Well, welcome to central. If you have a Bible with you, go ahead and turn to Exodus. Chapter 36. Exodus is the second book in the Bible. So it's all the way toward the front. It should be easy to find. As you're turning to Exodus 36, I would love to open our time in prayer and ask that God would move in this time.
[00:00:17] So let's pray together. God we're grateful for today. We're grateful for that testimony that we just heard about generosity and how it's about saying yes. And as we just continue to unpack that idea for the next few minutes, God, would you open our hearts, open our eyes, open our ears, to the things that you want us to see and hear and feel, and the ways that you want us to change. God and as you've modeled generosity for us, so powerfully show us now in this time, what it means to follow your example and to live lives, that model generosity for the world around us. We love you so much. It's in Jesus name we pray. Amen.
[00:00:53] We're closing out our series on generosity today. And this series that we've called free to give. Free to give. And we have talked a lot about generosity over the past couple of weeks. Cal had taught, taught us about the essence of generosity. Like, like what is it? What actually is it and how can we overcome this scarcity mindset? He talked about how generosity begins where tithing ends. And then we talked about the effect of generosity. Like what can it actually do? He talked about how it's contagious and if we live this way, what happens within us and within those that are around us. And then two weeks ago, Brad Formsma talked about the expression of generosity and he used real examples of how generosity has changed so many lives of people that he has seen and that he's gotten to be a part of. Finally, last week we talked about really the grand expression of our generosity. We talked about. All that God is doing all over the world through our church. And we know that it's God doing the work that we're just saying yes. Like Jessica said in her testimony, we're just saying, yes, God use us. And God is doing some incredible stuff to impact the entire world and really to reach places that are incredibly unreached. Man we've been taught. We've been encouraged. We've been challenged in profound ways, and I've been convicted by this idea, really building off of last weekend, that as we close our series out today, really generosity comes to fruition as it goes out. Generosity isn't just an idea. Like it's something that we do. Generosity does stuff. It goes somewhere. It's a lot less philosophy and a lot more physical education. It does things. It goes places.
[00:02:44] Generosity is actualized by whether or not there's fruit. And I know that that's a fine line because we don't want to give or live generously so that other people can see. But you know, just like, I know this is just true. If fig trees could talk, which that would be amazing, no matter how good they were at persuasive dialogue a fig tree could not convince you that it was an Apple tree. Cause you'll just have to look at it and go, I don't see any apples. Like, are there apples or aren't there, then that's not an Apple tree. That's not how this works. And I think generosity is the same way in our lives and in our actions when we take that next step, when we actually engage in generosity, people notice because it's actually changing things, stuff is happening, things are moving.
[00:03:32] We could all sit around for hours and hours and hours and hours talking about cars and all the ins and outs of how you put together a car and how a car runs in different types of cars. Just forever we could talk about cars, but that's not actually going to get us anywhere. At some point, we've got to get in the car and go. At some point, we got to get in the car and go, and generosity is the same way. And it's not about a performance, but I just believe with everything inside of me, that our world needs to look at our church and see incredible fruit of generous people that are all about giving of ourselves for the betterment of those around us. God wants to build things in us. In you, and in me that bless all people. It's a beautiful thing to strive for.
[00:04:20] Like I said earlier today, we're going to talk about a story out of Exodus 36. It's a story of people being generous. People saying yes, people getting involved and really how that can change things and the things that we can build together. If we'll just say yes, if we're willing to actually engage in generosity, there's no limit to how God can use us. This story is about a group of people coming together, a group of God's people getting involved in this work.
[00:04:49] And I think the same offer, the same invitation is available to you and to me today, If we're being honest, much of what has happened at central at our church is because of the generosity of a few, not the obedience of many. And that sounds harsh. But to be honest with you, it's just not how it was intended to be. God has different plans for you. He wants you to get involved and praise God and amen to those faithful few that have carried us. But come on, it's time for you and me to get to work. God is inviting us into that.
[00:05:23] So Exodus, a quick recap on the book of Exodus and what has happened in the first 35 or so chapters that get us to this point. Some of you might know some of this story. God used this guy, Moses to save his people out of slavery and Egypt, and Moses leads the people out into the desert and they're on their way to the promised land that God is going to offer to them and God has provided for them in incredible ways, but they've been through a ton.
