Steven Furtick - Did I Ask?
What if I told you that last week, when I went home from preaching, I had leftovers? And what if I told you that it was fresh from the oven to the point where God was speaking to me so strongly after last Sunday when I preached about When They Found Out, I had to call select members of our staff… I had to call all the staff who aren't saved yet, all of the ones who are under-sanctified and need an extra dose of Jesus Christ, plus Holly. I said, "Let's get in here and get into this word".
So, I'm going to share with you again from a Scripture I made reference to. I was writing a remix of "Graves Into Gardens" early this morning. I woke up at 4:30, and the Lord said, "I searched the world, and it nearly killed me"! How many of y'all, you searched the world and it almost took you out, but God had a plan to keep you in? That's the 2020 "Graves Into Gardens". "It nearly killed me"! But it didn't. I want to preach today from John, chapter 6. If you can stand where you are, that would be great, right there in your living room or kitchen. I know many of our teams are starting to meet together in watch parties. I'm going to rename watch parties. I don't know what yet. I looked at it a little bit this morning. Like I said, I've been up a long time.
So I looked at that as well, waiting for this to happen, waiting to preach. I don't want to call it watch anymore, because I really don't want you to think of it as a spectator sport. When God wants to build the church, before he gathers us, he will scatter us. I think part of what God is doing right now is teaching us to take church to wherever we are. We're going to see a great expansion in this season. I believe that. But for now, we call them watch parties. I didn't tell the staff that yet. You know how I talked about When They Found Out? Well, they found out just now like you did. So, we're going to rename it, but I don't know what yet.
Everybody worshiping today, whether you're just by yourself or you're not by yourself… Even if you're by yourself, you're not by yourself, and I want you to know that. It's a privilege to stand here today behind this sturdy podium and preach God's unfailing Word to you. John, chapter 6, verse 5. This is the Word of the Lord. "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. 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, 'Here is 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.'"
Sit down and you'll find out. "There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated [a little bitty bite, but they didn't get enough]". I shouldn't put these Scriptures on the screen so y'all wouldn't know I messed it up on purpose. "…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.'" He's speaking that same thing over your life.
Do you know that? God is not going to let it be wasted. God is not going to waste a season. God doesn't waste a second. No, no, no. It won't 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". To get to my title, go back to verse 6. "He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do". The title of this message is Did I Ask? Hey, would you do me a favor? Put something in the chat for me or write it down with an ink pen. When you put this down, I'll explain it after. It starts with a question. What starts with a question? Everything. Whatever it is, it starts with a question.
When people will ask me, "Where do you get your messages from…"? And I say, "People ask me". It's not like people ask me that much. I think maybe 10 people have asked me that in the last couple of years. I see people get on social media all the time, and they're like, "I wanted to hop on here. A lot of y'all have been asking…" I'm like, "A lot of y'all? You mean, like, your sister? Who is 'a lot of y'all'"? Do you ever wonder this stuff? "Nobody is asking". That's what I want to say, but anyway. "Nobody asked, but I'm going to tell you anyway".
Since you didn't ask, where I get my sermons from usually is it starts with a question. I'm kind of multitasking here, because I have all of these campus pastors who came over to help me preach today. I think of you as the sous chefs. You know, you have the chef and the sous chef. I thought it would be good to tell you "Always start your message with a question, not an answer". If we come to the text, if we come to the Bible, if we come to God with an answer, we're coming from our minds, but a good message doesn't come from your mind; it comes from the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God is in you.
The message I preached last week, the weeks before that, any good message I've ever preached… And I'm not saying they're all good, but if it's good, it's because I didn't start with an answer; I started with a question. So, I got to John 6, and I was telling Holly by asking the question, "Where did the baskets come from"? This is what I do while you're out doing a real job. I think about stuff the normal person is way too busy to think about, but I have to think about it. It said they didn't have enough for everybody to have a bite, but then they had 12 baskets. I was like, "Well, maybe these were very, very small baskets". No. The same word for basket that is used to talk about when they lowered Paul down from a basket. If Paul was skinny, it was a 150-pound basket capacity.
