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6: A Generous Life

Crossroads Connection / Pastor Andy George
The Truth Network Radio
February 27, 2023 5:00 pm

6: A Generous Life

Crossroads Connection / Pastor Andy George

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I want to talk about generosity.

Again, this is not a tithe and offering talk, so we're not going to talk anymore really about that. It's about generosity. You know, out of my generosity is how and why I give.

And so to me, the bigger conversation is not whether I can or should give of myself, whether that's my time, talent, whether that is my money, whether it's just my forgiveness or generosity, whatever that is, there's something out of the heart and lifestyle of that that prompts me to want to do that more. So the title this morning for taking notes, I encourage you to take notes with me today, is A Generous Life. That's the sermon title today. We're going to talk about a life that is generous and we're going to base it off of Jesus and feeding of the 4,000. So I'm sure you've heard of feeding of the 5,000. You may have heard of feeding of the 4,000.

We're going to explain the difference there. But in this passage, so go ahead and turn to Mark Chapter 8 in your Bibles. This is the main passage we're going to be in this morning. And out of this, I just want to share two generosity principles that come out of Mark Chapter 8 that I believe will help you live a generous life in ways that maybe you've not thought of before. You know, generosity is not just something that we do.

It needs to be a person that we are. And so in other words, it's not just I'm going to be generous because I can, which is fine to be generous. Again, whether that's giving up my time or allowing God to use me in some way. But generosity should ultimately flow because that's just who we are. As a follower of Christ, I hope and pray that my life is marked by generosity. Now it certainly needs to be marked by more things than just generosity, but I hope that one of those things is that I am a generous person.

Whether that's helping somebody in need, whether that's just helping out a neighbor, whether that's giving of whatever it is, I just want to be available and willing and be used by God in generosity because there's certain principles around generosity that are just very, very true. So let's read in Mark Chapter 8, verse 1 to 9. And I'm going to move somewhat quickly through this message today. So I'm going to talk faster. You're going to write faster and we're going to get there together because we have about seven or nine, maybe more baptisms at the end of the service and they are powerful testimonies that we want to celebrate here today.

Here we go. Verse 1. In those days when again a great crowd had gathered and they had nothing to eat, He called His disciples to Him and said to them, I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with Me now three days and have nothing to eat. If I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way.

And some of them have come from a far way away. And His disciples answered Him, how can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place? And He asked them, how many loaves do you have?

They said seven. He directed the crowd to sit on the ground and He took the seven loaves and having given thanks, He broke them and gave to His disciples to set before the people and they set them before the crowd. And they had a few small fish and having blessed them, He said that these should also be set before them. And they ate and were satisfied and they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full and there were about 4,000 people and He sent them away. All right, let me just give some context around this passage, especially with the feeding of the 5,000 and the feeding of the 4,000.

There's a few uniquenesses I think that are worth mentioning here. And by the way, we can stay in the book of Mark for both. Mark chapter 6 accounts the feeding of the 5,000. Mark chapter 8 we just read is the feeding of the 4,000.

A few contextual meanings. The feeding of the 5,000 because of the region was primarily directed to Jewish people. The feeding of the 4,000 was a mixture of Jews and actually Gentiles in that area. The feeding of the 5,000 happened in one day. The feeding of the 4,000 happened over three days. The feeding of the 5,000 happened near Galilee. The feeding of the 4,000 happened near Decapolis. So two different regions, two different number of people, two different people groups. The feeding of the 5,000, see how you're doing on your Bible knowledge, how many loaves were in the feeding of the 5,000?

Come on. Five. How many fish? Two. How many did we just read? How many loaves in the feeding of the 4,000? Seven. How many fish?

Just had a few. Just a few fish. Twelve baskets left over in the feeding of the 5,000. Seven baskets left over in the feeding of the 4,000. Now then, this side note, how many tribes of Israel are there?

Twelve. I don't think there's any accident then in the feeding of the 5,000 directly to most of the Jewish people that there's 12 baskets left over. And the feeding of the 4,000, there's seven. What's the number seven according to Scripture? It's the number of perfection.

Again, I don't think there's any accident. The feeding of the 4,000, by the way, the way that they would have said it research-wise is that they were more like campers, similar to this but a little bit taller, filled with the leftovers that were happening at the feeding of the 4,000. So again, just to put some context around it, I think a lot of people just assume they're the same story. The feeding of the 5,000 is in all four Gospels.

