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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Levi Lusko » Levi Lusko - The Only Miracle God Can't Do

Levi Lusko - The Only Miracle God Can't Do

Levi Lusko - The Only Miracle God Can't Do
TOPICS: The Table Series

Well, this is our third week of a series, of a season that is this whole rest of this year. We're going to be in this table collection throughout the remainder of 2022, as we're understanding and learning the power of what it means to have a seat pulled up for us at the table, of what hospitality can look like in God's hands, what it can look like in your home, and how it is the definitive picture that Jesus wants us to have in our minds, in our eyes. Ooh, three minutes. We've got to plunge the coffee at three minutes. That's when we do that because you don't want to over extract the beans. And today, we come to a breakfast scene in our series to table. This all, by the way, is a chance for us to express our gratitude to God, this series, for what he's doing in our lives, has done in our lives, has done in coming to the world at Christmas.

If you're new to the church and you haven't been to a year end, how we choose to end the year as a ministry, as a church, as a family, we always want to come to Christmas knowing that we're doing our shopping, thinking through in our heads, brother, sister. We're getting those texts. What do you want? What do you need, right? Jennie and I just make it easy. We tell each other what to buy each other for Christmas. Because years end pro tip, it was just too many times returning the thing. And so like, hey, I just like withhold something. Hey, buy that for me. And there we go. There's Christmas. It's not romantic, but it works. But we just, as a church, aren't comfortable leaving Jesus off that list. It's his birthday. And so why would we give a gift to everybody else in our lives but him? And so how we end the year is we take a weekend, those of us in person and church family online, anytime between now and year end, and we say, I'm so grateful.

So here's an above and beyond. Above and beyond the generosity of my normal tithing that I do every single week that is what pays the bills around here week in and week out. It's that above and beyond gesture that allows us to be propelled into new places and lets us be the answer to people's prayers around the country and world through outreach initiatives that our partners have cooked up and schemed up. And we can say, like Oprah, you get a check. And you get a check. And you get a check. Because of the generosity of people who are thankful that we get a seat at the table. And we want that reach to go into the world. I just can't imagine spending Thanksgiving just eating a meal ourselves without thinking about those less fortunate than ourselves. That's the purpose of the kingdom. Who doesn't have a meal this Thanksgiving? How can we, as a church, be a part of that? The impact of the Sunday should be felt on the Monday. And that should be something 365, seven days a week, 24 hours a day that we get to be a part of. And we are. And we're just getting started.

Come on, somebody. The table's going to get bigger. And so December 4th is the weekend where, in person, we'll come. And as I said, there's. Already been gifts coming in. Between now and year's end, we have the chance, church online family, to join in small and large. And it's very exciting to me, very exciting for all of us have been a part of this who have seen our faith stretch year in and year out, who have felt that sense of fear and the pinch and the almost delirious excitement and then riding that wave in the coming year as we will get to see God use that and unfold that in ways that are going to be special. And this week, like I said, we come to the breakfast table. If you have a Bible, Luke chapter 16 is where we're going to be. We want to talk. And when we put this message out on the internet, we'll probably call it the only miracle God can't do. The only miracle God can't do. But what I really want to talk to you about is things that you can see on this table.

I want to talk to you today about napkin rings and grapefruit spoons. My favorite recipe, I didn't get the chance to turn one in yet. We have people all around the world, literally, who have turned in table recipes at, where they said, this is a recipe that means something to me. And I think we all love recipes because of the way that they tell stories. We love recipes because it's a way to preserve tradition. It's a way for us to stay connected to family. Pro tip on the grapefruit thing, by the way, you just do a little pedestal on the bottom. And it stands so well. It doesn't wobble around so much when it has like a little like seat to sit on. You almost could say you've created sort of a table. Got to love a little citrus zest. I don't know. How do you think that'll be probably terrible right on the coffee edge? Let's find out. Well, that's just delightful is what that is. I like that. It adds a nice something to it. But if I was going to turn one in, which I really should, but maybe this is it.

I'm turning mine in right here really easy. All you need is a grapefruit and a towel because you want a dry grapefruit. Grapefruit is so good because you get like half a day's worth of vitamin C just with half a grapefruit. But you got to watch out if you're on heart medicine. Consult your pharmacist because it can block or enhance the effects of any statin you might be on. And then the second thing you need, after the grapefruit and the towel, I guess that's the third thing is sugar. And this is called turbinado, I think. It's sort of a course brown sugar. You can experiment with different kinds of sugar. But the coarseness of this helps the recipe. So you throw your sugar on top of the grapefruit. And look, I'm not driving. Let's just go to town. Let's go crazy with it. And then the fourth thing you need, this is the best part, This is where it gets fun. This is a blow torch. And you've just really got to melt that sugar. And it releases the nicest smell. I mean, it's this smoky, caramely. And that's kind of why turbinado also does good is it's just brown. And it gets so caramely. This is called, by the way, grapefruit brulee.

