In this message, we learn that our willingness to receive determines our ability to give.
Everybody welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad that you’re here.
We want to give a big welcome to our Denton campus. We are so glad that you guys are here.
And so I have a great message on Hannah for you today.
If you weren’t here last week and you’re wonder why everybody is laughing it’s because my wife brought the message last week for mother’s day and she set me up on a joke about Hannah. And she did a great job, we had a great mother’s day weekend. If you missed it, you really missed out, the photo booths who are hit at both campuses. There’s like 40 people in line at all time just to get a picture with the signs so they could send to their Mom because they forgot a gift, you know, that kind of deal. And so I’m super proud of Colleen. She did an amazing job. It was a great message. And seriously if you missed out and you stayed home because of the rain last week, you missed out. So, let me encourage you, don’t make your decisions on whether or not you’re going to participate in church based on the weather, based on activities, based on circumstances, base it on “I’m coming to meet with the living God of the universe and his name was Jesus.”
Okay? Don’t worry about anybody else. Come with your mindset of “And I’m coming to engage with God, I’ve got a big faith He’s got something for me and you show up and Jesus will always have something for you and you come by faith to meet with Him.” So, we had a great weekend last week and despite the rain and all that stuff and so no I don’t actually have a message for you on Hannah. We’re going to start a new series today called “Stewardosity.” Okay. “Stewardosity.” For the next few weeks we’re going to talk about embracing stewardship and releasing generosity and I know some of you English people right now, it’s going through your mind, your thinking, “Stewardosity,” that’s not a word.” I know it’s not a word but it’s a concept. It’s a concept that I believe we’re going to get over these next few weeks, and I think there’s some incredible freedom that God wants to bring into your life as we uncover it and figure out what it really means.
But before we get into that, there’s something I need to tell you today. About two and half years ago, as a church we started missional move Acts 1:8, and if you weren’t here with us in the beginning or you’ve kind of forgotten what that means. A missional move is simply this, it’s when we take a next step for the sole purpose to create space so someone else can take a next step on their journey with Jesus. And so two and half years ago our church was about half the size, we only have the Flower Mound campus, the Denton campus wasn’t even in existence yet. The Flower Mound campus was half the size of actual physical building, we are running five services, we were packed out, we were turning people away. It was honestly a pretty stressful season in a lot of ways. And so we started seeking the Lord and said God, “What is it that you want us to do?” And we felt like He said to us, “I want you to do missional move Acts 1:8.” I want you to a next step so somebody else can take theirs in three particular areas. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses to Jerusalem your city, Judea, Samaria, your region and to the ends of the earth.”
The other side of the world. And so we felt like God was inviting us to do three things. That He was inviting us to do a missional move in Flower Mound, to expand the Flower Mound campus, to create more space, so that in the days to come we have space to go ahead and reach people in the city of Flower Mound with the Love of Jesus. We needed more space to do all the ministries and the things that we were doing at this campus. And then we felt like God was inviting us to go to our region Judea and Samaria which would be starting the Denton campus and it’s hard honestly to even imagine what life was like before the Denton campus even began. It’s a little over a year old and every weekend there’s between 800 and 1000 people that are at the Denton campus.
And we felt like God was inviting us to move to Denton to bring grace and truth to a new neighborhood. Not just to go and plant a campus but to go and serve a city. And it’s been absolutely incredible what God has done. They’ve had over a hundred baptisms in just a year at the Denton campus alone which is incredible for you guys, that is amazing.
And then India, the other side of the world, we felt like God was inviting us to do a ministry school for church planers with our partner over there and so we helped him build a building and he can take 50 church planers at a time, two-year cycles, he trains them up, sends them out into the slums, they starts schools in which ultimately become churches. They’re doing an amazing work, 12 churches have already been planted since we’ve got that thing. His school is full of 50 students right now in process of being trained.
And so some of you, you’re like “Yeah, that’s old hat, I know all that stuff.” Okay, but if you can remember that two and half years ago when we were half the size, dude, that was a huge vision. That’s a big vision now. I remember the first weekend when I got up to share with you, I was so afraid. I was so nervous, I was like, “Lord, is this going to work? How are people going to respond? God this is even too big for you I think.” You know, so that was a huge fishing. It was huge but it was never about us, it’s always about them.
