Read this message transcript from the "In ____ We Trust" message series
Harold Bullock: The answer to the question though is on the screen, why was I given my time, my money, all this stuff? The answer is you are God's entrepreneur. We talked about that a couple of weeks ago more in depth I'm not going to go back into that, but you've been put on the planet to enjoy what God has put here, but also you've been put on the planet to make things happen. You're given a certain amount of creativity in different areas, and you have will, you have strength, and you're here to make things happen. Make things happen for God. Make things happen that bring benefit to him, and actually in the process bless you. We're not merely accidents of time and random molecular interactions. We are put here for a purpose. God has put us on the planet. You've been given a lot of things, you've been given your life, that's actually a gift. Whenever I was a young man it was very popular to say things like, "Well I didn't ask to be born."
I always thought an appropriate response is, "Would you like me to kill you now?" It's a gift, it's actually a gift. It's a broken world so there are problems that come with it but it's a gift.
If you actually yielded your life to Christ, you've also been given a brand new life, and then all of us we have abilities. If you're married that's a part of the gift. If you have family these little ones growing up are really to follow God on into the future. There's just a whole lot going on in the bigger scope than we tend to realize, but you're the entrepreneur. And as entrepreneurs we make decisions, and as we make decisions we always do what makes sense to us, everyone of us does that. You don't do what doesn't make sense. And as we do what makes sense as God's people, we tend to do it in a way that makes a whole lot of sense to our society. We grow up in a certain culture where there are different streams within it, we're all part of the streams within the culture, and it marks us, our different cultures around the world, they all mark their people. There's a certain way you tend to think about life. And you do what makes sense, but you do it in the way that's sort of your brand.
Sometimes as you read the Bible, you run into things that just don't make sense really. I mean, you want to ask, why would they do that? It's just rather different. Not only the Bible, but as you look through the history of the church, a lot of times things happen that just don't seem to make sense. And we try to take those ideas and squeeze them into an American framework and they don't quite fit. For example church buildings - you're in one right now. It used to be about the largest bowling alley in the whole area, 77 lanes. The building is 75 feet longer than a football field and 20 feet wider. It was really, really good for bowling. It's been good for us but it took some reworking to turn this into the facility we now have.
If you're trying to create a church building you'd like it to be in a place where it's easily accessible, people can get to it easily, and then if you can you really want it visible. People can get to it easily from a lot of areas, so we're in a freeway location on a major street crossing the freeway. It's quite visible, it's more visible if you're going west than if you're going east but it's still visible. It's really good property for a church. You also want parking. Why? Why do you want these things? Well, so the church can grow. We're Americans. We make things expand. The church can grow. It just makes sense, and actually it's useful.
I'd like to show you a church building and it's not American. This is where it's located. It's a famous church building. It's located on the Eastern side of the Black Sea in the nation of Georgia, Western part of that nation, Georgia is between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, North of Turkey. Very famous church and here's a picture of it. Not much parking. Visible? Yeah. Accessible? If you're in really good shape. The ladder to get to it is 131 feet long, that's 131 feet in the air. That's a limestone pillar jetting out of the hill. Built in about 800 A.D. maybe. Could have been built as early as 400, maybe as late as 900, but a long time ago. It's part of the Georgian Orthodox group. It's a church on the Katskhi Pillar. It's just not practical. There's no elevator and it's not a very big church. Why would you do that? Why would you do that? We'll come back to that.
Let me suggest a scenario to you. We're Americans, we like good deals. I noticed while I was doing some work online this week, Toyota put an advertisement in front of me. You can get a 2018 RAV 4 for 0% interest, 0%. Good? That's my kind of interest. Is that a good deal? We like good deals, don't we? You like a good deal, don't you? Sure, sure. Of course there's a second question you want to ask here, 0% that's great. Second question you want to ask is what's the price? You got 0% and a really good price and that might be a good deal if you're looking for a car. We love good deals. A good deal usually means keeping more money in our pocket. We like to do that. That just makes sense.