The feeding of the 4,000 is only recorded in Matthew and Mark. But they are different events. Now, that aside, I want to talk about the generous life based off of what we just read. I think as we see the words of Jesus and the actions of the disciple, we actually start to understand what a generous life looks like.

And the first one is this. Remember, there's two main principles today. The first one is compassion. A generous life needs to be marked by compassion. I absolutely love this picture of Jesus that we get in the feeding of the 4,000.

Because as Jesus is looking at the crowd of 4,000 people, He says that there's no way that they could leave here on their journey with no food. And He says that He had great compassion for them. He had compassion. He had empathy. He had sympathy. He deeply felt for the people He was talking to. I love so much that Jesus just didn't look at the crowd and said, well, they got here themselves.

They can figure it out and they're going to have to do whatever they got to do to eat, but that's not my problem. But He didn't. He looked at the crowd and He had compassion. There should be something about us that as we look at the crowd, whether that crowd is our work, our school, our community, our world, or our city, are we driven by compassion? I think there's something about that to be driven inside of who we are. Does compassion motivate us? I think when we're motivated by compassion, we start to act and operate the same way that Jesus acted and operated.

He just didn't look at somebody and say, you figure it out. Good luck for the journey. I hope you make it. He said, I'm actually going to do something about it out of my compassion. So if we want to live a life marked by generosity, we should be overflowing in that same vein in compassion. A life of compassion has a couple of components. There's three sub parts to this.

The first one is life. When we think about generosity and we think about compassion, it should lead to us offering life and hope to the people around us. This is what Jesus did.

He looked at the crowd. He said, they're not going to make it on their journey. They're not going to get home. They're malnourished. They've not had anything to eat. We're in a desolate place.

They need something. Now take a step back and just look at what Jesus did for all humanity. God very much looked at humanity in the same way.

You can almost picture God looking at this ball of earth that he created and said, they are not going to make the journey unless we do something about it. And this is where Jesus comes in, isn't it? In fact, in John 10, 10 to 11, Jesus says that the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came that they may have life and have it more abundantly. That he's the good shepherd and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. And I so love the way that Jesus says that because that's the truth. Listen, there is a real enemy that would love to take away our compassion, take away the generosity and ultimately take away our life. The thief comes and steals and he kills and he destroys and he's a liar from the very beginning is what scripture says. And he's a very real enemy that is animally opposed to you and I living a compassionate life. He is not filled with compassion. He's filled with deception. And Jesus says, I didn't come just so that they can make it.

Did you catch that by the way? I want to encourage you, Jesus didn't come to this earth and live a life and die for you just so you can make it one more day. He came so that you would have life abundantly. And I think there's too many believers not living an abundant life. And what does abundant look like in a believer's life?

Well, it looks like abundantly joyful, abundantly at peace, abundance in love and self-control and discipline. I think it's the fruit of the Spirit that we could say that Jesus came so that we would live abundantly in that. But so often, how many of us, myself included at times, we get sucked into not living that kind of life. Instead we live this life with our head down and depression and anxiety and worry and fear and doubt. And we just want to drag across the finish line. I want to run across the finish line. I want to finish strong. And you and I are not going to finish strong if we are not living a life of compassion.

We're not going to finish long if we don't receive that life that Christ gave us. But the other side of it is you and I have an opportunity to help somebody else along in their journey. Each one of these points has a question behind it and I'm going to put it up on the screen. And these are great questions just to write down and just think about in your life.

But here's the first of a series of questions. How can you offer life and hope to someone today? So we take Jesus' motto, who had compassion.

And his compassion led him to action. As we look at our community, as we look at the world around us, where can we offer that life? Where can we offer that hope? Now it's not life that we can give.

It's not hope that I can just give of myself. I'm talking about the life and the hope that Jesus gave us that we can now give to somebody else. The next thing about compassion out of a generous life, it's not only life, it's also forgiveness. Now listen, there are a lot of ways that I could have went with what does a generous, compassionate life look like.