It’s always about the person that didn’t yet know Jesus. And so I got up on that first week and I told you, I said, “This is a big vision from a big God and I believe He wants to do big things through your big faith and here’s the deal, its $14 million.” We’re going to do $14 million, which again is a huge number for our church today but it was even bigger at half the size two and half years ago and I told you right from the beginning, I said, here’s the deal. I said we’re not going to do a big church campaign, we’re not going to put a thermometer in the atrium, you know, bloo, bloo, bloo, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop, bloop. You know, we’re not going to do one of those, we’re not going to hire a consultants to help us have a campaign fundraiser because I think the church should never have to hire consultants to advance the kingdom of God.
So, we didn’t do any that stuff. We just got up said, here’s the vision. And I talked to you about it for a few weeks and at the end, I basically said to you, “Do you want to follow God or not?” And you all said, “Yes, we want to follow God.” And so whether you realize it or not, you embraced sterwardosity in that moment and we decided to start a two-year journey of giving offerings above and beyond our tithe to go on this journey with God that He was inviting us to go on.
And so, Valley Creek Church here we are two and half years later the Flower Mound campus is flourishing, the Denton campus is flourishing, the ministry school in India is flourishing, and of last month Valley Creek Church we are officially debt free.
Think about that, $14 million in two and half years, above and beyond our general ministry budget. Guys, if you’ve been looking for a miracle, there you go. That’s a miracle. The people of God united by a common vision with a generous spirit will always change the world.
The people of God united by a common vision with the generous spirit will always change the world. 1 Chronicles 29:14, David as they’re building the temple he says, “Who am I and who are these people that we should be able as generously as this?” That’s honestly how I feel like “Oh, my goodness, how could this even happen?” And it wasn’t like one or two families, this was thousands of families, thousands of families that participated, and no it wasn’t equal giving but it was equal sacrifice. It was everybody saying, “I’m in on this deal, I’m all in, I want to be a part of this.” And every dollar that was given represented faith, hope and love. It was about somebody’s somebody that somebody somewhere, that someone else is praying and believing will come to know Jesus, and so we created space and seats and campuses and centers and all kinds of things for them. I’m so proud of you for that. And I want to say thank you.
Because guys that’s a miracle. What church do you know is debt free? And what church do you know that did kind of vision with no thermometer?
I think the thermometer would help, no it wouldn’t have, that’s the whole point. You do what God invites you to do. It’s incredible that we got to be a part of God’s redemptive plan on this earth. And it was never about money, it was always what God wanted to do in here. And so if you’re sitting there and thinking about, this is about money, it had nothing to do with money, actually it had to do with God getting a hold to of our hearts. And what I love about our church is that we lead our church the same way we invite you to live your life, one next step at a time. That’s how we lead this church. Do you ever wondering like, what’s the strategy? Hey it’s really simple, we ask, listen and respond. That’s all we do. Whatever God tells us to do, we do it.
We felt like God invited us to move, we obeyed and took a step and then we watched Him show up and move in a profound and powerful way. And so, I think this is marker stone moment for our church, I hope it builds your faith, I hope the next time God asked you to do something that you think is impossible, you just smile and say, “Wait a second if we could do a mission to move Acts 1:8 in two and half years I think God can do this on my life.” I hope it raises your faith. I hope this building and the Denton campus building, that every time you heard the word India it triggers something in your mind to say, “God is bigger than I even believe He is.” In fact, do you want to know – this is cool, do you want to know the secret to a life of miracles? Do anyone know that? Three of us want to know. Denton, do you want to know the secret to a life of miracles, Denton, you’re ready for this?
