God's Free Gift
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ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast
ConnectUs Church Audio Podcast

Episode · 8 months ago

God's Free Gift

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

We have so many reasons to be thankful. We have so many reasons to give back and give to God and others. And yet, somehow, God always has way more to give. Salvation is a free gift from God that no amount of generosity can buy.

Today is part three of our series, are year envision series, called multiply, and next week is our opportunity to give this above and beyond offering that is going to go to fuel the mission of sharing the Gospel, reaching more people with the gospel of multiplying more and better disciples, and next week is going to be a special celebration service of that. And today in our sermon we are going to look at a man in the Bible who tried to give this huge offering, like an amount. That is a lot and I want to tell you just how much it was, or how much we might have thought it was a little bit later. But first, before I tell you just how much this guy brought as an offering, I want to tell you about the three different financial buckets that we have at connect US church, because again, this is the first time we're ever doing a year end offering and you're like, what is this? How does this all work together? And so there are three things that we talked about as our heartbeat at connect US church. We want to pray for people, and especially those who are far from God, far from any church. We want to care for people and we want to share Jesus with them. And so if we're doing those three things, then here's the way that our church is that we're putting our money where our mouth is and saying, okay, we just want to pray. We want to pray all the time for everything. It's just what we do. And so our connect US church giving is our general giving. It is our General Fund or budget amount. So if you look on the back of your program there's an update every single week that says how we're doing. Right now there's eight thousand dollars a month. Is Our budget and that goes to our regular ministry expenses. That allows us to do these types of things, and so we're super thankful for everyone who gives towards that. We talked about give. Planning for a given is a priority in our life and then we want to give a percentage. And so those reoccurring gifts that happen every week or month, or however you think about it, are super helpful and that you know just that regular giving is is really appreciate and it's making a huge difference. And so that is the the connectors church giving them. There's the Care Support Fund. There is money set aside to help you care for the people in your life well, and so if someone has a need and you God is working in your heart to say I really want to help them and you can do so much, of course, and then you're like, wow, my church can help me care for them, and you know absolutely we can, and so we would love to do that. And so that's the Care Support Fund. We introduced that a couple months ago over the summer, and then today is part three in this series. Next week we're going to start our multiply offering, our multiply fund, which is going to help connect us from where we are right now to where we believe God is leading us into the future. And so right we have a eight thousand dollar a month budget right now. We'd like to see that grow to thirteen thousand dollars a month, which would allow us to hire some more pastoral staff members. It would allow us to say for a future location, permanent location that we'd have access to all throughout the week, and allow us to vest more in what God is doing right here in the movie theater and invest it's a better technology and different outreach opportunities and relationships. So all that multiply offering is going to go to those big things to help us to do the things outside of our kind of regular routine. So if you have any questions, let me know. But that is like the big picture plan for those three financial buckets and how they work together. And so next week, if I've said it enough times you'll remember, next week is this offering celebration service. It's going to be a little different, a little fun and just a hopefully a really fun time when we bring in our offering for the multiply to fly offering to see more and better disciples being made through the church. And so part one of...