Life, I think, is a big obvious one. But I also think if I look at why Jesus actually came here, he came here so that we would be forgiven of our sins. Jesus came to take my place on a cross and pay my price on the cross because of my sins. He came and offered forgiveness. And I think again that my life, if I'm living a life of generosity, if I'm living a generous life that's filled with compassion, then I also have to be generous in a way that I forgive and ask for forgiveness. Ephesians 4 32 says to be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. The reason why we forgive might not be because the other person deserves forgiveness, but it's a reminder that I didn't deserve forgiveness either, yet Christ forgave me. And so out of that, my heart should be geared towards offering forgiveness to other people that maybe never asked for forgiveness. They might not be people that even in our mind deserves forgiveness, but neither did I and neither do we. The Bible speaks about how we are supposed to be abundant in forgiveness, that there is no limit on our forgiveness.

I also want to encourage you with this because I always get asked this question. What about people who hurt you? Yeah, you're supposed to forgive them, but it doesn't mean you have to invite them back in your life. I think there's wisdom in that because what happens is because we don't want somebody in our life, we don't forgive them because we think that's an invitation back, but it really doesn't have to be. And I know there's people here right now, there are people that have hurt you and caused deep wounds in your life and you're hanging on to that bitterness. You're hanging on to that unforgiveness and they've already moved on probably. When we hang on to unforgiveness, you know who it hurts the most?

You. It hurts you the most. And I'm just telling you, you got to let go of unforgiveness. You got to let go of bitterness. You got to let go of the offenses that happened in our life. Doesn't mean that you got to accept it. Doesn't mean you got to invite it back in your life. Doesn't mean you have to get hurt all over again.

I think every unique situation is different. You have to use wisdom, but ultimately we are called to forgive. Are we not? We're called to forgive.

We're also called to ask for forgiveness. I'm working out a message series right now, probably post Easter, and I'm trying to land the title, but I think the title is going to be What's Wrong With You? Or What's Wrong With People? I think what's wrong with people is probably the, and by the way, I'm people too, so it's me, but what's wrong with people? What's wrong with the world?

And I want to run through a series of things that we, like what's wrong with us? Like why do we keep doing this? And one of them I know for sure is going to be why are we always so offended? Why are we always so offended? There's a lot of reasons to be offended, but why do we always carry offense?

And so the message I'm structuring, and it deals with forgiveness too, is why we should be offended by the things that offend God. That's why we should be offended. For example, we should be highly offended that our culture is trying to kill unborn babies. That should absolutely offend us. We should be offended by that. We should be offended by racism. That should offend us. We should be offended by social injustices. That should offend us. We should be offended by hate and death and murder. That should offend us.

But what happens, we get so offended because, well, you looked at me wrong. I'm sorry, that's just my face. I didn't mean to do that. Like, come on, like, it's just my natural face. I'm sorry if you read it wrong.

I had no meaning behind that. You didn't say hi to me. I didn't see you. Does it make you feel better that I didn't notice you?

Like, which way you want to go here? I mean, come on. I actually said that out of bitterness one time, years and years ago. Not here, by the way. So it's like, you offended me. You did not say hi to me. I was like, well, does it make you feel better?

I didn't even notice you at all. And that was the end of that conversation. I didn't have anything to do with that. And then I forgave them.

So worked it out myself. Well, there's so many opportunities that we can get offended. I got offended by the email you sent. I got offended that this happened. And sometimes it's justified, but why do we carry it?

Stop carrying the unhealthy offenses. If we're going to be offended by something, be offended by the things that offend God. But at the same time, we also got to forgive.

We can't hang on to it. The next one is this point number two. Point number two is a generous life is not only marked by compassion. It's also marked by blessing. And this to me is where a generous life becomes fun. It really does. If you can understand the principles behind being a blessing and being blessed and the healthy balance of that and what scripture actually says about that, this is where to me our faith becomes so enriched. It is so fun to live in this vein. And listen, you don't have to have a lot of resources to be a blessing.

It's not like you have to have a certain bank account. Then all of a sudden you can be a blessing. It's not like you have to have certain gifts and then you can be a blessing. Everyone in this room and online can be a blessing to somebody starting right now today. And as we look at the world and we look at the people in this world, I very much believe that Jesus could probably ask the same thing.

Now I know what they show us and how we formulate messages. It's not sometimes very good to try to place ourself in every story in the scripture. However, for this passage, I want you just to take a step back. I want you to think about this.

I think very much so that if Jesus showed up today in the triangle, that he very much would look at the people of the triangle and say the same thing. These people aren't going to make the journey. They're going to get tired. They're in a desolate place. They're in a dry place. They're in a place with no hope.

