Message 102220 1
[00:00:00]Hey, it is so good to have you. And I know I say this every week, but man, I just want to welcome you. I don't know where you are in the world, but you are a part of our online community and you matter to us. And I just appreciate it. If you are local, as we've said every week, I wanna encourage you to come back.
[00:00:32] You want, you want to come back because you know what? There's something cool happening and each week, the percentage ticks up a little bit. We miss you. We understand if you can't be here, but if you can come be a part of this. And especially this week, this week has been so fun. It's the student week it's summer changes everything.
[00:00:49] We're celebrating our students for celebrating our children. And the reality of it is, is we're so blessed in this church and they make all the difference. We don't relegate them to the future. They're not someday going to be the church. They are the [00:01:00] church. And so throughout this service we've been celebrating them.
[00:01:03] And I want to celebrate them, even with some words that I'm going to say in this message, in this message, though, what we're doing is we're continuing a series we started a number of weeks ago. It's called Foundations, and we're wrestling with a simple idea. And the idea is how do I have a faith that literally thrives at all times, not, not, not just it's good when it's good, but it's good when it's bad. When times are tough, when we're in the middle of a pandemic or an economic meltdown or a political firestorm going on. How to have a faith, that does fine. It just does great in those times. That's what we're talking about and the answer, how to have a faith, it starts with this, and we talked about it- we've got to own our faith. We must own our faith. Not borrow it. We can't get it from our parents. We can't get it from our spouse. We can't get it from our friends. We can't get it from our pastor. We can't get it. It's gotta be the faith that we own. It's our, faith.
[00:01:56] And so we've been wrestling with this throughout this series. We've had a number [00:02:00] of messages let me just review quickly where we've been. We started with the idea how to have a faith that thrives- passionately pursue Jesus. You are passionate about something. What is it? I want to tell you if it's not worth dying for, it's certainly not worth living for. That was the big idea that week.
[00:02:14] And we want to remind you. That Jesus Christ is worth living for, He's worth dying for. Second week, we talked about serving. How to have a heart for others. How do I live my life for the benefit of others? We talked about, we serve God best when we serve others first. Absolutely true. Then we followed that with sharing our faith.
[00:02:32] We talked about being salt and light. And the thing that we always say around here is found people, find people. And so we're going to use our influence. We're going to help people come to Jesus. Cause that's what we do. How to have a faith that thrives, uh, live the better life. What's the better life. The better life is the life of in community with others and not being isolated, not being literally in isolation, in solitary, you know, away from everybody else we're in community.
[00:02:57] And the big idea that week is that life [00:03:00] is better together. Always. And we talked about that now. Today, we're going to take this a little bit further and we're going to talk about giving yourself away. All right. We're going to talk about giving yourself away. How to have a faith that thrives. Give yourself away.
[00:03:14] All right. And the message title is simply the power of generosity and the text, by the way, let me just tell you right now, it's going to be John 6. You might want to start opening your Bible up to that. Yes, Mabel. We're going to talk about generosity today. Now I know that as soon as I say generosity, you might go, okay, I'm out.
[00:03:32] You know, you might not even be with me yet. We get defensive, our guard goes up. We got to brace ourselves. Now here's our problem when it comes to the generosity, is we fear that generosity is a conversation about losing something. That somehow that we're going to be asked to sacrifice. We're going to be asked to, we're going to be guilted in this.
[00:03:50] Our arms are going to be twisted. That's not at all what generosity is all about. And I just want to drop a mindblowing thought on you. So mind blowing thought alert, [00:04:00] be ready. Here's a mind blowing thought. Generosity brings something into your life. It doesn't take something out of your life. Generosity brings something in that you wouldn't have, if you don't, if you don't become generous and I'll tell you what it makes you better, it does not make you worse. Generosity is a power that transforms you. It's a force that will move you. It's something that God wants us to experience. And I would say this just generally speaking, the more generous we are, the less tense we are about entering into a message on generosity.
[00:04:32] I want to encourage you to do something. Listen, if you're right now, you're a little uptight. I want to say two things. I want you to pay attention to your spirit, your spirit. Why are you uptight? What is it about the thought of generosity can make you the least bit uncomfortable and so pay attention to your spirit.
[00:04:46] Second thing to pay attention to the spirit of God. What does it God's spirit want to do with your life? What does he want to teach you? What does he want to show you? Where does he want to take you? So I would do that. Now let's just jump into the word. We're going to, we're just going to get going here [00:05:00] and I want to remind you of something.