It’s really simple, whatever He tells you to do, do it. That’s it. You’re like, “No it should be waiting more complicated than that.” It’s not. If you want a life of miracles, whatever He tells you do, do it. Remember when turns water into wine? Jesus, his mother Mary standing right there and she looks at the servants and she literally says, read it in John chapter two, whatever He tell you, do it. And Jesus tells them to do something that seemed foolish, go and draw water out of those basin jars and He turned the water into wine. Or how about Peter in the boat, Jesus says, “Peter, throw your net over this side,” he’s fished all might hasn’t caught anything and Peter looks at Jesus, He’s like “Oh Jesus” he’s like, “What do you know about fishing man, you’re not even a fisherman. We fished all night and we haven’t caught anything.” But the exact words, “Because you say so, I will do it.” And he throws the net over the side and what happens? The haul is so big that it begins to break the net and sink the boat. If you want a life of miracles then whatever he tells you to do, just do it. Don’t second guess it, don’t question it, don’t think it’s impossible. If this was possible with God, I promise you what he’s asking you to do is possible with Him and you’ll get to see a miracle in your life.
Not just in our family. You see what I love about my job is, I think a lot of times and maybe you’re one of these people. They think the Pastor’s job is to just come with great sermons every week. None of you ever think that I know.
But that’s really not my job. My job is to basically be a tour guide and point out and say, “Look what God just did, this is what He said, this is what happened and this is how He moved.” Look at what he did. I want to point it out and I don’t want us to skip by and be like, “Oh that’s great” and just get on to the next thing and move forward. Sometimes you just have to stop and thank God for the reality of the greatness of who He is. And this is why you stay in one church for a long time. This is why you get rooted. Because if you don’t get rooted, when you hop from church to church to church you never really get to see God move.
You come in on the end of the miracle, you come on at the beginning of the journey, you come in the middle of the dessert and you never get to see God do a full work because you keep moving. You got to stay rooted, you watch God move, you watch Him build a family, you see a vision fulfilled, you see the city change, you watch your own life get changed, and here’s a huge one that most people never get is you start to trust your leaders. Because this missional move, our leadership team, we did exactly what we said we were going to do and it cost exactly what we said it was going to cost. And so I hope it earns some trust for you towards our leadership team the say, “Man, they are really interested in hearing the voice of God and following.” And the reality is you will only celebrate to the level that you contribute. So if there’s not a lot of excitement in you, maybe it’s because you were a part of the journey or you’re coming in late. You’ll only be inspired to the level you’re involved and that’s okay, because if you joined us in the process we did all this for you. And now you get to help us do the next one for them, because that’s how it always works.
And so, Valley Creek Church.
Dude, we’re debt free, are you kidding me?
Come on. That is incredible. That literally means we have nothing holding us back for when God speaks for the next thing, we just get to jump right into it. And just so you all know, this isn’t the end, we didn’t arrive, oh this is the beginning baby. This is just – we’re just getting started why? Because we’re a church that believes in missional moves and we’re going to change this world and follow God wherever He asks us to go and here’s the deal, I think God moved so profoundly in this first missional move, He moved so dramatically and swiftly saw that, when he asks us to do things that seem even more impossible, we have a reference point to point back on. It’s like crossing the Red Sea for the Israelites. Every time God always just point it back he said, “Didn’t I bring you out of Egypt? You’re really worried that I’m not going to give you water in the desert?”
“You’re really word about those giants in the Promised Land? Look at what I already did.” This is a “Look at what I already did” moment. Then now that’s going to give us the faith to follow Him into where He wants us to go. So, well done Valley Creek Church, I am so proud of you, it took all of us and the people of God united with a common vision to take next steps and follow Jesus and a generous spirit will change the world and that’s what’s happening through you, okay. That’s a great way to start this series.
That’s a great way to start this series because it means, here’s the deal, it means we don’t want anything from you, we everything for you. And so everything I’m about to say in the next couple of weeks, here’s what you get to do, you get to start with this reference point in your mind that isn’t about “We need something” this is about “I want you to be free with what Jesus has for you” okay. So, if you got a Bible, you ready? Can we do a quick little message still?