So, I'm thinking, "How did they at one moment not have a bite, and then at the end they had 12 baskets"? I never found out, but I moved on to another question. Not every question gets answered. I'll let you know when I find out. I read some theories, but I never really found an answer to that. What I do think is a better question… This is the art of good living. Right? Asking a better question. "Jesus is the answer for the world today…" Have you ever heard that? That might be just a Baptist chorus or something like that. "Above him there's no other, Jesus is the way". But it said Jesus is the answer. Jesus asks 307 questions in the four gospels. While we're rewriting songs, let's do it. "Jesus is the question…"
We want answers, but we have a God who would rather ask questions. Since God asks questions and Jesus asks questions, I thought it would be good for me to be like him and ask a question. So, the second question I asked was… The Scripture says they all had enough. They all ate as much as they wanted. They went home with leftovers, 12 basketfuls. I couldn't figure out where the baskets came from, but I did want to know, "When did it become enough"? In a visual sense, I wanted to know, "When did it become enough"? I thought, "Well, they put it in Jesus' hands. They beat up the boy and took his lunch".
You always thought the boy volunteered his lunch. There is no textual evidence that he was a willing participant in this miracle. I think the disciples got desperate. You know how you do when you really need something from God, and you get desperate? You're like, "I'm normally not a 'lift your hands' kind of person, but I think I'll lift them right about now. I need you, Lord! I've got questions. I'm running out of money, and I'm full up on questions. I'm running out of wisdom, and I've got a lot of questions".
So, I don't know whether the boy offered it or not. I don't know if the disciples asked. I don't know if they asked him or if they just took it, but what I do know is that there was eventually found in the crowd five loaves and two fish. How many loaves? Five loaves. What kind of loaves? Barley loaves. What's the cheapest kind of bread? Barley. So, the cheapest stuff produced one of the greatest miracles. Give him praise that God is a master chef! Gordon Ramsay has nothing on my God. I wish I knew a more current chef, but that's all I have. So, what I wanted to know was "When did it become enough"? When did it go from a bite, like Philip said…? "It wouldn't even be a bite".
How many of you feel like that right now? "It wouldn't even be a bite. I don't have enough time or close to enough time or even if I had more time, I don't have enough energy. And even if I had more energy, I wouldn't know what to do with it, because I don't have enough wisdom to apply the energy to the right places". That begs the question…When did it go from bite to buffet? What happened in between? This is what I do. I ask a question, and that's the wrestling process. Have you ever heard of when Jacob wrestled with God in the Bible? Do you know what God gave him? A question. "What is your name"? It starts with a question.
You know the nation of Israel? That was Jacob's new name. The 12 tribes came out of Jacob when he found out his name. He thought his name was Jacob, but God asked him a question. "Who are you really? I know what people call you, but who are you really"? It starts with a question. Everything you have ever done in your life has started with a belief you had about who you were. "Who am I"? It starts with a question. So, I wondered, "When did it become enough"? because I'm wondering in my own life, "When will I become enough"? There's going to be a magic Monday morning when I look at my bank account and I'm like, "Oh, that's plenty".
I know it's coming. I had like 10 milestones that were supposed to be that, and they're gone, so I know it's going to be the next one. It's going to be enough. I know I'm eventually going to get enough compliments on my preaching where I'm going to know I've got this, where I'm not going to wake up at 4:30 going, "Should I call it off? Is it too late? Will they be too disappointed"? When did it become enough? Because I'm wondering that. I wondered that at 14. I wondered that at 15. I wonder that at 40. When did it become enough? I was just asking the question. What got us last week… We found out it didn't become enough all at once.
Verse 13 says, "So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves…" All 5,000 men were fed, but the loaves never got more than five. Look at it. They gathered the 12 baskets… I don't know where the baskets came from, but I know where the miracle came from. It came from the five. It comes from the five. It never became more on the surface. It was never enough to the naked eye. There was never a moment where it became what it could be, but we learned last week, it became enough every time they went back to the one who was enough. Every time I go back to him, every time I lift my eyes, every time I praise him, every time I step… His Word is a lamp unto my feet. Every time I go back.
So, it was never enough on the surface, but it kept coming. I wonder, is there anybody with that testimony? "It was never enough, but it kept coming. I wasn't smart enough, but it kept coming. I wasn't good enough, but mercy kept coming. It wasn't enough, but it kept coming". Keep it coming, Jesus! How many have that testimony? It was never enough all at once, but it kept coming. When I tried to bite off more than I could chew, I choked, but when I said, "Give me this day my daily bread," it wasn't enough for tomorrow, but it kept coming! Bread kept coming! Hope kept coming! Joy kept coming! Peace kept coming, and piece by piece he kept it coming. I'm not praising him because I've got it all; I'm praising him because he kept it coming. He kept it coming.
When did it become enough? In the process they saw the provision. So, it starts with a question. That's how my message started. When I get in the question, that makes me wrestle, and when I wrestle with it, I get stronger. That's why he asked 307 questions, and he only directly answered eight. "Jesus is the question…" I know you thought God's logo was an exclamation point. "God said it! I believe it"! But what about Eve? "Did God really say…"? Sin entered the world through a question. It starts with a question. "Did God really say…"? It starts with a question.
