Chapter 15

The Things Christ Has In Mind

He himself knew what he would do.
John 6:6

     Apart from the resurrection of Jesus, only the miracle of the loaves and fishes excites all the gospel writers so that none of them feels Christ's story is fully told without it. An exciting missionary adventure of teaching and miracles was dashed by news of John the Baptizer's assassination. That heartbreaking news came at an especially taxing time. In an effort to achieve some rest and relaxation, Christ and His disciples retired across the lake called Galilee. That was the backdrop for an incredibly timeless human story that many of us first heard as children. Of all the gospel writers, only John writes that Jesus, "knew what he would do" (John 6:6).
       The disciples, even though they had witnessed many miracles in the preceding days, were frustrated when Jesus suggested feeding the multitude. It was a long way from any place to buy food and feeding five thousand people would be a costly exercise, they reasoned. They had no idea what the sovereign Christ "had in mind to do." Life is full of far-fetched demands for which our resources seem inadequate. The disciples would have sent the people away hungry. But Jesus pledges, "Him that cometh to me I will in no way cast out"( John 6:37).
     Still, in a variety of ways we say, "Send them away." Such is our mindset.
      In 2 Kings chapter 4 there is a telling account of a sick young prince who seeks his father's help. His father, the king, orders a servant,
"Carry him to his mother." "Send him away!" Too many men in our generation echo that when it comes to providing leadership at home: "Leave it to my wife," they say by their silent abdication; or worse, "Leave it to the media to teach them life's important values about morality, language, relationships, and absolutes."
      Similarly, thousands call themselves friends of the church, yet do a naked nothing to advance Christ's work through her. Forfeiting opportunities to make a positive difference in Christ's name, they leave others to carry the load. Their cry of non-involvement says, "Don't bother us. Send the needy away!" So, Christ's call to service echoes with every generation, "The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few" (Luke 10:2).
      Abortion is not unlike that. In its attempt to quickly  escape a difficult situation at the cost of a child's life, to "Send it away," so to speak, it misses something wonderful Christ "has in mind." Imagine how different the history of Europe would have been in this century had Winston Churchill's unmarried mother chosen to abort him.
      Suicide, the second highest cause of death among U.S. young people, is the ultimate wishing away. Curt Cobain and Margeaux Hemingway are but two recent well-known examples. Others wish themselves away. David, forsaken by a fair weather friend, wanted out:  "Oh, that I could fly away!"  he exclaims, (see Psalm 55:6). Jeremiah's congregation nearly drove him crazy and he wept, "I wish I could get away from them" (cf. Jeremiah 9:2). Jonah, called to preach in Nineveh, ran away.
      Then, of course, there was that carpenter fellow from Nazareth, Joseph. His fiancee, Mary, was expecting a baby he was not certain was his. Because he was a decent fellow, Joseph
"had in mind" to put her away quietly rather than embarrass her. It was a nice thought and well intended. But God had in mind something, more accurately, Someone, that would transform history. Joseph's betrothed had been selected to birth God's Savior who would come to Bethlehem's manger and later to Calvary's cross for our sins.
    "The people murmered against Moses"(Exodus 15:24). Now, they grumbled against Christ and the potential of five thousand new disciples, of all things. Complaining is nothing new. It is an age old way of running from a problem when we have closed our mind to the possibilities Christ "already has in mind."
      Philip griped. "Eight months wages," he said, would not be enough. His was the failed faith of the bottom line that always comes up short. We see it in various forms. People with undersized faith complain and run away when something is not to their liking. They miss what Christ "has in mind." How often in church history, I wonder, has revival been forfeited because we evangelicals ran, rather than standing for the message we claim to hold so dear?
      Do you remember that famous Clint Eastwood closing line from the movie, Dirty Harry? Clint says to the bad guy, "You can run but you'll never hide." Long before Hollywood scripted it, John Milton's Satan learned that you can run but you cannot hide. There is a principle so woven into the fabric of life that it cannot be separated. No matter where you run you always take yourself with you:

"Infinite woe and infinite despair:
Which way I fly is hell; myself am hell!"

      Even Satan realizes we run most often from ourselves and blame it on others. David and Jeremiah stayed. Jonah finally turned and went to Nineveh. Churchill was born, and the world has seen at least something of what God, "Already had in mind." Most important of all, Joseph stood by Mary, who had her baby and the world can never be the same again.

The Things Christ Had in Mind!

