In this message, we learn how receiving from Jesus impacts our relationships.
Well, how are you, everyone? Welcome to Valley Creek Church. It’s so good to be with you. And I want to give a shout out to all the dads here. Hey, happy Father’s Day. I hope it’s a great one for you. We are so grateful for all that you do. Now, to everyone at all of our campuses or everyone who’s watching online, can we just give a warm Valley Creek welcome? We are so glad to have you. So this past week, Pastor John kicked off our summer series, the recalling of the relationships. And he reminded us that this is our theme for 2017. We’re asking God for supernatural favor, for divine grace in the area of our closest relationships. Now, we’re not talking about your second cousin’s second cousin. We’re not talking about that person you met for like 30 seconds in the third grade.
No. We’re talking about people that are in your sphere of influence, the people you actually do life with. Think of your spouse. Think of your kids, your parents, your Godly relationships, the people at work you work very closely with. That’s your inner circle. And what we believe is that in order for these to be strong and healthy relationships, there are a couple of things that we must do. So today, I get to unpack one of five different concepts of what makes for a healthy relationship, and that is, we must receive from Jesus. We must receive in order to have something to give. Now, right off the bat, I can tell that some of us are like, what, receive, what’s that about.
You see, if something’s broken, what do we tend to want to do? We want to fix it, right? We want to mend it. We want to troubleshoot or let’s get to the core or root issues. Let’s make something happen. And that’s all well and good except for the fact that you and I, apart from God, don’t have what they need. Can you receive then? We don’t have what they need. You see, a marriage-saving love is not within us. A crisis-surviving friendship is not within us. We need to receive what God has for us first so that then we have what they need. Another way to think of it is this, only the heart that receives from Jesus is free to love.
So if you have your bibles with you, please turn with me to 2 Samuel Chapter 9. This is a great story from the life of David that teaches us what it means to receive. So let me set the scene here. So you remember that the first King of Israel, the United Monarch, was Saul. And Saul had a son named Jonathan. Well, unfortunately, Saul and Jonathan died the very same day. They died on the battlefield and that’s in a ripple effect throughout the kingdom of different people vying to become king. It takes David seven years before he becomes the rightful king of Israel. He moves the throne to Jerusalem. And once the dust settled, he looks back and remembers a promise he made to his friend, Jonathan.
So he summons his servant named Ziba, and we pick it up in verse three, he asked this question, “Is anyone still alive from Saul’s family? If so, I want to show God’s kindness to them.” Ziba replied, “Yes, one of Jonathan’s sons is still alive. He is crippled in both feet.” “Where is he?”, the King asked. “In Lodebar”, Ziba told him, “At the home of Makir, son of Ammiel.” So David sent for him, brought him from Makir’s home and his name was, get ready for this, hard name, you got to spray it more than you say it, Mephibosheth. He was Jonathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. When he came to David, he bowed low to the ground in deep respect.
David said, “Greetings, Mephibosheth.” Mephibosheth replied, “I am your servant.” “Don’t be afraid”, David said. “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you all the property that once belonged to your grandfather, Saul. And you will eat here with me at the King’s table.” Mephibosheth bowed respectfully and exclaimed, “Who is your servant that you should show such kindness to a dead dog like me?” Wow. What an incredible story. Nicholas Sparks could have written those words. I mean, pass the tissue. A crippled man lays claim to the crowned jewels of Israel. How does that happen?
A self-confessed dead dog finds himself alive at the King’s table. What king would allow that? The answer is King David because King David was giving what King David had received. And I hope it’s not lost on you, that this is a beautiful prophetic picture of what Jesus gives to you and me the moment we call on His name. You see, we are Mephibosheth. We are the crippled orphans who have been summoned to the King’s table. So when you came in today, you should have received this card. This is our healthy relationships card. We gave them out back in January, and you recall that Pastor John challenged us to memorize six verses from Ephesians 4 and 5, because they’re so important to these concepts of healthy relationships.