What about this scenario though? You have some money, you made some money. And you're getting ready to make a huge financial sacrifice to God. Now you're getting ready to write a check for $300,000, and you've made some money, but $300,000 would be a little bit of a stretch, but you're getting ready to do this and you sense God really wants you to do this. And you're in motion to go ahead and give the money. And along the way you encounter someone who is incredibly rich, who's really, really rich. And they say to you, "I know you really want to sacrifice for God and all, but I know $300,000's a pretty big stretch for you. I'll tell you what, let me just write a check for you. Here's a check, $300,000. Take it and endorse it and give that. You won't have the stress." What would you say? Sound like a good deal.
Try to think about it Biblically, sounds a lot like Abraham sacrificing Isaac and a ram is caught in the bushes, so he sacrifices a ram. God has answered prayers! Well there are a lot of stories in the Bible it turns out, and there's this one. King David has insulted God and because of that a plague has come on his stewardship of the nation. People are dying of it. And he gets direction from God to make a sacrifice at a certain place and the plague will stop. So he sets out, he's going to buy the place and make a sacrifice. David said to the guy who owned it, his name is Araunah, he's a wealthy guy. This is his threshing floor, he's threshing wheat. David said to him, "Let me have the site of your threshing floor so that I can build an alter to the Lord that the plague may be stopped. Sell it to me at the full price."
Aranuah said to David, "Take it my lord. Let my lord the King do whatever pleases him. Look, I'll give you the oxen too and the threshing sledges for the wood for the fires. And you can have the wheat that we've got for the grain offering. I'll give you all this." David's going to pay for the total. He's going to pay about $300,000 in today's money. And Aranuah says, "I'll give it all to you, here's the check."
What does David do? David says, "No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that cost me nothing."
Wow, that doesn't sound like a good deal. What's going on here? Why would you do that? Well, you do that because God is a great God, God is that great. He's the one who spoke the worlds into being. He's the uncreated one. Everything else is created. He's the one who, whenever you see the really beautiful heavens at night, He's the one that spoke all that into being. He's the one that created just the fabulous intricacy of life. One cell has all kinds of little chemical motors in it to just make the one cell go. It's amazing - the intricacy. He's the one that spoke this into being, He's the one who died on the cross, we sang about that. He came and died for our rebellion against him so that we could have a new kind of life.
This is the one who's going to be honored and He's going to be honored by sacrifice, and David insists on paying the sacrifice himself. Why? Well, if somebody else pays this it's not really David's sacrifice. He wants to do this because He's a great God. He's not just a God looking for money. He's a God looking for the heart really. Very interesting. Why would you do that? Because of who God is.
Another scenario, you have some valuable assets worth maybe a year and a half's salary. And you sense that God wants you to use them for him. You appreciate what Christ has done, you'd like to show your appreciation through using this for him. What should you do? You talk to some of your friends and they say, "Well," they think it's only reasonable to sell the assets and give the proceeds to the poor because there's a lot of need in that area. So what do you do? What do you think of that?
Look at this situation. While Jesus was in Bethany reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." You know what they're saying is right. And they rebuked her harshly. They really chewed her out for doing this.
Jesus though says, "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing for me. The poor you always have with you, you can help them anytime you want." He's not saying we don't help, He's just saying that this is a continuing issue. "But you will not always have me." Why do you do this? Why do you take a year and a half's salary and just waste it, pouring it out on the Lord's head? Why? Why would you do that? Well because opportunities go away. He says, "You don't always have me." What she does is she actually pours this on him as an anointing for his funeral. He'll later have more perfume and spices put on his body after He is dead. And he says, "She's done a beautiful thing." That's just hard for Americans to get ahold of. Done an efficient thing, gotten a lot of bang for the buck, yeah that makes sense, but a beautiful thing, why would you do that? It's not practical at all. Well you do it because some opportunities go away.