      I like Andrew. He was different from the other disciples. Of all the disciples, he is my favorite, because Andrew is a bringer. Andrew brought his brother Peter to Jesus. I'm quite certain that when he did that, Andrew had no idea Christ would look behind Peter's rough exterior and see not only a Galilaean fisherman but one who had in him the strong foundation which would serve as an example for later church development. That is how Christ is. He sees not only the actualities in us, He also sees the possibilities. Bringers discover the amazing miracles that Christ "already has in mind."
      Now, while the rest complain about the high cost of groceries, Andrew brings a wee boy with a lunch. It was not much. In his own way Andrew says, "It ain't much, but it's all I got." All he could find was all Christ needed. Five barley loaves and two small fishes were the seeds of this great miracle.
      I would rather bring than complain any day, wouldn't you? Last week an executive in one of the high rise buildings near our church brought her troubled secretary to our midweek Tuesday Noon Boost service. The secretary heard the message and realized her need to receive Christ. She asked the Lord to come into her life and take control. Resolving to put some old anger behind her once and for all, she relinquished some kingdoms in her heart that she was previously determined to hold. The changes in her life, already remarkable, have taken great courage. It is exciting to witness the progress she is making. Who knows all that Christ
"already has in mind" for her? So far, he alone does.
      Once someone came to Michelangelo chipping away with his chisel at a huge shapeless piece of rock. He asked the sculptor what he was doing. "I
am releasing the angel imprisoned inside this marble," he answered. Christ is the only one who can see the hidden greatness inside every one of us, and in every one we bring to Him. How many have you brought to Jesus?
      The disciples discovered that Christ always has a positive, constructive plan in mind. Their ideas, on the other hand, were devisive: "Get rid of them," they chorused when they saw that hungry crowd five thousand strong. Had the Lord followed their advice, this miracle would never have happened. The church's missionary march would have ended on a Galilean hillside. We would not have heard the gospel.
      In opposition to that, Christ's way says, "Work with me and the bad always gets better." Bring Him all you have, and He multiplies it. That is how Christ's kingdom grows; and we grow. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit"(John 15:5). Don't you know that as Philip watched that boy's lunch multiply, and as he helped pick up the leftovers, he resolved never to worry about money again!
      Does some situation in your life seem hopeless? Have you considered, "The things Christ has in mind?"

How to Discover What Christ Has in Mind

      The four gospel accounts present three vital life principles for discovering what Christ has in mind for us. Philip and the others missed them that day. Andrew did not.

Vital Principle #1 - Believe in God!

     Believe in God who made you, and in His Son Christ Jesus. Believe that He exists. Believe who He is; and in what He has done for you. Believe He loves you, for He always does and always will. Act as though you really believe this even when you are tempted to doubt it. Remember His great salvation, provided with you in mind. He died thinking about you. Every time you feel like running away, or wonder if a situation is impossible, remember Christ, "Already has in mind what he is going to do."

Vital Principle #2 - Believe in Yourself!

      Believe in yourself; not in some self-centered, humanistic way but in the spiritual, theological way Christ believes in you. You are a person made in His image. Away back long ago at Calvary, Christ saw something in you that was worth dying to save. Believe that. "All things are possible to him that believeth," He says (Mark 9:23). By God's grace, we can do anything we need to do. You were born to live with faith. "Everything is possible!" Jesus says there are no impossibilities! Are there difficulties? Yes. Hardships? Occasionally. Tough times? Sometimes. But, always these things represent opportunities in disguise.

Vital Principle #3 - Believe in Your Future!

      Believe in your future. A miracle often awaits you just around the corner when a challenge seems insurmountable. "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an unexpected end" (Jeremiah 29:11).
      Christ has in mind to save you from your sins and from your situations, and bless your life in ways you have not yet dreamed. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost"(Luke 19:10). It was what God had in mind at the incarnation, and what His Son, Christ, had in mind when He took your place on the cross at Calvary.
      Wherever you are today, or wherever you find yourself tomorrow, remember this: Christ "already has in mind what he is going to do" with you and for you, and it is all good. Stay close to Him and you shall soon declare with David's ultimate certainty, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever" (Psalm 23:6).
The difficult moments along life's way are merely testing places. John records Christ's motivation: "He asked this only to test Philip, for he already had in mind what he was going to do." When we believe in Him, in ourselves, and in our future with Him, we always discover the wonderful things He "already has in mind."

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