Okay, Genesis 14, here’s what I want to do, I want to just give you a quick message that I think helps understand how God just did what He just did. Okay. Genesis 14, real quick, we’re going to jump into it. Here’s what happens, “Lot, Abraham’s nephew has just been captured and he’s been taken away and Abraham’s going to go rescue him.” So while you’re turning there I’ll start reading it. Genesis 14:14, “When Abraham heard that his relative have been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went and pursued as far as Dan. During the night Abraham divided his men to attack them and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. After Abraham returned from defeating the kings, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh. Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High and he blessed Abraham, saying, ‘Blessed be Abraham by God Most High, creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’
Then, catch it then Abraham gave him a tenth of everything.” So here’s the story. Lot gets taken captive, he’s gone far away, Abraham gets his men, they go and they rescue Lot and in the process of rescuing Lot, they get this huge amount of treasure. They get all kinds of plunder, I mean it is a great pay day. He is loaded up. And as he’s coming back, Melchizedek, the high priest comes out to meet him. And I don’t have time to get into all of these, but basically, Melchizedek is a preincarnate Jesus Christ. He’s an Old Testament picture of Jesus and if you want to read all about it, it’s in Hebrews chapter 7, it explains it to you. But he’s basically a picture or Jesus and here’s the deal, I mean it says, Melchizedek is the high priest of God. Who is our High Priest today? His name is Jesus. It says Melchizedek’s name means righteousness and peace.
Who is our righteousness and peace? His name is Jesus. It says Melchizedek has no beginning and no end. Who has no beginning and no end? His name is Jesus. He’s our great “I am” He has no beginning or end and He will be for us when we need Him to be. And he comes out and He meets Abraham and he brings him bread and wine which represents the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus. His broken body for our healing, His shed blood for the forgiveness of our sins, and he gives Abraham the bread and the wine and then it says, “He blesses Abraham.” Ephesians 1:3, we’ve been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing there is in Christ. That is a story of Jesus. And that’s exactly what Jesus wants to do you today. He wants to come out and meet you on your journey and He wants to come as the high priest, and He wants to give you His righteousness and His peace.
He wants to be for you what you need to be, the great I am in this moment, and He wants to give you His broken body and a shed blood so that you may be healed and forgiven and then he wants to bless you. It’s what Jesus wants to do for you right now. And so Abraham receives all of that and then the very next verse says, then after all that, then Abraham gave a tenth of everything he had. In other words, he tithed, he gave to God, he gave to Melchizedek and in that moment what we realize is that it was Abraham’s willingness to receive that created his ability to give. It’s your willingness to receive from Jesus that always creates your ability to give. If you receive the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus, something inside you changes and moves you to a desire to give. In fact the natural result of the Gospel taking root in your life is always a desire to give. The more grace you received, the more you desire to give why? Because grace changes us.
It gives me a new heart, it gives me a new life, it gives me a new spirit and it moves the declaration of my life from it’s all about me to it’s all about Him. The goodness of God releases springs of generosity in your heart and the reality of the kingdom of God is this, you have nothing to give until you’re first willing to receive. That’s why in Matthew 10:8, Jesus says, “Freely you have received freely give,” receiving is first. On John 3:27, John the Baptist says, “A man can only receive what has been given to him from heaven.” Or James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift comes down from the father of heavenly lights.” Or 1 Chronicles 29:14, “Who am I and who are these people that we should be all to give as generously as this? We have only given what has come from you. Everything we have comes from your hand.” You can’t release what you haven’t yet received. And so the reality is, is it’s pointless to talk about giving until we first understand receiving.
And you probably heard me say didn’t before, that I don’t think the average Christian has a giving problem, I think the average Christian has a receiving problem. Giving is a secondary issue. The real problem is receiving, like if you can’t give forgiveness to that person that’s hurt you, it’s because you’re not really receiving His forgiveness for you. If you can’t give mercy to that person that needs mercy it’s because you’re not receiving mercy for you. if you can’t give love to someone in your life like maybe you’re spouse it’s because you’re not receiving his love for you, and if you can’t give financially to the people around you it’s because you’re really receiving what God wants to give to you. You can have everything the world has to offer and still have nothing to give because you have yet to receive from Jesus. Okay. Now, let me try to illustrate it for you in a Bible story. There’s two stories, Luke 18 and 19 right next to each that I think explains this. Luke 18 is the story of the rich young ruler. He’s rich, he’s young and he’s a ruler. Bad combination right from the start.