My marriage to the beautiful, illustrious Holly Furtick, the first lady of what I believe to be the greatest ministry in the world today with the greatest people God ever made… This message started with a question. My marriage started with a question, and it wasn't, "Will you marry me"? Check out this Christian pickup line. We were at a Christian college. I said, "Do you want to join my summer ministry team"? It was a leading question. I was headed somewhere with my question, because if I could get her on the Joyful Sound bus, unloading JBL EON speakers in Loris, South Carolina, I could get her to Charlotte, and she would be my wife, and we would be marital. We would do marital things and have marital union and have a mission for Jesus Christ. It started with a question, the question before the question. I'm giving the singles' seminar right now.
Some of you boys need to ask. I mean, directly ask. Put it like this. Eric is in sales, and he taught me this. He said, "Don't ask 'Do you want to go out with me?' Say, 'Coffee or dinner?'" Don't ask a yes or no. Ask a this or that. "Coffee or dinner? What do you prefer? Breakfast or dinner? Italian or…" Give them an option, but don't let one of them be "No". "Do you want to be on my ministry team"? Try that. It worked for me. It started with a question. When I asked y'all to come with me to start the church, that started with a question too. Chunks and Amy Corbett, the artists formerly known as James Brett Corbett and Amy Lynn Moody… I just asked him at Golden Corral.
In fact, the only reason we were at Golden Corral was because of a question. I asked him, "Do you know a doctor"? I had just moved to Shelby, North Carolina. We'll talk about this another time. You can ask me about that later. Shelby, North Carolina, was a place where I met the whole core team for our church. I didn't know why I was there while I was there. There were times we really wondered. It wasn't a bad place. I loved Shelby. It was great for me. I didn't know why I was there. You don't know why sometimes. You're there right now. I know you are. "I can't even figure out what this is about". But I met Chunks. That's something.
Now he's running the ministry on a day-to-day basis so I can preach God's Word, and it started because I said, "Do you know a doctor"? and he gave me Chris Denning's phone number. I don't even remember what I was sick with, but I just asked him for a doctor. He was a physical therapist, and I thought, "Well, he probably knows a doctor". Then he ended up at my house eating fried rice, and here we are 20 campuses later. But then came the question, "Do you want to step out on faith and start the church"? And here's what's crazy. He and Amy didn't find out where we were going to start the church until after they said yes. The details came after the "Yes" was given. The details came after the decision. "Go to the land I will show you".
Do you want another one? Ezekiel. We were singing about it earlier. "Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord". That's the command. Right? Check out Ezekiel 37:3 before you go to bed tonight. It starts with a question. This is God. "Can they live again"? "Can they"? That's God asking that. Ezekiel said, "I don't know, Lord". But the question opened the door to resurrection. I don't have the answer right now, and I don't know what he's going to do. That's why I like that song. It says, "Is there anything he can't do"? Just ask the man who was thrown. Just ask the… I don't know, but he does, and I want to find out by faith. It starts with a question.
This might shock you, but not only this ministry but Jesus' ministry started with a question. The first chapter of the book of John… There are all kinds of symbolic things in John…seven signs Jesus performed, showing himself to be the Son of God, that you may believe and have life in his name. The seven "I am" statements where he revealed the essence of his nature in stages, lest we be overwhelmed all at once. He shows us in stages. This is how it starts: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God". In the first red letters in the gospel of John, where Jesus actually speaks, recorded by the gospel writer, he asks a question. And now I have a question about that.
What is the Word doing asking a question? Think about it. You use words. Jesus is the Word. I'm not being deep just to be cute. It's a great question. "In the beginning was the Word," and the first words he speaks, he asks Andrew and another disciple, "What do you want"? The first thing the Word says in human flesh that's recorded by John isn't "Let there be". That's in Genesis. In John, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and the answer ("Jesus is the answer") asked a question. The whole gospel of John starts… And then it moves to Revelation. "I am the Bread of Life. I am the Good Shepherd. I am the door. I am the resurrection. I am the way". But before any of those statements, it starts with a question.
I wonder what you've been asking God lately. Breakthrough starts with a question. The next level of your relationship with God doesn't start with you knowing the answer, so stop waiting for answers. It starts with a question. My kids ask questions. Some of them are dumb. The one you asked the other day when Mom was teaching you to boil eggs… I'm sorry to put you on blast like this, but when you said, "Do I crack it before I boil it"? that's a dumb question. He's 15 years old. That's a dumb question, and I take responsibility for him not knowing that. That's my bad. But then they'll ask deep questions.
