11-24 about a prodigal son who took his inheritance and wasted it all on girls and booze and parties. Finally at the end of his rope he decided to return to his father and plead to be a hired servant. Then these beautiful words,

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

What these people did not understand Jesus is pointing out to them: when you come to the Father, you have it all!

THEY WERE WILLING TO EXPEND GREAT EFFORT TO FIND SATISFACTION BUT THEIR WORK TURNED UP EMPTY (27-29)

When you head on a journey and you take the wrong road, your sincerity will do nothing to get you to the right destination. These people continue in the wrong direction…

They were spending their energies and using their abilities relentlessly pursuing satisfaction in things that cannot provide it (27)

When you eat from what this world has to offer you are going to hunger again! (27a)

Let me share three examples:

God created work and we should work hard. We use our God-given gifts to do the best we can – but to what end? Are we working hard in order to glorify God and advance His purposes or to find personal satisfaction?

Some people look for satisfaction in dating, parties, booze or other drugs… but at the end this too is empty. Listen to what the Rolling Stones are really saying: After all the “Drugs, sex and Rock & Roll” they wanted, a generation affirmed: “I can’t get no satisfaction, though I try and try and try!”

Others search for satisfaction in the accumulation of things, new clothes, new cars, houses, toys…

There was a man named Solomon who achieved all of this and more. Here is what he said,

4 I made my works great, I built myself houses, and planted myself vineyards. 5 I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them. 6 I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. 7 I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. 8 I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds.
9 So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me.
10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun. (Ecc. 2:4-11)

Jesus has some clear and sound advice: Work for the food that endures for eternal life! (27)

Source of this enduring, satisfying food is Jesus Christ! God the Father has set his authoritative seal on Jesus proving that He is the One who delivers what truly satisfies. (27b)

Their question revealed the selfishness of their own heart: What work must we do to get what we want from God?

The people were willing to work, expend energies to get God to give them what they wanted. They were willing to “work the works of God” – be religious or do religious things if that would mean they could get what they wanted from Him.

Jesus made it very plain: Here is the work: “Believe in Him who the Father sent!” (29)

Do you believe?

That is the question that demands your answer!

THEY WERE SEEKING FOR SATISFACTION BUT THEY WERE LOOKING FOR IT IN THE WRONG PLACES (30-33)

The demand for a sign proved that they had unbelieving hearts (30-31)

The people ignored the sign of healing and the sign of the creation of food from the day before. In response to Jesus’ claim to be from God (29) they ask for another sign. Jesus warned that it is a rebellious generation seeks after a sign. (Mt. 12:39)

The people are relentless in their pursuit of physical bread. They ask for a sign from Jesus and demand that it be the provision of bread! They tell Jesus that in the wilderness Moses provided bread for the people. In essence they were saying, now that will be a real sign! Provide bread for all of us for the next forty years!

Jesus fires back and sets straight four misunderstandings that they had about the manna that God had provided for the nation of Israel: (32-33)

  • Manna in the wilderness was not given by Moses but by God the Father (32a, Ex 16:4)
  • Manna was not the true bread from Heaven (32b), Jesus was the real bread from heaven.
  • Manna gave physical life but the bread of God gives spiritual life. (33a)
  • Manna in the wilderness was given only to Israel but the Bread of God was given for the world (33b)

The point here is that unbelief is never satisfied no matter how many signs are given!

The ultimate reality is spiritual, not physical – True Bread! (32b-33)

Absolute reality is reality which does not rely on us in any way. From a Divine perspective reality is that which will last forever! All else is temporary therefore not reality!

You may view the world around you as real! You can touch it, taste it, and smell it, but this world is not absolute reality:

1 John 2:17 And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever.

You may view your life here as ultimate reality, but James says, “Whereas you know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)

Things are often now what they seem to be! The offerings of the world are covered in bright paper but underneath they always disappoint!

2Cor. 4:18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

What are you living for?

Imagine getting to the end of life and looking back at your life only to realize that it is little more than a series of disappointments and emptiness! How tragic!

dung beetle

A couple years ago I took visiting friends to Livingstone and we went on the Chobe Day Safari. The first half of the day was spent on the river viewing elephants, hippo, buffalo, crocs, antelope and a variety of bird life. After a wonderful lunch at the lodge we headed out in the Land Cruiser for the afternoon game drive. Of course we were all looking for big cats. As we drove through the bush the guide suddenly slammed on the breaks and exclaimed, “Look at that!”

