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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Craig Smith » Craig Smith - Amazing Jesus

Craig Smith - Amazing Jesus

Craig Smith - Amazing Jesus
TOPICS: Crazy Generous, Generosity

Well, hey, we’re finishing up a series today called Crazy Generous. We’ve been in it for the last few weeks. And if you’re just joining us, let me get you caught up real quick. Being crazy generous is actually one of our core values as a church. It is something we strive to be. And here’s the way we say it. We say we are crazy generous, meaning we mirror God’s outrageous grace with outrageous giving because we believe that Christianity is rooted in generosity. That Christianity itself is rooted in the generosity of God. One of the most famous verses in the Bible, you don’t even have to have been in church before. There’s a good chance you’ve seen this verse or heard somebody quoted or seen somebody hold it up on a sign at a ball game. One of the most famous verses in the Bible is John 3:16. It’s this, “For God so loved the world that he…” anybody, he gave this generosity, right? “He gave his only Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” That’s generosity.

And so we believe that when we give and when we grow in generosity, all we’re really doing is we’re imitating the generosity that God himself has modeled for us. And that’s one of the reasons we’re so passionate about being generous as a church. Another reason we’re really passionate about generosity as a church is because we believe this, we really believe this to be true. It’s that being generous is good for us. Being generous as good for us. We often say, actually, is when we’re talking about generosity, “Hey, if for whatever reason, you’re not comfortable giving to Mission Hills, that’s fine. Don’t give here but give somewhere.” Give somewhere because we believe that growing in generosity and being generous is good for us.

And I think it plays out in a couple different ways. One of the ways it plays out is that the more we use resources to serve others, the less we serve our resources. The more we use our resources to serve others, the less we serve our resources. This is why Jesus said you cannot serve both God and money. That there was always a tension between these two things. Now, nobody sets out to serve money, of course, but the more that we hoard our resources, what we hold tight to them, the more our resources have a tight hold on us. And so the issue is never really how much money we have, it’s how much our money has us. But when we use our resources to serve others, that’s the antidote to that potential temptation to really kind of come under the control of our resources. And so that’s one of the ways that being generous is good for us. Another way that being generous is good for us as simply this fact, God blesses generosity. God blesses generosity. That’s why Jesus himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Now, God blesses the generosity in a variety of ways. Sometimes when we use our resources to be generous, God blesses us with more resources to be generous with. I’ve seen that in my own life. It seems sometimes that the tighter I hold to my resources, the tighter my resources are, the fewer I have of them. And then the looser that I hold them, the more I have. That’s one of the ways that God often blesses. That’s not always the case. Okay? It’s not a formula that always leads to that, but it is often the case. But God always blesses generosity. If not in that way, there are other ways that God blesses generosity, but he always blesses generosity.

And today we’re gonna lean into a couple of unexpected blessings that come from generosity. So why don’t you go ahead and grab a Bible and join me in Luke chapter 7. I’m gonna be starting in verse 1 today, Luke chapter 7, verse 1. While you’re turning there, let me just say this. If you haven’t downloaded the Mission Hills app, encourage you to do that. You can follow along with the message notes and the Scripture, you can take your own notes. And we’re gonna do something kind of fun today that’s made a little bit easier by the app. You don’t have to have the app to be part of this, but it’s an easier way to do it. So, encourage you to maybe just take a moment right now, download the Mission Hills app. But Luke chapter 7, verse 1 says this, “Now, when Jesus had finished saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum.” Now, Capernaum is a region in the nation of Israel. So it’s a place where a bunch of Jewish people live. It’s a Jewish region. Okay? Now, they’re in Capernaum, there’s a centurion’s servant whom his master valued highly was sick and about to die.

