Questions Jesus Asked: Week #2

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May 23, 2020 • Dave Workman

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In the Gospels, Jesus asks many more questions than he answers. To be precise, Jesus asked 307 questions. Asking questions was central to Jesus’ life and teachings — that’s how we discover for ourselves that He is the way, the Truth and the Life. This weekend, Dave Workman continues our series “Questions Jesus Asked...And Is Still Asking.” This series will address moments captured in the Gospels, when Jesus asked a question, revealing a Biblical truth. In week 2, we explore the question that Jesus asked in Matthew 15:34, "How many loaves do you have?"

Message Transcript

Hi, I'm Anita Ingram and I volunteer in the role of a trustee here at the Vineyard. Thanks for joining us today. As part of this weekend service, I get the honor of praying over our giving. The Vineyard has been my home church for six years now and I'm currently one of six volunteer trustees here at the church whose role it is to assist, guide, evaluate, and monitor the progress of our church and the fulfillment of its mission and vision. If you'd like to know more about the Vineyard's trustees, you can read a little more about us by going to vineyardcincinnati.com/trustees. You can also read the church's bylaws there that explain how we are all called to help operate this church. It's especially during times like these that our church must depend on the Lord for direction and guidance. It's by faith that we will get through this COVID-19 health crisis and it's by faith that we get through transitions and the leadership of this church. And it's by faith that we continue to faithfully give to the mission and ministry we've been called to here at Vineyard. In Hebrews 11, that great faith chapter, a tapestry is unfolded that depicts great examples of faith from the record of some of our favorite Old Testament heroes. It begins in Hebrews 11:1 with "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we don't see." Our belief in faith in God gives us the confidence to persevere even when we can't see exactly what's next. So thank you for your continued faithful giving that fuels ministry here. To give, go to vineyardcincinnati.com/give, or text the amount to the number shown on your screen. I'm going to pray over our offering now. Father, we thank you. We honor you and we praise you and we ask that you would blessed both gift and giver alike to your glory and your honor. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Hello, I'm Adrienne Wiley of the Healing Center here at Vineyard Cincinnati Church. We believe God has something special for you today, so it's no accident that you're here. Thank you for joining us. We hope you've been encouraged. A few weeks ago, Vineyard Cincinnati partnered with Hoxworth Blood Center and hosted a blood drive right here at the church. When we first made the announcement, dozens of you quickly stepped up and all of the appointments were filled within 48 hours. Knowing we had a greater capacity to help more appointments were added and those were completely filled in less than 24 hours. I'm pleased to report that the blood collected from drive has the potential to save 117 lives. And 27 of those donors at our blood drive did so for the very first time. COVID-19 has affected life in so many ways, in many ways, we don't realize. Take this into account when nearly 300 Hoxworth blood drives have been canceled over the past few weeks. Thank you, Vineyard Cincinnati for stepping up and responding. Keep an eye out for more opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus to our city. Now is a great time to build or improve upon your foundation of the basics of the faith. Take part in one of our online foundation classes and learn how to live and grow as a Christian. Lasting only seven weeks, How to Study the Bible and Basic Beliefs are both launching on Wednesday, June 3rd, and they're both great next steps to grow your faith. Please visit our website to register.

If you'd like to know more about the heart of Vineyard Cincinnati Church, visit our website at vineyardcincinnati.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I am so excited that Beth asked me to join her on this series called the Questions Jesus Asks. But before we get into the question I was given, I want to just step back for a little bit. Let's rethink some stuff here. By a show of hands, how many of you, when you were a kid in school, you loved taking tests? I see that hand. It's the geeky guy in Sharonville. I hated it. I'd get that sweaty palms feeling, that knot in the stomach. I just didn't take tests well. And you know what the worst thing about tests are? The worst thing, the questions of course, no questions, no tests. And here's the obvious. Why do teachers give tests with questions? It's to find out what we really know. Are we learning what they are trying to teach us? So let me throw out a little theory to you here.

It's, I think that all of life is a bit of a test. And guess who the teacher is? Right away, I know where some of you are going. If you're a church person, your little brain synapses are going to "oh, no, is this a pass fail thing?", "Is this about heaven or hell?", "I didn't study for this", "I'm getting sweaty palms". Just relax. Take a deep breath. Because I think this test is more about whether I'll let the kingdom of God be expressed in and through my life or not. In other words, am I willing to let God use me to extend his expression of his grace, of his generosity, of his life to this planet? So if teachers ask questions to find out what we really know, here's where this all gets squirrelly. Why would God do that if he already knows what we think, right?

