Gospel For Asia: Road To Reality Radio Program
Encouraged By Jesus Part One
Aired on August 27, 2011
Obviously this is the famous story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. One thing we must not forget, any part of the Scripture, the Lord gave this to us that we may live by it. Man shall not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). Intellectually you may hear, and process and comprehend what the Bible says, yet unless you receive it on your heart and process it for the sake of obedience, we will not experience the life of God and the blessings he wants to give us. Blessings not in terms of material things or promotions, rather understanding the ways of God. And thats the reason we should not go to the Scripture for the sake of just understanding the background and history and Greek and philosophy and all this stuff but rather, Lord speak to me, and I will follow you, and this is what our attitude should be.
There are several observations that I would like to look at in this particular passage. The first thing is, the very beginning of the chapter. After these thingsobviously if you go to the gospel of Mark or Matthew and look, you will find the chronological order of thingsso many miracles have taken place. The man who was laying sick for thirty-eight years now gets up and walks and the demon-possessed man gets healed and so many miracles transpire and the disciples are witnessing all these things and they see the work of God, they see and understand what God is doing. As a matter of fact, believe it or not, did they understand it, I dont know. The Almighty in flesh, God in flesh, walking with them, talking with them, asking them questions, theyre watching him, amazing, amazing privilege.
But here, the first thing we should notice, Jesus just walks up and just sits down with his disciples. The Lord going away to the mountainside, to a lonely place somewhere, that is not an exception. When the writer of Johns gospel says, if I were to write down everything Jesus did, it would take so many books and parchment the world could not contain it. If that be the case, selectively to point out a few things like this magnifies the importance of what he is saying, the writers of the gospels.
Regarding Christs life, twenty-eight times its mentioned in the gospels: prayer. Think about God, praying. To whom. He lived on earth as a perfect man. We worship the Lord Jesus Christ as God but we follow him as a man, demonstrating for us the kind of life God intended man to live here on earth.
Once again we see, before a major miracle must transpire, hes walking away, just sitting, and thinking, praying. So this tells me, waiting before the Father, spending time with God for inner-life preparation and being strengthened is important if we must experience Gods hand in our life and through our life.
Jesus, in Matthews gospel chapter seven, talked about these two people building their houses. One built his house on sand, right, remember that. And one built his house on the rock. Then what happens. Rain comes down and theres a flood, theres a storm, reminds me of my childhood. Now hardly we have any major floods in our community but when I was growing up thats all we had. The rivers overflow and little canoes and excitement it was wonderful. And many little houses get washed away every year during that seasonal flood.
The man who built his house on the sand and the one who built his house on the rock, they both faced the same crisis, the same storm, the same problem. Jesus didnt say, you know what, there is little possibility you will have a storm coming toward you, some opposition, no. The storm will come, the flood will be there, the onslaught will be there, the counter-attack will come. Every one of us, you must know this, sometime, somewhere, before you know it, those deep, dark days when you do not know what to do and you cry out sometime all alone, I didnt know this was going to happen. You never expected that car wreck. You never dreamed the doctor will say, Im very sorry to tell you this x-ray is not telling very good news. The blood test, I didnt think this would be so, but its too late, you have cancer, stage two. You never dreamed your child would grow up and become a delinquent and on drugs, you never dreamed about it.
Life for the best on earth, the Bible says is full of sorrows and troubles and anguish. Of course for young people you know, you are fairly healthy and no major problems, people think you know, you are invincible, no problem I can handle it. But please believe me, that is not the way it is. Sometime the worst suffering you and I face, it is not physical. It is not lack of resources or money or buildings. It is internal.
It says in Peter, Jesus suffered for us, leaving this example that we may follow in his footsteps. It is not talking about the cross and blood and the nails, no. It is talking about a life-long anguish on the inside. He faced the misunderstanding, the rejection, the loneliness, people calling him demon-possessed. God in flesh suffered everyday of his life and those of us who follow him, sometimes my brothers and sisters, it is not the beating and the abuse, no. It is more painful and more serious, you only know that.
