Levi Lusko - That'll Leave a Mark
Giving is never: I give to get. It's: I give because I already got. I do because He already did. Look what He did for me. Look what He did for me. So I don't give to get. I do give when I get because God will not be out giving. He's got a complex. It's a God complex, you might say. And He will not be out-given, so good luck trying. I give because I got. He did this for me. If He never did another thing for me, friends, my giving will always be reciprocal from the cross. Hey, Levi and Jennie Lusko here. And we just wanted to say how thankful we are that we get to bring God's word to you and that you take part in what he's doing. All the years of this church, God has raised up so many people from around the world who have believed in and supported and been a part of this ministry, and we're just so grateful.
Between now and year's end, we're all praying about what our part would be in this year-end expansion offering. The Firebrand offering, we've called it this year, to be marked by God's love and to carry that into this world. And we're believing for God to do more. And so as a part of our online family, you watch our podcast, we call those the Luskoteers, part of the Fresh Life Online fam where you just enjoy these messages and you believe in the vision, we would ask you to pray about what part God would have you to play. You can go to freshlife.church and click the Give button. Select Firebrand from the dropdown. And when you do, we have something for you that we'd love to send to you. That's right. A leather keychain with our Fresh Life brand. Actually branded in there. Actually branded. Pretty cool. And we'd love to partner with you. Yeah, just a way for you to remember what you're a part of, the fact that the brand of Jesus is in your hand. And really, we just want to say thank you. Yeah.
Now, please enjoy this message from God's word. We love you. I want to talk to you today about how to stop languishing. Languishing. This is sort of a new word. It was kind of coined by sociologist Corey Keyes who describes it as the stop between depression and flourishing. Depression, we get. We understand depression, whether clinical or just that sense of fatigue, that sense of just real deep melancholy, being at that trough as far as your morale, your outlook. And then we understand flourishing because the best book that's ever been written was written called The Fight to Flourish. So we understand flourishing being just like the peak state, that goal of, so if we're talking Eeyore on the one side and we're talking Tigger on the other, I suppose then that languishing would sort of be Rabbit who's kind of in the middle. Maybe Owl. I don't know, right? Just kind of that, I'm not Eeyore. I'm not Tigger. Languishing.
That's what he says. He says languishing is where you kind of feel stagnant, feel like you've stalled out, feel like you have plateaued. There's a sense of emptiness to it. And in a much, much watched and shared TED Talk and a New York Times article by the same author, Adam Grant says "Flourishing," if it's "the peak of well-being" where you have just "a strong sense of meaning, mastery and mattering to others," depression on the antithesis of that is that "valley of ill-being, despondent, drained, worthless". Languishing, he says, "you don't have symptoms of mental illness, but you're not the picture of mental health either. You're just not functioning at full capacity". When you're languishing, your motivation is dulled, your ability to focus is disrupted, and odds are tripled that you'll either "cut back on work," or as much ink has been spilled about, you'll stay at your job but sort of quietly quit. You're there in body, but not in heart. You're there kind of, but not really there giving it your all.
If we were to summarize languishing in one meme, it would be meh, right? Meh, right? Languishing. Meh. Languishing. Blah. Languishing. This is no drive, this is no sense of, this is where I'm going. And studies have shown that fewer people have a sense when they're 16 now of what they want to be when they grow up. It used to be sort of, I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a police officer. I'm inspired by Florence Nightingale. I want to be a nurse. I want to be where the people are, right? Whatever it is, the sense of, this is where I'm going, this sense of drive, the sense of, the future can be better. There is a great sense of just sort of, I don't know. I don't really trust authority. I don't trust establishments. I don't trust the church. I don't trust politicians. They say now 28% of people describe themselves as languishing.
And sadly, if you at 16 don't have any sense of where you're headed, where you're going, the odds are 90%, up to 96% that you'll still feel that way when you're 26. And then as, you can play that out in life. It's easy to come to a place where it's just sort of, meh. And what do we find when someone persists in languishing? We find, of course, moving about the country, changing jobs chronically. Always got to be over here. Maybe the happiness is over there. Sort of a listlessness. I'm just not motivated. Maybe the problem is external. If I could just get this. If I, maybe my gender I need to identify differently. Maybe not. Maybe I'm the wrong species, right? Maybe I'm a cat. Maybe if I just pee in kitty litter, I'll be happy, right? Just almost this, what are we seeing in our culture? We're seeing people who are languishing, hoping to be happy but thinking it's somewhere else.
Where does languishing come from? Well, of course, a lot of people are pointing to the pandemic and the disruption of the pandemic. And without a doubt, there's causality there. Unquestionably, the advent of social media and technology in our pockets, right? This sort of ability to turn something to gold that also makes it really hard to eat. You have the ability to check your threads, check your feeds, check your emails, check your texts, check chronically, which in the article, Adam Grant points to as a disruption of the flow state. And that's kind of what he points to as the solution, that we don't feel like we're languishing if we figure out flow. You're like, I don't know about flow. What's flow? What's flow? Well, there's a book I read a while back called The Rise of Superman. It's all about peak state.
