Steven Furtick — Never Not Enough
This week, we wanna look at a scripture in John 6:1-13. I'll read it. I may interrupt myself if I get excited about something that I see while I'm reading. You just hang in there with me, and they'll put it on the screen. So, they'll follow along with me. They are trained professionals in the back. If I stop, they'll stop and if I go, they'll go. We'll all get there together. In Jesus' name. John 6:1. Are you excited? Say, "Yeah"!
"Some time after this, 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 miraculous — "...signs He had performed..". — on — "...the sick". At this point, they are following Him for the stuff He can give, not for who He is. It is the first stage of following Christ. At first, you follow Him because of what He can do for you. Progress with Him long enough, and your question will no longer be, "What can He do for you"?, it will be, "What can He do through you"?
Now, Jesus is on a boat. We studied about the boat in a previous week. We learned that Jesus picked Peter, not because he was such a great preacher, but because he had a car, or a boat in this case. You know how some friends that you have, you have because they can give you a ride? Well, Peter was like that for Jesus, in some sense. I'm kidding, of course, but the Truth needed transportation. Jesus is the Truth and in order for the Word to get out it's going to take a vehicle. It's going to take a vessel. In this case, a boat. Since His ministry was happening primarily around the Sea of Galilee, Peter had what Jesus needed to get around. And Jesus had what Peter needed that he couldn't be without Him. How many of you want God in your boat? God is your life. God in your decisions.
So, Jesus had been healing many people and crowds had been coming all because Peter was willing to say, "Yeah. Sure. Use my boat". They launched out, ministry's growing, people hear. Jesus is so successful that He can't even get away for a little bit of a retreat. You see it in verse 3, "Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with His disciples. The Jewish Passover..". — feast — "...was near. 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". He already knew what He was going to do.
Can I tell you something about Jesus hanging on that cross while everybody wept and thought that the light of the world was extinguished? He already knew what He was going to do. Can I tell you about every situation in your life that you didn't see a way out, before God ever let you get in it, He already knew what He was going to do to bring you out with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. I can't find any help at Elevation Ballantyne to preach about the Waymaker.
So, Jesus is messing with Phillip because He is the Mess-iah, after all. Whatever. "Phillip answered Him..". — I think he took a little while before he answered because he gives a pretty precise calculation. He doesn't guesstimate. He says, 'Eight month's wages"! Hold on a second. "If we took eight month's wages we still couldn't pass a crumb out to everybody who came to hear you preach. It's five thousand men out here. Many of them brought their wives. Their crumb-snatching kids are running around". Eight month's "...wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite. And another of His disciples Andrew, Simon Peter's brother spoke up. "Here's a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many"? Jesus said, 'Have the people sit down.'" Be humble. "There was plenty of grass in that place and the men sat down, (about 5.000 men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks..".
Can you say thank you over a little bit? Can you be grateful over what seems to you, not enough? If I look at this passage I see the theme "not enough". Look, it's not enough. Now, the Bible says in verse 10 "There's plenty of grass..". — but we don't need grass, we need grub. And it's not enough. But Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks over what was not enough, "...and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted and 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..". Each of them got to take one home. Twelve disciples. Twelve baskets. "...with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten".
I told the Lord I didn't wanna preach this text because I preached it so many times before that there would be many in the church who would think I didn't have time to study this week and I reached and grabbed something from Sunday school. And plus I said all the Sunday school people in the church are going to look at me judgmentally when I read the text about the feeding of the 5.000 'cause, "I already know this story. And I know how it ends. And I know about the little boy. And I know about the leftovers. And there's nothing you say about John chapter 6 that I don't already know. And I already know that this is the miracle — the only miracle, other than the resurrection, that is recorded in all four of the gospels and so are you really gonna bring me out here today, and preach about this little Vacation Bible School, backyard Bible club story in the Bible"? And I told the Lord I didn't wanna preach it. And He said, "Fine. You can stop preaching it when you get it right". So, what I began to see — Because the Bible to me is much like my relationship with Holly in that it continues to unfold, for me, over time with new levels of transcendence and beauty.
I was talking to one of my friends who has a little bit of a different belief system than me and he said, he admitted it, that he said, "I don't see the Bible like you see the Bible. I think the Bible is a good starting place, but," he said, "I look at the Bible as "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth" — You know, B-I-B-L-E. Just because you can make an acronym out of it doesn't mean it's true. He said, "The Bible is a good place to start, but then you should progress past the Bible". I've never had that problem because, for me, the Bible is not only a starting place for me to understand my own life, my own needs, my own psychology, my own psycho-pathy. Is that a thing? It's not only a place for me to discover who God is in His fullness, but I find that the more I read the Bible, the more the Bible starts reading me.