...our multiply series I introduce you to a man named Abraham. And Abraham had this vision from God that he was going to have the number of descendants as the stars and the sky. Remember, and so the problem was Abraham was old and he had zero descendants, and so God just said, trust me, I'm can do this, I can do everything. And so I actually Isaac was born and Abraham had one descendant and it was like yeah, there's one, but the promise was to have as many as the stars in the sky. And we looked at that thousands years ago, even six hundred years ago or so, when you counted the number of stars. The only counted that anyone remember? How many stars did they count? Like six hundred years ago? was about a thousand stars. So if you are alive today in the twenty one century, you know that there are so many more than a thousand stars. They just needed a space telescope to see them all. And so I just pray that this series, that's vision series, is helping us to see that God has more for us, individually and as a church. Ton even we can even wrap our minds around right now. And so that was part one. And then last week we looked at how God uses evangelism and generosity to fuel his mission on this earth. Today, evangelism and generosity, and God cares very much about how we give and why we give, because without giving financially, without generosity, the Gospel is grounded. And so he invites us to invest in what he's doing on this earth. You make a difference in the way that God is working, and so last week I challenged you to consider, to pray about what kind of offering is God calling you to give in this special, unique multiply season that we are in as a church. And today my sermon is about a man who planned, he got a numbered together, he even wrote the check and he wasn't able to give his offering. So, if you have your Bible, I encourage you to turn with me the second king's chapter five. Second Kings chapter five is in the Old Testament and us that the beginning of your Bible and I'm really excited. This is probably my favorite sermon out of all four multiply sermons, and that's for many reasons. But this story is probably not very familiar to you. You might be hearing this for the very first time. This story in second kings chapter five and if you don't have your Bible, the words, of course, will be on the screen behind me, and we love to give you a free Bible before you leave today. But in this chapter of the Bible we meet a man named naming, and naming was the commander of the Syrian army. He wasn't Jewish, she wasn't a believer in God, he was an the commander of an enemy army. And naming had a problem. He had leprosy. The writer of Second Kings uses that word. It's translated as leprosy. is probably not the leprosy and that we know and understand it today, it can relate to a lot of different skin diseases, but that point doesn't really matter. Naming brought this huge offering, Nayman's, the man that I was telling you about. He brought this huge offering. Many people would consider it a very large amount of money, and he brought it in silver and gold and clothing, and the amount of all of this money that name and tried to give it was probably well was over a million dollars. And I'll tell you exactly how many more millions over a million dollars...

...it was, and just a few minutes. But we got to set the stage. Set the stage for second kings, Chapter Five, verse one. The King of Araum had great admiration for naming. Naming was the commander of his army, the King of Aram. Aram is Syria, that's just north of Israel today, because through him, the Lord had given areum, or Syria, great victories. You catch that? The Lord, the God, the one true God, the God of Abraham, I excuse me, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the True God, was giving victories to the enemy army. The king, the commander of Syria, our God, the true God, is the God over every single nation, every single people group, every single person on this earth. He is in control over every single country. He's he's sovereign over all things. But sometimes, and most of the time, people don't even recognize that. But it's true. God is in control over all of these things and he even gives military victories to evil countries, enemy countries. And did you know that? Did you know that God was at work and is at work in those people, those even maybe evil people? God's at work in that group of people doing that thing. No, no way they're to mess up. There there are. They're allowed to prosper, they've got all these people a part of their group, they're raising all this kind of money. Why are they doing so well? It might be because God is allowing them to have great victory. God is that work in their life, in their country, in their group. And so that's why we say that our church connect US church. We want a partner with what God is doing in our community, which means that God is working in more places than just our church. I think you know that. But God is working in more places than just any church. God is even working in more places than any Christian ministry. God is working. Even in this movie theater, God is working in the businesses that are right outside the doors. God is working in the apartments right on the other side of the parking lot. God is at work in these spaces and places, and we want a partner with what God is already doing in all of these places. And so the Lord had given arem great victories. And though naming was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy. And I think this little phrase describes all of us to one degree or another. We all, though, put your name in there instead of naming. Though so and so was a mighty warrior, he suffered. You suffer from something. So, though she was a great mom, she suffered from anxiety depression. Though he was a great husband, he suffered from pride, jealousy and anger. And though she, he was a great person of faith, he she suffered from great doubt.

