Good morning central. How's everyone doing? Such an honor to be with you, to all my friends watching and Glendale, and Tempe, Queen Creek, Mesa, all of you online. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. My name's Steve Carter. If we've not met, um, I moved to Phoenix a couple of years ago. My wife is from here. Her name is Sarah.
[00:00:20] So I refer to this great state as Sarah zona and, um, I love the chance to be a part. Of this church. And a few weeks ago, I had the privilege to speak on the last night of high school camp. And after that service 20 plus students came forward, given their life to Christ being baptized. And I just, I just think the world of your student ministry, I think that they are doing incredible, incredible work.
[00:00:48] Well today we are going to continue in this series called the credentialed life, and I've been given the task to teach on the. Kindness. I think our world would be a little bit better if we were more kind. Don't you agree? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. If you want to know where kindness doesn't live, um, it's name is true.
[00:01:08] If you, if you want to know where kindness gets like even crazier, the next door app, you've been on that recently, crazy. And people aren't even telling you which neighborhood they live in. It's bizarre, but I'll tell you this what kindness isn't. And I learned this from my friend, Ashley Ireland. She's an amazing pastor.
[00:01:26] She wrote a book that came out last year, called humankind, really talks about what kindness is and how we desperately need it. She says that kindness. Is not niceness. And I think sometimes we think of kindness as being really, really soft. It's just the sense of us being nice to one another, but kindness is not niceness.
[00:01:48] It's so much deeper. And the original language, the word kindness in Greek is the word Christ studies. Let me hear you say crazy. You got to say it, but you got to put a little oomph into it. Yes, right there. I like that resonant. Well done. Well, here's, here's the deal. I'm still in paying back my college loans.
[00:02:08] So I, this helps me every time. Every month I write that check is when you all repeat it back to me, it makes me feel like I learned something that's still making me pay today. So can you with everything in you say Cray started. Well done well done. Now, this is what the idea of kindness was. The idea of kindness was when you actually do some thing of profound.
[00:02:33] Good. Another and do not expect anything in return. That's kindness, you doing something so profoundly good for another and not expecting anything in return. See, I think that when we're like, I'm just going to open the door for you. There's a whole movement of like random acts of kindness. Rush really is random acts of niceness.
[00:02:58] And I think for many of us, we do something hoping if I do this, then you'll. If I do this for my spouse, then, then they'll do this for me. If I do this for my kids, then they'll do this for me. If I do this for, uh, an employee, then they'll do this for me. But friends, I'm telling you when Paul writes about living this credentialed life, it's about the spirit of God doing something inside of us.
[00:03:22] That is so about the other that doesn't expect something in return. And for me, this can't happen by sheer will. This happens when you go deep with Jesus, Jesus even says that you will know who my disciples and the Hebrew, that word is Talmud deem. You will know who my disciples, my town, the Dee, my apprentices are by the fruit that their life bears.
[00:03:51] And Paul says, man, you know, that's. If you're going to be someone who embodies the fruit of the spirit, it's going to be kindness. It's going to be one of the central activities of a life that goes deep with Jesus. Kindness. What I want to do today is I want to take you back to the ancient near east, and I want to teach you something.
[00:04:12] That's probably very. Uh, and in many ways you've probably memorize this verse or this prayer, but what I want you to see in my opinion, how this prayer manifests God's desire and God's heartbeat for how we can be more kind in this world that we live in. If you have a Bible turn with me to Luke chapter 11, verse one, and I love the sound of a church, just turning pages in the book.
[00:04:37] And in Luke chapter 11, verse one, it simply says this one day, Jesus, who was a rabbi who would travel around teaching and offering up new interpretations. One day, Jesus was praying in a certain place when he finished one of his Talmud deem his disciples, his apprentices said to him, Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.