We tend to move through life in a rut. We all have our favorite rut, or if you don't like ruts thinks hamster trail, you run through your little hamster trail every week. Life just seems to be the same all the time, and in the meantime there are opportunities coming and there are opportunities going. God always works through people. People don't last forever on this planet, they last forever with God but not here. The opportunity's over. Billy Graham, a great man, his days are past. There have been many others. A century ago Charles Spurgeon and others ... God works through people, He always does stuff through people. And opportunities come, opportunities go, opportunities pass. You want to take the opportunity while it's here.
Jesus is saying, "I'm not here for long." And what she did, she recognized that this is it, so she took the opportunity. So there’s not a lot of bang for the buck, or is there? It depends on what kind of bang you're looking for. If you're looking for efficiency – and efficiency's not a bad issue but catch this - but if you're looking for pleasing God, you need to look a little bit bigger than efficiency. Why would you do that? Because the time is here, it's time.
Let me mention another situation. Here you go. Money is tight, it's always been tight. As a matter of fact it's really tight right now. You got up this morning, looked in your wallet, you have $6 to make it through the rest of the week. Wow. How on Earth can you last the week? And then you remember, oh yeah I haven't given to God. You're in a society that actually gives a tenth of their income to God, and you've been so focused on trying to make the ends meet that you just forgot. So what do you do? I mean $6 is nothing in the life of a church. That's all you got.
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were being put and watched the crowds putting their money into the temple treasury. Now this occurrence, by the way, was kind of processional, and the rich people threw in large amounts. There was a huge box at the temple and it had a kind of metal funnel on it, and what people did, they would put their money (they'd use metal coins), throw them into the funnel and it of course would rattle. The wealthy would tend to come with sacks of coins carried by servants. And if you have $100,000 it'd be great if you had it all in pennies. You go up and go to the servant, open the sack and start dumping it in, they just rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle. They called it sounding the trumpet. Then the next people would come up.
In the middle of it this little woman comes up. A poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. Jesus calling his disciples to him He says, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more money into the treasury than all the others. They gave out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in everything, all she had to live on."
The coin that she puts in at the time was a tenth of a denari, a denari is what you're paid for a days wage. So if you wanted to put that in today's terms, say you have a minimum wage job, you make $7.50 an hour, 8 hours, it's a tenth of a day's pay, so it's almost $6, not quite. Almost $6. She takes that - all she has left - and puts it in. And understand, there is no social security. There's no check coming at the end of the month. This is it.
She puts it in. It won't matter much. It takes a lot of money to support the temple and all the work. It won't matter much but she does this. That's all you have to live on and it doesn't matter that much in the scheme of things. Why would you do this? Because she actually trusts God. That's where our hope is. It's not the amount of money she's got left; it's trusting God. And I'm not saying you need to take all your money and put it in the church offering today. You need to handle your money responsibly before God, and you need to listen to him. What I'm saying is this though, for her this was not just financial this was personal. This was her and God not just keeping the temple going. The guys who put in the sacks of money they gave a whole lot more to keep the temple going, but when it came before God she was the one who gave the most. It's her and God. She puts it in because she trusts Him. He's the one who has promised to take care of her. A sacrifice shows your confidence in God. I mean really. We have confidence in a lot of things, but whenever it comes to putting down money that's when it gets tough. Shows your confidence in God. That's a very different way of thinking about things, just not American.
Let's go back to that un-American church. Why would you do this? Why? What use is this? Well, it was actually done to honor God because it honored him. This is sort of hard for current culture, people in this society, to get ahold of. We tend to think that love is emotional. You have the feelings welling up in you and you love, you know like the beer commercial a few years ago. I love you bro. Yeah, give me a beer I'll love you. It's just that emotion that comes up.
