United Presbyterian Church of West Orange

"Membership Has Its Privileges"
by Minister Kim Braxton
July 25, 2021



Focus Scripture: John 6:1-21 (NASB)

Supporting Scriptures: Proverbs 3:5-6


      1) When faced with obstacles turn to God first.

       2) Don’t Rush. Wait for God.


Let us pray “Father, I pray that in the same way that Your Spirit hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation let Your Spirit hover and rest heavily upon me and Your people today. I ask that the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you and that Your Word will break every chain, set every captive free and allow your people to rest in the liberty of knowing they are accepted and welcomed in Your family. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.


Good morning! Although the scripture passages for this morning’s message are long I promise that I won’t be before you long. I would like to highlight just two themes that jumped out at me from the reading. But before we get into the text let me ask you a simple question - - how many of you have a credit card? And for those of you that have a credit card, have you ever explored all the benefits of your card? I’m not talking about the interest rate, APR stuff. I’m talking about all the benefits that you get because you chose to use THAT particular card? Stay with me there is a point in here. Back in the day when I gave no second thoughts of getting on an airplane and sitting close to a stranger for a few hours - - my friend and I planned to go on a trip together.

Now, even though we were staying at the same location and flying on the same flight we purchased our airline tickets separately using our respective credit cards. On the surface our tickets looked exactly the same; however, the difference between the tickets was determined by the method of purchase. See my credit card came with the benefit of free Global Entry and TSA precheck, my friend’s card did not. That meant when we arrived at the airport a few hours early to check-into for our international flight my friend had to go through the long serpentine line through airport security, to be body scanned, patted down, and take her shoes off. While I skipped my happy self through the shorter line with my shoes on practically waving at folks saying “morning!” and smiling. The benefits didn’t end there - - once my friend was liberated from the TSA security check point and had her shoes back on we had to find a place to sit to kill some time. She started to walk to the gate. I stopped her because my credit card gave also gave me free access to the cushy airport lounge and I was allowed to bring a guest. So instead of waiting at the gate in those uncomfortable seats waiting to board for hours. We were able to have breakfast, enjoy free wifi, had charging stations for our phones and more importantly comfortable chairs to wait in. What’s the lesson here. We both had the same plane ticket, paid the same price for them, but based on who my card was affiliated with I got access to so much more.


See membership has its privileges.


This brings us to this morning’s text. In this long passage of scripture through a series of miracles Jesus shows His disciples who he truly is and gives them a glimpse of the power he possesses. It’s like a public service announcement. Like Jesus is announcing “Allow me to reintroduce myself.” The disciples may have thought they knew Jesus but they were about to have their eyes opened again.

In verse 5 Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread so that these people may eat?” the text reveals to us in Verse 6 that Jesus already knew what He was going to do but he wanted to test His disciples. Well, Philip looked at the crowd and made an instant

determination based on his limited resources that they didn’t have enough money to buy all the food needed to feed the people, verse 8, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not enough for them, for each to receive just a little!” in Philip’s mind the solution was clear.

The people weren’t getting anything to eat. End of Discussion. We can’t be too harsh on Philip though - - isn’t this exactly what some of those other people do at that church down the road from us. The first determining factor of whether we can proceed with a major

decision is based either on the cost of the project / object or the size of the budget. Philip’s response reflected where his focus lied – he was thinking of “money and marketplace.”


           “We can’t afford to send you to this school. It’s too much expensive.”

          “Don’t bother to show me that building! It’s way over my budget.”


What Philip failed to take into consideration in his financial analysis was that he was standing in the presence of Jesus. The one who makes the impossible, possible. The difficult, easy and

the unobtainable, accessible. Jesus, the bread of life, asked Philip “how can we feed the people” and he limited his response based on earthly resources.


