Do you remember Jesus asking people, "Do you worry about life? Do you worry about what you will eat or what you will wear or where you will live or what mode of transportation you will have or how you will pay your bills or how much is in your savings account?"
By asking these questions, Jesus reveals to us that He knows what is weighing on our hearts and minds. He knows what keeps us up at night. Isn't it easy to forget this? I am grateful for John 4 when Jesus tells the Samaritan Woman about her life without her having to share her story. I am glad God reminds us that He knows the details of our lives even to the point of knowing each hair (or lack of hair) on our heads. (Luke 12:7)
Jesus taught and trained people not to worry about life, how - by seeking God first. "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you." Matt 6:33
One of the ways we seek God first is in tithing. God instructed us way back in history, long before the NT that "the purpose of tithing is to teach you always to put God first in your lives." Deut 14:23 (LB)
Tithing, bringing the first 10% of everything I receive to God, has helped me in so many ways.
Tithing breaks me free from greed, materialism and debt.
Tithing teaches me to be content.
Tithing changes me to care about what God cares about.
Tithing unleashes God's hand of blessings on my life.
Tithing expands my faith in God.
Tithing provides for the needs of others.
Tithing puts God's church in a position to live out the Great Commission of seeking and saving those who are lost, hurt and broken.
Tithing changes peoples' lives.
God asked Malachi, "Will people rob God?"
Malachi responded, "How are we robbing you?"
God explained, “You are robbing me in tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it." Malachi 3:8-10
What has God taught you about tithing? How has God changed your life as you tithe? How has God changed people in need with your tithe? How has your church changed because of your tithe? How has the world changed because of your tithe?
Dave Ramsey says, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
Seeking to be generous with our lives like Jesus.
Why didn't Jesus come and heal Lazarus when He was summoned by the family?
He did a miracle for His mom when she asked to make more wine at a wedding. He healed the son of a nobleman, when the nobleman asked for Jesus' help. Time after time, when asked, Jesus said, "Yes, I will help you." But, when a family whom Jesus knew so well asked for Jesus to come to the aid of their extremely sick and dying brother, Jesus stayed where He was doing His ministry. Why?
Was it because Jesus wanted to show the world how deeply He cares about everyone who suffers and dies? The shortest verse in the Bible, John 11:35, "Jesus wept." But, the longer verse that clearly shows how this deeply affected Jesus is verse 33. "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and greatly troubled." This first emotion, "deeply moved," is a word of rebuke or warning. The other emotion,"greatly troubled," is a word that means being shaken. Emotions are very hard to define. We see Jesus feel a complexity of emotion over the pain, suffering and death of Lazarus and how his family responded to Jesus arriving late.
As we suffer, Jesus suffers. As we weep, Jesus weeps. We are His divine masterpieces. We are His beloved children. He is our Heavenly Father. He cares for us more than we care about ourselves.
In John 11, we see three times that refers to Jesus' love for this family. Mary's response to Jesus love was to anoint and wash His feet with her hair. The sisters described their sick brother as the"one whom you love." Then the Bible just says clearly in v 5, "Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus."
This love is a love that is very difficult for us American-culturalized Christians to grasp. Isn't love taking away our pain? Isn't love removing our suffering? Isn't love a quick fix?
Paul suffered with an affliction. He asked God numerous times to heal him of this suffering. God responded to Paul's request, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." I am amazed at Paul's response to God's answer of "no" to his prayers. Paul said, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Cor 12:9-10
As I saw our friend, John Mark Andrew, during his suffering with cancer and all the drugs, I saw Jesus' power in his weakness. I saw the joy of Christ beaming out of him in the midst of his pain. I saw the love of Jesus as he always wanted an update about his church family, Southtown Baptist Church. I saw the love for Jesus and His Word with John's desire to Facetime Sunday morning worship. John would text me, "Don't forget to email the sermon notes." I saw what matters most in life when I shared about a woman accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior at Easter. I shared, "That was kind of fun." John corrected me, "Kind of fun?.. that is what it is all about."
Every time the world thinks about Lazarus, we think of the love, the power of Jesus. Every time I think about John Andrew, I think about the presence of Jesus. Not because John was so saintly and awesome, no person is. But, because John loved Jesus and invited Jesus into each step of his cancer, sickness, pain and suffering.