Or, falling in love and getting married. You fall in love and get a lot of emotions going, and hopefully they last through the wedding ceremony. Somewhere about three months later you very often wake up one morning and you wonder where they all went. Actually, the way marriage is, is love keeps refreshing the feelings; the feelings don't keep refreshing love. Love is an intent to do what's right by another person and do what's best for them. That's real love. The feelings, boy they're really helpful and very enjoyable, but they may come and go, but if you keep loving the feelings get refreshed, and refreshed, and refreshed, because love is deeper than just the emotion. It's deeper.
For us, honor in this society, honor is about words. You want to honor someone you say nice words about them. So we get together and sometimes we honor people, having an event and someone gets up and says honorable things. Very often the person is dead now, so you can say honorable things about them. And then it's done, it's just words. That's how you honor, it's the words. And certainly words do show some respect, but we tend to think it's mainly the words. And so, whenever it comes to honoring God maybe we sing songs to him, we say good words about him, and that's okay but honor is actually for most of the world through the centuries been a lot more than that. We have the American proverb that talk is cheap, and it is. It's not worthless but it is cheap.
This little building was built at a time when people - it was common - they would set apart people to worship the Lord all day, and pray for the church, and for all the people. They were called Monks. This was the church for a little monastery that was built on this rock pillar. The thought was they would be there praying, and there's only room for three monks. What's the sense in that? They should at least build a larger church down where people can get to it, and have at least 100 monks praying if we're going to do praying. That's the good American way of thinking about things. Bigger bang for the buck. But this was done to honor God. Now I'm not saying that the monk route is the way to go, I'm not saying that. I'm just talking about why you do something like this. It took a lot of work, a lot of effort, took a lot of time, it was done for God. And its prominence - it stands out in the valley there - but it's done to honor God. That's very different. Sort of like pouring the perfume on Jesus' head, it's done for something to please God. Very different, different age. And for the rest of the world through the centuries, honor has been shown by valuable gifts.
In the time of Isaiah - 800 years before Christ - he was a prophet and he was talking about the time that the nation would be destroyed, and then after that God would bring his people back together. They had been rebelling against God, but He'd bring them back together. And he says, "In the lead of the returning group are the ships bringing your sons from afar with their silver and gold to honor the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he's endowed you with splendor. He's the one who's given you this good state now. But they bring you their silver and gold to honor the Lord." That's interesting. In the renewed heaven and Earth, it's going to be the same way.
Toward the end of the book of Revelation there's a statement, "The city of God, the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is it's lamp, and the kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it." The glory and honor, their splendor into it.
Albert Barnes is a guy who wrote a lot about what the Bible means, he's a scholar, and this is what he says about this passage. "All that they consider as contributing to their glory, so they're going to bring the splendor into it, everything they thought contributed to their glory, treasures, crowns, scepters, robes. The idea is that all these will be devoted to God in the future days of the church in his glory. And it will be, as it were, brought and laid down at the feet of the Savior in heaven." Very interesting. This is the honor of God shown by expensive gifts. This is not the way we tend to think as Americans.
Actually, if you actually think God is a great God and you want to honor him, if you trust him, if you take the opportunities God puts in front of you, then it impacts your money and your possessions. That's just how it is, especially for God's entrepreneurs. What you want to do is you want to find out what He said about how to honor him with your money, and your possessions, and then you want to do it. But if you do this you are going to think out of the box as an American. You're going to think bigger than the box, because he's a great God and he's real. Now he brings opportunities now, and the opportunity might be for a high return on a dollar some way, or it might be something God thinks is beautiful. What I'm saying is, as God's entrepreneurs, as his people pursuing what He wants, expand your mind, think about God in a bigger frame. Step out of the usual American business box or American consumer box and meet your God and ask what He wants. I would like to lead us in prayer.
Father we thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for the gift of money, you know all the kinds of things it does. Thank you for the gift of friendship. Thank you for our families. Thank you for saving us in Christ Jesus. We are your people and our desire is to know you, and to really walk in your ways. So Lord, we ask you, open our eyes to see your greatness. We do have to deal with all kinds of practicalities, but open our eyes to see bigger than practicalities. Let us see you and see what you want with us, and for us, and through us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.