Share This Episode
Summit Life J.D. Greear Logo

Keeping Sight of the Beginning

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
December 28, 2022 9:00 am

Keeping Sight of the Beginning

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 1232 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

December 28, 2022 9:00 am

For most people, money is one of the biggest stressors in our daily lives. But Pastor J.D. reminds us that God never intended for us to be slaves to wealth.

Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer
Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey
Our Daily Bread Ministries
Various Hosts

Today on Summit Life, Pastor J.D. Greer talks about the source of generosity. We little Zacchaeus has found a greater treasure than money, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the magnificence of that treasure snapped his dependence and his captivity to money, because he saw in one afternoon that Jesus was a greater God than money could ever be. Welcome to Summit Life with Pastor J.D.

Greer. I'm your host, Molly Vidovich, and we are so glad that you're back with us today. You know, for most people, money is one of the biggest stressors in our daily lives. And this year in particular, it has taken a toll on many of us in a new way.

No matter how much we earn, it never seems to be enough to keep up or to get ahead. But today, Pastor J.D. reminds us that God never intended for us to be slaves to wealth. In fact, he designed us for joyful generosity. And that's our subject today as we continue our new teaching series called Staying Faith. We are learning how to avoid the traps that slow us down in the race of faith so that we can persevere to the end. Pastor J.D.

titled today's message, Keeping Sight of the Beginning. I heard a story as a kid that for whatever reason has stuck with me over the years. It's basically the story of a grandfather that's sitting on a front porch with his grandson, and he's got 12 or so dogs because, you know, he lives in the country. And not that all country people have 12 dogs, but he did. And so they're sitting on the porch on an afternoon, kind of a lazy afternoon, when a bird flies over top of their roof. And one of the dogs kind of perks up and locks onto that bird, lets out one quick bark, and then he takes off after the bird. Well, when he does that, all other, the other 10 or 11 dogs begin to, you know, they jump up kind of and start barking and take off after him.

And the grandfather looks at the grandson. He said, he said, son, he said that there's the best bird dog this side of the Mississippi. He said, let me tell you what's about to happen. He said, in about 10 minutes, he said, one by one, all of these other dogs are going to come back.

They're going to be looking pretty tired. He said, they'll all be back within 10, 20 minutes. He said, about an hour and a half from now, he said that first dog is going to come back, and he is going to have the bird in his mouth.

And he said, because he's the only one that actually saw the bird. All the other dogs are just barking and running because he's excited and they're shearing in his excitement. But his excitement, shearing in his excitement is not enough to sustain them when they get tired and when things get really difficult. Again, I don't know why that's really stuck with me, but it reminds me, probably this is why, it reminds me of what happens in church a lot.

Church, you got a lot of people that are excited. They're barking, metaphorically speaking. They're on mission. Many of them are sacrificing for the mission. And then you got a lot of people who are looking around and they're like, well, I should start barking too.

I should be excited too. I should run with these people. But they don't have the tenacity. They don't have the endurance to maintain that except in intense seasons where I preach about these things because they've never actually seen the vision. They've never actually grasped it.

It's not something internal to them. And so you can only do that for so long. And then you begin to drop off kind of one by one. Let me change the metaphor to another one that I've used with you over the years. And that is, I've told you there's two ways to keep a balloon afloat. One way is you can smack it.

If you blow it up with your breath, then the only way to keep it off the ground is you got to keep hitting it. I've told you that that is kind of how I feel like many of you, your relationship to me is, you're not doing well spiritually. You start to sag spiritually. So you come in here on the weekend and my job is I just smack you about whatever subject we're talking about. And I'm just like, you got to read your Bible. And you're like, oh, you go by read your Bible.

And then I come in, how about sharing Christ or giving or whatever. And you know, honestly, listen, the sick thing is that you like it. And the harder that I smack you, the more you talk about how good it was. I never understand that. They're like, oh, he totally got up my face today. And man, I'm going to be, you know, and I'm like, really?