So he’s in a province, but in the Jewish province, there’s a centurion. Now, it’s a Roman centurion, it’s a Roman soldier in command of other Roman soldiers. And what we need to understand is that this man was the enemy from the Jewish perspective. From the Jewish perspective, a Roman centurion was the enemy of God’s people. About 100 years before this, Rome had conquered Israel and as they often did, they put soldiers all throughout the land to keep the people in check, remind them who’s they were. They were Romans. Okay? Now, from a Jewish perspective that made the centurion the enemy. And I think if you try to put it in modern terms, try to imagine that that ISIS or the Taliban conquered the United States of America and then they put soldiers all around the country to keep us in line. How would you feel every time you saw one of those soldiers? Probably not great, right? If you can begin to feel even just a little bit of that, then you understand how it is the Jewish people would have thought about this centurion. He was the enemy of God’s people. Okay? And he had a servant, a servant that was valued high. Actually, the original Greek says that he was precious to him, meaning he loved this man.

And the centurion heard of Jesus and he sent some elders of the Jews to ask him to come and to heal his servant. So he’s got a sick servant that he values highly, he’s precious to him, and he sends some elders of the Jews to go to Jesus to heal his servant. Now, what’s interesting about that is it’s strange. It’s strange that the Jewish elders went. Now, the Jewish elders, they were the older people in the society. They were incredibly highly respected, very valuable members of society, everybody looked up to them. And what’s interesting is that as a centurion, this Roman soldier did not have the authority to get Jewish elders to serve as his messengers. Do you hear me, church? That was not under, sort of, the umbrella of his authority. He had all kinds of authority to do certain things, but he did not have the authority to command the Jewish elders, highly respected members of that society, to do personal errands for him. They were under no obligation to do this. But they did it.

And what we need to understand, this is so important to understand in the story, what we need to understand is they did it because they wanted to, the elders wanted to do this for the centurion. They did it voluntarily, did a favor for him. He said, “Hey, would you go find out if he’s able to help?” And they said, “Yes, we will.” And they went. They chose to do that. They wanted to do that. And the question we wanna ask is, why would they wanna do that? Why would the elders of the Jewish people want to do a favor for the enemy of the Jewish people?

Let’s read on. “Now, when they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him.” And that’s interesting too. They pleaded earnestly with him. And the Greek word that’s translated there as earnestly can also be translated as eagerly. They’re quick to do this. Or it can also be translated as hard. They pleaded hard with him. In other words, they didn’t go to Jesus and go, “Hi. So, there’s this guy, he’s one of the Romans, he’s got a servant who’s sick. Like, who cares, right? But, well, but he wanted us to know…he wanted us to come and ask if you’d be willing to help him.” That’s not what happened. They went, they were happy to go, and when they got to Jesus, they got right in his face and they’re like, “Hey, you need to do this.” They worked hard to convince him. They were excited about this. They worked hard to convince Jesus to do that. Okay. So not only are they willing to do a favor for an enemy of God’s people, but they’re working hard to convince Jesus that he needs to do it. Why would that be? Why would they be willing to do that?

Here’s what they said. They said, “This man deserves to have you do this.” Literally, in the Greek, it’s, “This man is worthy to have you do this because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.” Two things explain their willingness to go and their willingness to lean into it, to really try to convince Jesus to do that. They say, “He loves our nation. He loves the nation of Israel. He loves God’s people and he’s built our synagogue.” Now, those two things together, that he loves God’s people, and he built a synagogue for them, those two things coming together, tells us something that we probably know about this man, and that is that we think he was probably a God-fearer. The centurion was probably a God-fearer. And in the word God-fearer, it was a phrase that the first-century Jewish people used to talk about a Gentile, a non-Jewish person who worshiped the Jewish God. Okay? So even though he’s not Jewish, he apparently worshiped the Jewish God. And we see that because he loved God’s people and he was willing to build them a synagogue. Okay? We know that.

Now, if you don’t know what a synagogue is, a synagogue was essentially like a local church, okay, for the Jewish people. It was a place they could come to learn from the Bible, it was a place they could come to worship God together. And so he loved God’s people and he built them a church. Probably did that because he was a God-fearer, that he worshiped God himself. That’s probable here. We don’t know for sure, right? The centurion was definitely generous. Like, we know that for sure, right? No question about it. He was definitely generous. Probably a God-fearer, but definitely generous. And why we say that? Well, he built them a church. He built them a synagogue, right? I mean, in and of itself, that’s a pretty clear sign of his generosity, but it’s actually more generous than we tend to realize on the surface, because here’s the thing. As a Gentile, even though he might’ve worshiped the Jewish God, as a Gentile, he was not welcome in a Jewish synagogue. You with me, church? He would not have been allowed to come into that place.

