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Are you enjoying the benefits of your faith? Does your faith impact where you go, what you do, and your relationships? Teaching through John 6:1-15, JP asks three questions to help you know if you are using your faith for Christ or for yourself.
Engaging With the Bible
Christmas Eve 2018
Special Christmas Message from Todd
9 Things I Learned at "Seminary"
Commitment Is the Key to Change
Enjoying The Benefits Of Your Faith
The Mode of Our Helping Matters
Fort Worth Evening With The Elders
Evaluating Your Relationship With God
An Ounce of Mother Is Worth a Ton of Priest
Romans 5: Gifts From God
Dignity of Responsibility
Are You a Fool for Believing in God?
The Cost of the Cross
A Prophetic Word for the Mission
What God Has Done and What We Must Keep Doing
Life’s Slot Machine
Put on Humility
Are you enjoying the benefits of your faith? Does your faith impact where you go, what you do, and your relationships? Teaching through John 6:1-15, JP asks three questions to help you know if you are using your faith for Christ or for yourself.
Do you use your faith to follow Jesus?
Do you use your faith to forgo your plans?
Do you use your faith to be forgotten?
Watermark, how are we doing? My name is JP, Jonathan Pokluda. So great to be with you today, diving into God's Word. I want to start with a question for you. How many of you have ever been on a cruise? A lot of you have been on a cruise. How many of you never want to go on a cruise again or that's not your thing? Okay, I see you. It must have been that boat that tipped over. All right. How many of you are like, "If I could go on any vacation, I'd want it to be a cruise. I just love the cruises"? Okay, there are some of you too. Pretty evenly spaced out.
I'm firmly in that last camp. I had never been to a beach before other than Port Aransas. Can I call that a beach? Is that a beach? Then Monica and I got to go on a cruise, and I just wasn't ready for it. It was amazing. This is incredible. It's like this really cool hotel room on a boat, and there are shows, like Vegas shows or Broadway shows you can go and watch at night, and the food…you can eat all you want whenever you want.
There's a dessert bar, and there was a magician. Come on. We went and saw a guy do magic on a boat in the middle of the ocean. There's a basketball court and a tennis court and a track, in case you want to run on vacation, if you're that kind of sick person. There was a casino. There was a blackjack tournament. I won. I wouldn't do that today, but then I wasn't in ministry. Yeah, I won the tournament. There were all of these things. We played bingo. Like, "Bingo!" Won a prize. That's cool.
There was karaoke. They do karaoke on a boat. It even had Boyz II Men, so you know I tore that up. We had so much fun. Then we went to Cancun, which was beautiful. The crystal clear water, the sugar white sand. The destination was great, but you don't go on a cruise just to get to the destination. The cruise is all about the journey to the destination and all of the benefits and the adventures you can go on while you're moving toward the destination. If we just wanted to get to Cancun, we could have bought a plane ticket, but we wanted to go on an adventure.
I think this is the mistake so many of us make with faith. We think faith is a ticket to a destination. It is. It is that. It is a ticket to an amazing destination, but it is so much more than that. If you just think it's that, you are missing out on all of the benefits and all of the adventure you get to partake in with your faith as you move toward that destination, what we get to do here, what we get to enjoy here. So that's what I want to talk with us about from God's Word.
Are you taking advantage of the benefits and the adventure of your faith? If you are, it will impact where you go, it will impact what you do, and it will impact how you will be remembered. There's this verse in the Scripture some of us get tripped up over. It's James 2:26. It says that faith without works is dead or faith without deeds is dead. I don't know why that's such a stumbling block for some, because it's very self-explanatory. If I have a man and he doesn't have life, he's dead. If I have a heart and it's not beating, it's dead.
If you have a faith and it's not doing, it's dead. The essence of faith is it has to work itself out. It has to display itself in this world. It has to be seen. It has to show itself. This is what faith in its very essence is: a belief in Jesus Christ, that he came back from the grave, that he died for our sins, and that we will live with him forever.
