How to live with open hands? What enables generosity?
I have eight random True and False questions I want to ask you. Consider this a bit of mind stimulation. Let’s see how well you do. #1) T or F: A group of kangaroos is called a “mob?” (TRUE) #2) T or F: A dragonfly has a lifespan of seven days? (FALSE) #3) T or F: Devo’s original name was going to be Devoid. They shortened it to Devo. (FALSE) #4) T or F: Kiwi birds are blind. They hunt by smell. (TRUE) #5: T or F: The only member of the band ZZ Top to not have a beard has the last name Beard? (TRUE-Drummer Frank Beard) #6: T or F: A full grown bear can run as fast as a cheetah? (FALSE) Usain Bolt can’t run as fast as a cheetah! 70 mph. A sitting cheetah can reach 45mph in 2 seconds. #7: T or F: Most of us have eaten a spider in our sleep? (TRUE)[i] How well did you do? I have one more! T or F: When it comes to this world people are consumed with getting rather than giving? Hmmm. I don’t know most people. I do know my own tendencies. I don’t know the world but I do know a place in this world where it is true! Open up your Bibles today to Revelation 3:14. Do you need a Bible? (CE Invite cards)
Today we conclude this four week series called How to live life with open hands? If we have open hands we’ll have generous hearts. We have been digging into the seven churches of Asia. Six receive praise from Jesus. One doesn’t get any praise at all – Laodicea. (Read Revelation 3:14)
Are you a clever Internet password creator? According to Splashdata.com most people are not.[ii] The reason being is that people use words that are too common. Passwords like iloveyou, 111111, trustno1, letmein, abc123, QWERTY, 123456 and the all-time worst password to use is the word PASSWORD. Did you know that Jesus made the list?[iii] Jesus is not a good password because his name is also all too common – it’s used too many times. I would think that would be a good thing – but not in the world of cyber security! Has the name JESUS become all too common for you/for me?
Look at this picture. This is staggering. Dave Crisp, an amateur treasure hunter, armed with a metal detector, located this Roman pot in a field in Somerset, England. The pot contained 52,500 coins estimated at $1 million.[iv] I imagine Dave Crisp will never forget this discovery. The pot is etched into his mind. John feels the same way! Jesus reveals to John the Apostle a vision of himself that John will never forget! Jesus wants John to share this image with the Christ followers at Laodicea and with US! Go back to verse 14! John uses three brush stokes to paint Jesus. Jesus is the great AMEN! A nine year old boy prays the Thanksgiving Meal prayer! It went like this: "Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the turkey, the rolls, the mashed potatoes, the red jiggly stuff, and the bread stuff even though I don't like it. We ask that You not let us choke on this food." And everyone said “Oh AMEN to that!” Amen means “so be it.”[v] It’s “an acknowledgement of that which is sure and valid!”[vi] The Apostle Paul reminds us that all of the promises of God are guaranteed and affirmed by the person and work of Jesus Christ.[vii] But that’s not all. Jesus is also the faithful and true witness. What did he witness? Heaven, God, - why did Jesus come? To show people God in all his glory. Jesus didn’t come for himself. He came to do the will of God! Do you ever wonder why you’re in this world? This life is so hard. Despite how hard life is show people what it means to be a faithful and true witness of God!
Besides Jesus – who in the Bible would you like to meet? Moses, Peter, John, Eutychus – the guy fell from a third story window in Acts 20 and was picked up dead. That is until Paul healed him. I would really love to meet Noah! You realize that Jesus witnessed the flood! Actually, Jesus was pre-flood! Here’s the third brush stroke. Jesus is the ruler or source or origin[viii] of God’s creation! He was there when God spoke the world into existence. Honestly, who is this man? John MacArthur said, “As a man, He had a beginning, but as God, He was the beginning.”[ix]If you are struggling with doubts concerning Jesus read Revelation, read the Gospels and get John Ortberg’s new book, Who is this man? You will be blown away by what you read.
The Laodiceans will be blown away by the image of Jesus. Because only a God could say what Jesus says in verses 15-16! That’s gross. Where are we again? Laodicea! Do you consider yourself a prankster? Willing to take a risk – pull off a joke on someone? I would consider Ellie Haley a prankster. Ever been to Niagara Falls? A tour group crowds into a large elevator, and as the elevator doors closed, Ellie Haley turns to the group and introduces herself. "Hi, I'm Ellie, your tour guide. Generally we sing a song going down the elevator. What would you like to sing?" A gentleman suggests a familiar song, and the whole group belts it out. The doors opened and Ellie steps out leading the group. She then turns and smiles at the sightseers and says, "Folks, I'm not really your tour guide. I just love it when people sing!" I’m not a tour guide either, but let’s tour Laodicea.