I was looking for cats but couldn’t see anything. The guide pointed to the road in front of the vehicle, there was a large insect about half the size of my fist with his front legs in the sand and his back legs up on a ball of elephant dung. The guide explained that this was a dung beetle. This beetle spends each day in search of the perfect piece of dung. Once he finds it he shapes it into a ball and rolls it back home… and this is his life, pushing around pieces of dung!

As we moved on I sat back and breathed a prayer, “God don’t let me waste my life pushing around balls of dung!” What a tragedy to get to the end of life and look back from the perspective of eternity only to realize that we wasted our life pushing around balls of dung!

God has a purpose for your life, He created you! Go after the True Bread – not the empty kind!

And where will you find the real Bread?

FIND YOUR TRUE SATISFACTION IN JESUS AND YOU WILL NEVER BE DISAPPOINTED (34-40)

You will not be disappointed because Jesus is the eternal Bread of Life (34-35)

With Jesus is the guarantee of complete satisfaction! He is the satisfying bread of Life that meets our real and deepest need!

“I am the bread of life” is the first of seven “I Am” Statements made by Jesus that unequivocally, undeniably affirm Who he is. Jesus goes on to claim:

  • I am the Light of the world (8:12)
  • I am the door of the sheep (10:7,9)
  • I am the good Shepherd (10:11,14)
  • I am the Resurrection and Life (11:25)
  • I am the way, truth, life (14:6)
  • I am the true vine (15:1,5)

Jesus is the guarantee of absolute satisfaction – Partake of Jesus and you will never hunger and thirst again!

So what must you do to partake of the Bread of Life?

  • You must come to Him
  • You must believe in Him.

Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord will be saved! (Ro.10:13)
“God is now declaring to all men that all people everywhere should repent.” (Acts 17:30).

The charge that will be brought against them on the day of judgement is not a list of their sinful actions it will simply be this: “You have seen, but you did not believe!” (36)

You will not be disappointed because the Omnipotence and Sovereignty of God guarantees it! (36-37)

The Giver is the Father who gives us to the Son. The Father selects gifts that He then gives to His Son – those gifts are the saints! Those who will believe in Him. The success of Christ’s mission to redeem mankind does not depend upon us it depends on God the Father (37a)! You must come to Him! You must believe on Him! And when you do, the glorious “other side of the coin” truth is that you suddenly realize that it was God at work all the time!

The Guarantee is that all who the Father gives to the Son will come to Him (37b, 44, 65). God will not lose even one of those whom He has purposed to give as a gift to His Son. Though I cannot explain it, I can accept that at the end of the day, every single person that the Father has given to the Son in eternity, will come to the Son in time. We were created to be satisfied in the Son! Come to Him! Believe in Him!

The Promise is that all who come to Him will never be cast out (37c). You can come to Jesus with the absolute confidence of being received. It does not matter who you are or what you have done. The promise given here should fill your heart with wonder and joy! Come to Him, you will never, never be cast out!

You will not be disappointed because the Will of God cannot be frustrated (38-40)

Jesus was completely focused and committed to fulfill the will of God! (38). All of His focus, passion, energy and desires were summed up in the will of the Father!

Every person who is given by the Father to the Son are secure for eternity (39). Those who believe in Jesus will persevere to the end! The Father will protect and keep His saints!

God’s will is that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will have everlasting life and will participate in the coming resurrection! (40)

What about you?

Are you empty on the inside?

The Rolling Stones told us what we all already know: “I can’t get no satisfaction. Though I try and I try and I try…”

Jesus invites you to come and find your satisfaction in Him!

Why? Because God loves you! Stop seeking satisfaction in junk food and receive Him – the real food for your soul. God offers you eternal satisfaction and that satisfaction is found only in Jesus Christ.

What must I do to be saved?

  • Acknowledge that you are a sinner.
  • Recognize that your sins separate you from God.
  • Embrace the truth that God loves you.
  • Jesus came and died to pay the penalty for your sins.
  • Repent – turn from your sin and turn to Jesus.
  • Believe and receive Jesus by faith.

