Series: The Comeback. James Dewhurst May 2, 2021

Today, I want to talk about one of the most important behaviors that need to make a “Comeback”, especially in God’s church – We need to become Generous again!

Mark 12:28-31 NIV 28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Philippians 2:3-4 NIV 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Matthew 10:5 NIV 5 These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
1 John 4:7-8 NIV 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
A wise man once said – “We only rise by lifting others.”
The foundational Christian ethic of relationships is to put others above ourselves!

You won’t find one passage of Scripture in the Bible that tells us to focus on ourselves more, to look out for ourselves more, or worry about ourselves more than we do others. The 66 books divinely inspired Holy Bible, which we claim as our moral guide, doesn’t tell any one of us to put our feelings, our desires, our comfort, our safety, our reputation, our fears, our worries, or our outcomes above the other people in our lives. It tells us to do the opposite. Scripture commands us to put the things that matter to us in the back seat, and then place the needs of others at a higher place of priority in our lives.

Maturity looks past what we want, to meet what someone else needs!
Why would God ask us to do such a reckless thing? After all, we’ve got to look out for ourselves…right?… or Do We???

Matthew 6:25-33 NIV 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
What Jesus was telling us is – I want you to have their back because I’ve got yours!
Isaiah 41:10 NIV 10 So do not fear, for I am with you;do not be dismayed, for I am your God.I will strengthen you and help you;I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
When we trust in God’s provision, we look past your needs. When we don’t, we won’t!

Trusting God starts when can we give up what we want for what God wants most!
14 months ago, our nation shifted into safety mode! There is nothing wrong with safety. Safety is good! Antilock brakes and side-impact airbags are good. Hand sanitizer is good. Tying your shoelaces is good. Walking, instead of running with scissors is good. Eating healthy, exercising, and taking precautions to remain healthy are all good. Safety is not only wise, it’s also biblical. Ephesians 5:29 says, “After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.” Health and Wellness are Holy! But we didn’t stop at safety. America soon shifted to a new phase called self-preservation, as toilet paper vanished, hand sanitizer was hoarded, and grocery store shelves were bare everywhere. Self-preservation is just a fancy word for fear! And the longer some stayed living in phase two, self-preservation became their new Savior. And without even knowing it, the vast majority of America allowed 3 weeks to “slow the spread” to become 14 months of self-centeredness!

The self-less behaviors the Bible has continually commanded Christians to do, have all but vanished in our society. (Our collective spirit has grown cold and calloused!)

We’ve stopped thinking about others!
We’ve stopped being kind to others!
We’ve stopped considering others!
We’ve stopped listening to others!
We’ve stopped helping others!
The moment America stopped trusting God, we stopped loving our neighbors!

Matthew 19:30 NIV 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
Jesus wanted us to put others first because he knew that too much ME is MISERABLE!

One of the most miserable places to be is never having a bigger thought than ME!

Whenever you find yourself miserable, you can almost guarantee there’s too much ME!

Since many believe they are their protectors, they have abandoned their mission and have gone missing! I believe it time to come out of our collective cocoons and: Start loving others again! Start serving others again! Start giving to others again! Start caring about others again! Start reaching out to others again!

It’s time for the spirit of fear to leave and the spirit of generosity to return to the church!

Mark 14:66-72 NIV 66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. 68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. 69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” 72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
To set the proper scene, while Peter was down below warming his hands around a campfire with a servant girl, Jesus was being beaten upstairs in Caiaphas’ house!

Instead of boldly proclaiming his allegiance to Jesus, Peter ran, denied, and wept. Why? Because self-preservation had replaced Jesus as Peter’s new Savior!

Peter had followed Jesus all the way Friday morning courtyard until fear caused him to exchange true discipleship for safe discipleship. (Fear people do crazy things!)

The worst part is, in the moments following the rooster’s crow, as tears we his face, Peter, after choosing to put himself first, realized that too much I am miserable!

I want to close today with three lessons we can all learn from Peter’s story:

1. Self-preservation stole Peter’s Focus!
(Fear focused Peter inward, not outward!)

Peter had spent the past 3 years of his life saving the lost, but shifted to saving himself!

Jesus said in Matthew 16:25 “Whoever saves his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
2. Self-preservation ruined Peter’s Witness!
(Actions speak louder than words!)

It’s hard to sell Jesus to the servant girl who is watching you selling Jesus out!

Out of 100 unsaved men, 1 might read the Bible. The other 99 will read the Christian!

3. Self-preservation divided Close Relationships!
(Selfishness divides relationships)

Since Peter chose to put himself first, his betrayal divided his relationship with Jesus!

The sin of self-preservation has destroyed more relationships than we can count!

Our focus, our witness, and our relationships become healthy when we become selfless!

Pray for a spirit of generosity to Comeback to the body of Christ!

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