So how can we say we have a faith and call ourselves Christ followers or Christians and yet not follow Christ? How can we say we believe there's a big God and his plans are perfect and he has these amazing plans for us but not trust his plans? How can we say that this world is all about Jesus and we just want to make as much of an impact for Jesus as we possibly can and yet live this world for ourselves and really make it about us?
There are three groups here this morning. There are some of you who say you have a faith, but you're not taking advantage of it. You're not getting the benefits of that faith. I want to challenge you today to live today and tomorrow until you go to be with Jesus by that faith.
There are some of you here today who don't have a faith. You haven't answered the question yet, "Who is Jesus?" Who is he? What has he done for you? Is he real? Did he really die? Did he really come back to life? Did that really happen 2,018 years ago?
Then there are some of you… I'm looking out there, and I see some of you. You have a faith, and you're living by that faith, and you're reaping the benefits of that faith and living on the adventure of that faith. To you I just want to say, "Keep going." I'm so proud of you. It's such a privilege to be yoked with you here in this body. Keep going. Keep being that example.
So, how do you know if you're using your faith? What is your life marked by? Are you constantly worried about the future, saying that you can trust in a God but not trusting in him? Is your life in the moments marked by anxiety or panic or concerns with what's going to happen next? Do you feel hopeless? Do you wonder if God is going to show up? Or do you find yourself going the way of the world?
Without faith we despair. We find ourselves in this moment where we don't know if we can really trust in this God we say we believe in. So I'm just going to ask you three questions to help you know if you're using your faith today. The benefits of our faith… Like I said, it impacts where you go, what you do, and how you're remembered. To say it plainly, do you have faith to follow, do you have faith to forego, and do you have the faith to be forgotten?
I'm going to show you a character. I'm going to be in John, chapter 6, if you want to turn there. This is a very famous miracle of Jesus. It's the feeding of the 5,000. If you've been in church long, you've heard this taught. You've read it. Maybe you've seen a felt board something or other in Sunday school once upon a time of this story, Jesus feeding the 5,000, but I want to teach it from a different perspective, really focus on the context of this passage.
I want to focus specifically on this boy. There's a boy in this text, and I want to look at him. I want to teach this observing some things about his life. It will be different, if you've ever heard on this before, because I think if we can follow some of the things this character does we can find meaning, we can find purpose, we can find peace, and even happiness and joy.
Verse 1: "Some time after this…" So, a new chapter, a new idea. "…Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near."
Here's what's going on. Jesus is on one side of the Sea of Galilee. He's moving to the other side, and everyone is following him because they've seen what this guy… They're like, "Hey, that's Jesus. He's going over on the other side of the sea. Do you have a boat I can borrow? Let's jump in your boat. Hey, I'm just going to swim. Let's go." So Jesus is moving across this lake, and everyone is following him.
I don't know if you saw Tiger in the tournament last week. Anybody see Tiger Woods? This is a picture of him, and you see the crowds, the massive crowds following him. This is what it must have been like at this moment to be Jesus. He can't get away from the people. They just want to be near him. If he's going to the other side of the lake, they're going to the other side of the lake.
"When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, 'Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?' He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do." Jesus, being a compassionate God, looks up and is like, "Man, there are so many people, and they're far from home, and they probably didn't bring food. We have to eat. Philip, what are we going to do?"
But it says Jesus was just testing him, because he knew what he was going to do. See, I think Jesus woke up thinking about this young man and how he was going to use this young man to meet the needs of all the people. You're about to meet this boy, but I want to insert that I think Jesus woke up thinking about how he was going to use this boy today.
"Philip answered him, 'It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!' Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, spoke up…" Let me just say this here. There are so many details in this text. We know when it was because of the Passover Feast. We know where it was because of the Sea of Galilee, where they went. You're about to see a grassy field was there. You have Philip. You have Andrew. You know who Andrew's brother is. There are so many details in this text. We could completely recreate this text. We could completely recreate this scene.