[00:05:49] I mean, it's been crazy. It's been very trying times for the Israelite people as they're making their way to the promised land. And God, re-establishes the covenant with Moses that he made all the way back to Abraham. He says, Hey, I'm still here. I'm still being faithful. I haven't left you. I haven't gone anywhere. And he re-establishes the covenant. And then he reveals these 10 commandments to Moses about how to live and about how to be Holy and about how to worship God. You might've heard of them. They're called the 10 commandments. And then he reveals the plans to Moses for how God's people should build the tabernacle or the temple or the Holy place where God will dwell among his people. Like actually building a place that's going to hold the presence of God.
[00:06:38] And then there's a bunch of chapters in a row about specific guidelines and instructions for how to build this tabernacle. And after all the planning and all the direction and all the talking about stuff, our story picks up. So let's read together Exodus 36 starting in verse one, it says this.
[00:06:57] So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded.
[00:07:11] All right. Pause really quick. I love this. Did you catch this right at the beginning of verse one? There's this transitional statement. So. Even literarily they're telling us that this is a turning point. The time for just planning and directions and talking about stuff is over it's time to get to work. Just like it is for us today. We talked about this stuff we've learned. We've gotten the instructions. We've made the plans. Now it's time to engage. Now. It's time to say yes, it's time to get to work.
[00:07:41] During quarantine, like a lot of you, I had a ton of meetings over zoom in my house. And my wife would overhear some of these meetings and she asked me once, why do you guys say let's circle back on that later? So freaking much like every five minutes in one of your meetings, we'll circle back on that later. And I didn't have a good answer for I'm like, Because we're dumb. We don't have enough words, you know what I mean? But we can get so caught up in this let's circle back mindset, not just in our work, but in our faith. And we're just circling back. We're talking, we're trying to plan or trying to just talk and have new ideas and plan and plan and plan. And at some point, the time for circling back on that later needs to be over. And I think it's right now, the time to work has come. There's a fine line between being patient or intentional and just flat out stalling. And I think a lot of us are just stalling on yes, to being generous, to getting engaged in this work.
[00:08:38] So the people of God are going to build this temple, the sanctuary, this Tabernacle. They're going to build this sort of portable temple. That's going to house God's presence so that God can be with his people as they're traveling.
[00:08:52] It was a big deal. Sometimes in the Bible, this same thing that they're building is called the tent of meeting. Where God meets with his people. It was hugely important in that day, because it was their reassurance that God was with them, that he hadn't left. That he's on the journey with them. This might be another sermon for another day, but this means that God is with you when you're on the move.
[00:09:13] Sometimes we think we gotta be quiet and sit still for God to show up. But now we know that God travels with us. He leads our way. We don't have a stationary God. Our God moves us and moves with us. So that's what the tabernacle or the temple was for them at that point in time. But the news gets even better for you and for me. Jesus died for the sins of all mankind. He established new covenant and when he died, the veil tore in the temple. Breaking down the barrier between God and his people, because Jesus paid the price for the sins of all time, allowing full access to God for every single one of us. We don't have to go to any tent of meeting to be with God we've been given complete access as sons and daughters.
[00:10:08] To take it even a step further. The apostle Paul writes about this in his second letter to the church in Corinth. He says this second Corinthians six
[00:10:16] What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? Look at this. This is massive news. For we are the temple of the living God. You and me. For we are the temple of the living God, as God has said, I will live with them and walk among them. I will be their God and they will be my people.
[00:10:37] So we are the temple. Us and our new covenant. We are the tabernacle. We are the tent of meeting God dwells in us. We house the presence of God. We have the Holy spirit of the living. God, and this is so beautiful. If we're going to join the people and Exodus 36 to build, to give our lives to building the tabernacle, building the temple. We're not building something. We're building us. We're building us. This isn't a one-time project. This is an ongoing way of life. This is an expression of our worship and our trust in a God that has given us everything. This is us saying, yes, I'm going to build into us because we are the temple of the living God, it's amazing. That's what we're building. Just like it says in verse one. So this is a turning point. It's time to get to work.
[00:11:34] As we go through these verses in our time today, I want to end kind of each section with a few reflection questions, things that you can try to ask yourself and be honest in your own heart to try to apply to your life. Questions for you to sit in, to have to kind of make friends with what's holding you back from joining in this work?
