Well, HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOPE CITY! Can you even believe this? Here we are celebrating our 1 year anniversary as a church. It has been an incredible year. I loved watching that recap video along with you. What a year it has been! Our staff team met this past week and I asked the question, what was your favorite memory or experience from this past year at Hope City. It was so good to be able to look back and celebrate God’s faithfulness to our church. I hope that today serves as a moment for you to see God’s faithfulness in your life. Because when we focus on God’s faithfulness we are encouraged, or filled with courage to navigate the future! I hope you’ll stick around afterwards and celebrate with us, we’ve got a meal for everyone here… The Taco Truck and the ice cream truck is here to take care of us… This is completely free of charge, we just want you to stick around and enjoy being together.
I love celebrations. One of the things I really love is that when we are celebrating, there is usually some special food that is prepared for that celebration. On my birthday I always choose a grilled skirt steak in a perfect marinade… SO GOOD! Come on. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
When Tiffany and I were first married, for her Birthday celebration, someone decided to make her something special. They knew she loved chocolate, and that she loved coconut. What could be better than Coconut Brownies? They look normal, smell normal, but something was TERRIBLY wrong. These brownies tasted TERRIBLE! We found out that the well-intentioned baker had used coconut extract in the mix. Apparently, this does not work! Just a few dashes she said. This is a classic case of A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY!
You know this…
• Perfume!!! WOAH! What did you do, take a bath in it?
• Hot Sauce- Your forehead is sweating
• Leah’s Shower Incident-
A little goes a long way! But we also live by another statement… We have an approach to life sometimes where it’s either “ALL OR NOTHING”
Anyone already given up on your New Years Resolutions?
• You were defeated by the diet??? You missed one meal and so you decided to eat four more chik-fil-a sandwhiches. It’s all or nothing.
• The Exercise Plan stayed on paper and never happened! If you’re not going to run 3 miles a day, you might as well just sit on the couch eating cake…
• You were going to mitigate your marriage. You were going to work on the issues, iron out the kinks, and 2018 was going to be the year you fell in love again. But there he goes again… underwear on the floor, same old glare, same old ingratitude.
Too often we give up because we think we can’t! “He’ll never change, or she’ll never forgive me.” They are inadequate! They are insufficient for their defined purpose”. What it was designed for it is incapable of doing. Inadequacy is sneaky… it’s a mind game. See, feelings of Inadequacy sneak in and they magnify your shortcomings while minimizing your strengths. Inadequacy tries to convince you that the results aren’t good enough and that you should just give up!
Basically you convince yourself with another catch phrase… “Why Bother”. We say this when something is not worth the trouble. Something is harder than it is worth.
Too often we feel like we’re not enough. Not good enough, not strong enough, not smart enough, not beautiful enough, not courageous enough. And we end up convincing ourselves that we are not capable of making a difference.
My guess is that there is somewhere in your life today you feel like something is beyond all hope. That it could never change, and never improve. Maybe it’s your wife’s cooking… Stop elbowing… or maybe it’s someone’s attitude. It seems that it is too big of a task, too big of a mountain to climb and it just seems overwhelming. So why bother?
In Matthew chapter 14 we see an incredible story of what Jesus does with people who say, “WHY BOTHER”? Turn with me to Matthew 14:15-21. That’s found on page 668 in the Bibles around you. If you’ve been following along on the #40DayChallenge, then you read this passage this past week. This is the scene where Jesus was surrounded by a crowd of people who wanted to be near Him to learn from Him and witness His miracles, witness the amazing things that He would do. Jesus was healing the sick and serving this community. Look at verse 15…
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Matthew 14:15
The disciples, Jesus closest friends, were those men who were following Jesus day in and day out to learn what He did. How He acted, what He cared about, how He treated the poor, how He handled money… And here they are with Jesus after a long day of ministry, their tired… They’ve been surrounded by crowds all day and they’re probably ready for some down time. “Send the crowds away Jesus. Can’t it just be the 12 of us and you? Let’s roast marshmallows tonight and you can tell us some Holy Ghost Stories.” … …(Pause) … … guys that’s a legit pastor joke, which is almost as bad as dad jokes!
Send the crowds away so they can buy some food! It’s late! They’re gonna be hungry.
The disciples had already figured out that there were several things going against them. It was late… they were in a remote place… In other words, there are no Chik-Fil-A’s around… If we don’t send them away now, we are going to have a situation on our hands.
16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:16
“Well, now we are definitely going to have a situation on our hands Jesus.” Can you imagine? I can hear Peter saying this… Or maybe James and John are snickering under their breath… “Yeah. We’ll give them something to eat. That’s gonna happen. This guy… Who does He think He is?”
Do you know what they wanted to say? “WHY BOTHER!” There is no way we can do this on our own. This is impossible. But here’s what they said to Jesus.