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?" It's interesting that most likely Andrew and Philip, commentaries say, most scholars agree, would have had food with them. If they're going to go on a day's journey with Jesus, they're going to pack a lunch. They've learned this. They probably had food with them. They're not like, "Here, Jesus, take our stuff and figure out how you can use it to feed them." They're like, "Uh, there's a boy over here. His mom packed him a lunch. He's got some food. Maybe we could take his food, Jesus."
"Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.' There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there)." Scholars agree that would mean about 15,000 to 20,000 people when you include the women and the children. About 15,000 to 20,000 people are present.
"Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." Let me pray.
Father, thank you for the privilege it is to get in your Word today. Thank you for the examples of those in the Scripture, those who have gone before us who we can learn from. Father, I pray that you would make this place a safe place to learn, that you would open our hearts and our minds, that your Holy Spirit would intersect with my words and that you would change lives. Thank you that you are a God we can trust. Protect us from the Enemy now and allow us to feast on your Word and your example. In Jesus' name, amen.
Jesus goes to the other side of the lake. Crowds are following him. He gets out. He begins to teach, sees a lot of people there, realizes they don't have anything to eat, and says, "Hey, we need to do something." His disciples are like, "Hey, there's nothing we can do. We can't afford the food." One of them is like, "Oh, there's a boy with five pieces of bread and two fish," and Jesus says, "Have everyone sit down."
If you've ever heard this taught, you've heard it focused on the miracle, because it's an incredible miracle, but today I want to focus on this young man. Why did this young man follow Jesus? He woke up that day, and he could have been anywhere. He could have been doing anything, but he said, "I want to follow Jesus." He could have been checking the market, watching the stocks. He could have been working. He could have been hanging out with his neighbors, getting a group of parents together after school.
This kid could have been playing Fortnite, because they had that back then. He could have been doing all kinds of things. He could have been at the skate park or shopping at the mall, but he woke up this day and said, "I want to follow Jesus. There is a man, and he's doing incredible things, and I want to spend my day following him. Mom, pack me a lunch." That's my first question for you.
1._ Do you use your faith to follow Jesus?_ With that, I would just ask you, what are you tempted to follow in the world? To say it another way, what kept you out of God's Word yesterday? This boy could have been sleeping. He could have hit the snooze one more time, but he said, "You know what? I want to go see who this man is. I want to go hang out with Jesus." What keeps you from showing up to Community Group? What keeps you from following Jesus? What keeps you from diving deeper in church?
What's keeping you from serving right now? What's keeping you from coming to church? (I'm talking to those of you streaming online right now.) What keeps you from following Jesus? Why not use this faith we have that is otherworldly to go 100 percent in with him? Is it money? Is it success? Is it relationships? Is it being liked? Is it kids' soccer? Is it approval? Is it status? Is it friends? Is it supervisors? Is it family? What is it for you? What are you following?
It might be some really important stuff. It may be really good stuff that's just "other than Jesus" stuff. In Luke, chapter 9, Jesus looks at a guy and says, "Hey, follow me," and he says, "Okay, I will, but first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." What I love about Jesus is he's not confusing. When he looks at you and says, "Hey, follow me," what he means is at all cost you prioritize him.
To another he said, "Follow me." He said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first, let me go back and say goodbye to my family," and Jesus replied, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Now why would creator God and his Holy Spirit preserve that text for thousands of years so we can read it today? Because I think when Jesus says, "Follow me," he's not messing around, and he wants you to know that. He wants you to follow him.
So what do we follow? What I see by my observation, something that I think we follow is our preferences. We want to do what we want to do when we want to do it. We want to say what we want to say when we want to say it. We want to go where we want to go whenever we want to go there, and we don't want to be inconvenienced. However we feel in a moment we do that, and we follow our preferences.
Don't let your preferences rob you of paradise. When I say "paradise," I don't just mean heaven. I mean getting to enjoy eternal life today. Don't let your preferences rob you of paradise. Pursue what God desires. This is the essence of spiritual maturity. Growing up is not just following your every impulse, not following your feelings at any given moment.