I mean if he, if he already knows what I know, then why question? So if God, if he already knows that I'm a dipstick, then why test me to find out I'm a dipstick? Well, here's the deal. God doesn't ask questions to get information. God has questions to lead us toward self-discovery because the things that are in my heart that get exposed when God starts questioning and he can do that by how I respond to circumstances, to conviction, to whatever. The things that get expressed will raise the level of ownership on my part to do something about that. And that says something about how serious I am about following Jesus or not. If we're really honest, most of us would like God to just kind of wave a magic wand over us and say, "Selfishness be gone!" And then we'd stop spending hours on Amazon or our wave the magic wand, say "Gluttony be cast out!" and suddenly Doritos tastes like Tide Pods, right?

But that's not how real deep healing works. And Christians often carry that kind of magical thinking into their spirituality, but then they get mad at God when it doesn't happen and they stumble. For instance, if someone came to me and said, "Dave, you are so self centered", I probably would respond in a mature adult way and say, "I know you are, but who am I?" Right? Come on, let's get real. That's how most of us respond except we do it in more sophisticated, passive aggressive and angry adult ways. Right? But suppose late one night I'm wrestling with some issue in my heart and I suddenly think, wow, I am really self centered. Then suddenly I have a choice to do something about that. Now there's opportunity to change or not. There's a sense of ownership and a crucial opportunity to ask God to work with me and in me and help me with this thing that I'm struggling with because now it's out in the light.

In order for God to change us and use us, he has to, he has to get us to understand two big things about ourselves. And this is what they are. This is what are my motivations? You know, why do I do the things I do, whether they're good or bad. And secondly, what do I really value? What do I think is truly important? How do I even prioritize that? Those two things? And by the way, have you noticed that Jesus answered, always often answered a question with a question. You know, how annoying is that? For instance, after his resurrection, he's walking along the beach with his disciples and all of a sudden he tells Peter how he's going to die and it's not pretty. He's going to be martyred. And then he says to Peter, "Follow me". And that, just think how chilling that would be, to know how your life was going to end.. And then Peter, he looks over his shoulders and he sees John tagging along behind him and he asks Jesus a question. It's, "Hey, what about him? What about this guy?" And Jesus knows exactly what's going on here because Peter's playing a comparison game of sorts. It kind of goes like this. If I have to go through all this pain, I want everybody in the club to go through this with me. Misery loves company, right? May you, you can relate to this, personalized this. Have you ever wondered why so-and-so, (we all know a so-and-so), Have you ever wondered why so and so never seems to have any like real problems, right? They come on Lord, he's got a big house, he's got a great job. All his kids have straight teeth and I'm driving a car from the last century and that's what's going on here.

So Peter is asking Jesus, "Why me? What? What about what about him?" And Jesus looks at him and he answers of course with a question. And it's "What is that to you?" How you know, he, he's basically saying, "This is just about you following me.", and it stops there. So God is always digging into those two points with us. "What's my motivation for doing what I do?" And "What do I really think is important?" And for those of us who say, wow, you know, I don't think I've ever heard God speak to me like that. That's not true. I can guarantee that if you aren't wrestling with those two questions from time to time with relationships or in circumstances or at work or wherever, you're already dead. God is speaking to us constantly about those two things. What are my motivations and what do I relate that?

And underneath that is the ultimate test, a cosmic SAT, that because those two questions will force us to answer the big bonus question point in our life, it is "Will I follow Jesus no matter what?" Because when I answered that question in the affirmative, as in "Yes, Jesus, no matter what's going on, no matter how South my circumstances are, no matter how I feel" when I answer that in the affirmative, then he can really use me, because it won't be based on what I think success should look like or not look like. I remember back in the day when my, I have two daughters and back in the day when they could not wait to drive a car and which excited me about as much as them going on their first date, right? To get their driver's license, they had to take a, they had to take a written exam.