But how do you face these times? We need the intervention of God in times like this. We need God to step in and change the circumstances. You do not want to build the foundation when the storm hits, it must be done before. Obviously the man who built his house on the sand, I mean, he was able to spend much of his money for the exterior, the superstructure, the visible part. People said wow look at this guy, he got the best mansion in the whole world. But look at this other little guy, you know, it dont look so fancy. But time proved who did the right thing.
Jesus went about doing good, doing the fathers will, healing the sick, casting out demons, giving hope, not in his own strength but in the strength of his Father as he waited before him and was empowered by the Father, therefore in the gospel of John a dozen times Jesus says, I do nothing on my own. The words I speak is not mine, its His. I do nothing for myself, I only do what my Father asks me to do.
Moses was called out, what a tragedy. People were living in slavery in Egypt. And God now says, I have seen the affliction of my people. I have heard their crying and I know their sorrows. Moses, come I will send you. You are the one to rescue my people. But forty years more they must suffer. Forty more years simply because Moses must be made ready, alone in private, so that his inside is changed for God to do the impossible. One man to stand up against the mighty nation of Egypt and Pharaoh and defeat the Pharaoh and the nation and set the people free.
We are living in a time, we are impatient are we not. Waiting, seeking Gods face, praying for an hour or two, fasting for one or two or three or ten or twenty days, we cant even imagine. We know the answers, we understand theology and we think thats enough, we can go and do it, and we do it in our strength and we fail miserably.
Listen to this quotation from A.W. Tozer, in one of his books he writes, I quote, there are certain things that you will never learn, when others are with you, there is no question, but that part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by an aloneness and inactivity. I mean the art of getting alone with God and waiting in silence and in quietness until we are changed and charged, and then when we act our activity really amounts to something because we have been prepared for it. We can go to God with an activity that is inactive. Let me repeat that statement. We can go to God with an activity that is inactive. We go to God with a heart that is acting in the flesh or in the natural, trying to do something but going to God and waiting. It just means that within our inner spirit, is seeing and hearing and mounting up on wings while the outer, physical person is inactive and even the mind is to some degree suspended. There is an inactivity, which paradoxically is the highest possible activity. There can be a suspension of the activity of the body as when the Lord told his disciples to tarry until they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and they did, they waited on God.
My brothers and sisters, when there is frustration, discouragement, complaining and murmuring, deep disappointment, restlessness, no matter where you are, what youre doing, that is your lifestyle. I can assure you, you have not understood the ways of God. Please think about it.
Four thousand years, the Son of God, the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, some four thousand years he must wait in heaven while the world lies in abject poverty and horrendous sin and disaster. And he waited until the Father says, Son this is time, you must go. And then he comes to earth and now he must wait thirty years working as a carpenter until the Father says, now it is time. Waiting for Gods time to be prepared was the activity of the Son of God. But for us, we see the glamor, the glory, the light, the clapping of hands, the thunder, the attention and all the stuff we can do, we cant wait to be active to do things. But God waits and says, come and listen to me.
Just one activity with God in it, amounts more for eternity than a million things we can do in our flesh, in our strength. Why must the Son of God take time apart to be alone? Well, this is not just a New Testament principle. If you look in the Old Testament book of Ezekiel chapter forty-four verse fifteen, we read there God says of the sons of Zadok, he says, they shall come before me and stand before me and minister unto me. You read and study that passage its amazing. Gods invitation to meet the need of the world out there, first of all is to come and get to know the Lord.
I need to get through this whole passage therefore I will move on. In the book of Philippians chapter three, Paul a man who has everything going for him said, I made a choice to walk away from riches, the fame the glory and all the stuff that I thought was so important. I walked away from all that I may know him. That I may know him. No wonder why he was such a hard working man with tremendous amount of zeal and commitment. He was not lazy. Please understand me, there is no place for laziness and halfheartedness in the Bible. Jesus himself said, I must work the work of him who sent me while it is day, night is coming when no man can work (John 9:4). So Im not promoting just being passive and go and sit some where and meditate and close your eyes to the suffering and reality of the society no. But I am telling you if you and I want to be effective and see God intervene in our private life and through us we better follow in the footsteps of the Son of God.
