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Daring Faith: Key To Miracles - Part 2

Mark 6:34-44 - March 12, 2017

(adapted with permission from Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, March 28-29, 2015)

      We’re looking at “Daring Faith”. Last week we talked about faith as the ability to see with God’s vision, rather than the eyes of fear. Faith and trust are related to COMMITMENT. One of the ways we commit to something is by giving our TIME; last week we passed around sign-up sheets and I’m happy to say some of them were FILLED UP! One way we commit is by putting pen to paper, volunteering our time, saying “I’ll come and help; I’m all in.”

      Another way we show trust and commitment is by giving our resources, more particularly, our MONEY, for instance putting pen to paper on a cheque. Here are some principles that should inform our giving, our stewardship of our finances, as reflected in the fundraising campaign Saddleback Church did in conjunction with this series a couple of years ago. Their “Daring Faith” Campaign was...

A two month focus on growing, sowing and going in FAITH.

First God wants you to grow in faith. Colossians 2:7: “Let your roots GROW down [deep] into him and draw up nourishment from him, so that you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous.” God wants you to grow in your faith: not be a spiritual baby.

      Then God says I want you to sow in faith, to become generous. You can’t become like God without becoming generous. 2Corinthians 9:6 “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also REAP generously.” This is the law of you reap what you sow. It’s true in every area of life. If you sow criticism you’re going to reap criticism. If you sow love you’ll reap love. If you sow kindness you will reap kindness. You always get more back – either positively or negative of what you put out in life. And the Bible says if you sow generously you will reap generously. The most sensitive nerve of the human body goes from the heart to the wallet: God wants to heal and save us there, redeem our pocketbook, reform our miserliness, and help us discover the joy of giving, of sowing generously.

      So grow in faith, sow in faith, and then God wants you to go in faith. Hebrews 11:8 “It was by faith Abraham obeyed God’s call to go.He left his own country, without knowing where he was to GO.” Would you do that? Abraham was up in years. It was a retirement phase, perhaps time to hang it up and settle down but God said as it were, “No, get it down.Dust it off.Get ready for the greatest journey of your life.” And God says when you live by faith it involves going, often to places you hadn’t any idea you were planning to go to. So we’re going to look at faith in areas of your growing and in areas of your giving and in the areas of your lifestyle.

      Why are we doing this? Because everything that God does in your life he does because of his mercy and grace and your faith. Hebrews 11:6 “Without faith it is impossible to please God...” Romans 14:23 “Anything that is not done in faith is sin.” And as we saw last week, Matthew 9:29 Jesus said, “According to your faith will it be done to you.” Jesus implies you get to choose how much God blesses your life. A lot of faith – a lot of blessing; a little faith – a little blessing. According to your faith it will be done to you. So God says, I want you to develop faith.

      There were three purposes of Saddleback’s Daring Faith campaign that can benefit us, too. We’re going to advance, enhance, and finance.


We’re going to advance our spiritual maturity by stretching our faith. A muscle only gets stronger by stretching it. I’m going to put some weight on your spiritual muscle, to challenge you because I want to you to grow up, spiritually. James 1:3f “When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you’ll be strong in character and [read it with me…] ready for anything! I want you to be ready for anything that comes at you – the rogue winds of life, the tough times. The Bible says the way you get strong in character, ready for anything, is by developing faith muscle – letting it grow. So we’re going to advance our spiritual maturity.


We want to grow closer together as a spiritual family, become more deep in fellowship. How do we do that? By cooperating together. When people work and give and pray for a common goal, it brings us closer together. Acts 4:32ff “The believers in the Jerusalem church were united in their hearts and spirit [Why?] because they shared all they had with each other... In fact, people would sell what they owned, even their homes, and give the money as an offering.” Jesus said where your treasure is your heart is also (Mt 6:21). And wherever you put your time, your money, your interest, that’s going to be where you feel close. You don’t feel close to a big corporation, but if you invest significantly in that company’s stock, suddenly you’re very interested in their success. So we’re going to enhance our relational unity by cooperating together.


Every week we have an opportunity to contribute to the work of Jesus’ Body the church in this community by means of the weekly offering (or monthly, or as the Lord leads you, but hopefully regularly and with discipline and joy). Paul expresses this same reason for helping people grow in their faith and for helping people become spiritually mature: he says as you become spiritually mature then you can be a part of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. 2Corinthians 10:15 “What we’re hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you’ll play a greater part within our expanding work.” What you contribute to this church may be the most significant thing you do with your life: the outflow of this church is going to outlast your career, your hobbies, other things you because it’s going to last for eternity. 2Corinthians 8:7 Paul says, “Since you already excel in so many ways—you have so much faith, such gifted teaching, so much knowledge, so much enthusiasm, and so much love—I now want you to grow and excel in the ministry of generous giving.”

Here are some further principles that guide how a church ought to encourage people in their giving.

1) We will show how everyone can give something. Even if it’s just a penny. Jesus tells the story about the widow who gave two mites. He said, in effect, ‘That woman who gave two pennies gave more than the millionaire before her, because she gave all that she had.’ Even if you’re out of work you can give something. A pledge is another means churches use to enable people who don’t currently have any available funds to make a future commitment.

