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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - Barzillai, The Anointing of Generosity

Mark Batterson - Barzillai, The Anointing of Generosity

Mark Batterson - Barzillai, The Anointing of Generosity
TOPICS: Anointing, Generosity

Hey, I wanna just do something that we don't always do at the beginning of a message, but it takes hundreds of volunteers to pull off a weekend at National Community Church. And I wanna shout-out some of our production folks. I think we got JT and Jason. We got Jim T back of house. Shawn and Doug on some cameras. We've got Eric, Dave, Lyle, Robbie, JJ, and that's just kind of the behind-the-scenes crew. Just maybe even one more time, can we just say thank you? Grateful. So grateful. Well, on Thursday of this week, our family ate a turkey that was smoked. And then flash fried by my son-in-law, Austin. So good. Homemade biscuits, my daughter, Summer. We had mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes with marshmallows. That's the key to the whole thing right there.

And then we topped it off with some pumpkin pie. And I've celebrated a lot of Thanksgivings, so I have theories and philosophies and strategies. And I will say, whipped cream is to pumpkin pie what marshmallows are to sweet potatoes. If you can see your piece of pie under the whipped cream, you're doing it wrong. Well, it's something that we call Thanksgiving, isn't it? And what a day to gather and give thanks, first and foremost, to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Yeah. Now, if you enjoy Thanksgiving, you have to thank a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale. She was an amazing woman, she was a philanthropist, she started the Seaman's Aid Society to assist families who had lost sailors at sea. She was an author who wrote novels. She was a poet who wrote poems, including "Mary Had a Little Lamb".

Fun fact, the same year that Sarah Hale died, Thomas Edison, the first recorded speech on the newly invented phonograph was "Mary Had a Little Lamb". I mean, I just, I wanna give you a reason to come to church. Get the good stuff. And she served as an editor for the largest circulated magazine in America for 40 years until the age of 89. What a woman. But her most enduring legacy is the holiday that we call Thanksgiving. She petitioned five presidents over 17 years. Finally, on September 28th, 1863, when this country is in the middle of a civil war. She wrote President Abraham Lincoln, and Lincoln granted her request. Does this not seem like the most unlikely time to celebrate Thanksgiving, at a time when this nation was even more divided than it is now over the issue of slavery, on the heels of the Battle of Gettysburg, more than 50,000 casualties on both sides?

That's when and where President Lincoln knew, "We need to stop and give thanks". Just a simple observation upfront, Thanksgiving is two words, you can't spell it without thanks and you can't spell it without giving. It starts with thanks and it ends with giving. And it's something that we should only do once a year. Or every day. I love Psalm 100, the Psalm that said, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving". Can I just tell you today? You don't even get in the front door without thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is the key to the front door of the kingdom of God. I was having lunch with a pastor friend, Michael Hall, and he told me this story about Smith Wigglesworth, who one time was preaching on Psalm 100. And he told the congregation, he said, and we're not gonna do this.

NOVA, you stay right where you are, and if you're online, you can just kinda stay where you are. But he told them to get up and leave. He says, "You came in the wrong way". He said, "I want you to go out," and I think he met it in the right way, "I want you to come back in with thanksgiving". Now, I bet they never forgot that particular gathering. In fact, I bet every time they walked in, wouldn't it be wonderful if when we walked into a gathering with brothers and sisters in Christ, where we're gonna worship and dig into God's word, if we just came in full of thanksgiving? Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus. I was glad when they said unto me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord".

And by the way, even Jesus models this, right? Okay, if we've got 5,000 hangry people on our hands, and we got five loaves and two fish, let's be honest, most of us are complaining. Why? Because most of us have a scarcity mindset. We're a little bit more focused on what we don't have than what we do have, and so we're complaining. But what did Jesus do? It says, "He gave thanks". And what happened? It multiplied. What about the Last Supper? Jesus is about to be denied, deserted and betrayed, and he knows it, about to be crucified, what does he do? He gives thanks, and he breaks it and he says, "This is my body which is broken for you, my blood that shed for you". Thanksgiving, come on. I think all of us could get just a little bit better at giving thanks. And that's what we're gonna focus on this weekend.