Come to Him today! Accept Him today! Those who come to Him he will never cast out but raise them up on the last day and give them eternal life – real life – for now and for ever.

If you want to discuss this Bible study further, please get in touch!  Here are the downloadable notes for Searching For Satisfaction

Your Greatest Threat – It May Not Be What You Think!


peril of pride the_wide_t_nvDo you battle with pride like I do?  I bet you do (even if you are too proud right now to admit it! 🙂

Someone has said that they view pride is the source of all other sins… I think they are right. How about joining me in a little self-evaluation.  Consider the following:

  • Pride mocks others “The proud have me in great derision…” Psalms 119:51.
  • Pride lies about others “The proud have forged a lie against me…” Psalms 119:69.
  • Pride mistreats others “Let the proud be ashamed, For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood…” Psalms 119:78.
  • Pride seeks to destroys others “The proud have dug pits for me…” Psalms 119:85,.
  • Pride oppresses others “… Do not let the proud oppress me.” Psalms 119:122.
  • Pride deceives others “The proud have hidden a snare for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside; They have set traps for me. Selah” Psalms 140:5.
  • Pride is communicated by lips and looks “A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood,” Proverbs 6:17.
  • Pride uses the mouth to beat others down “In the mouth of a fool is a rod of pride, But the lips of the wise will preserve them.” Proverbs 14:3.
  • Pride must display itself, cannot stay home. ““Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home…” Habakkuk 2:5.
  • Pride embellishes the truth “Let the lying lips be put to silence, Which speak insolent things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.” Psalms 31:18.

Remember that God fights against the proud person and will destroy everything they attempt to accomplish. “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

One of the greatest dangers of pride is that it lies at the root of our rebellion against God.  Every refusal to receive Christ as Lord and Savior is driven by pride!  That is a sobering thought!

If the above list convicts you do something about it!  Humble yourself by gazing at Christ! Evaluate yourself, your achievements, your possessions and everything else in relation to God.  “Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due season.”

Navigating The Storms of Life


Navigating the Storms of Life.pdf.001 John 6:15-21, (Parallel Passages: Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-56)

Storms are beautiful and powerful things – when you are watching safely from a distance. It is quite another thing when we find ourselves caught in the middle of one!

As boy I grew up in an area of the United States known as “Tornado Alley.”  More than once I watched a funnel drop out of a distant cloud and begin to destroy everything in its path. When rain storms come here in Zambia everyone runs for shelter. To get caught out in the open during a Zambian thunderstorm means there is a good chance you will get struck by lightening.

Everyone of us will at some point find ourselves going through storms in life. Someone has said, “You are either just entering a storm, in the storm, or have just come out of a storm,” and we know that to be the case!

Storms crash into our lives in various ways: It may be the unexpected death of a loved one or sickness or the loss of a job or a broken relationship with a member of your family – husband/wife/child.

In Scripture we are introduced to people who faced days of deep trial. There is a book in the Old Testament that bears the name of a man who knew something about storms that unexpectedly to our life. His name is Job. In a day Job lost his wealth, his children were all killed, and shortly after he lost his health. His wife suggested that he should forget his faith, curse God and die. His friends showed up to tell him that the storm he was facing had to be a result of his sin!

Jesus just fed 5000 people with a little boy’s lunch. The disciples had been part of this miracle by distributing the food as it was miraculously multiplied! Wow, what a thrilling thing to participate in!

For the disciples feeding of the 5000 was a lesson for them: God is in control of His creation and provides for his creatures. Now the as they headed across the Sea of Galilee they ran into a life-threatening storm: The storm was the exam after the lesson.

Often we are like the disciples! We hear about Jesus and we give mental assent to His claims to be God. We acknowledge that Jesus’ works prove beyond doubt that He is Who He claims to be – the Son of God – yet we do not apply these realities personally!

Regardless of where you are today – heading into a storm, in as storm or just coming out of a storm, here are five truths that will help you navigate through the storms of life.

JESUS SENT THEM OUT INTO THE STORM (15-16, Mt. 14:22)

Jesus knew the storm was coming

The people were planning to come and by force make Jesus King (15). Knowing how great a temptation this would be for His disciples He sent them away across the Sea of Galilee by boat, while He dismissed the multitudes. (Mt. 14:22) Jesus knows knows all things, He knew what the people were planning, and He knew the storm was coming (15)! He had just demonstrated his power as God over Creation by feeding 5000! We cannot doubt that He knew of the coming storm and was completely in control as He sent the disciples into the Sea.