You know this kid, you see him around town sometimes. And he comes up to just somebody like that, I’m glad you know somebody like that. He comes up to Jesus and he says, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, he wants to know what he needs to do to obtain his own righteousness. Let’s not talk about self-righteousness. And if you come to Jesus to talk about self-righteousness and what you need to do, he’ll always respond with the law. So, Jesus says, you know the commandments? You know, honor your father and mother, do not lie, do not commit adultery, do not steal and the kid looks back to Jesus says, “Good teacher, all these I’ve kept since I was a boy.” So he just broke the commandment of lying right there. So he just proved himself wrong. But Jesus looks back at him and says, “Okay, there’s just one thing you lack. Go sell everything you have, give your treasure to the poor, give your possessions to the poor, you have treasure in heaven then come and follow me.” And it says with that the man’s face fell sad and he went away because he was a man of great wealth.
Here’s what I want you to see. He couldn’t even let go of $1, why? Because he was unwilling to receive, so he was unable to give. He didn’t receive anything from Jesus so he was unable to give anything to anyone else. Now, take the very next chapter Luke 19, the story of Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus is the chief tax collector of the city of Jericho which means Zacchaeus is loaded and he spent his life ripping everybody else off. And one day, Jesus comes to town and you’ve probably heard the story, Zacchaeus is short, he wants to see Jesus, he climbs up in tree because he can’t see over the crown and I love what it says, it says, “When Jesus reached the spot,” the actual words on the Bible, the spot. The spot where Zacchaeus’ destiny was about to change. I think Jesus is standing at the spot maybe of your destiny today. And He looks at Zacchaeus and says, “Zacchaeus, come down, I want to go to your house.”
Zacchaeus comes down, welcomes Jesus into his home, they have a great time, they have a meal, it’s incredible and out of nowhere Zacchaeus on his own stands up and says, “Look Lord here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor and if I’ve cheated anybody out of anything, I’ll pay back four times the amount.” Like what? Jesus doesn’t ask Zacchaeus to give anything and yet Zacchaeus on his own accord, stands up and all of a sudden is moved to this posture of generosity, why? Because he was willing to receive the grace of Jesus, so now he is able to give to the world around him. The most stingy man in town just became the most generous man in town. Why? Because radical grace releases radical generosity. But conditional grace, minimal grace, no grace, releases conditional minimal or no generosity which was the rich young ruler’s problem. See grace opens the door of our heart and grace doesn’t just forgive you of your sins it empowers you to live free. It empowers you to do that which you could not or would not do on your own.
Let me show you these verses. 2 Corinthians 8, it says, “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service with the saints.” It says the Macedonian church received so much grace that even though they were poor they welled up in this rich generosity even beyond their own ability, which is what grace does, it allows you to do what you could not or would not do on their own and they pleaded with the privilege of being a part of the generosity of being the movement of the kingdom of God to the churches around the world. You see, it’s not how much you have it’s how willing you are to receive that determines your ability to give, period.
It’s not what you have. It’s how willing you are to receive. That’s why the most generous people in the world are those who are the most willing to receive from Jesus. And so a question you have ask yourself is what does your generosity teach you about your heart’s willingness to receive the bread and the wine from Jesus himself. Now, are you with me so far? Let me try to illustrate it for you with a silly analogy and maybe this will help. It’s about to be summer in Texas and once all these crazy rain stops, the reality is if you have a house, you have a landscaping grass, a foundation you’re going to have to water. And so in the middle of July, when it’s hot and everything needs water. What we typically do is we’ll walk over to our hose and we’ll turn the water on, in the moment the water comes on, it’s coming out at the end of the hose and it’s just flying out there all on it’s own and you take about two or three, you know, loops off of the thing on the side of the house and you start walking and the water is flying out, and usually just about the time you get to the corner where you have to turn, all of the sudden the water stops.
It’s never happened to you before has it?