And I've been perfecting this recipe. We throw down on some Saturdays with this alongside of our waffles. So you get this nice melted glazed sort of situation happening here. And when all the crystals have lost their identity, and they've now all been absorbed into the top of this grapefruit, you know that you're done. And then, you literally just got to let it sit still for 5, 10 minutes. You can throw it in the freezer to speed this up. And it becomes like a creme brulee. It's like, oh, it's bubbling. Look at that. Oh, my gosh. Can you smell that? It smells so good. And then, you got that sweet citrusy underneath. So it's like the normal goodness of a grapefruit. But then, you get that glass on top. And everybody knows the funnest time you'll ever have with a spoon in your hand is cracking the top of a creme brulee. And there you go. There's my recipe.

So have at it. It's fun. It's delicious, of course, decadent. All right? So this is not an everyday breakfast. You're, like, having your daily quota of sugar met before you've even left your home. That's not an ideal situation. But it is really good. I can promise you that. So Luke 16, this is a passage of scripture I taught. I counted one of the first five Bible studies I ever gave, this was one of them. And I don't know exactly which order it was in. But it was in the top five. And then for a while, I would come to it often. God would bring my attention to it regularly. But when God told me to include it in the Table Series, I literally spent almost a whole week begging him if I could go anywhere else. Because it's one of the most emotionally exhausting passages of scripture to me. And I have literally spent the week just laboring, and agonizing, and pleading, and begging. And you just got to do what God tells you to do.

And so, we're going to go to Luke 16 as we turn our attention to this table scene. It says there was a certain rich man, verse 19, who was clothed in purple, and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus full of sores who was laid at his gate desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died And was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Then, he cried out and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and likewise Lazarus evil things. But now, he is comforted. And you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you, there is a great gulf fixed so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot. Nor can those from there pass to us.

Then he said, I beg you, Father, that you would send him to my father's house for I have five brothers that he may testify to them lest they also come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him, they have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them. And he said, no, Father Abraham. But if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent. And the final verse we'll consider, but he said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.

And Father, we're humbled to have access to your word, to hear it, to consider it. And I pray to, by your spirit, have ears and hearts that are open to your word. To not just hear, but to listen with a mind to act with the spirit that says, speak, Lord. We're listening. You have our attention. And I do pray, God, that you would take your word. And you would use it to accomplish what you intend to in our lives and in your kingdom. And we are aware of your presence here in this moment. Every single person and every single Fresh Life location. But also more than that, those who are listening through technology, church online, the podcast, as this goes out in different ways and spaces. And we're just grateful to cast our bread upon the waters, cast your word upon the waters and see the return that comes from it and watch that happen. Some of it we'll get to hear, and receive stories, and words back, and encouragements, and comments. Others, we won't know till we're with you. But either way, God, we are just so excited and grateful. And we asked this all in Jesus' name. And we said together. Amen. Amen.

Wakanda Forever, I saw that this week, 3 hours long. And I think one of the things that for any of us... and don't worry. I won't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it. Is that... by the way, so funny. My family and I are going to go see The Chosen in theaters which I think every single one of you should if you haven't had the chance yet. What an incredible thought that people are lining up, and filling up theaters across the country, and paying to see the gospel communicated. My friend, Dallas Jenkins, by the way, and his wife, Amanda, they were on our podcast this week, goes talking, give me some behind the scenes about what's to come, even some spoilers about season three of The Chosen. And what I said when we spoke together at an event in Dallas recently, I say to you now.

I think history will record that Dallas and his wife have done in this show. God's used them to do what Eugene Peterson did in giving us the message for a TikTok generation. They've given us the Gospel we can see on the screen. And I think Heaven will only know the impact of it. But someone else literally talking, was like, I'm going to go see it. They go, you're going to see the whole thing? I hear it's 3 hours. And I was all, yeah, I wasted 3 of my hours of my life I'll never get back on Wakanda Forever. I think I can handle the eternal Word of God on the screen. Like it's like some idea like, oh, wow. Like, heaven forbid, we... you know what I'm saying? Like, what a different mentality we have. Because I preached a couple of weeks ago on Halal and this epicness. And I think even some of the reaction to some people, I don't know, for God, that's a little much, like a crazy, dancing, wild, frenzied, acted out with my body.

And then I was at the Griz Boseman Bobcat game yesterday. I was like, oh we know how to halal. We just misapply it most of the time. Nothing wrong with football, but come on, this is halal, y'all. When is there a time for passion more than when we're worshiping the King? Why would we save our greatest praise for what is the least eternal and give the smallest, tamest reaction to what is, ultimately, of the greatest significance in the world? This isn't meant to condemn or convict, just the flow of consciousness. But what kind of forever was eerie, though, for all of us who are aware of the reality of Chadwick Boseman's passing, is going into eternity. And from everything, every indication, seems to be an absolutely incredible human being. And so I think, when we watch a movie, especially when you see footage, it felt the same way when Heath Ledger's role in the Batman franchise was on the silver screen. It just, it sensed, we sensed almost something of beyond, communication from beyond the grave. And that's what we're getting here. That's why this passage hits us so different. That's why it's so intense.