Jesus sent them into the storm!

In obedience the disciples climbed into the boat and headed out onto the Sea of Galilee. Before long they were in the middle of a frightening, life-threatening storm. It is important to recognize that the disciples were in this storm because they were IN the will of God. They were in this situation because they obeyed Christ!

There are two types of storms mentioned in Scripture:

  • Storms of Correction – God disciplines us because of disobedience. Jonah is an example of this. God told Jonah to go and preach to the city of Nineveh. Jonah hated the Assyrians, and instead of obeying God, Jonah purchased a ticket to Tarsus – the exact opposite direction (Jonah 1:1-4). Before long Jonah found himself in a storm that ended when the sailors threw Jonah overboard! After three days in the belly of a great fish, Jonah decided to obey God and preach to Nineveh!
  • Storms of Perfection – There are other storms though… storms that God brings to strengthen our faith and produce spiritual growth in our lives. This is the kind of storms the disciples find themselves in.

Though the disciples were fearful for their life, they were safer IN the storm, IN the will of God, than on shore with the crowd, out of the will of God. Safer in the storm.jpg.001 The disciples looked at their circumstances and felt overwhelmed and afraid! Never judge your security on the basis of our circumstances alone! When you find yourself in a storm because you have obeyed the Lord, remember that He brought you there and He will care for you in the storm!

John 16:33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

JESUS WAS WATCHING THEM AND PRAYING FOR THEM WHILE THEY WERE IN THE STORM. (15b, Mt. 14:23; Mk. 6:48)

Jesus was watching over them!

Mark 6:48 Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them.

Jesus sees and feels the weight of our burdens and knows what you are going through right now!

Hebrews 4:14-16. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Jesus knows our fears, He sees our needs. When the Hebrews had been in cruel bondage in Egypt for over 400 years, God came to Moses and assured him, “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows.” (Ex. 3:7)

No matter what storm you are in today, Jesus is involved! He knows, He cares and He is in control of the situation.

Jesus was praying for them!

Matthew 14:23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.

Not only was Jesus watching over them every moment they were battling through this storm, but He was also praying for them! The same is true for you in your storm! Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and He is continually beseeching the Father on your behalf!

“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” Romans 8:34. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb 7:25.

JESUS CAME TO THEM IN THE STORM (19)

Jesus came to them at the point when all human hope was gone!

It was the fourth watch of the night – this was somewhere between 3 am and sunrise. This was the time of night when it is the darkest! The disciples were facing the darkest hour, and Jesus came!

Matthew 14:25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.

By this time the disciples had been on the Sea for up to 9 hours. They were completely exhausted! As they strained to row, the wind was against them, blowing them back, again and again.

Matthew 14:24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

They had expended all their efforts, but they were getting nowhere!

Mk. 6:48 – “ straining at rowing”

Jesus came to them in the midst of their storm.

Have you ever just wished that the storm would end? You cry out in weariness but it just seems the storm will go on and on? God’s timing is perfect, He knows what is best and what best will meet our need and fulfill His purposes!

I have often wondered why Jesus walked on the water! Certainly He could have just snapped his fingers and appeared in the boat with them. But instead Jesus walked 3-4 miles on the raging water to get to them. I think Jesus came walking on the water in order to show them that the very thing that they feared was simply a path for Him to come to them.

No matter how dark it becomes, no matter how exhausted your feel, remember this: you will never find yourself in a place where Christ cannot find find you and will not come to you! Someone has well said: “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God will not sustain you.” Will of God.jpg.001

They were so focused on their problem that they did not recognize Jesus when He came.

They were not looking for Him, but they should have been! The disciples could only see their circumstances: the raging waves, the howling wind, the water swamping the boat. They were not waiting for Him by faith. They had forgotten that He had sent them “to the other side” (Mt. 14:22). So when Jesus came to them, they did not recognize Him!

“Fear and faith cannot live in the same heart, for fear always blinds the eyes to the presence of the Lord.”