So we want to say them together but if you have not yet memorized them, that’s okay because we’re a church of second chances. So I invite you to read along with me beginning in Ephesians 4:29. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up as a free grand offering and sacrifice to God. Those are great words that can give us truth from the heart of God about healthy relationships. But before we leave those words, I want to point out one particular verse from which we get this concept receive from Jesus. It’s that verse Ephesians 5 verse 1 that says, be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children of God. Do you see the order? Be imitators of God, love others like God does, but we can’t do that until we know we are loved by God.
Do you see that? We have to receive first in order to give. And that’s exactly what David did. He received then he gave. And specifically, there are three things that I believe he gave to Mephibosheth. And I believe we received these very same things from Jesus in order to have strong, healthy relationships. So you’re tracking with me. The first one is this, David gave Mephibosheth a new identity. Did you notice how quick Ziba was to point out Mephibosheth’s flaws? He said, “David, he is crippled in both legs.” I think it was Ziba’s way of saying, “Oh, he’s not exactly palace worthy. He’s not really blue-blood kind of material.” But David doesn’t buy it.
He doesn’t ask, “Well, how bad is it? What did the doctors say?” No. He simply asked, “Where is he?” You see, that’s what grace does. Grace looks beyond what is to what should be. And that’s the very same thing that Jesus does for us, right? See, Mephibosheth thought he was a dead dog. That was a lie. David spoke life over him. He pulled things out that didn’t belong. He put things in that did belong. And Mephibosheth came to realize he was not a dead dog. He was fully alive, fully accepted, fully loved by his King. Just like you and me. Look at Colossians 2:13. You were dead because of your sins, because of your sinful nature was not yet cut away.
Then, God made you alive with Christ for he forgave all your sins. We are alive in Christ. So why do we act like zombies and act like dead dog sometimes? The second thing that David gave Mephibosheth was a new security. Did you notice where Mephibosheth was living? It’s in a village called Lodebar. And Lodebar, interesting, in Hebrew, it means, a pastoralist place. Picture that for a minute. A place where there’s no water, no grass, nothing growing, just desert. It’s like one of those towns in West Texas that you and I pass through going somewhere and there’s a gas pump and a Dairy Queen.
And you say under your breath — unless you’re from there, you say under your breath, “Why would anyone want to live there?” And the answer is, typically, people who are hiding. You see, Mephibosheth was hiding. He was hiding out of fear. He was hiding out of shame. What was he afraid of? He was afraid that David was going to take his life because he was a rival heir and most kings just annihilated their rivals. And he was ashamed of his condition because he was crippled in both feet. The bible tells us how that happened. Remember on the day that Saul and Jonathan died on the battlefield, he was five years old. His nursemaid picked him up, was running from the Philistine soldiers. She accidentally tripped. She goes flying. The child goes flying.
He falls on the rocks. He breaks both legs, apparently, they never mend. He’s crippled for life. All of his hope, all of his dreams, all of his destiny, are found on the rocks. Can you relate to that? Many of us feel the same way, don’t we? So let me ask you, where do you go to hide from your pain, from your shame, from your fears? See, many years ago, when I was walking out my divorce, I became an expert in pastoralist places. I would go to the cafeteria and I would take a thick newspaper to look like I was engrossed so that nobody would have to speak to me. I would go and rent a movie from blockbuster because it was easier than going to the theater and asking for a ticket for one.
I was that person who came late to church and sat in the back row because I didn’t want to be greeted by anyone. I was insecure because of what had happened to me, and it wasn’t until I received my security in Christ, I could put that in my rearview mirror and move on in life. Because you see, in Jesus, there is no place for fear. 1 John 4:18, perfect love expels all fear. And in Jesus, there is no room for shame. Romans 8:1, now, there is no condemnation. No condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Jesus gives us a new identity. Jesus gives us a new security. Can you receive that? The third thing that David gave Mephibosheth, easy for you to say, was a new family.