[00:05:02] That Jesus Christ had 4 biographers. I've talked about this several times. Matthew Mark, Luke, and John. They're four stories of the birth, the life of Christ really written to four different audiences, really for, four different purposes, if you would. But it's, it's a fascinating thing that the story that we're going to look at today is the only miracle that Jesus did that is accounted for in all four of the gospels. Now I'm excluding the resurrection because technically the Father caused Jesus to rise from the dead, but there's only one thing Jesus did that was miraculous that all four of these said that has gotta be in there. Every audience needed to understand this. Every one of them would relate to it.
[00:05:42] It's as if, it's as if the biographers through the leading of the spirit knew if you don't get this, you won't get Jesus. You won't understand him. We got to give you this one. And so this is hugely significant. Now how we're going to go about this today is we're going to look at this text, John 6:1-13.
[00:05:59] I'm [00:06:00] just going to break it down. We're going to read it in subsections. So we'll work our way through it. But what I want to do in this, is I want to reveal to you four incredibly important principles of generosity, these are not original with me. I got these from James Emory White, who teaches at a church.
[00:06:14] He's a pastor of a church on the East coast, but I just think these are so good. They're so profound. And I want you to learn them. So four principles of generosity are gonna going to emerge. The first principle is this principle right here. Generosity is a life test. I want you understand that it's a life test.
[00:06:33] So diving into our text, John chapter six, actually, I want to say this. All right. So Jesus is traveling. He's going across the Lake. Crowds are forming. He's got an audience and a half, there are thousands and thousands of people. And it's just an incredible scene that people- I've said this many times, Jesus is a rockstar and people want to be around him.
[00:06:54] All right. So John 6:5 begins with these words. When Jesus looked up and [00:07:00] saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Phillip, where should we buy bread for these people to eat? Now, okay, this right here. This is, this is a legit question. We got a problem. We got a lot of people here. We're going to have to feed them something.
[00:07:13] Where indeed, are we going to get this? Now I want to say this, that this is a need that just seems so overwhelming. Okay. Oh, you're going to discover in just a moment. There are 5,000 people at this, but there's not 5,000 people. There's 5,000 men. Because that's how they counted. There are women, there are children, some estimate, 15,000, some say 20,000 people. It's a massive audience.
[00:07:34] It's, uh, it's a crowd and a half. How are we going to feed these? That's the question that he asks. And then in John 6:6, the next verse, he asked this only to test him for, he already had in mind what he was going to do, he already knew what he's going to do. He already knew I am going to deal with this, but Philip, where we're going to find people.
[00:07:56] To feed all these people again, a legit question, but you [00:08:00] got to imagine what's going through Phillip's mind. What w w why, why, why are you asking me? Like he said, literally saying Philip, how are you going to approach this? So we've got a problem here. How are you going to solve it? And I think, you know, Phillip's confusion is understandable.
[00:08:17] There's no way there's no store big enough. There's no time. There's no way to get food. Like this cannot be solved. And, and he's probably doing what we do when there's a dilemma. We're trying to figure out a solution. We're going through all the possible outcomes. And he goes, yeah, I got nothing here, but I think really what the test was, was he going to look at Jesus and go, Oh, you know, you know, Is he going to turn himself is he going to turn to Jesus.
[00:08:41] That is the test that we always have to wrestle with when it comes to issues of generosity and it gets to the next verse, verse seven says this, Phillip answered him, tell you what I can see. It would take more than half a year's wages to buy enough bread for each one of them to have a bite, just a bite.
[00:08:56] That is a massive problem. And we get [00:09:00] this, we understand Phillip's assessment. It makes sense. It's it's accurate. If you just do the math. But what Jesus is trying to figure out in Phillip is any other option cross your mind? Is this a huge problem? It's an issue. Is there any other way that it possibly could be solved?
[00:09:20] That's principle number one, life is a test. Um, second generosity is a life test. Second one, it's never the amount, it's always the intention that matters. Never the amount. Never the amount. It's the intention. Let, let me show you what happens next in verses eight and nine. It says this another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother spoke up well, Hey, here, here's a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish.