So, something so simple as this story, can unfold with new layers and levels of meaning. Not only from the customary background in which it was written, but also in seasons of our life we will see our needs differently. And there may be a sense in which the driving point of this passage is what to do when there is not enough. I thought it would be a good time of year to preach about not enough in a time of year where there is so much demand and so little supply. So, little time. Here in Charlotte — we have people all over the world. It's getting dark right now at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Not enough daylight. Not enough patience. Do any of you have any family members that there is no supply of patience that could equip you? Oh y'all are gonna look at me like that. Not enough.
I like this author named Brene Brown. You like Brene? She says that, "The mantra of our day is never enough". She says, "We live in an age of never enough". She's right because no matter how much information we seem to put out into the world, we come up with: more ignorance, less wisdom. She says that, "Often, we wake up in the morning and our first thought is, 'I didn't get enough sleep.' We go to bed at night and 'I didn't get enough done.' We earn a lot of money, but we don't have enough opportunity to enjoy it. We have opportunity to enjoy our lives, but we don't have enough money to get out the house.'" Never enough.
But when I read the passage this week in preparation for this season that we're in as a church, God spoke something new to me. When I began to realize that this in John 6 is the collision of too much and not enough. And God said, "I want you to realize that with My Spirit within you, and the power of My Word on your lips, in Christ, Who is enough, in Christ, Who before all things existed was all things and now is the Word made flesh to dwell among us. In Christ, you are never not enough. Say it with me. Never not enough. I don't know what little bit of bread you've got in your cupboard today, but I wanna tell you in the hands of the Master, it is never not enough. I feel a spirit of faith risin' up. It's never not enough. Push your neighbor so hard they think they're gonna fall over, tell 'em, "It's never not enough". It is never not enough.
What a powerful, practical passage where we can see this principle illustrated dynamically. Never not enough. Even in a drought. Even in a famine. Never not enough. God will send a bird to drop food where you are. If you will be in position, it is never not enough. I got a little bit of oil. Get your little bit of oil. Get some jars from your neighbors. It's never not enough. Give me something to fill; I'll fill it. It's never not enough. I thought scarcity was a situation, but now I found out it's a sensation. Because I found out that there can never be enough money to make you feel like you have enough. Until God within you becomes enough, it will never be.
I thought enough people could compliment you where you would get enough compliments where you would have confidence. But I found out that if Christ is not the cornerstone of your core concept of yourself and your character, it'll never be enough. But now when He speaks over my life, who I am in Him, and what I have because of Him, there is no shortage in this world that can disconnect me from my supply. You hear what I'm preaching to you? It's enough.
And the disciples are gonna learn this and in order to learn this there are three things they must do. I would love for you to take that pen, that we generously gave you because of the financial support of our ministry partners and write these three points down. The first thing that the disciples had to do that we must do, if we are to receive what God has promised to us — Because God's promises are optional. "I thought they were promises"? They are. But the promise is always attached to a principle. And you cannot separate the promise from a process that creates it.
So, He promises peace, but the process of peace is keep your mind state on Me. He will keep you in perfect peace if you keep your mind state on Him. You can't fill your head with Facebook and then ask God to cancel out the empty calories of ignorant opinions and provide you with supernatural, celestial, extraterrestrial peace. Peace is produced by a process and so it provision. Both are in the passage, but the first thing we must do to receive all that God has will to supply is to do what many of you are doing, especially in the first few rows today, lean in, lean in.
I mentioned that this miracle is recorded in all four gospels. It seems to be an insignificant miracle to record in all four gospels. I don't mean that it's not cool. It's very cool. Very impressive. Very entertaining. But to choose one miracle to record across Matthew's gospel his record, Mark's gospel his record, and Luke's gospel his record, and then John wants to talk about it too. When we see people getting up off of stretchers when Jesus walks through the street and that's not in all four gospels. We see little girls being raised from the dead. Even Lazarus didn't make all four gospels. But this little boy did? With some barley bread.