Nobody likes somebody that hits them all the time. Well, there's another way that you can keep a balloon afloat. And that is you fill it with helium and then it soars on its own, right? No external compulsion required. And what I've explained to you is that the gospel's goal is to so transform you internally that you don't need a sermon series. You don't need that kind of thing in order to be able to do what God wants you to do. You just become something that you do on your own.

I provide you a little coaching. I help you refocus on the vision, but it's something internally that sustains you. When we talk about staying faith, what we're talking about is seeing that vision.

We're talking about you maintaining that in a way that propels you to the end of your life, that doesn't make you generous or sacrificial for a season, but makes you generous and sacrificial for a lifetime. Today, in the Bible, you're going to see a guy who grasped the vision. It is an absolutely remarkable story.

I would say one of my personal favorites, but you know that whatever story I studied that week has become my favorite. He was one of the stingiest, most fiscally corrupt people in the Bible, and yet he became, I believe, the most generous person in the entire New Testament, except for Jesus. But besides him, he's the most generous person in the New Testament. I want you to see what he saw, and then I want to try to show you how you can live continually with the vision of what he saw before your eyes. So if you have your Bibles, take them out now and open them to the Gospel of Luke. Luke chapter 19, we're going to begin in verse 1.

Luke 19, verse 1, Jesus entered Jericho, and he was passing through. And behold, there was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. Chief tax collector. Tax collector is probably not going to be on anybody's list today of favorite jobs. In fact, I read an article that said that the term IRS agent had become so unpopular in our culture that they were suggesting a name change. Here's the new name, tax policy compliance directors. And I'm like, yeah, that's a lot better.

That's a lot better. So it's unpopular today, but back then, a tax collector was more than just an unpopular government official. A tax collector was considered to be a traitor and a thief. You see, whenever the Roman Empire took over a city, as they had most of Israel, they wanted to extract large amounts of money for the emperor from that city. But they knew if they put a Roman official there to be in charge of taxation, not only would he be resented, he also would not know where all the money was hidden in the city.

You know, there's all kinds of black market things, and he just wouldn't know the city well enough to be able to extract the money. So the Romans came up with a pretty ingenious system. They appointed a native of that city, and they said, you're going to collect the tax from us because you know where the money is. And they said, here's what we expect you to give to us. Here is a squad of soldiers that you can use to extract this tax, and then anything that you get above what we require, you can just keep from yourself. So these guys, these tax collectors, in this case a native Jew, would extract huge sums of money from their own people for Rome, and in the process they would get filthy rich because they keep a lot of it for themselves. And they were doing this for a foreign, oppressing empire against their friends, people they'd grown up with, usually their own relatives.

Now just stop here for a minute. Can you imagine a worse person? The Jewish Mishnah said that a tax collector was so loathsome, loathsome they should not even be considered a human being. It said that you could lie to a tax collector because lying to an animal was not a sin. Zacchaeus is not just a tax collector. Zacchaeus is the Archa Telonus, the chief tax collector, and he's the chief tax collector in the richest city in all of Israel. Let me ask you this. How much did money have to have a hold on Zacchaeus's heart to do this? Right? Nobody becomes a traitor to their own people and their own family for nothing.

Nobody does it just naturally. What you're seeing is a man, listen, who money has so gripped his heart that he is willing to sell out even his most intimate relationships in order to possess money because he thinks being rich is worth it. Watch this, verse three. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was. But on account of the crowd, he could not because he was vertically challenged. So he ran on ahead and he climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him because Jesus was about to pass that way. Zacchaeus, you see, was a wee little man and a wee little man was he. And he's trying to get a glimpse of Jesus, but he can't because, as I mentioned, he's short.

Now here's the thing. When a guy is short and he wants to stand in front of you, you don't mind, right? I mean, if you're standing somewhere at the fair and a kid wants to get in front of you, you don't care because they're not obstructing your line of sight. They're not doing that with Zacchaeus.

