Charles Stanley - When Things Seem Impossible
What makes this book such an absolute treasure to us? Somebody says, "Well, because it's the revelation of God about Himself and about the way He deals with people". Well, that's true. And there are many other wonderful things about this book that gets our attention and causes to have pre-eminence in our life. One of the most important things is the fact that most of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our personal Savior have realized this is a handbook for living. In other words, this is the way you live, and what we discovered is this, if you follow the principles in this book, you will experience life at its very best. If you violate these principles written in this book, what you'll discover is that you'll reap a very bitter harvest.
And so, therefore, it's very important the way we view it. The very important the way we understand it, and the very, it's very important the way you and I practice it. One of the unique things about the Bible is the fact that so many of these wonderful principles of Scripture that are so practical for us every day, they're couched in events, in events in the life of Jesus, in events for example in the life of the Apostle Paul and others. Not only that, but often times it's just what Jesus was saying, or what the Apostle Paul or James or Peter were saying. And one of those events that is known probably by most people who've ever read the Bible is the event that I want us to look at today. And the title of this message is, "When Things Seem Impossible".
All of us at some point in our life have had our backs to the wall and we think, "God, I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. I don't know which way to turn. What shall I do"? We've had our backs to the wall, and everything looked rather impossible. So, I want you to see today nothing is impossible with God. So, I want you to turn if you will to John chapter six. In fact, in this sixth chapter of John, it's the story, the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Somebody says, "Oh, I know that story". Well, but do you know the truth of this story? Do you know the principles here? Do you know what God is trying to say to us in this passage? Because God has some wonderful lessons in this sixth chapter of John and beginning in verse one.
And what I want you to remember is this, that this is the only miracle that Jesus performed that's recorded in all gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, this is the only one. So, there must have been some reason the Holy Spirit inspired all of them to include that in the gospels. So, beginning in verse one, "After these things Jesus went away to the other side of the sea of Galilee," or Tiberias which is named after a Caesar, "A large crowd followed Him, because they saw the signs which He was performing on those who were sick". He'd been healing the sick. "Then Jesus went up on the mountain, and there He sat down with His disciples". He was trying to get away to get a little rest at this particular time.
"Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was near". And so, that means there are lots more people floating around and walking around than normal. "Therefore, Jesus lifting up His eyes, and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, 'Where are we to buy bread, so that we may eat?' This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do". So, that was not a command, that was just the request. We say, where we gonna do this? "Philip answered Him, 'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.' One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 'There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves, and two fish, but what are these for so many people?' Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.'"
Now there was much grass in the place. So, the men sat down, in numbers about five thousand. "Jesus then took the loaves, and having given thanks, He distributed to those who were seated, likewise also of the fish as much as they wanted. When they were filled, He said to His disciples, 'Gather up the left-over fragments so that nothing will be lost.' So, they gathered them up, filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore, when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, 'This is truly the Prophet which is come into the world.'"
Now two things I want remind you of. Number one, Jesus' primary purpose for performing miracles was not just to heal people or to help them feel better. His primary purpose was just what happened here. He says, "Therefore, when the people saw the sign, all of His miracles were signs of His true identity, that is that Jesus Christ was and is the Messiah". A second thing I want you to remember about this passage is this, that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, all record this particular event. Not any one of them say the very same thing. Each one of them has a contribution that they make. Somebody says, "Well, aha, then the Bible's not inspired". Yes, it is! If all of them had been exactly the same we'd have figured somebody copied somebody. But each one of them, as the Holy Spirit led them, brought to mind those things that they remembered and that they saw happen.
So, I will say some things and probably are not here. For example, the Bible says that it was a very desolate place, and it was very late, getting very late in the evening when this happened. So, if I say something to you, and you say, "Well, I don't see that in the passage," it's either in here or it's in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. So, with that in mind, let's think about this whole idea. And first of all, we're talking about the issue, when things seem impossible. There are times in all of our lives when we hit those situations where we don't know what to do. It looks impossible for us to be able to get through this without a great deal of pain or hurt. Looks impossible for us to get through this without some real financial problems developing. It looks impossible for us to be healed after what the doctor said.
So, there are all kinds of situations we come into. The first thing I want you to notice here is this, and that is that Jesus is aware of those circumstances in which we feel it is a seemingly impossible situation. You notice, I didn't say an impossible situation, but seemingly impossible. It appears to be impossible. It looks like it's impossible. And here in this situation there were five thousand men, and the Bible says in Matthew, for example, that there were five thousand men plus women and children so that could have been fifty-five hundred, six thousand, sixty-five hundred, or seven thousand. And so, the impossible situation, it appears, is that all of these people who've been following Jesus, and when He left one side of the lake, they sailed around the edge of the lake and came to the other side. And these people who saw Him leaving, they followed Him, hundreds of them and probably thousands of them, followed Him around because they were interested, they were curious, they had seen healing. They wanted to be healed, and so, a lot of them were curiosity seekers.