So think about this. He paid for it, but he couldn’t pray in it. But he built it anyway. That’s generosity, isn’t it? Like, I’m not sure that there’s a clearer picture of generosity to be found anywhere, because here’s the thing. Generosity is the art of blessing others with no expectation of benefiting ourselves, right? That’s what it is. It’s the art. And I call it the art, by the way, because this isn’t easy. It’s amazing how often our motives are actually not really about others. Even when we think we’re being generous, there’s a part of us that’s actually doing something for ourselves. So it’s not an easy thing. That’s why I call it the art. It’s the art of learning how to bless others with no expectation of benefiting ourselves. But that’s what this man is doing. He’s built a church, a synagogue that he really has no opportunity probably ever to go into.

So why did he do that? Well, I think we have to understand that he saw this as an act of worship. Even though he couldn’t go into that place to worship, the building of that place himself was an act of worship. And that’s true of all generosity, honestly. The practice of generosity is an expression of worship. Practice of generosity is an expression of worship. We sometimes have this very limited idea about what constitutes worship. We tend to think, well, worship is singing songs or it’s praying prayers, things like that. But the reality is that biblically, worship is about submitting to God. Okay? It’s about submitting to God and his purposes in our lives. And when we do that, we’re worshiping. And one of the ways we do that is beginning to realize that all of our resources come from God and when we begin to use them for God’s purposes, even when we don’t benefit from it, maybe even especially when we don’t benefit from it, we’re actually using our resources as God intends, and that’s submission, that’s worship.

So the practice of generosity is an act of worship. And I believe for this man, even though he couldn’t worship in the synagogue, building the synagogue was an act of worship. But if you think about it for a moment, it’s an especially powerful act of worship, right? Because it’s not just a single act of worship, it’s an act of worship that led to more worship, didn’t it? He built their church and then there was more worship. They were able to come and worship, and so really, his acts of worship multiplied additional acts of worship. His act led to more worship. That’s a pretty powerful thing, isn’t it?

And it’s interesting how often we see that same principle work its way out through Scripture. When Paul was the City of Corinth and he was talking to the Corinthians there, he took up an offering to use to further the work of God, to take the Gospel into the rest of the world. And check this out. This is what he said to them in thanking them for generosity. He said, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. And through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” In other words, your generosity results in more worship, right? He said, “The service that you perform by giving is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people, but it’s also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” That’s more worship. “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, your generosity, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the Gospel. Others will praise God,” he says. That’s more worship, right? This is a powerful thing to realize about contributing to God’s work is that when we give to the work of God, we multiply the worship of God. You hear me, church?

When we give to the work of God, it’s not only an act of worship, but it’s an act of multiplying worship. 00:13:06]. When we give to the work of God, we actually multiply the worship of God. That’s what this man is doing. And that’s what we did as a church in that church plant in Peru. We gave, and that was an act of worship for us, but it’s not an act that stops. It’s an act that continues to go on in multiples. There are more people worshiping God, there’ll be more people in heaven worshiping God because of your generosity. That’s what generosity often does and that’s what this man is doing. He’s multiplying the work of God. He’s multiplying the worship of God by his generosity.

And for this reason, I think, that the next verses this, “And so Jesus went with them.” Once he’s heard about this man and his generosity, Jesus went with them. Now, he was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to him to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself because I did not deserve to have you come under my roof,” which is an interesting thing because isn’t that exactly what he sent the Jewish elders to find out if Jesus would do? Apparently not. Here’s what I actually think was happening. This Roman centurion heard about Jesus. He thought, well, maybe he could help. But then, of course, he would have naturally thought, but as far as Jesus, as a Jewish person is concerned, I’m his enemy. So I’m not sure if he’d be willing to help. And so he called some Jewish elders, said, “Hey, would you go and find out if Jesus would be willing to help?” My guess is the plan was that if Jesus said he would be willing to help, then the centurion would’ve gotten some other servants, they would have gotten together a stretcher, and they would have taken the sick servant to Jesus.