As Todd has said before, feelings are real, but feelings are not always reliable. Yes, God gives us our emotions, but we need to conform those feelings to his desires. This is spiritual maturity. We know this, because we see kids. Kids follow their every impulse. I've had three young kids. Sometimes I think they walk into a room and look around and are like, "What is the dumbest thing I could possibly do right now?"
It's like, "Buddy, why are you putting a hole in the couch? Why are you doing that? Don't do that. Why did you take a cup full of liquid and turn it upside down? What were you thinking? Why did you do that?"
"I don't know. I felt like it."
"Okay, but what you felt like doing may not be what's best. It may not be the best thing for you to do."
Sometimes when we follow our feelings we find ourselves in bad relationships. We find ourselves stuck in addiction. We find ourselves stuck in materialism. We're slaves to approval, performance. It could be pornography, masturbation. It could be all kinds of pursuit of pleasures that we can't stop pursuing. We wanted the freedom to do something, so we did it, and now we can't stop doing it. We're enslaved to it. When you follow sin, it seeks to make you its slave, but Christ came to set you free from sin.
The story I like to tell here that, to the best of my ability to verify, seems to be true is a story about Abraham Lincoln. There was a slave auction in Lincoln's day, and he went to it. He sat in the back, and on the slave block, being auctioned, being sold for property, was a human being, a young lady. She had a shackle around her neck, around her hands and her feet.
Lincoln stood in the back and bid on her. She looked out, and she saw another white man who just wanted to own her as his property and use her and abuse her. Lincoln continued to bid, ultimately winning the auction, purchasing this person as his property. He goes up to her, and they unshackle her, and he says, "You are free." She says, "What do you mean I'm free?" He says, "You're free."
"Are you saying I'm free to say whatever I want to say?"
"Yes, young lady. You are free to say whatever you want to say."
"Are you saying I'm free to do whatever I want to do?"
"Yes, ma'am. You're free to do whatever you want to do."
Now with tears in her eyes she says, "Are you saying I'm free to go wherever I want to go?"
"Yes, you may go wherever you want to go."
She looks at him and says, "Then I will go with you, because if you're going to offer me that kind of freedom, if that's what you're about, then I want to follow you."
Why I say that is because there's nothing else in this world you're going to follow that is going to lead you to the kind of freedom Jesus Christ offers. Anything else you're going to give your life for, anything you're going to prioritize over spending time with Jesus is not going to lead you to the freedom Christ offers you. So if you are not intentionally doing everything you can to prioritize following Jesus, then you might have a faith, but you're not enjoying the benefits of it. You're missing out. This faith you have might mean giving up your plans.
Verse 8: "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?'" If I was this boy and I was here, I'd be like, "Guys, I packed my lunch. Why do I have to give up my food because you guys weren't responsible? You knew we were going to the other side of the lake. What? You want my food? No, this is my food." Here you have God in the flesh saying, "Give it to me." Sometimes I think we're like, "Why? Why do I have to do that?"
2._ Do you use your faith to forego your plans?_ This boy had plans to eat. He packed his lunch. He was ready to go. Can you think of a time when you were excited about your plans and it seemed like God was saying no? You're looking at God like, "Really? You want to take my lunch? You want my food?" We forego what we think life is about to find out what life God has for us. He has an amazing life planned for you. I believe that. Each of you. God has an amazing life planned for you when you follow him.
I was in sales for a number of years, and in sales there was a tactic we would use called the if/then statement. Very powerful sales tool. If/then. Anybody know the if/then statement? Okay, some of you have been trained in sales. It just goes like this. If the customer says, "Well, does it come in red?" you would say, "If I can get it in red, then would you purchase it?" If/then. If I could do that, then would you buy? If I can…then would you…?
I think we do this if/then statement with God. "If I go to school and get good grades, then you're going to give me a good job. If I save myself for marriage and pursue purity, then you're going to make sure I get married in a timely fashion. If I get married and I'm faithful, then you're going to give me children. If I go to church and I take them, then you're going to make sure they turn out well."
