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Message by Dr. Rick Mandl at Eagle Rock Baptist Church, May 3, 2021
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA.
I want to say welcome to each one of you as we are in week four of our series Seven Words to Change Your Life. And the idea of this series is simply that. . . Words are powerful, and words have the ability to transform your life. And specifically, what we are looking at is how certain words can impact our connection with God.
And we started with NO, because we needed to get rid of some things that were interfering with our walk with God so that we can move to the second week of the series, which was YES. And then last week, we learned what it is to live in the word SORRY, today, we are looking at probably the MOST COUNTERCULTURAL word of the entire series. And it is the word ENOUGH. I want to give you a visual for this right up front.
So if you would, it's more fun when we all play along. So take your LEFT hand. Okay, hold it out in front of you. And then what I want you to do is I want you to just kind of ball it into a fist and then clench your fist just as tightly as you can, like you're getting ready to what we're in church, we're going to be nice, you're just you're just frustrated with something, okay.
So, ball it up like that. This is a physical representation for how many of us are living, we are living with a clenched fist. And this symbolizes, clinging to things, clenching on to things, an unwillingness to release to let go to share, to do anything but just cling and grasp and and desperately hold on to what we have and this is how many of us are living. But there's an alternative to this way of living. So I want you to take your RIGHT hand and hold your right hand out in front of you.
And I just want you to hold it like this just the open hand open in this symbolizes those of us who are living with the open hand before God and what this symbolizes right here is the word ENOUGH. And what we're saying when we live with the open hands were saying. . . “God, whatever, whatever passes through my hand, I know it's just in my hands temporarily, so I'm going to, I'm going to use whatever you allow to graciously pass through my hand, I'm going to use it to pass on to others and to bless others with it in a way, it's a way to say, ‘God, you are enough’, you are the God of enough you have provided me with enough.
And I don't need more, I just need what you have already graciously given me that's what this is. And the reality is All Of Us Have To Choose. And it's a constant battle, which way we're going to live. Because if you live this way (OPEN HAND) you're not going to live as a taker. And that's kind of what this (BALLED FIST) this is a taker. And there's a taker inside of you. And there was a taker inside of me, and there is a constant struggle between living with enough and desperately grasping for more and clinging on to what I have, and my hope is today, that you will make the decision to live with enough.
The truth is if you if you don't learn how to say enough, it can actually be deadly. It really can be. If you have a goldfish, and say you're going out of town for a couple weeks, what do you do with a goldfish? ((You’ve heard the old expression, “You can’t take it with you”)) So you're going out of town for a couple weeks can't take it with you, right? So you're not sure what to do with the food situation. So you just decide “I know what I'll do, I will just put two weeks worth of food in the bowl.” And and then you know, my goldfish will pace itself, you know, over the next couple of weeks on the food, You know, what will happen? Your goldfish will eat and eat me until it dies. Why? Because the goldfish doesn't know how to say “Enough.”
And people are a lot like gold fish. There was a Stanford Researcher who did this study on, on How We Interact With Food. And in France, they asked the question, “How Do You Know When You've Had Enough To Eat?” And the most common response to that question in France was, “I Know I've Had Enough To Eat When I Feel Full.” That's, that seems pretty obvious, right? “When I'm Full, I've Had Enough To Eat.” But they asked the same question to Americans. And you know, the most common response to the question, “How do you know when you've had enough to eat? The most common response was “WHEN MY PLATE IS EMPTY.” WHEN THE FOOD IS GONE. That's what we've been conditioned to do the most.
The Second Most Common Response to that question, though, was “I know I’ve had enough. . . . When the show I'm watching is over.” So like, hopefully you're not binge watching an entire season of your favorite show on Netflix because when we binge watch, we binge eat. That's just what we do. They also did Experiments With Bowls Of Soup. And They Gave One Half Of This Group In This Study Just A Normal Bowl Of Soup. And then They Gave The Other Half A Bottomless Bowl Of Soup and the bowl would fill as they were eating, it would fill from the bottom. And the Participants Didn't Know That That Was Happening. And What They Discovered Was That The People Who Had The Bottomless Bowl Of Soup Ended Up Eating Twice As Much as the people who had the regular bowl of soup. It Wasn't Because They Needed More. And it Wasn't Because They Were Hungry. It was simply because they Didn't Know When To Say Enough.