This map will help.[x] So will this website – www.followtherabbi.com
As you can see Laodicea lies between Hierapolis to the north and Colosse to the south. Colosse is the home of Philemon. Hierapolis was famous for its healing hot springs. The baths of Hierapolis allowed hundreds of people to bathe at the same time. I’m glad times have changed! Colosse was known for its cold water. Colosse was fed by many ice cold streams from Mt. Cadmus. The city of Laodicea was known for four things. Three good and one bad: soft black wool, healing eye salve and banking. What was bad was their water supply. Apparently their water was so full of minerals – so bad - it would make people sick! They would take a drink and spit it out of their mouths! Go back to verse 15! Ray Vanderlaan helps us make a connection. “If you were hot like Hierapolis, you’d bring healing, restoration and comfort to those who suffer. If you were cold like Colosse, you’d refresh and encourage those who suffer. Truth is you are neither. You are lukewarm. You don’t do anyone any good and you make me sick, just like your own water!”[xi]
That is so convicting. I don’t want to be that kind of church! So what are we to do? It starts with perspective!
I have found that allot of my prayers have to do with my comfort or the comfort of those I love. Some people have never experienced comfort. If you live in Ecuador you may never sleep on a mattress. You will always sleep on the ground. If you live in Haiti you might eat once every three days. If you live in Africa you may own only one set of clothes and live in a house with a dozen other people. If you live in Jamaica you might shower once a week. If you live in Westerville you might not get breakfast. A teacher asked her student’s one question. Write out your answer in your journal. What is your favorite breakfast? One child wrote, "I don’t get no food to eat for breakfast, I don’t get no drink to drink for breakfast.” I don’t live that way and it’s easy to forget that many people do. T or F: Most people would rather get than give? It’s true of the Laodiceans. Is that true of us? Wool and medicine and money have made them comfortable. Jesus quotes them. Find verse 17. Anyone know the significance of these numbers? (5-23-16-22-29) Last week’s Powerball winning numbers. The Powerball jackpot was $550 million. I was tempted to buy a ticket! Because if I had that much money I would not need a thing – including God! That’s what loving money does – it twists your perspective. Finish verse 17! You don’t have anything without God! Read verse 18!
Sometimes we have eyes, but we don’t see. How can we live life with open hands? Don’t get comfortable. See God. See other people and experience joy by giving to them. Truth is giving is better than getting.
I believe that this is one of the saddest verses in the Bible! 2 Chronicles 21:20: Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He passed away, to no one's regret, and was buried in the City of David, but not in the tombs of the kings.
He died to no one’s regret. Nobody cared that he even existed. I’m not gonna let that happen to me. I want my life to count. I want my life to count for God. I want this church to count for God. For years I’ve been taught to count numbers like. Money – how much we all give. We count buildings. Space to use. We count baptisms. People who start on this journey of being a disciple of Jesus. Maybe we should count a little more. James reminds us to count widows and orphans.[xii] I received this email from Dereck Mushayamunda. “We thank God that the food container that was shipped arrived in the village. School attendance had gone down in our village due to starving kids. Out of the 500+ kids, only 200+ were attending school. Now that the feeding program has started, at least twice a week, the school is back to full capacity.” 500 is better than 200! Let’s count the 28 families / 86 children you served at the Gift Shop this past Friday. People often left in tears. One woman has always wanted to get a bike for her 16 year old daughter who has downs syndrome. She left with a bike. This church counts in her eyes and in God’s. Does the name Lawrence DiPrimo ring a bell? Lawrence counted one!
Look at this picture. On a cold November night in Times Square, Officer Lawrence DePrimo was working when he encountered an older, barefooted homeless man. The officer disappeared for a moment, then returned with a new pair of boots, and knelt to help the man put them on. The act of kindness would have gone unnoticed had it not been for a tourist from Arizona.
Jennifer Foster’s snapshot was posted on the New York Police Department’s official Facebook page. It made Officer DePrimo an overnight Internet hero. The post had been viewed 1.6 million times, and had attracted nearly 275,000 “likes” and more than 16,000 comments.
The officer doesn’t understand all the fuss. He said he started talking to the man and found out his shoe size was 12. He went into a store. The all-weather boots cost a little more than $75. The officer has kept the receipt in his vest since then, saying, “to remind me that sometimes people have it worse.”[xiii]
There’s nothing like giving. Giving produces joy for the giver. Giving means we count. Giving means this church counts. How about you? Do you want to your life to count? Then live life with open hands to God and to people.
[iii] www.preachingtoday.com/newsthatillustrates, November 26, 2012
[v] Logos Bible Software, The Bible Knowledge Commentary
[vi] New Testament EBC, 1153
[vii] MacArthur Bible Commentary, 2000
[viii] New Testament EBC, 1152
[ix] MacArthur Bible Commentary, 2000
[xii] James 1:27