I don't want to be confusing, because God does bless obedience, but God doesn't make deals. He does bless obedience, but he doesn't make deals. He's not signing up for the if/then statement. Sometimes God wants to take what you have to give you something better. It may take you a long time, maybe a long, long time, maybe not until you're with him to see that what you have and what he gave you was better, but we may need to forego our plans.
A couple asked me to do their wedding once. I met with them, and as we were having conversation… I didn't know them, so I was like, "Hey, let's meet. I'd love to get to know you." As we were meeting, it was apparent that they were living together, and they were ashamed to say that. "I don't know how you feel. I don't know what you think about that." I was like, "It doesn't matter what I think about that. I just would love to share with you what God thinks about that. His opinion is much more important than mine."
I said to them, "There's some secular data I can show you that supports this, that couples who live together have a 98 percent chance of failing. That means if I have 100 couples, two of them make it. It seems like there's data that supports God's value and what he calls us to." They said, "Man, that's a really good point. That's a really good point, but it would be crazy for us to move out now. The wedding is so close. It's so close. It would be crazy for us to move out at this point."
I said, "You're right. That is so close. For you to pack up all your stuff and get two places, two addresses… I don't even know how you'd do that. That would be hard. It would definitely be crazy, unless it was an act of faith. If it was an act of faith, it would be faithful, and the world would look at you and say, 'Hey, that was crazy, but man, you must really believe in this God you say you believe in.'"
Romans 14:23 says everything that does not come from faith is sin. How clear is that? Everything that does not come from faith is sin. So if you're ever playing this game, "Well, is it sin? Is it not sin? Is it sin? Is it not sin?" just ask, "Does it come from faith, and how faithful can I be?" Because the things I do in faith glorify and honor the Father. So does it come from faith or not? Am I operating in faith or not?
When we live by faith and we begin to realize that the stuff and the status and the relationships and the money and the resources and the things we have we actually have been given from God, given to us by God for God, that we would use for God so that we can use those things to make much of God, because this life we live momentarily is all about God. Following Jesus might mean foregoing a higher paying job so you can be more involved in your church or more present with your family. It may mean that.
Following Jesus might mean foregoing a vacation so you can take those resources and redeploy them to help those around you. That is the adventure. That is the benefit of being a Christ follower, different from those who are in the world. Following Jesus might mean foregoing your preferences or a hobby that requires time so you can serve, that you would live the adventure of the Christian life by faith.
What am I saying? I want you to let go of your plans and seek God's. He may be asking you to give up your dreams. Maybe the dream of a wife or a husband, if you're single. Maybe the dream of children as you thought so that you could foster, adopt, start an orphanage. I understand that these are sensitive. I really do. I know these are sensitive topics. I just don't want you to lead with your preference but seek God's.
The crazy thing I have the audacity to tell you is I think you're going to be better because of it, happier because of it, more full of joy whenever you get to a place where you're like, "God, I trust your ways are better than my ways." We're here to help. I'm not leaving you out there to flail alone, struggling through this, because I know we can't just change our feelings on a dime.
We can't just change the way we feel and the things we love. It takes time and community and a work of the Holy Spirit. What I'm telling you is God is not ripping you off. He's seeking to give you something better, even if he's taking the food from your hands. Peter learned this from Jesus himself. He said, "Hey, Jesus, we left everything we had to follow you."
Jesus says back, "You don't understand, Peter. No one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life." See, eternal life. That's the great equalizer. We get up there and we're like, "Really? Cancer? Are you serious? I had to suffer down there? For 76 years, suffering."
"Welcome. Enjoy everything I have for the next 76 billion years, and then once you've enjoyed it for the next 76 billion years enjoy it for 76 billion more, because all of this is yours forever and ever and ever and ever. When you were down there, you got to live for this, by faith, forever and ever and ever and ever." I say that so harshly in hopes to awaken in us a belief, a reminder that we know we can do that, that that's true.