The second thing I want us to notice in this passage: God is concerned about our earthly life, things like food and drink. Think about it, Jesus, God now come into this earth to die for the sinners, to give them forgiveness, to give them redemption, and he was preaching the message of the kingdom, we know that. But here he sees this thousands of people, reminds me of somehow the radio rallies I go to, amazing just to watch the crowd. The disciples see this and theyre not terribly concerned about it and they didnt ask the question. Seeing these people, theyre tired, theyre weary Jesus asks this question to Philip, how on earth are we going to feed these people theyre hungry. Well you know, I get encouragement from this, that is, the Lord I serve he cares about me.
Every hair on your head is numbered. Some of you girls wonder how on earth God can do that, you got a lot of hair. Some of our older senior citizens dont have a whole lot. But every hair on your head is numbered and is noted. When you comb your hair in the morning, and one falls out, a report is made: Father, one fell away. About some of you the angel says what can I do Father but a hundred thousand fell away. He is so intimately concerned aboutcan you believe that. You know it struck me so deep long ago, many years ago when I was reading that verse in the book of Psalms: and the Lord is thinking about me (Psalm 139:17), present continuous tense, its present tense, thats the text there.
And I thought about this world, I mean, I though about the universe, the galaxies can you imagine, billions of light-years away, the galaxies, it will be maybe another ten billion light-years before the stars light will ever hit us. The vastness of the creation! And the God who created the whole thingthen the earth, this planet. I mean, billions of people. And then, take India, the second largest nation in the world. And take Kerala there where I was born, the tiniest little place. Then you travel fourteen kilometers you will find the tiny little village and there by the riverside, there I was born in this home with six other brothers, I am the youngest in the family. And the Lord is thinking about me all the time? Amazing!
Gospel For Asia: Road To Reality Radio Program
Encouraged By Jesus Part Two
Aired on September 3, 2011
Unless you and I believe God our Father is so interested in you, every detail, if one hair is a problem with God, how much more is he concerned about your salary and your trousers and your food and all the other stuff youre worried about. But you see, God stands helpless, his hands bound up not able to do one thing for you and he weeps saying, I wish you would let me lose so that I can care and touch you and heal you and bless you, I can reveal myself to you, please untie me. His hands are tied up. Youre saying, what are you saying? Who did it? You did it, I do it.
Psalm 78 it says, they bound up the hands of the Almighty, he could not do anything for them. With a choice, the freedom he gave to you, to me, we have to make some decisions saying, Lord I give up, I accept, I receive what you have said in your Word and I receive it like a child, I dont argue, debate, question, I simply believe. The act of faith releases the hand of God and his promises so that we become inheritors of his promises and walk into his promises, thats what the Scriptures tell us.
We have to be careful not to separate the sacred from the secular to the extreme that it will hurt us in our spiritual life. A dichotomy is good when it comes to holiness and sin and things like that, we have to have a clear understanding from right and wrong I agree. But in Gods dealing with us, we often separate our Monday through Saturday as secular and Sunday as spiritual. The prayer meetings and worship we make spiritual and the dealings with our family members and friends we make secular. But if you watch the lives of the people of God, the way God dealt with them, he didnt make any segregation in that. He was very much concerned about the way we relate to one and the whole, the words we use, the attitude, the responses, forgiving and receiving forgiveness and walking with one another, its very serious, the instructions and the consequences.
What is so spiritual about rice? What is so spiritual about it? It is also spiritual when we acknowledge that all things are from him, and for him. The slaves who were born-again believers, serving ungodly masters, when they were mistreated, Paul writes, my brothers, serve your masters as unto the Lord. Dont work so hard when they watch you, your Master in heaven is watching you, be faithful to him. Think about that. Do everything, whether you eat or drink, do all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
So when we make our decisions about out life, do you consider the Lord is concerned about it and ask him to get involved with it. Along with that I want to make one more point here, that is, Jesus is no more walking on this earth. He is the Head of the Church, we are his Body. And the Head tells the Body to act, hands, legs, eyes. So now, Jesus who walked on earth, he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Right now, he wants to do his hearts desire, through his Body, that is you and I, we are the Body. If Jesus were to walk here on earth right now, looking at the three hundred million Dalits. Having spent eight years in North India I can tell you a place like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and U.P. (Uttar Pradesh) places where many of those people, millions live in abject poverty and total illiteracy, and their lives are not so wonderful.