JESUS HAD A PURPOSE FOR THE STORM – THEIR GROWTH (28-31)

He wanted them to recognize what they had been seeing and knew about Him and apply it to their own lives!

He was testing their faith

When Jesus identified Himself, Peter cried out, “if it is really you, command me to come to you on the water!” Jesus said, “Come!” Peter’s request was a demonstration of his affection for Jesus resting on his confident faith in Him. (Mt. 14:28)

Peter took a step of faith when he responded to Christ’s command, and stepped out of the boat (Mt. 14:29)! I can almost hear the other disciples! Peter stop! I mean we all believe in Jesus, but don’t go overboard with this thing! Be reasonable man! You can’t walk on water, no one can. Peter responded in faith and stepped out of the boat – and walked to Jesus! The majority of disciples however clung to the boat!

You see they are like so many of us! The boat meant security for them! BUT JESUS WAS NOT IN THE BOAT!! Many times we are like the eleven, clinging to the boat of:

  • human reasoning – we trust in our own logic and human wisdom.
  • human effort – we think if we just try harder.
  • human comfort – we chose what appears to be the safer and more comfortable route.
  • human achievement – perhaps you are trusting in some religious activity that you faithfully carry out, you feel safe in your achievements for God.
  • human ingenuity – you think you are more clever than most, that somehow at some point you will figure this thing out and all will be well.

Whatever you are trusting in today – apart from the Lord Jesus Christ, this account is challenging us to take the step of obedient faith – get out of the boat! Peter walked with Jesus on top of his circumstances – by faith! (Mt. 14:29).  You are better off out in the storm with Jesus, than “safe” in the boat without Him!

“Faith is not believing in spite of evidence, but believing in spite of consequences!”

  • I Jn. 5:4 – Victory that overcomes – our faith
  • II Co. 5:7 – We walk by faith not by sight
  • Heb 11:6 – Without faith it is impossible to please Him.
  • Eph 1:22, 2:6 – In Christ, God has put all thing under our feet! We live above the circumstances!

Peter took his eyes off the Lord and began to look at his circumstances – the water, the driving rain the howling wind, the waves – and he began to sink (Mt. 14:30,31). Without hesitation Peter cried out to Jesus – his prayer was short and to the point, “Lord save me!” His prayer was immediately answered! Jesus reached down and pulled him up out of the waves and together they walked to the boat to join the other disciples.

Peter’s prayer is one that God always hears and answers! Perhaps today you realize that you are in the dark waters of sin, that your own human efforts have only pushed you further into the problem! All hope of you saving yourself is gone! Cry out like Peter, “Lord, save me!” God always answers that desperate plea! (Mt. 14:31)

He was revealing Himself as the object of their faith. (Mt. 14:33)

The result of Jesus coming into the boat and calming the storm was that the disciples fell down and worshipped Him.

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11.

JESUS BROUGHT THEM THROUGH THE STORM (Jn. 6:21, Mt. 14: 32-33)

Matthew 14:32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.

When Jesus entered into the boat the storm ceased! There was peace and a strange calm when Jesus entered the boat. The peace that each of us need today begins with being justified by faith! To be justified by faith means that God declares righteous all those who believe in Jesus.

Romans 5:1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

We can have peace even in the midst of the storm because we know God and we understand His purposes for the storm in our life.

Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

As we pass through the storm the Spirit of God pours out the love of God into our hearts & He pours it out abundantly!

Romans 5:5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Peace.001 When Jesus entered the boat they were immediately at their destination (Jn. 6:21). When Jesus came in, they arrived with no further effort of their own. Their own efforts had merely got them further and further into the storm. Where they were powerless He was powerful.

Listen to the testimony of news anchor Dave Benton as he shares the storm of brain cancer that he is facing!  He gladly confesses the trust that He has in Jesus and the peace that he is experiencing in the midst of his storm!

So what do we take away from our study today?

Do you find yourself in a storm this morning? Have you abandoned all hope of being rescued? Have you taken your eyes off Christ and put them on your circumstances? Are you desperately trying to get through your storm by some effort of your own? LOOK TO JESUS IN FAITH! Remember:

  • Jesus sent you out into this storm.
  • Jesus is watching over you and praying for you in this storm.
  • Jesus will come to you in the storm.
  • Jesus wants you to grow as a result of this storm.
  • Jesus will bring you safely through this storm.