I think we think if we just give up we'd never get back, and we focus so much on what we're foregoing and not what we're finding in Christ. This boy is like, "Why do I have to give up my food?" This kid got to eat. He got to eat more than he would have eaten. It says everyone had their fill. It wasn't like he didn't get to eat. He may not have liked his mom's bread.
Maybe he was doing a Whole30 or something and he wanted extra fish. Maybe he was on the keto diet and he was like, "Give me the fish. I don't want the bread, but instead of two I'm going to have six fish." He could have chosen. That's what Jesus allowed to happen, and not just him but then everybody had their fill, and he has a story, the adventure. He gets home. His mom is like, "Hey, how was your day, honey? Did you have enough to eat?"
"Mom, you won't believe it. Fifteen thousand people ate my lunch today."
"Oh, honey, come here. It's hot outside. I see you."
"No, Mom. Fifteen thousand people ate your leftovers. That's what happened. This Jesus guy, Mom. Remember I told you I was going to follow him? You were like, 'Hey, can you do that?' I said, 'No, I've got to go follow Jesus.' Remember I told you that? Mom, you won't believe what he did."
If you're not foregoing your plans to seek God's, you might have a faith, but you're not enjoying the benefits of it. Verse 12: "When they had all had enough to eat…" Everyone had enough to eat. "…he said to his disciples, 'Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.' So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten." Everybody had enough. God is a good God who seeks to give good gifts to his children.
Who is this boy? This story shows up in all four gospels. It's pretty rare that a story, a miracle account shows up in all four gospels, because these are different eyewitness accounts, and different people observe different details and wrote down different things. It's one of the ways we know this is true. But this story shows up in all four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. They all have this story.
As I said, we can recreate this story because of how many amazing details we have from this story. We know where they were, when they were there. We know the geography, what the landscape looked like, who was there and whose brother they were. But did you know that in Matthew, Mark, and Luke it doesn't even mention this boy? No mention of where the food comes from in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
Here in John, John 6, we know it came from a boy because of this detail that John adds. There's a young man who gave up his food, five barley loaves and two fish. We know who Andrew is, and we know whose brother he is, and we know who Philip is and Jesus, and there are 15,000 people. We don't know who this boy is. He's forgotten.
3._ Do you use your faith to be forgotten?_ If I gave a quiz this morning and asked, "Who's your favorite Bible character? Who do you want to be like?" you might say, "David. He came up against Goliath. Esther, her faith. Ruth, the way she loved her mother-in-law and would go anywhere. 'Never will I leave you.' Maybe Daniel. He prayed, and the lions, so courageous. He trusted the angel of the Lord. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. 'Burn us up.' The apostle Paul. 'To live is Christ, to die is gain.'"
None of you, not one of you, no one here, no one listening would have said, "Man, you know that boy in John 6? He's kind of my spiritual hero. I wake up every day thinking about him. I hope to be like him one day." No, we forget about this guy. The truth is you're going to be forgotten just like him. That's the truth. The wealthiest person in here, the most influential person in here… Maybe you have a billion followers on Twitter or Instagram, a billion friends, a billion dollars. Forgotten.
I've asked you before, "Who here knows their great-great-grandfather? Tell me his favorite color, what he liked to do for fun, his hobbies." Your great-great-grandfather. Family. Not your grandfather or great-grandfather…your great-great-grandfather. You don't know. He was alive 50 years ago. Fifty years ago he was alive. Here's what that means: 50 years after you're dead, no one knows who you are, not even your family. You, like everyone else who has lived, is forgotten. You're forgotten.
I say that because here's what I want that to do in your heart. That is a huge pressure release valve. You can stop trying so hard to be remembered and to be known and to be liked, and you can just be faithful, because you're going to die and they're going to bury you and they're going to say some really nice things about you, some of which will be lies, and then they're going to go to the grocery store. That's the truth.
