Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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12 – Stairway to Heaven – Nathanael – Part 1

John 1:45-51

45 Philip went to look for Nathanael and told him, “We have found the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about! His name is Jesus, the son of Joseph from Nazareth.”46 “Nazareth!” exclaimed Nathanael. “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”“Come and see for yourself,” Philip replied.47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”48 “How do you know about me?” Nathanael asked.Jesus replied, “I could see you under the fig tree before Philip found you.”49 Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!”50 Jesus asked him, “Do you believe this just because I told you I had seen you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” 51 Then he said, “I tell you the truth, you will all see heaven open and the angels of God going up and down on the Son of Man, the one who is the stairway between heaven and earth”

Bartholomew was one of Jesus’ 12 apostles, he was known by two names: “Bartholomew and Nathanael ” He was from Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine. Cana is 5 miles north of Nazareth. His name means God has given or gift of God which reveals something about his parents. His story actually begins with Philip and Jesus:


Jesus makes a personal proposal to Philip: “Follow me.” It was a simple and direct invitation where He made no effort to try to convince Philip. There is no record of Philip’s direct response, but we do know that he obeyed and followed. But this proposal was not just for Philip. Jesus offers the same proposal to us: “Follow me.” It’s here that we see God’s invitation to relationship. Why don’t we run to Him? Often, it’s because we get so entangled in the web of religion that we fail to see the invitation to relationship. Religion is our search for God, but relationship is God’s search for us. Jesus invitation to follow Him shows us exactly what true Christianity is, it’s going where Jesus leads. In John 12:23-26 Jesus applies this truth of following Him as He says: 23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.”If you were to take a kernel or seed of wheat and just set it on a desk it would remain alone, it would be a single seed. But if you dig a grave for this seed, and if it falls into the ground and dies and you bury it in the grave, well later it will come bursting up out of the ground, giving life to many other seeds. That’s what Jesus did, He came to this earth not to live alone, not to live for Himself, but rather to die for others, and be buried in a grave, so that later He might rise from the dead, giving eternal life to millions of people. But notice how Jesus applies this word picture. He says “whoever serves me must follow Me”, the meaning is to follow Him to death. In other words, Christianity is not about living the American dream, looking out for number 1, grabbing all you can get. No, it is about following Jesus by giving up my own plans, dying to my own life, giving myself up in service to others. We want the security of salvation, but do we want the sacrifice of service? So, let me ask you a few challenging questions:

  • Are you really committed to following Jesus wherever He goes?
  • Are you committed to dying to sinful selfish habits and replacing them with the Savior?
  • Are you committed to serving Him with your life?
  • What if He calls you to leave your family and work overseas? Would you go?
  • Parents, what if God truly calls our precious children to serve Him will you encourage them to follow Jesus?

It’s here that second, we see the:

  1. PASSION (Vs 45)

Following for Philip included inviting others. When you are excited about what you have you share it, that is why Philip goes and find his friend Nathanael. The truth is your perception of Jesus will drive your passion for Him. Philip understood who he had but he was mistaken about who had found who! Often, we will say we have found Jesus but in reality, Jesus found us. He describes Jesus as the very person Moses and the prophets wrote about, this wasn’t just reading it was real. Has it become real for you, are you only reading about Jesus or are you in a relationship with Him? The simple proposal of Jesus to follow him prompted Philip to seek out others who would want to follow Jesus. How passionate are you for Jesus? How do you know if you are passionate about something or someone, its who or what you talk about? Many of us spend more time talking about sports or self than we do the Savior. We say we can’t memorize God’s Word, yet we remember all the sports stats and all the stories. We don’t have a memorizing problem we have a passion problem. Who are you sharing Jesus with? Who are you actively pursuing and inviting to come to Christ? Do we have an accurate perception of who Jesus is? Because if we see Him as the Savior of the world and the solution to sin then we would be sharing Him? If Christ is the cure to the cancer of sin, then why would we be silent? Who do you know that needs Jesus? Who is your Nathanael?