I mean, Zacchaeus is trying to work his way through, and they're hip checking him one way and hip checking the other because they're like, you are not getting in front of us, you disgusting pig, you wee little bad man. You are not going to stand in front of me. So he climbs up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see. By the way, for those of you who are searching, maybe you're here this weekend because you're intrigued by Jesus. Don't let Jesus's hypocritical, self-righteous, judgmental followers get in the way of you being able to get a glimpse of Jesus. Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to get above Jesus's followers to actually see Jesus. And I realize there are some of you here that you're intrigued by Jesus, but there's others of us that have turned you off by the way that we have been hypocritical and self-righteous to you, and you're gonna have to climb that tree and get a good glimpse of him just like they did. So don't give up, all right? Keep pressing in just like Zacchaeus did. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. We'll be right back with the conclusion of today's message in just a moment. But first, did you know that you can find Pastor J.D. on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Social media is a great place to receive daily encouragement, as well as an easy way to share Jesus with those you care about. Let's flood our feeds with the life-changing message of the gospel. And this time of year, it's a great way to share with others about the opportunity to grow and partner with us. Be an influencer for the gospel for the gospel this week. Just search for us on all platforms and give us a follow. And while you're online, visit our website for transcripts, videos, and other free resources.

It's all available right now at But for now, let's get back to our teaching. Here's Pastor J.D. Verse five. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and he said to him, Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.

I'm not sure if you recognize or grasp how bizarre this is. Jesus, by this point, is one of the most well-known people in Israel. He's a celebrity, and he's going to Israel's most powerful city, Jericho, like New York City. And when he goes into the New York City of Israel, he could meet with anybody he wanted to, right?

I mean, he could have requested a meeting with the mayor in New York City. He didn't meet with the chief priest in New York City, Tim Keller. He chooses, instead, the most despised, unpopular man in the whole city, the wee little wicked man, Zacchaeus. Of all the names for Jesus, friend of sinners is probably my favorite. Jesus, what a friend of sinners.

Jesus, lover of my soul. Verse six, so Zacchaeus hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw, they all grumbled and said, he's gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner. You see, there is a scandalous order to this story. In that day, to eat with someone, to actually go into their house and share a meal, was a sign of very intimate fellowship.

It meant that you were accepting them, that you were committing yourself to a loving relationship with them. Jesus is extending this invitation to Zacchaeus before he cleans up his life. And so the Pharisees in verse seven are like, what? He's eating with a guy who is a sinner, not was a sinner, is a sinner. You see, if Zacchaeus had cleaned up his life and then Jesus had gone in, they probably would not have objected.

But Jesus goes in to eat with him first. Jesus is teaching Zacchaeus and us the difference between the Gospel and religion. You see, every other religion in the world says, change, clean up, and God will accept you. But the Gospel reverses that. The Gospel is, God has offered acceptance to you in light of that invitation, change. In the Gospel, God's acceptance is not the reward for having cleaned up your life. The Gospel is the power to actually clean it up.

Here's the way we say it around here. God's acceptance is the power that liberates you from sin, not the reward for you having liberated yourself. You see, watch this, verse eight. And Zacchaeus stood and he said to the Lord, behold, Lord, the half of all my goods I give to the poor.

And if I have defrauded anybody of anything, I restore it fourfold. And Jesus said to him, today, salvation has come to this house. Salvation has come to this house. Religion, you see, points outward and says, Zacchaeus, out there, go do that and you will be saved.

But Jesus' Gospel is Zacchaeus, salvation has come to your house. It walked in freely as a gift, not because you deserved it. In fact, you did not deserve it. It came in on its own accord. It came to you. It saved you.

In response to that, you're going to change. And oh, what a change it brought. Anybody he'd stolen from, he restored fourfold. The Levitical law said that if you stole from somebody and you repented, you were supposed to pay them back and add 20 percent. There was only one case in Levitical law where you had to restore fourfold, and that is if you stole somebody's cow. Because, you know, that caused utter financial destruction if you did that. Zacchaeus is paying this money back, not because he has to by law, but because he wants to. And by the way, there's nothing in the Levitical law about giving away 50 percent.