2) We will ask people to sacrifice. I want you to learn to sacrifice for the greatest cause in the world – the kingdom of God. We sacrifice for ourselves all the time: have you ever bought a car or rented a house / bought a mortgage? You don’t mind making financial commitments as long as it’s on your behalf. You just hesitate when it comes to making a commitment to God. We’ll ask people to sacrifice because there are more promises in the Bible about giving than anything else.

      What are some things we can expect when we’re challenged to be daring in faith through expanding our giving? We can expect...

1) To see some miracles. When people trust God, take risks, and go for it in faith, God moves. God moves according to faith. When he looks down and sees a child of God – a son or daughter of God – believing and trusting him, all throughout Scripture we see this, God moves. When people start to believe God and trust him in ways they’ve never done before they see some really neat stuff happen in their lives. So you can expect to see miracles. God is at work! The second thing you can expect is...

2) To grow spiritually. Because we’re going to be focusing on your spiritual growth. Third thing you can expect…

3) To be hassled by Satan. You’re going to have some difficulties in the next 8 weeks. Satan is going to try to distract you to keep you from growing. Do you think Satan wants you to learn to live by faith? No. Do you think he wants you to learn how to be generous? No. Does the enemy want you to learn how to go in ways and places that you’ve never gone before with your life? Absolutely not! So he’s going to throw everything at you. You may have unexpected illnesses and your car may break down. You may go through a real crisis of grief and lose a loved one. You may have a fight with your husband or wife. Conflict is Satan’s favorite way to get you distracted. The fourth thing you can expect is you can expect...

4) To experience joy. When people learn to trust God in deeper ways it makes them happy. When people learn how to set great dreams and big goals and take risks and live by faith and make the sacrifices and invest their lives, it prompts joy within us.


      How do you prepare for a miracle? Let’s look at one of the most famous miracles of Jesus Christ – His feeding the five thousand. Really this story is all about how God turns a little (one boy’s lunch) into a lot (food for thousands). Many times in your life you’re going to need God to turn a little into a lot: you’ve got a little energy…you need a lot of energy. You’ve got a little talent…a little opportunity…a little connection or relationships…a little bit of money…and you need God to turn it into a lot.

      Jesus didn’t do this miracle to simply “show off”; it also teaches us a spiritual truth, namely, how to prepare for a miracle where God turns a little into a lot in your life. This miracle is so important it’s the only miracle of Jesus told four times in the New Testament. All four gospel writers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) were impressed with this miracle, understandably so: 5000 people saw it and benefited. Any time God tells you something four times, you really should pay attention!

      Jesus goes out into a wilderness area, a plain just north of the Sea of Galilee, and is teaching all day. And at the end of the day thousands of people (there are 5000 men, not to mention women and children) – thousands are hungry and they’re twenty five miles from the nearest McDonalds.Or actually in Israel it would be McDavid’s! Truthfully, there’s no fast food nearby. And everybody’s hungry. The disciples come to Jesus and say, Lord it’s late in the day and everybody’s hungry. And Jesus says, You feed them.

      “Lord – that’s impossible! It’s physically, practically, humanly impossible for us twelve to feed these guys. It would take most of a year’s wages, even IF we had any shops remotely close by!”

      What’s going on here? Jesus is showing us the four steps to prepare for a miracle.

1) ADMIT I HAVE AN UNSOLVABLE PROBLEM. If you don’t have an unsolvable problem you don’t need a miracle. That should be obvious, right? If it’s not unsolvable you don’t need a miracle. If you have a solvable problem, solve it, you can fix it with the resources you already have. Someone might say, “I’ve really gotten overweight.I need a miracle.” Stop eating! You don’t need a miracle; you need a diet. A lot of times we want miracles when God says no, no – you’re just overspending, your priorities are in the wrong place. The reason you’re in so much debt is you need a budgeting plan. The first step to prepare for a miracle then is to admit I have an unsolvable problem. Mark 6:34ff “When Jesus...saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them...so he began teaching them.By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came and said, ‘This is a remote place. Send the people away so they can go and buy something to eat.’ But Jesus answered, ‘You give them something to eat!’ They said, ‘That would take eight months of a man’s wages!’” They all suddenly start pretending to be economic experts on Jesus here. Here we see three typical responses when we have an unsolvable problem in our life: we procrastinate, we pass the buck, and we worry. That last one in particular, worrying – we fret, we stew, we get anxious and stressed out. They said, “Lord, it would take eight months wages just to pay for these guys.” The disciples’ anxiety goes into overdrive. How are we ever going to import the food? How are we going to keep it hot? How are we going to distribute it? How are we going to do the clean up? Who’s going to get the health permits? What about liability insurance? Their minds are just going in overdrive. And we worry, worry, worry.

