Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God Blesses You for a Reason

Leslie Basham: When people see you, do they see an attractive picture of God's holiness? Here's Dr. Eric Mason.

Dr. Eric Mason: Relevance is a display of God's holiness to one another and the world . . . the holiness of God in us, being able to show off the glory of who God is.

Leslie: This is the Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, June 29, 2015

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I am so excited about the opportunity, less than three months from now, to gather together with women's ministry leaders from around the U. S. and from other parts of the world! On September 25 and 26 we'll be in Indianapolis, Indiana for Revive '15: Women Teaching Women.

This is a conference where you can get a break from your normal daily demands and have a chance to get your heart filled up. Then you can go back to your church, your community, your home, and pour yourself into others there.

Revive '15 is a conference about women teaching women, so it may sound a little odd at first when we announce we'll have a man speaking at this conference. But I think it's important for us as women to hear from the heart of a pastor. I'm so pleased to announce that Dr. Eric Mason will be joining us for this conference.

As a pastor, he'll be talking about the wonder of God's Word, and the value he sees in his church when women get involved in teaching other women. Dr. Mason is the pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. We'll be hearing a message from him today.

Dr. Mason talks about the value of individual believers getting involved in the lives of others, one on one. And he talks about what happens in a community when we lay down our own needs and preferences for the sake of serving others. He really reflects what the heart of Revive '15 is all about. I know you'll get a lot out of this message from Dr. Eric Mason.

Leslie: And, Nancy, we'll hear Dr. Mason speak on Leviticus 19:9–18. Let me read that passage.

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.
You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning. You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.
You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

And so, here's Dr. Eric Mason, reflecting on that passage.

Dr. Mason: As I think about our core value of culturally relevant ministry, I think about when we were researching coming to Philly, when I was going to be moving here to be a part of what God was already up to.

We began to ask three questions of people: We asked business owners, non-profits, drug dealers, baby mamas, baby daddies, families, college students—everybody we could begin to ask—to get a view of a picture of what God wanted to do through helping us to follow Him and planting in the city.

We asked three questions. The first question we asked was, "What are the top three needs in this neighborhood?" and people began to give a litany of things that were three great needs.

Then we asked, "What are the top three influences?" And they began to give us their answers. And lastly, but not leastly, we asked them, "Of those top three needs you mentioned, how many of those is the church putting a dent in?" And there was a deafening silence.

I thought we were going to get cursed out several times, particularly in the barbershop, because in the minds of people in this neighborhood—at the time—there was a damnable view of the church in our city. Because of that reality, God began to birth in us to lace through our vision statement a passage that was helpful for us to begin to think through.

What would it look like for God's credibility through the church to be reestablished—not just for our local church that we're in but for the Church at large? Whether you know it or not, if one sector of the church makes a mess, people view us all as a mess.

You can't make denominational divides among the eyes of the lost. The lost view all of us as one and the same. So we began to look in Scripture, and we saw a passage that people quote, but they forget the last part of the passage. In Ephesians 3:20 says, "Now unto him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you ask or think, according to the power that worketh within you . . ."

Now some of you all are ready to shout right now just on that part because you like God doing exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or think. You're like, "Hey, God, I feel You right now, and I want You to do a work in me." And you're excited right now.

But before you shout, you need to look at verse 21. Ephesians 3:21 says, ". . .to him be glory in the church and in the Lord Jesus Christ." In other words, there should be a reflection of the image of the Lord Jesus Christ that emanates off of the church, to show off the beauty of who God is, so that people can be attracted by the power of the Spirit through the gospel of God, through the manifold wisdom of God being seen through the lives of God's people as they incarnate the reality of who Christ is in their city.

We wanted to see as one of the things that we visualized, the church regain community credibility so that we can develop common ground with lost people, so that we can earn the right to share Jesus Christ with them.

We found that we had to verbally and missiologically be brought out of the hole of the negative just to get to common ground to talk about Jesus. So sometimes we had to serve before we spoke. That means we had to hold out our hands before we did any other type of verbal help. There were some ways in which we had to do that.