Barley bread. The cheapest bread available in the day. This is not a yeast roll. This is not a cheese biscuit. This is not even pumpernickel. And yet, it's recorded in all four gospels, which is fortunate. Because John leaves something out that I need to know about the situation that created the provision. OK? What John says is, verse 1, "Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore". Like it was a good time for a retreat and a good time for a buffet. But it wasn't. Because the other writers tell us that John the Baptist who had been the forerunner of the message of Jesus Christ, the one who prepared the way for the Lord had just had his head taken off by a king who didn't wanna hear to truth. On the heels of this news in an effort to get away and regroup with the disciples who would have no doubt been confused by this turn of events. Jesus is met by a crowd.
Now, every mother of a three-year-old can relate to the time when you finally get five minutes for a shower and hear somebody banging on the door of the shower. This is the situation for Jesus. He is finally on the boat and He gets up to situate and He sits down to tell His disciples whatever He wants to tell 'em and here come people. Write it down. Your greatest opportunities will come at the most inconvenient times. You won't be in a good mood. You won't feel ready. You won't have an extra $15,000 laying around and no kids going to college. Uh-uh. God is going to show up in a time of shortage to see, "Do you really trust Me or do you trust stuff"? That's the question.
And the disciples' first instinct was a pretty logical one. Jesus is irrational. Jesus will just teach people all day long. He just, "Who needs to be healed? I got all day. I'm eternal". But the disciples it was like, "Hey man, probably they should eat". And Matthew records it. He said that the disciples came to Jesus with a suggestion: "Send the crowds away". There is always a temptation to send away the very thing that God sent to supply you with the very thing you prayed for. Remember, they followed Him because they wanted to make a difference. Now, here comes a chance to make a difference and they do this. Because they were operating by this. They were operating by this. Not by this. "Send them away".
If they had sent the crowds away not only would this miracle not have occurred, but they wouldn't've had lunch. Can I tell you how I know that? Because it was a little boy's lunch that ended up feeding the multitude. Not Peter's. Peter didn't pack a sandwich. "Why are you pointing that out"? Because the very provision was in the inconvenience. You see it? It was what they wanted to go away, that was carrying what they needed that they signed up for in the first place.
So, when you come to church there are certain things that the preacher will say that you will lean into 'cause your neighbor needs to hear that. Because you've been trying to tell your husband and would you please listen to Pastor Steven. He's saying some important stuff right now. And you lean in to that. Can I tell you the word that you need the most in your life is the one that you resist at first? The one that makes you cross your arms and look at me like you think you're Conor McGregor.
That word. That's the one you need to lean into. The one that makes you uncomfortable. The one that makes something inside of you conflict with something else inside of you. That's the tension that produces growth. That's the one. The one that challenges your comfort zone. That's the one. That's the one to lean in to. Even if you gotta lean in with crossed eyes. Even if you gotta lean in with sweaty palms. It is the word that God brings to you that you most fiercely resist at first, that often releases the resource that you need the most.
So, are you leaned in to where we're going as a church, in this season? Because not everybody is. Some people come to church and sit back and sit back and leave early to avoid traffic and watch football. We announce an offering and some people go, "Here we go. I heard about this. I knew it was coming". Of course it was comin'! You think God was gonna let you sit there in your comfort and never challenge you to take your own step of faith? Of course it's comin'! This is what we signed up for!
Oh, you thought Jesus was your Burger King where you can have it your way and now you sit back at the time when the very thing that He came to do is being done?! Lean in. In your marriage, lean in to the difficult conversations. If you wanna stay married. It was the thing they wanted to send away that held the supply that they needed to accomplish the mission that they signed up for. That's why the man said, "Yeah". He's leaning in. That's why we give with a cheerful heart. I'm leaned in. I'm leaned in. How can you be a part of what you're not leaned in toward? How can you receive from God if your posture is this?
If you lean in — I'm not talking about physical posture. It's fine. I know you got a back thing and you're paying attention, but you just need some lumbar support. I know. I'm talking about the posture of your heart. Blakeney. The posture of your heart Lake Norman. And the posture of your heart is most reflected in where you put your treasure. Your treasure. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
So they had to lean in. And here's the second thing that they had to do, not only to lean in to the situation that they wanted to send away, but after they had leaned in, they had to, number two, look down. Maybe you think I made a mistake on my text, because if you were paying close attention to all of these little details, the Bible says that when Jesus went up on a mountain-side, John 6:3, and sat down with His disciples. John 6:5, He looked up and saw a great crowd. So intuitively, we would say, "Look up". But studying the passage a few more times, I realized that as Jesus looked up at the crowd, He was looking down from the mountain.
