1. What does a “blessed life” look like to you? Is there someone you know that you believe leads a life like that?
2. How does your idea of a blessed life line up with what Jesus indicated it should look like?
3. What things are you pursuing in life now that may look like a blessing but may actually end up as a hindrance to a truly blessed life? Do you feel God calling you to sacrifice in some way?
Good morning Hope City! I’m Pastor Peter and I’m glad to see you here today. How are you guys doing? Everybody good? Anybody Blessed? How many of you would say that you’re blessed? How many of you would say that you want to be blessed?
The trouble is, how do we get it, how do we maintain it, and what if we don’t really know what it means to be blessed? For the next three weeks we are going to be leaning into a series called “THE BLESSED LIFE”, in order to see God do some incredible things here in your life, and through your life.
When I asked you if you were blessed… it probably took you a few moments to think about it. Am I actually blessed? Why is that? Why do you think that you and I spend so much time trying to figure out if we’re blessed? When we think of the Blessed Life, many of us think about our neighbors and friends, or coworkers. We try to figure out how blessed we are based upon how blessed others are. So where do you fit in on the scale of blessing?
Isn’t it interesting that many of us want to live a blessed life, but few of us can identify if we are blessed right now?
We’ve seen people at WORK, and they have risen to the top of the company quickly. It seems like every project they touch at work turns to gold… and they just keep getting recognized for it. They seem blessed!
We have seen people who FINANCIALLY have not only all of their needs met, but they also have an abundance of finances. And you would say that they’re blessed.
We’ve also all seen MARRIAGES that just seem to work. In fact, they’re more than working. They’re giddy in love. They flirt and hold hands, and you can tell that there is a spark in their eye when they look at one another. Their marriage seems Blessed!
Tiffany and I never wanted an ordinary marriage… We never wanted an ordinary life. When we first were married we looked at each other and said, let’s make this the most exciting life ever! Let’s figure out how do we live a life that is extra ordinary. We are still working on that. But one of the things that we agreed on was that we wanted to see God do things in our life that we could not explain. We wanted to live a blessed life.
When we think about a blessed life, it is worth setting out what we mean by that. Many of us would define The Blessed Life as = Having every want or need met. We think about blessing as it is tied to financial and material possessions. We think about all of the things that we have, need, or want. We are more blessed if we have more, and less blessed if we have fewer. This is a very one sided definition of what it means to be BLESSED.
In fact, we would be better off understanding what it means to be blessed form a Biblical perspective. And guess what… you may be surprised to learn that you can be blessed and not have every want or need met. In fact, we’re going to define The Blessed Life = God working on your behalf. Or one where there is Supernatural power working for you.
So many people are looking for this kind of life, and yet few people find it. Over the course of this next three weeks you’re going to discover that God’s word speaks clearly and boldly about what it means to have a blessed life and in particular as it relates to finances.
In fact, in Matthew 16:24 we see Jesus addressing this exact question… He says something very specific as it relates to Living a blessed life. In fact, Jesus says, that it is possible to FIND a BLESSED LIFE. Look what Jesus says,
24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.i
Jesus shares 5 interesting couplets here… If you’re going to come after me… if you’re going to be like me… Here are a few guidelines…
· Deny yourself, and take up your cross…
· Try to Save your life and lose it
· Lose your life and find it.
· Gain the world and forfeit your soul…
· Be rewarded for what you’ve done.
He starts to define the human condition by saying, there are so many people who want to be blessed… but don’t know how to do it. So many people who look to “SAVE THEIR LIFE”… and what ends up happening is that they lose it.
We see this all the time. This happens with people who are dead set on getting ahead financially… or stock piling wealth and career advancement, but because of that they end up losing time with their family, or their wife or husband is left at home neglected. And somewhere along the way they find out that they have paid a very costly price in order to gain money or advancement.
In fact, Jesus puts it in a way that only he could… he says, What good is it if you get the entire world, but you forfeit your soul. You’ve got to give up the very thing that makes you who you are… you’ve got to give up on your inner most being. Jesus reveals a critical piece of information here, in fact, I’d
love for you to take out your notes, or click over in your YouVersion app to the Events tab, and find Hope City Church… and type this out… Pt. 1 SURRENDERING TOMORROW INVITES GOD’S BLESSING TODAY. If we’re going to live a Blessed Life, we need to surrender our life. Our plans and dreams and hopes… our financial goals… we need to surrender those to the Lord. After all, what good is it if we lose ourselves in order to gain wealth.
Surrender is a word we don’t typically like to use. It ties itself closely to a wrestling match, or some sort of power struggle. And surrender says, that’s it… I admit it. You are more powerful than me. And in a very real way, one of the first steps in living a blessed life is to say to God, I admit it.. you are more powerful than me. You’re smarter than me… you’re more in control than me… and I surrender. I surrender my tomorrow to you today.
3 years ago almost to the month, Tiffany and I were in the final stages of getting ready to start this church. We had had prayed, planned, and discussed with people about what Hope City Church could be. We asked people around the country to financially support the start of this church. We believed that God was calling us to start Hope City to be a place #FORsarasota. That this would be a place where families would be able to Find Hope in Jesus and Experience Home with one another.