Out of the 36 to 40 parables Jesus ever told, you're like, which is it? Well, it depends on how you count. Because in Luke 15, there are three of them, but they're kind of actually one. So between 36 and 40 times, Jesus gave us parables. Jesus gave us pictures. He gave us moving images, right? They didn't have TikTok. He allowed our imagination to spring to life in these stories that communicate heavenly truths, but in a way we can understand on Earth. So lofty things, like the grace message, it gets communicated through an invitation to a feast. We get that. We can understand, that's concrete. That's something we can taste. It's sensual. We can smell the brown sugar. So here's, by the way, this is, oh my gosh. That's ama... I don't know if you could hear the sound that, oh, that's it right there. That's the stuff. But then it's broken up, so you can dive in, and you're getting this sweet grapefruity, but then this like candy on top.

It's a wonderful thing. But in Luke 16, we're given. a glimpse behind the veil in this parable. It's through the story of a man. We don't know his name. Literally, he's just called a rich man. The word in the Greek for rich is devas, or devas, devas. So it's been called the story of the man Lazarus and the man devas, but we don't actually know his name. He was kind of a deva, though. He only wore purple. He insisted on wearing purple every day. That's devaish to me, right, which tells us a lot more than we might think. And there's so much to this story. But what we need to do is we need to start by asking the question, how did this man live? Because Jesus wants us to understand something, that's the first point, how he lived, something that's communicated, by contrast, to another man. Because the story is actually about the rich man, the deva. But it's meant to be understood in terms of what it was contrasted to. There's a viciousness to the contrast. And that's how Jesus liked to work.

A man built a house on rock, a man built a house on sand. And so you're getting to see by contrast. So the deva, how did he live? Well, the answer is decadently. It was creme brulee, every day, in every way. Honestly, sugar on top was how this man lived. He fared sumptuously each day. We're all going to do that this week, right? We're going to go down on some food this week. Anybody excited for Thanksgiving dinner? The staggering amount of calories consumed per capita is astounding, it's astounding, right? And that's fine if it's one day a year. This man fared sumptuously every day. Creme brulee, each day, in every way, how he ate, how he dressed. Purple's not purple. Purple is Versace. Purple is the most expensive thing a human being can be adorned in. This man, this man wore purple. There was a seller of purple from the city of Tire, who was one of the richest women we read about in the Bible. And that's because she traded and banked in purple. It was very hard to get the color purple. The dye, it involved finding a certain snail that secreted this color. And so to find enough to make anything purple and have it last, big, big, big, big, big deal.

So if Jesus says, a guy wore purple all the time, people were like, that man is wealthy. That man has a fleet of private planes. That is not a poor man. So that's the deva, fared sumptuously, each day. How did he live? He lived extravagantly. In contrast to him, is a man who only got to eat napkins. Yeah, that's right, napkins. In fact, the best way to understand, in our culture, what this man got to eat is tortilla. A tortilla, oh these are still warm. We're going to leave that there. The tortilla, this man got to eat more tortillas. And you're like, I'm kind of OK with that. Some of you are like, there's three major food groups. And tortillas is one of them. I'm with you. I like a good tortilla, too. And yet, it's much worse than that. Because when it says that he wanted to eat this bread that fell from the table, you could translate to our culture, tortilla, except you would be better in understanding in terms of napkin. Because in that day, what they would do, is they would take a piece of bread and put it in their lap. And when you're eating your meat, when you're having and handling all this food, what would you do with the grease? You would rub it onto this piece of bread.

And if you were poor, of course, you're not going to waste anything. But this man did not eat his tortillas. And so it would be thrown outside. And Lazarus, the poor man, the beggar, the cripple, who had to be laid at the gate of the deva, his only source of food would be to scrounge and to fight off the dogs. These feral animals, they were not pets. And his only nutrition would be the discarded napkin that he rooted from the trash of the deva. And we're intended to understand something of the polar opposites of how they live. The deva, fair assumption, creme brulee all day, every day, in every way. Lazarus, napkins, humiliating, appalling, horrifying, pick a word, that was his life. Oozing sores covered his body. And the dogs that he would fight off for, while he slept, would come and lick the oozing sores. I mean, you just can't even, literally, it's the most unappetizing, but it was his existence. Secondly, how he gave. The rich man did give. I mean, he could have ordered his servants to have Lazarus removed forcibly.