17“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Matthew 14:17
I’m not sure if you missed this Jesus. But this is all we’ve got. Again, the disciples are saying, we’ve ONLY got 5 loaves and 2 fish! What could we possibly do with ONLY this?
I love this response from Jesus… It’s so perfect.
18 “Bring them here to me”, He said. 19And He directed the people to sit down on the grass. 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 the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Pt. 1 | God uses little things to make a big impact
Can’t you hear Jesus saying this? “Bring them to me… come on, come on, come on… just watch.” Don’t miss this… God uses little things to make a big impact! What did Jesus do? He took five loaves and two fish, and fed 5,000 people with it. There is nothing normal about this. This goes against all odds, it goes against explanation… And yet, this is what God does!
Don’t miss this, look up here…
Inadequacy will tell you that what you have is not enough. That God can’t use it because it doesn’t qualify. It’s like the signs at amusement parks that say you must be 42” tall to ride this ride. Everyone who comes up short gets short changed. They aren’t allowed on. They have to sit and watch from the sidelines. That is the lie that Inadequacy whispers…
Have you ever felt like that? Everyone else is doing something and you’re not? Well, let me remind you that God uses little things to make a big impact.
Here at Hope City we encourage you to be inviting your friends, neighbors, and family to join you. And it’s been amazing to see how something as simple and small as an invitation makes a big impact.
Listen in as a few of my friends share their story.
God uses little things to make a big impact! Isn’t that amazing?!? Every time I hear their stories I get excited because God is using you all to make a difference in the lives of people here in our community. You have no idea what a simple conversation could do in someone else’s life. When you spend a few more moments and linger in a conversation, or say something encouraging to another person, you have no idea what that could do, how that could serve as a catalyst in other ways.
Or what about serving your neighbors, and those who are in need? This year we’ve made it one of our goals to get serious about increasing our compassion. We have made it our goal to feed 5,000 meals to our homeless friends here in Sarasota. Each Thursday night there is a team of people who make meals to bring down to the 10th street boat ramp and feed the homeless population there. And through your financial generosity you have made it possible to provide for these meals. But we aren’t going to stop with just paying for them. We are going to be creating ways for you to get involved and go downtown to spend 45 minutes feeding some of the most overlooked people in our city. Can’t you hear Jesus saying, “You give them something to eat?”
Another thing that we are doing this year is to care for the thirsty. You and I take for granted the fact that we can open our tap and clean water comes out. There are far too many people around this world that are dying from dirty water. They have no access to clean drinking water. And we aim to change that. April 21st-28th Hope City is sending out a clean water team to go to La Maquina Guatmalla to bring the hope of clean water, but even more importantly the HOPE of the LIVING WATER found in Jesus.
This is why we have these Tervis Tumblers for sale, and a few Hats available today… Each well costs $5,000 to install. And every clean water well will serve on average 500 people a day for a lifetime. That means that for 10 dollars, you can provide clean water for one person for their lifetime. All money from these cups and hats will go directly to the sponsorship of this well. So please be generous! Maybe you can afford to GIVE more… Or maybe you can afford to GO to Guatemala with us. We’ve got two spots left! God uses little things to make a big impact!
Pt. 2 | God uses what you have to accomplish what He wants!
You know what else I love though about this interaction with Jesus? Look back at verse 19.
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 the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
He put it back in the disciple’s hands and said, now you go and distribute it. You feed the people. “But Jesus, we only have…” Yeah… I hear you. But I want these people to be fed!
God uses what you have to accomplish what He wants! It doesn’t matter if there are 5,000 people in a remote part of town, far away from the closest grocery store. Our man made constraints do not intimidate God! God isn’t scared of your inadequacy, in fact, God is glorified through them! Look at what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Paul is saying, do you not realize? My goal is that everyone would know Christ. They would know Him as their savior, the one who died on the cross for forgiveness of sins. And when people look at my weakness’, they have no other option but to see Christ in me. Paul knew the truth that God uses what you have to accomplish what He wants!
You may be here today and be thinking I’m just not sure that there is anything I have that God can use! You sound just like the disciples… “We only have five loaves and two fish.” We only have. And look what Jesus did through that?
I wonder what could happen if you would let God use what you already have. This is the beautiful part about following Jesus. Jesus doesn’t love you because of who you are going to be. Jesus doesn’t love some future version of you. Jesus loves you for who you are right now.
Some of you have been told that:
• Your divorce disqualifies you from what God could do with you.
• Some of you have heard that your unplanned pregnancy meant you were inadequate and incapable.
• Some of you experienced rejection and judgement when others found out about your secret habits and hangups.
God couldn’t love you anymore than He does right now. But He loves you enough not to leave you the way that you are right now. Religion is about performance. Relationship is about Grace! It’s not about what you do. It’s about what Jesus did. Through God’s grace, we are forgiven, restored, and redeemed for an incredible purpose!