As we began to look at the Bible, we began to see that this was nothing new. It's interesting that in Leviticus, as we look at this book, we see that the Children of Israel are fresh out of slavery, but they're in "pre-blessing" season. In being out of slavery, they're redeemed, but they're not in their blessing place. They're actually in a place of wilderness and wandering.

You wonder why in the world would God not just take them from slavery to blessing? God doesn't take you from slavery to blessing because if He lets you with your undiscipled self come straight from slavery into blessing, you won't be able to handle or steward what He gives you.

You see, God is smart enough and He's glorious enough to not hand a steak to a baby. There has to be an incubating season where He nurtures us out of our foolishness so we will understand what blessing is for. Too many of us take "two cents" messages, where we want to come to the church every single week to hear about our purpose and our season and where God is going to take us, versus what God wants us to represent for Him, for His glory, and for His purposes.

So in order to go into blessing, which is not necessarily money . . . You see, many of you in your mind, you thought big house, you thought marble counters, you thought nice honey or nice dude on your arm.

Most of us are functional prosperity theologians. See, most of us when we think of God blessing us . . . We say we don't believe that the center of the gospel is stuff, but when we think of blessing, we think "stuff," rather than the shekinah glory of the living God.

God had to help the Children of Israel with this. Before He blessed them with stuff, He had to let them know the value of Him. God would be a bad steward if He were to give you stuff without incubating you in time with Him.

Some of us are business people; we have a prosperity dream, so we operate outside of our (I'll use the word) anointing. We operate outside of that because we want autonomous blessing. That's why some of you are in a wilderness now.

You're in the wilderness of your life because God is working for you to see Him, and He's not going to give you nary another thing until you see Him clearly. That's why the Children of Israel wandered for forty years on a journey that should have taken three months, because God was determined . . . "I won't bless you if blessing you means not having Me. So I'll let you wander, I'll let you cry, I'll let you be frustrated, I'll let you be hurt, I'll let you even hate Me, if it means you know Me!" Some of y'all don't realize that you have more than enough.

You don't want to be in a place where you have stuff without the Creator. God's to train His people in Him, not in stuff. Hear me today. He's training them. He will keep you in the training program of Him instead of stuff. If He gives you stuff, He'll take stuff away from you if it doesn't bridge the gap between you and Him.

So He's teaching the people of God how not to forget Him. First point, because I've gotta move!

Relevance is a display of God's holiness to one another and the world (help me today, God!). I want to start at Leviticus 19:1–3 real quick, because you can't understand verses 9 through 18 until you see the first part of these verses. Look at what He says: "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to [everybody] the whole congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, "You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy."'"

Now that seems like an infantile point, but it's the most important thing that He says in this passage. The lexical form of the word "holy" means "to cut out." For instance, there is either a sheet of metal or a sheet of cotton or something, and all of this is just a normal piece. But the person who wants to use some of the cotton for a particular use cuts out some of it and sets it aside so that it won't be identified with the rest of it anymore.

In other words, when God saves you, He cuts you out from normality. Sometimes walking in holiness, you're going to be alone (help me today, God!). Sometimes walking in holiness, you're going to be weird. Sometimes walking in holiness, you're going to lose some friends. Walking in holiness means you're going to be crying sometimes.

But the beauty of it is . . . don't remind yourself of what you used to like. Don't daydream of being "normal" no more. Some of us think, I used to drink with my friends . . . See, they're all hanging out . . ." You underestimate the power of holiness by dreaming about a substandard lifestyle of normality.

You need to recognize that when you came to Jesus Christ by faith in Him, He's taken you out of the realm of the normal to the extraordinary. And this extraordinary is not just for you to flaunt, it's to show Him off. And so God cuts you out and sets you aside to be different, not to be better than.

He doesn't look for you to point a finger at anything or anybody. It's okay for people not to understand you. The more you grow spiritually, the less you're going to be understood. Being a Christian and growing in Christ and being viewed as weird by others is normal in God's kingdom.

What God is doing in your life is He wants to sanctify you into the new normal. But the issue is, you've got to stop stalking your past. The Children of Israel were like, "Why did You bring us out here? We are all alone—with no food! We don't want the manna no more. We want some quails. You brought us out here to die."

Some of you laugh at that, but you feel the same way about the Lord. When you start walking with the Lord, you automatically have hard times. I'm just going to look at you all. Hard times are times to show you where you are and where you're not.