[00:09:48] But how far will they go among so many? Okay. This, this is so good. We got all kinds of questions. I got okay. I can spend a lot of time on this kid. This kid fascinates me. Who is this kid? W [00:10:00] where's this kid come from, he doesn't seem to be known by anyone. He doesn't, you know, Andrew, doesn't go, Hey, here's Burt Burt said, Hey, this kid, this anonymous kid, it's fascinating that what he's about to do, which he's going to demonstrate generosity.
[00:10:16] If you're not ready for it, get ready for it. His legacy is going to be handed down to us 2000 years later, we're going to be talking about this kid. We don't know his name. Not now. Now perhaps, uh, you know, the thing that happened is Philip and Jesus are having this conversation and maybe this kid is like right over there and he's like, how are we going to solve this problem?
[00:10:38] And Philip's going I haven't got a blue clue. And the little kid goes. I got an idea. And so he tugs on Andrew's shirt and says, Hey, Hey, why don't you offer this? It's just absolutely crazy. Did the kid understand how ridiculous this was? Like, did he have any sense in his mind of how inadequate his offering would be?
[00:11:00] [00:10:59] It makes no sense whatsoever, but it also then raises another question that I want to just ponder for a moment because it fascinates me. Why do kids have so much more faith than adults tend to have. Why do kids not wrestle with issues that we, you know, we are, we, we don't look, it's not pragmatic.
[00:11:17] There's no way I don't have enough. It can't be done. A kid just goes this is what I got, man. Why does a kid do this? Have you ever noticed how generous kids can be? If you've been a parent, perhaps you've been scared at times by your kids in general, I didn't give away anything. And you go, no, no, no, no, no, no.
[00:11:32] And if you've tried to teach your kid about giving, perhaps. You started with 10 dimes and you tried to explain, look, you know, the first dime always belongs to God. And so you set out this dime and the first time you take it to church and the kid goes, what? No, I'm in it because we love Jesus. We're going to give him a dime and God goes, I love Jesus a lot more than a dime.
[00:11:49] So I'm going to give him five dimes. And as a parent, you go, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Just tone it down. Tone it down. Don't get carried away. But this kid just goes, here's what I got. There's lots of guys there in [00:12:00] that, that crowd sitting on their lunch. But this kid comes along and says, Hey, here, here's my offering.
[00:12:06] I got another question about this kid. Where's his parents. It's probably an orphan for all we know. He's probably a street kid and, and he goes here, here's, here's my deal. What's in his lunch. Oh, he's got, he's got a five loaves and two fish and I don't know what you're thinking of. We don't think five loaves of bread and two salmon filets.
[00:12:28] He's got. Five loaves and two fish. He's got a long John silver snack pack. So I always like to refer to it, but actually it's not even that much because John is telling us something here that it's really easy to miss. Because what he literally is bringing is, um, I have a boy with five small barley loaves. Here's what you need to know. That was a clue that was dropped in there to help us understand. Barley was the cheapest of the grains. It was the poor person's grain. [00:13:00] It was the coarse grain. It was the not good grain. It was a, if that's all we got grain. So this kid's probably an orphan. He probably has very little, but he has these five little loaves would be like five little pita patties, if you would.
[00:13:12] And he's got two fish- think sardines, don't think salmon, think sardines. And he goes, here's my offering. Here's what I got. And so that's, that's it. All right. Now the third principle I want you to see here is this so. Here they are. Generosity is a life test. It's never about the amount. It's always the intention that matters.
[00:13:29] Third is that when we are generous, God multiplies our offering. All right. So let's look at verses 10 and 11 and see what it says. Jesus said have the people sit down. There was plenty of grass in that place and they sat down about 5,000 men were there, men that's again, 15, 20,000 total Jesus then took the loaves gave thanks and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. So there's a couple of things here. I want to slow down and I want to, I just want to point out, so this kid goes, Hey, all right. Now, at [00:14:00] some point I got to imagine that Jesus and this kid locked eyes with each other. And I think Jesus, when, when they said, Hey, here's a kid, he's got two, two little fish and five loaves.
[00:14:10] And Jesus, I think, looked at him and I think he just smiled ear to ear. And I think there's a little kid saw Jesus smile. I think he looked up and he smiled and. And I got to tell you, I just, I think Jesus probably said, come here son. And I think she's probably got down on his knees, gave this kid such a big warm hug.