But the Jewish elders got overzealous. The Jewish elders not only went to ask, “Would you be willing to help,” they went, “So you really need to help, and you need to come with us right now. Come on.” And Jesus is like, “Okay.” And so they’re going. And then the man in his house looks and he sees they’re coming, he’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not what I expected. That’s not what I asked you to do. You’ve gone above and beyond.” But think about that for a moment. They’ve gone above and beyond for their enemy, right? Roman soldier, Roman centurion, he’s the enemy of their people. Not only have they been willing to do a favor for him, but they’ve gone above and beyond and tried to convince Jesus to go beyond what this man was even asking for.

Why would they do that? And I think the answer is because he won them over with his generosity. I mean, this is an incredibly powerful thing. It’s one of these unexpected blessings that comes from generosity. Listen to me, generosity breaks down barriers and opens doors. Generosity breaks down barriers and it opens doors. That’s what’s happening here. His generosity has destroyed the barrier of antagonism. It’s destroyed the barrier of anger. It’s destroyed the barrier of bitterness. There’s a relationship happening because of his generosity. Generosity breaks down barriers and it opens doors.

If you think about it, the church in Peru, that’s exactly why Compassion has, 100% success rate with church plants, which is unheard of, but they’ve got it. They got 100% track record and the reason is because when a church is planted through Compassion, an American church partnership, the church goes in, and even before the building is built, they enroll hundreds of kids in that community in the Compassion program, people get a chance to sponsor them. They start taking care of those kids. They get food, and clothing, and clean water, and medical care, and education, and the Gospel. And they do that before the church opens and then eventually when the church opens, people flood the church every time and the reason they come is to go, “Hey, I don’t know about this whole Jesus thing, but his people are incredible.”

So, we probably need to find out about Jesus then. That’s why they’re successful, because the generosity that God’s people show in those villages, in those communities, it’s breaking down barriers and it’s opening doors. It’s a powerful thing. I was thinking about it this week. You know, this is a difficult week here in America, right? We’ve gotten more gun violence; we have more mass violence. We’ve also got more racial violence. I mean, for the last couple of weeks, it seems like more of the same and you wonder, what’s gonna fix it? Right? What do we have to do? And here’s what I can’t help but wonder. As I look at this and as I look at the way that these Jewish elders responded to somebody who should have been their enemy and I find myself wondering this, I wonder if maybe the answer is generosity. Maybe the answer is that we somehow figure out what it looks like to be generous to the people that we disagree with because here’s the reality. I’ve seen it myself. Maybe you have. It’s really hard to stay against someone whose generosity keeps saying they’re for you.

You hear me, church? It’s hard to maintain animosity against somebody. It’s hard to keep being against somebody whose generosity keeps saying, “I’m for you.” We don’t necessarily agree. We may be all over the map and things, but I’m for you and I express that through generosity, it breaks down barriers and opens doors. And I wonder if maybe that’s something that God might be challenging us to. Maybe that’s some of the long-term solutions to the problems that we face as a culture, it’s actually becoming more generous. Kind of a bonus thought for the day. But it clearly worked here, right? They should have been enemies, but they weren’t because this man’s generosity. They convinced Jesus to come, and as soon as he saw Jesus coming, he sent servants to go, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s not what I expected. I just wanted to know if you’d be willing to help. I don’t think I’m worthy to have you under my roof.” He said this, he said, “That is why I didn’t even consider myself worthy to come to you. Just say the word, my servant will be healed.” He said, “I didn’t think that I was worthy to have you under my roof. I didn’t even think I was worthy to come to you myself, that’s why I sent them.”

And here we find another thing about this man that’s really important, which is that we find out that he’s humble, right? He’s humble. He doesn’t think he’s all that and a bag of chips. His generosity clearly wasn’t intended to create influence and create opportunities, he was generous just because it was the right thing to do. This is a humble man, which shouldn’t be surprising because here’s the reality, is that generosity and humility go hand in hand. Generosity, in fact, generosity without humility is self-serving. If the two don’t come together, it’s not really generosity. It’s actually self-service. And it’s remarkable to me how easy it is to convince ourselves that we’re being generous, we’re blessing others with no expected benefit to ourselves when in reality, we’re actually being generous for the sake of what it will do for us.

