More Than Enough God
A More Than Enough God
Life is full of surprises. Have you ever noticed that? The law firm of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, one of the largest in the United States was celebrating their 100th anniversary a couple of years ago. They decided they were going to have this huge party and rent out this plus, elegant Beverly Hills hotel. And they invited in a nationally known speaker to come in and to speak that evening. Much to their surprise, the speaker got up and began to recount how she had graduated 35 years prior to this time from Stanford Law School number 1 in her class, and applied for a job as a lawyer in their firm--only to be turned down. Instead, she was offered a job as a legal secretary, and she turned that down. She went on an did ok for herself. She is today a retired US Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’ Conner. Talk about a surprise. Life is full of surprises.
Chuck Swindoll tells a story about a man and a woman who went into a local KFC and they ordered their chicked which they were going to get to carry out, because they were going to go to the park and have a picnic. So they got the bag and they took it into the car, drove to the park and set out their blanket and got everything all set up to enjoy this picnic together. But, they reached into the bag to pull out the chicken and it wasn’t chicken. They found bundles of cash inside the bag. Of course they were surprised by this, but they decided they had to do the right thing. So, they got everything gathered back up and returned to the KFC and took the bag of money and gave it back to a manager. The manager was elated and said, “Let me tell you what happened.” He had just cleaned out the cash registers and had gotten everything ready to go to the bank for the day’s deposit and he set the bag down for 1 second to get something else and the cashier grabbed the wrong bag and gave them the bag of cash instead of the bag of chicken. The manager was so grateful that they brought it back. He said it was so good to know that there are people of integrity--people who are honest and willing to do the right thing. He said everybody in their community needed to know that there are people like this, so he got ready to call the local paper to have them take a picture and publish it so everybody can know that there are good, honest people in the community. The man who brought the money back said, “No, please don’t do that. You really don’t need to do that.” The manager insisted, “People need to know.” The man said, “No, really it’s ok. You don’t need to take our picture and put it in the paper.” Well the manager just wasn’t going to give it up. He kept insisting that the guy and the woman have their picture in the paper, and finally the man pulled the manager aside and said, “Look, I got to tell you. You can’t put our picture in the paper. This woman I’m with is not my wife.” Talk about surprises.
This message begins a 3 week series called ‘More Than Enough.’ Today I’m going to talk about discovering a More Than Enough God. Next week we’ll talk about what it means to develop a More Than Enough Faith, and the week following that we’ll talk about going From Never Enough to More Than Enough. Most of us would like to get there.
Let me ask you this question right up front today. What’s your view of God like? How do you view Him? How do you look at Him? Do you recognize Him as the source and provider of all things? That it all belongs to Him. It all comes from Him and it’s all dispersed by Him. Do you really view Him as a more than enough God? The apostle Paul wanted to expand our view of God. So he wrote these words.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." [Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV]
He said God is more and able to do more than you and I can think of--that we can dream of--that we could ever ask for--that we could ever imagine. No matter what you would ever think of bringing to God, and asking God to do and thinking maybe it’s just kind of far out there--it’s a long way, it’s a stretch, it’s a dream, but maybe God can help me do it. No matter what you and I could possibly think of, God is able to do more. That’s what he says. Now, not only is He able to do more, it says He is able to do immeasurably more. We cannot begin to fathom the scope of God’s resources or the supply that He can pour into our life. So let me ask you. Is that more than enough God, the God you really know? Is that the God you depend on for your day to day living? Is this the God you’re trusting in to provide what you need in life? If so, then I want to ask you another question. Does the way that you use the resources that He’s entrusted to you care indicate and demonstrate that you believe that H really is a more than enough God who’s able to do far more than you could ever ask or imagine? Or does the way you use the resources He’s entrusted to your care show that you think, “You know. I’d better hold on to it, because there’s never enough?” What do you believe about God?
If you think there’s never going to be enough and that’s your view of God, then you’re not going to be a good steward. But, if you recognize who God is and you see God as an immeasurably more God who is able to do far more than you could ever ask or imagine, then in the way you use the things He’s given to you, it will be demonstrated by what you do with those things.