Over the past year we have had over 100+ people serve on our dream team week in and week out. They have given what they have, in order to see something incredible happen. They don’t give of their time to just set up equipment, or to babysit kids. They are investing their time in the lives of people. Our dream team has given of themselves so that you and your friends, your family can come to church to find and take your next steps in your journey of faith. Imagine what could happen if you were to join the dream team? We’ve got a place for you! Our Roadies team is looking for people who can help us set up church to create a distraction free environment for you and your family. Our hospitality team works hard to ensure that Hope City is a place where people feel welcomed home. That this is an extension of your living room. We want people to come to church and feel welcomed and loved. Our kids and student ministry team are here to intentionally invest and develop the next generation. To help them have a faith that sticks. To personally know Jesus and grow in their own faith.
Imagine what God would do through you when you let Him use what you have to accomplish what He wants.
Little things grow when God is involved
Did you see what happened when the disciples allowed God to do just that?
20They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
That’s everyone!!!! 5,000 men plus women, and children. All from 5 loaves and 2 fish! The disciples then went around and picked up 12 additional baskets of leftovers. Can’t you hear Jesus saying, AND YOU GET A GOODIE BAG. YOU GET A GOODIE BAG. AND YOU GET A GOODIE BAG! 12 baskets leftover huh? That’s cool bro.
Do you know what happened? From 5 loaves and 2 fish a massive crowd was fed. Listen to me, Little things grow when God is involved.
Let me tell you how Hope City started. Almost 2 years ago, my wife Tiffany and I prayed and asked God, what do you want us to do? Should we move? Should we start a new church? And we felt God calling us to start a new church here in Sarasota to help people who were disconnected from God find a place where they could meaningfully connect with God and others. We started talking about this, and over the course of 9 months, 42 people committed to start this church. Before we knew it would look like, before we knew what it would feel like, we knew that God was calling us to be #ForSarasota, because He was #ForSarasota. We met for 9 months in a borrowed church building to plan and prepare for what God could possibly do through this dream.
In fact, if you ever attended one of our evening launch team meetings I want to ask you to stand right now. Thank you! Thank you for believing in what God could do before you were able to see it. Look around! Here we are One Year Later! Do you see what happens when God gets involved? Little things grow! With God, anything is possible!
Here at Hope City we have seen God grow our church and develop our church. One of my favorite days from this entire year has been our Baptism Sunday. I loved watching and hearing stories of how people have placed their faith in Jesus Christ and what God is doing in their life now. Little things grow when God is involved.
This applies as much to a church plant as it does your own faith. I wonder what is God trying to grow in you? What area of your faith is God trying to expand and increase? God fed 5,000 people with just a little bit of bread. He can feed your soul with just a little bit of faith!
And yet you may be saying, “Why Bother” though. Let me tell you why WE BOTHER. We bother because you matter to God, and to us. There are people in our family, people we’re friends with who need Hope. The kind of Hope that only God can provide. The same kind of Hope that we see when God used 12 men to feed 5,000 people. He can use this church and others here in Sarasota to see people come back to Him and find Hope as they trust Him as their Lord and Savior.
Do you know why we bother? Because Jesus put the bread in the disciples hands to feed the people. The source of the feeding was all God. But the resources that God used were humans. The work of the disciples, the bread of human effort is honored, used and magnified by Jesus. See, we’re going to WORK like it depends on us, and PRAY like it DEPENDS on God.
Big Change Begins With Small Steps.
So let me ask you… What do you need to change this year? What is God asking you to do? Don’t worry about the results right now… Focus on your willingness. The disciples were too focused on the results. Jesus, there are so many people! We couldn’t possibly feed them all, send them away. All they could see was the impossibility of what was being asked and they completely missed out on being willing to serve.
These men saw an incredible thing happen. God did something incredible in their midst, but it started with a small step. It started with 5 loaves and 2 fish. I wonder what Big Change Could Begin with A Small Step in your life?
How about in your marriage or your relationships with others? Anyone here interested in God doing something incredible there? What if you said, “God, use what I’ve got to do what only you can do.” Your marriage, & Your relationships with others would never be deeper and more meaningful than this.
Imagine what you faith would be like when you stepped out in trust and allowed God to do what only He can do. When you took the next right step, no matter how small it may be! Your faith will never be the same.
Imagine what our church would be like if we each said, God, here’s what I’ve got. Here’s my time, my talent, and my treasure. You can use what you want, how you want. Imagine what God could do through kingdom minded servants like that? Our church would never be the same. I stand here today looking back over the course of this past year and I can tell you that God has done some amazing things. Things I could never have imagined! But I want to see God do more!
Imagine the impact in our community that the Hope of God can bring? The best is yet to come!!!