[00:05:02] Now, when you ask someone, teach me to pray, you weren't like. What do I do when I pray? Do I close my hands? Do I bow my head or close my eyes? And for some of us, we are taught when we asked, how do we pray? Someone taught us the ax model, you know, start with adoration, then go to confession, then dues, Thanksgiving, and then lastly supplication.
[00:05:24] But none of us ever knew what the word supplication meant. And for many of us, we were taught this philosophy of like how we are to pray. That's not the question these days. And remember these disciples, 10 of them are high school aged students. Peter's probably a little bit older in college and one's probably just in junior high and they're asking their rabbi, teach me how to pray.
[00:05:46] But what they're really asking is Jesus. What do you want to accomplish here on earth? That is what would you would say when you are asking a rabbi to teach me how to pray? You were literally asking him, Hey, what gets you up in the morning? What are you begging? God? What do you hope to see manifested in your ministry?
[00:06:10] This was like a mission statement and truth. Be told. I meet many sincere Christ followers and I ask them, Hey, tell me about your prayer life. What are you praying for? And they'll pray, pray for my family, praying for a job, praying for safety, praying for health, but there isn't like a mission. I'm like, Hey, how do you pray?
[00:06:31] And they walk me through a philosophy of how they pray and which chair they pray and which room they pray in. But it's not anything that literally gets them up in the morning. And this is what Jesus wanted to teach you and what he wanted to teach his disciples. And so in Matthew chapter six, he walks through the same passage in Luke 11, but I just like how it said in Matthew six is what we know is the Lord.
[00:06:55] And Matthew six verse nine. It says this hour, either in heaven, hallowed, be your name. I love it. Jesus starts. And he's telling his disciples. If you want to know how I pray, I pray our father because I recognize that we are God's children. I recognize that we are brothers and sisters. My ministry, whole intent is to help people understand that they have access to my father.
[00:07:21] That's why. Do they can step foot in the presence of God and have access to this great father. It's not just my father, but this God is heartbeat is for all of humanity. Our father who's in heaven. And then there's a word that many of us don't know what it means. Hallowed be your name and this word hallowed literally means holy and set apart is your name, our father in heaven.
[00:07:44] Holy instead of parts is your name, but I imagine these high school aged disciples are sitting there. How do we make God's name hallowed here on earth? Ha how do I know God's name is holy? I know it was like Elohim and Yahweh in the Hebrew language. I know it was like big and other, but like how do I make that name?
[00:08:07] So holy for my friends who were far from God. Oh, for those disciples, the Roman empire. How do I help people see the magnificent. Of God's goodness. And God's glory here on earth. And I want you to understand that this prayer, this prayer is profoundly spiritual and deeply tangible, profoundly spiritual, and deeply tangible.
[00:08:35] And then many of us, we grew up memorizing this and we just learned it and we can probably even recite it with our eyes closed, but deep down, I think we've missed. How profoundly spiritual, how deeply tangible this is. And this is what I want you to see, because if you can understand what Jesus was trying to teach his apprentices, I think we will be able to manifest kindness and live out this credentialed life more deeply and profoundly with every person we come across.
[00:09:06] Look what it says in Matthew six, verse 10, your kingdom. And it's all under the guise of how do we make God's name hallowed here on earth. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Dallas Willard says the kingdom is literally the rule and reign of God. So like your kingdom, your rule, your rain come your will your desire, your intention be done on earth as it is in heaven.
[00:09:40] I simple prayer that I started praying many, many years ago. That's when I move into a new city, I would just start to pray in Arizona as it is in heaven in Maricopa county, as it is in heaven, in Phoenix, as it is in heaven with the Phoenix suns, as it is in heaven and the snore and foothills where I live as it is.
[00:10:07] Of Davalle valley exit, as it is. And heaven. I started walking down to my street as it is and heaven, and I get to the point where I even look at my own life and go, may your kingdom come, may your rule and reign come, may your good desires and intent for my life. Your will be done, not just in Arizona, not just in Maricopa, not just here in central Christian, not just here in Phoenix and beyond put in me as it is.