[00:14:25] And he said, I just want you to know son. I'm proud of you. I'm proud of you. You see, Philip blew it, but you got it. And uh, so he stands up and the kid hands him, his little snack pack and uh, then it says, Jesus, blessed it. Now this is really important. All right. It's not what's in your hands. That matters is what's was in your hands that you transferred into Jesus's hands.
[00:14:47] When he blesses it, the transformation of the miracle, the incredible takes place. There's not one, it's not much in your hands, but when you put what's in your hands into God's hands, incredible things happen. So Jesus blesses it [00:15:00] and uh, wow. Uh, get ready. All right. Now he then says to the disciples, I want you to distribute this. Now, I don't know exactly how this went, but I want you to see something clearly. The disciples are pragmatic people they're they're like us. Okay. They can figure this out. This has like no distance to it. So somehow Jesus blessed it. And I don't know exactly how he distributed, but he gave it to the disciples to spread it out. And the disciples had had to do what you and I would do which is just go, okay.
[00:15:24] All right, come on. All right. Hey, Hey. Hey. Hey, just a little, Hey, Hey, put that back. Not a whole handful. Come on. You see how many people there are. And I think that they were very conservative and very reserved and very afraid. And Jesus goes, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. They can just eat their fill. Let them have all they want.
[00:15:44] And somebody up front goes, Oh, are you sure? Can we have seconds? Yeah, you can have, you can have thirds, you can have all you want. And I want you to just, just picture this in your mind. Okay. Because the fourth principle that I want you to see, and again, I want to review these. So we're getting these generosity [00:16:00] is a life test.
[00:16:01] It's never about the amount. It's always the intention that matters. When we are generous, God multiplies our offering. And the fourth one is God will not be outgiven. It simply won't happen. You cannot out-give God, let me show you what happens next. Verses 12 and 13, when they had enough to eat, he said to his disciples gather the pieces that are leftover leftovers.
[00:16:23] Yeah. We're going to have leftovers, let nothing be wasted. So they gathered them and filled 12 baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves leftover by those who had eaten. Now, again, I want you to just imagine what's going on here. All right. These, these folks are stuffed. Okay. They're like Thanksgiving dinner stuff.
[00:16:40] They're like, I couldn't eat another bite stuffed. They had all they wanted. And then Jesus says let's pick up the scraps. And how do you end up with leftovers with five little fish and five loaves and two little fish. You put them in Jesus's hands. And then it's, it's so [00:17:00] interesting to me. It says that they, they took up 12 basketfuls. The number 12 relevant to anything in our context. And of course it is there's 12 apostles, 12 designated leaders, 12 disciples that Jesus is working on, trying to get them to understand bigger principles. And I believe with everything in me that what he tended to do from the very beginning is we're going to feed everyone and we're going to send every one of you, 12 home, who couldn't come up with the right answer.
[00:17:22] This little kid could come up with. We're going to send you home with a doggy bag. And this doggy bag is going to be a reminder that where you think it's impossible, God is capable and your generosity, if you would have the heart that this little kid had, would do incredible things. And, and I'm just, just want you to remember that.
[00:17:40] So, you know, sometimes like at the men's challenge, if you were there, we got a gold coin and it's a, it's a, it's a thing to remember what we talked about. Then significant things get said, you take this little long John silver snack pack, doggy bag home. And you remember what you saw here today, all right?
[00:17:57] Now I want to remind you. I've already said it. The only gospel, the [00:18:00] only miracle in all four gospels. It's as if it's that important, you can't miss this and get God. You can't miss this and understand God. And that's what I think is happening. Now. I've had some time to think about this. I want to make a handful of about four observations, about generosity, as I've been thinking about this for this message.
[00:18:20] So let me just do this again. These are going to go quick. First observation. God. God does something special in the lives of the generous. This is a theme that is repeated over and over and over and illustration after illustration in the Bible. Again, the time limits us. So we can't go into all of it, but let me just show you a couple of verses and I'll pull these out of the Psalms and the Proverbs.
[00:18:42] Good will come to those who are generous. God goes, I'm just telling you good will come. You're generous. It's going to be good. A generous person will prosper. Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. You, you, you think about others first. You put others ahead. I'm going to take care of you. Uh, the generous will themselves be blessed.
[00:18:58] This is a theme. I want you to see the theme. [00:19:00] I want you to understand the theme. God does something special in the lives of the generous. The next thing I want to show you the next. So, so the next big one is we often comfort ourselves by deceiving ourselves. So, so God does something special on the lives of the generous, but we often comfort ourselves by deceiving ourselves.