That's just gravy. In fact, nowhere in this story, look at it, nowhere in this story is there a command that Jesus gives to Zacchaeus about his money. He does it freely. See, and when I read this, don't you, I hear Zacchaeus almost being giddy. He's like, oh, look, Lord, I've given away all my money. Look, Dad, no hands.

Whee! You know, it's just the way he, that's how I read it. The guy that was willing to sell out his family to get money is now giving it away like it's worthless, like it's Halloween candy. What happened to Zacchaeus?

What happened? Money no longer has a hold on him. We little Zacchaeus has found a greater treasure than money, the Lord Jesus Christ.

And the magnificence of that treasure snapped and broke his dependence and his captivity to money because he saw in one afternoon that Jesus was a greater God than money could ever be. Jesus, you see, loves Zacchaeus. Money could not love Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus could love him, but money couldn't love him back. Jesus had pursued Zacchaeus after Zacchaeus had betrayed him. Money couldn't and wouldn't do that. In fact, money says, if you fail me, I'll leave you behind. You'll be miserable forever if you forsake me, so you better alienate your family.

You better do whatever it takes to get me, get me at all costs. But Jesus, after Zacchaeus had rejected him, came back for Zacchaeus. Jesus was establishing a kingdom that would last forever. Zacchaeus knew that money couldn't do that. Zacchaeus knew his money would die with him.

He may not have known how to conceptualize it like this, but he knew that the smallest virus could take away the richest possession of the greatest man. And so Zacchaeus looked at Jesus and he saw in Jesus something that money had promised him but was never able to give him. He saw in Jesus a greater treasure than money could offer. Psalm 16 10, in your presence is the fullness of joy at your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. The fullness of joy means that your joy could not get more full. The fullness of joy, the greatest joy, pleasures forevermore means the longest duration. It means that in the presence of Jesus is the highest joy for the longest duration.

Zacchaeus got a taste of that, just a taste, and it obliterated his dependence on money. It's what Puritans called the expulsive power of a new affection. You see, our affections, our awe of the Lord Jesus Christ becomes so weighty in our hearts that all the other things that had so captivated us up until now begin to lose their power over us because we have been possessed by a greater affection and a greater treasure. It's why we say turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. Then the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. See, some of you are trying to be motivated to give up money and to sacrifice and to go in with the mission of God, but you've never seen the full, wonderful face of Jesus.

That's why I've got to smack you every time to get you to keep doing it. But if you would ever really turn your eyes upon Jesus, if you would experience what Zacchaeus experienced, if you would get a taste of it, then you wouldn't need that. You would just become like him and it would become worthless to you. It's not that your reputation and money and those things make no difference at all.

They just don't make nearly as much difference because of the beauty and the power of Jesus that has possessed your soul. Here are a few lessons for us from Zacchaeus's life. Number one, money problems usually come from money idolatry. That's the first thing that you can learn from Zacchaeus's life.

Idolatry is when something has become so important to you that you crave it, you depend on it, you feel like you couldn't be happy without it. Zacchaeus worshiped money as the greatest thing that life had to offer. So Zacchaeus was willing to steal, to lie, to hurt his own people because he loved money more than anything. You may or may not do all of those things, but Paul in 1 Timothy 6 says, listen, that it is the love of money that is the root of all kinds of evil in our lives. Here are some of the things that we do for love of money. Cheating, like Zacchaeus.

Maybe cheating on your taxes, keep a little bit more, cheating on your time card, being dishonest in business dealings. I mean, I would imagine that there are many of you that that's where you could see this manifest in your life. Overspending, that's a money problem, right?

