Revive Our Hearts Podcast

What Relevance Really Means

Leslie Basham: How do you measure your influence for the gospel? Dr. Eric Mason says your influence may be greater than you think.

Dr. Eric Mason: As God exalts you and gives you opportunities, don't let the impact of the opportunity just be the likes and comments you get on social media. If that's the depth of your impact, you haven't had any.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 30, 2015.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: The word relevant has become more popular over the last decade or so. Often it's used to mean hip or cool. Today, we'll get a new definition of relevant. I think it will be a much deeper, more meaningful definition.

We're going to hear the second part of a message from Dr. Eric Mason. He's the pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. Today we'll hear part two of this message called "Opening Your Life to Serve Others."

This message goes so well with the heart behind a conference coming up in September. It's called Revive '15: Women Teaching Women. Dr. Mason will be with us at that conference, speaking on both Friday and Saturday.

It's important to us to get a pastor's perspective on the value of women teaching other women and on the power and the wonder of God's Word. I'm excited to hear what he's going to share with us that weekend.

Now, today's the last day you can get that early registration discount, so don't delay. Register today to get the best possible deal.

Today we'll get to know Dr. Mason better. We're picking up on the message we began yesterday, and we'll hear how being relevant isn't about being cool, but it's about sharing in real people's real lives.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Dr. Mason has been speaking from Leviticus 19. We'll begin with a recap of some of what we heard yesterday.

Dr. Mason: 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's for the poor and the sojourner.

Now, let's break. If you don't understand poor in our day, because poor is anybody. But the poor in their day was widows, orphans and people with disabilities that cause them not to be able to work. Poor wasn't no big 350-pound strappin', vein-in-the-arm 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. And when he dies, she loses everything. And things happen like that, like the widow with Elijah.

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.

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.

If I could just tell you, you've got to recognize your life. When God blesses you, it's not just for you. When God gives you resources . . . Some of you say, "Well, I'm on public assistance." Well, give them a recipe. Utilize whatever God has put in your sphere as common ground.

You have to maximize what He gives you—not just for you but for others—and the Church, the people of God. This is our legacy. Our legacy is to represent the reign of Christ so that as people go from the nations in here and then go into the nations, they say, "Man, if you ever want to go on a journey, you need to stop by Israel, man."

He says, "You talking about Israel?"

"Man, in the whole land of Judah, go around April."

He says, "Really?"

"Take your family on vacation down there, man. And don't take no food. Just bring bags, man. You just walk through, and they just bless you. And then they've got this thing they just do. You gotta just roll by their little church service, man, and you see up in there. And I met their God, man."

"Really?"

"Boom! You need to go through. Roll, man."

Then the word gets out that God has a generous people who love people that aren't like them, that don't look like them, and they ain't from where they're from. But because God is so big, they're going to expand their loving arms to the expanse of the bigness of His loving arms to love people outside their normal sphere of influence.

You see, you as a believer have to begin to learn how to love people that don't look like you. Love people that don't come from where you come from. Love people that don't have your same accent. Love people that didn't go to your same school. Love people that don't dress like you. Love people that don't do their hair like you. You gotta love somebody else!

So he walks them through not only how to engage with unbelievers, but it's messialogical and evangelistic for people to see how we deal with each other. Okay. We're in the text. It got real quiet. Look at what it says.

Leviticus 19, verse 11: He restates some of the commandments—commandments eight, nine, and ten. He says, "You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another."

These are the one-anothers in the Old Testament. He's telling them how we relate to each other. In the midst of the sojourner coming around us, they not only are blessed by our giving, but they're blessed by how we relate to each other. You see, we can turn people off from the church, it's how we deal with each other. Your actions can prophesy what their experience is going to be like.

Look at what it says in the text. It says: "You shall not swear by my name falsely" (v. 12). (You know, doing all kinds of false dealings in the name of the Lord.)

He says, "I am the Lord" (v. 12). God says this several times. He's saying, "Take Me seriously. Don't trip on Me. Right?" Look at what He says next.

"You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him" (v. 13). So He's saying talking about you can't have no crime, you can't be running capers on family members. Look at what He says.

"The wages of a hired worker shall not remain with you all night until the morning" (v. 13). He's talking about giving people their money. He's practical. He says if somebody comes over and drywalls before you paint, give them their money. He says, "Don't be talking about 'Oh, man, I forgot. I've got to go to the ATM.'" or "I'm gonna give you this check, but don't deposit it until the 30 of next month." You know what I'm saying.