We don't just do this with food, though. We also do this with money, possessions and stuff. And I think we all like to view ourselves as this. ((SHOW OPEN HAND)) We all like to think I'm a generous person. I'm living the life of the open hand. And the reality is, most of us are not living this ((SHOW OPEN HAND)) Most of us are living this ((SHOW CLENCHED FIST)) way. And what I hope you will do today is I hope you will do an honest reflection of where you are and be honest with yourself.
First and foremost, but honest before God and you say, you know, how am I living? Am I living the clenched fist life? Or am I living the life of the open hand? Am I living in enough?
There was a book written not that many years ago entitled, American Generosity. It was subtitled Who Gives What And Why. And it was a pretty exhaustive piece of research into this subject of generosity. And What They Discovered is that We Are A Nation Of Tight-Fisted People. 84% of Americans give between 0 and 1% of their income. In a country where millions of us have more than enough, we give practically nothing, because we're tight fisted.
The same study found that only 3% of Americans give at the level of a tithe, And a tithe this is it's a biblical word. It's a word that God gave to the nation of Israel, and tithe, means 10th. That's what it means. And it sounds kind of like 10th. So it's easy to remember. And God gave the nation of Israel, this principle of the tithe and the idea was that 10% of everything that they had, they were to return to the temple. And not just ANY 10%. Not just 10% if they happened to have that much left over at the end of the month after they took care of all of their own needs. But the FIRST 10% Why was that significant? It was significant because they were making a statement of faith…. And in so doing, it was an act of worship to God.
And it was a, it was really a declaration of faith, saying, “I have enough God, you have provided me with enough.” So I'm returning to you a portion of what you've blessed me with, because I have enough. And according to this study, only 3% of Americans give at the level of a tithe. But the reality is for hundreds and hundreds of years, people of faith, people who follow Jesus have had the practice of returning 10% of everything that they earned to God as a, as an automatic expression of gratitude for all that God has blessed us within, it's a way to come before God with the Open Hand and say, God, You Are The God Of Enough, And I Have Enough.
And only 3% of us are living at that level. And so if you're not doing that… If you’re not tithing….. I hope as a result of today, you would consider that because it is better to live like this, ((OPEN HAND)) Than it is to live like this. (((FIST))) And listen, even if you're here and you're not a follower of Jesus, it's still true, it is better for you to live like this than it is for you to live like this. You can do the research on this. I've read lots and lots of books on finances. And even in non-Christian books on finances, there is regularly discussed the principle of the tithe. Here's one book I have on my shelf called. . . THE AUTOMATIC MILLIONAIRE. Full disclosure . . . I read it, and I did not automatically become a millionaire. But it's it's not a bad book. It's it's pretty good actually in in the in the table of contents, chapter eight, the title of that chapter is….. Make a difference with automatic tithing. It's not even a Christian book.
So why is he talking about tithing? He talks about tithing, because he knows that the surest way for you to prosper, for you to grow your wealth is for you to change your relationship with money, and possessions and stuff, and to learn to live with the open hand. Because until you learn to do that, you're never going to have enough. That's just a reality. You're never going to have enough.
I want us to look together at someone who learned some important lessons about ENOUGH. So we're gonna look at Luke 19. We're gonna start in verse one. And here's what we read. “Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.” Luke 19:1-2. Pause there for a moment, because verse 2 tells us two things about Zacchaeus that I don’t want you to miss. The first is that Zacchaeus was not just a man who was “rich”. He was a man who was . . . . “very rich.”
The Second Thing I want you to notice is how it was that he became “Very rich.” The way that he became “Very rich” was because of the job that he had. Verse 2 tells us that Zacchaeus was a Tax-Collector. But not just any tax collector, but rather . . . “the Chief Tax Collector in the region." If you think that tax-collectors are not popular today, you should have been living in at the time when Zacchaeus lived. Because Zacchaeus was not an employee of the Israeli I.R.S. which would have made him unpopular enough. But rather, because Israel was an occupied country, living under the power of Rome, Zacchaeus was an employee of the enemy occupying forces. When the Roman empire conquered an area, they discovered that the best way to collect taxes from those they conquered, was to hire some of the locals to work for them as tax-collectors.
