Steven Furtick - Feeling Discouraged?
It's about to get good, because Paul is about to let us in on a principle that explains why some of us are struggling with discouragement, and even though we pray about it, we don't seem to receive what we need from the Lord. Let's slow down and read this. "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness". What that verse means is not that God will just give you a harvest because you asked for it. What the verse says is that God supplies seed to the sower. The question is not…Is God able? The question is…Are you a sower? Or have you allowed yourself to be lulled into a complacent, consumeristic Christianity that bears more resemblance to a kid making their Christmas list than a Christian who is serving Jesus Christ? A lot of people do get stuck at the level of "What I need".
Last night I was preaching, and one lady said, "We get stuck in 'me' mode". It's just, "God bless me. Help me. Encourage me". While you're praying about those needs, they're not selfish. It's fine for you to bring those things before God, but the way he will respond to your need is to give you a seed. That's confusing to us, because we want God to give us a harvest. But God does not respond to our needs with a harvest; he responds to our need with a seed. I have found it to be true (I wonder about you) that when I find myself in need, the best thing for me to do is to get out of "me" mode and get into "sow" mode. I know this is not an agricultural society, but if it were, we could see that seeding, or sowing, is a form of investment, and it is a process.
How many times have I been discouraged and weary in my own soul only to find that when I took five minutes to be a blessing to someone else, when I sowed what God gave me, it became what I needed? This is difficult, because when you are in a season of need in your own life, the last thing you want to do is to sow into something else. Am I right about it? When you are out of energy, the last thing you want to think about is anything other than you. But the only way for you to receive what you need is to give what you have. Can I prove it from Jesus? "Give, and it will be given to you". That's not a financial Scripture. That's a Scripture about anything. If you give what you have, God will give to you what was already inside of you waiting to be sown in something that is bigger than you. God help me for all of the times I got stuck in "me" mode. "Bless me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me". What about "Do, re, fa, so, la, ti, do"? No, just, "Me, me, me, me, me, me, me". None of the other ones. Do, re, me, fa, so… Do, re, me, fa, so… Do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do. Do, re, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me, fa, so. Me…so. Me…so.
God said, "I'm switching you from 'me' to 'so.'" Because you have been so good to me. Me…so. "You saved me so. You filled me so. You blessed me so. You gave me life so". Come on, I'm coming out of "me" mode! "You made a way so…" This is good, isn't it? This is rich. This is challenging. This is difficult. God responds to your need with a bigger need. Jesus told his disciples in Matthew, chapter 14, "Let's go away and get some rest," and they're like, "Oh good. I need some 'me' time". So they're going to get some "me" time with Jesus. John the Baptist has just been beheaded. It's a rough time. Herod is going crazy, cutting heads off. Now the disciples need some rest. Jesus is like, "Let's go and rest". When they get there… How many of y'all know this Bible story? They're like, "Oh good, man. We need it. We really need it. This is going to be really helpful, Jesus. Wow. What wisdom you have, because you know what we need. You hear our needs, Lord".
So they get there, and they need rest. Guess what they run into when they get there: needy people. So now we have the disciples who need rest and the people who need healing and Jesus who has no need as the go-between. Watch what he's about to do. He's about to meet the disciples' need with the needs of the people, and he does it by feeding their faith. Now here's the shift. If you can receive it, this will be life-changing, because he is about to take them from needers to feeders. He's about to take them from "me" to "so". The disciples turn to Jesus after he heals number 953. There are 5,000 men, women and children. It says Jesus was healing everybody who needed healing. Nothing was too small. Nothing was too big. Nothing was intimidating. Nothing was inconsequential. After he gets done teaching and healing and meeting every need… Look at verse 15. "As evening approached, the disciples said to him, 'This is a remote place, and it's already getting late. You need to send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.'"
See how spiritual that sounds on the surface? "Jesus, we are concerned about these precious sheep for which you came". The truth of it is Peter was hungry. They didn't get to eat either. It wasn't like the disciples were in a place of plenty. Sometimes when you are in a state of great need, you miss opportunities, because you are too hungry and weak to see the potential to fulfill the need. We get in situations where… Jesus is like, "You know what would be cool? If we fed them". And the disciples are like, "You know what would have been cool? If you would have told us ahead of time so we could have hired a catering company". Jesus is like, "No, I'm DoorDash, Uber Eats, and a catering company all rolled into one. I am the Christ, the Son of the living… I am the Bread of Life. What are you talking about you don't have any bread? I am bread. I am presence. I am provision. I am your shepherd. I am enough". Anyway, they didn't know that yet, and Jesus needed to show them who he was, so he replied in verse 16, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat".