Watch it again. John 6:3. "Jesus went up on a mountain and sat down with His disciples". John 6:5. "When He looked up," — so it matters, your vantage point, in terms of what your decisions will be. It matters where you're seeing it from. It matters at what altitude you are looking at your situation, what conclusions you will come to. Now, I would suggest to you that the only reason Jesus was able to see the needs of the crowd is because He saw them from Heaven's perspective. If He had not been on that mountain-side, seeking the will of His Father in Heaven, He would've seen the people as an inconvenience. But because He had been on the mountain-side, spending time with God, when they saw an inconvenience, He saw an invitation. It was where He saw it from that determined what He saw.
And if you look at your life from the level of your life, you will only ever see problems, obstacles. If you ever look at your life from the vantage point of your Heavenly Father, who knows the hairs on your head and not one sparrow falls from the sky, you will not see shortage, you will see opportunity. You will see space for God to move. You will see room for God to maneuver. But you have to go up to look down. This is such a powerful principle.
If you would let me, I'd like to explain it one layer deeper. Okay. All right. We have to break away from the Bible for one moment to get this. 'Cause you got Phillip, you got Andrew, and they are both employing two different methods of information processing. This is the psychological terminology, okay? Not the biblical terminology, but there are two ways of processing information. One is called bottom-up, one is called top-down. Bottom-up processing is when you look at something and don't have knowledge about it, and so, the way you look at it is based on your visual, or sensory, perception of it.
It would be like you looking at this microphone. You would know certain things about this microphone through your senses. You would see that it is perhaps a black microphone. A black, cordless microphone, so I can move all around this church. A big, black, cordless microphone. A big, black, loud, cordless microphone, and then, most of you would be done. Why? Because you can only describe it according to your senses. However, if that come in, who is on our tech team, and I believe he's off this weekend, so I could say whatever I want about him. If he came up to talk about the microphone, he would bore you to tears with details about this microphone that you never asked in your life to hear about. He would tell you what frequency this microphone must be on to cooperate with the equipment that lines up with the solar eclipse, and how it was engineered in the 1932s by a German, and he would tell you more — he knows more about this microphone than he knows about his wife. It's scary. It's scary. And they'll go on and on, how it's a special thing on the microphone, and which battery, and what all these little numbers mean on the microphone. Why? Because he brings his knowledge and experience to the situation.
That's not bottom-up processing. This is called top-down processing. It means I take what I know, and I apply it to what I see. So I don't start with what I see, and guess about what it is. I start with what I know, because of what I've seen, and I apply it to what I'm looking at now. So I wanna ask a question, church. Are you living life from the bottom-up, or the top-down? Because when you have a revelation of the faithfulness of God, I'm trying not to holler Holly, but I'm getting excited. When you've seen Him move the mountains in your life, you look at the next mountain, you look at the next need, you look at the next demand, you look at Goliath, you stare him down and say, "God's got this. I've been there, done that, bought the slingshot". Bring it on, I've got my stick. I'm living from the top-down, and the word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. I know His glory. I know He's good. I know He's a Provider. He's Jehovah-Jireh. He's been there for me. He'll see me through.
Touch somebody, say, "I know something. I know something. I know something". Jesus knew something that they didn't know, because He came from somewhere they hadn't been. The only way I know this is because of what He said later in John 6, and it was the first of seven statements that He made that started with two English words, "I am". The background of this phrase is so sacred, it is the very name that God gave Moses when Moses wanted to know how. God did not answer the how, He answered the who. Never not enough. He left a blank. "I am". I am, what you need. I am. So He performs the miracle, He feeds the people, and then He reveals His identity.
And He says something very challenging to His Jewish audience. "I am the bread of life. If you're hungry, I am enough for every appetite". Do you believe this? Or do you have to go get your needs met somewhere outside of God? "I am the bread of life. So what you're searching for, I supply. What you need, I am". The next thing He said refers to darkness. "For the times that you live in confusion, I am the light of the world". There will never be so much darkness that my light cannot guide your path. The world will never get so dark that the witness of a unified church cannot shine brightly the love of God. You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden, but this light is not of you, it shines through you.
