Last week I shared how Philip responded to a normal question Jesus asked, with a normal ‘natural’ answer. Yet we are told in John 6:5-6 that Jesus asked the question to test Philip – in other words to see if Philip would think like the rest of the crowd, which he did: ‘It would take half a year’s wages to buy all the bread needed to feed them’, or would he think outside the box about what God could do?
Jesus has never changed, and this series is about how He leads us by the Spirit to these same points of decision, and how He tests us to prove what is in our hearts just as He did in the gospels. Here is another example:
Who am I?
“Who do people say the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah, but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:13-18)
This is just like Him testing Philip in John 6. The conversation is going along a ‘natural’ path, giving no hint He is looking for revelation, looking for someone to respond with ‘outside the box’ thinking.
When Peter responded with, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, Jesus said he was blessed because flesh and blood had not revealed this to him – He didn’t come to that conclusion by debating with other’s ideas about Him being Elijah or Jeremiah come back from the dead - Peter had received revelation from the Father that Jesus was the Christ and said so.
In both of these cases Jesus was watching, observing, letting the thought processes play out in Philip and Peter, looking for revelation from them and thinking that was not the ‘jump off the cliff with the rest of your friends’ kind of thinking.
What will you drive?
The year was 1978, August, a month before Barb and I were married. I was working at the PTL Club near Charlotte, North Carolina, in the part of the ministry known as “Heritage USA”. Barb was back home in Indiana getting ready for the wedding while I was working, had rented an apartment for us, and was now waiting on the Father to provide us a car. It was a 15 hour car drive from Indiana to Charlotte.
I had begun working there that May, driving my mom’s ‘spare’ car until I could get my own. The trouble was I had not saved anything towards a new car and mom needed her car back after 2 months. I was seeking the Father about how He was going to get us a car. Earlier in the year Barb and I had made a checklist of everything we’d need in a car: Automatic transmission since her first (and last) effort at learning how to drive a stick shift ended dramatically with my stalled car and other’s cars backed up 3 deep at a 4-way stop.
We wanted air conditioning as we were going to be living in hot and humid North Carolina, and 4 doors as we’d have wedding presents and such to take to our apartment, and good gas mileage. Once we made our list I was drawn in my spirit to the cover of a car magazine called ‘Motor Trend’ that pictured the ‘Cars of the Year’ for 1978: The Plymouth Horizon/Dodge Omni. I knew in my spirit that was what the Father had provided – there was such a pouring out of peace and assurance from my spirit bearing witness to that fact. So we stopped looking.
Several months had passed since I knew we were to have that model of car, but no car materialized. I had pondered how it might happen – a wealthier friend might give us a car, maybe a car for a wedding present from my dad or maybe even my mom or her parents would buy and gift one to us? The scenario played over and over in my mind how God would fulfill His word.
Desperate for that car!
I had been getting rides to and from work from my co-workers, but our wedding day of September 16 was drawing close, only 1 month away, so I hit my knees one Saturday and really, really sought the Father about that car I was going to need in about 3 weeks to make the drive to my wedding in Indiana.
Suddenly I heard His voice, but it wasn’t about the car. He started talking to me about how to be a husband, how to treat my wife (He said to treat her like a queen, though I readily admit I’ve not always fulfilled that instruction) and learn what it meant to lay down my life for her, and other things I’ve never shared with anyone, not even Barb. But nothing about a car.
Then He told me some other things concerning my time at PTL, where He was sending me to school after PTL, but nothing about a car. When I asked about a car He was silent – no response. Strange I thought since He had just been so talkative about marriage and our future over the next year.
Raising my upper body from the floor and leaning back on my legs, I pondered His silence. It was just like the incidents above with Philip and Peter – I knew the Father and Lord were watching me, watching my mind whirl, watching my heart reason things out.
I concluded that maybe getting that car was actually up to me and not someone else. It may be that someone wasn’t being disobedient or hesitating about gifting us a car, maybe the Father was silent because the means to get a car was in my hands.
That couldn’t be I thought. I had no money down, had never bought anything on credit – could the Father’s provision be THAT easy? Have I been hitching rides these last 2 months and had borrowed mom’s car the months before while completely ignoring the possibility the provision was there all along; that the supernatural part would be approval for credit for me? Could it be?
I told Him!
“Father, if you don’t tell me about how I’m going to get that car I’m going to march down to the first dealership I find and make a fool of myself trying to buy a car! You’d better talk to me now!” (How bold and foolish was that, even for a 20 year old still wet behind his charismatic ears)
Nothing. Zip. Not a word. He stayed silent and I could tell in my spirit He was watching me like a Father watching a son. But now I was forced to follow through with my threat – so I did. I walked the mile to the first dealership I found, a Chrysler dealership, and there on the lot sat a white Plymouth Horizon that I almost bumped into as I clambered up the hill to the dealer and bounded into the parking lot.
I had never bought a new car, and the $5400 price (brand new, 1978) seemed huge as I was making $150 per week. But they either had some ‘new driver’ program or were desperate for sales in the natural, but in the spiritual the Father provided, and I drove that car off the lot with no money down and just $157.88 per month.
Another car story
Several years later, after the Plymouth Horizon had driving its last mile, we made some bad business decisions and ended up having to borrow a car once again. This time it was from someone in church and was a big, 2 doors the size of wings, Lincoln Continental. It was OK for me to drive around town, but not suitable for our family of 5. A church had opened up about a 3 hour drive away and we were preparing to move, but once again realized we needed a car and had no means to buy one.
My pay wouldn’t start until we had moved to the church, so I knew there was no chance of me securing a loan through a bank as I was still technically unemployed at that point. Yet we were moving in a week and the Father had not provided another car for us.
Once again I had gone through the thought processes about someone giving us a car, but heaven was silent on the matter. One day I was reminded of how I had bought the Plymouth Horizon and told Barb: “Philippians 4:19 is true no matter what the circumstances say; He provides our needs according to HIS riches in glory, and this is a need not a desire. And II Peter 1:3-4 says “All things that pertain to life and godliness have been provided through the Lord”, so I have to believe provision is out there. I keep feeling drawn to that little used car lot by the church, so I’m going over there to see if that’s where the Father has provided.”
Again, we had made up a list: Automatic, 4 doors, air conditioning, good condition, and not required to make any payments until 30 days after taking possession of it. Those were needs, so it was settled in my mind.
As I walked the parking lot I came across a white, 4 door Chevy Impala and asked about it. The lot owner told me he was selling it on consignment for a friend of his from church. When I said I was a pastor and asked what church, I found out I knew the woman who owned the car. The lot owner suggested I call her and talk to her, and he would waive any fees if we worked something out. When I called her she immediately agreed to everything – I told her what I thought we could afford, told her I couldn’t start paying her for 30 days, and she said that was fine. I drove it off the lot!
I’ve shared these stories from my own life because they may help someone not jump off the cliff like everyone else which leads to lack and/or not living in the supernatural provision of heaven – it may help someone realize often when there is no provision, it means it is within your hands to decide to trust God, or not. It is within you to go with natural thinking as Philip did, or to let revelation pour from your heart as did Peter. Much of heaven is ‘according to your faith be it unto you’.
The Holy Spirit will lead you to the edge of decision, Jesus still tests us, gives us opportunities to prove our potential – but He can’t make the decision for us. Examine the choices before you, be grounded on right priorities, and then do what is right – it may just be outside the box you had been thinking in. More next week – blessings,