In the book, they point to those who do squirrel jumping. You have the suits, right? The squirrel suits. And how they actually can learn to operate, almost knowing the turn that's coming. This flow state, almost this place of, and you felt it perhaps if you have come to a place in life of knowing what God put you on this Earth for. When you operate in that, you feel the flow. You feel the flow, right? I feel the flow when I'm writing, when I really get into it. Not when I'm procrastinating writing, but when I'm in it, when I've said no, and the science points to 90-minute chunks where your brain needs to have a 90-minute, uninterrupted chunk doing something. You can really drop down into this deeper flow state. And the problem is we're chronically distracted, switching apps, in it but then an email chime, and the social media thing, and then we're over here.
And we leave mental residue from the previous thing on the next thing. And we can end up with all these hooks in our mind. To get into last week's talk a little bit, irons, too many irons in the fire, and it keeps us back from flow. And when we don't feel flow, he says, we end up feeling like we're languishing. And no doubt, those things are all contributing factors for it. I would also point to our rising secularized culture where we're being told, you were not created. You are an accident. You don't matter. Congratulations. And if I don't matter, and if there's no point, and if it's true, then I'm either going to end up bleakly fatalistic where it's almost like nothing I do matters, so why even do anything? Despair. Or there's going to be this Epicurean kind of, well, let's just, we only get one go round, so let's just do all the things, do all the people, eat all the things, snort all the things, snort all the people, and then is what it is.
Let them eat cake, y'all. Or sort of what now is also hot is it's almost stoicism where I can just be tough and be strong and not feel and not be weak and not need anything and not need attachments, and just sort of, there's emptiness in all of these wells, by the way, ladies and gentlemen. Better question though isn't, where does it come from? It's, what has God given us? The cure. Because Jesus said, I came that they might have life and life more abundantly. Come on. Jesus doesn't want you to languish. He calls you to flourish. Yeah! He calls you out of the pit. He calls you out of the miry clay. And He did you one better. He entered into your pit for you to pull you out. Yeah! Come on. He won't, talk about peak state. Jesus Christ invites you into a life that's surging and soaring and flowing with His dynamic enthusiasm and hope, a living hope, and life after death, and life during life in a sense, here we go, of mission. Yes. Yeah. And purpose. You don't want to languish?
Honey, you need some purpose. You need something to get out of bed for. You need a reason that's bigger than just you and what you get to do and where you get to go. You need to be a part of a much bigger story than just your story. And this is what you're invited into with the name of Jesus Christ that's been given to you. You see, Paul said in Colossians 3, this has kind of been a big key thought to this entire series we've been in, Firebrand. Colossians 3:17. And say it with me. "Whatever you do...", you see, the gospel's not saying, you need to know that you're an astronaut, or you need to know for sure. Because the last thing I'd want you to do is walk out of this feeling like, well, I don't know exactly what is next. No, no. That's not about, it's not about the what. It's about the who. Right. "And whatever you do, do it in the name of Jesus Christ". Come on. "Whatever you do, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus" Christ, "giving thanks to God the Father through Him".
You see, the beauty of this message isn't you're going to know exactly what. The point is bigger than that. You get to do what God calls you to do in the moment. And no matter whether you're selling real estate or selling shoes or you're coding computer code, you get to do it in the name of Jesus. You get to teach in the name of Jesus. You get to sew in the name of Jesus. You get to design in the name of Jesus. You get to practice medicine in the name of Jesus. You get to trade stocks in the name of Jesus. You get to say, I've been given a name. Yeah! Whoo! Right. I told you about our Firebrand. Here it is. Fresh Life Church, registered with the state of Montana. Firebrand. This is going to be added to our baptism flow now.
So after you come out of the water, I'm joking. We're not going to do that. But I got to thinking about how when a cow gets branded, it communicates purpose. For a rancher, I got a letter just before I came out to preach from a guy who runs a ranch in Colorado, an outfit in Colorado. He was telling me what their brand is and what it means, and how him and his wife have been so touched by all of this, and they're just excited, and they feel purposed to contribute towards this Firebrand offering. They're in on it. And he understands the gravitas, the gravitas of putting his mark on a cow. He's telling that cow, I'm going to take care of you. He's telling that cow that how you're doing is a reflection of the job I'm doing. He's telling that cow, you've got a purpose.
Now, it's, you know. Didn't Jesus say, pick up your cross and follow me? There's purpose in the brand. You've been given a name. You've been given a brand. He has set His seal upon us. And knowing we have that seal should cause us to go, I don't know what you're going to call me to do, but whatever I do, I'm doing it in your name. I'm doing it to bring you glory. I'm doing it as an ambassador. I'm doing it as a reflection. And we get to be the little sheep that we are, saying, the Lord is my shepherd. He marked me. I have everything I need. He's going to take care of me. If He calls me through a valley, He'll take care of me. If He calls me to eat in the presence of my enemies, He'll take care of me. He's got a rod. He's got a staff. He knows where we're going. He knows what He's about. I've got to live. I've got to write. I've got to die for the brand, y'all. Yeah!