We’re going to discover a more than enough God. We’re going to look at a story in Mark 6 of a time when a group of people really saw first hand that Jesus is a more than enough God. Let me set the stage for you just a little bit. The people have come together hungry. It’s late in the day. Their stomachs are growling. You know, Jesus has been teaching a long time, and then Jesus does a miracle. And He proves in this miracle beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He is a more than enough God. Now, this story we’re going to look at today about this miracle Jesus performed many scholars would say is the greatest miracle Jesus ever did. And one of the reasons they think that, is that this is the only miracle that appears in all 4 gospels. Evidently there is something in this story that is so significant, so important, that God wanted it repeated again, and again, and again. And, it’s in all 4 of the gospels. He wants to make sure that we understand this--that we get it.
At the beginning of Mark’s account Jesus’ apostles give a report to Jesus. What are they reporting? Well, if you go back to the first part of this chapter, Jesus had just sent them out 2 by 2 on kind of an evangelistic crusade or a missionary journey of some kind. He had given them power and authority to be able to cast out demons and to do miracles, to preach, to teach, to come back then and report. So they finished that crusade and now they have come back to Jesus to report to Him what had gone on, but they are having a difficult time doing that.
"The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place." [Mark 6:30-32, NIV]
It seems to me that it must be around lunch time. They’ve come back from this journey. They’re hungry. They’re wanting to report to Jesus the things that have gone on, but there are so many people that are gathering in around them that they just can’t do it. Everywhere they turn there were groups of people. See, Jesus was on a roll at this point. His fame was spreading around. People were coming from all over just to try to get close to Jesus--just to catch a glimpse of Him and to hear what He had to say. Why are all these people coming around Jesus? Well, I told you that this is in all 4 gospel accounts. In John’s account he specifically tells us this that the people were coming around Jesus, because they wanted to see the miracles He did when He healed people. Now, what that says is that not everybody who was coming around Jesus --not all these huge crowds really understood who He was. Not all of them were coming with pure motives. Not all of them were coming because they believed He was the Son of God. Not all of them were coming because they wanted to listen to Him teach. Most of the people were coming because they were thrill seekers. They knew that Jesus was performing these miracles. They wanted to see Jesus do some cool stuff, and they wanted to get a front-row seat to see that. This is why a lot of these people are gathering in around Jesus. They wanted to see the signs. So Jesus and the disciples say, “We need to get away from this.” So they take a boat and go by themselves to escape the crowds so the disciples can give Jesus the report of what’s go on.
"But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things." [Mark 6:33-34, NIV]
These people were not going to be denied. They were watching. They were looking. It says they recognized Jesus and the disciples. I don’t know if they had on disguisess or something as they were trying to sneak away from there. But somehow they recognized them and it says they followed them. And not only did they follow them, they beat them to where they were going. They had gotten into the boat and the people realized, “Ah, we know where they’re going.” And they ran around the shore and beat them to the other side. And they’re there and they are waiting on them. Jesus and the disciples just can’t get this peace--this sense of privacy that they’re looking for so the disciples would be able to report what has gone on at this point.
But notice that it says that when Jesus landed, He saw this huge crowd of people and He had compassion on them. I love that. He looked at them and He loved them. He didn’t see these people as a nuisance. He saw them as sheep without a shepherd who needed the teaching, the ministry, that He was able to provide for them. So, He saw the need and He began to teach. He began to minister to these people.
"By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”" [Mark 6:35-36, NIV]
The disciples come to Jesus and they say, “Jesus, we’ve got a problem here. You’ve been teaching a long time. You’ve been a little long winded today. It’s now late in the day and these people --they’re getting really hungry.” And here’s what I really love about the disciples. They don’t just tell Jesus they have a problem. They tell Jesus how to fix the problem. “Send them away, Jesus, so they can go get something to eat.”
Now, this is just a little aside here that has absolutely nothing to do with our message today, but how many times do we do that? How many times do we go to God and say, “God, I’ve got a problem here. Here’s how You can fix the problem. Would you do that for me?” Instead of really seeking God and asking, “God, what do You want to do about this problem in my life?” We try to tell Him how to fix the problem. Well, the disciples we’re looking at Jesus saying, “You’ve been long winded. It’s time to wrap it up. The people are hungry. They need something to eat. Send them away to get something to eat.” Well, listen to Jesus’ reply.