Then of course some were saying, "This is the prophet, this is the Messiah". And so, they wanted to see more so they could decide whether He was, or whether He wasn't. So here they are now tired, weary, worn. They've been listening to Him all day, and some of them also wanted to be healed, and they're also hungry. It's toward the end of the day, the evening is come, and so, the disciples said, "Send them away". Jesus said, "Where are we gonna buy food"? And I want you to notice something very significant. And there are lots of little lessons in this passage, and I want you to notice here what happens. Notice what He says. He said, verse six, that He was testing Philip when He said to him, "Where are we to buy bread so that we may eat"? And so, the Scripture says, "Philip answered Him, 'Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.'"
Now a denarii was a Roman coin, and a day's wages would be one denarii. Then I want you to notice what happens. Philip answered, or beginning in verse eight, "One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, 'There is a lad here, who has five barley loaves, and two fish, but what are these for so many?'" And so, he'd been scouting around when they realized that there wasn't any food there. And so, here's what I want you to notice. Now you listening? Say amen. He asked the wrong question. Look at the question he asked. He says, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many"? That's not the right question. The right question is, "Here's a lad here who has five loaves and two fish. Now Lord Jesus, what are You gonna do with that"? That's the right question. Not, what is this among so many? For example, when you and I hit one of those difficult situations in life, or we, our back's to the wall, or we think something looks impossible, what do we say? We say, "Oh Lord, what am I going to do"? Wrong question.
Now remember, this is real important, cause you're gonna get one of these. "Lord, what in the world am I gonna do"? How many of us have asked that? "Oh God, what in the world am I gonna do"? That's not the right question. The right question is, "Lord, what are You going to do"? Nothing is impossible when the supernatural invasion of God by the Lord Jesus Christ comes into our life and He enters our circumstance to deal with them. If I and I alone have to deal with them, I'm gonna have a problem. But if He begins to deal with them, He, if I allow Him, if I acknowledge Him, if I call upon Him into my circumstance, He is going, because of his compassion and love, to deal with that circumstance no matter what it is. And often times we wonder why things don't happen right, we wonder why, why we can't figure it out. God doesn't want us figuring out. He wants us to rely upon Him, to trust in Him, and as He says to call upon Him.
And so, now they're saying, "We don't know what to do, send them away". And He says, "No, not gonna send them away. I'm going to feed them. How much money do we have? Go buy something. Let's feed them". And so, absolutely, totally, they don't have any idea what to do. But the Bible says that Jesus knows what He's gonna do which leads me to the second point, and that's this, not only is He aware of our circumstance, but listen, He always, listen, He always has a plan for our seemingly impossible circumstances. That is, Jesus is never caught off guard. That is, He always knows what He's going to do, and He knows how He's going to do it and He knows how, where, when, and He knows exactly the resources that are necessary. No matter what you're facing in life, He knows exactly what to do. And yet believers, listen, Christians act like unbelievers. We act like unbelievers. Oh-h-h-h, Lord, what in the world am I gonna do? We have the shakes and we have all kind of problems going on and Lord, we tell our friends, and we want pity, and we want sympathy, and we want all this.
You need to get on your knees and say, "Lord, what are You gonna do"? "What are You gonna do? I know what I can do, and what I can do is not gonna cut it, it's not gonna work. But God, it'll work for You because You said there's nothing impossible with You. So, I'm gonna stop my calculation. I'm gonna start trusting and see what You do". You'll be amazed at what God can turn around in your life. But, if you do what you feel like doing, what is natural and normal, you're gonna be calculating this, what'll happen, and what will not happen. And what happens is, you end up losing. You, listen, you can lose, listen, you can lose at the finish line of God's very best blessing in your life if you try to figure what you're gonna be able to do or maneuver some situation.
Trust Him! He will guide you step by step because He has a very definite plan. He knew exactly what He was gonna do in this situation. Everything He required of them was one of the steps toward accomplishing His goal, which was to feed all these people, and His ultimate goal, which was to demonstrate His power, which was part of His ultimate goal to clearly say to them, "I am a prophet and I am the Messiah". That was His ultimate goal. Step by step He led them. And see, He's got them in training and they're having a very difficult time at this particular point.
Now the third thing I want you to notice here is this, and that is that Jesus will often surprise us by the way He turns our impossible situations into things that are possible. Sometimes He's very surprising, and He's surprising in lots of ways. And when you think about what Andrew said here. Andrew was scouting around and he found five loaves and two fishes, this little boy, and everybody, nobody else seemed to have any food at all. And so, now we're down to five loaves and two fishes and at least maybe I say we're up to that. We have five loaves and two fish, and we still have all these people out there. And so, what do we learn here? When he brought them back, he brought the lad to Jesus.
