A Generous Life: Where Are You?

Colossians 1:13-20

Where are you right now? Our bodies can be present anywhere and have our mind miles away from this location.

I once was having a conversation with a colleague who was a pastor. It was a our yearly annual conference where all United Methodist pastors in North Georgia gather together. He and I were having coffee when all of a sudden he said, “Hey buddy, what’s up?” My response was, “Excuse me?” At which point he lifted up a finger to indicate – “just a minute” and turned his head to reveal a small attachment to his head called a Bluetooth headset. (WARNING: For a PG-16 blog giving further editorial on this phenomena Click Here)

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and I have a Bluetooth headset for my phone – but I realized that he didn’t get it – the need we all have to be present – to be present where we are.

Jesus got it. In Mark’s gospel, it tells in chapter 5 of Jesus being in “a great crowd” that “thronged about him” (great word picture). A lady who had been sick for 12 years touched him believing that touch alone would heal her. It did And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, "Who touched my garments?" (Mark 5:30 ESV) In the midst of the crowd, Jesus was present to others.

Later when a rich young man came to him, Jesus saw that it was the riches that kept the man from truly coming to faith. Jesus was present And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mark 10:17-22 ESV)

In our lives it isn’t so easy for us to be present. We’ve got work on our mind as we talk on the phone with our spouse as our kids are hollering for help on their homework while they are thinking about playing video games or worried what so-&-so said today at school and…the list of things distracting us goes on and on.

It seems that it is lacking the living example of PRESENCE – and so it seems to me it is vital to look at Jesus’ life here. For in Jesus, God’s PRESENCE IS PRESENT. This is the miracle of Colossians 5:19: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…”

Who else could claim that they are all there? Fact is, he never stopped being all there or here. By definition of God being God – God is omnipresent – all there, all the time. But when he came as Jesus, God put flesh and bones on that idea. Not being content being present everywhere – God’s very PRESENCE was pleased to dwell – HERE.

And while Jesus demonstrated that God is present with us it also in verse 13 of Colossians that it makes it clear that it was for “Us” that Jesus came to connect us to God through his death and resurrection. From the beginning, Jesus gathered people together to live by faith.

In recent years many migratory birds have realized that north Georgia is a great place to settle. For good or bad, Canadian geese are some of those birds. Have you ever wondered why the Canadian geese fly only in the V formation?

Engineers calibrated in a wind tunnel that each goose, in flapping his wings, creates an upward lift for the goose that follows. When all the geese do their part in the V formation, the whole flock has a 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. Each depends upon the other to get to its destination.

When a goose begins to lag behind, the others "honk" it back into place.
Now, none of us enjoy being honked at but the church needs to fly in a spiritual V formation, "honking" to one another to encourage our following Jesus. And it must be at least 71 percent easier to live the faithful Christian life flying with the flock as opposed to going it alone.

I’ve got good friends who’ve been encouragers to me through the years but they aren’t here now. I need the presence of ya’ll every bit as much as you do. The writer of the book Hebrews said to, “….not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more… (Hebrews 10:24-25 GNB

It was through Jesus loving act of giving his life for the forgiveness of our sins that we can connect to God. It is in our connection to Jesus Christ and together as a church, that we become the generous people who help others connect to God one loving act at a time.

The next 40 days beginning on Wednesday through Easter is a time called Lent. It has nothing to do with what you find in the dryer. Instead, it is a time when the Church for years has asked of followers of Jesus to reflect on God and to practice what we’ve talked about this whole month: A Generous Life.

This morning I offer you the invitation for 40 days to live the generous life – a call not so much to give things up – but give out – to seek to follow Jesus with giving 1% through your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. On the back of your connection card is simple list of those things we’ve talked about: “prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.” I’m asking you to take a 40 day experiment from Wednesday to Easter – to take a 1% step-up to a Generous Life. This isn’t a contract, but by sharing with me your decision, know that you’ll be supported through my prayers and encouragement as you seek to follow the way of Jesus Christ – THE Generous Life.

May I Ask?

1. What are the 2 biggest distractions in your life?
2. Who has encouraged you the most in the last six months?
Read Hebrews 10:21-25
3. What privilege comes to those who are part of the God's family? (10:22)
4. What must happen before a person can draw near to God? (10:22)
5. What happens to the guilty conscience of those who put their faith in Christ? (10:22)
6. Why are Christians able to "hold-on" in following Christ? (10:23)
7. What kind of behavior should followers of Jesus show toward one another? (10:24-25)
8. How will you use today’s invitation over the next 40 days to live a more generous life?
9. What encouragement could you use to follow through?
10. How could you spur someone else on?


lori said...

Hey Pastor Ken, just wanted to tell you again how RELEVANT your sermon was this week. The analogy of Canadian geese flying in formation is excellent as the sum of the parts is greater than the individual pieces, just like a church community. Except, our lead bird (Jesus) not only gives us a ~71% efficiency gain, but changes our lives from ordinary to EXTRA-ordinary.

Coming to Crossroads the past 3 weeks, it's apparent that Jesus is planting seeds with this church and we are happy to have become part of it. Tilling and preparing the soil takes hard work and time and it's evident that work is building a new Faith community in Paulding county.

Thanks for all you do, for the time and effort you put in daily. It is noticed, it is appreciated and your name finds it's place as the answer to question #2 for me. Thanks again, see you tomorrow night!


Ken L. Hagler said...

Thanks for the comment Scott and for all that your family is doing as part of Crossroads. God has been doing some incredible work all along the way - I'm looking forward to how that journey continues!

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