"But he answered, “You give them something to eat.” They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”" [Mark 6:37, NIV]
The disciples were pretty smart guys. They looked around and they said this is a big crowd. They make some calculations and size up the situation. And all of a sudden they realize that if they were to feed all these people, it would take 8 months’ wages to feed a crowd this size. “Are we to do that?” They said. Now, the implication there is that they had the money to be able to do it. And I’m sure there were other things running through their mind like, “where are we going to get that much food, if we decided to spend this much money? How are we going to transport it out to this remote place to be able to feed all these people? How are we going to keep it warm? Who’s going to do the cleaning up at the end of the day?” There are all these things that they’re thinking about that are there that say, “You know what? We’ve got a huge problem and I don’t think we can do anything about the problem.”
Do you know what they had forgotten? They had forgotten that they have a more than enough God. They had forgotten that in that moment standing right in front of them was Jesus Christ the Son of God. And when they’re looking at the situation saying, “How are we going to get enough food to feed all these people?” It would be like you and me standing in front of Niagra Falls with a group of people and saying, “Where are we going to get water for all these people to drink?” I mean, they’ve got Jesus, God in the flesh, right there. The One who’s capable of taking stones and turning them into bread, and they are wondering how in the world are we going to get enough food for all these people to eat? Do you know why the problem was so big for them that they couldn’t handle it? They forgot who God is. They forgot that He is a more than enough God.
““How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.” When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”" [Mark 6:38, NIV]
Now where do these 5 loaves and 2 fish come from? As I said to you earlier, this story is in all 4 of the gospels and in John’s account he gives us a little more detail and we see exactly where the food came from and what it was in a little more detail.
"Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”" [John 6:8-9, NIV]
Jesus sent the disciples out to look for food, and Andrew, one of the disciples, finds some. He finds 1 little boy with a sack lunch of 5 loaves and 2 fish. But he says, “What is this among so many?” Now, think for a moment about this young boy that Andrew found. I want you to understand he was extremely poor. You say, “How do you know he was extremely poor? The Bible doesn’t say that he was extremely poor.” Here’s how I know that he was extremely poor. His bread was made from barley. Barley was considered to be the cheapest grain of the day. It was held in contempt, and it was considered to be animal food and not fit for human consumption. So, if a family had to eat loaves of bread that came from barley, that meant they were and extremely poor family. So, this boy came from an extremely poor home. And when you and I think about loaves, we probably think of going to the bakery and getting these big ol’ loaves of bread like French bread. No, that’s not what we’re talking about here. It was probably something more like what you and I would consider to be a dinner roll.
So, Andrew finds a boy with a lunch. And he’s got some dinner rolls made of animal food. You might say, “Wait a second here. They had fish.” And, maybe when you think of fish, you think of a couple of fillets off a a big 20 pound bass or something like that. Well, there’s a Greek word that’s used in this passage talking about the fish that they found that means this. It’s the only place it’s used in the entire NT. It means a tiny little fish that’s been pickled and salted and cured. It sounds gross, but it’s probably more like what you and I would refer to as a sardine. So, you’ve got a young boy here who’s got a lunch and his lunch consists of this. It consits of 5 dinner rolls made of animal food and a couple of sardines. And this is not from his excess. This is all that he had. It was his lunch for the day. If he did not eat this, he was going to go hungry. And, it wasn’t like he had more to run home and get. He came from a poor family. This is probably all the resources that they had for today. So the scene probably developed like this. The boy woke up in the morning and said, “Mom, I want to go hear Jesus preach today.” There’s a crowd of people going down there. Jesus is preaching. I want to go listen to Jesus. I want to see this guy perform some miracles.” Mom says, “Ok, you can go, but let me pack you a lunch first.” She looks around the house and she finds all that they have--just these 5 little dinner rolls of barley, a couple of sardines and she throws together a lunch for her son and sends him off to see Jesus. That is what is going on here. It’s all that the boy has for that day.