It’s amazing how often sneaks in. I’ll be honest, it snuck into my life and it took me several years to realize what’s happening. My first vocational ministry position, I was a youth pastor at a church, and it was a pretty liberal church. I’m not liberal theologically. I’m pretty conservative. And so you might go, “Why were you at a liberal church?” And the answer is I was young and stupid. I didn’t ask the right questions. I didn’t figure out how liberal they were until I got there. But my wife and I went, “It doesn’t matter. We’re gonna pour into this.” And so we poured ourselves into that, into those kids, into their families, into that church. And, honestly, I think we were pretty generous. I thought of myself as being pretty generous with our time, we were generous with our talent, and we were generous with their treasure because they didn’t have a very big budget, and so we had to pay for an awful lot of stuff in ministry out of our own pockets. And so we were being pretty generous, I thought.

A couple years in, found out there was a group of people who kind of came together and they wanted to get rid of me. They tried to get rid of me. And I’m gonna be honest, that just really hurt. It hurt then and it hurt for years later. We stayed there for another year after we worked through the issues and God blessed us through that, and I was glad that we did. And eventually, God called us on. But even after God called us on, the wound of that continued to sting. And here’s what I found myself saying. And I’m embarrassed to admit this to you as your pastor, but I’m gonna be honest with you. Here’s what I found myself thinking for years after. I remember thinking this. I remember thinking, “We were so generous to them and that’s how they repaid us, stabbing us in the back. We were so generous to them and that’s how they repaid us.” And I thought that for years, and then one day I was in the midst of, kind of, that pity party, “We were so generous and that’s how they repaid us,” and God spoke to me. By the way, everyone always wants God to talk to them. I can tell you, it’s not that great.

God spoke to me and he said, “Hey, Craig. The fact that you can say, ‘I was so generous and that’s how they repaid me,’ means that you were actually expecting to get something pretty good back from it. And that’s not generosity. The reality is, if you can be upset that you didn’t get something back in return for your generosity, you weren’t being generous. You weren’t doing it for them. You weren’t doing it for me, you were doing it for you, at least a little bit.” He was right. He usually is. But I could just tell you from experience, I know how easy it is to get into that place. I think I’m being generous, but without humility, this says, “I’m not important. The giver is not what’s important here and it doesn’t matter if anything ever comes back to me.” Without humility, it’s not really generosity. It’s actually self-service. And that’s not what this man is doing. He’s clearly a humble man. And I think it’s through the lens of humility that we have to read what he says next. He says, “For I myself am a man under authority with soldiers under me and I tell this one go and he goes, and that one come and he comes, and I say to my servant do this and he does it.”

Now, that almost sounds like he’s bragging about how much authority he has, right? But he’s not. What’s the first thing he said? He said, “For I myself am a man under authority.” He’s not bragging about how much authority he has. He’s acknowledging where his authority comes from. He says, “I myself, a man under authority.” In other words, “No authority that I have is actually mine. Yeah, I can say to my servant and my soldiers and they’ll do it, but that’s only because I’ve been loaned some authority from somebody that I’m underneath.” Right? So he says, “My authority really is just on loan to me and I’m only using it for the purpose that it was given to me for.” That’s a powerful recognition and I believe that he carried that recognition into his relationship with God too. He carried that same recognition into thinking about his other resources like his finances. The reality is this, he understood what we have to understand, which is that all of our resources are on loan to us from God for a purpose. All of our resources are on loan to us from God for a purpose and they have to be used for that purpose.

Now, one of the purposes for which God gives us resources is so that we will have our needs met. I don’t want you to think for a moment that that’s not part of it. Absolutely, it is. God loves you as his children and God supplies our needs. But the moment, the very moment that we have even the tiniest bit more than what we actually need, not necessarily than what we want, but the moment we have the tiniest bit more than we actually need, we have to begin asking a really important question, which is this, “What’s the more for? What’s the more for?” We have to ask that question. And here’s the problem. It’s not that it’s a difficult question to answer, the problem is that we never ask ourselves the question because we never think we have more. And the reason we often don’t think that we have more than we need is because we’re probably looking to people who have more than we have and so we’re like, “Well, compared to them, I don’t have very much, so if I don’t have very much, there’s no way it can be more than I need.” Right?