You set the hose down and you walk back and realize, oh there’s a kink that got created in the hose as you are walking, so you’ve undo the kink, water starts flowing again. You picked it up, it’s coming out, you make it around the corner. This time you take two or three more steps, it stops again. Set it down and you go back. This time you realized there’s two kinks, you fixed one, you fixed two, water starts flowing again. You come back over here, it’s coming out of the hose, no problem, you take another couple of steps just like every two steps you take a new kink gets created in the hose. You know what I’m talking about? Unless you have like one those industrial strength hoses, my hoses are terrible. And so, you set it down because it stops and you come back over here and you realized there’s another kink. And so here’s the reality, you pick up the kink and this is the problem. The problem is not that you don’t know how to use a hose. The problem is not that the waters not turned on.
The problem is not that there’s a finite supply of water and it’s running out. The problem is there’s a kink in the hose and so the hose is unwilling to receive which makes it unable to give. It’s unwilling to receive the water so it has nothing, no matter how bad you want water to come out of that. There’s a kink. It’s not receiving so it cannot be giving and as you’re holding it you hear the pressure. Its going, “whoaah,” right?
Come on, “whooaah.”
Because a hose isn’t meant to stop water it’s meant to receive and give. And I think that is a great picture of the reality of a lot of our hearts. I think our hearts have kinks in it. And the problem is not that we’re not connected to the source, the problem is not that there’s a finite supply that’s running out, the problem isn’t that we don’t even know what to do, the problem is that there’s a kink in our heart and so we become unwilling to receive so we are unable to give.
And no matter what your bank account looks like or what’s going on in your life, nothing can come out of the end of your heart because nothing is flowing into it. There’s a kink and the pressure is building up, “whooaaah.”
People are getting stressed. You could see it on their faces. Blood pressure is high. Faces are a bit red, their hair is falling out.
Sometimes it just falls out just because it wants to.
But other times it just got “whoaah” is happening in here. We weren’t created to live like that. And so at some point the whole thing is just going to burst. They say, okay, well how do I get a kink in my heart? Well, we get them for different reasons and it fees like every few steps you take through life there’s an opportunity for a new kink to be created. Some of us we have kinks because of performance and achievement. We think everything in life is about us performing and us achieving, we got to earn all our own standards or all our own status and significance.
Okay, if you want that kink out of your heart you got to start receiving Jesus’ performance instead of yours. Some of us, we have a kink in our heart because we think life is all about being independent and self-reliant, like nobody is looking out for me. I got to make it happen. So if no one else does it I’m going to be on my own, so I got to go ahead and make it myself. If you want that kink out of your heart you have to start receiving Jesus’ care. Some of you we have a kink in our heart because we have a scarcity mindset. We’re afraid, we think there’s a finite supply, a poverty mindset. We think it’s going to run out, so there’s a kink in our heart. If you want that to become undone you have to start Jesus’ abundant provision for you. Some of us it’s unworthiness. Sometimes there’s three or four kinks inside of you, we think we’re unworthy to receive from Jesus because of our past. Okay. You need to get that kink out by receiving his finished work for you. Some of us had sin.
Ongoing, unrepentant willful sin. It’s created knots in our heart because we think joy can only come by doing it our way. You need to get that kink out of your heart by starting to receive Jesus’ joy that he wants to give to you. There’s kinks in our hearts. And the reality is, your hose that you use in your house, it could be connected to the ocean but if there’s a kink in it there is nothing coming through because it’s unwilling to receive so it is unable to give. I think our hearts have a kink connected to the infinite God of the universe and because we don’t receive His grace you’re unable to give anything. So in Proverbs 4:24 says, “Above all else,” like highlight this verse, it’s what that saying like “More than anything else, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.” Ezekiel 36:26 God says, “I will remove from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” He already says, “I’ll take the kinks. I’ll get the kinks.”
