Sermon - Compassion: Unlocking the Power of the Kingdom

Subject: We do not have enough strength to minister to others if we rely on our natural abilities alone. Complement: By relying on kingdom resources, we can find more than enough power to minister to others. Central Thesis: We can find the power to minister to others in need when we stop relying on our abilities and rely completely on kingdom resources.This sermon is part of a 3-part sermon series I did for Vineyard Leadership Institute.

Compassion: Just Do It (This sermon)
http://www.brianstevenson.com/blog/sermon-compassion-just-do-it

Compassion: A Catalyst for Restoration
http://www.brianstevenson.com/blog/sermon-compassion-a-catalyst-for-rest...

Compassion: Unlocking the Power of the Kingdom (This sermon)
http://www.brianstevenson.com/blog/sermon-compassion-unlocking-the-power...

Subject: We do not have enough strength to minister to others if we rely on our natural abilities alone.
Complement: By relying on kingdom resources, we can find more than enough power to minister to others.
Central Thesis: We can find the power to minister to others in need when we stop relying on our abilities and rely completely on kingdom resources.

Compassion: Unlocking the Power of the Kingdom
Introduction:
[Play Intro Video - 2:43]

I feel sorry for Dr. Marvin. He was just trying to get away from work to get some rest at his lakeside retreat. In the next few scenes, Bob manages to trick Betty to give him the location of Dr. Marvin's retreat, and Bob begins his relentless pursuit to be with Dr. Marvin.

Transition:
Today's Bible passage tells a similar story about a crowd that decides to pursue Jesus even though he and his disciples were trying to get some must needed rest. Please follow along as we read from the book of Mark chapter 6, starting with verse 30.

Mark 6:30-44
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. "This is a remote place," they said, "and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat."

But he answered, "You give them something to eat."
They said to him, "That would take eight months of a man's wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?"

"How many loaves do you have?" he asked. "Go and see."
When they found out, they said, "Five - and two fish."

Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to set before the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

Setting the Stage:
So many people look at this passage and they just see another one of Jesus' amazing miracles. But if we look carefully at the text, we see that Jesus is also illustrating a model for ministry. This model isn't restricted to pastors and "professional" Christians. It's a model for all Christians. We're all servants and ministers of the body of Christ.

Let me bring the story into context. Earlier in this chapter, Jesus sends out his 12 apostles on their very first missions trip. He instructed them to take no food, no bags, and no money. All they had were the clothes they were wearing, a staff, and their sandals. They go from town to town preaching the gospel, driving out demons, and healing the sick. When they came back, it says in verse 30 they, "gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught." Can you imagine their excitement?! I'm sure they had an endless supply of stories to share.

Rest
But, we see in the next verse it says, "so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat." In all of the excitement of their first missions trip, they had worn themselves out. Jesus sees their fatigue and invites them to a quiet place to get some rest. Which brings us to our first point: To be an effective servant, we must take adequate time to REST.

Jesus modeled a balance between ministry and personal time. Serving others can be exhausting, especially when we don't give ourselves permission to take a break. When we fail to regularly separate ourselves from our ministry, we'll become ineffective servants. Our physical fatigue catches up with us and we're always tired. Our emotional stress will fail to find a healthy outlet and we will become short-tempered and snippy when we talk to people.

This lack of rest also affects our family. When we don't take breaks, we can become mentally checked out of what's going on at home. Without rest, we can become preoccupied with ministry and occasionally neglect our responsibilities as a spouse and parent. Since our priorities are out-of-whack, our family doesn't feel the love that they need.

Finally, the flame of our spiritual life starts to die down. We become so busy with our ministry that we've forgotten to spent quality time with the Father. We'll go days, maybe even weeks without quiet time. After awhile, we loose our sense of direction and purpose.

If you feel physically fatigued, emotionally stressed, or spiritually disconnected; listen to these words of Jesus in verse 31, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." If you're not plugged into God's power, you'll run out of energy before the job is done.

Obedience
As the disciples were getting some much needed rest on the boat, they headed toward the solitary place that Jesus had in mind. To their surprise, a huge crowd of people had been waiting for their arrival! You can probably imagine what the disciples were thinking, "Sigh... This isn't a solitary place!"