[00:11:57] There's a lot of answers. You got to find yours. What's holding you back from joining in this work? Does God need to break your heart for the needs around you? Does God need to break your heart for the needs around you? It's easy to feel overwhelmed or, or apathetic to the needs of the world. Cause there's just so much, it's hard to wrap our heads around and go, man, there's too much to fix. Do you feel numb? Do you feel like it's just all white noise at this point? Cause I pray that God would break your heart for something today. Right now. That God would break your heart, that he would engage your heart and the brokenness that you see around you.
[00:12:38] Second question, does God need to reorient your idea of what it means to follow Jesus cause we've been sold this consumeristic me first Christianity that has completely stunted our growth and it's enabled us to stay infants for as long as we want to. And I pray that we would break out of that. I pray that God would open our eyes to the truth that following Jesus was always about what you are giving, not what you're getting. You've been given everything. Now. It's about, what's your giving. And dying to yourself every single day. Do you feel held back because you still kind of think it's all about you? What is holding you back from joining in this work? Let's jump back in. I'm going to read verse one again, and then we'll, we'll keep going through verse two.
[00:13:23] Verse one. So Bezalel, Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary are to do the work just as the Lord has commanded verse two, then Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability and who was willing to come and do the work.
[00:13:49] Look at the qualifications of who was joining in on this work, every skilled person to whom the Lord had given ability, but don't miss the second part and who was willing to come and do the work. When we think about what qualifies or disqualifies us for kingdom work, we usually only think about the first part of that equation don't we? We think about our skills or our gifts or our calling purpose, whatever you want to call it. And you're like, I don't know, man. I don't know that I have enough resources to be generous. I don't know that I have enough skill to be generous. I don't know that I have enough ability to be generous.
[00:14:27] And first off, yes you do. You remember the story of that old widow that blew Jesus away with her generosity? You know, she gave two small coins that really held zero value in that economy. But she was willing, she was willing to show up. She was willing to say yes, she was willing to give and willingness plays a much bigger role in all of this than we often think a lot of us are way more able than we are willing.
[00:14:55] I'm way more able than I am willing. I got to grow. I got to get better. What would it look like for your willingness to catch up to your ability? Like really? What would it look like for your willingness to catch up to your ability? What would happen to the church? What would happen to your workplace or your school or your neighborhood?
[00:15:18] God doesn't need rich people to be Christians. He needs people who are rich and their willingness. And I'm like, man, I only have a little bit of stuff. My resources are limited, but I'm rich in my willingness. I got willingness. For days I'll show up. I'm ready. I'm willing. I'll say yes. What would it take to make you willing for real like, well, what's it going to take?
[00:15:40] Because there's a need right now, we can meet the needs of the world around us right now. We can do this together. We can give shelter to people that actually need it, and not in like some goofy, symbolic way. Like actually provide roofs over people's heads. We can feed the hungry, we can help support those who are in financial need. We can find homes and families for children who need them. We can do that. We can find homes and families for children who actually need them. We can support pastors and missionaries that are on the front lines, trying to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. We can support the ministry of this church. As we are working to bring the kingdom of God, to Arizona and all over the world. We can give clothes to people who don't have them. We can teach English to refugees and immigrants that are trying to find work here and make a life here while learning a language we can serve with kids and students and come alongside them in the most formidable years of their lives, we can actually do this. There's plenty of work. There's plenty to do. Are you able? But, but are you willing to get involved?
[00:16:53] Again let me ask you a couple of questions for you to think through. What's holding you back from joining in this work and just like Jessica said in her testimony, are you saying yes. Are you raising your hand? Think about it for you. I can't answer it for you. Are you raising your hand? Are you making it known that your willing, are you asking around to see where the need is? Like, are you making yourself and your stuff available to others? Are you actually raising your hand going? Yeah. Hey, over here, I'll get involved. I'll say yes.