When I was in Rajasthan for a couple of years, in Ajmer, I saw these people the Dalits, called totis, going around, early morning, and cleaning the toilets, open sewers with their own hands and carrying it on their head. And from kilometers you can sense the stench theyre carrying on their body. People made in the image of the Almighty God, what kind of response would Jesus have to these people? What about the HIV, AIDS victims. We dont talk about it but millions and millions are dying, do we care? Do we have space to pray for them? If Jesus were here today how would he respond? The five million people living in the slums of Bombay alone, and the hundred thousand children walking around on the streets of Calcutta not knowing who their parents are. The Adivasis and the tribals, the millions of precious people living in the leper colonies.
He saw the multitude and they were hungry. He saw the sick and the diseased and the people that were forsaken and he has compassion on them. Is there any space any room in your heart? You say, what am I supposed to do? Let me ask you, do you have a list of things you pray for? I imagine you do. Do you have these people on your list to pray for them? Are you one who is praying, Lord, show me my role so I can do something to serve.
We got one hundred seventy-five Dalit schools with some seven thousand little children. Many of those kids come to our school totally naked, three, four, five year old children coming. Never wore a stitch of clothing on their body. They need to be washed up and given a uniform and give them books and give them some hope. And I began to think about it recently, what a privilege it would be to all of us including my own family to take some of these children saying, they are going to be my children. I will pray for them, I will give them finances or help whatever I can and some day when they grow up and know the Lord and serve God, what a blessing I can say wow, fifty of those young people now, living and serving God because I had the opportunity and the privilege the Lord gave me to do something for them. Jesus cares and he cares about our needs, our problems but at the same time he wants us to care about others.
The thought I want to point out from this passage is Jesus asking Philip one of his disciples, Philip. Yes Lord? We got a problem. Ya I know, look at all these people. And God asking a question to a man, think about it. What are you going to do? Well Philip carries a calculator, you know what a calculator is, one, two, three, four, ten plus ten is. So immediately he takes out a calculator and says, ya well we got a very large crowd here. Even if we have this much money its nothing. There is no way, it is impossible. Youre asking me what to do about it?
It says in the message, the verse goes like this, it was to stretch Philips faith. Jesus asked him how on earth were they going to do it, and Jesus did it to stretch Philips faith for he already knew what he was going to do. Hey, think about it. Are you one, I should ask this to my own heart, am I that individual who lives by logic and reason? I mean, Philip can go to a court and argue his point and prove it, hes correct, I mean, how can you feed all these people, theres no way, impossible. I agree, hes right. But Jesus now is trying to train his disciples for three and a half years to get them ready for the life that is before them. Thats what he is doing with us also. And Philip was given the privilege, the opportunity to respond something like this, Lord you are asking me, what is wrong with you, I mean, I saw you do this miracle, this leper got healed and this man 38 years just walked away and the demon possessed people and they got well and youre asking me what to do with it? Lord with you, you are the answer! But that didnt agree with the logic.
The twelve people went to spy out the land, they said the truth, ten of them said impossible, giants, impossible. But Joshua and Caleb saw the God of the giants. Faith is not against reason, it is beyond reason. My brothers and sisters, when we face the onslaught of the enemy, struggles and problems and difficulties, all tremendous challenges before us beyond our imagination, to find answers, let us not be like Philip. I repeat, let us not be like Philip. Let us be child-like in our response. Faith is the key for God to do the impossible through us. Logic says it cannot be done, but faith says no problem.