So clearly, he allowed, out of the generosity of his upstanding heart, Lazarus to lie there and eat the crumbs that fell from his table. And he probably thought that was big of him. I give. Look, at Lazarus, he even knew the man's name, he lets Lazarus stay here. That's giving something. So he did give. And there was this sense of giving, maybe, but it was flippant. It was a tip. It was a pittance. It was so small compared. And listen, that's how God always looks at generosity, compared. That's why Jesus was not impressed by people who gave a lot if it was in a contrast of what they actually had, just the tiniest, they didn't feel it, he said. But when he saw a woman gave a little, who gave a little, he was like, oh my gosh, disciples, did you see that gift? And they were like it was just two mites. God, and you can't do anything with that. And he goes, no, no, no it's not about that. You think I need any of you to do anything I do? Where were you when I created the world with my words? Where were you when I rained down manna for the children of Israel with just? Where were you and I took five loaves and two fishes and fed the multitude?

It was never about what we bring to the table. It was never, it was about what it cost us because that's the only way you get faith when you give. And the rich threw in a lot, but they wouldn't feel it because they had a lot. You see, it was just, it was just, it was yeah, you want another one? Yeah, you can have all these. You can have all the bread that falls from my table. But it didn't cost the man anything. Therefore, it didn't take faith. Therefore, it didn't move the heart of God. And Jesus has only ever, always, this is the big overarching metanarrative of scripture. He's looking for faith. The just shall live by faith. The teaching doesn't tell us Lazarus went to heaven and the rich man went to hell because they were rich and poor. There will be many people who are formerly poor in hell. There will be many people who are formerly rich in heaven. The issue and the distinction is there faith in the heart? They ended up where they did because of or the absence of faith.

So how he gave, there was no faith involved. And then thirdly, we need to understand how he died. How did this rich man die? It was a contrast again. Everything about their deaths were different. Because the text tells us that the rich man died and was buried. And can you imagine the funeral service for this man? Can you imagine, someone who wears purple all the time, how many morticians were ordered to be on standby? You know, Abraham Lincoln's corpse, on the train, there are all these undertakers. And every stop, they would come in and just make sure he looked exactly right. And it's appropriately so. The whole nation was seeing this fallen leader. They were allowed onto the train. They got to file past him as he lay in state there on this train on the way to his being laid to rest at his home in Springfield. And that's what happens when figures of state are laid to rest. That's what happens when a president dies. That's what happens when something, no expense is spared. There will be a monument. That's this man's death.

You know his body was washed carefully, all the traditions, all of the ritual, everything. He calls Abraham father, and Abraham does not deny there was a connection, so clearly part of the Jewish nation. I'm a Christian just because I'm part of this, right? I'm father from Abraham, I'm Abraham's my father. If I'm, from blood, related to him, I'm surely good. This sense of religious exterior, but no faith on the inside. But the care that would be taken to preserve his body when he died, probably unexpectedly. And you're like really, it's unexpected, even though you ate creme brulee all day, every day? I know why this guy died. Have you heard of cholesterol? It's a thing. And so you have the contrast to Lazarus death. Because the text just says Lazarus died. It doesn't say and was buried. Why did Lazarus not get buried? He wouldn't have been. His body would have been thrown on the city dump, called Johanna. His body would have just been tossed out with the garbage, which is where Jesus body would have gone had not Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man, at great cost to him, with great faith, and risking everything he had lived to build, gone and interceded and given what was his, so that Jesus could be buried in it.

You realize Christ body would not have physically risen from a tomb, he would have been burned with the trash, had it not been for generosity? This mentality of I have a seat at the table, and I want that to get to more places, how it touched the world, how the shock waves of generosity continue to move the kingdom of God forward on the Earth? So Lazarus' body, burned, buried, manhandled, mutilated. This man's body, every care given, every proper ceremonial, T crossed and I dotted. His name chiseled into the finest stone. But what a contrast to what's happening in heaven and in hell. Where Lazarus, the second he breathed his last, absent from the body, present with the Lord, paradise, safety angels dispatched, waiting for that last breath, now escorting his soul to be taken care of forever at the VIP seat in paradise. Abraham's bosom. Remember the Last Supper? Resting on the bosom of Jesus was John, that seat of honor, to rest on his Messiah, the rabbi. To be taken to Abraham's bosom was not just a theological location, but it was also a demonstration of great honor.

God was greatly honoring someone who was greatly dishonored and taken for granted in life. Your table is ready, sir. All he was given was scraps and dogs, and yet, this man clearly, with faith in his heart, was seen by God like the widow who gave her mites. What he had to give was very little, but he gave it with all of his heart. His legs didn't work, but his heart did. Shown to, your table is ready, Lazarus. And of course, the appalling contrast to the rich man, who everybody wanted a piece of on Earth. And while his body was being lavishly doted, on his soul perishing, separated from God forever. What death revealed was that though, in life this man dined on the finest of things, in truth, he lived in Lo Debar, disconnected, far off, alienated, an enemy of God. And the truth came out, you could say, in the wash. And listen to me friends, death is the ultimate wash. Death is the ultimate laundry day.