God always provides, but what happens is when He starves us of stuff, He does it over again to show us how much we have attached ourselves to stuff and not Him. So the reason why sometimes God will give you something, then take it back from you, and give you something and take it back from you, is because He's trying to show you, "Every time I give you something, then take it back from you, you're still longing for what I gave you."

If you're only longing for what He's given you, you've missed passing the test, and you're going to stay in the wilderness until you want Him. So, "being holy as I am holy," what does that mean? Treat something with respect . . . to remove something from profane usage . . . to single something out and to consecrate . . . consecrate . . . consecrate something for what it isn't right now doing . . . for something greater.

Consecration. I love that about this word kadosh—the holiness of God in us. It's being able to show off the glory of who God is. That's why Peter picks this idea up in 1 Peter. It's to let us know that our calling is no different than that of the Children of Israel in relation to holiness.

The good thing about holiness is God doesn't call you to do anything that He hasn't already given to you. So God is not telling them to be holy in their own strength. God has already set them aside by delivering them. The fact that you've been delivered means that you've been set aside.

God delivers you so that you can be distinct. Deliverance is not just to celebrate not being under the yoke of something. The purpose of deliverance is to know that God is doing something and delivering you for something greater for Him. Now, let me get down in these verses. Look at Leviticus 19:9 (and remember that holiness is the overarching theme of the text, in what God has already done for us in Christ):

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after the harvest. He says, "You shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard." He said, "You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner. I am the Lord your God" (vv. 9–10).

What is He saying? This is very, very, very, very beautiful! A harvest theology, or a reaping theology, shows that God's people worked. Amen! In other words, you're not going to get anything in life without work (help me today!). Now, now, now—you see, some of you all didn't "Amen" that, because you want somebody to hand you something.

God makes things available to you by grace, but He asks you by grace to go get it, and it's called "work." Let me just say this, "You're not going to receive any reaping opportunities (reaping is actually work, too . . . sowing is work, reaping is work) if you're lazy in sowing, don't ask God for nothing to reap!

But this is what's crazy about sowing and reaping (help me today, God!). The sower, in their culture, would sow by faith, and they would pray while they worked, because they were trusting God to help what they were doing work-wise, to take root. But then, by faith they would have to wait, so they had to reap by faith.

But what is interesting in this passage is that they sowed by faith, the harvest came up by faith, and they got to reap. The text says, "You're not supposed to take everything." In other words, when reaping, they were supposed to leave the edge of their land to a certain amount of yards of land (based on the Mishnah), that they were not supposed to reap for a reason.

That's some good stuff, too, because sometimes the sun hits the outside stuff better than it did the inside stuff. So they had to reap. Then, the Bible says, they couldn't pick anything up if it hit the ground. He had to leave everything on the ground—even as you're harvesting in the middle and central parts of the field, all the way up to the home. You're not supposed to even take all of that.

Why? Because when God blesses His people, He wants them to always know that everything you got ain't for you. Who does the text say it's for? It says it's for the poor and the sojourner. Now, let's break it down, because we don't understand "poor" in our day . . . because poor is anybody.

"Poor" in their day were widows, orphans, and people with disabilities that caused them not to be able to work. "Poor" wasn't no big, three-hundred-and-fifty pound, vein-in-the-arm strapping person that can work. Amen! "Poor" meant you were literally stripped of the ability to work.

A widow was stripped of her ability to work because she was taking care of some things and the husband, many times, was doing most of the work and taking care of everything. When he died she loses everything and things happen, like that. Like the widow with Elijah. Children whose parents had died, they were orphaned out. Those were the poor.

What was supposed to happen was, in God's community of faith, people who had needs (not "greeds") got help. (Needs, not "greeds.") In other words, the community of faith was built in such a way that they were supposed to take care of people who had needs.

But not only the poor in this sense, but guess who else was supposed to be taken care of? The sojourner. Now check out the sojourner. A sojourner is a person just passing through. So they came through Israel.

Then the person is working in their yard, the reapers are working, and he's on the upper edge, like in the back right there where Jose is working. And somebody says, "Hey, yo! Yo man, how you doing? Where you from?"