At the very same time, God gives great strengths to all of us and at the very same time gives great weaknesses. This is what's true about all of us. At the same time, the we are these things at the same time. There there is great, great reason to praise you, great reason to hire you, great reason to promote you, great reason to lift you up and celebrate you, and at the very same time, there's great reason to realize that, man, you suffer, we suffer, I suffer with a lot of different things, and God is using us, working in us, working through us, while we are both of these things, to accomplish some amazing things in this world. Like he's chosen you, mighty warrior, to do some incredible things, and he knows that you suffer with leprosy. And yet God chooses to do that in all of us, in both of experiencing both of these things all the the time. And then it said at this time the Armenian raiders had invaded the land of Israel and among their captives was a young girl who had been given to Nayman's wife as a maid. And so the person that God would use to connect naming to the true God of the universe, the Creator God, was a captured little girl. She was captured by the enemy army, by NAMAN's people. And sometimes, sometimes the bad things that happen in your life are not a result of the devil. Did you know that you can't blame the devil for everything? And sometimes the bad things that happen in your life aren't a result of even your own dumb decisions either. You can't blame yourself for everything either. Sometimes the bad things that happen in your life is God moving you to exactly where he wants you to be, to do something that only you can do, to connect with this person that you would have otherwise never had been with. That's what happened to this young girl. And one day the girl said to her mistress, I wish my master would go see the Prophet in Samaria. He would heal him of his leprosy. A thousand years later, Jesus would teach us to pray for our enemies. The thousand years later, Jesus would teach us to bless those who persecute us. And here is a young little girl who was taken captive from her home country, taken from her family, taken from her God, brought to this foreign place to work for these evil enemy people, and she is looking out for their best interest. That's amazing. She knows that there's a God. Her God could heal this this man that she was working for. And sometimes, when we're removed out of our comfort zone, when we're put in places that feel a little different, a little uncomfortable. When we move to a new place, when we are around New People, we need to think about are we bringing God into that picture? Are we allowing God to use us in this new place like it may feel strange, it might feel like gets out of place, but God just wants to use us in the people in our life and sometimes it just means that we just have to open our mouth and say something. And so the...

...girl did and name and told the King what the young girl from Israel had said. You never know where your words are going to go. This little girl said something to the lady in charge of her. She told her name and name and told the King. This young girl's words showed up in front of the person with the most power in the entire country, this little girl. And so the king said, go and visit the Prophet. The King of Aram told him, I will send the letter of introduction for you to take, the King Tike to the King of Israel, and that was so nice of him. I'll write you a letter. So Nam and started out carrying as gifts. Okay, here you go, I've teased it long enough. Here is Nayman's offering. This is what he's bringing next week to the multiply offering. All right, Nayman's offering. He brought seven hundred fifty pounds of silver, a hundred and fifty pounds of gold and ten sets of clothing which, if you did the math, and I think I'm low on some of these numbers, but if you did the math, silver's going for about two hundred eighty five dollars a pound time seven hundred and fifty. That's two hundred twelve thousand dollars, one hundred and fifteen, two thousand and twelve one hundred fifteen dollars in silver. Name and got together for his offering gold. Anyone know the price of gold? About twenty seven thousand dollars a pound times a hundred and fifty. That's four million to three thirty seven thousand four hundred dollars. And then the ten pairs of clothes. I just searched Google for expensive suit and I found I found one hundred fifty seven hundred dollars. So fifty seven hundred times ten, which I'm sure is really low, is fifty seven thousand dollars. So the total of that is four million, three hundred thousands six five hundred fifteen, or let's just call it four point three million dollars. Naming got his offering ready for four point three million dollars. Forget about the letter of introduction. Right when you got a check for four point three million dollars, that'll open the door for you wherever you want to go. But the letter to the King of Israel said, with this letter I present my sermon name and I want you to heal him of his leprosy. And when the King of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes in dismay and said it am I god that I can give life and take it away? Why is it that this man is asking me to heal somebody with leprosy? I can see that he's just trying to pick a fight with me, and I understand the king's response because he's like, why are you coming to me? I can't heal anybody. I'm not God. You're giving me a gift of four point three million dollars to do something I can't do. What do you want from me? Like you're trying to trick me. It's like, let me give you the money and now you're going to give me everything else. Right that's the king's response. And I also understand why naming and the king of Syria went to this king, because that's what they know how to do. Right Kings Talk to other kings, the commander of the army and the Kings, they work together. They go to the person with the most power in the entire land. That's just where you go. If anyone's going to know how to heal me, it's going to be this king, this one with all the power, with all the influence. He knows where it's going to go. And I think that's so often in our life we do very similar things. We think that if we just get in front...