They had to complete over 20 hours in driver's ed school, another eight hours of in car, spent 50 hours driving with a white-knuckled parent and then take a driver's test. Then the State of Ohio trust them enough to let them get inside of two ton hunk of metal to scare the, you know what? Out of joggers and bicyclers on Butler-Warren Road. Now think about this. Don't you think that God would want to test you first before he turned you loose in his name with his gifts and his power and what he wants to express? So with all that in mind, let's look at this amazing story from Matthew's historical account of Jesus. The simplest question Jesus asks, here's a long spoiler alert here. The question that Jesus asks, which out of context, it doesn't seem that profound, is "How many loaves of bread do you have?"

What kind of deep metaphysical and theological question is that from your Messiah? Right? My wife, Anita and I, we have, this is so dumb, we have this done running joke that we, I think we repeated each other about every time that we go into Kroger's and we imagine ourselves walking up to one of the cashiers there and saying, Hey, I'm new in town. Can you tell me where the bread is? And for some reason that just strikes us as funny after the millionth time we've done that, you know, all these years. But that question from Jesus almost sounds like that kind of question, right? So the story is in Matthew 15 and it begins with this. Jesus is on the side of this mountain along the sea of Galilee, and he's doing some just crazy, supernatural ministry. I mean hundreds of hundreds of people are getting healed of all sorts of diseases and physical issues and so forth for days.

Thousands of people have gathered. Of course, you can imagine if that was going on, you'd be there. And people were amazed and worshiping God because of what was going on there. So finally, Jesus pulls his leadership team aside after doing this for several days. And he says," I have compassion for these people. They've already been with me for three days and have nothing to eat. I don't want to send them away hungry, or they may faint, they may collapse along the way." They're in the middle of nowhere, in a culture that walks everywhere. So his team responds with, what I think a very practical, logical bean-counting answer, you know. They, say, where could we get enough bread in this remote place for a crowd this size? The disciples don't know it, but they just stepped into a pop quiz. The story doesn't say this, so give me a little grace here, but I cannot help but imagine that Jesus kind of gets this kind of a slide, mischievous grin on his face as if he's thinking, I know something that you don't know and it's going to blow your mind and force you to think differently about your heavenly father, about his power, his generosity, his compassion and me.

And with that he does that irritating thing where he answers a question with a question. It's that kind of question that doesn't really help the problem, as you think you understand the problem. And often, you know, the problem is not the problem. Often it's how you see the problem is the problem. So Jesus is about to cleanse the lenses of their world view glasses. And so he asking him this question, how many loaves do you have now? Now it's getting real. There's obviously more to the question because he just said that they had, you know, there they didn't have anything to eat. And so the leadership team looks at each other. I'm sure they rolled their eyes and they say "seven, and a few small fish". And you already know what happens next. Jesus takes the bread and the fish and he gives grace and they pass it through his leadership team to pass out.

And all we know is that everybody ate, 5,000 people, not counting kids and women there. And everyone had more than enough. Plus they had enough to fill seven baskets of food that were left over. And by the way, that the Greek word for baskets, there is the same Greek word that's used for the basket that they, that Paul climbed in and they, they dropped him over a wall to escape in a basket because people wanted to kill him in Jerusalem, right? That's the same word. These were not little Longaberger picnic baskets. This was a spectacular trans-rational event. And suddenly we have a tangible expression of God's compassion and abundance that drives his generosity. Don't miss this: And the opportunity to play a part in that. The question was designed to create a choice in the psyches of the disciples.

We know that the big cosmic bonus question, "Will you follow me with what you have or whether you stay in prison and what you think you don't have?". In other words, this is risky. You could look foolish here, but here's the deal. When you're with me, don't look at what you don't have. Look at what you do have, because if you put what you do have in my hands, everything changes. Jesus is, what he's doing is throwing out this supernatural principle. Put in what you do have in my hands and watch what can happen. Now, let me show you something. Can I have the... People look at this. This is a basketball, of course. I know very little about basketball. I enjoy watching games, probably how like you non-musicians go to concerts, you jump up and down, you have fun, but you don't know if they're playing a B flat augmented chord or they're playing in a four -, four shuffle or anything.