Now, you know, we are kind of like this little boy sometimes. We look at what we have and we say, “How in the world am I supposed to make it on this--5 barley loaves, 2 sardines? How in the world am I supposed to make it on this amount of money? It’s all I have and it’s not enough. And on top of that, God, You want to command me to bring a tithe,the first 10 percent of everything that I have, and over and above that give You offerings? How in the world am I supposed to do that? There is absolutely no way that I can do that, when I look at what I have. There’s no way that it’s possible. Maybe, God, if You gave me more. Maybe, if You gave me like 50 barely loaves and 20 fish, then I’d have enough left over I could bring something to You. But the way things stand right now, I can’t do it. There’s not enough. You give to me first and I’ll give back to You.” I want you to understand that’s not the way that it works. You see, God calls for us all throughout Scripture to go first. He calls for us to bring Him the tithe first and then He will bless our lives. He calls for us to give to Him first and then He will give back to us. You see, when we just give to God what’s left over, because we have excess, there is absolutely no faith in that. That demonstrates a very low view of Who God is. It demonstrates that we’re not really trusting Him to provide for our needs. We’re trusting in what we have and now we have enough and so now we can give something back to you, instead of giving to Him first and trusting Him to show up and trusting Him to do a miracle and trusting Him to multiply what’s left to meet our needs. You see, there’s absolutely no way that it demonstrates faith, if we ask God to go first. So Scripture tells us to bring to God first and in confidence trusting Him, believing that He is a more than enough God, and saying, “God, I’m giving You what I have and trusting You to provide. I’m trusting You not in my bank account; not in the money sitting in my wallet; not in my income statement; not in the food sititng in my refrigerator. I’m trusting You to be the Provider, because You are the source of all things.” There is a huge connection between our giving and our faith. Many people say, “I have faith. I believe that God is a more than enough God.” But, when it comes to putting their sardines where their mouth is and giving back to God, many times they say, “I just can’t do it.” Do you see why I say that stewardship is not nearly as much about money as it is about our view of God. Do we really believe that He is a more than enough God, and can we trust Him to provide for our needs? How we handle what He gives to us shows what we really believe about who God is. Do we really trust Him, or do we not trust Him? If we bring Him the tithe, do we believe He’ll provide for our needs? Or won’t He?
This little boy passed the trust test. He brought to Jesus exactly what he had, and he’s about to discover that when He gave to Him, that He is a more than enough God.
"Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand." [Mark 6:39-44, NIV]
Jesus took the small sack lunch, 5 barley loaves, 2 sardines, and He multiplied it to be more than enough to feed this entire crowd of people. Notice it says there were 5000 men there. That’s they way they counted in that day. They only counted the men. So if you add to that the fact that with 5000 men there, there were probably 4-5000 women there--maybe another few thousand children. There are probably between 10-15,000 people there that day, and Jesus fed them all. It says they all ate and they all were satisfied. How were the all able to eat and be satisfied? Because they discovered a more than enough God. And that’s they only way you and I are ever going to get to more than enough in any area of our life. It’s when we discover that we have a more than enough God who wants to work in our life.
Now, notice it says that not only did they have enough. They had more than enough because there were 12 basketfuls that were left over. Who do you think got those basketfuls? Now, I’ve heard some pastors over the years say there were 12 basketfuls that were left over and there were 12 dicsiples and that was 1 basket for each of the 12 disciples and they took that home and they’re the ones that got the excess. I don’t think so. You know who I think got those 12 basketfuls that were left over? I think the little boy got the 12 baskets that were left over. You know why I believe that? Because that’s consistent with what the Bible teaches about giving. You give, and it will be given to you. When you give to God, He’ll open the floodgates of heaven and pour out blessing in your life that you won’t be able to handle. That’s what the Bible teaches us about giving. What I think happened is that Jesus gave the leftover to this little boy. And all of a sudden, this little boy who left home with 5 barley dinner rolls made of animal food and 2 sardines comes walking in the door and he’s got this whole crowd of people helping him carry 12 baskfuls of food. He says, “Mom and Dad, I’m home.” What’s all that?” “Let me tell you.” And he goes on and he tells this incredible story that gives testimony to the fact that he has discovered a more than enough God.
