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Living a Good Life: God's Design For Success, Part 3

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
February 13, 2024 10:14 am

Living a Good Life: God's Design For Success, Part 3

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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February 13, 2024 10:14 am

We all have a God-given drive for success, but who is defining what success really means?  What is our ambition rooted in?  Today, Pastor Rich unpacks Ecclesiastes 4 and helps us see the difference between the way the world thinks about success, a self-preeminent striving to achieve and God’s design for success under His purpose and community.  Let’s listen in.

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. We all have a God-given drive for success, but we have to stop and ask ourselves, who is defining what success really means? What is our ambition rooted in? Today, Pastor Rich unpacks Ecclesiastes 4 and helps us see the difference between the way the world thinks about success, a self-preeminent striving to achieve, versus God's design for success under His purpose and community.

Let's listen in. This is the third part of the message from Ecclesiastes 4. It's part of a series on the book of Ecclesiastes called Living a Good Life, Making Sense of the Journey.

It was originally preached on April 15th, 2018. God asked the question, how are we doing? Speaking of not the Trinity, but of God and man. Man needs to be reconciled to God, and He sent us, Jesus, to reconcile us to Himself through His sacrifice. And then thirdly, the reflection of the character and behavior of God, reflection of the character and behavior of God.

God has given you a life to share. Sharing that life is a reflection of the character and behavior of God. God is community. We're made in His image. We were designed to thrive in community. God is gracious, and you cannot be gracious unless you are asking the question, how are we doing?

That's why Jesus shared His life with you and for you, because God desires you to be reconciled to Himself. Think about that. And so it comes the next question, then this question. Let's think about this for a moment.

Why this? Think we, not me. Think we, not me. We need to change the way we think, because there's a default way of thinking, and the default human way of thinking is, how am I doing? What is life doing to me? How am I responding? How is this making me feel? Change the way you think and start thinking we, not me. Now, what's there? We is in the subjective case there, isn't it?

We are, we have, we can, we will. Think in those terms instead of me is in the objective case. What is happening to me? What are these people doing for me? You see, that's the natural flesh that tends to ask that. But Paul says, do nothing from selfish ambition or empty conceit, but in humility, count others more significant than yourself. Let each of you look not only in his own interest, but also in the interest of others. Paul is saying, this is what we discussed, and I did not plan Wednesday night and Sunday morning together, okay? But it just worked out this way, because this, this frame is from Wednesday night Bible study in midweek worship. Think we, no, we need to change the way we think, because it's biblical command. We need to stop listening to the favorite radio station of the human flesh.

That's WIIFM. What's in it for me? Stop listening to that station. Think we, not me. How are we doing? Let me quote David Gibson here as we bring this to a conclusion. We, not me, is always going to be better for me than only me. This is how God designed us to flourish.

Think about that. This is how God designed us to flourish. You see, the drive to succeed is mature when it has interplay with the whole of society. Society begins with one's neighbor. So you might ask, Rich, who is my neighbor? Well, Jesus was asked that question, didn't he?

And he gave them a good answer. Whatever you encounter, whatever need you might encounter, be a neighbor. You are their neighbor. And one of the best ways to show that you are changing the way you think and the best ways to allow God to change you, the way you think, is to think we, not me. One of the best ways to do that is through hospitality.

I'm going to show you a video here. It's Rosaria Butterfield. Many of you are very familiar with her. She is a life that has been radically transformed through faith in Jesus Christ. And this shows us how she came to Christ. We live at this time where so many Christian ideas are understood as hate speech.

After the Obergefell decision legalized gay marriage, that put the gospel on a collision course with the new law of the land. And I think many Christians have been struggling with, well, how do I speak? What do I do?

How do I move forward? Home is a vital place to invite your neighbors in, to have some heartfelt conversations. We can love our children together.

We can let some things slide, even though the world we live in would say that we're supposed to be enemies. To me, hospitality is the ground zero of the Christian faith. I was raised in an Italian family. There were some issues in my house that made it almost impossible to have people in. So hospitality didn't really become endemic to my life until I had set up a home of my own. I was a professor at Syracuse. I lived as an out lesbian feminist in New York. In our LGBTQ community, somebody's home was open every night of the week. And there was never a question, where will I go if I need help? Because the community itself is organic and fluid. And that was how we dealt with crises.

After I wrote my tenure book, I really wanted to write a book that was on my heart. Why is the religious right such a hateful community? And why do they hate people like me? I was on a war against two things, patriarchy and stupid.

