We are called to make disciples of Jesus. What should those disciples look like? The first and most important thing is they should have a growing Heart for God.
In Psalm 96, David taught the Israelites how to worship with a true heart for God. We can worship with a true heart for God.
Below is an automated transcript of this messageAll right, let’s dig in. We’re so excited to continue our series, entitled, “Rising Up to Make Room for More Disciples.” As you’re listening here, in person or online, we encourage your response. We love to hear someone say, “Amen,” or if you’re online, type a response. It encourages us because we’re celebrating God’s work together. We want to release you and give you permission to really worship wherever you are.
This morning, we’re basing the title, “Rise up,” that portion of it from Nehemiah, where Nehemiah felt called of God to go and do something about the broken down walls and the broken gates in the city of Jerusalem. In fact, he wept and cried over over the city. When he went and told his people about it, they responded like this; Nehemiah 2:18 (ESV) …“Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” This is where we get the “rise up” portion.
As I look around our city today and as I look around our nation and our world, I see a lot of brokenness. I see a lot of broken families, broken marriages, broken schools, broken justice systems in many cases and broken unity everywhere you look. I have talked to fellow church members and people in the neighborhood; there’s a lot of discouragement. There is a lot of confusion and anxiety, A lot of brokenness. Do you see it? I believe that what I’m really looking at is a lot of broken hearts. A lot of people have broken hearts right now over a lot of things; isn’t that really the heart of the matter?
The solution is not who you vote for or whether medical science comes up with some particular solution, whether you march or these are all things that you might feel called to do . The solution, ultimately, will be about the human heart, the heart of the matter.
But, there’s a problem. There’s a problem right at the heart level. Jeremiah describes it like this, he says, Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick.” We have a problem. We have sin-sick hearts.
I often feel tempted, when I’m doing marriage counseling, and this will probably put a stop to any future marriage counseling, but I feel tempted to say this sometimes, “Just stop sinning against each other and get a new heart towards each other.” We can’t do this though; we need Christ to do something about it. The Lord cares about our broken hearts.
it says in Psalm 34:18 (ESV) “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” He’s near. He’s right there, but we have to call on Him. He’s ready, He’s near, but we have to call on Him and it leads us to our subject today.
How can we be involved in calling people to Christ and letting them see heart change? How can we be involved in that? I believe we can be involved by, first of all, asking the Lord to save us, heal our broken hearts and going out with the message, to say that Christ can change your heart. He can change your life. He can give you a new heart for God. I believe that’s really the first mark of what it means to be a Christ follower so that you have a heart for God.
We are commanded to make disciples. Jesus says, in Matthew 28:19 (ESV) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” He commands us to do this. We’re not a “red” church; we’re not a “blue” church. We are a Jesus church. I hope you voted. I hope you expressed your citizenship. But, presidents come and go. Governors come and go. Congressmen and senators come and go, but Christ is on the throne and He’s given us an overarching commitment and call that supersedes all others to make disciples of all nations. Some would say, We get what you’re talking about, but during Covid, we’re all beat up. Why are you talking about this just after the election? We’re going to talk about making disciples. By the way, people are hurting worse than I’ve ever seen right now. Worse than I’ve ever seen. Some say, Well, this is the new normal. No, it’s not. Here’s what’s going to happen very soon; very soon, people are going to be flooding back into the church because it’s the only place that can give the answer to broken hearts. We have to get ready.
Our purpose statement is writing down what the Bible says. This is a way to remember it:
“Our church exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ who have a growing . . . Heart for God expressed in passionate worship and generous giving. Heart for Each Other expressed in authentic fellowship and devoted discipleship. Heart for Our World expressed in intentional evangelism and sacrificial service.”
This is our purpose statement. If you took our membership course, you would remember that. if you look on our website, you would remember that. But it’s not so much that you memorize it. We’re describing what kind of disciples we’re called to make. He said to make disciples of what kind? Disciples that follow Jesus and have a heart for God, heart for each other and a heart for our world.