But here's the good news: if you trusted in Jesus Christ, none of you will be forgotten in the eternal sense, because your name is eternally written down in a book that God has. How beautiful is that? A billion years from now, you still have fellowship with the saints. How beautiful is that? I've been reading a book. In fact, much of the influence of this message comes from a book called Embracing Obscurity.
I'd love to tell you who it was by, because that's the question… "Who is it by?" I don't know, because they just wrote "Anonymous," because they embraced obscurity. Do you see what they did there? They're practicing what they preach, which I really appreciated. Even that ministered to me, because I also wrote a book. If I showed it to you, right on the front of the cover in big bold letters it says, "Jonathan 'JP' Pokluda," real big, so that you would know I wrote it.
Once you write a book, you have to tell the world that you wrote a book so that they know so they can buy the book. That has been so difficult, to figure out how to walk that line and where is self-promotion and how do you communicate and believe in the message. Just as I've prayed through that, Todd here has been such a shepherd to me in that effort. In fact, one of the things he said is, "JP, you just don't want to ever reach for something, but let it come to you," which is advice to live by. Not to reach for something but to let it come to you.
As I've prayed through this, I'm just like this resource, which I believe in, which I poured my life into with a friend, my friend Kevin… I just sensed the Lord saying, "This ain't about you, bro. It's not about you." That also is a great message to live your life by. It's not about you. You're not here for you.
Somebody here has to be thinking right about now… Maybe you went to seminary, and you're like, "Man, he butchered that text. John 6 is not about the boy. You have to tell us the 12 baskets are like the 12 tribes of Israel, and this is the food, the bread in the wilderness, the prophecy fulfilled of Jesus. There's so much going on here, JP. You have to tell them this text is not about the boy; it's about Jesus."
You know what? They're right. This text isn't about the boy. This passage is about what every other passage is about: King Jesus. So you can stop trying so hard to be king or queen of your world and spend the rest of your minutes worshiping King Jesus. Stop trying to reach for things, and let them come to you.
In Judges 9 there's a story of a king, Abimelech, who did the opposite of this. You don't need to know much of this other than that he tried to take the throne by force, not letting it come to him, but he wanted to be king. There's a parable that's told, and I want to read it to you. You may have never noticed it in Judges 9. It's just told about trees. It's kind of obscure, talking about which tree is going to be king, if you will.
"One day the trees went out to anoint a king for themselves. They said to the olive tree, 'Be our king.' But the olive tree answered, 'Should I give up my oil, by which both gods and humans are honored, to hold sway over the trees?' Next, the trees said to the fig tree, 'Come and be our king.' But the fig tree replied, 'Should I give up my fruit, so good and sweet, to hold sway over the trees?' Then the trees said to the vine, 'Come and be our king.' But the vine answered, 'Should I give up my wine, which cheers both gods and humans, to hold sway over the trees?' Finally all the trees said to the thornbush, 'Come and be our king.'"
Here's the point of the parable. You have this olive tree, fig tree, the grapevine… They're saying, "Hey, we want you to come be our king. We want you to have authority and autonomy and a palace," and they say, "Why would we do that when we can serve people, when we can live out the purpose God has intended for us?"
We don't need to be king. We can simply be whoever God has called us to be and be faithful in our own circles. I don't need to be known; I need to be faithful. I don't need to get credit for as much as I possibly can get credit for. I don't need the credit. You can say that in your heart: "I don't need credit." If I do something really great and amazing and someone else gets the credit for it, it's okay.
Two weeks ago, I was sitting in staff meeting, and we were celebrating something that was my idea. They went down. They're like, "Hey, I just want to thank so-and-so. You were so faithful. Thank you, so-and-so." I'm thinking, "Okay, they're saving the best for last. Any minute." "We want to thank so-and-so and so-and-so, and we want to thank so-and-so. And the next thing we need to talk about…"
"Hold on. You forgot about me over here. That was my idea." I wish you could have seen my heart, because you wouldn't listen to me right now. It's so gross. It's so twisted. "Wait. I've got to get the credit though." So gross. I was praying and reading this, preparing this, and that strange insecurity, that huge insecurity turned to gratitude, like, "God, I get to enjoy that with you forever in your kingdom. I don't need credit. I don't need my name said in a silly meeting. I get to enjoy that with you forever."