Christian Is there some area of your life where you are refusing to take a step of obedient faith? Have you heard His command, yet refuse to get out of the boat? Obey Him today!

Friend, are you are drowning in the dark waters of sin? Will you, like Peter cry out to Jesus, “Lord, Save Me”? If you will call to Him He will reach down and lift you up, cleanse you of your sin and carry you safely through this life and into heaven.

For more information, or counseling for the storm you are passing through email us or in Kitwe ring 0976153466.

Download this study as a pdf here: Navigating the Storms of Life

This Sunday: Navigating the Storms of Life


Our Refuge_wide_T_nv

Join us for the Bible study this Sunday at the Polo Club: Navigating The Storms of Life.

We will be learning from John chapter 6.  At one time or another all of us find ourself in the middle of a life-storm.  How do we get there and what must we know and believe to get through it?  We will be discussing this on Sunday.

If you have children, bring them along!  The children meet separately for their continuing study through stories in the Book of Genesis.

The Bible study this Sunday starts at 10:00 with fellowship and we are out by 11:30. If you need more information give me a shout at 0976513466.

Phil Hunt

Christ’s Ministry to the Multitudes


Feeding 5000.jpg.001

We live in a world of people with overwhelming needs. A world filled with people searching for something that helps make sense of it all. How do we respond to those needs around us?

Jesus interacted with all kinds of needy people during His earthly ministry. He could have used His miraculous power to levitate a boat or some other amazing display that would wow the crowds. Instead Jesus performed miracles that demonstrated His compassion for people in need. He healed the sick. He raised the dead. He turned water to wine in order to save a wedding host from embarrassment, and in our text today He created food to feed a hungry multitude.

It is of significance that Christ feeding the 5000 is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels (Mt. 14, Mk 6, Lk 9, Jn 6).

To keep us focused on why John includes this event in the Book of John, remember his purpose for writing this Gospel: That you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and that by believing you might have life through Him. (20:31). In Jn 14:11, Jesus said to His disciples, “Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.”

Jesus had received news of John the Baptist’s execution (Mt. 14:12). Jesus and the disciples had been so busy in ministry that they did not even have time to eat, so Jesus wanted His disciples to get away and rest (Mk. 6:31).

Feeding 5000.001

They got into a small sailing vessel to travel up the Sea of Galilee (1). The crowds who had been following Him, seeing His miracles and receiving healing followed him, running along the roads that bordered the Sea (2).

So what can we learn from Jesus’ ministry to the multitudes?

JESUS WAS MOTIVATED BY COMPASSION (2-7)

The genuine cause for concern

Jesus looked up and saw the people coming toward Him, and He saw past the inconvenience of ruined holiday plans – He saw their need (5).

1. They were lost, like sheep without a shepherd (Mk. 6:34). Like sheep who didn’t know where to go wandering aimlessly with no direction in life.

Mark 6:32 – And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd.

2. They were sick. Jesus in compassion healed the sick among them and reminds us that spiritually all men are sick in “trespasses and sin”. That spiritual sickness was why Jesus came in the first place.

Matthew 14:14 – And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.

Isaiah 53:5 – But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

3. They were ignorant of truth. So many people today are without truth. They are lost and wandering, grasping for answers to the stresses and complexities of life.

Mk 6:34 -“He began to teach them many things.”

Jesus was moved with compassion for these people (Mk. 6:32). Compassion is a visceral inner response that comes from “the seat of emotion” and moves us to intervene, to show care and concern. Compassion is “Your hurt in my heart.”

The circumstance they were in were serious.

1. It was a deserted place. This world is like that. It is an empty, unable to offer real satisfaction. Apart from Christ there is no satisfaction.

Mark 6:32 – So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

2. They lacked their basic needs. They had nothing, they were not able to meet their own need.

Mark 6:35 – Send them away, that they may go into the surrounding country and villages and buy themselves bread; for they have nothing to eat.”

Because they had nothing the disciples reasoned that the crowd needed to go somewhere else to find satisfaction for their need. There is no indication that they once though about Christ or His ability to meet the need!

People today are seeking to meet their own deep need through all kinds of means alcohol, sex, drugs, money, education, fame, power – the list can go on.

3. The hour was late (Mk. 6:35) – The disciples concluded that the longer the people continued with Jesus the more hopeless their situation was becoming.