[00:19:18] What are you talking about? I want to see myself, we do deceive ourselves. There's two things we tend to say to ourselves that are absolutely not true, but we're comfortable saying them. All right. Let me show them to you. There's a statement. Number one, none of us thinks we're rich. If I would ask you, are you rich, we've done this before in church, if you've been around there, you've seen it. Are you rich, very few people in our, in our audiences want to raise their hand. Some will yeah, I'm good. Most people go, no, no, I'm not rich. Reason we think we're not rich is because we're not rich compared to so-and-so down the street. Who's far richer or so. And so across the town and they have a much nicer, bigger, greater whatever.
[00:19:52] And so, no, no, I'm getting by, I'm trying to get them to try to make my bills and pay my rent and all that kind of stuff. I'm not rich. But the, but [00:20:00] the truth of the matter is, is that, and again, specifically, those of you who are watching this in America, if you live in America and I can't address this all around the world, cause I don't know where everyone else is, but if you're in America, you're rich.
[00:20:11] Okay. You're rich. You make like $37,000. You're you're a, you're a top 1% or you're you're rich. You're you're absolutely loaded, man. You're you're in there. Okay. But we go, no, no, no, no. But see, we say we're not rich because we don't feel rich. And we let the feeling of not being rich then tell us I'm not rich.
[00:20:31] And there's something that we do to get us off the hook. Because if, if I'm rich, then I realized that I'm going to be held accountable for being rich. I don't like the thought of being held accountable so I convince myself I'm not rich. It's just the way that we deceive ourselves. The second thing I want to say about this is that all of us think we're generous.
[00:20:48] See none of us think we're rich, but all of us think we're generous. And you don't want to ask the question. How do you know if you're generous? What we would say, because I know I just do things with, tell me what you do. Give a dollar to that homeless guy. That means I'm rich. I means I'm [00:21:00] generous. I gave that dollar.
[00:21:01] That was pretty obvious. I'm not, I'm not rich, but I was willing to sacrifice the dollar. And when I was at circle K and they gave me like, I think it was 20, it was 29 cents. And I put it in that little thing for the kids at the hospital, you know, and I held the door open for somebody and I smiled at a stranger.
[00:21:19] And in fact, in fact there was a tourist who needed directions, and I, and I gave him my time and I pointed that. And so, uh, I'm, I'm a generous person. We all have a tendency to, um, believe that we're generous now. Now here's the deal. Here's what I need to tell you. And again, You can go check this out. Uh, I simply don't have the time to prove it to you, but I promise you, this is the truth.
[00:21:44] The more money you make, the less generous you are. If you're average, if you're a typical person, the more money you make, the less generous you are, because what happens is the more we make, the more we start relying on ourselves and the less we trust in God. And the less we feel like we need God. And the less we think about God and the less we concern ourselves with the [00:22:00] things that concern him, we, uh, we just don't tend to give us our, as our income increases as much.
[00:22:06] How do I know if I'm generous? You know, you're generous. If your giving is causing you to not be able to do something you want to do so that somebody else can do something they need to do. So, how would I know? Well, you'd have to look and ask yourself the question. What are you sacrificing? You know, I find it interesting, a Warren Buffet who dedicated, you know, a massive $26 billion to the Gates foundation.
[00:22:31] There's a plot in w you know, wow, this is awesome. This is what he said. Uh, my gift has not changed my lifestyle one bit. I still go to the movies I want to go to. And I eat at the restaurants I want to dine at, but, but what about the person who gives a gift that requires they can't go to the movies or eat out?
[00:22:47] They are the true givers, the true heroes of generosity. Well said, Warren. So church, are we giving up anything that we want so that somebody could have something that they actually [00:23:00] need? Now are either of these two statements true? You know, you're not rich and you're, you know, I'm generous. I don't know, but I guarantee you, God knows.
[00:23:09] Here's the third thing. I would just an observation. Okay. We've we've all been blessed. Now again, I don't know where you are in the world, but certainly let me talk to my American audience here. We're we've all been blessed. All right. We live in an incredible country and most of the blessings we have come through somebody else's generosity.
[00:23:25] If you've ever connected the dots, think about it. If you've never think about it, um, you know, we should be so grateful for so-and-so. Where would we be without, and then put a name in there in your life. And I don't know your story, but where would you be without. Where would you be without your parents?