So don't judge me. But what I do know is that Steph Curry of Golden State is the highest paid NBA player. And in the time it took me to say that sentence, he just made 15 bucks. How's it doing for you per second? Right? And by the way, he happens to be a very solid Christian. But the point is this: this basketball in my hand is worth about 15 bucks at Walmart and in Steph Curry's hands it's worth over $40 million. And we're both Christians that doesn't have anything to do with them. I'm just saying same basketball, different outcomes. It depends whose hands it's in and in the generous hands of God, everything is exponentially multiplied. I mean, the simplest moral of the story of the fish and loaves would be this: "It's God saying, you give me what you have in your hands and watch how I can take care of you and the people around you". Because (I just threw that out to the only three people that are in this room) growing up, I didn't know anyone who had a healthy marriage. And so, for our first seven years of marriage, we worked hard at it because, well, you know this, it's basically takes three things. It takes good communication, it takes a lot of forgiveness and it takes everyone's favorite: a dying to self. Who doesn't love that, right? And the truth is, I don't know how you do that without Jesus. And then we had our first baby and once again, my fear of love's scarcity popped up. What if I don't have enough love to pass around now that this is a family now? So, but when Rachel came, somehow more love flowed in and flowed out. And then a year and a half later, my fear when we were expecting again was, there are only so many, there's only so many slices of this love pie, right? And how will I do this long term?

And once again, what was going on was I was operating with a scarcity mentality. And so when Katie came along and there was this outpouring of love that I just, I couldn't explain. And somehow I had missed what the apostle Paul said in Romans 5 where he says, "God has given us the Holy spirit who fills our hearts with love". Or as John the apostle John, who was actually part of that, a little leadership team at the fish and loaves story. He would later write, we love because he first loved us. There is no scarcity with God and there's God is a generous God in every way. And it's amazing when human beings catch this truth. For instance, there's this fascinating story in Genesis about abundance and scarcity and the way that we people think about it. And in those days there was a rancher named Abraham and he took his family and a nephew named Lot to settle in what is now Israel and the West bank.

And he really prospered there. They became pretty wealthy, but Abraham and Lot's relatives began to fight with each other about property and water rights and so on. The land just couldn't support them both. This could have been a time argue about legalities or sue someone or, you know, who's the patriarch here, whatever. But Abraham was growing in his trust, in God's ability to provide. He had an abundance mentality and then enables you to view all of life's problems, not with a zero sum approach, but rather with a win-win attitude. So Abraham calls Lot up, and he says, "This is not going to work. We should not be fighting within our families; for Heaven's sakes, we're relatives. So let's split up the land and you can have first choice. If you go to the right, I'll go to the left.

If you go to left, I'll go to the right, take a good look, take the best, choose whatever you want" and the story says that Lot, he looks around and he sees the Jordan Valley, which is like a Garden of Eden, and it's well watered, it's fertile, it's green. And he jumps on that and he chooses that. And for some of us, that would have been a problem. If we were in business with one of our relatives, it would not have been like that. But because Abraham knew that God was well able to provide for him, he didn't approach it like, "Hey, there are only so many slices of this pie. So I had to fight to get my slice and I want the biggest and best". Instead, Abraham seems to have an abundance mentality and years later he does quite well when he brings into the world a son that would begin the lineage of the Savior of this planet.

There is a simple way to grow that kind of thick and here's how. When my worldview has mostly me in the center of it, my spiritual wholeness, my peace gets out of whack and one of the ways I can determine how much in my own life is in the center of my view is how I allocate my time, my emotions, my thoughts, my resources. How much is focused on me and surprise, surprise! I find that I can be a very selfish person left to my own devices. So I have to learn how to think differently and to surrender more and more and more to Jesus and understand the connection between that and the abundant life that he talked about earlier. We used to have a very simple, for a very simple definition for what a disciple is at the vineyard. It was a surrendered, transformed person who loves God and others.

That's our job is to surrender. God's job is to transform us and he turns us into people who deeply love him and the people around us. It puts us on a developmental track, a continuum to emotional and spiritual health because where are you evolving from? An inward focus to an outward focus. Let me give you a practical example. If let's say, let's say you like to work out and exercise, (God bless you. If you, my motto is no pain, no pain). If you're doing that, if you're working out, if you're exercising because you want to be healthy, to be around as long as you can to care for your family, there's just the best insurance policy you can have if you just want to be around your family to care and love for them as long as you can or you're doing it because you want to be a chick magnet.