And this is what we are talking about in these days. And the title of my message today is That'll Leave a Mark. We get to show up at work tomorrow. We get to show up at geometry class tomorrow. We get to, whatever we find in our hands in that moment, we get to say, I'm going to do it for the glory of Jesus, believing in Jesus' name. That's going to leave a mark, not just for now, but for eternity. Amen, somebody. We are a part of a bigger story. And if you have a sense of destiny and you have a sense of purpose, it will fill your sails and light your soul on fire. I'm going to show this to you in the Bible. Turn with me to Luke Chapter 8. We're going to be, you want to talk about not languishing. We're going to see some people who are just, mm. That's what they are. They are just, mm. "Now it came to pass, afterward, that He," Jesus, "went through every city and village". Now, pause right there. It says "it came to pass after". "Came to pass after".
So it's implying it's right after something significant just happened, which, in the Bible, if you just glance back at Chapter 7, he had dinner at the house of a Pharisee. And while He was at dinner at the House of a Pharisee, a woman came in and poured out at His feet, poured out at His feet an offering. Anointed His feet and began to wash them with her tears and began to dry them with her hair. It was scandalous to be touched by a woman of ill repute like this. And Simon the Pharisee judged Jesus in his heart. Didn't even say nothing, but just in his heart, thought, I can't believe he would let this woman touch Him like that. And Jesus answered the man at the level of his thinking. Houston, we've got a problem. Jesus goes, interesting that you think that, Simon. And Simon goes, ah! Did I say that out loud? This was a thought bubble. This is a mind reader. And Jesus said, you invited me into your house, but you have disrespected me by not honoring at my feet. You put up praise of lips on me.
Oh, Jesus, good to have you in my house, but you did nothing to show that that was really in your heart. But this woman with the financial work that she had been doing at her darkest has brought this great gift to my feet. After, Jesus finished that moment by saying, "he who has been forgiven much loves much". And she didn't just say she loved Him. She showed her love after these things. The text tells us, He passed "through every city and every village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him". Of course. It's His boys. But less commonly known, Jesus rolled deep with some godly women and "certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities," the alpha female of them being "Mary called Magdalene". 14 times, this woman's name shows up in the Bible. Every single time, she's at the list of an incredible group of godly women. So she led well. She led strong. "Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons".
This gal is like an unholy Holiday Inn, y'all, OK? Or was. That's a lot of demons. Every time I read, I'm like, that's so many demons to have inside of you, right? One's bad. Seven? "And Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance". You know, much has been made on TikTok of the difference between how boys do math versus how girls do math, right? And apparently, it's a thing where it's just how numbers and how you figure is just different, right? So a girl apparently, let me know if this is right for how you see life, who uses cash doesn't count that as spending. You're not even spending money if it was bought with cash, right? You're just not coming out of the account, so any cash you have, once you buy, that's free money, right? Is that accurate? Is that right? It's wrong. Anything under $5, free. Right? It doesn't cost nothing. It was $5. No, actually, it cost $5.
And 1,000 times you do that, you see what I'm going. But no. No, under $5, that's free. A refund is free money. Whoo! So one girl says, if I was going to buy a $100 sweater and it's on sale for $50, so I'd already decided I'm going to spend $100. But then I found out it's on sale for $50, so then I don't want it anymore. I went to get it, but now it's on sale, so I'm suspecting maybe it's falling out of fashion. So I'm not going to buy the formerly $100 sweater. I'm going to buy the $50 sweater. But now I don't want to buy the $50 sweater. So I find a nicer sweater than the $50 sweater, but it costs $60. I get to come home and tell my husband it was only $10. Do you see what she did there? She decided she would buy $100. But no, no. $50 is a deal. Therefore, it's only $10 more, so it's a $10 sweater. Honey, you need to get saved, OK? That's bad math. That's not girl math. That's bad math.
Another girl said, once I decide I'm going to buy a pair of boots that's $130, I go to the store, and already in my mind the $130's out of my account. When I find a similar pair that's only $50, I actually made money on the purchase. I made $80 today. I made $80 today. You should be thankful, husband. I made you $80. So on the way out of the store, I stopped by the other store and buy more sports bras and sweaters totaling $80 because it was made money, and those were free items. Is this correct? Am I getting this right? Girl math? Am I doing this right? That's how we do math? All right. Now we've had some fun at the girls' expense, so let's talk about guy math, OK? According to a Wall Street Journal article, a guy can say, I talked myself into a $400 bicycle, right? Because in his head, he decided that no matter what he was going to ride it 400 times, so each ride only costs $1. And whether it's a good bike or not a good bike or causes him physical pain, he will ride that bike 400 times and get his money's worth out of it. $400 single dollar rides.
And then the guy interviewed says, but I've actually kept up. I've ridden it 4,000 times, so each ride was only $0.10. Boom. Boom. Men, is this how we do math? Yes. Guy math is saying you are six foot tall, but you are 5'10", right? Guy math is where you are worried that this potential wife that's currently a girlfriend is a gold digger. Worried about it. You own three pairs of socks and a PS4, but you are worried, this is guy math. Guy math is dropping bank on golf clubs, right? Oh, the quiet conviction. The settling over the house. Average golfer in America spends just under $6,000 annually on golfing. But you can't give in the year-end offering, right? Oh, get off my territory, Levi. But the guy can justify the $6k on golfing because it might just save on one of his strokes next year, right? It's good, no, it's a good investment. You a professional golfer? Nope.