...of the right person, if we just get to be friends with the right person, if we just get this person to promote our brand, if we just get this person on the phone, if then everything will be so much better. And so what do we do? We get a letter ready, we write our introduction letter, then we get our gift ready. We're like, okay, I'm going to impress this person, and then we put the whole show together and we show up hoping that this person is going to solve all of our problems. But I don't have to tell you that it usually never works out that way, right, at least in the way that we envision it, because we put on our best appearance, we live into all of our best qualities. We got the latter, we got the gift, and we show up to the person and they just blow you off. Wow, what, what a failure. It's like this time. This time, we're gonna make it up to my spouse right, this time, I'm going to write the real love note and I put a lot of hard work into it. This time, I'M gonna pick out the perfect gift. It's even it's the perfect thing, and and you get it already and it's all set out the table and and you get it. You get it and your spouse just looks at you like, are you tricking me? What do you what do you want from me? Why did you do this for me? It happens all the time, and sometimes we do this with God, especially in a season like this. We're talking about an offering, we're talking about giving to God, and it's like, if I just give him the best offering I could give, I could give him a huge offering. Well then he will certainly bless me. If I just give a the biggest offering I've ever given, then my life is going to be so much better. This year is going to be so much better. My my family is going to be blessed. He's going to bless my job, he's going to bless my business. If I just if I can just give this offering, it's going to be going to be so much better. But that's why the posture of our heart when it comes to giving is so, so important. Like we don't give to get anything in return from God. We give out of Thanksgiving for what he's already blessed us with. We give out of worship, we give out of adoration. We're not trying to get anything. So then Alisha, the man of God, Alisha's The prophet. He came after Elijah. Elijah, you might be familiar with that name. But when Elisha, the man of God heard that the King of Israel had tore his clothes in dismay, he sent his message to him. Why are you so upset? Send naming to me and he will learn that there is a true prophet here in Israel. And I love this because we go to people, don't we? Naming and the king went to the person of the king we go to people thinking people will help us, people will give us what we're looking for, people will satisfy as, people will make us happy, people will promote us, people will give us everything that we want, and people blow us off and people lead to dead ends. And Alisha saw all this happening and he says, I don't want to introduce you to a person, I want to introduce you to my God and he's going to help you. And I think, I think that this is an opportunity that the church, that our church, has in our world today that is special and unique, because when people are...

