Blessed To Be A Blessing (#life24seven)

life24seven-1At Gateway South in Austin, we are at a defining moment. To move forward into what God has for us will require each of us trusting God more than we ever have before.

We can experience the life and freedom God intends for our lives and bring that life and freedom to others. We can experience God’s loving presence and guidance all day and every day.

Life 24 seven means knowing God intimately and bringing hope to humanity wherever we may be 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

This week I shared on our part in moving forward into God’s better future for our campus.

Watch the message here:

Notes from the message here:

Think of all the good we can do with a new place! Think of all the people we could help, all the kids and teens we could help grow in their faith, all the people freed from addiction through restore classes, jobs for life, parenting classes, marriage workshops, and so much more!

Life24seven is about becoming the person God wants us to be – fully experiencing His life in us every day and everywhere we go.

Life24seven is about becoming the people He wants us to be – together bringing life to South Austin and beyond!

This is more than a move of location from Crockett HS to 18000 square feet along William Cannon Blvd., this is a moment that for some of us is a far more difficult move, from our head to our heart.

As a kid, I grew up with loving parents who I thought were tightwads. My family is part Central Texan German, part Scottish, and part greedy.

I grew up with a scarcity mentality with money. My brother and I received a nickel for an allowance when we were kids. This was in the 1980s not 1920s!

My parents told me I would need to buy my own car, so in 8th grade I saved my lunch money and ate sunflower seeds at the potato bar.

I used to think my parents were cheap, but now I realize they lived on a budget. I have also discovered a lot of their generous acts were done in secret.

When we moved to Austin we took a paycut and had a tax increase. We knew it was what God wanted, but what God wanted required more sacrifice than we wanted. What God wanted required a budget!

God is far more concerned with our character than our comfort.

 I want to look at a couple of stories of people on the move. The first is the people of Israel and their move from Egypt to the Promised Land.

  • Now I am not saying meeting in a middle school and a high school is the same as 400 years of slavery.
  • Nor am I saying that our new location is like the Promised Land.
  • And I am certainly not expecting the journey to take us 40 years as it did for the people of Israel.

We can derive some principles for our journey as individuals and as a church family that can help us.

After the Miracle of Exodus, God introduced Festivals to celebrate and the 10 Commandments to help the people know God’s expectations and what was best for how they treated each other and Him.

God also made a covenant with the people.

A Covenant is love formalized.

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.” (Exodus 24:7)

Obey isn’t a very popular word nowadays – except on those hats you see some people wearing.

Why does God want us to obey so much?

I really understood this concept back when I was dating the girl who would become my wife when we discovered the concept of Love Languages.

Deborah and I did grew to love each other, but that did not mean we understood each other. Love languages rescued us. We were missing each other left and right.

Love languages allow us to show love to others in the way they feel loved.

God has revealed to us His love language. Jesus obeyed even to the point of dying on the cross. He demonstrated love through obedience. We express our gratitude and our love to God when we obey Him – when we trust Him and do what we know He wants us to do and sacrifice what we know He wants us to sacrifice.

John 14:21
“Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

God reveals Himself when we follow Him, when we trust Him.

Do you trust Him?

After God made a covenant with the people of Israel, He called them to build a tabernacle, a place for the people to connect with God.

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.

“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:1-2, 8 NIV)

Moses went up on a mountain and heard the description of the Tabernacle, a place where the people could connect with God. The tabernacle was in the middle of all the tents of the people. holy of holies where only the high priest could go, the ark of the covenant, altar for sacrifices, God revealed Himself as a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. From the beginning of their miraculous journey (back in Exodus 13), God was revealing Himself in that way.

Here’s the problem though while Moses was away for a long time on the mountain with God, the people got impatient. Even though God’s presence was obvious, the people still rebelled against God.

They gave offerings which were used to build a golden calf.

Have you ever thought, if I could just see God I would trust Him?

The people of Israel saw God with the freedom from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea. They even saw Him as a pillar of fire by night and a pillar of cloud during the day.

Even still, they rebelled against God. They chose a golden calf. They chose an idol because an idol is something they made, something they could control, and something that doesn’t make demands.

They seem ridiculous!

We think that if we saw God, we would never doubt again!

Here’s the thing: we have seen God, and we still fall away! We see God in His Creation, the stars, the mountains, the animals, the rivers, the ocean, His Word, prayer, and the miraculous things He has done for us.

Yet we forget… We get busy. Our default is away from trusting God. The darkness in our world and our own genetic predisposition keeps us from staying centered on Jesus and focused on the good works He has for us to do.

Then the golden calf? How goofy is that?!?

Unfortunately, we do this all the time!

  • Our job.
  • Our Success.
  • Our ministry.
  • Our family.
  • Our spouse becomes our idol. She will meet all of my needs. He will meet all of my needs. When they don’t, we start to think we need a new spouse.
  • Our fun.
  • Our finances.

What are your idols? What are you looking to for your needs to be met that aren’t God?

For us to become the person God created us to be, and for us to get where God wants us a people to be we need make sure there is nothing in between ourselves and God.

The beauty of the Creator, our Heavenly Father is that He is always ready to forgive.

Listen to how God responded after the people turned from Him and created their own idol – the golden calf.

Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:5-7

You see, God’s character is never changing. He is loving, and He is just. Because we live in a broken world, our choices affect those around us. Our choices affect our children.