I mean, personally, just to be honest with you, I prefer to look at Bill Gates, right? Well, compared to him, I got nothing, so there’s no way that I can have more and need to ask what the more is for, but that’s not who I should be comparing myself to. If we flip it around, if we compare ourselves, honestly, to the rest of the world, we begin to realize, “Oh, actually, we have a lot more than we thought we did.” In fact, let’s talk about some very sobering statistics, can we? Here’s the thing. If you have more than $500,000 in assets, you’re among the wealthiest 1% of the world’s population. And you’re like, “That’s a whole lot of money.” Yeah. But that includes your house. So if your house, and your car, and your IRAs, and your checking accounts, and all that adds up to more than $500,000, you’re in the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people. Maybe even that feels like a lot, so how about this? If you earn than $50,000 annually, you’re in the top 1to 2% of the world.

Still feel like a lot? Okay. Let’s bring it down. Let’s bring our sights down. If you have any money saved, a variety of clothes in your closet, two cars in any condition, people are like, “Well, yeah, but you can’t count that car.” Yeah, we can. Four years ago I was driving an Isuzu Rodeo that overheated so often that every time I stopped at a stoplight I had to turn it off. I had a pair of pliers stuck in the window well in the back because if they weren’t there, the window would fall into the door and it would never come back out. Okay? I have to count that car, right? In any condition, and you live in your own home, top 5% of the world. Maybe even that seems like much, so how about this, $25,000 annual. If you earn more than $25,000 annually, top 10% of the world’s richest people. Getting uncomfortable yet? A little bit? How about this. Sufficient food, decent clothes, live in house or apartment, have a reasonably reliable means of transportation, including access to a bus, top 15%. Still feel high? How about this? If you earned more than $1,500 last year, you’re in the top 20% of the wealthiest people in the world. Eighty percent of the world is poorer than you are if you made $1,500 last year.

See what I’m saying? We got to be very careful because if we compare ourselves to those who have more than we do, we’ll never think that we have more than we need and so we’ll never ask this question. We have to ask this question. The moment we have the tiniest bit more than we absolutely need, we have to ask the question, “What’s the more for?” And the answer is it’s to bless others. It’s to accomplish God’s purposes. That’s what the more is for. And that’s what this man understood, and check this out, verse 9, “And when Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him. And turning into the crowd, following him, he said, ‘I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.’ And then the man who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.” I love that. Jesus stopped going, he just…servant’s healed. It’s done.

But my favorite part of this whole passage is that verse 9. I love it. He says, “When Jesus heard this, when he heard about this man’s faith, expressed in his generosity, when he heard about this man’s generosity,” what was he? He was…what’s the word, church? He was amazed. I didn’t even know that was an option. I didn’t know amazing Jesus was a possibility. I mean, this is the guy who walked on water, and he calmed storms, and he called dead people out of graves, and he healed the lame and the lepers and made the blind see. I didn’t know amazing Jesus was an option, but this is now my new life goal.

How do you amaze Jesus? Well, this man’s generosity did it. And if you were with us few weeks ago, you may remember we talked about the time that Jesus was watching people as they gave their gifts at the treasury in the temple and one woman came and she put two small coins worth one-sixty-fourth of a day’s wages and he got so excited. He jumped up and he called his disciples and said, “She’s given more than everybody else.” This is not just a one-time thing. We see a pattern here and it says, Jesus gets excited about true generosity. Jesus gets excited about true generosity. If you want to amaze Jesus, and I think as followers of Jesus we should always wanna please Jesus. But what if you could go a step farther? What if you could kick it up a notch? What if you could amaze Jesus? How much fun would that be?