Do you remember what possessed David to inquire about Jonathan’s sons after all these years? It was an obscure promise that he had made to Jonathan years before. We read about it in 1 Samuel 20. Jonathan is speaking and he says, “And may you treat me with the faithful love of the Lord as long as I live. But if I die, treat my family with this faithful love even when the Lord destroys all your enemies from the face of the earth.” You see, both men, David and Jonathan, were soldiers. And I suspect that this was a foxhole kind of conversation as soldiers want to have. “Hey, if anything happens to my family, will you take care of them?” Sure. Reciprocate. Will you take care of mine? Sure. Absolutely. But who keeps those kind of promises? David knew somebody who would. In Psalm 145 verse 13, he writes, “The Lord always keeps his promises.” You see, once again, David was giving what David had received. Look again at verse 7, David said, “I intend to show kindness to you because of my promise to your father, Jonathan. I will give you two things. First of all, all the property that once belonged to your grandfather, Saul. And secondly, you will eat here with me at the King’s table.” He was giving him provision. He was giving him his presence. And that’s what Jesus gives to you and me. Look at 1 Peter Chapter 1 verse 4, we have a priceless inheritance.
An inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. That’s what Jesus offers to us. How cool is that? He also gives us a place at His table. Luke 22 says, “And just as my Father has granted me a kingdom, I now grant you the right to eat and drink”, I love this, “at my table in my kingdom.” Jesus freely offers that to all sons and daughters. So what are we to do with all this? This is great truth. But how does this truth translate into should whether? How do we get some practical applications that can apply to our lives? Well, I would suggest three. The first is this. Let’s stop expecting from others what only Jesus can give us. You see, one of the main reasons our relationships go south is because of unrealistic expectations. We expect our spouse to make us happy, our kids to make us proud, our friends to solve all our problems and our bosses to make us rich. But what’s wrong with that picture? It’s unrealistic. We’re expecting from others what only Jesus can give. For example, if I expect my wife to fill my heart with joy, I’m going to be disappointed because Psalm 16:11 says, “You, God, will fill me with joy in your presence.” Joy comes from the Lord. Or if I expect my kids or my grandkids to fill my heart full of love, I’m never going to be satisfied.
Why? Because Psalm 32:10 says, “The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trust in Him.” And if I expect my coworker to make me feel good about my work product, to make me feel significant, to touch my soul, I’m going to be offended because 1 Peter 2:25 says, “Christ is your shepherd, the guardian of your soul. Only He can touch your soul that way.” News flash. We need to receive more from Jesus and expect less from others. The second thing that I believe we can do as a result of this truth is let’s stop trying to love from an empty bank account. You see, too often, we write hot checks relationally. And we become overspent and overdrawn just like we do at the bank, right? And we forget the spiritual lesson that a love deposit must always precede a love withdraw. The Apostle John knew this. In 1 John 4, he says, “This is real love, not that we love God, but that he loved us and sent his son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” He made the first move. We need to receive that. That’s the deposit side of the equation. Now, he moves on to the withdrawal side. Verse 11, “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love one another.” Do you see the order? You must receive first then give. You must put on your own oxygen mask before you help the person next to you.
So about a year ago, I had the opportunity to live out this truth, and frankly, I didn’t do very well. It was Father’s Day last year. And it was a very busy weekend and I was just spent, I was done, but my wife insisted they have all the kids and grandkids over just to celebrate the dads. So, in the middle of the festivities, somehow I misplaced my phone. I don’t know what I did with it, it’s just gone. And so I’m kind of looking around, and I can remember being in the kitchen getting some cake and ice cream because that’s what you do on Father’s Day, right? And so I’m getting this and my grandson walks in and so I asked him, “Hey, buddy, have you seen my phone?” No, Poppsy, I haven’t seen your phone.” So, I’m leaving and out of the corner of my eye, I see this rectangular light source at his waistband shining through his t-shirt. And my brain synapses are kind of slow and I’m going, “What is that, could it be, oh, my goodness. That is my phone.” My grandson just lied to me on Father’s Day. My blood begins to boil, I’m about to give him a piece of my mind. I can’t afford to lose. And then my wife sees me, and she says, “What’s going on?” And I explained it to her and she gives me such wise counsel. Not here, not now.