[00:23:43] Where would you be without them? And you might go, well, I hear this with my parents. That was not a good story at all. I'll tell you what I get that I grew up without a dad. I've told that story before, but you know what? I think about a couple of things. I think about when I was growing up, I was always [00:24:00] welcomed into other people's family as that kind of adopted son.
[00:24:04] I'm so grateful for the people that included me. And I can tell you so many memories. I, in fact, let me just say this. This is kind of scary, but it's true. I have no memories of ever going to dinner at a restaurant, even a fast food restaurant with my family. I have no memories of it. All right. I have no memories of going on vacation with my family.
[00:24:26] Maybe one comes to mind and it was really bad. When I think about going to a restaurant, I have the memories of how fun I even go to McDonald's when I was a kid, I was always somebody's guest with their parents. When I think about great vacations, I was invited to go with a friend on a vacation and I have fantastic memories because folks, we have been blessed and many times it's by somebody that you've never even really stopped to think about the difference they've made in your life.
[00:24:56] I think about my coming to faith in Jesus. I came to faith at Scottsdale Christian [00:25:00] Church, the little church on a little corner in Scottsdale, but I'll tell you what Dee Schafer. I so clearly remember his passion for Jesus it's in me, it's in me. And I remember this the way I was included and the way I was welcomed then.
[00:25:13] And I remember how much church meant to me when I was a high school kid to be a part of that. I have so many friends and so many fond memories. And I like, I remember when I first visited the church and they brought a plate of cookies to my house. They said, Hey, we just want you to know you're welcome in our church, and I'll never forget, how can I not forget all these years later, I remember that.
[00:25:31] I remember when I was in college and they sent me care packages. The church would send me just to, we're praying for you. We're thinking about you, you matter. I think about that. I think about my undergraduate education. I've told you the story before of how. Uh, a couple in Los Alamos, New Mexico underwrote my undergrad studies because I didn't have the means and they were gonna, uh, kick me out of the college.
[00:25:53] But they stepped in and said, no, we'll cover it for you. Did it anonymously. It was years later before I came to understand. I [00:26:00] think about when Lisa and I first got married and we had nothing, I think about all the generosity of people when they gave us gifts. And then I think about how many times food would just appear, you know, when, when we had none and I remember like people would get a new refrigerator and they say, perhaps you could use our old one at some point, though, in this thing.
[00:26:18] Don't you think that if you've been the recipient of so many blessings, that at some point in time, it ought to turn around and you ought to be the giver instead of the receiver, that some point in time you'd go I've been so blessed. I want to now give. In fact an idea I've been wrestling with in my head.
[00:26:38] Let me just put it out here. Could it be possible that if I'm not in on the give,I'm in on the take? No, nobody wants to be considered a taker and I want to be generous, at least I believe I'm a generous person, but could it be that if you're not in on the give you're in, on the take. And it's still about what you can get instead of how you could help and make a difference.
[00:26:57] These are things to think of. And why is it so [00:27:00] important? Well, it's important because the last big idea I want to share with you- the last observation I want to share. Generous Christians could change the world. How do I know that? Why do I believe that? Oh, because I've seen it. I mean, I've experienced and history tells us that it's absolutely possible. If you know the story of the early church in the early centuries, they were under Roman occupation. They lived in the rural part of the Roman empire. Christianity, absolutely overthrew the Roman empire. And I need you to understand they didn't overthrow the Roman empire by power by force.
[00:27:37] They didn't do it by politics. They didn't do it by boycotting. They didn't do it by any means like that. They did it by their incredible inexplicable generosity. That's how they changed the world. There's so many ways to tell throughout time there were plagues. Everyone would leave. Everyone would leave the suffering behind those who were suffering.
[00:28:00] [00:27:59] Christians wouldn't leave. They would stay and help. Many people came to faith because the people who stayed were the ones who showed them, what love really looks like, and that changed them. And then they weren't going back to their old way. There's one particular story that's been passed down through time.
[00:28:15] I love this story. And if you'll allow me let me just kind of explain it to it. It's about a man named Pachomius. Let me just explain to you what happened. Okay. So history records, he was 20 years old when the Romans took over Thieves, which is his town in Greece, where he lived, his parents were pagan, and wanted him to grow up pagan.