One reason that they did this was because those locals who lived in the conquered countries knew who had the money, and who didn’t. And the way that Rome paid these locals was ingenious. They basically told the tax-collectors, here is the way that our system works. We need you to collect a certain amount from the individual. Let’s say that Rome’s tax rate was 25% So Rome said to the tax-collector. .. . We need you to return 25% of that person’s income to us. But here’s the deal, anything above that 25% that you’re able to collect, you can keep for yourself. That’s the way you’re going to be paid.
Now remember, Jews living in the first-century didn’t have access to the Internet. Not because of bad wi-fi, but because it hadn’t been invented. Gutenberg hadn’t been born, so there was no printing press, and no newspapers. And what that meant was that the tax-payer, was at the mercy of the tax-collector when it came to knowing what their tax bill was supposed to be. And while the tax-payer was never sure what the actually owed to Rome. . . . This much they knew for sure. They knew that the tax-collector was ripping them off. And they knew that the tax-collector was traitor, because he was working for the enemy, in addition to ripping off his own people.
So tax-collectors like Zacchaeus had few friends, but they had a lot of money, which was WHY Zacchaeus was VERY RICH. Yet, in spite of his wealth, he knew something was missing from his life… And the reason that I say that something was missing was because of what we read next. . . When Jesus entered Jericho, verse 3 tells us that. . . “Zacchaeus tried to get a look at Jesus, but Zacchaeus was vertically challenged. . . he was too short to see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.”
Zacchaeus wanted to SEE Jesus.
And it may be because, despite his great wealth, he still knew that something was missing, he still knew that he didn’t have enough. And that is the same reason that a lot of people look to Jesus. It's because they are aware that at least in some area of their life, they don't have enough. That may even describe some of you.
Oftentimes, when people make the decision to check out church, or to check out Jesus, it's not because everything is going awesome in their life, but rather because …there's a need somewhere. And maybe you can relate to that. That may have been what was going on with Zacchaeus. He may have heard about Jesus, He may have heard about some of the spectacular things that he had done. And he may have thought, “If I could just get close enough to him, maybe I can hear him teach. And maybe he will say something that will shed some light on what's going on my life.”
Zacchaeus was hoping to SEE Jesus. He Had No Idea that Jesus would SEE him,
Verse 5 tells us . .. “When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.’” We’re told that upon hearing that. . . “Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the people were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled.”
The people grumbled. . . . They had to be wondering. . . . With ALL the people here. . . With all the people crowding around to see Jesus…. Why would Jesus choose to spend his time with this little guy who is up in a tree?
The reason is, because no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done, you need to know that you have not done anything so bad that you’re beyond the ability of Jesus to reach out to you and welcome you. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Jesus will still come to your house and he will still bring grace.
Jesus and Zacchaeus had a conversation over dinner. We’re Not Told What The Conversation Was that Jesus and Zacchaeus had over dinner. We Don’t Know Anything About It Until we get to the very end. Since Jesus had invited himself to Zacchaeus home for dinner… Maybe Jesus had looked around at all that Zacchaeus had…. At the beautiful home… At the plush furnishings… It may be that Jesus complemented him and said to him, “Zacchaeus, you’ve done really well for yourself. You’ve worked really hard. You’ve accumulated a lot of nice things. But Zacchaeus, have the things that you’ve accumulated provided you with the happiness you hoped they would bring? Zacchaeus, at the end of the day, is all of this STUFF, enough? Or, is there Still Something Missing?"
Maybe. . . we don’t know, but maybe Jesus said to Zacchaeus, something similar to what he said to another very rich man. Maybe he said, “If you’re aware of the fact that there is still something lacking, then here’s what you need to do. . . What you need to do is, leave all this behind, and come follow me, and I’ll lead you to an abundant life. A life with meaning and purpose and satisfaction. But to have what I’m talking about. . . you’re going to have to surrender everything to me, and follow me.”
Again, we don’t know.
And while we don’t know exactly what the conversation was that Zacchaeus had with Jesus, We know the result. Somewhere in the course of that conversation Zacchaeus GOT IT. He learned what it meant to “Live In Enough” And here’s how we know that. . . When You And I Learn To Live In Enough . . . Three Things Are Going To Happen. And they are the same three things that happened to Zacchaeus.