[00:10:37] And heaven. And if we were actually going to be the kind of people that manifest kindness, where we are doing profound, good, expecting nothing in return, then we have to be the kind of people who deeply they understand how spiritual this prayer is and how deeply tangible it is. So how do we do it? Look what Jesus says.
[00:10:54] Verse 11, verse 11. He says this, give us today. Our daily. Give us today, our daily bread. Now, many of us grew up and we learned about these devotions called our daily bread. And I remember early on in kind of my faith journey, I would get these and I would read them. And the whole idea was that God's word was like the bread of life, kind of taken off that I am statement where Jesus says I'm the bread of life.
[00:11:20] And we saw that, like this could feed our spiritual soul. Uh, God's word. It would like literally it's, it's, it's inspired and inspired, literally means heaven's breath. And this is like the breath that we breathe and it inspires us to be the people God has called us to be, but what's amazing is that's profoundly spiritual and we need to.
[00:11:46] And John 15, 10 times in the first 10 verses it talks about how we must remain in the vine, remain in Christ. Some translations say abide in abide comes from the word abode, which literally means to make your home. And the goal for every single one of us is to remain abide abode, make our home in Christ and Jesus.
[00:12:06] When you do this, you're going to bear to the kind of fruit, as amazing as growing up as a, as a preacher, people used to always say, Steve, you got to keep the main thing. The main. That is funny that Jesus just teaches. All of his disciples is to keep the remain thing, the main thing. And when you begin to remain studying God's word, it's going to feed you.
[00:12:26] And when it feeds you, your heart and your mind become more like Christ. But imagine growing up under Roman occupation, imagine being taxed so much money. Imagine not knowing where your next meal would come from. Imagine the worry and the anxiety and the fear. And Jesus, I believe is saying something so beautiful saying, Hey, give us today.
[00:12:57] Our daily bread. Yes, let me go deeper with Jesus. Let me go deeper with God. Let me go deeper with the holy spirit, but what I'm praying for, I'm praying that everybody would have bread. Profoundly spiritual and deeply practical. See kindness is not niceness, but kindness embodies God's truth. So when you find yourself deep with God's word, it's not just supposed to stay with you.
[00:13:27] There's not like a Hoover dam that just holds up all the grace with. It has to flow through you. And Jesus is saying my dream, my prayer for my disciples in the church, it's literally that they would seek after God they've the remain thing, the main thing. But man, they would make sure that everyone, their myths has enough bread to eat.
[00:13:49] It goes even farther. Right? Then it says this verse 12 and forgive us our debts it's as we also have forgiven our debtors. Now the word forgive is the word a female and Hebrew and a female literally means like to, to like almost release and send away has it's like picture of the day of atonement or basically the whole nation of Israel would put their sins and there's like go.
[00:14:14] And basically the sh lamb would be like sent out. It would be like released and sent away almost signifying that all of the deaths were gone. And what's so amazing about this is when we understand the gospel story of Jesus. He forgave us of our debts, something profoundly spiritual. The more that we'd go deeper with Jesus, keep the remain thing.
[00:14:34] The main thing, the more we're going to understand how forgiveness is so central to the hearts of God. But imagine once again, you live in Roman occupation and in Roman occupation, you are taxed and not just tax, but Rome is trying to take more and more of your. And you've grown up and this has been your land and you have, I've held onto your land.
[00:15:03] Your history is connected to this land and the Empire's taking it. If you ever then with someone who's just racked up thousands of pumps, thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and they just feel trapped. It's amazing to me, that chase credit card, you know what they call their credit card, the freedom card.
[00:15:25] It does not bring freedom. It just brings slavery. And for many of us we've gotten caught up in that thinking it's freeing us, but it's only freeing us into more and more bondage. I sat with someone recently and they had some health issues and they'd racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills, not just the fear, the anxiety.