It was the 1800s, in France, the French culture, where napkin rings first became invented. I mean, most of us, I mean, raise your hand up, church online, every location, if you have a napkin ring somewhere in your house floating around? Yeah, some of us do. I actually don't think we do have any of these, cloth napkins, napkin rings. Of course, they hadn't invented disposable napkin, so that wasn't a thing, yet. And they did have cloth napkins. If you were middle class, you own some napkins. The rich people problems. But they couldn't wash the napkins every day. Laundry was done by hand. It took a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of time, heat the water, figure out the soap situation, or the lye, or whatever you were going to use. And so laundry was only done weekly. And the richer you were, the more often laundry could be done. And if you dined at the house of someone who was very clearly proletariat, they had napkin rings. The napkin rings were individualized, always individualized. Oh, they could be made of bone, or wood, or brass, or silver. The richer you were, the nicer the napkin rings, but of course, even the presence of a napkin ring meant you didn't have servants to go and wash the napkin the moment it was used. And everybody had their own.

So dad would have his, maybe with his initials on it, or his name on it. Or then it began to become a thing where, whatever, most was like, you, on the inside. Like a hunting rifle, that's dad's napkin ring. And the mom, mom always loved, cherub, so the chubby baby naked angel, right? Which, by the way, I've read the Bible cover to cover, never found one in the entire Bible, so I don't know what deranged version of heaven that someone cooked up that that's how angels roll. That's not in the Bible. But mom loves those, so cherub there. And you know Betsy loves unicorns. And they are actually in the Bible, by the way, that's lo and behold, different time for a different day, but she would have a unicorn on hers. And so it went. So everyone's napkin ring, after the meal, was placed back in the napkin was placed back inside it. And they were set aside. And the reason they had names on them is because you were not going to wash that napkin for another week, so breakfast is on it, and lunch is on it, and dinner's on it.

And you don't want to use your brother's napkin tomorrow for your Eggo waffles because he wiped his mouth on it. And it's only going to be washed when it all came out in the wash, but sadly, that was not very frequently. And so the napkin rings meant, keep your germs to yourself, thank you, very much. But you would never set a seat at your table for a guest with a napkin ring. For the presence of the napkin ring, meant an unwashed napkin. And they eventually just sort of, like all things, dissolved into just sort of normal Martha Stewart, Williams and Sonoma, sort of behavior. I was going to say Pier One Imports, but that's now just Halloween and the empty buildings that are now just like Easter and Christmas. Yes, you rang, around the country.

So the truth of their souls came out in the wash. And that's what happens when we die. When we die and stand before God, things come out. And what this man learned, this man learned so much the moment he died. And I jotted down just a list of things that the rich man learned, which I think is kind of the idea here. I think what he learned about eternity is that it's real. It's real. In fact, you could argue it's more real than this life. Even though it seems so ethereal, and so far off, and so unreal, and this life seems so real, and so important, and so pressing, and money, and bills, and work, and status, and clout, and style, and impressing people, and having and getting, it just seems like it's the most important thing. And life after death, if anything, it seems like it's vague. And it's real. And yet, what he found was that it's more real, more real. Heaven, hell, eternity, more real than this life. What seems real now is actually just a vapor, is just going to be a puff of smoke.

CS Lewis said it's like it's like waking up from a dream to be in real life. It's like the holidays are over, or the school term is over, now holiday has begun. Like it's real, it's more real. That's what this man, both of them, deva and Lazarus, discovered technically, it's long, long meaning forever. It's all of life now. It's forever. And we don't have a way to grasp that. But it's more real, and it's long, so forever. We need to understand, is real and it's a long time. And then thirdly, this man discovered that heaven and hell, eternity, are final, final. It's fixed. He says a great gulf was fixed. You can't change. You can't get there, wherever you end up after, one minute after you die, and whatever's happening to your body, who you are on the inside, has moved on. And you can't get there and go, oh shoot, and call the concierge for a different room. It's final. It's set. And it's set based on what you do in this life. Death becomes then not the end of the road, but a bend in the road. And what we do in life, Russell Crowe said, really does echo in eternity.

So we have this life. And the question becomes, how do we want to spend eternal life? That's this life. It's preparation and practice for the real life that is to come. And then he also found out, number four, that this man found out hell, in his case, is fragmentation. Fragmentation, a hole being splintered off into lots of little pieces and parts. Fragmentation, that's what sin does. Sin separates the soul from God, who helps keep us a whole and integrated whole, helps keep us who we are, who we truly are on the inside, meant to be, bearers of the image of God. David prayed, Lord, unite my heart to fear your name. He's saying, keep me whole on the inside. Sin always seeks to break us apart. And that's why, so often in the Bible, you do find this metaphor of fire used to describe what hell is like. Just as we cannot actually believe a wedding supper on Earth is what heaven is, he's trying to give us language to just get a sense of how much bigger and how much better heaven is through the best thing on Earth, which is a wedding reception.

