We've reached the last week of our Navigate series. It's been an exciting time at Radius so far. New people are coming every week. We are literally moving out into ever-widening circles and changing the world around us. Lives have been changed. We've created memories, made new friends, and touched the heart of St. Petersburg. We still have much to do though. People are being fed, clothed, and loved on, but there is still so many people hurting in our great city. The beautiful facade of St. Pete hides a city filled with pain and darkness.
We pray and we invite God into St. Pete. We pray and praise God for the work he has done here. We pray and ask God to use us.
We fast to find the will of God for us. We fast to stand in intercession for those around us who don't want, or can't find, a relationship with their creator. We fast to learn more about who we are. We fast to make some small gesture to show our love for God.
There is a third piece to the puzzle. Like fasting, it's not the most popular concept in the Christian church. It's the idea of giving.
Now, before you click back to Facebook, give it a chance. It's not about forking over your money so that some church leader can buy a Rolex. If you've been to Radius at least one time, you know that's not what we are about. Giving has nothing to do with lining the pockets of Radius Church, and everything to do with trusting God.
Giving, like prayer and fasting, is an expression of love. Like Michael talked about when he was praying for the offering on Sunday, you may drop in some cash or a check, but when the bucket reaches the back of the room, it's filled with little pieces of the hearts of those who choose to give. But giving isn't just about money, right? Giving is about handing over your life to God.
When we pray, we give God that precious thing that we can never get back - time.
When we fast, we give God our attention, trusting that we will hear his voice, feel his presence, or watch him take action in our life.
When we serve, we give God our gifts and talents in the hopes that he will use us to expand his kingdom, and to do the work that he has prepared for us to do.
When we love, we give the love that God has given us to those around us.
Giving is not about money. Giving is about trusting God with our lives.
The cool thing is, we can never out give God. Give him your time, and you will get time in return. Give him your attention, and he will listen to you. Give him your gifts and talents, and you will find those gifts and talents increased. Give love and you will find so much love in your life that you won't be able to stand it. And yeah, give God money, and you will get money in return.
Try it. Just try it. Try to out give God and see what happens. Test him on this. On this one thing, giving, test God. I dare you.
Malachi 3:10 (NLT)
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!
What can you give to God today? Look around. Look in the mirror. You have things that other people need. You have time that other people would cherish. You have money that could feed and clothe your neighbor. You have so much, give some of it to God and watch what he does with it.
Blake talked about the story in John 6, when Jesus fed 5,000 people with few fish and some loaves of bread that came from a small child. Can you imagine how that kid felt when asked to give up all the food he had? I picture his parents telling him to go pick up food for the family, giving him what little money they had, asking that he go straight there and come straight back. The text doesn't say it, but I'm inferring he was under strict orders. This was the food that was going to feed his family for the next week and now some guy and his followers ask the kid to give it up.
What happened next was a miracle. Most of the people there only saw Jesus and his disciples handing out food. They probably didn't find out until days later that they were recipients of a miracle. But that boy, that little boy who gave up all he had was given a front row seat to see God at work.
The same goes for us. When we give, we get a front row seat to the miraculous.
God has got big plans for St. Pete. Miracles are happening. Miracles are in the works. Do you want to be a recipient of the miraculous, or a participant in the miraculous?