      Don’t you just love what Jesus says? He looks at these twelve guys, these “little-faiths” and he says, “You feed them.” Peter’s saying to himself, “Me? Are you kidding? We can’t do that!” The irony in this picture is – They’re standing next to Jesus. The guy who can easily turn stones into bread if he wants to (Mt 4:3); Who could easily feed everybody instantly if he wanted to. They’re standing in the presence of the Son of God and they’re going, “We can’t do it! No way!” Yet Jesus says, “You feed them.” And they react, “Lord, that’s practically, financially and humanly impossible.”

      Question: Has God ever asked you to do something impossible? He loves to do that. You respond, “Lord, I don’t have the time; the money; the energy; the education...You’ve got the wrong guy, Lord.” You have Biblical precedents – Moses, I want you to do this; “Not me!” Jeremiah: “Why me?” Jonah – “I’m calling my travel agent this minute to book my ticket in the OPPOSITE direction!” Instead, you need to respond like Isaiah, glimpsing God’s greatness – “Use me.Here am I; send me.”

      God says, “I want you to do the impossible.” Why does he ask that? Because He wants to stretch your faith. When God asks you to do something you think is physically and financially impossible he wants to stretch your faith. So: the first principle of a miracle is, I have to admit that the problem I’m facing right now is unsolvable.

2) GIVE GOD what little I already have. “How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Go and see.’ When they found out they said, ‘Five small loaves of bread and two fish.’" One little boy has a sack lunch, four or five little barley rolls and a couple of dried fish. He becomes the hero of the story because he’s willing to offer up what he’s got. He gives God what little he had.

      But why did Jesus say, “Find out how many loaves?” He’s the Son of God, He didn’t need anything to do a miracle; He could just go, “Bread for everybody!” – and manna falls. Why did he do this? Second principle of a miracle: God always starts with what I have. It may not be much but I give it to God. God, I don’t have much time, but here’s my time. God, my finances aren’t much, but here’s what I’ve got. God, my talent isn’t much but here’s my talent. I give you everything in my life: my reputation; my heart, my soul, my past, my present, my future. It isn’t much but I’m gonna give you my five loaves and two fish.

      John 6:6 notes Jesus asked this in order to test them, for He already had in mind what He was going to do. When God asks you to do the impossible, He’s not sweating it: He already has in mind what he’s going to do. God always has the answer before I even know the problem. So why are you worrying? I admit I have an unsolvable problem, then I give God what little I have.Then three,

3) PUT IT ALL in the hands of Jesus. In John’s account, we see the disciple Andrew finds this one little boy who’d brought a sack lunch – not much. But this boy becomes the hero because HE GIVES GOD WHATEVER HE’S GOT. Then Jesus takes it: John 6:41, “Jesus took the five loaves and the two fish...He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before the people...” Here’s the third principle: God will use whatever I give him. It may not be much; but if I give him what little time, energy, effort, whatever I’ve got, He will use it.

      Note too how the boy gives: he gives willingly, cheerfully, and immediately. Now, the fourth key to a miracle...

4) EXPECT GOD to multiply it. I give God whatever I have. I put it in the hands of Jesus and then I expect God to multiply it. Mark 6:42 “Everyone ate [that’s all five thousand!] and had enough.Afterwards they collected 12 baskets full of...leftovers!” Jesus doesn’t even just satisfy everybody; He gives an abundance! Whatever I give, I always get back more. God blesses you as you try to bless others. You can’t outgive God!

      God likes to do miracles through people. Not independently, through strictly angel agency: He likes to work through the ordinariness of people. His greatness stands out markedly in the setting of our unremarkableness. What we wait for God to do for us, God is waiting to do through us. God wants to turn you into a miracle machine: He doesn’t want to just do a miracle for you; He wants to do a miracle through you! Like he did through this little boy who gave him a simple lunch – it wasn’t much but it’s all he’s got, all he had – and he gives it to Jesus. And the Lord takes it, breaks it, blesses it and multiplies it. And God wants to do that in so many ways in your life.

      Blyth, North Huron, Wingham / Clinton, the province of Ontario, and even the world are all spiritually hungry. They’re dying, starving to death for spiritual truth. And Jesus says to His disciples, us His church, “You feed them.” We are tempted to respond, “Lord, we can’t do that! It’s too big a job – beyond our limited resources.” Yet He asks us to do the impossible. Mark 10:27 “All things are possible with God.” The ultimate example of all things being possible with God is what’s coming up at the end of this Lenten season, namely, Easter – because if God could raise a person from the dead, He can do anything! If God could resurrect a crucified man, He can raise a dead marriage; He can raise a dead career; He can raise dead finances. God can do anything! Easter proves it.

      Genesis 18:14, God’s messenger asks Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” The answer is obviously No. Easter shows the results God brought in response to the greatest sacrifice: Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice, giving his life for the sins of mankind. He didn’t just die on a cross: He died to take my guilt, my shame; to be my substitute, an innocent and pure Lamb...That results in the salvation of the world. All of us can enter into that salvation. So his ultimate sacrifice made it possible for anyone to be saved. As Jesus said in John 12:24, “A kernel of wheat must be given away and planted in the soil.Unless it dies and is buried, [He’s talking about his own death and burial] it will remain a single seed. But its death will produce many more seeds and a great harvest!” Let’s pray.