So, you could say, fire is a symbol, not just of what fire is here, but of something far much worse, far worse than what fire is here. But what does fire do when you put a whole log into it? . Disintegrates it fragments it. There's a tearing apart. And listen, that's what sin does to the soul. And the great picture of this is, of course, the man who's just torn into pieces on the inside. And Jesus says, what's your name? Well how did he answer? Legion, for we are many, completely fragmented. And you felt that haven't you? Have you not felt when you've given in to sin, you knew it was sin, and what did it do? It tore you up on the inside. There's a tearing up. There's a dividing. There's a part of you, kind of worry about this over here. You're not able to be fully right there because now you're pulled off into, like covering my tracks, I don't want my wife to find my internet search history, and I don't want my husband to find out what I actually bought online. And all these things that we're pulled in, we're pulled in.

So the more we give ourselves over to sin, the more we're fragmented. And that's why we use that language to describe, I just feel like I'm being torn into pieces, pulled in so many different directions. There's not a sense of I'm just who I am, in this moment, upright, whole, just me, this just me. And that's why I think the presence of the names on the napkin rings are so telling. God wants for you to become not less of who you are, but actually more of who you are. It's interesting that out of the 36 to 40 parables, there's only one where a personal, proper noun is given to reveal someone's name. This is the only parable with a name. Why is that the case? Well, here's why I think that's the case. Lazarus had a name. And who he was in heaven was more, not less, of who he was. He was not being pulled into pieces. He was not he was not suffering the torment that the rich man described, which is the result of sin, which is the result of separation from God. We're no longer held together.

Colossians says, God holds all things together. God has your best interest in mind. Your relationship with Him, you get to become more of who you are, not less. And listen to me, when you or I dismiss the image of God in someone else, it tarnishes the image of God in you. It makes it harder for you to see. It makes it harder for you to become who you really are supposed to be by you not honoring and recognizing the eternal soul of someone who was also made in God's image. Lazarus clearly saw the image of God in the rich man. Some commentaries I found even said and insinuated that Jesus was trying to suggest, by the rich man's prayer that Lazarus would go preach to his brothers, that that's what Lazarus did on this life. Even though he was crippled, and couldn't work a normal job, and he had to be dependent on other people to be carried to where he could beg, that he seemed to have done so trying to communicate his faith to other people. He gave what he had. He gave what he could. He saw the image of God in other people. He didn't treat some people better than other people, depending on what they had or what they could do for him.

And that's the very thing that rich man was incapable of doing. He was being torn apart. Why? He had many things and the many things had him. The parable is not a parable about rich is bad, poor is good. The parable is about anything that's an idol in your heart steals your joy and actually tears you apart from yourself. So when the story ends, Lazarus is still Lazarus. Who's the rich man? He's nothing. Why? He was his possessions. He was those things. They weren't what he had, they were who he was. And if you make your identity and your being about what you can't keep, in eternity, who are you? No name. Torment. And its torment to not be able to be the thing we were created to be, which is the image of God. So hell is finally saying, God saying, yes to a life saying, I want nothing to do with you, to do with the one who we truly were meant to be and become in life and light. Therefore, hell is darkness. Therefore, hell is torment. Hell is perpetual choosing of that which is not life.

And as CS Lewis said, it begins here, not there. And I quote from the Great Divorce, "It is not a question of God sending us to hell. In each of us, something is growing which will be hell unless it is nipped in the bud". This desire to be ourselves, which is actually taking us away from who we're meant to be. And so God wants that to flourish. So he leaves the man in hell having no name, for the man did not have a name. The man had possessions. And rich and poor friends, having this in common, rich and poor have this in common. God is the maker of us all. And money does not profit in the day of wrath. So to stand before God, to be judged, having your identity and the whole inside your heart tried to be filled by anything that is not eternal, is to live a future forever with no name. And in contrast to that, Lazarus, which what does Lazarus mean? Why did Jesus pick that name for this parable? What does Lazarus mean? God is my helper. God helps me. God is my salvation, some say the name means.

So Lazarus, why is he in heaven? Because he received the generosity of God, who called him from Lo Debar and said, you can be seated at the table. I know your legs don't work, but guess what, when you're seated at the table, it doesn't matter because the table covers. So come sit at the King's table. The very thing the rich man would not do because of his many riches, he didn't think he needed God's help. He could write a check and get anything he wants. He did not have that in heaven because he made his identity, the core of who he was, what he could not keep. This is why Paul told Timothy, "Command those", 1 Timothy 6:17, "who are rich in this present age not to be haughty. Get off your high horse. Nor to", this is so important, "trust in uncertain riches".

So what's my pastoral responsibility? This is Paul to Timothy, young pastor, took over at the church at Ephesus. What was his pastoral responsibility? He said, tell those rich people to quit being rich. No, he did not say that. Otherwise, Joseph of Arimathea would have been in sin, as would have Lydia, the seller of purple, from the city of Tyre who opened up her huge house to be used by God. He said, just tell them not to trust in the riches because riches do not profit in the day of wrath. Help them to really be united by fearing God. Let the image of God come out. See the image of God in other people and use their wealth to build the kingdom. Don't trust in uncertain riches. But notice the verse continues, but trust in the living God who gives us richly, all things to enjoy. What are the riches to be done? They are to be enjoyed, blessings to be enjoyed, but not to be defined by. They're OK in your hand, not so much in your heart. And that's what this story leaves us with.