But I need the best. Guy math is killing a deer instead of buying meat at Costco because you want to have this free food, free food for your family. Costs nothing. There's no cost involved in this food as opposed to the other food that I could buy, I will not buy because I get free food for my family and my friends all winter because we are not factoring in the $3,000 rifle, the cost of being clad head to toe in the most insanely expensive hunting gear, and the cost of your wife basically being a single mother for the hunting season in three different states. This is guy math. This is how we men, ladies, am I right? Is this how guys do math? So there's a guy math, now I've made enemies of all of us today. It's not what they taught me in communication school. I didn't go to one, so here we are. You really want to alienate the audience before you minister to them. Guy math and girl math. But what about God's math?
Come on. There is a disconnect when we hear another person talk financially in a way that doesn't make sense to us because we don't see the world the way they see the world, OK? So we go, it doesn't make sense, honey. What were you thinking? Why would you do such a thing? But this is why when God calls us to see things the way He sees them, there's such a sense of whiplash. Why? Because scripture says that God's ways are not our ways. So we go, all right. God's math. What's God's math like? God's math is like, OK, so take one. All right. And add it to that one. And then add one more. All right. Now, how many is that? And we're like, uh, three? God's like one, right? That's all me, God says, right? God math is different, right? So if the math is different even just when it comes to Him and who He is, why would it not be any different with any other thing? So God's like, all right. We're going to feed 5,000 people.
All right. You've got your five loaves and your two fishes. And we're like, yeah, but what are they among so many? He's like, boof! What do you need, right? Food for 5,000 men plus women and children because God's math is different than our math. So why all of a sudden when it comes to us getting paid or us having any blessing in our lives would we think that His math would not be different than that? That's why there's a pinch. That's why there's a sense of, I don't know, and how is this all going to work out? You see, God's math is different. He takes six pots. You got it? How many? Six. They each contain 20 to 30 gallons of water. And you know that because you just filled them up like a bathtub with water from out back. And then He all of a sudden blesses them. And in the midst of Him blessing the bathtub water, now a wedding that's run out of wine has the best wine the master of the feast, the sommelier from Napa, has ever tasted in is ever-picking life.
Yeah. God's math. God's math. Take five smooth stones. How many? How many? You've got it right here, all right? You've got five smooth stones, and put them in the hands of a little boy who's just a youth, and he's going up against a man who's a man of war from his youth who's a giant, whose spear is like a weaver's beam. The spearhead weighs 600 shekels. How many shekels? 600. And the giant dies and God's people win. Why? God's math. Yeah. God's math. Someone say, God's math. It's 300 people and Gideon, and they're going up against 120-some-thousand Midianites. But fortunately for them, they have a torch and a pot and a trumpet, because everybody knows this is modern military technique. And what happens? The Midianites lose. Take God's people and there's Jericho, and there's no way they can get it. They don't have battering rams. But fortunately, they get to walk around the city for six days, yelling really loud on the seventh day, and the walls come tumbling down because God's ways are not our ways. God's ways are not our ways. They're past finding out.
So God doesn't call us to understand Him. He calls us to trust Him. So it is when it comes to tithing. Why? God's math. God's math. Turns out 90% of your money with God's blessing is 100% better than 100% of your money, but without God opening up the windows of Heaven upon your life. And so it is when it comes to God's ethics on finances. And this is exactly what we see in Luke Chapter 8 where there's a group of people made up of guys and girls who have learned to do God's math. They're in the midst of this preaching tour, and we see the theme of generosity all over the place, and there's nobody languishing anywhere. So what can we learn from this, and how can we apply it to our lives? Seven things that should mark our generosity that will put us into the flow and keep us from that chasm in between depression and flourishing and move us to where God wants us to be.
The first is that our giving should be mobile. Mobile. If we're doing God's math, the way we handle finances can be this mobile way. Not only mobile because everywhere we go we are a reflection of God's name. We carry it as ambassadors. But because Jesus literally is on the move. We sang it a moment ago. The king of glory is on the move. Aslan is on the move, CS Lewis said. And that's the way it was throughout Jesus's ministry. He would go into a city. He would start doing some ministry, and everybody there would say, no, stay. No, stay in Sumeria. No, stay in Capernaum. No, stay. Stay, stay, stay, Jesus. But He would respond to that how? Luke 4:43. But he said to them, "I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent".
Now, it's human nature to want to just be cozy and comfy and us three and no more, and shut the door, and kumbaya, and everyone knows your name. We're on Cheers again. And just kind of that, but God's on the move. God wants to take what's happening in a place and move in other places and go to other people. And there's just this sense of, it's amazing in Jerusalem. Awesome. What about Judea? It's sick in Judea. What about Sumeria? What about the ends of the world? And here we sit literally at this moment in worship. I put my hands in my pockets. And I wore these pants on the plane yesterday. I got a Sky Priority tag from Delta. I got a nice letter a captain wrote me on my United flight, thanking me for being on the airplane. And I just laughed like, this is literally life right now. We were halfway, or a third of the way through a national tour with our ministry.