Jesus sees the crowds and has compassion. Mark even tells us why Jesus had compassion, "they were like sheep without a shepherd." How does Jesus respond to the "need that he sees" and the "compassion that he feels"? He does something about it! Jesus meets their need by becoming their shepherd. This brings us to our second point: When we feel compassion, we must OBEY the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

At first glance, it may seem like Jesus immediately neglected the needs of his disciples upon seeing the needs of the crowd. This is NOT true. This story is told in all four gospels of the Bible. In the book of John, the author notes that Jesus did fulfill his responsibility to the disciples before ministering to the crowd. In John 6:3 it says, "...Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples." First, Jesus fulfilled his responsibility to his disciples, and then ministered to the crowd second. Practically speaking, if we're ever in a situation where we're called to minister unexpectedly, we should be careful not to neglect our other responsibilities. Jesus was obedient to the Holy Spirit's call to minister unexpectedly, and he did it responsibly.

Power
Some time later in the afternoon, the disciples approached Jesus as he was ministering to the crowd and they said, "This is a remote place, and it's already very late. Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." It seems like a valid concern and a reasonable solution, right? I find it hard to believe that these disciples didn't have an ulterior motive. This is a REMOTE place and it's VERY late. Send the people AWAY so they can eat. Clearly, they want the crowd to go so they can have Jesus all to themselves. After all, their time with Jesus on the mountainside probably got cut short because of the crowd. I love Jesus' response, "YOU give them something to eat."

The response from the disciples is hilarious! "That would take EIGHT MONTHS of a MAN'S wages! Are WE to go and spend THAT much on bread and give it to them to eat?" Their frustration with the crowd has now been exposed! To top it off, Jesus passed the responsibility of feeding the crowd over to his disciples. They're clearly upset and don't want that responsibility because they consider it be an impossible feat. Let's see another clip from "What about Bob" to see what happens when we operate from our own strength.
[Play Closing Video - 0:57]

You've ruined MY life, you've ruined MY career, you've ruined MY book. Dr. Marvin completely snapped when he realized that he had lost the power to control the situation.

This brings us to our third point: We must meet needs with the power of the KINGDOM, not with the power of MAN. The disciples made the mistake of trying to fully satisfy the needs of the crowd by using the strength and resources of MAN. Jesus responds to the need using a KINGDOM mindset.
1) God will use what you have; in this case it was 5 loaves and two fish.
2) Dedicate what you have to the Father; in this case Jesus blesses the food.
3) If you're lacking anything, God will provide the rest; in this case the food was multiplied to meet the need.

Kingdom resources never run out. God will always finance and provide for the things he has called you to do. If you're operating from your own strength, your own understanding, and you own resources, you will burn out before fulfilling what God has called you to do.

Conclusion
When we read the New Testament, it seems like some of the best lessons about ministry are when the disciples are messing things up. They're making the exact same mistakes two-thousand years ago that we making today. In this story alone, there are so many practical lessons about a kingdom-centric ministry that I want you to remember:

First, if your tank is empty, you won't be able to finish the race. Like we saw in the first movie clip with Dr. Marvin, we must find time to remove ourselves from ministry to get some rest. If you haven't had time alone with God in a long time, you're probably not tapped into the full power of the kingdom. If you're marriage and family is feeling neglecting instead of feeling loved, you're probably not accessing the power of the kingdom.

Second, we must be obedient to the calling of the Holy Spirit. Every time Jesus was presented with an opportunity to minister, he did. His method was simple. He saw the crowds, felt compassion, and took responsible action. If you're not making responsible decisions in your ministry, you're probably not accessing the power of the kingdom. If you're not being obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you're probably not accessing the power of the kingdom.

Third, put your faith in the power of kingdom resources not the power of man's resources. If you're looking into yourself for strength instead of looking up to the Father, you're probably not accessing the power of the kingdom. If you're placing your trust in man and not placing your trust in God, you probably don't have a kingdom mentality. If you're not dedicating all your resources to God, you're probably not relying on the power of the kingdom.

We can find the POWER to minister to others in need when we stop relying on OUR abilities and rely completely on KINGDOM resources.

[tags]Sermon, Thesis, Compassion, Kingdom of God, Rest, Obedience, Power, Power of the Kingdom, kingdom resources, ministry, Mark 6:30-44, VLI, Vineyard, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christianity[/tags]