My son Elijah, who's here right now, asks questions the staff doesn't even ask. He used to ask me questions when he was 9 or 10 years old that I'd go, "I've never even had a grown paid staff member ask me that". It's amazing, because he's not afraid to ask it. He just asks it. He just asks me to do stuff. He walked in one night, and he didn't ask me, "Could we go to the movies"? Well, he asked me, but he asked me in the form of action. He brought me my shoes. He wanted to go see a movie. It was 9:00 at night. This was years ago. He brought me my shoes and my car keys. He asked me, but he didn't open his mouth. He just brought me something. And we saw the movie.
Kids aren't scared to ask. They'll ask you anything. Abbey saw a thing on the counter that said "The most powerful people in Charlotte" or something like that. It was some list. It had on the list "Pastor Steven Furtick, Elevation Church". She came to me with the list. She said, "Daddy…" This was years ago now. She said, "Daddy, if you're the fifth most powerful person in Charlotte, does that mean you can pull a tooth if it's not even loose"? What a great question. You know what I mean? Faith like a child. Not childish but childlike. We're the children of God.
We can ask questions. "Did I ask"? Now my kids say that to each other all the time just to cut each other off. "Did I ask? Did I ask, buddy"? They are professional button pushers, and that was their thing for about six months. Abbey came up to me and gave me this sermon title. This was last week. She said, "Daddy, when you were preaching today, I thought you should have called that sermon 'Did I Ask?'" Because she heard where Jesus asked Philip… This is a 9-year-old girl. She said, "You should have called it 'Did I Ask?'" I didn't even ask her what I should have called it. Sometimes God will give you something you didn't even know to ask for through somebody you didn't even think to ask. Through a little boy with a lunch.
So, I was thinking about the sermon, and I was wondering, "When did it become enough"? Then I was wondering, "Where did it come from"? Like, we're all wondering, "Where is it going to come from? I don't know where it's going to come from. I'm not sure where it's going to come from". I want to revisit the Scripture in detail from John 6. It's really beautiful how it's written where Jesus, the Word of God, asks Philip a question. "Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat"? Then I'm thankful for the little sidenote. "He asked this only to test him, for he already knew what he was going to do".
Now this is weird. Do you want the bonus thing? Okay. This is not even the cherry. This is the stem on the cherry. When you get the other accounts in the Gospels, it says the disciples came to Jesus and said, "They need to eat" after he had taught all day. If you read that verse, the moment they started coming… I'll back it up and show you in verse 5. In verse 5, the moment he saw the crowd, he already knew what to feed them, and here's what's crazy: they never even asked for a meal. He's going to feed them all. Right? But they never asked for it. I don't know who this is for. I honestly don't. Maybe you'll tell me in the comments. But God in this season is giving you what you didn't even know you needed to ask for.
Do you know Ephesians 3:20? "He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine". God is doing some things in my life right now that I didn't even know to ask for. Here's the thing about me. I'm a sheep. I need a shepherd. I don't know what to ask for. So he makes me lie down in green pastures. I don't want God to give me what I need; I want him to give me what he knows. What I think I need and what he knows I need are two different things. Twenty seconds of praise that he has given you what you didn't know to ask for! More than you ask or imagine, more than you thought to put on your prayer requests. It starts with a question.
Jesus said, "Where are we going to buy bread for all of these people"? I heard Philip say back… Jesus was just testing him. He doesn't ask questions for information; he asks questions for revelation. Not so he can see something but so you can see something. Verse 7: "Philip answered him…" I thought, "Well, there's the problem". Philip answered him. This whole thing is backward. Philip answered a question Jesus didn't even ask. What did Jesus ask? "Where are we going to buy enough bread for these people to eat"? What did Philip answer? "How much is it going to cost"? I heard Jesus saying to Philip, "Did I ask? Did I ask if we can afford it? Did I ask an accounting question"? I hear God saying to somebody today, "Did I ask if you're able? Did I ask if you have what it takes? Did I ask if you know what comes next? Did I ask"?
It's backwards. We're answering when we ought to be asking. That's why you learn so much more as a kid than you do now as a grown-up. You stopped asking and started assuming. Everything is wrong with this text. What was he testing him for? To see if he knew enough to know that he didn't know enough to tell Jesus. Jesus wasn't trying to test "How much do we have"? Jesus wasn't asking for a bank deposit. Jesus wasn't asking for a balance sheet. Jesus said, "Where are we going to get it"? He wanted to see if Philip knew where to go. If you keep coming back to where you got it from the first time… If you know where to go, it will always be enough. You will never run out if you know where to go, but if you don't know where to go, you will meet your needs in ways that will hurt you worse in the end.