We had been asking God to provide for our church, and we felt another call on our lives. And this time it was deeply personal, because it was financial. Tiffany and I looked at our retirement account, the money that we had been saving for the future, and we knew that God was asking us to leverage our future for what He would do in the present.
But it was scary. Scary because it was taking our future and our plans and saying God, we trust that you’re going to do something different than what we had initially planned.
I don’t tell you that story because I want you to feel bad for me. I tell you that story because I want to share the results with you. I want to tell you what God did for us.
Two weeks ago we had a worship night here on Sunday night… I got here early, I was sitting in that seat right there, and listening to the band practice and rehearse… And then came my time to step up on stage and run through what I was going to say… I stepped up here like I do every other week, but this time, I just wept. I couldn’t speak. I had to sit back down. I was overwhelmed by how good God is. How good God has been to allow us to play a small part in this church. The next day I said to Tiffany, can you imagine if we had said no. If we hadn’t surrendered to God’s call, we could have missed this. We could have missed out on what being a part of Hope City Church, or being a part of your life.
Some of you right now are missing out on The Blessed Life because you are too worried about surrendering tomorrow. You’re trying to control today in hopes that it will impact tomorrow. And this is driven by our outlook, and our attitude.
I want to show you another interaction that Jesus has with some people who are struggling with this very idea. Look with me at John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.ii
Don’t miss this… Jesus is in the home of a dead man that is now walking around again. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and now he is sitting down having a meal with him and his sisters.
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. iii
Mary’s brother had died, was buried, and then Jesus called him back to life. And what does Mary do? She pours it out on expensive perfume on Jesus feet. We see an attitude of complete and total surrender. She takes what she has stored and pours it out in order to honor Jesus.
Not everybody shared the same attitude though.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.”
Judas represents a group of people who look at this and say, WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? This makes no sense. But often times when this doesn’t make sense to people that’s because it they have already made plans for that item. We get a glimpse of why Judas really said this.
6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. iv
The guy was a thief, he wanted to skim some money off the top. And he just witnessed someone pouring out a years worth of wages! Think about that. Let that settle in for minute. Mary spent an entire years worth of wages in one moment. She poured out a pint of perfume. How long does that take? A few seconds? So what took her years to save was given in a moment. But the reality is that Mary knew something about this kind of extravagant giving. She knew that PT. 2 SACRIFICING FROM THE HEART BRINGS BLESSING.
We don’t know if this was a retirement plan for her, a rainy day fund, or what she had planned for this pint of perfume. But we do know that she had a heart felt response to what Jesus had done for her.
Look at what Jesus’ response was to Judas. In Mathew 26, we see his response to Judas,
10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” v
Jesus said, this woman’s decision to honor me, will go on forever. She will be blessed and will be remembered. We are still talking about her today because of what she did that day.
PT. 2 SACRIFICING FROM THE HEART BRINGS BLESSING.
One Christmas, my best friend and I got dropped off at the mall to do some Christmas shopping for friends and family. And we got to thinking about it. We each knew what we wanted for Christmas. We were looking for a particular hat. We went into Lids… remember that store? The walls were lined with hats of every kind. And so we went in and hatched a fool proof plan. We determined that we would just each buy our own gift and then we would say that the other person had given it to us. IT WAS GENIUS! It would guarantee that we would get what we wanted.
This wasn’t a sacrifice. This was manipulation. We manipulated the system to provide for our own blessing. It wasn’t even a blessing. It was a purchase. Too many of us want to live the Blessed Life, but we are afraid to trust God to bring the blessing. Or we are too impatient to wait on His blessing.
There is an interesting detail that we see from Mary’s action, look what happens.
3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. vi
The by-product of what Mary does for Jesus fills the house. She takes what she has, and pours it out at Jesus feet, and the whole house is impacted. Mary didn’t intend for that to happen. But because of her obedience to anoint Jesus, and pour it out, everyone around was able to experience this gift as well. Something that could have been held selfishly was given away sacrificially. And it filled the house! The entire house was filled by this act. It not only blessed Jesus, but everyone in that space. Very often God will take what you have brought to Him and use it to FILL THE HOUSE, to take what you have and impact the world around you. As we look at this story of
PT. 3 BLESSING BEGINS WHEN SELFISHNESS ENDS. Mary had to sacrifice selfishness in order to do what she did. She poured out her nest egg, her retirement account, or her legacy, and in doing
created a lasting legacy of far greater importance than any amount of money could ever have purchased.
Is it possible that your blessing begins at the end of your selfishness? You need to hear me say that I’m not saying give and you’ll get. Following Jesus does not mean prosperity, but it does mean blessing. When we follow Jesus and live in a way that honors Him and is obedient to Him, God can’t help but bless you.
When you put others first, when you are obedient to what God is calling you to do, it’s amazing to see the blessing that you experience in your own life.
Don’t miss it! Don’t miss out on what God has for you and for your life. It’s our goal and desire to see every single one of you experience the blessed life. Pastor Robert Morris has written a book by this Title, and today we want to give every household a copy of this book. We want you to experience The Blessed Life.
Here’s what we know… A BLESSED LIFE BLESSES OTHERS. This is one of the secrets! We were never meant to keep the blessings to ourselves. As we start to open up and bless others with our influence and opportunity we will find that it in turn blesses us. It fills the house.