They're in a place where they keep trying to find the answer and can't find it and they're not going to make the journey home. And I believe Jesus would say that about the triangle. And I think we as a church, too often, our response to Jesus is, well, Jesus, then you should probably do something about it. To which Jesus then looks at us and says, I did do something about it. I gave the church to Raleigh.

I established Crossroads, so you do something about it. And this is what happens in this passage. A couple of sub points under being a blessing.

The first one is this. If we're going to be a blessing, we have to give what we have. You have to give what you have. Now one of the differences in the story of the 5,000 and the story of the 4,000 is in the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus did the same thing. He turned to the disciples and says, we need to give them something. And the disciples said, well, we don't have anything. We don't have enough money.

We can't go buy food. And so he said, we'll figure it out. And in the feeding of the 5,000, what did the disciples do? They stole a kid's lunch.

That's what they did. They found a little kid that had fish and loaves and they took it. And they brought this little kid and said, hey, we did something about it.

We just took this kid's lunch. So here you go. In the feeding of the 4,000, there is a unique difference I think is noting out. The disciples gave what they had.

Very different, very subtle, but very different. The disciples says we have seven loaves. And they gave what they had.

If you and I want to live a life out of generosity and really be a blessing to our community, then I think very much so Jesus is going to say the same thing. What do you have to offer? What do you have to offer? And every one of us has something to offer.

Everybody. I've been around long enough and been around church long enough and ministry to know that everybody in this room has something to offer. Now you might be sitting there thinking you have nothing to offer.

What can I do? How can God use me? I've been there before too. But listen, that's a lie from the enemy. God can use absolutely anybody and everybody at any time. Listen, he's so strong. He used a donkey in the Old Testament.

You tell me he can't use you? And aren't you glad I didn't use the King James version of the donkey? I wanted to, but I held restraint. I love to preach out of King James one time on certain passages. But God used a donkey.

I mean seriously. All through Scripture he used teenagers. He used prostitutes. He used the outsiders. He used the people that were shunned by the community to do amazing things for him.

I just say that because we're in good company. He can use you too. You just have to give what you have. Now here's how blessings work. Because what happened is that Jesus took the food from the disciples. And it was Jesus who kept giving the bread. In other words, Jesus just didn't take the disciples and tell them to go and just start feeding people. In fact, this is a very interesting passage.

You could read it, research it based on the Greek and on contextual things. It probably can go a couple of ways. But one of the ways that I think that this is what happened is that when Jesus broke the bread and the way that it was worded, that as he was giving it, bread just kept coming from Jesus. Like he just kept handing it to them. He kept filling baskets. It wasn't like he just waved a magic wand over baskets and all of a sudden bread filled up. It says that Jesus broke it and then he gave.

And that wording he gave is like a continuous giving is what it means. He just kept giving. And so the disciples kept coming up.

I'm sure they had something to hold it in. And Jesus kept filling the baskets. And then they'd walk around and they would just feed people. Then they'd come back and he just kept feeding people. Now this is the wonderful thing about this passage. Jesus didn't need the disciples.

He didn't need them. Could Jesus not have just made bread and fish appear? Absolutely. He could have had the world's largest buffet right there in Decapolis.

The very first golden corral of all time. Right there. Right there in the middle of a desolate plate.

He could have just went boom. There you go. There's your bread. There's your fish.

Even a guy with a top hat carving the fish for you and putting it on your plate. He could have did all that. But what does he do? He asked the disciples to give him what they had and then Jesus continuously gave it back to them. Now there's a principle here we're going to get to in a moment. So here's the question under this one. The question, I'm going to give you the last two questions. What do you already have that the Lord is asking you to give?

That's the one. So what do you have that God is asking you to give so that you could be a blessing? The next question is where and how can you continuously be used by the Lord? Where in your life can you just ask the Lord to continuously use you? Not just one and done. Not just I'm going to go do something one time.

Although sometimes that's needed and good. But where can I find, I'll use this word, my ministry. I love thinking about it this way. Everybody has a ministry. Some of you just haven't found what it is yet. If you viewed your life and what you have, what God gave you as your ministry, there's something amazing about that. That we start to allow God to use us in the giftings that he's given us and the, and the pursuit that we have for him. There's something about that that is just so much fun and enjoyable.

And again, where's it from? It's out of a generous heart. It's out of compassion. It's out of wanting to be a blessing, which leads to the final sub point number two is the blessing is actually in the giving. The blessing is in the giving.