"I am the bread of life if you're hungry. I am the light for all those who walk in darkness. I am," — somebody shout, "I am". "I am the gate for the sheep. I am your way out. I am your way in. Feel trapped? I am. Feel stuck? I am. Feel locked out? Feel un-included? I am. Feel unwanted. I am. I am passage to greener pastures. Not only am I the gate, I am the good Shepherd. You need some direction in your life? Get behind Me, and follow Me. Through the valley, through the pain, through the toil, through the pestilence. Follow Me. I am the resurrection. Even if it dies, if I say, 'Get up,' it's gotta live. I am the resurrection, and the life. I am the true vine. If you feel disconnected, hook up with Me". You've hooked up with everybody else, and they left you like they found you. But when you get connected to this, "I am the true vine. I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and I'm making a way for everybody who will walk by faith".
I am seated in heavenly places with Christ. Phillip, shut up for a minute. You're doing your calculations, how we can buy bread, and we're standing right in front of bread. He is what you don't think you have enough of. Thank God for Andrew. Andrew saves the day. Phillip, from the bottom-up. Let's see, it's about 5.000 men and they're — CPA anointing on Phillip, about to mess up the whole miracle. And that will always mess it up, okay? Are you gonna do this by reason, or revelation? Now let's see. They're doing the offering at the church, honey. I think we'll give 'em a little bit on there, over there, and then a little bit to the fire department, and it'll just be great. Won't it be wonderful?
Phillip wasn't wrong. What he said was correct. It was just incomplete. Just failed to account for the greatest resource they had. So watch this. Watch this. Lean in, look down, listen up. The Bible says something it never says again here. Andrew spoke up. You never see him talk again in the whole Bible, except this one time. And thank God he talked, 'cause what he said next led to a miracle that all four gospels would record. He spoke up. He spoke what? He spoke up. He was hearing something else. All Phillip heard was reasons, excuses, but Andrew, he heard something different in Jesus' question. He said, "Wait a minute. He wouldn't be asking us this if He didn't know what He was going to do".
God will never ask anything from you that He will not give to you. Please believe that. And that's how I can say that my God shall supply all my needs, according to His glorious riches. From the top-down, it's never not enough. But if you listen down, you'll find 1.000 reasons why not to trust, 1.000 reasons why not to pray, 1.000 reasons why not to forgive, 1.000 reasons why not to stay, 1.000 reasons why not to participate. There will be another voice after I put the mic down. It will tell you all the reasons it doesn't make sense. It will be the voice of calculation, not the voice of faith, and it will keep you from seeing what God can do through you. Andrew spoke up, and he said, "It doesn't seem like enough, and it doesn't make sense, but here's what we have". He asks a question of his own, though. "How far will it go among so many"? Isn't that the question? Is it enough? Will it even matter? Will I have enough? If I give to God, will I have enough? It depends on who you think He is. If He is bread, how could you ever need bread?
See, there's a question in John 6:9. "How far will they go among so many"? And I think there's an invisible verse in here that didn't make the final cut. I think it's the verse where Jesus said, "You wanna find out? Bring it to Me, because you have seen what it can do in your hands. You have seen how many fish your boat could catch without Me in it. Put it in My hands". By the way, where did the 12 baskets come from? You think it's possible that Jesus put 'em in the boat before they ever got in, because He already knew what He was going to do? He already knows. He knows all those voices that would keep you from doing it, and He already knows your needs. And if you have the faith to believe it, I declare that they are already met in His name. This day.
Father, I thank You for the word that has gone forth today. This word registered so deeply in somebody's heart that they will be set free in a way that will change the rest of their life. I believe it and declare it, in this moment. We thank You for this church that You are building, this ministry that You have established. We feel privileged to be apart of something that is touching the world. I wanna pray right now, God, for every person in every seat, watching on every screen, that this message would not just provide a moment of inspiration, but that You would speak now, giving clear instruction to Your people. Faith without works is dead, so show them what to do with what they've heard. Show them who You are, and then allow them to see what they're going through, through the lens of who You are. We don't wanna live by reason, we want to live by revelation. And You are the bread of life, You are the light of the world, You are the gate, You are the Shepherd, You are the resurrection and the light. You are the vine, You are the way.
And now, God, we want to be way-makers. We want people to find You through us, is what we're here for. Stand to your feet. I like to take my hands like this sometimes, and just put 'em out in front of me, if you would do that now, please. All that I have comes from You, God. And You are more than enough for me. Declare over these people today that no area of shortage in their life is greater than Your glory. Speak to our hearts, God. Speak to our deepest needs. May the knowledge of who you are be greater than the fear of what it is or what it's not. I pray that we would see a tremendous release of faith and a tremendous release of provision on behalf of Your people, as this year ends. Many need miracles in their families, in their bodies, in their minds. And You are the Great I Am!