Today, let’s unpack that first one, “Heart for God.” What would it look like to make disciples who have a heart for God? You can’t make disciples before you, first, get a heart for God.
in Psalm 96, we’ll see what David said about it. The psalmist David wrote to his Israelite family, to the believers there, he wrote to them about how to worship with a true heart for God. And I believe that we can worship with a true heart for God. How is this possible? As we look at the text, I think we’ll see three marks of those who have a true heart for God. Are you ready? Let’s dig in.
This is Psalm 96; this is great. This is a beautiful psalm. Psalm 96:1-9 (ESV) 1 “Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth! 2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! 4 For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts! 9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!” This is God’s word. Amen.
Three marks of a true heart for God: 1. A new heart that sings of God’s salvation.
I want you to look at the first two verses and circle the word, “sing.” You should see it three times. Do you see it? It’s in the Hebrew imperative; in other words, it’s not a “holy suggestion.” It’s a command. You might be sitting there thinking, Well, I am not a good singer. I feel uncomfortable singing. If you’re a believer, the command is to sing. The command is to sing, and then it says, “Sing a new song.”
Now, I’m a musician and I know our worship team would agree with me that we love singing a new song. The song sung right before I got up was a new song to us. It’s a beautiful song; I didn’t know the words yet. It will take me a little while to get used to the words. I’m glad they put the words up on the screen. That’s helpful, but I didn’t know the melody yet, so maybe I was a little hesitant. I did better at the second service. I heard it, for the first time, at first service. I’m not sure what David is talking about. He could certainly be talking about writing new songs to the Lord and singing new songs to the Lord. He might be saying, Yeah, we should be singing the modern songs and not the old songs, but I don’t think that’s really at the heart of it. Personally, for me, the old songs are the ones that stir my heart the most because they’re the songs of my childhood , but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to sing the new songs because we have young people that we want to reach. But really, I think there’s something else going on here. I think it has something to do with your heart. You can’t sing a new song without a new heart; it’s not the kind of singing that the Lord is required of us here.
Let’s work it out and see if I can convince you of what I’m saying. “Sing to the Lord all the earth.” Are you part of all the earth? First, let’s just check that box off. And then, what should we sing? First of all, who should we sing to? We should sing to the Lord. You’re not singing for the people around you. You know, I don’t have a really great singing voice, and I’m afraid somebody around will hear me. You’re not even singing for your own ears.
Listen, if you talk to the people who went to first service, tell them that you guys were doing so much better than those at first service. It took me the whole service to get them to where you are now. So let’s see what heights we can bring. Sing to the Lord, sing to the Lord, bless His name!
You should sing a song that tells of salvation. It requires a new heart, because how can you sing of salvation if you haven’t been saved? And so, you sing this new song to the Lord and not to yourself and not to others. Sing this new song to the Lord; sing it to bless His name because you carry His name.
Can I tell you a Hebrew word? I’m not going to do a lot of Hebrew word work today, but this one is “low hanging fruit.” You must hear it. The word salvation, in the Hebrew, is Yeshua. Sing and tell of Yeshua from day to day. That’s Jesus. That’s Jesus. Sing about Jesus.
Now, if you don’t have a new heart, you won’t feel inclined to do this. But, if you have a new heart, you are commanded to sing about Jesus, to sing His name and to sing to Him. Oh, my goodness; sing with a new heart.
But we have this heart problem, as we mentioned before. In Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick…” If you have a sin-sick heart, it won’t sing. Oh, it’ll sing those other songs. Yeah, it will sing the songs from your teenage years. I don’t know what your car looked like when you’re a teenager, but mine had this really cool eight track. Tell the young people nearby what that is later, parents. I could name you some of those songs. I can still sing them. I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with those songs, but it’s a sad state of affairs. If those are the only songs I have as a believer, I need some new songs that are new to my heart, not worldly songs.