So what he learned is that eternity is real. Eternity is long, final. Eternity is, if you're not in Christ, fragmentation. And then lastly, number five, eternity is accessed through God's word. Eternity, eternal life, salvation, hope is accessed through God's word, through God's word, not through big flashy shows, not through big impressive things. So the man in hell, interesting, it's pointed out by many commentaries, he never asks to leave. Do you notice that? He never asks to leave? He never said, I want out of here. He complains about how bad it is there. He complains about the symptoms of having a fragmented soul, a Legion soul. He complains about what this leads to because those things weren't nipped in the bud by receiving the generosity of God and admitting I need God's help. But he never actually asked to leave. And, in fact, he still thinks he is the things he was on Earth, for he orders Lazarus around. Lazarus, who's sitting in the VIP seat at heaven, is ordered around. Come, give me some water, servant. Because he still thinks of himself in terms of what he thought on Earth. And it would seem, he doesn't want to leave this place.

And it's unbelievable to even think about, but CS Lewis does also point out that the gates of hell are locked from the inside. And then it's not so much about God sending someone to hell, as God pleading, having shed His son's blood, with tears in His eyes, saying do not perish. But those who persist, eventually, who will not say, thy will be done, which is, what's God's will? To save, to heal. He finally, in the end, says, well thy will be done, then. And that's hell. That's this man here in this situation, who still thinks those things can give him identity, but they're hopeless, they're helpless. And he complains about it, but doesn't seem to want to get out of it. But he does, interestingly enough, bring up his brothers, who he doesn't think they should come here. How funny is it to know the truth and to know what other people should do more than what we should have done? They shouldn't do the thing I did. That's called hypocrisy.

And now is probably a good time for me to point out that this parable was given in a chapter entirely about stewardship that was intended to convict the hearts of the religious elite, the Pharisees. And it is not a one-off parable. It's two parable sandwiched by teachings on how to not trust in mammon, not trust in riches, but to trust in God, and how to be faithful with what is little, so that God can trust you with more. But he actually wants to trust you with true riches, but he can't give us true riches if we can't be faithful with little. And so to convict the Pharisees, he gives them the sneak peek. And the man in the story says, my brother shouldn't come and do what I did, what I'm actually even doubling down on here. But they can't do it unless someone's raised from the dead, dramatically. So send Lazarus. And if he jumps out of the grave, oozing sores, and all, and Imhoteps his way to their house and preaches the gospel, like he did, seemingly, his entire life, on broken legs, however that works, Stranger Things edition, my brothers will repent. The insinuation seems to be, some have pointed out, that he's sort of saying, I wouldn't have ended up here had I been given such a display.

So complaining about the afterlife is one thing. Now he's also actually sort of like saying, well, I'm only here because of the injustice of God. Had God really shown up in my life, I wouldn't have ended up the way I am. He's still in a victim mentality. Abraham, said son, you chose to receive all your good things in this life instead of remembering heaven's forever. You're a really bad investor. Oh, I realize you invested in everything that was all the rage in your day. You diversified your portfolio, but you had no actual portfolio for what is real life. You only had resources in the pre-life. You laid out no treasure in eternal life. You've picked all your good things here, but now real life has begun, and you have no good things. What a fool. What a fool. How foolish it is to be rich on Earth, but bent penniless in eternity. He says, your brothers can listen to the preaching of God's word. He said, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. They would repent if they saw someone dramatically rise from the dead.

And Jesus said, if they don't respond when God's word goes out, even if they saw a miracle like you're describing, God could do nothing for them. Faith is by hearing, and hearing the word of God. And remember, Jesus is talking to Pharisees who will clamor for his death. And he will rise from the dead. And the disciples will testify to that. And their response, put the disciples to death. And they will not respond to the preaching of God's word. They will not respond when there is a dramatic miracle of what God has done. And so how do we wind this down? Well, obviously, clearly, we answer these questions. And I just jotted these questions down. Number one, where is my treasure? We should all be asking this. Is my treasure in this life or is it in an eternal life? We should be asking, am I stewarding well what's been entrusted to me? Stewarding it well, meaning I was given it for a purpose. I was given it for a reason.

In fact, earlier in Luke, we don't have time to go into it, Jesus commended those who every time they got paid, they used that for the future life. They use that for eternal life. He says, you should use your money now to where there's a whole long list of people in Heaven who want to entertain you, to thank you for what you did. For me, that's why every time I get paid in any way, any investment, anything, any blessing, any bonus, anything in my life, I immediately want to give that first 10%. Because I don't want to just sock it up here, I want to sock it up there. I want a long list of prisoners and people who have been through hard things, and hurting, and hungry, and all these things, I want that I want a long list of people begging for the names of every person who gave at Fresh Life, so they can invite us over to thank us for our generosity.