Not to be outdone Andrew joined the conversation in Verse 9 but he took another track. He looked for the more practical solution, ” 9There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” Philip tried to look for a practical solution based on what was immediately available to him. He saw the boy there with his loaves and fish and he may have felt a spark of hope. Then he quickly realized it was nowhere near enough to feed all the people that were present. Andrew limited his solution to the practical.


He didn’t have faith that a solution was available for the problem of feeding the people. Once again we shouldn’t be too hard on Andrew. I mean, aren’t we guilty of doing the same thing in our lives?:


    “This is a nice building. It’s not what I wanted and it doesn’t have all the facilities I need but it’s available.”

    “He/She is really nice. They have a nice house, a nice car, a nice job. It just makes sense to just settle down and marry them. They’re available.”


Philip and Andrew based their decisions either on the resources on hand or the practicality of the available solutions. But what they both missed in their limited assessment of the situation was the Unlimited Power of Jesus who was standing in their midst! Even

though they had seen Jesus perform other miracles and do the impossible before they completely overlooked His Power and His Ability to solve this problem. To overcome this obstacle. They underestimated the ability of the person in their midst. Proverbs Chapter 3 verses 5-6 state, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight”. These two disciples were leaning on their own limited understanding instead of trusting in the Lord.


Just imagine how the text would have read IF when Jesus asked the question “how can we feed them?” Both disciples answered, “Lord, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”


In our day to day lives don’t minimize the access that you have been granted to approach the throne of grace through prayer. You are in a privileged position because your requests can be heard by a God that is able to do above all that you can ask or think. Why are you limiting yourself only to what you can see, touch, understand and control? Trust God. Go to Him and trust that He will work on your behalf. Imitate Jesus who in all things, in every circumstance, submitted himself to God. Even in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:42 when he prayed, “42saying “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”


Here’s the takeaway – don’t lean on your limited assessment

of a situation when working on a solution or making decisions. Put your trust in the Lord first and then act. Remember He promised in Matthew 28:20, “lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


Now we move to the next section of the passage. Where we discover that Jesus wasn’t quite finished with displaying His power. After the people were fed he retreated to be by himself on a mountain. So the disciples went to the lake and got into a boat

to go to Capernaum, at night, WITHOUT Jesus. My question for the disciples would be, “Why did you Leave WITHOUT Jesus? What was the rush?” There wasn’t another Savior of all mankind waiting on the other side of the Lake. Emmanuel, God is with us wasn’t with them in the boat. Jesus, was still on the mountain doing “Jesus things”. They just witnessed Jesus feed 5,000 men with leftovers to spare…. and you think you’re Safer at Night. on a lake. In a boat. Leaving HIM behind? Once again - - what was the rush?


Back to the text…. The disciples go out onto the lake and the winds pick up and the water gets rough. They are trying their best to make it to shore. And then here comes Jesus in verse 19 just walking on the water. This is nothing new to Him in Genesis Chapter 1 Verses

2-3 it reads, “And the earth was a formless and desolate emptiness, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.” Since the very beginning of creation the Spirit of God has been hovering over the surface of water and speaking light into the even darkest of places. In verse 20 Jesus says, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” They were willing to take Jesus into the boat instead they immediately reached where they were heading.


Second Take Away – Don’t Rush. Wait for Jesus. You will save yourself so much time, effort, aggravation, stress, and worry if you wait for the Lord’s timing. Think about how scared the disciples must have been on the lake, in a boat, at night with the wind kicking up and the waves getting rough. In our attempts to rush the process at worse we could create a bigger problem for ourselves and at the very least we risk disturbing our peace. I’m thinking of a verse from the Hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” “Oh, what peace we often forfeit, Oh, what needless pain we bear,


All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer! Don’t Rush. Wait for God. Respect God’s timing. Because He’s always right on time. Trust that He meant what He said in Jeremiah 29:11, that He has “‘plans for prosperity and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”


In conclusion I can summarize this message by encouraging you to ALSO remember that you are a member of God’s family;

and Membership has its privileges.   --      AMEN