How do we get this new heart? Well, the Lord revealed to Ezekiel back there in the Old Testament, he said, Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT) “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.” In other words, the Lord said, I’ll give you a heart transplant. We’re going to have to get that stony, rebellious, stubborn heart out of you and give you one that’s tender and responsive. If you have a heart like that, you’ll sing to the Lord and you’ll sing of His name and you’ll sing of His salvation.
What is singing exactly ? And why is it so important for expressing passionate worship? Let’s work on that for a second.
First of all, singing is an odd thing if you think about it. Preaching is kind of odd too, but singing is perhaps more odd than preaching. The fact that I would sing the words I’m talking about seems a little odd to me, but yet, there’s something about it. We take poetry that comes in stanzas, and a lot of the words rhyme at the end, and we put them to a melody. And now, the words have more power; they tend to bypass our heads and go straight to our hearts. It’s because singing is passion. Preaching, perhaps, is passion as well. I certainly can feel the fire of the Holy Spirit upon me now. I prayed for that. He’s answering my prayer now. I also prayed for you to have spiritual ears to hear. You’ll have to report to the Lord about that. I’m doing my part.
Singing engages the heart, perhaps, like no other human communication. Birds sing, that’s true, but their songs are pre-written. The Bobwhite always sings….. I’m not a very good whistler. Some of you know many bird songs; they’re beautiful. But only humanity sings in worship.
In the Oxford handbook, it says, “Singing is the externalization of emotion by the voice.” It gets the heart on the outside. David Rothenberg rights this, he says, “Songs have the power to move us in mysterious ways. Why is that? Because music with words provides a missing link between reason and emotion. Singing takes language and pulls the most possible feeling out of it.”
We need a new heart, a new heart that’s focused on singing to the Lord. The psalmist in Psalm 57:7 (KJV) writes, “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.” I’m focused on that kind of worship and that kind of singing.
The first mark of a heart for God is to have a new heart, one that’s received salvation through faith and as a result, sings to the Lord. They don’t worry about the quality because they’re not singing for themselves or their hearers around them. They do as in Psalm 100:1 (KJV) “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” Now, you can do that, can’t you? Well, that’s kind of what I do. I make a joyful noise to the Lord.
If your two year old sings “Happy Birthday” to you, are you going to stop and say, All right, kid, wait a minute. That was a horrible version of Happy Birthday. Happy “Birfday” is the wrong pronunciation. It’s a “th” sound. You need to work on your “th” sound. You keep making ”f” sounds when you’re supposed to….and by the way, the tune was all wrong. Your child would go from “Happy Birfday, Daddy” to tears and a booboo face because you care more about their singing ability and their pronunciation than you do that they love you and are singing. Give me a break. Who’s done that to your child? Noone, because you love your child and you think it’s kind of cute because they’re doing their best and they’re showing their heart. Whenever your daughter brings you breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, moms, do you say, That’s the worst looking fried egg I’ve ever seen, honey. No; you put it in your mouth and you choke it down, even though it’s raw. You smile and say, That’s the best egg I have ever had, honey. Thank you so much. Why do you do that? It’s because they are little and they are your children. They’re doing their best. They’re bringing their best offering, whether it’s a song or a gift.
Your God, your Father loves you so much more, and yet you would deny Him your singing. You would deny Him yourgiving, thinking somehow that He’s going to judge your quality. Our best singers would have trouble competing with the angelic host, I’m sure, but that’s not what the goal is. It’s to sing to the Lord.
There are many benefits to singing. Doctors and medical scientists have looked into this. They tell us that singing strengthens the immune system. It releases some sort of chemical that makes you more immune. We could certainly use that these days. We’ve been told that singing will kill us but doctors say it builds up your immune system. Who knew? It also improves heart and lung function because you have to use them to sing. Singing promotes lower stress levels. Did you know that singing is a natural antidepressant? It improves mental alertness, and it even aids memory.