It’s not what’s in your wallet, it what’s in your heart that determines your ability to give. And when God pours His love inside of you, it releases generosity from you. And there’s something about the humility to receive that creates a love to give. And if you say, “Yeah, but I don’t know how to receive.” Just ask him. You say, “Jesus, I’ve got kinks in my heart and I know it, I come into this place and I’m resistant and angry and frustrated, I don’t like my job, I don’t like my life or I feel like I never have enough.” That’s a receiving problem. Say, “Jesus, I need your help in receiving.” Start focusing on what Jesus has given to you, not what you have given to Him. That’s what it means to be a Jesus focused church. You see, I really believe this, I believe that theology, what you believe about God, I think theology it’s more caught than it is taught.
Theology comes more through modelling than it does through teaching and so whether you realized it or not, every church you’ve been a part of in your life has unintentionally created theology within you. Like let me give you an example. Like, if we dressed formal here all the time and wear suits and ties, we would be creating a theology within you. We’d be creating a theology that says you need to clean yourself up before you come to God, that you better not be messy at all because God deserves our best, so get yourself together and then you can come. We would also be creating the theology that says, everyone in this room is stranger because I don’t ever wear a suit and tie around my kids. I dress comfortable around my family. If this is a family we were a pledge church.
Okay. I figured I had to say that, that’s all we wear, that’s all we got, it’s for the cameras, whatever. Okay.
Or how about this one, performance? If everything up here was always a performance we would be creating a theology within you that you need to perform for God. We’ll also be creating the theology that the only in the room that matter are the people that are up here and everyone else spectates. That would be the theology that will be getting created in your mind whether you realize it or not. We don’t believe in either of those, we’re not here to perform we’re here to celebrate his performance for us. That’s why this is family and that’s why I invite you to interact and engage because you’re a part of this whole thing, we’re just leading from up here. Or how about this, if we talked to God very formally like, “Dearest Lord of heaven, we beseeched thee on this fine of day. Take the kinks out of our hoses.”
You know, I don’t even know how to do that but you would be creating an unintentional theology that God is distant, that God is formal, that God is someone to be afraid of.
People get stressed out because I don’t say amen a lot of times at the end of my prayers. Why do I need to say amen? He’s right here. The way we talk to Him communicates theology. He’s right here. I can talk to you and I can talk to him at the same time, it’s like it just all is happening because He’s here. Does that make sense?
It’s a theology, okay. So why do we give at the end of service? Because it’s theology. You have just come here to receive from Jesus and at the end of that then you should be moved and motivated to give back to him. We receive first and then we give. The broken body and the shed blood is what we’re feasting right now. His finished work for our healing and our forgiveness. That’s why we gather and that’s why we give at the end because it’s a theology that you don’t have to give to come to God, you just get to come to God, He gives you everything and then you can’t help but want to give back. Also, because we don’t want our guest that are just discovering Jesus to have a basket placed to them in the middle of service, well now all of a sudden, there’s an unintended expectation I have to give to now meet with God.
No, no, no. Jesus doesn’t want anything from them, he wants everything for them. It’s a theology. Okay. And that’s modeled not necessarily taught. And so it’s your ability to receive from Jesus in here that creates or your willingness I’ll say to receive from Jesus in here that creates your ability to give out there. Every service, every weekend we are taking kinks out of your heart. That’s why you come even if it’s raining.
Because you have kinks that need out on your heart, that I need out on my heart. Let me pull it together with this. The prodigal son, you know the story. Prodigal father is wealthy and the son comes in, the younger son and wants everything his inheritance and the father actually gives it to him.
And so the son goes and he blows it, wild living, prostitutes, parties completely destroys the whole thing, runs his own life into the ground and he comes back broken and, you know the whole story, he gets restored by the father, the father greets him, gives him a robe, a ring, sandals, fully restores him to the family, gives him an entirely new inheritance, we’ve talked about that a lot over the last season here at Valley Creek. What I don’t want you to think about now is the younger son. I want you to think about the older brother. Because the younger son comes home and the father does all that that says they throw a party and kill the fattened calf. So there’s music and dancing and celebration, theology church is fund, there you go, there’s another one. And while they’re having the party, the older brother seating outside and he’s pouting. And so the father goes out and he says, “Son, why don’t you come inside to celebrate, your brother’s home?” And the older brother looks right at him and he says, “All these years I have slaved away for you and you haven’t even give me one goat to celebrate with my friends.” He’s offended. He’s offended at his father’s generosity. He’s offended that his father was generous towards his younger brother.