Often we rebel by choosing to do things we know are destructive. We choose to do things against God’s ways and against His character.

Other times, we rebel by choosing not to do the good we are called to do.

What we choose matters.

 Are you willing to sacrifice now for a better future the people you love? Are you willing to sacrifice for people you do not even yet know just because God invites you to do so?

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.” Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. Obey what I command you today…. (Exodus 34:8-11 NIV)

When we fully trust God, when we turn away from the evil we do and when we turn away from refusing the good God wants us to do, we will see God do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

Where have you turned away from God?

Our finances are a hot topic. I mean how many couples fight over their finances? How many parents fight with their kids over finances? How many roommates fight over their finances?

When it comes to other people’s advice, most of the time we are unwilling to hear other’s opinions on the matter.

Our finances are a great place to wrestle with God. Often times, obeying God may seem subjective. It is hard to measure love. It is hard to measure joy. It is hard to measure kindness. We do those things when we can or when we want to, and it is hard to know if we are doing all that God would have us do and experiencing all that God wants to experience.

The Scriptures use a very tangible measurement when it comes to obeying God or trusting God with our finances. It’s 10%.

If you didn’t hear John Burke’s message last week, be sure to go to www.life24seven.org and listen and work through the Next Steps for Trusting God Fully

“Sacrifice is the context for a miracle.”
Erwin McManus

We need to give far more than God needs our money.

We need to serve far more than the people asking us to serve need our help.

When we give and when we serve we are in a position to connect with God more because we need His help to pull this off!

Are you and I willing to fully trust God?

Do you know the story of Abraham in the Bible? He was called to move. It was a big move. He chose to fully trust God even though it meant moving from all that he had ever known and going to a new place that God promised to show him.

Do you know the story of Terah, Abraham’s dad?

Genesis 11:31-32
31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Harran, they settled there. 32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.

Sound like a familiar destination? Terah was on the way to the Promised Land, but he stopped halfway!

Terah, Abraham’s father, was on his way to Canaan, later known as the Promised Land, but he stopped in Harran and died there. What if he had made it all the way there? Abraham would not have needed to leave his family to go to the Promised Land because he would have already been there. Is it possible God promised Terah the same thing he promised Abraham, but Terah stopped halfway there?

How often in your life do you stop when it gets hard? How many times do we stop halfway?

“Everything looks like failure in the middle.”
– Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Even when it comes to our adventure, we cannot give up now! We cannot stop halfway! God has given us an opportunity and it is up to us if we have the courage to keep going and the willingness to make the sacrifices necessary to pull this off!

Here’s the story of Abraham and his epic adventure in Genesis 12:1-3:

The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you.”

Abraham was blessed to be a blessing! He became a great nation so that other nations could be blessed!

We are blessed so that we can be a blessing. God gives to us so we can give to others.

Abraham’s people experienced God’s blessing, and in the midst of His blessing they still suffered.

Now, 400 years later, Moses has led the people of Israel out of the Promised Land. They were led by God who made Himself visible. They heard from Moses about a Tabernacle, a place for the people to connect with God. They rebelled by creating and worshiping the golden calf. They then repented, they asked God for forgiveness for the rebellious actions.

Now they were asked to trust God with their finances. They were asked to trust God with their time and energy.

Let’s see how they responded.

 Moses said to the whole Israelite community, “This is what the Lord has commanded: From what you have, take an offering for the Lord. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the Lord an offering…

Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments…. 

All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the Lord freewill offerings for all the work the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do. (Exodus 35:4-5, 10-11, 20-22, 29 NIV)

So many give and serve so faithfully already! In fact, we already have $250,000 in the bank and another $150,000 pledged! That’s the great news! Here’s the sobering news: our leaders (the ones most likely to give) have already been giving 10% of their income to our general offering and even more than that to life giving life.

Now some of our leaders may decide to give even more now – a one time gift or they make more money now than they did back in 2012. But to get to where we need to be, it’s not about our leaders giving more, it’s about all of us who call Gateway South our church home stepping out in faith.

  • If 100% of those who consider Gateway South our church home decided to give something above what we already give, we can easily afford this next move.
  • If 50 people who aren’t currently tithing decided to tithe – to give 10% of their income for the next 2 years, we would have enough to do this.
  • Or if 100 of us decided that for the next two years, we can give $200 more per month than we currently give, we will easily have enough to do this.

So many in our city need Jesus! So many need healing! We want to be there to help them!

We have been given much – we have been forgiven! We have been blessed! We have all we need in Jesus!

Look what happened:

And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Exodus 36:3-7 NIV)

It’s not about equal contributions but equal sacrifice.

Why has God put us here and blessed us so much?

Are we willing to trust Him in every way? How is God guiding you to be involved?

Next Steps From Last Week

Here are some questions to consider:

In what ways have you seen God’s blessings in your life this past week?

How has He blessed you through others?

In what ways do you sense He used you as a blessing?

If God is more concerned with our character than our comfort, what ways have you noticed God wanting you to serve or sacrifice or give in ways that stretch you?

Want to get involved?

If so, print out the Pledge Card, bring it Sunday (3/1) to Gateway South or mail it to Gateway Church, South Campus, 7104 McNeil Drive, Austin, TX 78729, and set up your giving at www.gatewaychurch.com/give.

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