Seven Billion Reasons - Because some situations are just plain obvious!
Generous churches help the hurting & the hungry!
Here are a couple of intriguing websites. First, www.7billionactions.org. This website presents a running total of our world’s population. The US Census Bureau stated that the world exceeded 7 billion in population on March 12, 2012. 2012 alone has produced 105 million births and 45 million deaths! The U.S. Census Bureau predicts world population will eventually exceed 8 billion by 2025.[i] That website sort of makes you ponder - this next one is kinda gimmick creepy. It’s called www.deathclock.com
The website’s introduction states this... “Welcome to the Death Clock(TM), the Internet's friendly reminder that life is slipping away... second by second. Like the hourglass of the Net, the Death Clock will remind you just how short life is.”[ii]
Simply type in the following information: Day of Birth, Month of Birth, Year of Birth, Gender, Mode (Mood), BMI and your smoking status. My wife Tricia typed in her information to discover she will live until the ripe, old age of 93. I will kick the bucket at age 86. Can you imagine punching in your information only to have the death clock say – TOMORROW? That’s exactly how some people live. And what’s causing them to die young is malnutrition.
Our food container made it to Zimbabwe. I have some fantastic pictures to show you. Here you see people receiving the food! Notice the smiles on their faces. Living in this world is hard. But living in this world hungry is impossible! For the last two weeks I’ve presented Seven Billion Reasons to be Generous. Here’s a 3rd reason – some situations in life are just plain obvious! Generous churches help the hurting & the hungry! I want us to eventually get to Galatians 2:10, BUT before we do I must ask you a question. How do you know if a person really is a disciple of Jesus? Shouldn’t there be some proof? Vince Anotucci wrote a book called, I became a Christian and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t even get the shirt! What’s the proof that a person gets Jesus! Paul shows us. Find Galatians 1:13. Do you need a Bible? Put your finger here and turn back to Acts 8:1. (Read 1-3) Go to Acts 9: 1-6. Jesus has not finished giving out instructions! Find verse 10. (Read 10-16.)
Paul is suffering now. “I traveled to these Galatian churches and now they don’t even believe that I’ve seen the Lord or heard his word!” Go back to Galatians 1:20! (Read 20-24)
What’s the proof that someone gets Jesus! We often think it’s going to church or wearing the t-shirt – that is performing so well that it earns the right for God to be pleased with our lives! What is the question I ask you ask after every sermon? SO WHAT? Well, I’m not sure people are getting that anymore! I’m reading an e-book right now called Disciples Making Disciples by Alex Absalom. He suggests a different question. What is Jesus saying to you? After all a disciple is a student or a learner. We learn from Jesus.
What did Jesus tell blind Saul to do? Go into the city and wait! What did Jesus tell Ananias to do? Go place your hands on Saul’s eyes. I will heal him, but you go do it! What’s the proof that a person gets Jesus! They ask this question day in and day out – what is Jesus saying to me?
God does not have limited communication skills. Sometimes he uses nature! I see a rainbow in the sky or a picturesque mountain landscape, or flowers in a field or a deer on the side of the road. What is Jesus saying to me? Sometimes he uses circumstances. I am stuck in this line of traffic! What is Jesus saying to me? I attend the funeral of a friend? What is Jesus saying to me? I’m preparing for my history test! What is Jesus saying to me? Sometimes he uses other people’s experiences. "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner landed safely on his feet, after jumping from a balloon 24 miles above the earth. He traveled faster than Mach 1 or beyond the speed of sound.[iii] Maybe his own words help us understand what Jesus is saying to us, “we are so small in comparison to the earth.” How about in comparison to God? Sometimes – many times he uses his word. Right now we’re in Galatians and Jesus is speaking to each of us! Paul used to be Saul. His life changed, but he’s not the only example of a changed life! Find Galatians 2:9. Jesus spoke to the “big three.” They all not only heard Jesus but they answered a second question granting proof that a person gets or hears Jesus.
What are you doing in response? What are you doing in response to what Jesus said to you? Following Jesus might be described as spiritual or theological but in most cases following Jesus is best described as PRACTICAL! Turn to Galatians 2:10!
Be eager to remember the poor. Generous churches help the hurting & the hungry because some situations in life are just plain obvious! I can’t say that I love God who I can’t see if I don’t love those I can see! Go back to verse 10! Now let’s ask the question. What is Jesus saying to you?