It's been amazing, by the way. I bring good reports from this ministry that's been going on. We sold out our very first show, by the way. It was amazing. It was in Hiram, Georgia. Hiram, Georgia. We kept joking you've got to say it with a Hebrew "Hcha". "Hch-iram," Georgia. And our team, guys. Fresh Live Worship, our team. They've just been representing Jesus so well and leading so strong. So strong. I've got to brag them because they wouldn't do this themselves, but they're awesome. And I've just loved, Jennie and I have loved getting to watch them lead. And that's the team at home that supports the team that's gone. Everybody's been leading so well in this time. There's been a lot, right? And gosh, we did the show in Nashville. And afterwards, Lisa was like, hey, I want to introduce you to my friend. I invited her. She's the lead singer of Lady A, Lady Antebellum, right?
Some of us have heard the music, like Grammys and stuff. Well, she wanted to come, and her and her husband came. And after the show, we were sitting there talking and they both, almost tears in their eyes, grabbed me and they go, you guys, you guys, this worship is so good. So good. She goes, and musically tight and strong and the harmonies and it's just unbelievable, but the spirit is so pure. Yeah. The spirit is so pure. So I'm telling you, this is the kind of response. People have been touched and people have been blessed. People have gotten saved. Come on. We have seen salvations at every single stop. People are bringing friends and people are having Jesus touch them with hope and heal them of hurts, and it's been amazing. And we literally have six more shows in the next couple weeks. We're going to be all over the place. We're going to be in Texas, just outside of Houston and Fort Worth, Texas, area.
And then we're going to be in New Braunfels near San Antonio. Nederland, Texas. Nobody even knows what or who that is, and I'm excited about it. We've got Birmingham, Alabama, coming up, Bradenton, Florida. And then just outside of Windermere. It's actually where Disney World is at and SeaWorld's at. And we're going to see God do something great as people come into the Magic Kingdom. Come on. Anybody with me on that? Just believe Him for salvation. If you know people in these areas, let them know. And if you want to come out, we've had some Fresh Lifers fly out from different cities and show up because they maybe are from there and had people. They wanted to bring them themselves. And I'm just telling you, we are just watching there be a hunger for God's word. Why would we do that? I would love to be in my own bed. I do not sleep well with the rumble strip every few hours. But you know what? To other cities we must go. To other villages we must go.
This has been our mentality from the very beginning, a desire to reach out, a sense of a call. I'm not saying every church has to have that kind of specific way of following that call, but this is a call of God on our ministry, on our lives. There's a grace where there's a calling, and Jesus wants there to be that sense of mobile and more and more people, more places, more in Heaven, less in Hell. Amen? Yeah. Amen.
And then number 2, we need our giving to be joyful. No sense of grudging. No sense of heavy obligation. Well, I guess. You twisted my arm, pastor. Hey, come on. Come on. We will serve the Lord with gladness. We will serve the Lord with that cheerful spirit, that hilarious heart. He loves a cheerful giver. And what does it mean to carry a brand if not, I want to love what He loves and hate what He hates? He loves cheerfulness. He loves the sense of, I just can't even believe I get to be a part of this.
I can't believe I get to do this. Listen, it's the glad tidings that Jesus was preaching. Do you see that in the verse? Jesus went about everywhere Verse 1 preaching the glad tidings. It's a good news gospel. I don't know about all these preachers out there that look like they got baptized in lemon juice, getting hernias and hemorrhoids. Like, Jesus ain't about all that. He was the friend of sinners. He was joyful to be around. Kids loved hanging out with Jesus. That's why we love the chosen because it shows Jesus that your kids would be drawn to Him and not be like, that's a bad man right there. Keep them at bay. You see what I'm saying? There was a joyfulness to Jesus. Someone called Him, theologically speaking. It's part of the Bible. I don't have time to take you there, that He was the most joyful person who ever lived. And why would He not be? No sin. True, pure joy. True, pure sense of mission. True sense of purpose and calling. He was joyful. And this is the Christmas story. This is the season.
I'm not talking about saccharine, happy, clappy, everything's perfect. I'm talking about joy that works in the prison, joy that works in the cemetery, joy that works in the ICU, joy that works when your back is beaten bloody, but you're going to write a book all about joy. Hello, Philippians. There's not a book in the Bible where the word joy shows up more, and it was written from a prison cell. True joy. Joyful, joyful, we adore thee. Is that not what Gabriel said? "The angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great,'" mega, super-sized, 30-ounce, Mr. Pibb at McDonald's "'joy, which will be to all people.'" We're doing it wrong if it doesn't lead to joy, if it doesn't lead to cheerfulness. I'm telling you, not going to Hell, awesome. Having the Holy Spirit, wonderful. Not being a people but then being a people, ridiculous. Didn't have mercy? Now I've got mercy. How do you like me now? I'm grateful. Yeah! I'm thankful. Whoo! Whoo!
Number 3, reciprocal. Reciprocal means in kind. This happened and that happens, right? That sense of, oh, hold on a second, right? Seven demons. Seven demons. How do you get seven demons messing with you? Slowly. Beware. In our secularizing culture that's got no room for God because there is no God, duh, everyone knows that. Chew on my pipe now, right? There's going to be a desire and an appetite for the spiritual and the supernatural because nature abhors a vacuum. And you can say you don't believe in God, but you will still crave transcendence because you were wired for it, born for it. So you will be opened up to witchcraft. You'll be opened up to the paranormal. You'll be opened up to the supernatural. You'll be opened up, if you're not going to look up to the Heavens, you'll look up to the stars. Right. Right. Wow.