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11. Philip – The Problem and the Provider – Part 3


5 Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” 6 He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. 7 Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”8 Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. 9 “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”10 “Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) 11 Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. 12 After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” 13 So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

It’s here that we see that part of Jesus plan is a call for us to:

  • Participate

God’s plan for our problems includes our participation. When we place our inadequacies in His Hands He Provides. The boy with five loaves and two fish was the poorest of the poor, what he had was so far below the bare minimum of what was needed that Andrew considered it nothing. Yet his insufficient “nothing” fed everyone how, by exchanging hands. What is significant is not WHAT we have but WHO we have! We want to give out of our strengths, we feel some sense of pride about giving our best, about giving up what is really quite valuable, what we think “God needs.” Jesus taught us the truth about this  when He was at the temple, and he “looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins, equivalent to a penny. And he said, ‘Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.’ (Luke 21.1-4). When we give out of abundance, we are tempted to imagine that we have enriched God. But God does not need our gifts; he is after our faith in his goodness. It is when we give out of our poverty, when all we have to give is totally inadequate, a mere penny, that we realize that it is God that is enriching us not us enriching Him. If the only thing you have to offer is a broken heart, offer your broken heart. Nothing I have, nothing I am will be refused by Jesus I simply need to give it to Him as the little boy gave Jesus his five loaves and two small fishes. You may ask like the disciples did ‘What good is that for such a large problem?’ But the use He makes of it is none of my business; it is His business, it is His blessing. So, this grief, this loss, this suffering, this pain this I can offer. In the exchange of hands I am brought to a greater recognition of who He is. This little boy lost his lunch; but ended up eating more than his fill. He gave everything and ended up with more. Math in God’s kingdom is different than we expect! It is common to be paralyzed by inadequacy, we hold back because our focus is on WHAT we have not WHO we have. If we wait until we have enough to give we will never open up our hands to God. We want much to offer before we offer anything. In a futile effort to get much, we grow discouraged and miss the joy of living for God. We miss the great workings of God because we are unwilling to accept the humility of giving what little we have, we hoard, hoping for enough to attempt a great work for God. I can give what I have because it’s not what I give but God’s miracle that changes the world.

  • Provision
  1. Involved Prayer

Jesus thanked God why because the provision is not just focusing on the problem but the provider. The provision reminds us that we not only have a provider but who that provider is, Jesus points us to the Father. Prayer reminds us of His Power and Position. Jesus multiples the food so that you will know that he alone is the way to the Father. The consistency between the Old and New Testament is the provider God. In the Old Testament when the people left Egypt during the Exodus God provided manna here He provides bread. When all is said and done the provision is so great that there are left overs. There is more to eat after all have eaten than there was before the first bite! Jesus is our provision He is the bread of life and the filling of the multitude is a testimony to the sufficiency of Christ. He not only fills but he fills to overflowing. Are you empty today do you need to be filled? Then come to Jesus the bread of life.

  1. Involves the Disciples

Jesus provided the miracle and invited the disciples to participate in serving the food. Today we want involvement free miracles but serving the Savior is not a Spectator Sport!  The disciples were not just involved in serving but also in clean up. Serving means sharing what Jesus has done with others. Jesus wants us to serve He tested Philip and he got overwhelmed with what it would take to serve others. When we really count the cost its beyond what we can meet but not beyond what Jesus can do. Philip was involved in serving the baskets of food because He obeyed the Savior. If you want to serve you have to focus on the Savior and ignore self, when you do you will become overwhelmed with His power instead of the problem. We have become so self-seeking as a culture that very few actually serve. We have turned Christianity into what we can get instead of what we can give. Worship has become about how it affects me not how it glorifies God. We want His church designed to meet our needs not the LOST. We have replaced ministry with me.

  • We say, “It’s impossible”; God says: “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
  • We say, “I’m too tired”; God says: “I will give you rest.”
  • We say, “Nobody really loves me”; God says: “I love you.”
  • We say: “I can’t go on.” God says: “My grace is sufficient; my power is made perfect in weakness.”
  • We say, “I can’t figure things out.” God says: “I will direct your steps.”
  • We say, “I can’t do it.” God says: “You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you.”
  • We say, “It’s not worth it.” God says: “I am working all things together for your good.”
  • We say, “I can’t forgive myself.” God says: “I forgive you.”
  • We say, “I can’t manage.” God says: “I will supply every need according to my riches in glory.”
  • We say, “I’m afraid.” God says: “Fear not, I am with you.”
  • We say, “I’m worried.” God says: “Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care for you.”
  • We say, “I’m not smart enough.” God says: “I give you the wisdom of my son, Jesus, and his righteousness and sanctification and redemption.”
  • We say, “I feel all alone.” God says: “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

So who are you trusting in today, is it self or the Savior?