This is some real practical stuff. Right? You know how we do. We get people to do work, and then we keep postponing payment. The Bible talks about a lot of stuff, man. Look at what it says here.

"You shall not curse the deaf" (v. 14). He says don't be on the sub, like, "Watch this. He can't hear me." And he starts cussing them out. The Bible says don't be acting all crazy against people who got disabilities. What are you supposed to do? Help them—the poor—verse 9 and 10. Look at what He says, verse 10, and look at what He says, verse 14.

"Don't put a stumbling block before the blind, [He says] but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord" (v. 14). This is good stuff.

Verse 15: "You shall do no injustice in court." That means believers should be the most just people in the world, and we should be pushing for justice in the world. You all got quiet on that part.

That means even in the atmosphere we have now of justice and injustice, we should be the loudest voices pushing against injustice by pushing towards justice. Amen, lights and walls. And so we should be that.

Look at what it says. It says: "You shall not be partial to the poor" (v. 15). So He says even in an unjust situation, don't assume that the poor was unjust against. He says, but then also, don't always get on the side of the people that can lace your pockets.

But what does God say you should do? "But in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor" (v. 15). You don't say, "Based on your background, judge based on what people look alike in your experiences." Judge based on what the Bible says is righteous.

He says: "You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people" (v. 16). In other words, don't be going around gossiping and talking about people and lighting fires and being a messy believer among believers. He says don't slander.

Slandering is . . I'm going to give you this for free cause I got time: Slander is why Satan got kicked out of heaven. That's why God hates a lying tongue cause he slandered the throne of God and God kicked him out.

He says: "And you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord" (v. 16). In other words, don't be lying on your neighbor in court to get money.

He says: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, (uh-oh) but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him" (v. 17). Don't you know, hate comes from anger and unforgiveness that has fermented and caused you to be bitter, and now you're acting out of foolishness and sinning because you don't know that love is no longer your rubric but hate is."

So He says don't hate your brother in your heart lest you sin. Why would you sin? Because you're nurturing that. Like Hebrews 3:13–15 says. Sin can cause a hardening effect that causes more sin to come out of that sin.

Check out what He says in verse 18: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people." In other words, you can't walk around with grudges against each other. It's real quiet in here. He says no grudge against each other. He says, "But you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord."

This points me beautifully to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus was asked, "What's the greatest commandment?" Jesus goes over, and He quotes Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 5. He says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

And He says, "The second one is the same as the first." And He quotes Leviticus chapter 19, verse 18, and He says, "You shall love your neighbor [like] yourself."

And what that shows us is the glory of the gospel because when Jesus Christ said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" and "love your neighbor as yourself," that's the cross.

How was it the cross? Because He loved God with all of His might by getting on the cross and horizontally and vertically dealing with our issues. First He points to God. He loves God with every part of Him by giving His life on the cross, by loving the LORD God with all of His heart, all His mind, all His soul, with all His strength against His flesh.

He could have let the cup pass, but He didn't. So that means He was willing to die to self in His impeccability to glorify God in His desire to let the cup pass. But then He said, "Love His neighbor as His self" because what He did for God automatically connected us back to God, therefore fulfilling the law loving God with everything and loving us as He would love to be loved by giving His life for us.

He fulfills it, and that's what He leaves for us to do, not to earn His love, but because we had His love earned for us by Jesus Christ. And now we love and open up our lives to others on a very, very practical level because of what's been done for us.

(I'm going to close after this.) All the church planters that come through Epiphany Fellowship, I coach them as they leave and when they get on ground a few years later still. I'm still coaching Pastor Doug, and he calls me a lot, and we talk, and I love it.

He called me this past week. He said, "Pastor, I need to chop it up with you about something."

I said, "What?"

He said, "A woman just lost her son. He just got killed. You see it on the news?"

I'm like, "No."

"Just got killed in Camden. Man, it's a crazy situation."

I said, "Man, what you need from me?"

He said, "Well, the issue is, this is the second son that's died in the last two years of hers."

I said, "Man."

So we're talking through that and walking through that, and he says, "But that ain't it."

I said, "That ain't it?"

He says, "She couldn't afford the first son's funeral. So she's making payments on the first son's funeral. And now she wants to open up an account with the same funeral home to put her second son's funeral on a payment plan."

And I'm like, "So the death of her son is on layaway, and she gets an invoice every month, doesn't she? So she has never had closure from her first son. So you mean every month for three years, she had a monthly reminder of her son's death over and over and over again?"

He says, "Yes, and now we're in the same predicament. We have $5,000, but we're trying to come up with other money."