[00:28:33] And when the Romans would come to town, they would conscript all the people that could, they could grab them, conscript them into the army. And so he was absolutely, you know, expected to be in the army because the Roman generals knew that people who were conscripted into the army would flee if they had a chance, they literally would lock these place these people up in places, they couldn't get away. Prisons. And they would hold them and, uh, until they could indoctrinate them. And in the particular time of Pachomius, what happened was a [00:29:00] famine set in a severe famine set in, and pretty soon people within the prison began to starve to death and Pachomius and his friends thought for sure that they were going to die, but then something bizarre happened.
[00:29:11] These strangers started to show up in the nighttime and they was slip food between the bars. And night after night, these people came now, you got to understand the famines out there just as it's in the prison. But somehow this group of people said, you know what? We've got to help them. And they came and they gave, and they were generous.
[00:29:28] And as a result of this generosity, Pachomius and his friends survived the famine. Well, when it was over and Pachomius was released, he began to ask questions about who those guys were. Who were these people, where did they come from? Why were they willing to feed us? And the answer just absolutely bewildered him.
[00:29:48] He was told that there were a group of followers of a man named Jesus. They were called Christians followers of the Way. When Pachomius was all done with the military, [00:30:00] all of the obligations Roman infantry were done. He immediately sought out the Christians and he learned about this Jesus. He learned about the resurrection.
[00:30:08] He learned about the miracles. And he, um, gave his life to Jesus and he said, I want to be a part of this. Eventually becoming a Christian and then becoming a leader. He was such a force. And then they even made him a Saint Saint Pachomius. He was so devoted. Um, You see everywhere Christians went, they were known for their generosity.
[00:30:34] That's what turned the world upside that's what changed the world. In fact, there was an emperor. His name was, um, Julian, the apostate. They called them the apostate because his, he was so anti-God. He was so anti-Christian his whole thing was I'm going to turn all this over and I'm going to remove it all. And yet he couldn't do it.
[00:30:52] He couldn't do it because the influence of these Christians were so powerful that the die was set and the course was [00:31:00] clear. It was Christianity that kept it from happening. So here's where I want to close this. I want to just say this folks. Generous people are grateful people, grateful people are generous people.
[00:31:14] When you realize how much you've been given you start to realize that this comes such a blessing with such an opportunity. And I believe with all my heart, that if we truly counted our blessings, we would be so much more generous. And so I pray that in these moments we spend together, we've caused that to happen in you.
[00:31:37] Uh, th this being our summer changes everything weekend, I thought it would be very appropriate that we would, um, be able to kind of give you an idea of the world of students. And so what I want to do is I want to. Take you, uh, in a little video journey here, it'll only take a couple minutes, but I want to take you up to a place that is near and dear to the hearts of many of our students.
[00:31:58] And it's a place called [00:32:00] United Christian youth camp. And, and it's where we have summer camp. Okay. And, and then there's a guy that you're going to see that's actually the one being interviewed. He's not a high school student. He's a young man, has a vibrant faith. He's actually these days on our staff, he heads up the production up on our campuses.
[00:32:16] His name is Jordan Rowan, but he's going to just kind of tell you his story. And then as soon as we get done with this, I want to, I want to add a little bit to this story. So if you would just watch this.
[00:32:28] So I remember being in elementary school and my parents had just started going to church. I was in Sunday school and I remember hearing about this God and this Jesus that loved me and his Holy spirit that lives inside of us and this heaven.
[00:32:39] And I wanted to get to this heaven. I wanted to know this Jesus. I wanted to experience the Holy spirit, but I just, I didn't know how it all worked out. I was lost. I didn't understand how it all connected. And I just remember that feeling of wondering how does this work? One Sunday morning, I heard about this thing called camp and it sounded cool.
[00:32:58] We get to go zip lining, got to [00:33:00] ride some sweet water slides, hang out with your friends and be away from your parents for four days who doesn't want to do that. And so I asked my parents, can I, can I go this? It sounds awesome. And little did I know when they said yes what I was getting myself into, this would be one of the most life changing experiences.
[00:33:16] Hearing about this Jesus in full detail was so unbelievable. It finally started coming together and I started connecting the dots. These things is heaven and this Jesus, his Holy spirit and this God that loved me. And, and it all started making sense. And one night I heard the speaker talk to us about, about this Jesus and.