I kept reading this 10th verse and Jesus asked me a question. “Greg, do you know just how rich you are?” Here’s another wild website for your consideration! www.globalrichlist.com The website asks – How rich are you? Every year we gaze enviously at the lists of the richest people in world. Wondering what it would be like to have that sort of cash. But where would you sit on one of those lists? Here's your chance to find out. Just enter your annual income into the box below and hit 'show me the money'*[iv]
Talk about perspective. I couldn’t believe what I found. If you make more than $45,700 per year you are in the top 1% of the richest people in the world. Here’s what’s crazy. If you make $25,400 per year you are in the top 10% of the richest people in the world. Why? Because the average yearly salary in the world is $5000![v] If you make anywhere near $100,000 annually you are considered part of the super-rich!
Which is harder? To be rich or poor? Hands down – it’s poor! Because poor people often die of “are you kidding me” – malnutrition and diarrhea? Jesus is saying to me you are rich! Stop thinking that you are not! Now – what should we do in response to what Jesus said through the apostle Paul? Here are a few PRACTICAL OPTIONS! #1: Give Money! That’s what Paul will do. The poor in this 10th verse are Jewish Christians living in Jerusalem. Jews that came to Jerusalem for Pentecost. Some of the 3000 that accepted Christ and never left. Some can’t find work because of their new found faith. Plus – famine has made matters worse. There’s little food. They need help. Paul takes up an offering to help them get food. Last week we matched the lowest offering of the year! Have you ever listened to a message and thought, Is that preacher guy speaking to me? Well, you don’t have to wonder on this one. I’m speaking to anyone right now who does not give financially – either through a tithe or an offering. God tells us to test him when it comes to giving. Whatever you make annually give him 10%! No one can please God without faith! Generosity requires faith! God is speaking to you today. The question is – will you respond? Option #2: Give Food! Here are my family’s egg noodles and a box of instant mash potatoes. Next week we’ll bring a can of coffee and some Ritz crackers. WARM will provide Thanksgiving baskets to some 280 families for Thanksgiving, but they need generous donations to pull it off. Give food! Here’s Option #3: Give Time by Taking the Walk! Watch this video! Lisa Prouse wants to help African kids get shoes. God spoke to her. She’s responding to what he said. Go barefoot to help Lisa help others. Start at Venue 471 and end up at Graeter’s. Option #4: Gain Perspective. Take a class - Mark Boyer! Go on a mission trip. See poverty first hand. Help with the Gift Shop. People are hurting in this community!
For this next week I’m only going to eat rice and beans for lunch or nothing! I invite you to do the same. Now why rice and beans? That’s what most people eat. Rice & beans are filling, nutritious and somewhat inexpensive. We often do not care about the poor because we lack perspective. Renee Stearns is the wife of Richard Stearns, the President of World Vision and the author of The Hole in Our Gospel. Renee was asked to speak about clean water so she did an experiment. She decided to go an entire day without water. No shower, no teeth brushing, no coffee, plus she got a bucket and walked to the nearest lake 2 miles away. She dipped the bucket in the lake only to walk 2 miles back. By the time she returned – there was little water in the bucket – it mostly sloshed out. She was exhausted and could not imagine having to repeat that every day![vi] Now imagine if what was in the bucket was filled with bacteria.
I’m curious, is anyone here afraid of sharks? Many people are and do you know why? It started in 1975! It’s when Steven Spielberg took Peter Benchley’s book and made it into a movie. JAWS was so scary that even to this day millions of Americans stay away from the beach.
An article in Foreign Policy Magazine claims that on average less than one American (0.92 people) dies per year from a shark attack. It’s unlikely any of us will die from a shark attack, but if you need something to worry about, here's a better list of what might take our lives while living in the United States. Vending machines account for 2 deaths per year. Riding lawnmowers take 5 lives per year. Fireworks cause 6.6 deaths per year. Skydiving accidents account for 21 deaths per year. Getting crushed by a television or a big piece of furniture causes an average of 26 deaths every year.[vii]
And in this world of phenomenal technology - a child dies every 15 seconds because of bad water![viii] And we can do something about it. Be generous. Give as God has blessed you and with that money we will provide good food and clean water to people in Zimbabwe, Haiti and right here in Columbus! The Gospel is PRACTICAL – what has Jesus said to me? What am I doing in response?
[vi] Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel, 137
[viii] Richard Stearns, The Hole in Our Gospel, 138