“And he took the seven loaves and the fish; and giving thanks, He broke them and started giving them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” Matthew 15:35 / Mark 8:6,7
Manley Beasley was a great man of faith. He walked among Southern Baptists giving them more insight into God’s faith-building process than most people ever wanted to know. He would often pose one of this favorite questions to preachers or anyone else seeking a deeper life with Christ. “What are you trusting God for today?”
Bro. Manley’s question was meant to take a person to a whole new level of trust in God. His point was to press believers to understand the full measure of faith, and their complete lack of it. This kind of faith is not a doctrinal position, but a dynamic passion. He wanted to know if people were trusting God for something so impossible and improbable, that if God didn’t come through, they were toast.
Jesus did not protect His disciples from the impossible or the improbable. He confronted them with their lack of faith, over and over again. His questions were designed to bring them to the end of their own resources, and to learn to rely on Him as The Source.
Questioning one’s faith is not always a sign of disbelief in God. It is often an expression of distrust in oneself, or the fear of failure.
Faith is not figuring out what man can do, and financing it as cheap as possible. Faith is facing an impossible crisis, and probable failure with a calm and confidence in God to perform the improbable, and to provide the HIMpossible. Big difference.
Fear, posing as faith, causes the faithless to protect their reputation, by not expecting too much out of God in public. They dilute faith to a form of piety that only allows enough elbowroom for them to do what they are able to do, in their own strength, with their own resources.
At the completion of a task, the protected and the pious engage in an awkward, disingenuous balancing act of giving God the glory, while taking credit for the accomplishment. The contemporary church is often marked, by underwhelming results being claimed by overwhelming egos. It is not a pretty picture, and the world is not impressed by the show. Stop it!
Jesus questioned the disciples’ faith regularly to test if they were improving in their dependence on Him, or leaning on their own wisdom and creativity. Prior to “The Feeding of the 4,000” Jesus stated,
“I feel compassion for the people,…and I do not want to send them away hungry…” Matthew 15:32
The disciples said to Him, “Where would we get so many loaves in this desolate place to satisfy such a large crowd?” And Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’” Matthew 15:34
The disciples were frustrated by the compassion of Jesus, not a hungry crowd of people. Up until the time Jesus spoke about His passion to meet the need of 4,000 people, the disciples had their bases covered. They had seven loaves and some fish and were more than willing to share it among themselves. They were focused on survival. Jesus was interested in revival. He still is.
Revival takes place when the fear of failure dies, and life-giving faith is resurrected. Jesus intended to bring His disciples to the end of their resources, by having them come face to face with the impossibility of meeting the need. Jesus didn’t intend to lower His expectations for His disciples. He focused on raising their level of trust in Him. He still does.
Jesus felt compassion for the people. Feeding them was a natural by-product of His concern for them. The disciples were proud of their association with Jesus, but when asked to share His compassion, they were intimidated. They counted what they had in their hands and trusted in their own resources, to meet the need, not Jesus.
“The Feeding of the 4,000” might more accurately be described as “The Faith-building of The Twelve.” Faced with the impossible, the disciples eventually placed what they had in the hands of Jesus. Jesus performed the improbable and provided the HIMpossible.
Believing prayer faces the fear of failure, by placing any minor inconvenience and every impossible crisis into the hands of Jesus. Believing prayer leans on Jesus to handle it with care.
Note to self: When faced with the fear of failure, and in need of resurrected faith, HANDLE WITH PRAYER. Don’t settle for survival. Expect revival. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!