Well, welcome to National Community Church, in person, online, wrap up a series on the anointing called X, and you can meet me in Mahanam. So I better show you a map so you know how to get there. And I'll set the scene, but let me say this. I love the geography of scripture. Every geography has a genealogy. So many things happen, there's so many layers of history, and this is no exception. And so let me tell you what happened before the story we're gonna look at. Remember when Jacob runs from his brother, Esau, and then he comes back, but there's this moment where Esau is coming to meet him, and he wonders if it's time for a little bit of revenge, or vengeance. He's scared, and he has this wrestling match with God. You remember this? It happens in Mahanam. And Mahanam is the place where God changes his name from Jacob to Israel. So Mahanam is the place where Israel becomes a nation. This place is incredibly significant.

Now, let me set the scene. There's this moment hundreds of years later where David, his son, Absalom, his own flesh and blood rebels against him. And there's a coup d'etat, and it's one of the saddest scenes in scripture, you have to kinda read it, and there's so much nuance to it. He escapes Jerusalem under the cover of night. It says his head was covered and his feet were barefoot. And I don't think these details are insignificant. David is rock bottom and he's heartbroken because his son is trying to kill him. And it says he was weeping as he walked. And he crosses the Kidron Valley, he climbs the Mount of Olives, and then he disappears into the Jordan Valley, into the wilderness. And he ends up in a place called Mahanam. And something happens there, that's where we pick up the story. They are tired and hungry and thirsty, they are emotionally and physically spent. And this is when and where a man named Barzillai shows up with a food truck. You ready for this?

2 Samuel 17:27-29, it says that, "They brought beds and basins and pottery. They also brought wheat and barley flour, and roasted grain, beans and lentils," but wait, there's more, "honey, curds, sheep and cheese from the herd for David and his people to eat". I mean, just imagine this moment. David and his entourage are exhausted, they're famished. Does this not sound like thanksgiving? Somehow Barzillai shows up, and, okay, I'll just make it personal, reminds me of the charcuterie board at Austin and Summer's wedding. I'm gonna show you a picture now, this doesn't even do it justice, 'cause it was dark out, but, whoo. Yeah? I mean, you're acting as if you've seen a better charcuterie board. You have not. I mean, look at that. There's pomegranates and pistachios, cow cheese, goat cheese, grapefruit, kiwi, tangerines.

What I'm saying is, Barzillai sets up this incredible charcuterie board, honey and cheese, barley, grains, beans. Then he brings the basins and the pottery, and it doesn't say this, but I think he did the dishes too. Right? This is incredible, radical hospitality. And here's the key, it's courageous generosity. Well, what's courageous generosity? Well, if he gets caught doing this, he is aiding and abetting a fugitive. Absalom will have his head. He is risking his life and risking his livelihood to show hospitality and generosity to King David. I look back at my life, and I don't know any other way to preach than to share personal stories, and so let me just share a little bit of our journey of generosity. For me, it began at Trinity Covenant Church. And I remember, we would sit in pews and they had these offering envelopes and golf pencils. Anybody else maybe grew up in a church like that? And I remember, my parents taught me at a very young age to tithe on my allowance. So I gave a dime for every dollar.

Now, I do have a confession to make, can I make a confession? That church once received a million-dollar pledge. From Superman. And it may have been in kid-like handwriting, right? But I'm so grateful that I learned at an early age that it's all from God and it's all for God. I don't own anything. Listen, I've only met a few people possessed by a demon, I've met a lot of people possessed by their possessions. They don't own things, things own them. And so fast-forward a few years, and I look back on it now and I almost second-guess myself. So grew up spiritually at Calvary Church, a church that my father, mother-in-law planted and pastored for more than 30 years. And man, they had such a huge heart for missions. It's where our heart comes from. I mean, Pastor Joel says that, I mean, we used to do faith promises for missions.