We all live by our experiences, from past and present, and then we listen to others and we say there is no way we can handle it. What are you praying for? What are the struggles you are facing at this time? What is that one thing, or two or ten, twenty, thirty whatever, you say, I dont see how I can handle it. Well you only know where you are.
For our brothers on the mission field, some places its the opposition and its the problems we face, sometimes we dont know what to do. Maybe its the worry and care you live with about the future. Maybe its a bunch of people, unsaved relatives that youve been praying and praying and nothing seems to happen. How can this be? Well, the simplest answer is, by faith. You know, the people who experience the least miracles I sometimes think are the people who know the Bible so much. We are educated and finally God is not in the picture.
I never can forget about the man who wrote me a letter, which you may have heard it, I would like to say it again because I like to hear it. He had some problems with his lungs, he went to the hospital and part of his lung was taken out. Now he got part of it and as time went by he hardly can breathe anymore. But he had the child-like heart, not so complicated, when he heard me on the radio, Jesus is right there with you, in your bedroom, in the kitchen, he is there with you in the hospital room, he is right there. Why dont you cry out to him? Hes able. He can forgive you and save you and he can heal you also, and I would quote a bunch of Bible verses. And if you believe, Im going to pray for you. Why dont you cry out to Jesus?
He writes: I prayed with you, I felt so well. He went to the hospital, they took the x-ray, new one, the Lord created brand-new, full, perfect lungs for him. I read that and say, it cannot be! God cannot do things like that because my logic dont agree with this. Science dont agree with it. But the poor man was not brain-washed by theologians. He simply believed. Simply believed. My brothers and sisters, let us learn to trust God and stand on his promises that he gave us in his Word. They saw so much yet they could not open their hearts. Lets move on.
Jesus takes this little fish and bread, I mean, that little boy, I tell you what, I admire him. How old he was, I dont know. What did they do to get that from him, they tricked him I think. A little boy trying to, I mean, he didnt come and say, oh here take it, I think the disciple Andrew or Philip, somebody must have told him a bunch of stories and somehow they got it and gave it to Jesus. The nameless little boy, surrendered everything he had. He didnt say, what do you want to do with this thing? They are going to feed five thousand people and more, wow! I dont think so, this is just enough for me. He just gave it.
Can we do the same thing?
The Lord took the little bit and he blessed it, and he gave it to his disciples, you remember that. He gave it to his disciples and the disciples to these people and they were fed, full stomach, left-over, twelve baskets. Can you just imagine one of the disciples saying, you know what, man Im so glad this one basket full, and look at all these thousands of people, if Im going to distribute this, in the end I will have nothing left. Thats what many people do. They began to give it out.
You know what. Whatever the Lord gives to you, give it away. You want to be blessed, bless others. Give, it shall be given unto you, in full measure, pressed down and running over (Luke 6:38). You want forgiveness, forgive. You want love, give love. You want people to smile at you, smile! This is the way our life is, the more you give the more you receive. Dont hold things so tightly for yourself, give it away, whatever it is.
Before we pray, just a few applications. One, trials are often Gods way of testing us to see where we are on the inside. Grow in faith and trust Him completely. Two, God is deeply concerned with the suffering, injustice, povertylet us become agents of his concern and trust him to meet our needs also. Number three, we grow into spiritual maturity through struggles, therefore dont despise it. It was to stretch Andrews, and his disciples, Philips, everyones faith, that Jesus did it. Number four, spending time alone with God is the key to being prepared to face lifes struggles. Number five, our natural mind is the enemy of faith, therefore train your mind to think thoughts based on the Word of God. Number six, do what you can. Andrew did what he was able to do, the boy did what he could do, and the Lord will do the impossible. Number seven, surrendering what little you have will result in great blessings for us and others, therefore surrender all to him. Number eight, dont hold back, give it away, and you will be blessed a hundred-fold. Number nine, when God uses us, make sure we dont take the glory, walk away from the temptation, seeking for mans honor. They sought to make Jesus, their king, after this miracle, and we read there, he walked away. He didnt want to give in to their words. He sought the Fathers glory in all that he did.