There are seven baskets left over just from a few fish. I like that kind of math. I like the kind of math that God says, Hey Andy, just give me what you have and just watch me bless it. Watch me multiply it. Watch me continuously use you and what I've given you to reach the kingdom, whatever that is.

There's something about this that is just powerful. And I want to take us to second Corinthians chapter nine verse six to 11. It's gonna be the final verse that I read. And often when we talk about generosity, most people stop at verse seven. But I think the answer and the result of this principle is actually found in verses eight through 11 and it's so powerful. You can, if you can get this, I'm telling you your faith will become so alive and it will be so much fun and God will use you in absolutely amazing ways. I can promise you that.

And here's why. Verse six, the point is this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Now this is a very simple term that Jesus is using or the writer is using, using a farming methodology, right? Just take a seed. If you plant just a few seeds, what happens?

You just get a few things back. If you plant a lot of seeds, you get a bountiful reply back and that's the same idea. So now think about it in terms of generosity. Whatever God's given you, if you would plant just a little bit, you're just gonna get a little bit back. But if you allow God to continuously use you and plant a lot of seed, there's going to be a bigger return.

This works in all areas. It works, by the way, it works with forgiveness that when we forgive, it is pressed down, measured over and given back to us. There's an idea all through scripture, by the way, of multiplication.

It's multiplication. That as I give, God's going to use it and multiply it. But here's why.

Let's just keep reading. Each one must give as he decided in his heart, now reluctantly under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. And most people stop right there when they talk about generosity, which is a good spot.

There's nothing wrong with that because it's true. You shouldn't feel convicted about it necessarily. You shouldn't be under compulsion. You and I should give joyfully. Whatever it is, be excited about it. If it's finances, be excited about it.

If it's our time, our talent, be excited about it. But here is how blessings work in the giving. In verse eight it says, and God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times you may abound in every good work.

As it's written, he has distributed freely. He has given to the poor. His righteousness endures forever. He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way. And I love this last part of this verse. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. This is where, unfortunately, a lot of bad preachers take this to the prosperity movement, which is not healthy.

Or we talk about naming it and claiming it or blabbing it and grabbing it, whatever term you want to use. But they'll use this verse and they'll twist it. What this verse is saying is that as I give generously, God's going to multiply that back. Why? So that I can actually be more generous. That's why.

Not so I have a plane. Not so that we got some fancy ministry stuff. Not so we have the largest church in Raleigh and nicest clothes and nicest cars. Why does God bless us? To be a blessing. The real blessing comes when I give, I'm blessed so I can keep on giving. That's where it's at.

That's why this is so exciting. God has blessed some of you immensely because you keep allowing God to use you to be a blessing. And I'm just telling you in this principle, some of you probably aren't experiencing this because, well, you're selfish or you don't trust or you're in this scarcity mindset. If you would just allow God to use you and just step towards generosity, I'm telling you, God will bless you. And again, it's not just financial.

That is certainly part of it. But I believe that when God uses us to just give our time, that God blesses us. When God uses us to use our talents and our gifts, that there's a blessing back to us. And it's so that we can continue to be a blessing. So here's the final question around blessing. Are you cheerfully giving and trusting the Lord on a regular basis while you are also sowing into his kingdom?

We'll leave that out there. It's a little bit longer question, but it's a good question. Are we cheerfully giving and trusting God as we do that and trusting him as we plant these seeds and is God blessing back so that we can continue to be a blessing? As I close and before we celebrate these baptisms, I talked a lot this morning about the believer side of what it looks like to live a generous life. It's one of compassion. Our compassion leads to life. It leads to forgiveness. It's one of blessing where God is asking us what we have. In other words, God gave us to give back to him so he could continue to give and give back to us.

But I want to talk to those in this room maybe who are on the other side. Again, I told you there's two journeys that everybody's on. One is going to lead to eternal life with Christ and one is going to lead to eternal life away from him in hell. And our job here is to make it as hard as possible for you to do that and as easy as possible for you to follow Christ.

And I want to encourage you with this. I wrote this little statement down as a summary maybe for you because today you can receive his compassion. You can receive his forgiveness. You can receive his life and hope. You can receive blessings as you give what's in your heart and in your hand and receive what God has in his hand for you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-27 18:23:22 / 2023-02-27 18:35:42 / 12

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