You will never know what you really have until God shows you a need that is bigger than you, and you will never know that God is able until he puts you in a situation where you are not. He has orchestrated this opportunity, and I don't know what in your life is like that today. If I could guess, I would say that for some of us it is a physical need, and for others it occupies a different category of real estate in our lives. It often takes the shape of a relational need or a lot of times in my life it's just not knowing what I need to do. Wave at me if you have a situation right in front of you right now where the need seems to be more than the supply. I'm praying for the people who didn't raise their hands, because they have no place for God to show up. Raise your hand again if you have a situation where the need seems to be greater than the supply. Here's what's about to happen. You are about to see yourself going from needer to feeder.
We have always taught the text in Matthew, chapter 14, that Jesus fed the multitudes. That's not exactly accurate. If you read the text, Jesus told the disciples, "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat". What happens next is one of the greatest revelations you can ever receive. When they mentioned their limited supply… "We have here only five loaves and two fish". That was their answer. That was what was available to them, but God is able. "But we do not have enough". But God is able. See, this is when you get the opportunity to believe 2 Corinthians, chapter 9, that God is able, when you are in a situation where you are not able. This thing came alive for me. I always thought Jesus fed the 5,000, but he didn't. Watch what he did. He enabled the disciples to feed the 5,000.
God said, "I am putting you in a season where I'm going to give you what you need, but it is not just for you. It is not just for you to consume. It is not just for you to have a good feeling. It is not just for you to get a goose bump. It is for you to be a feeder, because I put you on the earth for my glory, and I gave you gifts for a purpose, and I gave you an assignment for the sake of my great name. Your supply is in your assignment, and when you bring me what little bit you have and put it in my capable hands, I know no need, for my hand created the earth and my word sustains the world. I am God over the galaxies, and I am God of time and space, and I am God before you got here, and I will be God when you're gone, and I cannot be impeached, and I never will step down, because I see your need and I am your supply". He said in verse 18, "Bring them here to me". It's not "Are you able"? It's "Are you available"? Are you?
He gives seed to the sower. Are you a sower? I don't just mean money. Please stop thinking about this as a money thing. I know that's how people use it, but that's not what the Bible means. Paul is using this opportunity to help them to see that in God's dictionary, sacrifice looks a lot different than in our dictionary. I was thanking a person who has been in the church with us, and I would say their name because they're actually in this worship experience, but they don't like a lot of trumpet-blowing stuff. "I'm washing the dishes"! They're not like that. They don't care. They don't want to be known. They just want to sow. I wrote them a letter the other day, and I had to start it over, because I wrote down something… "Thank you for all of the sacrifices you've made to make this church possible".
Here's the deal. People can come to this church and never give anything, and we still feed them. That's our job. That's my job. If you pull up to the table, go back for seconds, burp, and walk off, we're still going to feed you next week. If you watch this sermon and then click off or click over to something else, we'll still feed you. Every week, we'll be here feeding. That's not the question. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life as a needer and not see what God could do through you if you brought him what you have to feed others? It will never be enough when you bring it to him. It'll start as a seed. That's the contrast: seed and sacrifice.
When I was writing the note, I said, "Thank you for your sacrifices," and then I remembered one time I told them that, and they said back to me, "It's not a sacrifice. After all God has done for us, it's not a sacrifice". That really stuck with me, how they didn't see it as a sacrifice. Paul tells the church, "I want you to have the opportunity to give to something bigger than you, to sow". He doesn't ever use the word sacrifice. He says, "I want you to sow". See, sacrifice means you give something and it goes away; sow means you give something and it gets bigger. They said, "It's not a sacrifice; it's a seed". When God gave his Son as a sacrifice, Jesus was a seed. God sowed Jesus as the firstborn among many brethren so that we could become the children of God. It's not a sacrifice. God doesn't even want it when we think it's some sacrifice. He is God, so to give to him is not a sacrifice; it's a privilege.