Come on. And it will lead to darkness. And it's not dangerous because it won't work. It will be dangerous because it will. But that bright, shiny star you see will not be Jesus. And it will not lead you to the full life that He came and died on the cross for you to have. So Mary ended up full. And some say it's not even seven. It's just seven, could mean just completely given over. And then she met Jesus. And He touched her and healed her and He cleansed her. And no matter what dark things she was doing while dabbling in that, He gave her a spot on the team. Look into the ancient Greek philosophers and the ethic on women. They were not, it was looked on with disdain, Demosthenes and Socrates and all these. They did not, like, oh, yay, women. They should be learned and taught and not, neither did the Talmud and the oral tradition that surrounded Judaism at this time champion the cause of women. Jewish men in this day woke up every day and said, I thank you God I wasn't born a Gentile, a dog, or a female. Jewish rabbis did not accept female students and pupils to be their disciples, but Jesus did. Not only Mary Magdalene, but Joanna and Susanna and the others.
And everywhere He went and everything He did, He did so with gratitude and support and buoyancy provided by these wonderful daughters and females that He elevated into a position of being His disciples right in the mix. And they loved Him for it. And they said, how can I do something that more people could be on the receiving end of this? And Jesus said, well, we have some very specific needs. Food, shelter, these things. There we go. What do you need? We'll bankroll that. Reciprocal giving. You see, the mistake some of us would make in telling you about God's math is that you're like, all right. So if I give, I get to get. You do, and you will, and God will not be out-given because He has a God complex. But if we're living and leading like these women, we're not giving so we get. We're giving because we already received more than we could ever be given. Yes. Right.
I will spend my whole life giving my life to God every day again and again and again and again, imperfectly because of Calvary, because of what happened on that old rugged cross where Jesus Christ the Lamb of God had all of my sins placed upon Him. Are you kidding me, that He would let me do anything for Him? You need food? Yes. Tell me what kind, where, when, how. I can do that. Not like, well, tell me what opportunities there are and we'll evaluate them. The answer is yes. What's the question? That's reciprocal giving. And then I don't even have time to preach it, but I'm going to. The text says Joanna, who seems to be the wealthiest of all, although some commentaries point to Mary Magdalene as being highly wealthy too because she's called Mary the Magdalene, and Magdala was a city where there was a textile industry.
And if your name is synonymous with that city, it's probably not a stretch to say that you are connected to what made that city become that city, in the same way that Jesus is the Nazarene, right? It's not His last name, OK? Like, out of all the Nazarenes, there's Jesus, OK? So if Magdala, which is known for its textile and also the fishing industry, if she's the Magdalene, she probably had some cash too, OK? But Joanna has a husband named Chuza, and Chuza works for Herod. Whoa! Now I've got PTSD because I'm like, dude, Herod? Like, yeah, babies getting killed when Jesus is born. That's the family. Oh, Herod? Antipas, talked about here, the one who cut the head of Jesus's cousin off? Oh, don't worry. There's another Herod coming named Agrippa, and it's going to be bad too. And there's a guy in the Herod family. They're all bad, OK? Just all Herods, bad, OK? Killing James with a sword, putting Peter in the prison. Open the door, Rhoda. OK, fine. Different sermon. Chuza works for Him?
I've had people tell me, I just feel like I should quit working for this evil company. It's evil. So I could do ministry. I'm like, dude, stay there. Make the devil pay by using that money to fund the kingdom. How great that you've got Joanna, you've got her coming home with, Chuza's like, bring this bag of cash that freaky Herod just gave me, cool, at the feet of Jesus. Come on, somebody. There's a blessing and an anointing on you to scale your business if you have the capacity to create wealth. John Wesley talked a lot about, make all the money you can, but you've got to have a plan if you're not going to fail spiritually while you're prospering financially. And part of that plan seems to be this. It's linked to having a purpose in it, having a sense and a call of God in your life to create wealth, knowing in your heart the purpose for it is in the name of Jesus. This crew, I love this group of women. Don't you love them? They're amazing.
All right. That's number 3. Number 4, continual. Their giving was continual. It was ongoing. It wasn't, like, a one-and-done thing. They traveled with Jesus. What are the needs today? What are the needs today? How much can these boys eat? Have you ever considered what the apostles would put down? Dear God, right? So this is not a small thing, taking care of Jesus's, you know, and it's just so funny to me because it's all so unnecessary. Did Jesus need a bunch of women walking around, giving money? Food! Food! Does Jesus need my gift today? I would think not. Does He need yours? No, but I need His blessing. I need to give it more than He needs to receive it. Linux and I were snowblowing yesterday. He said, Dad, can we snowblow? Yeah, buddy, let's snowblow. And he grabs the snowblower, and I grab the snowblower, and we're pushing it. And who is snowblowing? But he was there with me, and I loved it. I missed him. Hadn't seen him in a week.