...going to other people to find everything that they're looking for, I just can't wait to get this job, I want to work for this person, I want to be friends with this person, I want to marry this person, and people are looking to people for all of everything that they want. We and and it doesn't work out, it falls apart, it blows up, it doesn't work. We, as the church, say come over here, come over here, let me introduce you to my God that will satisfy you, that will love you, that will be committed to you, that will never leave you, that will forgive you, that will give you and fulfill you in ways that you are looking for in all the wrong places, and we have the opportunity as a church to say come over here, come over here. I want to give you three really quick tips of when do you say come over here? They're called the three knots. At the three knots. So if you're standing in line at the grocery a store and you're checking out and you over here somebody say it's not going well, that's your queue to say come over here, come over here, because life's not going well. Right, my job is not going well, my my kids aren't going well, my car's not doing well, my my business is not doing well, my relationships are not doing well. When things are not going well, that is a great opportunity to say hey, let me introduce you to somebody. How about when things are not ready for something, when you hear somebody say I just moved here. Oh Yeah, I'm not ready for this new job, I'm not ready for a new kid to be added to my family, I'm not ready to walk into this crazy holiday season. When you're not ready for something, that is a great time to just say hey, come over here, I got something for you. So, when things aren't going well, when you aren't ready for something and when not going to church, when someone just says they're not going to church, that's just a simple one. Right. Why don't you come over here? We got something for you. And so name and went with his horses and his chariots and waited at the door of Elisha's house. Don't you feel it? The commander of the army. He's got his check for four point three million dollars, he got his entourage, she's got all this stuff, and he shows up at Elisha's house and Elisha sent a messenger out to him with this message. Oh the audacity the Messenger. Do you know who I am? I got a check for four point three million dollars and you send your messenger out to talk to me. Are you serious? I'm the commander of this army that could wipe you out in one second, and you send your messenger, your your Messenger. It gets worse. The Messenger says, go and wash yourself seven times in the Jordan River and then your skin will be restored and you will be healed of your leprosy. It's like what? This is ridiculous. It's like, I was thinking, you come into the restaurant to buy a burger. Okay, you go in for a burger. You've got enough money to buy the entire restaurant if you want to. And the employee just looks at you and it's like go run seven laps around the restaurant, I'll give you a burger. I didn't come for that. I got more money. I just...

...want to Burger. Come on, come on. And so naming became angry and stalked the way. I thought he would certainly come out to meet me, he said. I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the Lord, his God, and heal me. And aren't the rivers of Damascus, that's his hometown, the Abana and the far part, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn't I wash in them and be healed? And so name in turned and went away in rage. I thought, and I expected too, of the biggest things that kill faith, that kill obedience, that stop connection with God and stop connection with Church. I thought this church was going to be different. I expected a great feeling to come over me when I showed up at Church, and it didn't. I expected God to bless me after I gave my offering. I thought I would have more friends. I thought this church would be more friendly. I expected Pastor Kevin to be a better preacher, and so we turn away in rage. Nayman expected the profit to come out to him, obviously, to do this funky little magic wand type thing and his leprosy would be healed. And now I got to go into a river. I got I got good rivers in my hometown, this Jordan River. That thing is nasty. And don't we always think that we have it better? We got the better plan, we got the better way to manage our money, we got the better way to make money, we got the better way to make friends, we got the better way to keep friends. We always think we have the better way and then God shows up and confronts us about something and we're like, this isn't really working out the way that I thought it would. I had. This is different than what I expected, and so we turn away from God. I thought. I thought that if I just prayed, God would fix it. I expected to know more about my Bible by now, and now you're telling me to do this crazy thing. I have something better than that. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, sir, if the Prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn't you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply go and wash and be cured. And this is an incredible thought to think about, like there is something inside all of us that wants to earn our salvation, that there is something inside of all of us that wants to do something that makes God love us. Like we want to do something that earns God's forgiveness and if it was difficult, we'd be all over that. We jump at it at the first bit. We would do anything in order to accomplish that. I think, like naming did. Like just imagine with me for a second. Let's say God set up the world to work that the way you get to heaven when you die is you had to run a six minute mile sometime in your life, at any time in your life, if you ran a six minute mile, you could go to heaven.