The human solution to the problem was no solution at all.

1. Get rid of the problem (Mk. 6:35-36)

2. Raise enough money to buy food (Jn. 6:9)

Their solutions were ones of unbelief (6:7). Philip spoke of providing “little” in the presence of the infinite power of God. He was occupied with the circumstances, the size of the crowd, the lack of resources, and the lateness of the hour. The situation is impossible! 

But Christ had the situation already under control – “He already know what he would do.” (6)

There is an important lesson for us here: The trying circumstance you may be facing right now are not chance or accident but arranged by the hand of a loving God. It is through these circumstances that God will show you His greatness and His glory. He already has the problem solved.

Getting God’s perspective is everything! How often we look through our circumstances at God. He seems so small and distant! The disciples are about to learn that when you look at your circumstances through Christ, the impossibilities suddenly look very small.

JESUS REQUIRES WILLING SURRENDER (8-9)

The lad gave what he had (9)

The quiet hero in this story is the little nameless boy who gladly offered Jesus what He had (Mk. 6:38). Barley loaves was the food of the very poor! This little guy didn’t have much, but what he had he was happy to give to Jesus.

The lad gave all he had

Jesus accepted the loaves and fish (11). Our gifts may be small, our talents may be few, but in His hands they will be made sufficient to accomplish His purposes. Even 200 days wages worth of man’s wisdom and effort was insufficient without Him (7)!
God enjoys uses “little things.” He used David’s little sling to defeat the giant Goliath. God used the little tear of a baby to move the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and prepare a leader for His people. God used Moses’ rod to work great miracles to deliver His people. God used jar of oil to supply a widow’s needs. The list could go on… Here is the point! God uses those the world considers foolish and weak and insignificant to fulfill His purposes:

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 – For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 

The lad gave willingly

He was willing to give what he had and trust Jesus! This quiet, simple, willing act is a great encouragement and challenge to us! Most of us have so much more to give compared to this young boy. What are we doing with our time, our talents our resources? Are we willingly and gladly and freely giving them up to Jesus?

Feeding 5000.002

THROUGH JESUS THE NEED IS ABUNDANTLY MET (10-14)

The command (10)

The command to sit down didn’t make sense to the disciples. What was the use of having a hungry multitude sit down when there was nothing to feed them with?

  • Why must Adam & Eve not eat the fruit? Because God commanded them not to!
  • Why should Noah build a boat on dry land? Because God told him to!
  • Why should a Christian be baptized? Because God commands it!
  • Why should Christians be faithful to church? Because God says!
  • Why should husbands love wives? Because we are disobedient to God if we refuse!

The carrying out of God’s purposes toward us are linked to our obedience to His commands.

As the disciples responded in obedience their faith was enlightened and every want of the multitude was supplied!

The provision (11-12)

Christ’s provision was suitable – all could eat (11b). It was satisfying, they “were filled” (12a) and it was sufficient – “as much as they would (11c).

If they went away hungry it was not Christ’s fault (13). There were twelve baskets of food left over.

In the atonement of Jesus the Son of God there is overwhelming provision for all. If you are not saved it is not because there is not enough for you! Believe and receive Jesus today!

And this is exactly where John is going in chapter 6! What began with a creation miracle of bread turns into a discussion where Jesus offers the multitudes Himself as spiritual bread.

The distributors (11)

In his book “On Being A Servant of God” Warren Wiersbe reminds us that the disciples were distributors not manufacturers. Christ created the food, the disciples were responsible to give out the food and Jesus received all the glory.

These disciples were from different backgrounds, had very different personalities but the hungry multitude was fed by each one of them. It pleases Christ to use human instruments to accomplish His tasks! We are laborers together with God (1 Cor. 3:9).

So what can we take away from this passage?  

In this miracle we see the compassion of Christ, using the willing surrender of the boy to meet the need of the multitude!

This miracle teaches us at least four important lessons:

  • To have compassion
  • To look on problems as opportunities for God to work
  • To give all we have
  • To trust Him to meet the need

Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life for a perishing world! He must be passed on by His disciples. The multitudes who are in sin do not need to leave hungry! In Christ there is sufficient for all!

Download the pdf version of Christ’s Ministry To The Multitudes.