John was a man who loved Jesus, his wife, his children and grandchildren. He loved people. He was a great church member who served, who cared for members, who welcomed and invited the guests to become part of God's family, who interceded, who shared tough love in a gentle manner, who showed compassion and protection to people who were hurting, who celebrated when the lost were found, when the proud confessed their need, when sinners called out to Jesus, the only Savior.
Now, John is with Jesus.
Jesus described His Kingdom in Luke 6:21, "Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh."
Jesus clearly communicated that His Kingdom is about being totally satisfied; satisfied like coming home as well as satisfied like going on an adventure. He clearly shared that His Kingdom is a place of laughter, fun, enjoyment and joy.
When we think of John, it is not hard to see him laughing with Jesus and so many loved ones including Joyleigh, his granddaughter. It is not hard to imagine them deeply satisfied and enjoying the company of Jesus, the Bright Morning Star, the author and perfecter of our faith, the Lion and the Lamb, the Healer,the Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Alpha and Omega.
God, thanks for Your presence in the midst of sickness, suffering and death. Thanks for Your promise of everlasting life in Your family as beloved children. Give us your comfort, peace and strength. You are the best!
It's tempting to think that being a Christian means giving a % of your time, talent and resources. It is natural to say to God, "I'll give youSunday morning and Wednesdaynights, but I have all the rest."
Jesus confronted this inner struggle when He responded to the Rich Young Ruler's questions that revealed this inner struggle he had. Jesus said, "Go sell all you have and give to the poor. Then come follow me."
Jesus reminded him that he was putting his confidence in his own talent, time and resources. The result, an inner struggle with not being fully connected with God and not being fully satisfied with life. I wonder if Jesus had Proverbs 11:24 on His mind when talking with this man. "One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want."
Jesus boldly yet gently reminded this man, that Jesus is the owner of everything. Was Deuteronomy 8:18 on Jesus mind? "You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day."
Jesus coached this man that being a follower of Jesus is about going all-in with God. All-in with your time. All-in with your talents. All-in with your resources.
Sounds crazy, but it is the best life. It is a life that becomes worry-free. We live in the truth that God owns everything and we give Him everything. This means that the all powerful, all brilliant Creator of the Universe OWNS our problems, fears and challenges. It means we unleash this generous, abundant God in our lives. It means we are no longer stiff-arming God from unleashing His resurrection power and wisdom in our lives. Knowing Jesus has our problems in His hands and on His mind results in a more and more worry-free life.
Living all-in with Jesus also increases our peace level. Remember when the storm hit the disciples in the boat and they freaked out and feared for their lives? Finally, they went to the sleeping Jesus in the bottom of the boat and woke Him up. Result, calm in the storm - peace. Living all-in with Jesus means we are waking Jesus up (He is never sleeping in our lives. But, with our % living style, we push Jesus out of the center of our lives. In a sense putting Jesus "asleep" to us.) When Jesus is in the middle of the storm, it is always calm. Let's let Jesus have full presence in all of who we are.
Billy Graham said, "God has given us two hands--one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing."
Praying we throw the % living out of our life style.
Praying we will live all-in with our time, talent and treasure with Jesus.
As we enter the spring and summer season of ministry, we are following Jesus' example to serve people and meet their needs. We have 5 free meals/desserts (one per month) and one full week of VBS to practically show and share the love of Jesuswith them. We will be inviting the following people...
Jesus interceded, “Father, I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.
I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!" John 17:20-24
I am fascinated when I read and picture Jesus interceding for people.
Do you remember when Jesus prayed all night asking His Father to reveal who He should invite to be His disciples?
Do you remember after Jesus fed the 5,000 and sent the disciples and multitude away, He climbed that mountain and prayed through the night?
And the night before the crucifixion, Jesus interceded for people.
A church is never more like Jesus than when it is praying.
A church is never more like the New Testament church than when it is praying.
A dynamic praying church must be built from the inside out, employing all four levels of prayer: the secret closet, the family altar, small group praying and finally, the congregational setting.
How is your private prayer life?
How is your family prayer life?
When was the last time you did a prayer walk or prayer drive?
What are you praying for?
Are your prayers like Jesus' prayers of intercession for those who do not yet believe?
Join us at our prayer meetings on Sundays at 9am and Wednesdays at 6pm.
Billy Graham said, "To get nations back on their feet, we must first get down on our knees."
Seeking to intercede together,
Pastor Chris Reinertson enjoys all sports, especially those involving a ball. He loves to hang out with people and challenge them to be Jesus REVolutionizers.