So how am I stewarding what's been entrusted to me? Thirdly, what 2020 hindsight can I apply now from this man's vision? The beautiful thing about this story is that haunting, yes, but real, no, it's a parable, meaning it's meant to shake us up, to wake us up, to hear this and go, I don't want that to be my story. Like Scrooge in the Christmas Carol, to wake up and go running through the street in our bathrobes. No, I'm not going to give you bread crumbs. I'm going to give God just a little. I want to give, I want to sacrifice. And that's why my last question is, does my generosity take faith? Does it take faith to do that? When I take, on December 4, those of us in person, between now and year-end, of course, everyone joining in online watching, when I give to expand the above and beyond reach of this church, to make the table bigger, is it going to take faith? Or is it just yeah, yeah, yeah.

You know, I think it's actually even more appropriate than ever that we would be in this season of strain, of inflation, where everyone's belt tightening, everyone's belt tightening, everyone's going hold on, hold on, what's going on in the future. And we need to watch out for ourselves. And my heart, my spirit, my goal says it's more than ever that I have the blessing of God on our home, and on our lives, and on my heart. So as an act of faith, in this time, my mind is going to be even more on the kingdom, even more on what's next, which is always greater than what's now. And so we come to the grapefruit spoon, which was invented and patented 71 years ago tomorrow.

Now, November 21, 1951, the US Patent Office issued a patent for a spoon with a serrated edge, which makes it much easier to eat grapefruit, by the way. I'm telling you, if you don't have a grapefruit spoon, you just get to do your little turn because you've got a knife and a spoon all built in to this, I didn't even chew that. It just slid right down. It's so good. See, the grapefruit spoon helped me. I grew up in a big family. I never chewed because we didn't have picky eaters. We had people who ate quickly. And we had people who went to bed hungry. OK, anybody with me on that? All you only children like, I don't like chicken fingers. I'm like, it doesn't even quite matter if I like it or not, it's what's for dinner. It is what it is. But I love the grapefruit spoon, not only as a reminder of alongside the napkin ring, of my name in heaven, my name in heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven, heaven. When we fill out that check, Jennie, we're going to be thinking about heaven, not this life. This life, I would go, what's the smart move with this money? What's the reasonable move? What would the deva do with this money?

But with Lazarus tell me, who's the helper of God, helped by God in heaven, that's how I want to give. That's how I want to live. What I want to point you to, though, is the grapefruit spoon. Because it has, it's, along with many other things, like the fish fork, the sugar spoon, the butter knife, what's known as, colloquially as, unitaskers. There are multitaskers. You can do a lot of things with a fork, a lot of things with a spoon. An ice cream spoon, scoop, is a unitasker. It just has something it was designed for that it does really well. I love the grapefruit spoon because it excels the thing it was designed to do. And my prayer is that every single person a part of the Fresh Life family would ask God, the question, what have I been uniquely called to do? What's my part to play? And I want to play it well with all my heart. What was in God's heart for me when he created the world? That's why he had trusted me to what He did. And what He wants to entrust to me, the true riches, He wants it.

I'm only going to get to if I'm faithful in what is little, to be faithful in what is great. And I love the journey of people discovering that power of tithing, even. Many people, over the years of our church, will use this season as a chance to give their first tithe, because they never have, and beginning that journey of generosity. And to say, how am I uniquely qualified to be a grapefruit spoon in the body of Christ, to do the unitask. I was intended to do. And I'm going to do it with all my heart. And, of course, for us to end this time without asking the question, what is the only miracle God can't do? And the answer is, to save someone who doesn't want to be saved. Even a Resurrection from the dead isn't enough to save a soul that doesn't want to be saved.

So have you received the generosity of God? Have you, like Lazarus, let God help you, call you from Lo Debar, from way down low, no bread, no help, no name, to be brought to the table, given salvation, a generosity of spirit, so that his generosity can flow through you? It's interesting, some people call these series we do at the end of the year, Generosity Series, but it's really a vision series. And the only generosity is have we received the generosity of God? Because once you have, that flows through you. Once you're at the table, you want you want your friend there, you want your neighbor there, you want this person there. And you're not going to wait till heaven to care about other people. This man waited until eternity to care that his brothers didn't know Jesus. And that's just not going to be us, church.

So, Father, we thank you for this time together. And we thank you for those who, today, are going to come to life in Christ, and even now, have. I believe as we've preached this word, some have, through your spirit, passed from death to life.

And if that's you, or if that's what you want to happen inside you, I'm going to close this time out with a prayer. And if you want to be included in this prayer, either because you have come to life, even in this time, or you want to right now, you would say, I want to alive in Christ. I want to become a named person in heaven. I want my name at a seat there at the table. I want to enter into a relationship with God. If that to you I'm describing, pray with me. Church family, pray with us:

Dear God, I know that I'm a sinner. I can't save myself. Thank you, Jesus, for dying for me on the cross, for rising from the dead. Today, I take you at your word. I receive new life. I give myself to you. In Jesus' name.

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