You see, she knew, yeah. She knew. She didn’t want me to embarrass my grandson. She didn’t want me to embarrass myself because I was about to lose it big time. And here is the deal. I was on empty. And I’ve got a feeling my grandson was, too. So I deferred to her, decided to postpone the conversation. And by the way, miraculously, couple of hours later, my phone just shows up. Amazing how that happens. So fast forward, a month later, we’re at the beach, we’re having a family gathering down there and we’re having all kinds of fun. And here, one day, I find myself with a bunch of grandkids walking back to the beach house and most of the kids go ahead and I am there just with my older grandson. I thought, “Here is my opportunity.” So I confront him about the phone, said, “Hey, I saw it in your waistband.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Poppy.” “Hey, let’s not deny it. I did stupid things when I was growing up, too. Here is the deal. Our relationship has always been based on transparency and trust. Can we just agree not to let anything, much less a cellphone, come in between our love for each other?” “Yes, Poppsy.” It was one of the most powerful heart-to-heart connections I’ve ever made, because I waited until my tank was full. So let me ask you, who do you need to have that conversation with? Can I give you some sound advice from my wife? Don’t have it at a family of celebration and don’t try to have it on an empty bank account. You see, my grandson and I, on that Father’s Day, we were like that expression, two ticks, no dog. We were taking, just sucking from life with nothing to give.
Don’t let that happen to you. Alright, the third thing and final thing. Let’s be as generous with our love as Christ is with us. You see, Mephibosheth’s story doesn’t end with chapter nine. I love this. As the years go by of him feasting with the King at the King’s table, his love for David just grow stronger and stronger. Later in David’s life, he has this crisis. One of his sons, Absalom, just goes off the deep end. He has this rebellion. He wants to take over the throne. And so David leaves Jerusalem. Mephibosheth is left behind and he’s heartbroken over David’s leaving. So he decides he’s not going to shave, he’s not going to bathe, he’s not going to change clothes until David returns. I don’t recommend that but that was his love language, okay? Then finally, David comes back. And Mephibosheth is just so excited to see him, but unfortunately, Ziba, that servant, sort of throws him under the bus. He accuses Mephibosheth of being part of the rebellion and David doesn’t know what to do. He respects both men. So he decides to split the state 50-50 right down the middle. Everyone is happy, right? No. Notice what Mephibosheth says in return. “Give him all of it”, Mephibosheth said. “I am content just to have you, David, safely back again, my Lord, the King.” You see, when you’ve experienced the presence of the King, only the King’s presence satisfies.
And when you’ve experienced the grace and the generosity of the King, you can’t help but be gracious and generous in return. Mephibosheth was giving what Mephibosheth had received. So let’s be gracious and let’s give away to others the love that we’ve received. So let’s follow all this together. Many of us, most of us, I think all of us, long for strong, healthy relationships. But too many of us are hesitant to lean into them because we’ve been hurt. We’ve been betrayed. We’ve been taken advantaged of. We’ve been wounded and because of that, we hold back. Listen, I know it’s hard. I know it’s hard leaving the porch light on for that prodigal son or daughter. I know. And I know how hard it is when you’ve lost your patience or you’ve lost your temper, how hard it is to lean in to a relationship. I know. And I know how difficult it is to do the right thing when you’ve been wronged. I know. But here’s the deal. I believe this year, 2017, God wants to strengthen our most precious relationships if we let Him. And what we need to do is receive from Him exactly what we need so that we can give to others exactly what they need.
Only the heart that receives from Jesus is free to love. So you bow your head and close your eyes, and I’ve got to ask you what’s the Holy Spirit saying to you right now about the condition of your heart. So in your heart, are you finding yourself at the King’s table enjoying the King’s presence, enjoying your identity, your security, your new family? Or is your heart more in a pasture of a pastoralist place in your own Lodebar hiding from your fear and your shame? Can you hear Jesus’ invitation just to come, to come to the table and enjoy everything he has for you? So Lord Jesus, we are so grateful that you left the confines of your heavenly palace and you came and found us in our pastoralist places, in the places of our shame and our hopelessness where we thought we were dead dogs. You came and you rescued us and you adopted us to your family. Father, may — us being with you, may your presence be the only thing that satisfies us. May we receive what we need so we can give to others what they need. And we pray all of this in the matchless name of the King of Kings who makes it possible. Amen.