[00:15:52] Have you ever sat with someone maybe in the late two thousands, maybe in the nineties and someone who had just felt like they were going to lose their house and the fear and the anxiety and Jesus was seeing this happen. He was traveling around the ancient near east and he was seeing people who were on the verge of losing their property.
[00:16:14] He goes, you know what? My dream is, my dream is that people have bread. And my dream is that people understand forgiveness of sins, but they also help forgive people of their debts so that they can live, not an anxiety, worry or fear, but they can walk and freedom. Can you imagine a kind of church. They went so deeply spiritual with Jesus and the spirit and the love of God that they understood the word and they understood forgiveness, but they lived the kind of life that ensure that everyone had something to eat and they ensure that people weren't walking in fear and debt, but they actually could walk and freedom, not expecting anything in return.
[00:16:57] That was Jesus, his dream. And he goes, when you do this, it's like heaven invade. Earth. It's like God's dream invades, the tangible right here and right now, and then to do this though, it's not just a church being nice. It's a church that understands that kindness. One embodies God's truth and kindness, dignifies God's people because they recognize everyone is only one prayer away.
[00:17:30] Even Milwaukee bucks. Everyone matters to the heart of God. And so it wasn't some way to say, oh no, no, we can't actually help you with your debt. We can't help you. We don't want you to, we are okay with you walking in fear and anxiety. No, no, no, no. It said we are going to be the kind of people who understand a female, understand forgiveness, understand what Jesus did for us on the cross.
[00:17:54] And we want to do that when it comes to spiritual matters. And we want to do that when it comes to financial. And then Jesus ends the prayer with this and lead us, not into temptation, but deliver us from evil and lead us, not into temptation. And the temptation is to make this about us. The temptation is to live in if then life, if I do this for you, then you will do this.
[00:18:25] The temptation is to co-op something for our benefit and literally evil CS Lewis defined it as co-opted good in our, culture's fantastic at doing this when it comes to power, co-opting it for our benefit money, co-opting it for our benefits sex. Co-opting it for us. And often we miss out on the heart of God.
[00:18:52] And the temptation is, is that Christ followers have to understand the gospel of Jesus giving to us freely giving to us. We cannot earn grace. We cannot earn salvation. All we can do is receive it. And the gift of kindness when that is manifested by the holy spirit in us, is that we know how to give, because we recognize that kindness embodies God.
[00:19:17] Kindness, dignifies God's people and kindness, preserves God's creation and anything that gets in the way of that we recognize is the temptation of the evil, trying to co-opt it for our own benefit or for his motivation. And when we fall into that, it's like heaven gets farther away from invading and taking up residence in our city or in our home.
[00:19:47] Or in our church or in our neighborhood, kindness is a big deal, profound, good for another expecting nothing in return. And this is how the first church lived their life. And I want you to see this. And again, remember that these, these are high school aged student. Who've been entrusted after Jesus's death, burial and resurrection.
[00:20:12] They have been in trusted deleted church. And it's not just the church of a couple hundred people. This church because of acts two in the giving of the holy spirit has now grown to over 3000 people. And I imagine like these sophomores in high school going, dude, what are we you gonna do? I don't know.
[00:20:27] What should we do? Like seriously, what are we? I don't know what to do. What should we do? And I imagine one of them going, Hey, remember when Jesus. You asked him, you asked him the question, you asked him, teach us how to pray. And he says, this is what I hope to see. We should probably just do that. And I want you to see a familiar passage and scripture, many churches have been planted and started and modeled after this section of scripture that I want you to read.
[00:20:54] And I'm here to tell you all it is, is the incarnation of the Lord's prayer. And if you don't believe me, just. Acts 2 42 through 47 says this, they, this is being the first church. They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread. And to the prayer. So you think of this, you got this, this first crew and what are they going to devote themselves?
[00:21:21] We're going to vote ourselves to teaching. That's going to help us embody and keep the remain thing, the main thing to fellowship, because we actually understand that this is better together and we are truly choosing community. And this word fellowship literally means to be on mission together. And so this idea that they had common, yes.