I think everyone would do that. I mean our whole life would be devoted to this one thing and no matter what it took, we'd be able to do it. But when the only requirement to have a right relationship with God is to believe that what Jesus has done for you is enough. It's too easy, like it's just a step of faith and it might not make complete sense, but that's what God has sin and so we should just do it. And so Naman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God instructed him, and his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child and he was healed. Faith, obedience he was healed. He did what the Prophet said and it worked. Then naming and his entire Party went back to the man of God and they stood before him and name and said now I know that there is no god and all the world except in Israel. So please, please, accept a gift four point three million dollars from your servant. This man's life was completely transformed. They went back to Elisha. He's like your God is real. My life is different. Jesus has transformed my life. I have joy, I understand love, I know who I am in Christ. So please just accept my gift. He even had the right posture. Remember, he was the commander of the army and here he's saying Elishah I'm your servant, I've got four point three million dollars for you, and Elisha says, as surely as the Lord lives whom I serve, I will not accept any gifts. And though name and urged him to take the gift, Elisha refused. Just think about the reward that Elisha is turning down. And I've learned that if someone wants to give you something, someone wants to be generous in whatever way is generous for them, I think you should receive it. Because when we say now we don't want that, you don't have to, you shouldn't have what we're doing is we're robbing somebody of a blessing. They want to give you something, receive it with joy gladly. But sometimes, like what Ali Shaul did here, sometimes there is something that happens in this world that you can do for somebody and you want absolutely nothing back, because you're showing them by your act of generosity, by your service, by whatever it is that you can do, you are showing them that you serve a God who loves you unconditionally, who's given everything for you and expects absolutely nothing in return in order to earn it and to give it, like there is an insane and a crazy generosity of God that he just gives it and there is literally nothing we can do to earn his love. It is by grace that we are saved through faith. It is not about what we do to earn anything from God. And so we might be bringing a offering of four point three million dollars next week, but God's, God's gift and blessing to you is four point...

...three million million, million, million, million, million, million, million, million million in value. There is nothing that we can give to God that even comes close to what he's already blessed us with. And so name and said, all right, fine, you won't take my money, but please allow me to load two of my mules with Earth from this place and I will take it back home with me and from now on I will never again offer burnt offerings or sacrifices to any other God except the Lord. The God was working in Nyman's heart name and didn't want to leave. He wanted to take this experience with him, he wanted to take this grace and for giveness with him. He wanted to worship him wherever he was going. And then there was something that came to his mind. He said, however, may the Lord Pardon me in this one thing. When my master, the king, goes into the Temple of the God of Ramon to worship there and leans on my arm, this is his job, the commander of the army, this is his job to stand next to the king as they worship in this temple. May The Lord Pardon me. When I bowed to it's like I could give four point three million dollars and you don't want that. And I know God has given me so much. I am so thankful for everything that he's done for me. I worship him and when I don't get it right all of the time, please forgive me. I'm still in process, I'm still figuring this out. Please forgive me. And Alisha said, go in peace and so the name and start at home again. Go in peace, and may we, in a few moments, go in peace, knowing that, as we plan to give next week, we can never outgive God. God has so much more for you than we could ever give back to him. We're not trying to manipulate him with our giving. We're not trying to give so that God gives us something that we really want in return. Our giving is a response to knowing and believing that our God, our God, has given us so much. He's given us everything he could possibly give us. He given us his very own life when he died on the cross. He paid the penalty for all of your sin. He's paid for it all, and he was buried and he rose again the third day, and everyone who believes in him and trusts in him the receives the free gift of eternal life. You are saved, you're forgiven. God has this for you for free, and so we give out of thankfulness, we give out of an abundance of generosity, we give out an abundance of worship. The Holy Spirit lives inside of everyone who believes. He empowers us to live an amazing life. That is truly a blessing to so many people, and we respond in love and in generosity, saying, God, you have given me so, so much, and my giving to you is just thank you and overflow of love. And so we thank God for the opportunity we have to give. Let's pray, Lord Jesus. We thank you that you have given us...

...oh so much. You've paid for our sin, all of our sin, on the Cross and there's nothing that we could do to earn it, there's no amount of money we could ever give to buy it, there's no amount of good things we could do to deserve the way that you love us. And God you love us. You've done it all for us. You've healed us, you've restored us, you've redeemed us, you've forgiven us, you've borne us into the family of God. You've given us of an identity that goes beyond anything that we have here. You, we are a son and a daughter of the king of kings and the Lord of Lords, and so the Lord. I pray that we would love you more, that we would worship you more, that we would give of ourself more, not to get anything from you, but because you've already given us way, more than we can even understand. Jesus name.

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