I think the best question for us to ask is, "Where am I going to get it from"? When we know the answer to that… There was plenty of green grass, Mark said. Green pastures. He makes me… Now, there's a difference between a command and a question. I always get frustrated when Holly asks the kids what they want to eat. I'm like, "Do not… Nuh-uh. Ask me what I want and feed them that. I bought the bread". Is that bad? I bought it. So I get mad. I'm like, "Don't ask them what they want to eat. You're not a short-order chef. You're a sexy woman of God, a fine young Christian, a fine young woman of God".
She so loves them, though, she'll ask them. Jesus asked Philip. He gave the test before the lesson. That's not fair. That's backward. He didn't show him who the Bread of Life was until after he tested him. That's not fair, but that's what makes great faith. The test is the lesson. You're in a test right now. Not a test "Do you know enough"? Not a test "Do you have enough"? Not a test "Are you good enough"? But "Do you know where to get it from"? Thank you, Jesus. You are my bread. You are the Bread of Life. You are the bread that comes down from heaven, and if I keep coming back to you, I'll always have enough. Listen. The bread was going to come from the same place as the need. Who did they need to feed? Where did they have to go to get it?
I'll fill in the blanks in case my Socratic sermon isn't really working for you right now. I just don't want to leave this undone. They needed to feed the crowd, and the meal that became a miracle was in the same crowd they needed to feed. God is using every need in your life right now. Remember, the disciples were hungry too. They needed to eat too. Jesus used the need they didn't want to meet to meet the need they had. So, when I preach, I don't start with this question: "What do the people want to hear"? What a boring thing that would be. That would be a boring sermon. I start with what I need to get through the next week, and I don't apologize for it. I feed myself first, and then out of that, let's all eat. "God, feed me, because I need it to come from you. If it doesn't come from you, it'll be just the dumb stuff that goes through my mind".
I need bread from heaven, but the bread didn't come from heaven like the manna did. That's the Old Testament. The new mindset is that the meal Jesus multiplied was in the crowd he wanted to feed. Here's what you have to do. I'm going to get really practical now. You have to ask. When Jesus said, "How many…"? Remember? "How many"? is different than "How much"? "How many"? is plural. Five loaves. It was all in the five. But the five was in the crowd with a little boy, like my sermon title was in Abbey coming to tell me "Good night". If you don't ever pay attention and open yourself up, you will miss what God gives. You will miss the miracles because you didn't ask the question. They had to ask. You're going to have to ask.
James 1:5 says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God". Ask! Oh, who? My friend on Facebook? Who are you going to ask? Ask God first. That's why it didn't work. Jesus didn't start the miracle when Philip said how much it was going to cost. Nothing good is going to flow through our lives while we stay focused on answering the question, "What do I lack"? Oh, I'm good at listing all of the things I lack. I can tell you everything I'm bad at. I can tell you every reason God shouldn't use me. I can tell you every dirty blemish, spot, and wrinkle. When people say bad stuff about me, I think, "Well, you should call me. I'll give you a few more. You didn't even get to the really good stuff". I mean, they'll say, "You're this. You're that". I'm like, "You are in the PG file. We could go PG-13, R, MA. We could make this thing terrible if you really want to know". It's not because I'm a hypocrite. I'm a human! I'm not the bread, but I know where to get it. Do you know where to get it? "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, and it'll be given to you".
Now this is cool. Write this down. On one side put bought. On one side put given. Jesus said, "Where are we going to buy bread"? The answer is "We're not. It's going to be given". For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son, the Bread of Life. It's going to be given. Open your palms like this to heaven. It's going to be given. The wisdom is going to be given. It's not going to be earned; it's going to be given. He's trying to shift them from a mentality that is like manna (it comes from somewhere else) to get them to see that the wisdom of God is given from within. It's going to be given. Stay with me. Are you with me?
You're not going to buy it. You're not going to earn it. You're not going to achieve it. You're going to receive it. That's what opens your hands. Ooh, I thought about open hands. I thought about five. Five loaves. I thought about five. It's going to come from the five. It's going to come from the open hand, from God's hand to your hand. It's going to come from the five. God is going to give it to you. Are your hands open or are you so full of assumptions that you've stopped asking? Somebody told me the other day, "Well, you need to pray about it," and I got mad because I thought that's a cliché. I've already prayed about it. I got away, and God said, "But did you"? Think about it.