And so it was giving above and beyond the tithe, kinda beyond that 10%. Pastor Joel said he used to have to sell drugs just to make his faith promise. I'm kidding. But I remember at 17, at 17, I don't even know if I've ever shared this story, but I'm working at Kwik Fill gas station. It's my first job. I'm pulling in 5.25 an hour, and I make my first faith promise at 17. I still remember it, a $1,500 faith promise. And I look back on my 17-year-old self and I think, "What were you thinking? You should be saving for college". Guess who got a full-ride scholarship to the University of Chicago? You can call that correlation without causation, I call it the law of measures, give and it'll be given unto you good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap, for with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you.

And here's the thing, it's not tit for tat, God's not a slot machine, we don't give to get. It's more blessed to give than to receive. Joy is found on the giving side of life. Now, listen to me, I love receiving gifts. If you give me a gift this Christmas, I will not rob you of your blessing. I will receive it. But you know what? I look back, and corporately, remember that $50 check that we gave to missions as a church? We weren't self-supporting until year three, but we stood on a promise. We said, "We're gonna give and God's gonna bless it. God's gonna bless us in proportion to how we give to missions, care for the poor in our city". It took some courageous generosity, when your total church income is $2,000 a month, and you're paying 1,600 to rent a DC public school, which leaves $400 for our salary and all other expenses, takes a little bit of courage to give in those moments.

Can I just say? So many of you give so generously, so sacrificially, so courageously, and listen, hear my heart today, I'm so grateful for those large gifts that have made some things possible that we could hardly even dream of, but you know what? Some of you are struggling financially and you're still giving, and it may not be as much as what you wanna give, but that's courageous generosity. I want you to hear me say thank you, because generosity doesn't start with two million, it starts with two mites, which, by the way, was a small bronze coin. It was the least valuable coin in the Roman circulation, it was worth six minutes of time. And so the widow literally gives 12 minutes of time. And Jesus, "She gave more than everybody else".

I don't know if you have the capacity like a Barzillai to just roll out a Thanksgiving feast for a king, or if you have two mites, but I wanna say thank you for your generosity. Can I get a witness today? There's just so much joy in giving. Thank you, Jesus. Mm, mm, mm, mm. Barzillai, risking his life giving this gift. And David knows it, profoundly impacted by it. And so I wanna connect some dots. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Makes me lie down beside green pastures, leads me beside still waters, restores my soul, leads me in paths of righteousness for his namesake," we know it as the 23rd Psalm. When did David write it? Where did David write it? Some scholars believe that David wrote this psalm in Manaheim, that in the moment on the lowest day of his life, when his son is trying to kill him.

See, the language is not figurative. What does it say next? "Thou preparest a table in the presence of mine enemies". That's it, this is it, this is the moment. David is writing it, but he's thinking about Barzillai, because it was courageous generosity that made the 23rd Psalm possible. The table is prepared by Barzillai in the middle of a civil war. When it's least likely, when it's most risky, he sets a table. And then it says, "Thou anointest my head with oil". And again, we kinda read this figuratively. Who does the anointing? Well, the Lord does the anointing, Messiah, the Christ, it means anointed one, but he does it through Barzillai.

So don't miss this, when you operate in your anointing, like Barzillai, when you exercise your anointing that God has given you, you are anointing other people with your anointing. Are you picking up what I'm throwing down? I don't write books. Take my shoes off. I worship God with 26 letters of the English alphabet, and my prayer is that I anoint people with books. I don't preach sermons. If we get to the end of this series and the consensus is, "Those were some nice sermons," that's not enough. No, no, it's about us, each one of us stepping into the anointing that God has given us. Don't miss this. And when you operate in your anointing, you are anointing other people with your anointing. Barzillai is anointing David with his anointing of courageous generosity. How beautiful is that? "My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever".

