Generosity Exemplified

Today I wrap up a preaching series on the awkward things of Christianity and being part of the church. This sermon was on generosity.

Of course through our study these last weeks we have seen a number of examples of generosity formed by the grace of Christ. Oh may the Lord make us generous! Here are some of them that didn’t make it into what was preached.


In this series, we have met some characters that live it out. Zaccheaus gives over most of his wealth because of his encounter with Jesus. His whole purpose of life changes… to restore what was broken through generosity. “Zacchaeus’ giving is not an entrance requirement or necessary model of our own application of the gospel. But it is a model of the proper and natural response to God’s saving grace toward us. Grace frees us to give freely and boldly as we trust in God to meet all our needs (Matt. 6:25-34).” – Gospel Transformation Bible

Or the call girl that weeps at Jesus’ feet, how she spends all of herself for her glory. Her money, the jar of ointment, and he identity, everything extravagantly at his feet.

We see other stories… of the woman giving pennies out of her desperation more honored than the rich… Luke 21:3–4 “And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. [4] For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (ESV)

We hear what the kingdom is like – Matthew 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” (ESV)

In his joy – cheerfully giving everything else up for what was truly of value. This is counter-cultural, this can make us uncomfortable… but it is so good.

Worthwhile April 5, 2019

It is finally here, April 5. I have a book due back to the library but I am not finished with it and I can’t get an extension because someone else has it on hold. Awful. Since it is the Lenten season I am embracing waiting as I have reserved the ebook from the library and wait for it to become available.

Oh the things that can get us down!

It is to the archives we go today for some thought provocation and worshipful stirring. Start the weekend off right.


First up is a piece from Rosario Butterfield from February on loving our neighbors well through the tools we have in our hands. Think Nextdoor App and all the fun that happens there.

Butterfield gives a good model of evangelistic living but the questions it raises are worth it. Do we love our neighbors? Do we care about our city and the people around us? Maybe the Lord will stir us new efforts to impact where we are…


This week I sent a group of pastors an article as we were discussing how to measure success in ministry and the pastoral life. I have been significantly encouraged by Jared Wilson’s work in this arena and am digging his latest book were he builds on what the article points out.

Five metrics of grace to help us measure ministry fruitfulness and beyond measuring the church, these are important metrics for all Christ followers. So give it a look and see how you are doing!


Finally a bit of worship from Austin Stone.

I will not be anxious, Jesus, You are near
The Peace of God surrounding me, and casting out all fears
The hand that holds the heavens, is the mighty hand that saves
The voice that calms the stormy seas
Is calling me by name

I’m singing in the victory, the victory of the cross
I’m resting in the shadow, of Your redeeming love
I’m standing on the promise, the promise of new life
‘Cause I am Yours forever, and Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mine

When I have forgotten, the fullness of Your grace
Yes, I’ll remember Calvary, where You took my place

I’m singing in the victory, the victory of the cross
I’m resting in the shadow, of Your redeeming love
I’m standing on the promise, the promise of new life
‘Cause I am Yours forever, and Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mine
Oh Jesus, You are mineThere is no one like You, God
Love immeasurable and strong

There is no one like You, God
So lead this heart to sing in awe
There is no one like You, God, no-o
Love immeasurable and strong
There is no one like You, God
So lead this heart to sing in awe

Corruption Points to Importance

Last weekend I attended the Valued Conference dedicated to the topic of sexual abuse and the church’s response to it in this cultural moment. There was much at the conference that was stirring and vital for leaders and the church as a whole.

They have posted video of the whole conference online and I commend it to you.

What struck me significantly during one talk leads me to reflect a bit more today. I can’t remember for certain who said it, but a speaker mentioned that the devil was at work spoiling or corrupting those areas in which there is the most revealed of the goodness of God, really things meant to glorify Jesus and his gospel.

Things so important, they are painting a picture of the glory of God, that Satan attempts to ruin them.