And he says, "Well, I'm from Philistia."

"Okay, well that's something we never heard of y'all. What's you doing through here, man?"

"You know, just tryin' to get to Hittite-i-a, man."

"Just walk down the Negev (that's the southern country), bust a left by Jojo's field, and you'll see it right there in the straits, right?"

The sojourner says, "Alright. Man, a brother's hungry, though."

He says, "You hungry? Man, from where I'm standing to where you're standing, get all you want!"

Sojourner says, "Get all I want?"

"Yes, buffet ministry, all up in here for you! All up in here for you!"

Sojourner be like, "Wow, really?"

Reaper says, "Yeah, when we get finished, anything that's on the ground and anything that's left on the vines, get at it!"

Sojourner says, "Yeah! That's what up, man! Bless you, man, bless you, man. May the gods bless you."

Reaper says, "Nah, nah, nah, I don't fool with the gods. Don't fool with them. I rebuke that in Jaweh's [Yahweh's] Name. I'm a servant of Jaweh [Yahweh], the Lord God, who created heaven and earth, and He's instructed me, when someone who isn't from here comes through, to release part of what He's given me so that you can enjoy what He's blessed me with, so that you can know that He's the Lord of heaven and earth!"

Sojourner: "What!? So you mean to tell me you left this because your God said so. It's not a sacrifice or a burnt offering then?"

Reaper, "No, we already did that. That's what we did through our tithes and our temple taxes. Right here is just for you."

Sojourner: "So you tithe . . . offer . . . and you give away stuff to people just walking past? Aw, man. When y'all havin' a meetin'?"

Reaper: "Well, Yom Kippur is a few days from now, and we going to be talking about pointing to this Messiah who's going to come. You're welcome to come around and hang with us. You can't be walking all up in the inner court stuff; you gotta be out here behind us, but you know, just come and hang out and hear about my God."

And that keeps happenin' and happenin' all over Israel, over and over and over again. And next thing you know, you've got people from other nations standing back looking at the burnt offerings going to heaven, looking at the high priest going in, and they're learning about the God of glory.

They're hearing Tanakh read; they're hearing Nevi'im read; they're reading Ketuvim (the Law, Prophets, and Writings). They're learning about the oneness of God; they're learning about the Messiah, and they're hanging around, all because they were attracted in by the generosity of God's people.

Let me just tell you, you've got to recognize your life. When God blesses you, it's not just for you.

Leslie: That's Dr. Eric Mason, speaking at his home church, Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. Dr. Mason had a main takeaway from that message: When God blesses you, it's not just for you.

That idea gets to the heart of a conference Revive Our Hearts is hosting. It's called Revive '15: Women Teaching Women. Dr. Eric Mason will be there, which is why we wanted you to get to know him better on the broadcast today. Nancy, that idea, "When God blesses you, it's not just for you," really captures the heart of the conference: God blesses you so you can share that blessing with others.

Nancy: That's right, Leslie. Revive '15 is all about choosing to invest your life in others. That's not always easy. I know from personal experience it can be really draining. It can be challenging to know how to do it effectively. So we want to help.

At Revive '15 you'll receive tools that will help you know how to teach and minister more effectively. Jen Wilkin and I will be showing you how to study the Bible for yourself, and how to pass on what you've learned to other women, in the power of the Holy Spirit, in such a way that it will be transformational in others' lives.

And at Revive '15, I know you're going to be encouraged. It's a chance for you to catch your breath and to let us minister to you, rather than you being the one to always ministry to others. Revive '15 is for any woman who wants to teach the Word of God to other women—whatever form that may take.

It could mean mentoring a younger woman right in your dining room. Or it might mean a bigger platform—a Sunday School class or a Bible study in your church or a small group that you lead. But if you'd like to be involved in ministering the Word to other women, I hope that you'll join us for Revive '15 in Indianapolis, September 25–26.

The early registration discount for that conference ends tomorrow. That means today would be a great day to make your plans and register for Revive '15. You can get all the details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959. I hope to see you at Revive '15

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Tomorrow we'll hear part 2 of this message from Dr. Eric Mason. He'll continue to show how God gives to you so you can pour your life into others. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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