What if we could just live the gospel, die, and be forgotten? The pressure is off. We could enjoy life to the glory of God. In summary, what if at all cost you follow Jesus? You went all in, being developed spiritually. You served here. You lived in community here. You stopped putting things off, and you just went all in to prioritize the things of God. What if you gave up your plans to ask God what his plans are?
What if you didn't need to be known or remembered but you could live out the gospel, die, and be forgotten, and that would be a life well lived? It's interesting, because when we got back from the cruise I was such a cruise evangelist, telling everybody, like I kind of am today. "You have to go on a cruise. It's amazing." We were with this other couple, and I'm like, "You guys have to go on a cruise. You've never been? What's wrong with you? You have to go."
So they heard our testimony, and they said, "Okay, we're in." They signed up. When you recommend something you want to know how they liked it, so as it got closer, I'm giving them tips and advice. They go on this cruise, and they get back. As soon as they're landside… They're driving back from Galveston. I call them. "Hey, how was it? How was it?" Thank me. They're like, "Oh yeah, it was fine. It was fine.''
"What? What do you mean it was fine? You mean you loved it. You loved it, right?"
"No, it was fine. It was great. Cancun was really pretty."
"Cancun was pretty? I know, but the cruise. How did you like the cruise? Did you go to the shows?"
"Nah, we don't really do shows. It's not our thing. We didn't do shows."
"The magician, though. You saw the magic, right? The magic tricks, the way he made that appear out of nowhere? That was amazing, right? On a boat in the ocean?"
"No, no. We didn't see the magician."
"Okay, but did you hit the basketball court, tennis court, track? Did you do those things?"
"No, we didn't do those things."
"Man, tell me you played bingo, because you get prizes."
"Didn't do bingo."
"But you sang karaoke, right?"
"No, karaoke…that's just not really our thing."
"So, basically, you went on a seven-day boat ride, that's what you did, to Cancun. You basically went to Cancun as slowly as somebody could possibly go to Cancun. That's what you did. That's what's going on. You didn't enjoy the journey; you just wanted to get to the destination."
Now imagine with me we get to the destination. We're in heaven, and we get to talk to people in heaven. We get to talk to the apostle Paul and Peter. Maybe we get to talk to this young man. Paul is like, "Wasn't it amazing down there, how every day you could fellowship with Jesus? Up here we just do more of that, and it's in the most amazing way, because he's there. We can see him and talk to him, but it's an extension of what we got to do. Didn't you enjoy that so much?
Oh, you didn't…? Oh, you were busy. You were busy with the worldly stuff. I got you. But wasn't it amazing how we could lose all things for the sake of Christ, consider them rubbish? Isn't it great down there in the world that we didn't have to play the game that all of the other people, the worldly people played? Like, we weren't building our kingdoms because we knew who the King was. Wasn't that great? Oh. Oh, you thought that stuff was going to last forever."
Maybe this little boy walks up and interrupts the conversation. "Isn't it amazing, though, that down there when everybody was trying so hard to be liked and to be known and to be loved and to be remembered forever that we didn't have to do that, because we knew what life was all about? We didn't have to try so hard to be the star of the movie. Tell me you didn't do that. You know you didn't have to do that. Jesus is the star." My prayer is that we would know that. Let me pray.
Father, help us to know that we can live by faith, that we can have the faith today and tomorrow and for the rest of our days to follow your Son Jesus Christ whose example you've given us. Father, help us to know that we can have the faith to forego the things of this world for the sake of Christ. Lord, I pray you would help us to have faith that we would use to be forgotten, not to try so hard to be remembered. Thank you, Lord, that we're not forgotten in your mind, that we were born in your mind and that we will live for eternity with you if we've trusted in your Son Jesus Christ. Father, we pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.