My mother’s mother, my dear grandmother, and my mother were so important to leading this man to Jesus. This grandmother is the one who said to me, when I was a little boy, “Gary Wayne, I think you’re going to make a preacher when you grow up.” And of course, you remember what I said to her, “No, Granny, I’m going to be a chicken farmer with Papa.” I still like chicken, but I like preaching better. In her final days, granny was in a nursing home with advanced dementia. When I went to see her with my mother, she did not know me. She began to cry when she saw me as if she knew she was supposed to know me. But no words came to say, “hello.” But my mom would say, “Let’s sing.” My mom and my grandmother were in a gospel quartet called the “Willow Branch Quartet.” They were well known throughout the Southeast. They made albums, eight tracks, cassettes and even seventy-eights together. And so, my mother would start singing, ‘Amazing Grace.” She didn’t even get to the word, “grace,” before Granny started singing. She didn’t know our names, but she knew her Lord. She sang every verse perfectly. What was that I wonder? She could still sing hymns.
Singing connects us to God. Singing connects us to other believers because, as we hear our unified voices, we become as one. In reality, it connects us to the angels who continuously sing. It even connects us to God’s creation. Did you know God, the Father sings? (Zeph. 3:17 – God exults over us with “loud singing.”), Jesus sings (Matt. 26:30 – Jesus sang hymns with His disciples as they concluded the Last Supper), the angelic host sings, (Isa. 6 they sang “Holy, holy, holy”), even creation sings (Job 38:7 “morning stars sang together,” Isaiah Isa. 55:12 says the “mountains and the hills shall break forth in singing,” and if we keep reading Psalm 96, in v.12 “Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy.”)
Remember what Jesus told the Pharisees? They said, “You should tell them to stop calling you the son of David and saying that hosanna stuff, you should stop them.” He says to them, “If I tell them to stop, the rocks will cry out.” All creation will one day sing, and we’re already His. Let us sing. Will you sing with a new heart? It requires a heart transplant. Get one. How do you get it? You get it through Jesus. And then, when you get it, sing to Him. Let your heart sing expressing your path. We’re trying to make disciples. What kind of disciples? The ones you follow Jesus. And what does it look like? They sing their hearts out to the Lord and to no other because they’re saved.
Three marks of a true heart for God: 2. An upright heart that declares God’s greatness.
Here’s the second mark. They have an upright heart that declares God’s greatness. Upright has the idea of “right with God.” So you have this new heart that’s right with God judiciously. It’s also being made clean, which is more of the idea of being sanctified, being made holy. And so, the upright heart declares God’s greatness. Look at verses three through six. That’s where we’re at now; the first word is “declared.” That’s another one of those Hebrew imperatives. It’s a command word, sing and then declare. That’s not a word we use a lot today, “declared.” I remember growing up, my mom would see something that sort of was astounding to her or unusual and she would say, “Well, I declare!” I used to hear that word used like that. But this is more like the idea of “to make known, to make something prior unknown to something known.”
Did you know that people’s hearts are broken today and that they’re far from God, for the simple fact that they don’t know how to have a relationship with God. Do you know why they don’t know? Because they are so busy “navel gazing.” We’re so busy with our stuff that we don’t declare His glory. We don’t declare His greatness. Where are we supposed to declare it? Declare His glory among the nations. This is the Old Testament version of the great commission. Jesus said, “Make disciples of all nations…” David saw it coming because the Lord has always been about that. He loves the nations. He loves people of every color, tribe and language. No matter what kind of barbecue they prefer, He loves him. Okay? Yeah. He wants us to declare what His glory, His marvelous works say. “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised.”
He is to be feared above all other gods. In fact, these gods are not really gods. They’re actually worthless idols. Let’s unpack this for a second. To declare something, we say that He’s marvelous, that He’s glorious, that He made the heavens. In verse six, that He has splendor and majesty, strength and beauty. To declare it, you have to first observe it.
Here’s the word “worship.” Let’s just talk about the word, “worship” for a second. The word, “worship,” comes from an old English word, “weorthscipe.” We shortened it, through time, to “worship.” It began as “worth-ship;” two things happen in order to worship. The first is to recognize something or someone’s worth. And then, secondly, you give what someone or something is worth. That’s the two moves of “worth-ship,” of worship.
Hear, the psalmist David is saying that we are to recognize that God is great and not just when there’s food on the table. He is great when the pantry is empty. Anybody can say God is great. God is good when there’s food on the table. But when you declare it because it’s so, even when the pantry is empty, that’s someone who has a new heart, that’s someone who has an upright heart. They declare it because they recognize it.
The reason a lot of people aren’t generous toward God and the reason a lot of people aren’t talking about God to other people is they have yet to fully recognize His greatness. They’ve yet to catch a glimpse of His full glory in their own hearts. It diminishes our worship and it diminishes our declaration because we’ve yet to fully see Him. And so, this preacher is up here begging right now, asking right now, Lord, let them see You, let us see You and Your greatness. If we would recognize it, it would be the perfect response. There would be no other response than to declare it. We recognize what His greatness is, His marvelous works and His beauty.
We have a heart problem even after we get a new heart. Our heart is right with God in terms of the judicial sense. In other words, Jesus has paid for our sins, and so we’re right with Him. But in the experiential sense, we still struggle with temptation. We know we’re right with God if we’ve received Christ as Lord and Savior because His offering is perfect. He’s paid for how many of our sins? All of them; past, present and future. They’re paid for. But yet, we still walk in this world and we still struggle, sometimes, with temptation. It still pulls us in. And so when we see this passage about worthless idols, I would suggest to you that the idolatry of Americans, by and large, is easy to see. We vote based on this idol. We vote with our pocketbooks; our idol is our wallet. Our idol is money and possessions. It’s strange, too, because if you ever read about the happiness quotient in the world, Americans come out way down at the bottom.
If you took the whole world, shook it up and said, Okay, what’s the average income? It’s $2100 a year, according to a 2018 census annual income; $2100 a year. What does that make you? It makes you among the wealthiest people who have ever lived on planet Earth. And yet we say, But I need… We love our possessions and we love that which affords us possessions. We love our money. If I’m a good preacher and I’m not claiming to be but if I aspire to be, I will not avoid talking about money. Now, I know some of you have struggled. Some of you are private business owners; you’ve had a terrible time this year. Businesses have closed, small businesses have closed. I recognize that. But I also recognize this: that God wants to break us of idolatry and who knows what He’s trying to teach us right now? Oh, that America would be broken from this consumerism. We get up in the morning and we go to bed at night thinking about what we need, and yet, we’re the wealthiest people who have ever lived.
Matthew quotes Jesus and Jesus is saying this in the sermon on the Mount, He says, Matthew 6:24 (ESV) “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” What’s your idol?
Paul wrote to Timothy, a young preacher, that he should be aware of something. 1 Timothy 6:10 (NLT) “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” He says, “For the love of money;” he doesn’t say “for money” because money is neutral. It’s just a symbol of what we know of our work. You work and you have this symbol that says, Okay, here’s how much you’ve worked. You use it to trade with its just neutral. It’s whether or not you love money. This is why Jesus talked more about money than He did heaven or hell, because He knew that even believers will get mad. Especially in America, if the preacher talks about money because we love it and we love it more than God. We need to stop.
Part of this “Rise Up” series is less about expanding our home and more about expanding our hearts so that we make disciples who have a heart for God marked by generosity. If I don’t teach it and if we don’t teach it in their small groups, we’ve missed something. We’ve not properly dealt with that, which is killing marriages and killing families.
If I do marriage counseling, one of the first things they say that is causing them to struggle in their marriage is not that they have too much money. No, they always don’t think they have enough, and then they argue about it. It’s killing us.
Here’s what Tim Keller says, “Worship is pulling our affections off our idols and putting them on God.” It’s often like that for the believer. If you would grow in an upright heart, reach in there and pull out the idolatry of riches or maybe it’s some addiction. I’m talking about giving right now, but it could be something else. Anything, any person, anyone, anything that you love more than God, worship is pulling your affection off of that and saying, I will sing to You. I will declare to You, regardless of what’s going on in the world. You are my all in all. Those are the kind of disciples that God’s calling us to be and the kind that He is calling us to make.
It says those with an upright heart recognize and declare God’s greatness with joy. Here’s what it says in Psalm 32:10 (ESV) “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.” Those that are right with God, will you pull your affections off of your idols and put them on Jesus Christ as He cleanses your heart and makes it holy and upright. That’s the second mark of a person who has a heart for God; a new heart that sings of His salvation and an upright heart that declares His greatness.
Three marks of a true heart for God: 3. A generous heart that gives for God’s glory.
We are in verses seven through nine. We’ve been working through this verse by verse; we are now in verses seven through nine. You’ll see the word, “ascribed,” three times. 7 “Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength! 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;” We don’t use that word a lot, “ascribe.” A lot of the modern translations will just simplify and say, Give to the Lord. It says that three times, in case you missed it. “Ascribe” actually is a little richer word than “give.” Again, this is in the imperative.
So we have “sing, declare and ascribe.” “Ascribe” has that two-fold sense to it, like “worship” does. “Ascribe” means, first of all, that you recognize the worth. But then, you also give according to the worth, to give, to attribute, to give credit to.
What should we give God? He owns everything. What should we give? Well, let’s just look. First of all, you give Him glory for everything. You give Him glory for his strength in verse seven. Did you know He’s able to make you generous? But He leaves it up to you to start. Well, I don’t know if I have enough. Remember that story about Elijah and the widow? God said He couldn’t find anybody in Israel that would take care of his prophet. So he sent him out of the country. He goes to this widow lady that was outside of Israel. Can you imagine being the preacher that got sent to a widow lady? Lord, really? First of all, I spent three years with a raven. You know, you had a raven feeding me next to a creek, and now I have to go to a widow lady because You love using the least of these. It humbles the receiver big time.
God is proving something to us. It’s not how much you have or how rich you are; it’s how generous you are. It says, in verse 7, “ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!” He’s the one that makes it able. You would not have anything if it weren’t for Him, and then it says in verse 8, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!”
I miss our tables down front. As you know, we’re trying to be safe right now. We’re trying to take those steps to be safe. I currently give through my bank online. I’ve got it set up in bill pay, so every time I get paid, it sends my tithe. It, also, sends my “rise up offerings. It doesn’t cost the church anything because the bank sends it in the mail for me. Some of you are doing that; over 95% of us now are giving online. Before Covid, it was like 40% gave online. 60% gave in person. I missed being able to walk down to these tables, with my tithes and my offerings and stand with my wife, especially, praying, “Lord, thank You for taking care of us. Everything we have belongs to You. Now multiply this to Your kingdom. This is what we have; multiply it to Your kingdom’s use.” To be able to look at my wife and be in unity on it represents something. It’s our worship; it is worshipful. I am as worshipful as I can be with online giving. I’m not saying we should stop, heaven forbid, because this is how we’re reaching more people. But I do miss coming into His courts with an offering. We could bring an offering and a song; we could bring an “Amen.” We can bring an offering of praise. We can bring our Bibles and take notes; we can bring ourselves.
By the way, what do you give to the One Who owns everything? He owns “the cattle on a 1000 hills;” He owns everything. How do you give? Well, what did you give your dad on Father’s Day? Didn’t you have to borrow money from your mom to give him that tie he had to wear? How did you pay for that gift for mom on Mother’s day? Well, didn’t you have to borrow money from your dad? When you were a kid, you know, you had to because you didn’t have anything. But what you had was the willingness to give if someone would supply your ability to give. Do you believe that God is able to make you generous? It begins with giving. You see, He cares more about your availability than your ability. If you would make your time, your talent and your treasure available, He’ll make you able to give and to worship.
To be generous is a mark of someone who has a heart for God. How did God tell Moses to build the very first worship center, the very first tabernacle? Let’s look at Exodus; Here’s what God told him; here was advice from God on how to do it. He says in Exodus 35:5 (ESV) “Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze.” That is how I want you to build it. I’m not looking for people who don’t have a generous heart, because I really don’t want their stuff anyway. I’m able to build this with or without you, the Lord says. I’m looking for people that believe in me and as a result, are generous. Do you know, if you read that story, they brought so much that God had to tell them? Hey, we have got enough, Moses. Moses tells the people, Okay, stop! Because their generosity overflowed.
Let’s look at the first century church. It says, Acts 2:45-47 (ESV) 45 “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” They were generous in heart. It was the mark of this first century church, praising God and having favor with all the people. “The Lordadded to the number day by day those who were being saved.”Listen, friends, we’re never going to fill this house until we get generous. The Lord brings the increase.
Paul told Timothy, who was a young pastor, to do this; he says, 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (ESV) 17 “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” The rich in this present age, that’s us; I’ve already established that. If you want to feel rich, go to Africa. Go to Guatemala. Go to Indonesia, go somewhere else and get an education. “…this present age” is this age. It’s not the heavenly age that’s coming. It is this age; it’s the one we’re in right now. You’re rich in this age; all of us that believe in Jesus are going to be wealthy in the coming age. It is the he right kind of wealthy.
As for the rich in this present age, charge them. He didn’t say to beg them. He didn’t say. He didn’t even say to teach them; he said to charge them. That’s what Paul told Timothy to do. Charge them not to be haughty, in other words, not to be prideful nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches. Put their hope on God, Who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good and to be rich in good works. Be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
Do you want to experience the abundant life? Live “the life of the open hand.” One hand opened to God to receive and one hand opened to others to give. Do you want to experience real life? Misers are miserable but those that are generous are full of life. That’s the kind of disciple we’re called to make.
What’s the antidote for greed? What’s the antidote for idolatry? The antidote is generosity. Generosity breaks the hold of greed. It breaks the idolatry. What God has called us to do is to give to His glory, give to His strength and give to the glory due His name. Bring an offering; don’t come empty handed. Come into His courts and worship Him. That’s the kind of disciples we are to be and the kind of disciples we are called to make. Let’s pray.
Lord. Thank you for Jesus. I pray right now for that person that’s here that needs a new heart. Maybe you’re here in person or maybe you’re watching online. How do you get a new heart? You can’t do it yourself. I can’t do it for you but the Lord Jesus can give you a new heart and a new spirit. How do you receive a new heart? You receive it by faith. Pray right now with me, right where you are, whether online or in person. Dear Lord Jesus, I believe in You. I trust that You died on the cross for my sin, that You were raised from the grave and that You live today. I believe that. Lord, come and live in me. I invite You to be my Lord and Savior. Forgive me of my sins and make me a disciple, a child of God. I want to follow You with all of my life. If you’re praying that prayer right now, believing He will save you and He will give you a new heart. He will give you a heart that wants to sing. Maybe you’ve already done that. You’ve prayed and you’ve received Jesus. But you’re discouraged right now. Maybe it’s about the things you’re seeing in the world around you. Maybe it’s something in your house. Maybe it’s because we talked about giving today at church. Can I pray for you, believer? You know Jesus and you have a new heart. What does He want to say to you? Holy Spirit, examine our hearts. Is there idolatry there in each one of us? Is there a place, Holy Spirit, where there is brokenness that we’ve yet to surrender, where there’s idolatry that we love something too much and ahead of you, Father? Right now, you name it. Holy Spirit, we give it to you. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.