And so I said, "Man, you all get out there, and you all make sure . . . Let us know what you need. We need to take care of both of those funerals to get that off the plate."

So what happened was, she said the grandmother said, "Ain't no church helping nobody. The church ain't gonna help nobody. What do you want? You to come to church? What do they want? To get some money from you?"

He's like, "How are we gonna want money from you when we're trying to raise like $15,000 to help with the funeral?"

She's like, "Okay, I don't think you all are real."

So there's people just talking to family in there, grumbling and all that. Right? All of a sudden, the money comes up. God blesses the money. The mayor finds out. The chief of police finds out. Then the block starts talking. The block gets hot about this church that's not asking for offering but giving an offering for something in the neighborhood and not asking for anything in return.

And so what's happening in Camden now is the name of Jesus Christ is being elevated, and the church is being elevated because the church is not just asking for membership. It's not merely asking for an offering, but it's trying to help somebody.

And guess what's going to happen? The credibility of the church is going to increase. And guess what's going to happen in Jesus' name? Common ground is going to be developed, and people are going to want to glean the edges.

And as they glean the edges, you know we can't help, if you know Him, to talk about Him. People are going to meet Jesus, and lives are going to be changed.

Why am I saying all this? That's why we're here. That's why we're here. We're here to open up our lives to meet a need where we see it.

What is relevance at its core? To love God, to love God's people, and to love lost people on His terms. That's what relevance is. It's not a cool website. It's not branding. It's not a logo. It's not your Facebook page. It's not all that stuff.

You can have all that stuff. You can have brochures, cards to give out, and you can have this all you want. But if you ain't reaching nobody and touching nobody where their needs are, you ain't relevant.

I'm going to tell you something. Real relevance isn't pretty. Real relevance isn't a design. Real relevance is getting dirty. Real relevance is being inconvenienced. Real relevance doesn't get televised. Real relevance . . . we don't do relevance to do selfies. We want to have ground-level credibility.

Don't ever, as God exalts you (I'm just going to say this, and then I'm done) as God exalts you and gives you opportunities, don't let the impact of the opportunity just be the likes and comments you get on social media.  If that's the depth of your impact, you haven't had any.

But I want you to think of impact from this standpoint: If everybody your life has touched, and you died, and they opened up the mic, what are people saying about you? Would there be one person in tears because you rubbed up against them?

Would there be one person that says, "I don't know about anybody else, but I ran up against this man or this young lady, and I didn't know God, but they opened up their life to me. And God's work through them being kind drew me through the manifold wisdom of God, and now I'm a believer, and so much impact lays behind me because of one decision of sacrifice and giving from this person"?

Would anybody weep at your funeral because of your impact on their lives? Why don't we live lives to build treasures not just here, but in life eternal?

Leslie: Your influence on people can be powerful. Dr. Eric Mason has been showing us this, and he'll be right back to pray.

Nancy, I can see why you invited Dr. Mason to speak at the Revive '15 conference this fall.

Nancy: I love Eric Mason's heart for people, and I love the way that he encourages us to get involved in people's lives, to show them Jesus through personal life-to-life connection.

Dr. Mason will be sharing his heart about the value of women teaching other women when he joins us for the Revive '15 conference. This is a conference for women's ministry leaders and for women who are teaching the Word to other women.

So, do you belong at this conference?

Well, do you want to learn how to study the Bible more accurately? Do you want to share what you've been learning with others? And is the Lord using you to minister to other women, even in one-on-one or small group settings? If you're open to the Lord speaking through your life and the things He's teaching you from His Word, I hope you'll be there.

Revive '15 will be taking place in Indianapolis September 25–26. And remember, today is the final day to get in on the discounted pricing. To register and get more details, visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Well, which of these names would best describe you: Mrs. Law or Mrs. Grace? Jani Ortlund will unpack those two names in a helpful series called, "Marriage Through Gospel Eyes." I hope you'll be with us then.

To close our time, we're returning to Dr. Eric Mason, praying that we will open our eyes to serve others.

Dr. Mason: Father, we thank You. We honor You. We were made and created to honor and glorify You. That doesn't mean we don't get blessed, but blessing and favor always has purpose that's bigger than us. And so Mighty One, will You collide with our will? Will You collide with our convenience and challenge our lives to be bigger than us? There's so many great opportunities to see lives changed and to see people ministered to, and it's all simple: It's the whole as-you-go philosophy.

And so, God, help us to love You, love Your people, and love lost people in very practical, yet clearly pointed ways, and may You develop with us the ability by Your grace to develop common ground for the open door for the Word.

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

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.