First of all. . . . And this is the first fill-in. . . My Resources Can Flow To Bless Others
When I have “Enough” my resources can flow to bless others who don’t have enough. Verse 8 tells us …. “Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, ‘I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, ” When you learn the meaning of the word “Enough” All of a sudden you realize, “Not only do I do I have enough, I have MORE than enough. And my eyes are opened, so that maybe for the first time I am able to see people around me who don't have enough. And the result is that I can learn a new way of living. I can learn generosity. I can learn that all that I have. . . Maybe all that I’ve been clenching so desperately to hold on to can actually be used to . . . bless someone in need. I can learn the joy that comes from taking what I have, which is actually “More than enough” and using that to bless others who don’t have enough.
This week we had an opportunity to do that as a church. Here at ERBC we have a partnership with a ministry called . . . CAREPORTAL. And if you haven’t heard of it, CarePortal is a technology that works with the Foster Care System in order to brings the needs of hurting children and families in our community to our attention. Caseworkers uncover needs. CarePortal makes local churches and community members aware, giving them a real-time opportunity to respond to those needs. And then you can decide if that need has your name on it.
When a case-worker submits a need to this platform, it goes out to everyone who has indicated an interested in being informed. Every church, every individual, everyone who has said. . . “Let me know when there’s a need in the community around me, because maybe, just maybe it might turn out that, that need has my name on it.” Let me give you an example of how that worked this past week.
Raquel Blanchard, who is our Director of Children’s Ministry, and our CAREPORTAL champion here at ERBC, had a request come into her email. And please understand, the way this works is that request is not just coming to Raquel, but to a bunch of people who’ve opted in, and asked to be informed as needs arise – I’m one of those – you can be too if you choose, and there’s a place on your connection card to do that. So the same request that came to Raquel, came to me and to many many other churches and individuals.
Raquel felt like maybe this request had our name on it. Our meaning, ERBC, because the family in need was local, right next to us in Pasadena. The Case Worker who entered the request into CAREPORTAL worded that request this way. . .
“We are seeking help for a family of 7 who recently experienced a traumatic sexual assault incident. The family has been struggling to make ends meet while dealing with the emotional trauma of moving past the assault. The family recently experienced homelessness and was able to receive help through a government agency. They are currently receiving assistance with housing at a motel in a nearby city. It has been a challenge since they have 2 rooms that are being shared by all 7 family members. The father is currently employed part-time and is trying to attain a better-paying job with more hours. The mother is unable to work as she is caring for the young children. The family could use assistance with attaining permanent housing, clothing and shoes for the mother and children, books since the children have a love for reading, and baby items such as clothing, shoes, blankets, diapers, etc. for the 6 month old child.”
Clearly a huge need, that goes beyond any of our abilities to meet fully. But just because we can’t do everything, that shouldn’t stop us from doing something. And so Raquel responded, through this online “CAREPORTAL” request and let them know “I’d like to do something.” I asked Raquel if I could share the story of how it went and here’s what she sent me. . . .
My story from yesterday will be a great one to share. From the beginning God knew what he was doing. I came to the Pasadena Police Department. BTW – this was the meeting place that was agreed upon, because safety and security is a #1 consideration… Raquel says. . . I came to the Pasadena Police Department to present the help in the form of a ($200 gift card) on behalf of ERBC. I spoke directly to the mom, and I was able to be an ambassador of God’s kingdom by praying for her aloud in the presence of 6 Pasadena police officers, 2 detectives and 1 lieutenant. This was great because the personnel from the Pasadena Police Department were able to witness God’s love in action. Raquel says, “The mom was very moved and thankful for what we did for her. Our interaction went so well that we exchanged phone numbers and she is interested in visiting our church. I have a follow up meeting with her this Saturday morning where I told her I can bring Bibles for her and her children. She mentioned she needs help starting the process of finding a church and attending one. I am hoping God can use the opportunity from yesterday to show the family they are loved and cared by Him, and in the process I also hope ERBC can be there to support them in the healing process after such a traumatic experience. I made myself available to help mom and the children, now we just have to wait to see if she wants to receive the spiritual help from us. Praying she will.”
And I hope you’ll be praying along with Raquel for that same thing. With the email Raquel sent me she attached a photo of these two ladies, Raquel and this mom, smiling together. They’re wearing masks, but you can tell they are smiling. For privacy reasons I’m not going to show you that picture, but I’ll bet if you ask Raquel, she’d be glad to share it with you. I share this story with you, because it’s just one example of how your generosity through your giving to ERBC, enables us to be generous to others in our community.