We say, "Don't tell me to pray about it. I already prayed about it". But did you? Did you pray about it or did you calculate it, overthink it, Pepto-Bismol and wake up in the middle of the night with a stomachache? Did I ask? Did I ask God? This is so embarrassing to say this, but I'll tell you. A lot of times, I work so hard on the sermon, and I'm like, "Why isn't this coming together"? Then I'm like, "Oh yeah. I didn't even ask God to help me with it".
Let me tell you something else. When Abbey said, "'Did I Ask?' is your sermon title," I woke up the next morning… I said, "God, will you just give me the sermon this week? I don't want to work as hard as I did last week". An hour later I had it. I'm not saying I didn't study. It was already there. I just had to ask. If you knew what was in you, if you knew who was in you, you would ask. If you knew he was bread, you would never again let the Devil keep you hungry or sell your birthright for a bowl of beans. You would stop going to places that can't fill you and spending your wages on what doesn't satisfy. It comes from the five. It comes from his hand. Do you hear me? It comes from his hand. When I know that, I open my hands and I ask.
See, I didn't ask. It's not just a one-time thing. When Jesus said, "Whoever comes to me will never hunger again," he wasn't talking about "Whoever comes to me one time". The voice of the verb is the middle voice, and it only speaks to present or imperfect. That means either you're coming right now or you're going to keep coming. John 6:30. Look it up. When they came to him, they were fed. When they came to him. Keep coming. Keep coming for wisdom. Did I ask? I got in the middle of my day, and I'm like, "Oh man. I wish I…" Did I ask? Did I ask God? Did I ask the people he put around me? I mean, in order for the miracle to happen, they had to walk through the crowd asking. You know what? I might just have to humble myself and ask somebody to help.
People can't read your mind. Miss Cleo. (Flashback. Outdated reference from an old preacher.) People don't know what you need. You have to ask. When you ask, you activate. The same crowd that had the need was the same crowd that had the miracle, but they had to ask. Here's my question. Can I ask a question? How many people did they ask who said "No" before they found the five loaves? "You got anything"? Remember last week? "You got anything? You got anything? You got anything"? I'm putting this point in because what keeps some of us from asking is our past rejection. It can get so deep in you that you start assuming. "They won't want to do that for me".
Did you ask? What I'm about to say is too much. I almost didn't ask you to come do this ministry. I asked him. He almost said "No". True or false? He'd probably be either a professional tennis player today or maybe he'd be stringing tennis rackets somewhere on the side of the road. Who knows? Somewhere in between. I almost didn't even ask you. I said, "Chris and Beth don't want to be here. They want to go to Nashville". Something in me said, "Ask". Now, it's not ask people for things God can give you, but sometimes God will direct you to people to meet the need. Remember, Jesus didn't say, "Where are we going to feed these people"? and Philip said, "We don't have enough," and Jesus said, "Manna, come"!
It didn't come from manna. It didn't even come from a man. It came from a boy. That means they had to go all the way through the crowd. Do you think the boy was in the front of the crowd? How is a little boy going to get to the front of the crowd? He's not even in the count. He doesn't even have a ticket to the Jesus preaching crusade. Do y'all remember crowds? This is a BC (before corona) kind of situation here, back when they used to have crowds. Going through the crowd. "You got anything? You got anything? You got anything"? Some people are lying. Some people are telling the truth. Some people already ate. They're all hungry. "You got anything? You got anything? You got anything"?
Here's what I want you to do. Please do this, especially if you've had a root of bitterness or you have a root of rejection, and it's like somebody in your life told you "No" or something in your life has been "No" so many times… When you hear "No," I want you to think "Next". "If God didn't let me do that, next. If God didn't want me to do that, what's next"? Now, I have to do this as a matter of survival, because sometimes people do not say they want to be a part of this ministry, but if I stop when they say "No," I will miss the miracle that was in the thing.
So, whoever this is, I want you to shout at the top of your Holy Ghost lungs from your diaphragm. Say, "Next"! "I've got to get through this crowd. I've got to get through this confusion. I've got to get through this shame. I've got to get out of this lack. I've got to eat. I can't die. I've got to find green grass". No means next. I don't want anybody to leave me, but if they do… It's not like I'm just treating people as disposable, but they aren't bread. I know where the bread is. Are y'all awake to help me celebrate the bread that came from heaven? The bread that came from heaven! What are you going to eat? The bread that came from heaven! It's coming from the five. It's coming from the hand of God. By every word that comes from the mouth of God! If they said "No," I'll just look for the next.