[00:21:41] Together. If we make it, I make it. And then they were breaking bread. Fascinating spiritual. Yes, probably a reminder of the communion and what Jesus did on the cross, but deeply practical cause people around a table and to prayer, to embodying the Lord's prayer continues on everyone. Everyone. And imagine people who are filled with anxiety and worry, not knowing where their next meal would come, not knowing if they were going to lose their land.
[00:22:10] People who had been ostracized by the Roman empire, who didn't think that they were worthy enough. Everyone verse 43 was filled with all at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. And look at this verse 40. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need, forgive us, our debts.
[00:22:41] As we forgive our debtors, I do not want, I want you to walk in fear or anxiety or worry, and we are relentless and incarnating. The Lord's prayer every day. They continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread. In their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. They did not have like the spirit of like, I'm giving you food.
[00:23:06] Where are you going to do? For me? There was the sense of joy that people were coming to the table. There was a sense of joy that people were able to walk and freedom. There was the sense of joy that God had entrusted them with this sense of kindness, that embodied God's truth. This sense of kindness, that dignified God's people, this sense of kindness that preserve God's creation.
[00:23:32] And they were like, I get to do this. In other words, sincere in Greek, the Greek language is fascinating because if you add like a letter a before any other word, it means like anti, like against not of. And so sincere is the word, ah, hypocrite, which literally means anti hypocrite. And so when somebody was sincere, they were someone who didn't wear a mask, you actually saw who they really were see in the Roman and Greek reality and world you'd have these massive amphitheaters.
[00:24:11] I mean, emphasis is that 25,000 people you'd have an actor who would come out and you have a bag of masks and you put the masks. And he would pretend to be a persona and they pretend to perform. And to be someone he'd often have three or four masks in a bag and he would just put them on be pretending to be a different character.
[00:24:29] Later on too often times many of us in the church were just good at wearing a different mask. And when we are good and sincere of what Jesus is up to in us and what the spirit is doing with us, we can drop the mass and we can. We can celebrate it. Cause we're not expecting anything in return because what we receive because of grace, we didn't deserve it and we can show up and we can be honest.
[00:24:58] Ah, man, my marriage is struggling and I got this dad, I got this addiction. I'm struggling. And all of a sudden we can watch how the local church because of Christ and be in tuned to Christ and keep it the remain thing, the main thing, and the spirit doing what the spirit does. We actually can be about profound, good for another and not expect anything in return.
[00:25:23] And when a church is like this, something profound happens. Look what it says. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, verse 47, praising God and enjoy. The favor of all the people and the Lord added to their number daily, those who are being saved because who wouldn't want to be a part of that.
[00:25:47] And literally what this verse is describing is heaven invading that context. And so a church of 3000 just began to grow and grow and grow and grow and grow. Friends. Can you imagine if we were the kind of people who said, man, I want to live this credentialed life. I want to be the kind of person that gives the spirit more power to move.
[00:26:11] I want to be an embody, the kindness of God that doesn't expect anything in return and I'm willing to forgive and help people walk in freedom. I'm willing to go deeper in God's word, but I'm also how we're willing to help people who don't have food. Somehow heaven, invades that and people get to see what God's heart is all about.
[00:26:34] A number of years ago, I, uh, had the privilege to kind of share the stage with one of your pastors here at central is a man by the name of Dean keys. Some of you probably know. Dean. And I had the privilege to, um, share some final thoughts and remarks about a man that was very, very dear to us was Dean's best friend and growing up.
[00:26:59] And it was my mentor. And I remember, um, I was living in Chicago at the time, and I remember that they were having a hard time finding out a location of where they were going to meet because. They thought, ah, it's probably about 150 people will show up to the funeral and then they kept getting word that no 500 people.
[00:27:17] So they found a new venue. Then they found out 750 people. So they found our new venue. It finally ended on a venue that was just sat almost 2000 people. And so I show up to this funeral, NAS pat, and I'll never forget these words, that Dean ke shared when talking about his best friend, he said that this man's life.