Let me ask you today. If you could step into this story and be one of the characters in the story, who would you want to be? Ok, besides Jesus. We all want to be Jesus, but none of us are qualified. Who else would you want to be in this story? I think most of us, if we’re given that opportunity, we want to be this little boy. He’s the one who got to get in on the miracle. He’s the one who brought his lunch and gave it to Jesus and Jesus multiplied it. And, He used him. Through him and what he gave, Jesus did this incredible miracle to be able to feed this entire crowd of people. And yet, every single week, you and I have an opportunity to be exactly like this little boy and to pass the trust test by bringing back to Jesus from what it is that He has brought into our life--saying, “Here’s the tithe. Now I’m trusting You as a more than enough God to provide for all of the needs in my life. You can multiply it, because that’s who You are.”
You see, some of us only have 5 loaves and 2 fish. It’s not much. Others of us have a whole stinkin’ bread truck. What really matters is not so much how much we have, it matters what we do with what have. The way we use what God has entrusted to our care demonstrates that we believe that He really is a more than enough God. So who are you going to be like? Are you going to be like this little boy, or are you going to be like the crowd? You say, “Wait a second. What do you mean are we going to be like the crowd?” Don’t you imagine that in this large a number of people that there was somebody else there who probably brought a little bit of a lunch. There was probably somebody else there in that entire crowd who brought some food with them, too. Why don’t we read about them in the Scripture? Because they were’t willing to turn it over. They said, “Wait a second. This is all I’ve got. I’m not going to give it up. I’m holding on to it. I’m not going to let anybody have my lunch. This is my lunch. I’ve got to keep it for me.” And sometimes we are exactly like those people in the crowd. We say, “God, I can’t tithe right now, because I don’t have enough. Someday, when You give me enough, then I’ll honor You and bring You the tithe.” What happens is we miss out on being used to do the miracle, because we’re just like those people in the crowd. We hold on to what we have. But the boy got in on the miracle. The boy brought what he had and he gave it to Jesus and he saw Jesus multiply it and He used it to feed that entire crowd of people. You see, when we bring what we have to the Lord, we can watch Him work and we can watch Him multiply it, and we see Him do miraculous things in our lives.
There’s a true story that tells what God can do with $0.57. A sobbing little girl stood near a church from which she had been turned away, because it was too crowded. “I can’t go to Sunday school she sobbed,” to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason why. And taking her by the hand he took her inside and he found a place for her in the Sunday school class. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who had no place to learn about Jesus.
Some 2 years later this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for this kind hearted pastor who had befriended their daughter to handle the arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn, crumpled purse was found that seemed to be rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found $0.57 and a note scribbled in childish handwriting that read, “This is to help build the little church bigger so more chldren can go to Sunday school.” For 2 years she had saved for this offering of love. When the pastor tearfully read that note, he knew instantly what he would do. Carrying this note and the cracked red pocketbook to the pulpit, he told the story of her unselfish love and devotion. He challenged his deacons to get busy and raise enough money for a larger building, but the story doesn’t end there. A newspaper learned of the story and published it. A realtor offered them a parcel of land worth many thousands of dollars. When he was told the church couldn’t afford to pay that much, he offered it to them for $0.57.
Church members made large donations. Checks came in from far and wide. Within 5 years the little girl’s gift had increased to $250,000 a huge some of money for that time near the beginning of the 20th century. Her unselfish love paid huge dividends.
When you’re in the city of Philadelphia, look up the Temple Baptist Church with a seating capacity of 3300 people, and Temple University where thousands of students have been trained. Have a look, too, at the Good Samaritan Hospital and to the Sunday school building that houses hundreds of students so that no child in the area will ever have to be turned away again during Sunday school time. In one of the rooms in the building, you’ll see the picture of the sweet little face of this girl whose $0.57 so sacrificially saved, made such remarkable history. Alongside of it is a portrait of her kind pastor, Dr. H. Russell Cronwell, the author of the book, Acres of Diamonds. It goes to show what God can do with an unselfish love and $0.57.
It wasn’t much, but God used it to be more than enough. This little boy didn’t have much, but he willingly gave his lunch to Jesus. When you think about it, his lunch was insufficient. It was much too large a crowd. The boy was insignificant. He really was nobody, but what we learn from the story is this: that which is insufficient from the hands of us people who are insignificant becomes more than enough when it’s placed in the hands of Jesus.