If you find yourself offended towards God’s generosity to others, it’s because you’re not willing to receive. If you’re offended by someone else’s generosity towards to someone else, it’s because you’re not willing to receive. And so he’s offended and the father looks right back at him and catch this he says, “My son, I am always with you and everything I have is yours. But this brother of yours was lost and he’s found, he was dead and he’s alive and we’re going to have a party for him.” I am always with you and everything I have is yours. You know what that means? It means the older had been living in his father’s house for all those years but he was living there like an orphan. He never was really connected to his father. He had a kink in his heart. The father says, “Everything I have is yours, you wanted go? You could have just taken one.” Everything I have is yours. It means he was unwilling to receive anything from the father.
So he unable to give anything to the brother and not just money, forgiveness, love, mercy compassion, kindness. And so because he was unwilling to give or unwilling to receive, he was unable to give and the older brother is tight fisted and hardhearted. And if we play the future of that story out I can promise you the younger brother was probably the most generous person ever in that town for the rest of his life, because he sure just received the whole lot of grace so he couldn’t help but give it away. I’m convinced that a lot of followers of Jesus are like the older brother. I have slaved away for you all these years and you’re going to be generous to them and not me? He says to you, I’m always with you. Everything I have is yours.
If you would just be willing to receive you would find yourself with this desire to give. John 6:53 Jesus says, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life within you.” Unless you received the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus, you have nothing to give and not just money but love and kindness and compassion and forgiveness and hope, nothing. And so I tell you all these story on the back end of this incredible celebration that we have because here’s the deal, I think the reason our church was able to do $14 million in two and half years above and beyond our general budget to reach people for the kingdom of God is because we have been learning to feast on Jesus together. That’s what I want you to see. Do you understand for those of you that are new like, I’ve talked in four years, I’ve taught four messages on giving. Four message on giving.
That makes it even more of a miracle because there’s not even like we’re talking about finances all the time. We’ve rarely, four times in four and a half years. You know we’ve talked about a lot? Feasting of Jesus, and what’s the result of the broken body and the shed blood? My heart is moved to give everything because the kinks are getting worked out and I’m receiving and I can’t help but be giving. Being generous is not something God does, it’s who he is. It’s his nature. Which means, when we receive the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus, we become like Him as He is so we are, our nature changes, so that means being generous is not something we do, it’s literally who we are.
You know the Gospel is taking root in your life when you have the desire and the ability to be generous because it has nothing to do with what you have, it has everything to do with who you have, and His name is Jesus. And so stewardosity is about embracing stewardship, releasing generosity and it all starts by freely receiving what Jesus did for us, that’s how I believe the miracle sprang forth and I believe it’s a lesson that God wants to teach us that if we would just feast on Him and everything in our lives, He will always show up and do amazing things. So, close your eyes with me. What’s the Holy Spirit want to say to you? Because he want to whisper in your heart or in your mind.
Freely you have received. Are those words true of your life? Will you receive the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus? His brokenness for your healing and his blood poured out for your forgiveness. It’s as simple as acknowledging, lord I have a kink in my heart and I need you to remove it. Will you come Jesus and unknot the tangles that I don’t even know where they came from. But it feels like every two steps I take another one gets created. So Jesus I want to learn to receive from you and feast on your body and drink your cup.
I believe today as a marker stone moment not only for our church but I believe for some of your lives, that today is a day where Jesus just reached the spot where He was able to you in a new way. May you like Zacchaeus have the faith and the courage to climb down that tree and invite Him into your home, and watch what He will do as you open up and let Him fill you. So Lord Jesus I celebrate your faithfulness and your goodness today. We honor your kindness, we receive your forgiveness and we say we will be that life-giving spirit-filled Jesus focused church that we will look to you Jesus and allow everything to spring forth from you who gives springs of living water in our soul that never kink, never run dry.
We love You Lord and we say, great is your faithfulness in this place. In your name we pray, Amen.