Now I don't think he went and got him and said, "Look, the Master... give me your five loaves and two fish". I think he brought the little boy over to Jesus. And either Jesus was seated, or if He was not seated, He probably sorta knelt down and asked this little boy his name. But I think He must have had a conversation enough that He said, "Would you let Me have your lunch? All of it? Could I have all of your lunch? All five loaves and two fish"? "Yes Sir"! He turned his bread over to Jesus.
And what I want you to remember is this. Don't ever underestimate what God can do in your life when you surrender all you are and all you have to Him. I am fully persuaded that one of the primary reasons that so many people are discouraged with their life, disconcerted with life, sort of looking at life and thinking, "Well, am I important? I'll never be able to accomplish anything, never be able to amount to anything". In other words, just sorta discouraged about their life. Most people, probably, when they look at their lives, they don't see a lot going on. Could it be it's because you have never turned it over to the One who created you, surrendered it to the One who owns you, yielded to the One who wants to work in you and reveal to you and show you what He can do, what He will do with your life if you'll give yourself to Him.
Most people are selfish. They have their life in their own grip. This is the way I want to live. This is the way I'm going to live. This is what I'm gonna do. This is what I'm gonna have. Here's where I'm going. And so, their life is their own plan. And what they don't realize is this. That God has the best plan possible for your life. But the only way He can make that plan work is for you to open your hands, surrender your life to Him, and give yourself to Him absolutely and totally. Now that is a matter of pure trust. Do you believe that God has the best plan? Absolutely. Are you willing to allow Him to demonstrate to you the best plan? Most people aren't. Well, you know, they'll give some kind of reasoning, "Well, you know, well I've done my best, and this is what I think I'm trained for, and this is what I'm best at. And here are my gifts and", and so, what they've done, they have locked themselves into their own puny plan, when God has the best! But you must open yourself to Him to see, what could God do with me?
I was reading just this morning that the tent-meeting in nineteen forty-nine in California, and around Hollywood there, was led by a thirty-year old farm boy from North Carolina. And that tent meeting became the awesome stage upon which God set in motion the whole ministry of Billy Graham that has touched this globe many, many, many times. Thirty-year-old farm boy from North Carolina. Who is this? So, the next time you think about, "Well, who am I"? Let me tell you something. Are you listening? Say amen. It doesn't make any difference who else knows who you are. You know Somebody who knows exactly who you are. And what He's willing to do in your life if you'll just let Him do it.
Well, the last thing I want to mention here is this, and that is that He will use these impossible, seemingly impossible circumstances in our life to teach us, to train us, and to grow us up. And if you'll just think about what happened to these disciples here. When they watch this, when they watch Jesus do this, what kind of impact it had in their life. He'll do the same thing in your life and mine. So, let's look at this for a moment. And the first thing you see here is this, that this incident in their lives strengthened their faith. How could they doubt? They watched Him, there was no question, there was no manipulation. Five little barley loaves, two fish, and He fed five thousand men, plus women and children. Now how did He do that? The awesome power of God. They saw it, listen, they saw, they watched, and their faith was strengthened. They watched the power of God. That is, He demonstrated His awesome power.
What did He do? And here's what I think He did. Cause the Bible doesn't say how He did it. But He took those five loaves and two fish, and the Bible says he prayed and thanked the Father. Then He began to break it and pass it to His disciples. And He kept on breaking it. And the interesting thing is that every single word in the Bible is important. And often times, often times the language and the Greek and so forth is important. In the sixth chapter of Mark, if you'll look there for a moment, here's what happens. In the fortieth verse it says they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties.
Now I want you to watch the wording here in this forty-first verse because this is a way I believe He did it. And Mark gives this account. He says, "And He," and He, that is Jesus, "took the five loaves and the two fish, looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves and He kept giving them to the disciples to set before them, and He divided up the two fish among them all". That is, He kept on doing it. Now what's happening here? Here's what's happening. He begins to break it and give it to His disciples. And He keeps breaking it and giving it to them. And what happens? They start passing it out and when it comes to your row, for example, you break it off and you pass it to someone else.
Well, when they get it and they break it, it's still just as much there. And they pass to the next one. And somehow there's still just as much there. And they fed all those people, and what happened? God set in motion His awesome, miraculous power to break those five loaves and those two fish into enough to feed probably six or seven thousand people. And so, what's He doing? He's building their faith. He allows you to hit some impossible situation in your life. What's He up to? He's got a plan. Part of His plan is to strengthen your faith. Part of His plan is to demonstrate His power working in your life. Part of His plan is also to demonstrate His love. That He loves you enough, He loved those people. He had never seen most of them before. He loved them, He had compassion, filled with compassion, moved with compassion. God loves us. So what does He do? He works in our life, He begins to work in our life in such a way that we, we see the most awesome things happening. What's He doing? He is demonstrating His love to us, just like He did to them.