[00:17:26] I was convicted by this. Cause I think a lot of times myself and a lot of us were doing that thing that we did in classrooms growing up, right where the teacher asks somebody to read. And you are doing everything in your power to look everywhere in the room, other than at your teacher. So you don't get called on. Think it was somebody want to read from chapter four. You're just like, you're like fake asleep. That's better. I won't have to write like anything to not get called on. Sometimes we do that with our generosity too. Are you raising your hand? And the second one, are you forgetting who your ability comes from? Are you forgetting who your ability comes from? And both of these verses that we've read so far, there's some version of every skilled person to whom the Lord has given skill or ability. Did you forget what's in you? Did you forget that the almighty creator God of the universe uniquely wired you for world changing work? You. Not somebody else, not just people who are famous for it, not just pastors. You God has uniquely wired you to get involved with this work. He gifted you. He gave you the skills. Are you willing? Let's read verse three, Exodus 36:3 let's keep going.
[00:18:41] They received from Moses, all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary and the people continued to bring free will offerings morning after morning.
[00:18:54] I love this. There's so much that we can focus on. I just want to hit a couple of different points. The first part is how everybody came together to do their part. There were different skills, different abilities. They brought their willingness, they brought their offerings. They actually brought resources. It was a team effort. There was this momentum that everybody caught the vision of and said, Oh yeah, for this, for work this important yet, I'll say, yes, I'm involved. I'll bring what I have. Cause it's different than what you have. But I'll bring what I have. What did, what did God give you to bring to this work? You take a step farther. What did God make you to bring? Like what did he put in you to give, to bring to this work? And if I could just be straight with you, if you, if you don't bring what God gave you to bring to this work, who do you think is going to bring it? How do you think the kingdom is going to be advanced? If we don't bring the things that God has given us and man, I got no experience in building Tabernacles. I struggled with like Ikea bookshelves to be honest, but I know enough to know that this isn't going to build itself.
[00:20:01] If the church was designed that everybody would do their part to move the mission forward and you don't do your part, we're going to have some missing parts.
[00:20:11] And, and believe me, God's going to move the church of Jesus Christ will spread the gates of hell will not prevail. I believe all that. But how do you think stuff works? If we don't, we all bring our stuff so that we can make Jesus known in our world because I'm not good at what you're good at. I don't have the experience or the resources or the expertise that you have, and you don't have the experience and the resources that I have. If you don't come, if you don't give what you have, if you don't join us in this work, who's going to do what God made you to do. This is how this works. It's this beautiful mix of all of us bringing in what God gave us and made us to do. And when we come together, nothing can stop us. In Jesus' name.
[00:21:01] It reminds me of every missions trip I went on growing up and I've even gotten to lead some of them being a youth pastor. It's amazing. Cause you always get to a house or a church or whatever it is. And they're like, all right, we're going to do some landscaping today. And we're going to paint this entire house today with a bunch of 14 year olds and you're like amazing, great. I can't wait for this. And then there's always like a random pile of tools. That's never really the right tools. And it's like, 10 rakes and 20 paint brushes with one paint tray. And you're like, okay, I got it. And like a couple shovels, like, Oh man, how could this go wrong? This is going to be an amazing work project, but guess what? It always gets done. Somehow you look at it. I got a bunch of 14 year olds. This kid's swinging a shovel at his friend, but we get the house painted. God's going to meet us there, whatever we have to bring, whatever God's given us, whoever he's made us to be. He'll meet us there. Remember we are the temple. We are the tent of meeting. He meets us as we bring our stuff and we accomplish things, bring hope into hopeless places.
[00:22:07] That's what we can be a part of. What a beautiful vision, what could stop us, what could possibly get in our way? The second thing I love about verse three is this line. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. What a challenge. Imagine that we were so faithful in our generosity, if we were so engaged in how we gave freely and how we said yes, that we could start on projects, just trusting that the funding or the work is going to keep coming.
[00:22:40] What an opportunity to look like God. Just a few chapters before what we're reading in today and Exodus 16. You might know that God provides manna literal bread from heaven every morning to feed his people. It's this beautiful miracle, but now in Exodus 36, he's using his people's generosity. His people's willingness to say yes to bring the manna every morning to provide every day that we bring the manna.
[00:23:06] So many times we read the Bible and we get frustrated. Why doesn't God do awesome stuff. Like he used to, why doesn't he drop bread from heaven anymore? It was like, cause he gave it to you to bring.