You know, Raleigh Durham has the distinct honor of being, listen, I kid you not, the highest credit card debt per capita of any city in the nation, okay? So be encouraged. That means that I am speaking probably to a lot of people who are several thousand dollars in credit card debt, and the reason many of you got to that place is because you just can't say no to the nice thing. I got to have this in my life. I got to be able to to drive this or wear that or go there, and if I got to go into debt to do it, then that's what I'm going to do.

See, it comes from this craving. You couldn't be happy without it, so you got to spend, even if you go into debt. For some people, money problems show itself in overworking. You're destroying your family just to be able to get one rung higher on that ladder of success. You're decimating things because money drives you. I know many who make stupid life decisions in pursuit of money. Husbands and wives who rip their families out of community, they'll rip them out of a good church and move them halfway around the country to a place where they don't have any of those things just so they can make a little bit more money and get one thing out of their family. You can make a little bit more money and get one rung higher on that ladder.

I'm not saying it's wrong to move away from here. Of course, I'm not saying that, but I just say that as a pastor, I've watched for years people who end up making decisions based solely on the truth in their minds that money is the supreme value, and it doesn't really matter everything else about your faith. God's put you here. He's working in your family.

He's anointed you. He's pouring blessings into you, and you value all of that next to nothing. What you really value is getting one back. That's a money problem that comes from money idolatry, coveting. You're eating up with jealousy. You see what other people have, and it just drives you crazy that you don't have that. You've got to get that.

You hate them. You don't want to be that way, but you don't know how to stop being that way. It's just an impulse in you, refusing to give God the firstfruits of what he's given to you. There's a biblical principle that's taught from cover to cover in the Bible, and that is the firstfruit of what God gives you. You give back to him as an acknowledgement that it came from him. In the Old Testament, they called that a tithe. It was 10%. You say, is tithing applicable in the New Testament? Well, we're not under the law, but the firstfruit principle is still there, and 10% is a great place to start.

There's a lot of people who feel like, well, I know that's true. I know my money comes from God, but you can't give God back the firstfruits because you worship money so much you couldn't let go of any of it. It's a money problem that comes from money idolatry, not being generous. You want to be generous, but you just can't because you worship money. I've told you this before, but there are two personality types that struggle with being generous.

Unfortunately, all of you fit into one of these two personality types. All right, me too. There's a lot more to come in this message, so be sure to join us again tomorrow. You're listening to Summit Life, the Bible teaching ministry of pastor, author, and theologian J.D.

Greer. At this time of year, I'm sure that you understand that your financial support is more important than ever. So, Pastor J.D., when someone donates to Summit Life, tell us this. What exactly does their gift do?

Yeah, Molly, that's a fair question. When you give to Summit Life, you are covering the expenses of basically purchasing Radio Time and to the cost to produce and distribute these messages to be able to engage with our listeners. That's where your giving is going. So, because you give to Summit Life, we don't have to charge for content. We can keep all of our messages on the radio for free and the web just enabling the gospel to go forward freely. That's because of the commitment of God's people, people like you. Through your partnership, Summit Life has radio stations—get this—in Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, in Canada, in Guam. Forty-two U.S. states were on the air.

I mean, just think about that. Think about all the places I just named that right now are hearing the gospel preached through this ministry that you're a part of. But we look forward to another year of partnering with you as God uses us to reach the nations for Jesus.

Your giving enables us to make some bold decisions about where God's going to take us in the year to come and to take advantage of some new opportunities that are right in front of us. So, I'd ask you to consider giving today at slash donate. There's still time to make a critical year-end donation or to join our team of monthly gospel partners, and we'd love to get you a copy of our new 2023 Summit Life Planner as our way of saying thank you when you donate once or give monthly to support this ministry at the suggested level of $35 or more. Give us a call at 866-335-5220. That's 866-335-5220.

Or give online at I'm Molly Bidevich inviting you to join us tomorrow when Pastor JD asks us the question, do you own your things or do your things own you? That's Thursday on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-28 13:17:32 / 2022-12-28 13:28:27 / 11

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime