Posts Tagged ‘social injustice’

Luke 23:50-56 — Joseph places Jesus’ body in his brand new tomb that he had built as his family’s burial . Nicodemus brings 75 lbs of perfumed ointments and aloes (John 19:39) used first century Palestine for burial preparation. The ladies who were disciples of Jesus not only helped finance his earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3) but they saw where they had laid their Master and went home to prepare burial spices from their own resources. These people really loved Jesus a great deal. They went out of their way, some risking political disaster, to ensure that Jesus was honored properly in death. The didn’t care that it was going to cost them their own resources. They wanted to use their own resources to give glory to their Lord.

I guess that would be difference between these two men and these women and how most of us view giving of our resources to Jesus’ church. We see it as giving from what we have left over rather than giving what is from our best or from our best efforts. The people in this scene put all cares of the day aside and focus on giving Jesus their best. They focus on giving Jesus the best of their time, the best of their talents, and the best of their resources. Nothing else is more important to them than that. How many of us give the one who gave us life the leftovers of each of those things, time, talents, resources.

Many of us, myself included, struggle to find time to do the work of Jesus Christ. We say we do not have time. We say that we would love to share the gospel with others but we do not have time. We say we would love to help others who are need but we do not have time. We say would love to show others the love of Jesus Christ but we just do not have enough time. We prioritize time for the things that are important to us. I may be able to work it out where I can go to several games of my beloved Clemson Tigers this fall (football season starts in 14 weeks, woot! woot!, but I digress), but yet I may not be able to work it to work with the child of a single mom that needs male leadership. I may be able set aside time to watch a Clemson game on television but not have time to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my co-worker over a meal after work. I may have time to go to the beach for vacation but not have time to go on a mission trip to share the gospel in Japan. I may have time watch Monday night football but not have time to go a Monday night meeting of the Ironmen men’s ministry at church that same night. You get the point. We spend time. We prioritize time. We use time, the precious and limited commodity that it is, where place the greatest importance on its use. Let us analyze our time. Where are we wasting our time on things that do not matter in eternity. What is the legacy that we want to leave behind? Let us invest our time in those things that bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Many of us decide that we have other priorities for our talents as well. These ladies in this passage use their talents to create the spices necessary for a fitting burial for Jesus Christ. They gladly directed their talents toward that which would honor Jesus. They wanted to honor Him with the talents that they had. Why is it that most of us are not willing to be like these female disciples of our Lord. It is easier to simply be a consumer at church rather than one who serves. It is easier not to get to the church at 7:00am like the leader of our parking team does and make sure that parking lot is free of debris and that the sidewalks are clean. It is easier to sleep in and go to only the 11:00am service that it is to be there like the manager of all the Sunday ministry teams at 7:00 to make sure that each team leader has everything that they need for a successful Sunday morning worship service. It is easier to just sit in the crowd rather than be there for both services and run a camera, or work the sound board, or the light board, or the video switcher. It is easier to use my talents for personal pursuits rather lead a ministry team. Isn’t easier to ignore God’s call to a ministry. Isn’t easier to wear a red X on my hand or shirt to protest sex trafficking than it is to go to India and actually work with the victims of this horrible industry. It is easier to give to a church planting initiative rather than move your family to Connecticut and develop a church from scratch. It is easier to talk about how fatherless children lack direction than it is to use your talents at mentoring by being a Big Brother or a Big Sister. It is easier to complain about the destruction of our cities when riots occur than it is to use our talents to solve the problems of social injustice and lack of quality education. It is easier to not use my talents to give Jesus glory than it is to use them. It is easier not to serve that it is to serve. We prioritize the use of our talents in ways that are most important to us. Let us examine how we are using our talents to give our Lord glory. Are we pursuing the calling He has given us through the talents He has given us to make this world a better place. Are we walking by a hungry man and saying that we will pray for Him or are we stopping to feed and clothe Him as we tell Him about Jesus Christ?

In this scene in this passage, we see people giving the best of their resources to give glory to Jesus Christ. Imagine if we were really like Joseph, Nicodemus, and the ladies. What if we gave the best of our resources to give glory to Jesus Christ? It is certainly far easier to give the leftover $5 or $20 bill that we happen to have in our wallets on Sunday and feel good about having given to the church. It is easier to think that the money I make is to glorify myself than it is to see that we are given talents by our Creator through which we earn our livings. All God asks is that we are obedient to His command. We are to give Him the first fruits of our labors not the leftovers. We are to give God the best of our resources not what we can squeeze in. Everyone of us who attends LifeSong Church is honored to be a part of this body and are often amazed at the impact that our church has on the community and the world around us. However, imagine if we were not a church of leftover $20 bills. What if we were a church of people who have learned to live off of 90% or less of what we make and give the first 10% or more to God through our local body. Imagine the impact then. Instead of 2 church plants, 20. Instead of 550+ Thanksgiving meals given away, 1000. Instead of 3 mission trips per year, 15. Imagine sending missionaries out to long-term missionary assignment to far away places like Kenya, long-term missionaries in Japan, in Haiti, in Iraq or Iran. Imagine what would happen to our local ongoing ministries like LifeSong Cares where we could help more people and have to turn less away. Imagine the ministries that we could create that are actually out in our communities making a difference in people’s lives by showing them the love of Christ through uncommon acts of love and kindness. Imagine if all churches, not just LifeSong, gave obediently to the Lord. Joseph and Nicodemus didn’t think twice about giving the best of what they had to honor Jesus. Let us examine what we place our priorities financially. Let us seek to move to that place where we honor Jesus with the first fruits of our finances rather than that leftover $5 bill that you didn’t use at the monster truck event on Saturday night. Let us be a church honors Christ and empowers the spread of his Word through the use of our resources.

Father in Heaven, help us to be a people like Joseph of Arimathea, like Nicodemus, like the female disciples who have no second thoughts ever about honor Jesus Christ with the best of our time, the best of our talents, and the best of our resources. May we honor Him with the best of who we are. May we honor Him with the excellence with which we represent Him in all things that we do in His name. May we honor Him with the love that we share with the world around us without expectation of being loved in return. May we honor Him by living lives that draw people unto Him. May we honor Him by living lives that demonstrate His love of others even in the face of hateful opposition or even deadly opposition. May we honor Him with everything about our lives! Amen.

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Luke 12:13-21 — The parable of the rich fool is appropriate for the American reader. Jesus is in the middle of a sermon teaching his disciples to fear God alone, when he is suddenly interrupted by a man who is dissatisfied over what he considers to be an unfair division of his father’s estate between himself and his brother. The man says in verse thirteen, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Then, Jesus responds with the parable. Jesus’ story ends with the point that a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not a have a rich relationship with God.

Today, we are taught by each other and by the media that we should live the good life. We need to have the biggest house we can afford and maybe more than we can afford. We are taught by each other and by the media that we need the biggest, newest car on the market. We are taught by bumper stickers that you whoever dies with the most toys wins. We are made slaves to our own goods that we purchase. We finance our lives away. And we live our lives in hopes of retiring with a big house on the coast of Florida or on some tropical locale. This is the parable of the rich fool in modern times. Americans are so enamored with the good life that it has become our god. We have bought the story that we need all the latest gadgets and that what we have now is not good enough.

You know sometimes that God sends us messages in multiple different formats and in multiple different ways when He really wants you to hear something. That is why this passage makes you go, wow, I think God is trying to say something that I need to share. Right now, I am leading a book study at church based on the book, I Was Broke Now I’m Not by Joseph Sengl. At the same time, for my personal reading time, I am currently reading the book, Counter Culture by David Platt. These two things are converging by the Holy Spirit in my heart for today’s message. First, Pursuit of earthly wealth and all the debt that goes with keeps us from being effective witnesses for the Lord. Second, pursuit of wealth takes our mind off things that really matter in this life and in eternity.

In leading the I Was Broke Now I’m Not six week study, one of the most poignant statements that Joseph Sengl makes is that Satan wants us broke because it makes us ineffective. When we are mired in debt and living paycheck to paycheck always seeking the next greatest thing to buy to make us happy, we lose sight of God. We become slaves to our money. Having too little money can become a god just as much as having too much. When we mortgage our lives to the hilt, it dominates who we are. We think about it all the time. But, yet, we continue to buy things. Joseph Sengl says that how Satan wants it. He wants to spend 100% or more of what we make so that we cannot help the homeless man in need. He wants us to spend, spend, spend, so that we cannot help the single mom whose husband has left her. He wants us mortgaged to eyeballs so that we cannot help finance a friend’s mission trip. He wants to have so much debt that we cannot follow a holy calling from God on our lives. Switch careers to become a missionary in India or Africa or Asia? No way, I have got this 2015 Lexus to pay for, the house in River Falls Plantation to pay for, and the 2014 Corvette too. You know the tune. Most all of us sing it. Why not though be radical? Start paying off debts and keeping assets longer. If we become less enamored with things, we will start to pay down all these debts to the point one day we will be debt free. As the debt stranglehold loosens maybe then we can become what God intended us to be, what he called us to be. When we have earthly treasures in the right perspective (that they are to be used by us to help expand God’s kingdom) and that our ability to earn all these things comes from God, maybe then we will become effective tools for the kingdom. Maybe then, we can make a difference in a world that needs change.

There is so much injustice in the world that we sit in our pretty little homes in the United States and say that is so sad and then we do nothing. Sometimes it is because we are so in debt that we cannot do anything financially. Most times it is because we really are so enamored with the good life that we are unwilling to do more than watch a news show. For example, in the book, Counter Culture, David Platt tells us that there are so many social issues out there that we need to be addressing as Christians (not in protest but in ways that are compassionate that bring about real change). Yet, we are more interested in our houses, cars, movies on the weekend, the parties we go to. There was a song on this subject back in the 80s about how we ignore the issues of the world around as Americans. It is about how we seek pleasure and ignore the social issues of the world around us. Don Henley’s “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” is a searing indictment of us as pleasure seeking Americans. David Platt tells that we need to open our eyes. For example, there are 27 Million women in this world that are currently in sex slavery around the world. 27 Million women that have no hope. Yet all we want to do is dance. We spend more on going to the movies than we do on contributing to our churches. There are 27 Million women who are forced to have sex 20 times or more a day and are kept drugged and beaten and they have no hope. We paint Red X’s on our hands and say we support ending sex trafficking but as long as it doesn’t interfere with my weekends at the lake in the summer or my season tickets to Clemson football in the fall. All she wants to do is dance. Poverty abounds around the world but we spend more on video games than we do on charity. All she wants to do is dance.

What would happen if we lived as Christ followers who did not get wrapped up in the good life. What if we decided this much is enough for me to live on and now use the rest to be effective missionaries at home and abroad. What if we managed our finances so well that we could follow when God calls. What if we put God first in our finances such that we were satisfied with this much. What if we put God first so that we could see all the injustices in the world and actually could address them because we are not seeking the American dream. What if we really put God first in our finances so that we were free to as the body of Christ to address issues of sex trafficking, of poverty, of illiteracy, of social injustice. What if we wanted to do more than seek our own pleasure. What if we wanted to do more than pay lip service to the causes that we care about. What if we were free of earthly wealth concerns and could go to the places here in America and around the world and rescue 27 Million women from sex slavery instead of just painting Red X’s on our hands. What if we could do more? Satan wants us to support our favorite causes but do nothing about them. He wants us to be ineffective. He wants the sex slave to have no hope of any Christ follower ever really doing anything real to help her.

Let us store up treasure in heaven rather than in our driveway. Let us make arrange our financial lives such that we put God first and things second. Let us arrange our lives such that we can respond to God’s call when He calls. Let us arrange our lives such that we can pick up and move to southeast Asia or Hong Kong or the streets of any large American city to fight against sex slavery. Let us care more about our fellow man’s plight than arranging our next flight – for our vacation in Vale. Let us live our lives to use our resources to address the things that need addressing. Let us live our lives to make a difference for the kingdom of God. Let it not be said of us as Christ followers that “all she wants to do is dance.”