[00:33:34] And asked if we wanted to accept him. And of course I said, yes, this is it. This is the moment I've been looking for. And so through that journey and through those conversations, I had this deep rooted faith that I could go back to, all thanks to camp. I developed these lifelong friendships friends that would help me after camp was over. We'd go back to our normal lives, hold me accountable. And to keep me remembering this journey of faith that I experienced at camp, that was so [00:34:00] life-changing. So throughout my years, after high school, I've been able to be involved with camp in a different way and give back to the students so they can experience what I experienced growing up and to watch the life change that happened.
[00:34:13] And remember the same life change that I've heard in me. There's nothing better, nothing better in the world than to see that happening. My name is Jordan, and this is my story.
[00:34:23] Well, I'll tell you what, I'm so proud of Jordan. And so many of the students that have been involved in this whole deal. And it's just fascinating, but I got to tell you, it gets a little closer to home because where Jordan was sitting are these campfire rocks where I first heard the gospel and he's looking, although he's looking at a camera right behind the camera is a building where I first accepted Jesus, where I walked down the aisle.
[00:34:45] And I said, yes, I want Jesus in my heart. That's where I met God and not probably 60 yards from where he's seated is where I met my wife, Lisa. And it was, it was not the same year, it was several years later, but I met my wife. [00:35:00] You see the two most significant relationships in my life happened at that camp.
[00:35:04] And I want to tell you about this camp United Christian youth camp, because it's a camp that's owned by the Christian churches in the state of Arizona. But I want to tell you something about them, I met with the leaders of this camp a couple of months ago. And it was us meeting with them. I was asking him how y'all doing.
[00:35:18] And they shared something that really caused me some concern. They basically, uh, explained about how they had to shut the camp down this summer because of the coronavirus and, and how that meant that since they were absolutely dependent upon registrations. Not offerings, uh, that they've had to cut the staff down to a minimal, they're just trying to get by.
[00:35:38] And, and so, as I thought about that, I thought about us and I thought about this incredible generosity of our people in our church. And I want to be really, really clear with you. You know, it's not like we're busting here on in the offering and that we have like no financial concerns whatsoever. I don't want to give you that impression.
[00:35:54] But what I do want you to understand is that the church has been sustained by the [00:36:00] generosity of the people by your regular week in and week out giving. But I want you to understand the camp doesn't have that. So in that conversation over lunch, I sorta thinking with them about, well, what could we do to help you?
[00:36:11] And an idea emerged. And then I, I met with my executive team. I said, Hey, got crazy idea. It's kind of emerging. And they're like, yeah. Then I met with the board and I said, okay, crazy idea. And yeah. And here's a crazy idea. Um, because we're talking about generosity and because generosity always involves trusting God and that you can't really say you're generous, unless somehow it costs you something and you sacrifice something here.
[00:36:35] Here's the idea that we want to roll out this weekend, where we're going to receive an offering this weekend and we're going to give it to the camp. We're going to give away the weekend offering to the camp so that they can. So we can share in and see we've been richly blessed, and we want to do that now.
[00:36:51] Please understand I don't do this without some anxiety about what does that mean to the church's bottom line? I don't want to have financial problems in our church. [00:37:00] But I just believe in God, big enough, a God big enough. He'll carry us. And what I want us to do is what I want to ask you to do, which is give something, give anything.
[00:37:12] Somehow sacrifice for somebody else and experience the generosity that God wants you to experience. And then I think you might understand the heart of this little boy we talked about and why Jesus is so proud of him. So here's what I, here's what I'm going to say. Get online. Give, just, give, give as little as you feel like you can.
[00:37:33] I got, I got nothing. Give that. And some of you can give big, uh, we, we have, uh, on behalf of us, I made a commitment to the camp. Actually, we're going to give them more than a weekend offering. I said we're going to give you $300,000. I'm just going to trust God to provide it. We're going to give you $300,000. I told them it would come after this weekend.
[00:37:51] We're gonna collect an offering. We're gonna give you $300,000 more than we typically get in a weekend. Folks. We're going to give it away. Please be a part of this so that God can bless you as we bless [00:38:00] others. Well, that's my part of this. Um, we're not quite done, but let me pray for this offering. And then, uh, we'll kick it back.
[00:38:09] All right. The father, get us to get this, help us to do something. And even if we feel like what we have is so little, may this be the time we take our so little and let it become something fantastically huge as we place it in your hands and you bless it and you multiply it. So God find us faithful.
[00:38:27] And I pray for this in Jesus' name. Amen. Bless you all. Thanks.