[00:23:19] Why doesn't God work like that anymore? He does. He works through you. He's given you the ability, maybe the ability you, the resources, me, the resources to bring the manna fresh every morning. I wonder if we think that the lack of miracles that we see in our culture is because there's a lack of us actually showing up and saying yes to the work.
[00:23:40] If we would just be willing to get involved, we can provide the manna just like God did for his people. What is holding you back from joining in this work? A couple of questions. Can you think of anything that's more important than this? Like, actually think about it. Could you imagine giving your time or your resources to anything more pressing or more valuable? Then joining in the work of building the kingdom of God? Can you think about anything? Try it. Can you think about anything that is more substantial than you actually being a part of the church of Jesus Christ as it spreads its light and life all throughout the world?
[00:24:25] Second question. Are you worried every morning about how you're going to get yours or how much you're going to get for yourself every morning? Gotta check this account. Gotta check that account. What am I going to work on today? I got to provide, I got to get more. I got to get more. I got to get more. Or every morning, like the people in Exodus. Are you worried about how much you're going to give, how you're going to say yes. How you're going to get engaged? To the work?
[00:24:53] Let's finish out this story. It has a really cool ending verse four. So all the skilled craftsmen who are doing all the work on the sanctuary, left their work and said to Moses, the people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done. Verse six, then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp. No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary. And so the people were restrained from bringing more because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.
[00:25:27] Oh my goodness. Can you imagine this? Like think about it for real, they had more than enough to do all the work. Can you imagine if somebody got up on this stage one week and we're like during offering time, we're like, Hey guys, please do not bring anything. Like don't bring money. Don't stop giving. We have way too much. Offerings canceled this week. Cause we're just tearing it up. We have more than enough for the work.
[00:25:55] It seems so unrealistic until I remember who our ability and who our resources come from on our own. Yeah. This can never happen. But when you have a group of people that are so on fire for a living God, and what he's doing throughout the world, when you have a group of people that are so bought into a vision and they've joined the work and no matter what obstacles are in their way, they're going, I'm going to say, yes, I'm going to show up. I'm able and I'm willing. Anything can happen. That's just the type of God that we have. We have a God of abundance and now we've come full circle because in the first week of this series, pastor Cal talked about this scarcity mindset. We're just trying to keep everything. I think that we have to be safe, man, as a cancer to our souls, into our churches, we need to hold on to everything we get just to be safe. Just to make sure.
[00:26:45] And we hoard all these things to make sure we'll be fine. We'll be protected. We'll be insured, but we serve this God of abundance that has given us everything. And when we show up, when we take the invitation and say, yes, when we join in on the work, there is no limit to what he can do through us. There's no limit to what he can build in us. And it's so easy to get discouraged. When we look at our world or our country or our communities, man, there's just so much work to be done. How will this ever work? Look at me because we have a big God.
[00:27:30] We have more than enough to do this work. We have the skills that God has given us. We have the resources that God has given us and yes we have a lot of work to do, but I know we're up for it because we are the temple of the living God. We're not building anything to keep ourselves safe. We're not building anything to make a name for ourselves. We're building into ourselves as the temple of God to be sent out to the front lines of this world, to bring home those who have runaway. To be sent out to the front lines, to heal those who have been beaten up. To be sent out to the front lines to love those who have been hated and mistreated to be sent out to the front lines, to close those who have been stripped to restore those who have been broken.
[00:28:18] In Jesus name, there is nothing that can stand in our way. We have more than enough to do this work. If we'll just show up, if we'll say yes, if we'll get engaged. And this work, our ability comes from God. Are we willing to show up? Are you willing to be a part of this? Let me pray for you.
[00:28:50] God, we love you so much. And what a challenging example from, from these Israelite people in Exodus 36. How they trusted you and we can read a bunch of stories, got about how they screwed up, just like we screw up. But in this story, God, they trusted. They said yes to the invitation. They were able and they were willing to get involved.
[00:29:15] And I just pray that for our church, I pray that we would be a church marked by not just our ability, but our willingness to get involved. Our willingness to show up God, even in the, even in the hard places, the places that seem too dark, God that we would show up, we would say yes, make us a generous people God. Make us a people that give freely every morning. We're not worried about keeping everything for ourselves, God, but that we are motivated and purposed to go out and to change the world. As you work through us. We love you so much as in Jesus' name that we pray. Amen.