And it’s not surprising that Jesus gets excited about true generosity because Jesus is generosity incarnate, right? He’s the generosity of God made flesh. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but have eternal life.” That’s generosity. Paul tells us that while we were yet sinners, not deserving of forgiveness, not deserving of a relationship with God, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He generously offered his own life as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus is generosity incarnate. So, of course, he gets excited about generosity because becoming more generous means that we’re becoming more like Jesus and we’re joining him on mission in the world, which is what we’re all about at Mission Hills, helping people become like Jesus and joining him on mission in the world. And generosity is a very concrete way of moving forward in that. Becoming more generous means we’re becoming more like Jesus and we’re joining him on mission. So, of course, Jesus gets excited about true generosity.

So as we wrap up the series, I just have one question I wanna challenge you to wrestle with. And the question is this, how will I respond to God’s generosity? God doesn’t call us to do anything he hasn’t already done for us so many times over that it’s not even a meaningful comparison. How will we respond to God’s generosity? Now, some of you are listening to this message and you’re not followers of Jesus. In which case, the way you’re gonna respond to God’s generosity is simply to accept it. Maybe for the first time you’re hearing this message and you’re realizing, the light bulb’s coming on, that Christianity is about the generosity of God. Maybe the first time you’ve connected the dots and understood that God loves you so much that he gave his only Son to pay the price for the wrong you’ve done. Jesus died on the cross because he was generous towards you and three days later, he rose from the dead so that he could offer you forgiveness simply by putting your faith in him, by putting your trust in him. That just saying yes to following Jesus from here on out means that you are forgiven of every wrong you’ve ever done. You’re brought into a relationship with God and you get eternal life.

And so if you have not received that gift, that’s how you respond to God’s generosity, you accept it. In fact, let’s give you an opportunity to do that right now. Everybody just close their eyes. Wherever you are, if you’re not a follower of Jesus yet, if you’ve never accepted his gift of forgiveness and a relationship with him, that’s how you respond, by accepting it. And you’re just gonna have a conversation with God. You’re gonna say something like this, just say this after me in your own heart:

God, I’ve done wrong. I’ve sinned. I’m sorry. Thank you for giving your own Son to pay for my sin. Jesus, thank you for generously dying to pay for my sin. I believe you rose from the dead and I understand that you are generously offering me forgiveness. You’re generously offering me a relationship with God. You’re generously offering me eternal life in heaven. I’m ready to receive your gift. Jesus, I’m putting my faith in you. I’m choosing to trust you. Jesus, I’m gonna follow you from here on out. Amen.

Had several people this weekend make that decision to receive God’s generosity into their own lives. Can we just celebrate those who’ve made that decision? It’s awesome. So excited about that. And if you did make that decision for the first time today, we would love to celebrate it with you. So I’m gonna ask you to do one small thing for me, just to let us know you made the decision. If you’re watching online, you can click the button right below me that says, “I committed my life to Jesus.” If you don’t see that, you can do this. Just text the word Jesus to 888111. Whichever way you do it, same thing is gonna happen. We’re gonna send you a link. We’re gonna take you to some truth. We just want you to have some truth, some information about what it means to have this new relationship with God by faith and we want you to have that so you can begin experiencing this relationship that starts now and goes on forever. So please let us know you’ve made that decision.

So if you weren’t a follower of Jesus until a few moments ago, that that’s how you respond to God’s generosity, you accept it. But what if you already accepted it? Maybe you said yes to following Jesus last week, or last month, or a year ago, or 10 years ago, or 50 years ago. How do you respond to God’s generosity? And the answer is you take your next step of generosity. So we’re gonna do something. I think this is really fun. It’s not something we do very often. In fact, I think we’ve only done it one time in the last four years since I’ve been here. We’re gonna take a special offering. I’m gonna give you an opportunity right now to take a step of generosity and it’s gonna go towards something very, very specific, something I’m excited about this. This man demonstrated his generosity by building a synagogue, but basically building a church that he couldn’t go into. We’re gonna do exactly the same thing.