And it all began with people here at ERBC who have said. . . “I Have Learned To Live In Enough” “And I want my resources to flow to bless others” That was THE FIRST THING that Zacchaeus committed to when he learned the meaning of that word ENOUGH. He stood before the Lord and said. . . “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, ” But, when you learn to live in enough, something else happens.
And that’s The Second Fill-In on your notes and it’s that . . . My Relationships Are Restored.
Zacchaeus continues, he said, not only my gonna give away half my income, but “If I've cheated people on their taxes, I'm going to give them back four times as much.” And this is about more than just paying back people that he cheated. This was about Restoring Relationships, He Realized That His Relationships Were A Mess, because of money. And You've Seen This And So Have I Money does crazy things to people. Two People Going Through A Divorce, Two people who at one point, stood in front of their friends and family and they committed themselves to each other, as long as they both shall live. And then they go through a divorce and all of a sudden money and kids become, weapons through which they try to destroy one another.
And it’s not just divorce. . . .
Maybe you’ve seen it where families get torn apart because of an inheritance. So sad when you think about it, that something that was intended to bless a family becomes the most divisive thing that family has ever experienced. All because people go crazy when it comes to money, people who live like this (CLENCHED FIST) When you live like this, you will do whatever you have to do in order to get more of it. And it doesn't matter what relationship you have to destroy in order to get your hands on it. That's what happens.
But when you learn to live in enough, you learn the value of relationships. You learn that money can be used to bless others and it can be used to restore relationships. But you won’t see it until you learn to live with an open hand.
Take a look at verse 9. Jesus responds to the change in Zacchaeus heart by saying… “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.” Luke 19:9-10.
This language is not accidental, And Zacchaeus would remember the words that Jesus spoke until the day he died. If you were an Israelite, about the greatest phrase that could be used to describe you would be a “Son of Abraham or a “Daughter of Sarah.” Abraham and Sarah are where Israel started. When Jesus says, "Salvation has come to this house." What he means is NOT Zacchaeus has bought his way into heaven.
You can't buy your way in. You can't earn your way in. It comes as a gift of grace.
That word SALVATION is often translated healing or deliverance, and it means something more than just "If you believe the right thing, you get to go to heaven when you die." It means now for Zacchaeus that disease of "more" that has been corroding his soul is being healed. It means Zacchaeus is a changed man.
And what it shows us is that when I learn to live in enough….. 3. I Reflect the Heart of the Father
REPEAT . . . In what way did Zachhaeus do that? If you’ve been around here for any length of time, you’ve heard us say . . . You’re never more like God than when you give and when you serve. Why? Because, God, at His heart is a giver.
One of the most well-known verses in the entire N.T. is John 3:16. . . “For God so loved the world, that he… What? He gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.” And when we’re generous. . . When we are givers, we reflect the father-heart of God. Because God is a giver.
One more thing I want to leave you with before we leave this word enough, and you’ll find that in the fill-in on the front of your notes. Enough is not a LEVEL of WEALTH you ACHIEVE; it’s a STATEMENT of TRUST you DECLARE
Let me tell you why I believe this is so important to understand. I can’t tell you how many Christians I have met through the years, who have said to me something along the lines of . . . “I’m praying that God would bless me with a lot of money, so that I can be really, really generous.” It’s like. .. “When I get to this level, then I can really begin to bless others.”
What they miss in that equation, is that God is not concerned about what we might do, with what we don’t have. He’s concerned with what we ARE doing with what we ALREADY have. If we’re not being faithful and generous in blessing others with the little we’ve got right now, it would actually be cruel of God to give us more. Because, whoever isn’t faithful in little won’t be trustworthy with more. Whoever is faithful with little will be found trustworthy with more.
Enough is not a LEVEL of WEALTH you ACHIEVE; it’s a STATEMENT of TRUST you DECLARE
And my prayer for each of us is that God would be at work in our hearts in such a way that we’re not living as people with CLENCHED FISTS, but rather as people with OPEN HANDS.
Would you join with me in praying for that. . . Let’s turn to him in prayer . . . Let’s pray together. . .
From Series: "Seven Words That Will Change Your Life"
Words have power. Even the simplest words can change the trajectory of your life. Words like Help can set an addict toward recovery. Yes can open doors to new dreams. Sorry and Thanks can heal families. When you use these small words, God can do big things in your life.
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