Can I make one more observation about giving? 'Cause I think it's very easy to go through the motions, to do what we do and forget why we do what we do. When you give money, and by the way, I mean, I think this year, our common fund, you've given millions of dollars to a common fund that we use to help those in need, that we bless other people, often other ministries. And my mind starts, 'cause there's so many examples of that. But then our Dream Fund is about seeding other people's dream. Do you know that we've given $940,000 to other churches this year? And I might explain why a little bit later if I have time, and then we've given, year to date, $1.7 million to missions, you have, because of your courageous generosity.

And so here's my point, when you give money, you're not just giving money. Listen to me, you are giving the time and talent that you traded for that treasure. And so it's not like you, you can't fit in an offering bucket, right? I mean, we don't even pass one these days, but that's what you're doing, you're giving a piece of your heart. It's the law of treasures, where your treasure is there, your heart will be also. And I would suggest that you are anointing this church with your courageous generosity. So thank you. Where were we? I don't even know. Fast-forward two chapters. Tryptophan. Fast-forward two chapters. Long story short, Absalom is killed trying to kill his father.

And by the way, David is so heartbroken, he weeps and mourns for his son, but he makes his way back to Jerusalem. He goes to the Jordan River, and there's a crowd of people with, "Welcome home," signs, who didn't give up on King David. And guess who's there to celebrate the homecoming king? That was a little play on words, I work really hard on this. None other than Barzillai. Here it is. It's a long passage, but let's read it. It says, "Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. Now, Barzillai was very old, 80 years of age. He had provided for the king," what? A table in the presence of his enemies.

"During his stay in Manaheim, for he was a very wealthy man. The king said to Barzillai, 'Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem. I'll provide for you.' But Barzillai answered the king, 'How many more years will I live that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? I'm now 80 years old, why should your servant be an added burden to my Lord the king?'" Whew. "'Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? Let your servant return that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother.' So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over, then King David," what a moment, what does it say? Ah, "Kissed Barzillai".

I can imagine, "Thank you". What did he whisper in his ear? "I will never forget that charcuterie board", right? "I will never forget it". Kissed him, the affection, the love, the way that generosity can create connection, human connection. Such a powerful thing. "Bid him farewell and Barzillai returned home". Now, we don't know how he made his money, but we know he was very old, very wealthy and very generous. Now, I would summarize this passage in one sentence, wise men come bearing gifts. One of the defining moments, for me, was many years ago, someone had a meeting set up with me and they walked in and they presented me with a gift-wrapped gift. And I was confused, 'cause that normally doesn't happen. It wasn't my birthday, it wasn't a holiday. And I think the confused look on my face prompted him to say, and it was so deadpan, and I love it, he was like, he just said, "Wise men come bearing gifts".

That has become a way of life for Lora and I, "What gift can we bring to the table"? I think it's one of the things that inspired us that every book I write, you're gonna get a free copy. It's gonna be a gift to our church family. Why? 'Cause wise men come bearing gifts. And you can't really argue with it as we get ready for Christmas, right? And by the way, I mean, the gifts seem a little off for a baby. Gold, frankincense and myrrh? I mean, get the kid a Jewish action figure, right? David, Goliath, with slingshot, but no. What baby is asking for frankincense? None of them. But why were Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem? To pay their taxes. They're flat outta cash, but they have to flee to Egypt because King Herod is gonna kill all the babies under the age of two.

So how did they survive? I'll tell you how, the wise men's gift was their miracle. And your gift is no different. Every gift you give, and maybe it goes to missions, maybe it goes to our Dream Center, maybe it goes to that common fund who someone's just saying, "God, I need a little bit of help right now". Or it goes to that dream where I can believe it, but the vision's beyond the provision, and we get to step in in that moment, and our generosity, courageous generosity, becomes someone else's miracle.