To get to do it with him, that's how your father feels about you giving. He's doing everything with His feet up, but you're invited to push. He wants you to be out there with your mismatched gloves because you can never find your stupid ski gloves no matter how many times I buy them. And your sister's pink beanie and your big old jacket that's not even waterproof because I told you to get the waterproof one, but you didn't. But I'm telling you, he lost a tooth this week. I didn't get to see that. He texted. It's just, but so to be with him, that's how your father feels about you doing the work with him in the world. It's all Jesus, but you are welcome to push. Ah. Continual. They say brand loyalty's down. Did you know that? All across the board. Delta be messing with their program, pissing people off. Car companies are trying to figure out how to keep people being Ford people, but it's going down. These women, they have brand loyalty. Churches talk about the same thing, right?
People don't stay with the ministry because eventually the pastor lets them down and whatever, whatever, whatever, and I get fed better somewhere else. I love how loyal these women were. The last standing at the cross, these women. The first at the empty grave, these women. It's been said that Mary lingered longer. Some women came. Mary stayed. Why did she get the angel encounters that she got? Why does she get a divine encounter of Jesus? Because she was an angel investor, so she got her angel encounter. She had skin in the game. She was there. She gave constantly and continually. And you know what? You're called to as well. Hebrews 13. "Let us therefore offer to Him continually the sacrifice of praise. That is the fruit of our lips". That's not the song. That's what will be produced if our heart is truly in it. There's going to be more where our treasure is, our heart is, there will be "the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name".
How do I get there, Levi? I want to be continual. I don't want to be flaky. I don't want to be all in, and all out, and then all in, and then all out, and then all in, and then not all in. I don't want to pick whether I come and am engaged depending on the weather. It's got to be hot but not too hot, cold but not too cold, snow but not too much snow, right? Like, some people, it is unbelievable, right? And here's how, Hebrews 13:14. "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come". If your eyes are on Heaven, you're going to be engaged in what He's doing on the Earth too. That's why my favorite CS Lewis quote, besides all the others I quote all the time, "I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that country and to help others do the same". Anybody with me? It's Heaven. It's not about Heaven on Earth. It's about Heaven, Heaven, the kingdom of Heaven.
All right. Number 5, communal. These women had each other. These apostles had each other. The joy as they gave, the joy as they brought, the joy as they served, the joy as they went from place to place and people, thing to thing, they had each other. And we get to do this together, and we get to spur each other on and motivate each other on. Hebrews 10:24. "Let us consider one another in order to stir up..." someone say, stir it up! Yeah! "...love and good works". We're to stir each other up, motivate each other. I was talking with a group from our church recently. I was like, if I gave it the level I gave at originally, it wouldn't take faith. God's blessed me more. I've been a better steward, partially. I'm more blessed because I've had His mindset from giving it the love I was giving at that one point.
So you're better with the 90% once you've given the 10%. And you can bring a better ROI. And so it would not take me the same level of faith as I gave at one point. And this is biblical to talk to you about because leaders always go first. Leaders are called to set that pace. Jennie and I are not just telling you something you to do. We're in this. We are in this, bringing a gift of substance for us. And you might look at it and go, that's not very much. And it's not about the faith it would take for you to give it. It's about the faith that it would take for us to give it. And I do lead, we do lead the way in the church, by the way. And I would love for someone to take that honor. Please do. At some point, knock us off where we sit on the giving list. All I'm saying is this is not just something I'm encouraging for you. We're walking in this. We are together, wanting to see God do more. And I'm trying to stir you up.
Come on. Just like running with someone faster a little bit. You know what I'm saying? Like, hey, come on. Pick it up. We were out the other day, not to name drop, but I was running with Phil Wickham. I've been dreading to run with Phil Wickham because this little fit gazelle,Jesus, help me. This guy has probably never eaten chips and salsa in his life. And I'm like, how long do you normally go? Normally eight miles. What pace? Seven minute or so. I'm like, oh, jeez. I'm going to die today. I'm going to die. But running with him, it brought something out of me I had not brought out. You see what I'm saying? You want to run faster, I'm saying, let's stir it up. Let's give big. Let's do something for God. Communal. It's communal giving. And that goes out to everyone who watches this ministry online, everyone who listens in, everyone who's like, I'm saying to you too, let's do this thing together. And then lastly, and we're done here, these women gave with eternity on their mind. Wait, no, no. There's two more because I said seven, right?
Number 6, eternal giving. Jesus had a phrase He used a lot, and it's "great shall be your reward". "Great shall be your reward". And I love the thinking of that, that we can give not just, He does bless us here now, but the real blessing is to come in Heaven, in eternity. And those who understand that utilize that principle. It's a sound investment strategy. James Cash Penney. What a baller name that is, by the way. JCP. James Cash Penney. This is him as a young man on the screen here. He was told to tithe. He was told, he worked at a mercantile as a young man in Missouri. And he was told, just no matter what you have, just tithe. Even when you're in debt, even when you're in poverty, just tithe. And just trust me. Tithe.