[00:27:40] Was like one gigantic welcome mat and everywhere he went, he literally put out the welcome mat. Didn't expect anything in return from other people. He just wanted them to know that they were welcomed in his life. Welcome in his home, welcome at his table. And I kid you not, I just thought it was one of the most beautiful examples that truly spoke to who my friend.
[00:28:06] And then I spoke after Dean and I looked at this room and I looked at the room and I saw people who are red state and blue state. I saw people of every race. I saw people who were far from God and people who were close to God. I saw city manager, Phoenix and politicians and other religious leaders. I even looked off to the left and I saw the local Phoenix.
[00:28:36] And as I sat back and I watched this room filled with people, I knew that Dean was right. This man had lived a life that said, you're welcome. You're welcome. You're welcome. You're welcome. I'm not expecting anything in return. I just want you to get as close as possible to taste and see what God's.
[00:28:55] Goodness is all about. I got on a plane and I'm flying back to Chicago. I grabbed my journal. I grabbed my Bible and I just start writing and reflecting. And I start to think to myself, if I were to die today, who would show up to my funeral
[00:29:20] and real gut-check I started right down a whole bunch of people that look like me thought, like me acted like me, probably voted like me. Probably thought the same things that I thought. And then I started to really reflect on that the, my life didn't really have a welcome mat. My life actually had an if then kind of continuum, these people are good to me, then I'll be good to them.
[00:29:49] If these people do what I want, then I'll, then I'll, they'll help them out. If these people can help me, then I'll help them out. And that is the antithesis of the gospel. That's the antithesis of kindness. And what I've come to realize more than ever, that the people who go deeper and deeper and deeper with the way of Jesus, keep the remain thing.
[00:30:08] The main thing are the people who want to see heaven, invade birth in their hearts, in their home and in their city. But to do that is profoundly spiritual and it's deeply tangible and kindness is when you actually start to go, man. Kindness must embody God's truth. Kindness must dignify God's people and kindness must preserve God's creation.
[00:30:35] And when we do this, it's like we're putting a welcome mat. When we do this, people are less anxious and worried and driven by fear and stress, but are beginning to experience the favor and the goodness of God and heaven beginning to get closer and closer to. Central. I don't know where you are today, but I want to end just with two quick questions.
[00:31:00] And the first question simply is this, what is the prayer or the prayer and the life that you are hoping to accomplish here on earth? It was the prayer. Is it just simply just for my health or for my finances or for my job or for my kids, kids. What's the prayer that gets you up in them. And maybe for some of us in this summer season of this credential life series, maybe we just got to get back to the Lord's prayer and say, God, make that my mission statement, make heaven, invade my neighborhood in my city, in my church, in my heart and my home.
[00:31:37] Let me be about the spiritual and the tangible, or maybe even deeper than that. How will you allow God's name to be hallowed hero? How will you help make God's name holy and set apart? Not just in your mind because you're choosing daily bread of God's word or coming on a weekend to worship or watching online.
[00:32:02] But I'm talking about in your one and only life manifesting the fruit of kindness, expecting nothing in return. And when we live like that, Heaven just gets closer and closer and closer, and people get to experience the gladness, the goodness, and the sincerity of God's heart for them. Let's pray. God, thank you.
[00:32:28] Thank you for what you are stirring in this church. I pray for every one of us that we would know that when we leave this place, maybe go to a barbecue today, maybe go into the backyard of a name. Maybe outside watching the fireworks that were carrying this welcome mat. And God, I pray that you by your holy spirit would begin to do a work in us that isn't just nice, but embodies your truth.
[00:32:57] It dignifies your people that preserves your creation. And that through our one and only life, the ways that we choose to hallow make your name whole, and holy here on earth, people can taste and see what you are all about. Make us kind through your power and your strength and all God's people said, amen.