"Well, that's cruel, Pastor Steven". Come on, man. I've been married almost 20 years. I'm not saying relationships are disposable. I'm just saying you have to go back to the place where you know in God that Moses can only give you manna for so long. It's just a question. "Where are we going to get it from"? That's what Jesus asked. Philip should have said, "Why are you asking me"? The whole thing went off the track when you thought you knew the answer. The whole thing came undone when you assumed. Did you ask? "He won't want to write songs with us". Did you ask? Some of y'all are too asky. God knows you are.
I've been to comments of YouTube, talking about "Do y'all have a YouTube channel"? You are on the YouTube channel! I'm serious. People will say this kind of stuff. It's crazy stuff people will say on YouTube. "Where did you get that shirt"? Somebody put on a YouTube comment… We played a throwback sermon from 2013 or 2014, one of those years, back in the day. Flashback, back when I didn't have my beard. They said, "I like you so much better with a beard". Do you know what I wanted to respond? "Did I ask"? You don't have to ask God everything. Sometimes you're asking God for stuff he already told you he put people around you to give you. It came from heaven, but it came through people. That's why Holly was saying, "Hey, join an eGroup". She's trying to get you fed.
When you pray, "God, give me comfort," but you don't tell anybody you're lonely… And I mean telling real people, not platforms. Did you read between the lines? We don't ask questions. We just make comments now. We make comments online. But did you ask? Going on somebody's page and going, "Well, they're just a liberal conservative". Did you ever have a conversation with somebody different than you in the last three years? Did you ask? "Why do you feel that way? Why do you think that way? What does that mean to you? How do you see it"? The God who asked questions wants to know, "Did you ask"?
Andrew asked, and that's when the miracle started. Andrew asked. He didn't even ask with a lot of faith. James said, "Ask in faith, nothing wavering". Andrew asked in doubt, and he still got an answer. You can pray something as unspiritual as "Help or else". How many of y'all are at a "Help or else" season in this season of your life? "Help or else, God. I can't make it". Go back to verse 8. Remember the first question Jesus asked? "What do you want"? Do you know who he asked it to? Andrew. The first question Jesus asked in John 1 was to Andrew, another disciple… Andrew brought Peter to Jesus.
Every time we see Andrew in the Scripture, he's bringing something to Jesus. You think you need to give something. You need to bring something so he can give something. This is the miracle. He said, "Here's a boy. I went through the crowd. I asked everybody. I asked 19,999 people, and this boy right here… But how far will they go among so many"? The next sentence, Jesus gives a command. "Sit down. Now I can do something, now that you asked". Did you ask? Like, really ask. I know in a technical sense we're like, "Oh yeah. I ask God to help me all the time". Did you ask or did you tell? A lot of what we call prayer is us telling God stuff he already knows or telling God what he needs to do. Did you ask? Did you ask, "Why do I have this thorn?" or did you just assume it came from the Devil? It might have come from God to help you stay humble.
Did you ask? Did you ask God what he's doing in the life of that person you lead, whether it's a kid or someone else? Did you ask or did you just assume that if God didn't do through them what you thought he should do through them he failed? Did you ask? Did you ask God what he put in you and what he wants from you or did you just assume that what everybody else thinks you should do is the agenda you have to follow? Did you ask? Andrew asked. He said, "How far can it go"? Then he found out. It starts with a question. The crowd didn't get it because they were still waiting for a messiah like Moses. Even after Jesus fed them, they got the meal, but they missed the message. Ninety-eight percent of people who tune into a sermon like this get the meal and miss the message, but I don't want you to. The crowd said, "Are you going to give us manna like Moses"?
I don't know if you remember manna in the Bible. It was like the original Frosted Flakes. It would look like that. It was flaky, and it would come down, and they said, "What is it"? That's what they named it. "What is it"? Question. It starts with a question. They didn't know who he was. He said, "I am the Bread of Life". They thought it would be what it was. What is it? Not "What was it"? That's where the miracle is. What is it? "What is it to be me in this season of my life? What is it, God, that you're speaking to me? What is it that you're calling me to do in this moment"? Did I ask? Did I sit down this week and ask, "What's important this week…really important"? Did I ask?
As long as we're the ones giving the answers, we're going to be pretty limited in what we can access. Questions create access. I was with somebody a while back, and they said they wanted to meet with me and talk to me about ministry because they were not as far along. They never asked me a question. I couldn't figure that out. I guess I know I don't know much, so from the time I was 16, I was always asking questions. "What do you do about this, and what do you do about that? Why about this, and why about that"? No questions. Have you stopped asking God? Just started assuming? Just started filling in the blanks? Stopped asking, "God, what else is in me? What else can you do? I know you can turn graves into gardens and bones into… What else can you do"?