So I was really curious to know why relatively decent people would use the Bible in such a hateful way. So I wrote an editorial and it brought all kinds of attention my way, which I didn't really expect. But one of the things that brought my way was a letter from Ken Smith, the pastor of the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church. When Ken and his wife, Floyd, invited me to dinner, I was happy. I thought of Ken as my unpaid research assistant. And they were fine with the fact that I wanted to read the Bible to critique it. That began a research journey that changed my life.

But it wasn't research that changed my life. In Ken and Floyd's home, the way that they practiced hospitality became a living, breathing example of the theology that they were teaching. After my first dinner at Ken and Floyd's house, Ken gave me a big hug. Floyd gave me a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. We said, we'll catch up next week. This was fun.

Can't wait to do it again. They did not share the gospel with me and they did not invite me to church. And that was so wonderful because what it showed to me was that they didn't see me as a project. They actually saw me as a neighbor. Now, I didn't step foot in the church for two years, but every week I was in their home and every week it was clear that pretty much anything could go. We could ask anything.

Ken and Floyd were fine. And that process of dialogue and table fellowship was compelling. It was deeply compelling. I did not come to faith because I stopped feeling like a lesbian. It's not that I got all of my worldview issues just completely cemented with a happy Christian evangelism.

Not at all. I came to faith because I became convicted that Jesus is who he says he is. Ephesians 4 29 is our watchword, that we are to impart grace to the hero. I might not agree with everything that you hold to be near and dear, but because we are neighbors, I don't have to say everything that's on my heart.

And you don't have to say everything that's on your heart right now. We can put some of our worldview issues aside, and over years of this, the gospel takes on a momentum that is compelling to people. I think we need to give each other the reminder that it's God who saves. It's not about, certainly, us being perfect or our words being perfect, but show up, we must, in the lives of unbelievers. What comes naturally to me, and what comes naturally to you, is to hang out with people who are like us.

People who can maybe finish our sentences, people who don't scare us. But hospitality, biblically speaking, takes strangers and makes them neighbors, and takes neighbors and makes them family of God. It's a great joy to see the gospel bring people together who are supposed to be enemies, and it's a great joy to know that God never gets the address wrong. And if your neighbors aren't people you know yet, there's a blessing waiting for you. Biblical hospitality takes a stranger and makes them a neighbor, and takes a neighbor and makes them a part of the family of God. Folks, this is how God works, but this is only true when we are asking the question, how are we doing, instead of how am I doing. May God rescue us from this self-preoccupation. May He empower us by His Spirit to live the gospel, to live the gospel. And the gospel, living the gospel, isn't just about saying all the right things. Rosaria Butterfield's life was radically transformed through faith in Jesus Christ because of the hospitality of Ken and Floyd Smith.

And it took over two years for that to happen. Do you see the investment in that? Do you see the sacrifice in that? The openness, the freedom in that?

Because Ken and Floyd were asking, how are we doing, instead of how am I doing. Romans 12 13 says we are to seek to show hospitality. It is a command, it is a call of scripture for God's people. And I would encourage you to do when you leave here, when you get home today, read Romans 12 verses 9 through 21. Romans 12 9 to 21, read it, commit it to memory. Because that whole paragraph is about thinking we, not me.

It is a Christian hallmark. And one of the ways that God can transform your thinking from me to we, is for you to purpose your house to become a place of hospitality. And that's something I'm going to ask you to think about this week. Just think about it.

That's all I'm asking you to do. Just think about it. Do you purpose to think about purposing your house for hospitality? And you know that hospitality might look very different. It could be a dinner for six. It could be one other couple. It could be one person.

It could be a neighborhood cookout. But it's going to be different for everybody. But God has given you a wonderful tool. And being hospitable can be the gospel lived turning strangers into neighbors, maybe even enemies into neighbors and turning neighbors into the family of God. Remember, it is God who saves. All you can do is plant seeds of truth. But people are not a project.

Make them your neighbors first. We're so glad you've joined us for Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of Rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. You can hear this message and others anytime by visiting our website, www.delightingrace.com. You can also check out Pastor Rich's book, 7 Words That Can Change Your Life, where he unpacks from God's Word the very purpose for which you were designed. 7 Words That Can Change Your Life is available wherever books are sold. As always, tune in to Delight in Grace, weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-13 12:26:14 / 2024-02-13 12:31:07 / 5

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