So excited about what God has done already through the church plant in Peru that we’ve been working with Compassion for the last few months. And we have come to the place that we are committing ourselves to starting a new church plant in Ecuador. Same kind of a deal. One of the poorest of the poor communities. It’s in the Charentza community, in the province of Pastaza in Ecuador. It’s a community in the jungle area. Seventy percent of this community, 70% of this community are young children and living in some of the worst poverty in the world because it’s the only places that Compassion works. We’re partnering with Compassion and also a church in that area. This will be their ninth church plant. They’ve trained up the pastor. He’s ready to go. We’re gonna build that building and get them set up to go and start ministering in this community and it’s gonna be incredible thing. Pastor’s name is Marconi Wambanti. Incredible man of God and we cannot wait to bless him by building his church building, getting this thing going.

And so here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna sing a song and during the song, I wanna encourage you to spend a little bit time praying about what God would have you contribute to this project. If you’re with your wife or your family, I encourage you to put your heads together and talk about what God might be leading you to. One of the families came up to me between the service and they said, “Yeah. Our daughter gave us the number that we decided, yeah, that’s the right one.” So, kids, feel free to join in. Your parents are probably not being generous enough. Just saying. 100% of the offering will go directly to this church plant. See what God would have you give. When the song’s over, we’ll talk about how you can go about being part of this incredible thing.

So we’re gonna worship God with more than words. And we’re gonna worship him with an act of generosity. We’re gonna build a church for some people that desperately need the hope of the Gospel. Maybe we’ll get a chance to set foot in that church someday. Maybe not. But we’re gonna multiply the worship of God by investing in the work of God. So to build that building for them, to launch that church, we need to raise $75,000. And I know some of you are thinking, “Oh, no. That’s the exact amount that I felt like God was calling me to give. And if I give $75,000, then nobody else gets a chance.” That’s okay. It’s okay. Yeah. And I know I’m kind of making a joke about that, but the reality is, that there are people as part of our congregation who have those kinds of means. And if that’s what God’s leading you to do, I want you to do that. If we go above and beyond, we’ll just build some extra churches. Okay? That’s what we’ll do that. All the money is gonna be committed to church planting. Okay? So don’t worry about going above and beyond. You give whatever God has laid on your heart. Okay?

And, by the way, too, you know, listen, we can make a joke about those kinds of numbers, but the reality is that a lot of us not in a position to be able to do that, that’s okay. Maybe all you can give is $5 or $10 or $20. Remember what we said a few weeks ago? Don’t underestimate the power of small gifts when enough people give them. In any given weekend here at Mission Hills, we engage more than 4,000 or 5,000 people. If everybody just gave $20 a person, we’d go over the goal. So whatever God’s led in your heart, just encourage you to give him. A couple of ways you can give…And by the way, you may not be ready to give today. That’s okay. Maybe you need to think about this more. Go home and talk about it with your family. Spend some more time praying about it and just do it later this week. But whether it’s right now, and some of you, I’d encourage you to go ahead and give right now because you’ve got that number and you don’t wanna forget it. You don’t wanna miss out on this opportunity.

So you can give right now or you can do it this week, but here’s a couple of ways you can do it. Number one, you can go to Okay? And you can give that way. You can give by texting. You can go to 28950. I’m actually gonna do that right now. If anybody wants to do it with me, I’m gonna go ahead and text 28950 and I’m gonna put in the body of the message, MHCGlobal. Don’t put a space. MHCGlobal and then a number. Coletta and I decided on a number. I had to divide it by four, just so you know, because I had to do this four times this weekend. Send. Bam. I just got a confirmation thanking me for that contribution. You can drop a check off in the boxes in the way out of here at one of our campuses. On the campuses also, you’ll see some signs with a QR code. You can scan that QR code and it’ll take you directly to that thing.

But this week, just encourage you to pray about this and see what God would have you give and then give. Vest in the work of God and multiply the worship of God and do good for people. And in that way, become a little bit more like Jesus and join him on mission. Can’t wait until next week, be able to announce that we’re ready to get that church plant going. Gonna be awesome. And, of course, next week’s Easter. It’s gonna be really fun to be able to make that announcement about a new church is gonna be opening its doors on the day that we celebrate the open tomb. We didn’t have a body because our Savior was risen. Can’t wait to see you Easter. Make sure you grab a flyer on your way out. Invite somebody to come with you. Gonna have a great time celebrating the resurrection next week and celebrating God’s generosity. God bless. See you next week.
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