November 3, 2019
Part 4... The Joy of Giving Up
Fr. Phil Eberhart
Now for the rest of the story!
There was a discussion between three pastors, a Baptist, a Pentecostal and an Anglican. They were discussing how the offering is divided in each church between our needs and God's. How much does God get and how much do we get?
The Baptist pastor said they drew a circle on the floor, threw the money up and what fell inside the lines of the circle was God's and outside was theirs.
The Pentecostal pastor said just the opposite. What fell outside the lines was God's and inside was the church's.
The Anglican pastor, wanting to be the most inclusive, said, "No circles for us Anglicans. We just throw it up in the air: What God wants He can keep!
This morning I want to give you, actually... remind you, of what Paul Harvey used to call, "the rest of the story."
Today is the Feast of All Saints! But I dare say that few of the actual Saints would claim that the day or even their "saint hood" waswasU about them. I think it's probably some kind of a prerequisite that real saints know Who it's all about.
And WHO the main ACTOR is in all of this drama we call our life.
Paul said it's "in Him we live and move and have our being! " Later the writer to the Hebrews says, "He is both the Author and the Finisher of our faith." Jesus own words tell us that "apart from Me ... you can do ... NOTHING!"
Friends, the joy we're talking about isn't just from the act of giving, that is simply an overflow - an outcome of a life that is GIVEN UP.
Remember the old 50's song, where you threw your hands up in the air and sang with the tune, "I surrender - I Surrender!"
That is a life that is GIVEN UP. A surrendered life; one that is counted as no longer your own. This kind of talk is everywhere in the New Testament writings. In Jesus' words and throughout the whole body of the letters!
You must die to self to live for God!
"Take up your cross daily," Jesus said.
"It's no longer I who live," Paul said,
"But Christ who lives in me."
And it's not just in the New Testament either.
Over and over and over through the whole history of God's dealings with us, the people He created, He reminds himself, "I know that you are dust."
God takes both the initiative to call us; to pursue us... and the responsibility to finish for us what we cannot complete for ourselves.
Over and over again God said, "I will do it. I will take your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh!"
"I am the faithful One and I will do it."
My point here is that all we are doing is following... we are willing participants, we are available to Him and His purposes and we are obedient to his direction in the moment. Whether it be in offering a smile to a stranger or writing a check for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, whenever and whatever we do, we are following Jesus' leadership. It's His direction we walk, not ours.
That is a "surrendered heart... a surrendered life"
Willing ... Available ... Obedient.
In his little book , Absolute Surrender, Rev Andrew Murray says...
O, become nothing in deep reality, and, as a worker, study only one thing—to become poorer and lower and more helpless, that Christ may work all in you.
Commenting on The Vine and branches of John 15, Murray says...
"Christ Jesus said: “I am the Vine, ye are the branches.” In other words: “I, the living One who have so completely given myself to you, am the Vine. You cannot trust me too much. I am the Almighty Worker, full of a divine life and power.” You are the branches of the Lord Jesus Christ. If there is in your heart the consciousness that you are not a strong, healthy, fruit-bearing branch, not closely linked with Jesus, not living in Him as you should be—then listen to Him say: “I am the Vine, I will receive you, I will draw you to myself, I will bless you, I will strengthen you, I will fill you with my Spirit. I, the Vine, have taken you to be my branches, I have given myself utterly to you; children, give yourselves utterly to me. I have surrendered myself as God absolutely to you; I became man and died for you that I might be entirely yours. Come and surrender yourselves entirely to be mine"
Simple, not easy.
This is the covenant prayer by the Rev John Wesley.
Please repeat it after me...
[93. A Daily Covenant Prayer
Prayed daily by John Wesley]
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt,
rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing,
put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee
or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee
or brought low for thee.
Let me be full,
let me be empty.
Let me have all things,
let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratifed in heaven.