That's the difference between having an outward focus and an inward focus. Now, here's the real dilemma. If you have an inward focus, the most that you have in your reserves is what you do and have in your own strength what you're capable of producing yourself. That's it. And here's what I've noticed. People with an inward focus typically live, even if they have a lot. it doesn't matter whether you're wealthy or under-resourced or whatever, people with an inward focus typically live with a scarcity mentality and never really experience the generosity of God in any personal way, and know him in the way that he wants us to know him. Let me close with the true story as it pastors don't tell true stories from time to time, but I've told this story before, but I just love it so much. I've used it too much probably.

But anyway, let me show you a picture of a guy. Do you know who this guy is? His name is Wesley James Autrey. And some years ago he was on a New York subway platform in Harlem when a 20 year old college student, had a seizure and began to convulse and fell down. The student fell down on the tracks of the subway as a train was coming in to the station and Wesley was with his two little girls. They were aged four and six at this time. Who was taking them to meet their mom because he was heading off to work. He was a construction worker and he reached down and tried to pull, in the pit, tried to pull this college student back up on the platform, but he couldn't hold onto him and there just wasn't any time left. And Wesley did the unthinkable; right before the subway train hit this kid, he jumped down onto the tracks and grabbed this 20 year old in a bear hug, laid on top him, flattened him out in between the rails of a subway, train in a pool of dirty water as the train ran over them. So the horror of everyone who was standing on the platform watching this and when the train finally came to a stop after car, after car, after car, going over him, the people there are yelling and screaming. When they suddenly heard Wesley shout out, there are two little girls up there, will someone tell them that their daddy is okay? But the hat that Wesley was wearing was actually nicked on the top by the train. It was that close, but they were both okay. And afterwards he got his kids home and went on to his job like it was a normal day. And no kidding. This is what he said, "This guy needed help and someone had to do something."

It's just an incredible story. But I found out a little bit more about this story recently in an interview years later, just before he jumped on the tracks, Wesley felt like he heard a voice saying, "You can do this". He said he felt like he had been chosen to do it and the interviewer asked him, well, as a religious person, did you ever think why me? Why was I chosen? And Wesley hesitated and then he said that right before, that right before he jumped in front of the subway train and instant flashed before his mind, 20 years earlier, about 20 years earlier, he had had a gun pointed at him and when the guy pulled the trigger, the gun misfired and nothing happened. And up to that point he wondered why he was spared. But on that day, on that subway platform, he said that he knew why: this was his moment and he heard this voice say "You can do this."

and he jumped. Well, what Wesley had in his hand on that day was, what he had was his life, his whole person. And that, in the hands of God, is the ultimate expression of God's generosity because it reflects his character, who he is. So let's stop. Let's just stop there for a moment and if you would just close your eyes wherever you are, you know, wherever you are, unless you're driving, close your eyes, close your eyes just for a moment and think about this. Are you viewing God with an abundance mentality or a scarcity one, what? What do you have in your hands that you could place into God's to see how he can show this planet his love, is his generosity, his wholeness, his salvation, whatever. Whatever you have currently, maybe that just seems so small and insignificant to you. Like a few fish or whether it's the, the ultimate gift, your whole life, your whole person in the hands of God.

It is exponentially multiplied and it fills this broken hungry and convulsing world with grace and life. So Father, I ask that you come in your power in your, in your grace, I ask that you come in with the presence of your Holy Spirit wherever we are, spread out all over the city, state, country, the world, wherever you are. And I ask you right now, God, that you would pour out your Spirit and that each one of us would just take a moment to say, God, whatever I have, it's yours. I place it in your hands and use it for your Kingdom, for your Glory, for your Sake. And Father, I pray for any of us who've never really taken that first step of surrender. And I pray that we would, that we would just cry out to you in our hearts, God, here's my life. It's yours. Take this brokenness, take these pieces. Make it whole. Use me for your sake. Forgive me, save me God, save me and use me. Use me for your Kingdom, for your Glory. So, God bless you. Go be the church.

Thanks for joining us for Vineyard Cincinnati Church where, for over 30 years, we have believed that small things done with great love will change the world. Vineyard Cincinnati is open to everyone, no matter what your thoughts are about God or church. Whether you're new to church or have been around it your whole life, you're in good company with those of us who are exploring who God is, or rediscovering what the church can be. If you've enjoyed this service and want to know more about us, visit vineyardcincinnati.com/connect and someone will be in touch with you very shortly. Again, that's vineyardcincinnati.com/connect.