This is the disciples' whole problem through the whole gospel. They were always telling, and they stopped asking. That's why you're frustrated. That's why you're stuck. That's why you're lonely. You stopped asking. "Oh, I asked". Did you really? Or were you like the disciples? They saw Jesus talking to a woman. You remember this. He asked, "Can I have a drink"? Here he is again, asking somebody who he shouldn't have even been talking to, "Can I have a drink"? Oh, this is an anointed verse. This is so good. I was running around my bathroom looking at John 4:10 on my phone. "Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'"
I'm preaching for breakthrough today. I'm preaching for hungry people today. I'm preaching for somebody who's really, really needing something today. He said, "If you knew what was in you, it would be living water". No matter what's happening around you, if you knew what was in you… Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world. If you knew what was in you, you wouldn't kill yourself. If you knew what was in you, you wouldn't let pornography strangle the creative life out of you. If you knew what was in you, you wouldn't hide yourself behind false personas. If you knew what was in you… Everywhere the Enemy has planted condemnation in your life, I want you to replace it with a question. Condemnation is the Devil's language. That's not how God talks. God asks questions. The wisdom that comes from above whispers within.
Like he said to Elijah in the cave, "What are you doing here"? God asks questions up close. He knows you like that. If you knew, you would ask. "Wait a minute. I thought if you don't know you ask". No, no. If you knew who was in you, you'd stop listening to everything around you so much. Who told you that you were naked? Who told you that you were nothing? Who told you it wasn't enough? If you knew who you were talking to when you talk to yourself… Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I don't think I've ever felt you more than I feel you right now, and I thank you, because I need you. I need you. We need you. Somebody needs you on the other end. Through their tears, they see now that the answer is not standing outside of them. The living water is within, and the bread is right here. Jesus isn't Moses. God is not going to do it like he used to do it. But if you ask, he'll show you what he's doing right now in this moment.
Speaking of Moses… Remember when God came to him and said, "I want to use you"? He had to set a whole nation free. We don't have that responsibility, but God is speaking to us too. He's calling us too. Moses asked a question. "Who shall I say sent me"? God said, "I Am". You are what? That's the question. Now you get to spend the rest of your life finding out the answer. "I Am". You're going to find out all that he is through the things you go through. Moses said something to the Lord in Exodus 4:10, and I show you this before I close because the Lord gave it to me like an image. He said, "If you knew what was in you, you would ask for strength. I'm in you, so you can ask". You have to get it in you. After a whole series of excuses, God asked Moses a question. He said, "What's that in your hand"?
Moses simply had a staff, but that wasn't all it was. It was an instrument to part waters, to turn rivers to blood. It was an instrument. What's in your hand? It's coming from the five. What's in your hand? Did you ask? Or do you just assume it's not enough? Did you ask? We get in trouble when we answer instead of asking. God said, "I chose you, Moses". In Exodus 4:10… This is the picture the Lord gave me. The Lord must really want somebody to get this message, because it's so heavy on me I can barely move. Moses said, "Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent [not enough], neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue". Everybody has something like that they could say why they can't make it and why there's not enough and why eight months' wages wouldn't be enough. Everybody has an inner Philip, and the inner Philip will jump to conclusions based on the evidence you can see with your eyes.
Watch what the Lord said in verse 11. The Lord said, "Did I ask? Who gave human beings their mouth? Did I ask? Who makes them deaf or mute? Did I ask? You keep telling me what you're not, but I didn't ask you that. You keep telling me what you can't, but I didn't ask you that. Don't say, 'I'm just single.' Don't say, 'I'm just young.' Don't say, 'I'm too old.' Did I ask? I am the Lord. I am enough! Is it not I…"? Come here, son. I need $260. You didn't think you had it, but right before I came to preach, I handed him my wallet, and I didn't tell him why. I said, "Just hold this for me until I'm done". I'm about to be done, because when I get to the end of my message, I'm going to put something in my boy.
When I ask you for it, the fact that I ask is the proof that you have it. If I ask, you have it! If I ask, I gave it! It's in you! It's more than enough! Count that money. Open that wallet. What's in that wallet? I need $260, but I will never ask you for what I didn't give you to begin with. If you run out of that, I have credit too. God said, "My credit is good. I'll put it in a boy. I'll put it in your Dockers. I'll put it in your spirit. I'll put it in a basket. I'll put it in a bag. I'll put it in a weakness. I'll put it in a thorn. I am the Lord! I Am! You're not, but I am. Can these bones live again? They can! They will"!