Another thing He did was this. He revealed to them how inadequate they were. He said, "Go buy food". "We can't do that"! "Feed them". "What are we gonna feed them with"? And so, often times God allows us into those situations where our back's to the wall, to enable us to see that apart from Him, what can we do in life? Listen, if you live your life based on your resources, your abilities, your talents, your gifts, you're gonna come up short. You're gonna come up disappointed. You're gonna end up failing in life. He wants us to live, listen, according to His resources, His strength, His power, trusting in Him. That's His goal for us. He will reveal our inadequacy. That's why He doesn't want us saying over once, "What am I gonna do"? In other words, He wants us to come to the end of ourselves so we will say, "God, I can't settle this. What are You gonna do in my life"? And this is what's happening here. Likewise, He displayed His dependence upon the Father. He could have said, "Let's take the five loaves, two fish, and after all, I'm God," and start breaking them.
No, you know what He did? He took the time to talk to the Father. He asked the Father to bless. Wouldn't you have loved to have heard that prayer? What did He say to the Father with five loaves and two fish? I'm trusting You, Father, to break this enough times that all of these people will have enough to fill them and there'll be some left over. One thing about it, the Father always answered every single prayer that Jesus prayed. And you know what? Listen to this. Jesus is interested in answering all our prayers. What He wants them to, He wants the prayers to fit His will and His plan for our life because it's the best. If you want God's best, you must surrender yourself to Him and see what He will do. And what's He gonna do? He's gonna show you how inadequate you are. But He's also going to manifest His faithfulness.
That is, has there ever been a situation or a circumstance that God was late? No. Is there any possibility that Jesus could not do something? No. Is there any possibility that He has not heard you? No, unless you're just living in sin and He's turned a deaf ear to you. Is there anything that you and I could come up with that He cannot do? But if you don't understand who you are, you'll say, "Oh Lord, what am I going to do"? Wrong question. What am I going to do? What's the right question? "Lord, what are YOU going to do"? That's the right question. It's interesting, this morning I woke up about four o'clock and I was just lying there, and this song came to my mind that I'm sure I hadn't even thought about in forty years. I'm sure I haven't.
Out of the clear blue of unconsciousness, I woke up and these words came to my mind. "Are there any rivers that seem to be uncrossable? Are there any mountains you can not tunnel through"? And the next part goes, "With God, nothing is impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you. Let go and let God have His wonderful way. Let go and let God have His way. Your sorrows will vanish, your night will turn to day, if you let go and let God have His way". I hadn't thought about it in years. I thought, "What an absolutely perfect chorus for this message". Are there any rivers that you can't cross? Impossible. Mountains you can't tunnel through? Looks impossible. God specializes in things that seem impossible. He knows a thousand ways to make a way for you. But, when we let go and let God have His way, His wonderful way in our life.
And I wonder what you're facing. You've been trying to figure it out? Just give up. You've said, "Well, isn't giving up weakness"? Giving up is not weakness, it's wisdom. When you're giving up to God, not weakness but wisdom. Because then, what you do, you allow the invasion of the Spirit of the Living God to take your circumstances and absolutely change them for your benefit. And I want to encourage you, if you're one of those persons who's never been saved, you're not a Christian and all this seems just to be so difficult for you, it takes simple, child-like faith to place your trust in Him, and watch what He does in your life.
And maybe you're one of those persons who's been struggling with who you are, what you're gonna do with your life, where you're headed, and what God could do with your life. And you say, "Well, I'm this age or I'm that age, or this educated, that educated," all of these things. None of that's important. The issue is, "Lord, I surrender my entire being to You". Now I want to watch what You do. And one thing for certain, listen, He'll do the best thing that a sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-loving, unconditional loving God will do in your life if you'll let Him.
Father, how grateful we are that You can take a simple story like this and teach us so many wonderful, marvelous truths. That if we will apply to our heart, we will discover what You're able, ready and willing to do in our life. I pray the Holy Spirit sink these truths, teach us to ask the right questions, to place our trust in You, to keep our focus upon You, to refuse pity-parties, and doubt, and fears, and anxiety, and fretting, and to ask the wise question, "Father, what is Your goal for this circumstance in my life? Father what are you going to do with these resources that I have"? And then, Lord, I know that You will bless and honor every single person who surrenders themselves unconditionally to You. And that is my prayer today, in Jesus' name, amen.