Let me connect one more dot, think I have time to do it. So I think 2 Samuel 17, Psalm 23 are connected, but I would argue that 2 Kings 19 and Proverbs 18:16 are connected, too. When you study the Bible, it's almost like, skipping stones, from Genesis to Revelation. And you can't skip over 2 Kings 2:7, because David is on his deathbed. And we actually get the last will and testament, we get kinda these final words of wisdom that David shares with his son Solomon. And then you get to the end of it, and who do you think he mentions? Ah, it's not fair, 'cause you know, today, he mentions, one of the last words out of his mouth is, "Barzillai".

And here's what he says to Solomon, "Show kindness to the sons of Barzillai, and let them be among those who eat at your table". In other words, "Solomon, do for them what they did for us". Two exhortations to close. And these are things that Lora and I have integrated into our journey of generosity. These are so core to who we are. So kinda two challenges, okay? Count the blessing and flip the blessing. Count the blessing, flip the blessing. Now, by count the blessing, I just, man, it reminds me, remember that old song we used to sing? Not we, but as a kid, in that church with the offering envelopes and the golf pencils? "Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your blessings. See what God has done. Count your blessings. Name them one by one. Count your many blessings. See what God has done".

How do you do that? Well, Lora and I both keep a gratitude journal. Now, she's on, last time, 'cause our Sabbath is sundown Sunday to sundown Monday. And on our Sabbath, one of the things we do religiously is share our gratitude journals with each other. She's on 1,141, I'm on 541. So Lora might be twice as grateful as I am. But you know what I love? Is when we share the blessings with each other, it doubles our joy. It almost turns into this double blessing. Be a great title for a book. Count your blessings. Count your blessings. I've shared this before, but every once in a while, one of those gratitudes for Lora, "I'm still here".

After a couple of bouts with cancer, you're grateful for more. Count the blessing and flip the blessing. And that's what David's doing, "Hey, set a table for the next generation of Barzillai's children because he set a table for me". Flip the blessing. Let me have a little bit of fun with this. See what I got here. When I was, I guess we were 22 and 20, and I went to preach at a church in the Chicago area, I was in seminary. And then, after I finished preaching, we were on the way out, and I'm just kinda, I'm eyeballing here, just seeing, I'm gonna keep it, you know what? I'm gonna pop right over here, young man, just looking for someone who's a little bit younger. What's your name? Foster.

So Foster, there was this awesome moment where I walk outta church, and I couldn't, this guy extended his hand just to shake my hand, and said, "Wonderful sermon". And so he kinda went like this and, but there was something in his hand. It was a 20 spot. And he said, "Take your wife out to lunch". We're so old, you used to be able to go out to lunch for $20. And Foster, he called it a Pentecostal handshake. And so I love giving Pentecostal handshakes. Why? Because it was such a blessing in seminary. I mean, we were living off of waffles and ramen. And to be able to go out to lunch, just that simple gesture, it was game-changing.

And so Lora and I lived by this little mantra, "Flip the blessing". You have to be good at counting the blessing, take inventory, and then flip it. We try to do that as a church, too. And I will close with this. We love giving $5,000 gifts. Why? Because remember when that first-year total income, $2,000 a month, 1,600 for the DC Public School? Then we moved to Union Station, and it's gonna cost even more, but we don't have the equipment. We had a eight-channel amp that we would plug in.

And so we're like, "I mean, it's great, but how do we do it"? A church in Newport News sent us a check for $5,000. I will never forget it. It was miracle money. It was like, "We can do this thing". It changed the game for us. So what do we do? Man, we're gonna flip that blessing, over and over and over and over and over again. You set a table for us, we're gonna set a table for you. So thank you for your courageous generosity. May the Lord anoint you with a Barzillai anointing. Count the blessing, flip the blessing. In Jesus' name, amen.
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