That's what he was told. He moves to Wyoming in 1902. He starts a business that we would know of today as JC Penney. It grew and began to thrive. And he continued as the business was successful to tithe. Only he realized at a certain point, he didn't need to stop at tithing. It was the gateway to true generosity. In fact, he said, I believe a man's duty is to support the church, but then we can fund kingdom enterprise beyond that as we as a ministry do as well. We see in history he started a farm for destitute farmers, then a retirement home for pastors because a lot of pastors don't think about 401(k). Many give up their social security as well and don't have a plan, don't have any strategy there. He also started a Christian magazine and bankrolled it. And he always in his ministry, in his life gave 10%. But by the end, he was giving 30% of whatever God entrusted to him away. And as he gave, he prospered. And so here he is as an old man at the age of, 1946.
This is his retirement age when JC Penney had grown to 1,600 stores nationwide and one out of every four Americans were shopping at one of his stores. It was the second most prosperous store only to Sears Roebuck. And when he died at the age of 95 in 1971, he died, according to Jesus, rich on Earth, yes, on paper, but he entered into Heaven rich as well. And Jesus says, it's foolish to be rich on Earth but impoverished in Heaven, for we experience as a reward in eternity only what we've laid out for ourselves, which is why Jesus and Peter were talking one day, and Jesus, Peter said, Jesus, we left everything to follow you. And He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is not one who has left house or parents, brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life". As the missionary to South America, Jim Elliot put it, "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose".
And finally, number 7, there's a humility to the generosity of this team. Their giving was humble. Humble. What do I mean? They were not satisfied having Jesus all to themselves. Mary tried to the Resurrection. She held on, and Jesus is like, please do not hold on to me. Please do not hold on to me. Jesus says to you, are you happy to be saved? Please do not hold on to me. We've got to go to other villages. We've got to go to other cities. Oh, I'm grateful to not be headed to Hell. I really am. I'm so thankful for the promise of Heaven. He plucked me from the fire. I'm in His hand, in His grip. No one's plucking me from Jesus's hand because Jesus is in God's hand. And Devil, you can't get me because you can't talk God into not loving Jesus.
Therefore, you can't talk Jesus into letting go of me. But I want to pluck some others from the fire. Jude, and I do close with this, "save others with fear...", pulling, Verse 23. Which chapter? There's just one. Trick question. "Save with fear others, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh". God told me early on in the series as I was contemplating this verse, why do I got to pluck other people out of the fire? And He said to me, it was an impression, not a word. It was a feeling. I wrote it down because it felt so unbiblical and un-Jesus-like even. But He said, Levi, people can't pluck themselves. You realize that? You can't pluck yourself. You can't pluck yourself. God working through the Holy Spirit and His people have to be involved. So we must go. We must fight. We must not stop. It's what we're here for.
And if we give ourselves to this holy endeavor, we will never languish. Because what did Adam Grant say the secret to not languishing is? Word starts with an F. You're like, four letters. Starts with an F. Flow. Flow. If you get caught up in the flow, you won't languish. Well, didn't Jesus say something real similar? "On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will...'" Flow. Let's get caught up in the flow of the Holy Spirit. We won't languish ever to the very end.
So Father, we thank you. Sweep us up in your mercy. Sweep us up in your grace.
If you're all in on this message, will you stand to your feet? All across our church, you say, this is me. I want to be like these women. I want to be like these apostles. I want to see people get plucked. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. Would a spirit of generosity mark your house. We pray. If you're here and you've not trusted Christ for salvation, today is the day. Now's the time. Trust Him even now. Say to Him, I know I need you. Say to him, I want to be forgiven. I don't want to head to Hell. I want to head to Heaven. I want mercy. I want grace. I want to be saved. If that's you I'm describing and you're praying that prayer right now, could I just ask while heads are bowed, eyes are closed all across the church, church online, will you raise up your hand? This is me. I'm ready to trust Christ. God bless you. Anybody else.
Church online, every location, raise your hands up. Raise your hands up. Raise your hands up. You can put them down. You can put them down. Come on, church. Let's celebrate those making that decision today. What we're going to do now is we're going to give. We like to focus it around a moment in time. Of course, people have been and will continue to give online throughout the year. Because this is a little big, we have taken our brand and we have shrunk it down to a wee little cute one. And our wee little cute one, as you come to give your gifts today in front of your own eyes, it'll put some smoke in the room, I'm sure. It'll be awesome. We are going to put a brand as you give your gift onto a commemorative keychain that's made of leather. And you will walk away with this as a reminder and a memento of the precious name of Jesus you carry. Amen.
We're ambassadors. We've got the name. We've got the brand. Those of you who have given and will give online, we will mail you one automatically, so you're going to get one. But we want this moment in person. A holy moment. It's one of our favorite moments of the year. There were envelopes on your seat as you came in. Some of you have noticed that there is a box you can check if this is going to be your first in a step of generosity towards tithing in the coming year. It's awesome to see many people take that stand every year.
We also see people inquiring about stock gifts and different things like that. You can contact the church office at any point throughout the week with those questions, as well as we can help serve, as many have, facilitating estate planning like Jennie and I have done as well, that Fresh Life Church is going to expand through our deaths. What a wonderful thought. And so these are all moments where we come around these ideas. And we're going to believe that as we sing and let Jesus sing over us the song about the living water and the flow that we're going to be swept up like Mary the Magdalene, like Peter and James and John, like Joanna, like Susanna, and the others as a part of this great story. Amen. Yes. Let's give.