This Sunday, we begin a brand new series: “This Means War”. When a believer sins, he destroys his witness. Satan wants to destroy the effectiveness of the believer’s witness. The devil is an enemy who confronts each of us. We are powerless on our own to stand against him. However, we are given examples in the Bible of how to overcome this formidable foe. We know the end of the story told in the Bible. We are convinced that the devil will be defeated; but, until then we struggle with a day-to-day battle with him and his attacks. In this series, we will discover that we are not defenseless and we are more than conquerors and we can defeat our enemy!
My friends, proper equipment in life demands a good memory, likewise the ability to forget. All of the blunders, murmurings and fault findings unjustly made ought to be forgotten, but the fear of Moses was they might forget the God who had led them all the way, who had fed them with manna, bread from heaven, and who had caused their garments not wear out, nor their feet to swell. The nation of Israel was a chosen nation and had a close relationship and fellowship with God that no other nation before or since has had, except the Christian nation which is the Church of Christ. However, I would like to suggest that there may be a parallel in various ways to this wonderful bit of history. Some have called America a child of providence. I am inclined to agree with those thinkers who believe the founding of the United States of America was providential and that God had a hand in it. This is not to say that America is a chosen nation like Israel, but it is to say that possibly there was a guiding hand in the history of America, one of the greatest countries on earth– whose motto is, “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”.
Today we are in part three, the final week, of a message series called This Is What We Do. Today, I want to talk to you about the blessings of generosity. When I think about it, I wonder how many of you would love to blessed with a massive blessing of being able to be obedient God and it impacts someone else’s life because we really believe it is more blessed to give than to receive. How many would love to be blessed like that? This is what we do. Because of what Jesus did, we lead the way with irrational generosity. As Jesus followers, this is just what we do. It may not be what everybody does, but it is what we do. We recognize that giving and being generous are actually two different things, right? Everyone gives but to live from a heart, a posture, of irrational generosity, that is different from just giving. In fact, if you’re taking notes, we say it this way. Giving and being generous, they are two different things.
I believe that our God knows that the number one thing competing for your heart is money, and stuff. So we could not, if this is what we do, we are open handed people. We want to be influential, we want to be generous, we could not be talking about a more important topic today.
So here’s how the scarcity cycle works. God supplies, we begin to consume what God supplies. Then, after a while, we start lacking because we’ve been consuming. After we’ve been lacking, that brings us into a place of fear and anxiety, and so what do we do with that fear? We medicate it by more consumption. And the cycle goes on an on and on. This week I want to just take this topic just a little bit deeper, and so if you’re taking notes I want you to write this thought down. The scarcity cycle starts in the mind, not in the wallet.
When I look around, here at Mt. Zion Church, I truly do see some of the most amazing, crazy, passionate, generous people.
We’re going to do everything we can to make a difference with what God has blessed us with, and I celebrate the generosity of so many of you. It’s truly, truly amazing. It’s God inspiring, and it makes a big difference in this world.
Unfortunately, if we can just call it what it is, a lot of people get uncomfortable when you talk about generosity, and the truth is, tragically in our country, many people are not that generous. If you ask them, are they generous? Many people are going to say, “Yeah, I’m pretty generous.” And the reason is because they give something, but we need to understand that giving and being generous, they’re actually two different things. This week, we begin our brand new series with, “More Abundantly”
This whole series that we’re in brings a lot of reaction and a lot of emotion. Let me describe. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from a lot of different places. Here’s some of it okay? Some people are like, pastor, this is awesome. I’ve been waiting for you to step up and preach like this, this is fantastic. I love it, kind of stirring me up to get back into the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
Others of you are like, you know pastor this is really weird to me, but I’ve taken some steps. When you encourage us to lift our hands, I did that for the first time. I prayed out loud. You don’t understand the background I come from. Prayed out loud is something I just never did, so I prayed out loud and wow that was a major victory for me. I’m still trying to figure the rest of it out, but I’m taking steps, I have momentum. That’s exciting reaction.
Some of what I’ve heard back is, I’m really confused by this. I’m not sure I agree with this. Can we talk further? I grew up in a background where this was never talked about, or I was told this was not biblical so I’m struggling through some of this stuff and I’m a little worried. We’re going to talk a little bit further about it today, because there’s still some questions that we have to address. We’re going to talk about some of those things in the message today.
I think a lot of the reason why this is one of those topics that causes a reaction is because when the Holy Spirit works in anybody’s life the power of the Holy Spirit is released when we respond to him.
You see, this is the partnership that happens.
I was uncomfortable with the whole concept that I needed to have a spiritual experience. It made me feel a little bit unnerved, like “What are they going to make me do? What’s going to happen here?” I pushed back on it and I began to just think, “I don’t know if this whole thing that they’re talking about is even biblical.”
What I’m going to do for you today is I’m going to do the same thing that my pastor did for me. We’re going to study the biblical passages about the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and some of the related topics that you heard in the video talk about, like speaking in tongues.
We’re going to look at what the Bible says about it, and then we’ll let you react to what you’ve heard. We’re going to study that together today. Let me take you to the first passage, one of the first passages he took me to was in Acts, chapter 8.
I don’t know about you but we are already just about half way through this year and we’re thinking about what’s going to happen next. When we think about the future, we think about it from the vantage point of whatever’s going on in our life right now. Some of us are agonizing through some challenges. I was talking with a guy with some business challenges. He’s agonizing through what to do. You’re wondering where the answers will come with the problem you’re dealing with or maybe you’re hurting and you’re wondering if this will be the year where you experience the healing and restoration that you need in your life or in a relationship. I want to take you to a moment in the Scripture that’s very similar to this. It was a transition moment. It’s found in the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts is such a wonderful book because it’s the history of the early church just after Jesus was raised from the dead. It’s also a roadmap for us. It paints the picture of what our lives should be like as we follow Christ.
For all the mothers who have had their hands full, we celebrate Mother’s Day. What a wonderful thing that God’s Word has so many messages just for moms, messages for parents really, for moms, dads, and grandparents. There are also those listening who will one day be in the delightful company of parents, and there are single adults who have such profound influence on our homes. History’s most famous mother was called by mother to her task, just as parents today are called by God to their task. You’ve made mistakes in the past, you’ll certainly make a mistake or two today, and you’ll make more mistakes tomorrow. Through it all, God will love you, work with you, and accept you. Through it all, your task of mothering, or of grand mothering, will be accomplished.
This Sunday, we are going to talk about in my opinion one of the most important “I am,” statements that Jesus made. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches, if you remain in me and I in you, you’ll bear much fruit, but apart from me you can do nothing.” That statement alone is pretty dramatic if you think about it. If you stay with me and I’m in you, you’re going to bear much fruit, but apart from me you could do nothing. That’s pretty dramatic. When you contextualize the statement as to when it was said, it begins to take on a whole new level of significance for us. My question would simply be this, what fruit is being evidenced in your life? Love, joy Peace, patience? Because as Jesus said when we remain in Him and He in us we will bear fruit, much fruit. As we do that and we love each other what happens is God takes our loneliness and He replaces it with His comfort. He takes our desires and He replaces it with His desires. As we love each other and we remain connected, we find ourselves one day in the middle of a miracle.