This was first in the context of sex. A beautiful and wonderful thing rightly expressed and experienced (from a biblical worldview in the context of a one man one woman marriage). The act of fully giving oneself over to the other. Sacrifice. Wholeness. Pleasure.

A God who gives himself fully over for us. Not seeking his own privilege but serving those he created.

Of course then Satan wants to corrupt this gift. He does it by attacking expression, direction, identity and other areas extending from it. He perverts and extorts the gift to sully it, to leave us at a loss, violated, hurt, torn covenants by the dozen. All so that we would miss the glory beyond the gift, what it is meant to point to.

But sex is not the exclusive territory under attack.

Authority, the benevolent and good-seeking kind. That serves, that wields power for those without it, that looks to help others rise. Satan taints it with domination, harshness, abuse and misuse.

The Miraculous. The spiritual work of the Holy Spirit in our world that gives a glimpse into the renewed world, restored life. But Satan inspires swindlers peddling snake oil, tempting even those that believe in the miraculous to look the other way rather than genuinely see the giver of tremendous gifts.

Even Fatherhood, meant to express God’s fatherly care for all of creation and especially humanity. That we could be loved this much. So Satan schemes to corrupt our view of fatherhood with destroyed images of harm over care, absence over involvement.

The list could go on couldn’t it? So much of life meant to point to the giver of life and it is attacked and corrupted to tarnish glory.

But God will not be robbed of glory. The gospel, Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are proof of that. That every story is being redeemed, restored back eventually to what we were created for.

As I go then through life I am determining to recognize the corruption for what it is attempting to cover. The importance of God’s love for us. The beauty of his creation and the experience of his grace even in a world groaning for our true home.

Will you join me in working for redemption? Finding those areas of attempted corruption and in prayer and pursuit of justice turning them over to the Lord, for renewal, for his glory.

Let’s see the important things for what they are, glimpses of glory.

Jesus. People. Place.

As I continue on this journey of life and ministry I was reminded this week that our posture in building a church, discipling those around us, and sending people out to do the same must be founded in and focused on three things. Jesus. People. And Place.

Jesus

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:2–5 (ESV)

Gospel-centered, Christ-centered, Jesus people, pick your description, Christians are meant to be “all about Jesus.” Paul says it here reminding believers in Corinth that that is all he offered, Christ and him crucified. A finished work of the cross. A Savior who died for us. Then the rest of the New Testament keep rolling with the same point.

As we preach him, as we center our life around him, he works, the Spirit empowers us and faith is birthed in us and those in our hearing.

The implications are broad but they are all a narrowing to that which is most important in the life of a believer and the church, Jesus.

People

“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18–20 (ESV)

While the introverts among us might prefer the Christian life just be “me and Jesus” he actually makes us part of a family or other people that trust in him. And the purpose of that family is to serve as ambassadors for Jesus, God making his appeal through us. Imploring reconciliation to God.

While it is easy in the Evangelical world to recognize the need “over there,” awash in statistics of unreached people groups, most likely God has surrounded you with people he loves and desires to call his own. So as you cling to Jesus, you notice the people around you and you love them as you have been loved.

May the Lord increasingly give us a vision for how much he loves the people we come into contact each day that we would implore them to reconciliation.

Place

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us,” Acts 17:26–27 (ESV)

Finally, God in his sovereignty has put you in a place. While that place may change over time, while you are there you are meant to recognize your placement, proclaiming Jesus to the people there, and endeavoring for the good of that city (or town or borough, etc)

In the exile, God would tell his people to labor toward the prosperity, or flourishing of the city they were in. As those living in boundaries determined by God claiming it as our own, becoming a champion of “local” for the good of the people around us that they might meet Jesus.


For me, this works out as a steadfast determination to know nothing but Jesus as I preach, have conversation and disciple those in our church, Reservoir. It also means I want to clearly see they image-bearers around me and reveal my own need for Jesus that they would recognize theirs. All while loving the place I live, where I am called (Escondido is my hood).

It also means that members we encourage, leaders we train and residents we prepare to send out all have to be conditioned likewise, to be about Jesus, People, and Place.

Are you down?