Each Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I reflect on Rev. Dr. King's legacy and his words. I then ask myself, "Am I willing to live as self-sacrificially as he did? Is my life measuring up to the standard that MLK believed in?"

When reflecting on Dr. King, we often think of the "I Have a Dream" speech and the movement MLK led. But what's often neglected is King's equal focus on the inward life of each individual. King believed that without inward transformation of individual lives, without spiritual transformation, that sustainable change would not be possible. This is because King believed that we are all "interdependent."

The Interdependence of All People According to Martin Luther King, Jr.

This "interdependence" of all people is articulated in one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s lesser read works, The Measure of a Man, where he says this:

"Therefore whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich, even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live more than twenty-eight or thirty years, I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good check-up at Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand out boasting of being independent. We are interdependent."

"This is the way our world is made. ... We are interdependent." If only we remembered these words as we remember Dr. King and his legacy. Think of how different our world would be if we recognized that no nation, no segment of society, and no individual is more important than the whole human race.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dimensions of a Whole Life

In The Measure of a Man, King does what a good reverend would do (did you forget that he was foremost a pastor?) and preaches the Bible. From the Bible and philosophy, King speaks of three dimensions of a complete life:

  1. Your inner being (or inner life).
  2. Other people, whom we serve by using our calling, skills, and gifts.
  3. God himself, who is above all.

King describes this as a triangle:

"These are the three dimensions of Me, and without the three being correlated, working harmoniously together, life is incomplete. Life is something of a great triangle. At one angle stands the individual person, at the other angle stand other persons, and at the top stands the Supreme, Infinite Person, God. These three must meet in every individual life if that life is to be complete."

In other words, what happens in my inward life (my relationship with myself and my relationship with God) has direct implications upon your life.

Rev. Dr. King Suggests Measuring Life by Three Questions

Today as we reflect on Rev. Dr. King's legacy, we can ask ourselves the three questions behind his model for measuring our lives:

  1. How am I loving myself (by tending to my inner spiritual life and honing my gifts and skills)?
  2. How am I loving other people (by making my life an act of service to other people)?
  3. How am I loving God (by spending time with God and in godly community)?

These three questions are deeply rooted in a well-known interaction of Jesus:

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:36–40).

It does not seem like a stretch to say that these words served as the basis for MLK's entire life philosophy. To read Dr. King without Jesus in mind is to miss the core worldview that guided his life.

Dr. King's View of the Complete Life [INFOGRAPHIC]

According to Dr. King's The Measure of a Man, the complete life looks like this infographic.

Dimension One of Life: Me

While there are some people whose lives seem envy worthy, because they have acquired wealth and power, they lose what King calls "the breadth of life." Even a life with cultivated skills and a honed inner life will lack meaning. The cultivation of skills and the honing of gifts is essential, but a true and deep inner examination should lead a person to look beyond themselves.

Dimension Two of Life: Us

Some people learn to care deeply for other people and that gives their lives "breadth," a meaning beyond themselves. And King has in mind here much more than just care for one's family and inner circle: "we are [all of humanity] interdependent ... we are all involved in a single process, ... we are all somehow caught in an inescapable network of mutuality."

The inner life then becomes something cultivated for larger purposes: it is not for my gain but the betterment of humanity.

Humanity is made by God to be interconnected. This is why the second greatest commandment is to love my neighbor as myself (Matthew 22:36–40). What is good for you is also good for me. What is good for them is also good for us. What is good for humanity betters my life even (and perhaps especially) when it requires personal sacrifice.

Dimension Three of Life: God

"Seek God and discover him and make him a power in your life. Without him all of our efforts turn to ashes and our sunrises into darkest nights. Without him, life is a meaningless drama with the decisive scenes missing."

In the end, life without God and his community, the Church, is lacking. It is God who moves to create lasting change and God to whom we look for the grace required to do the work of making our world a better place. It is God who can break down national, racial, ethnic, and economic barriers.

The Full Life According to MLK: Love God + Love People + Love Self

King remarks that if one is to measure a life's success at accomplishing God's purposes, we need simply to remember three things:

"Love yourself, if that means rational, healthy, and moral self-interest. You are commanded to do that. That is the length of life. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. You are commanded to do that. That is the breadth of life. But never forget that there is a first and even greater commandment, 'Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy mind.' This is the height of life. And when you do this you live the complete life."*



The work of Dr. King has been a deep inspiration to me. In many regards, his work inspired me to change my entire life and dedicate it to serving the impoverished and people yet to hear Jesus' name. King's views on the interconnected world and the centrality of the church influenced me as I wrote my recently released book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "The Complete Life According to Martin Luther King Jr."

Here at Jesus' Economy, we believe that together we can make the world a better place. For that reason, our team regularly provides free sermons and talks on living for Jesus. And 2019 was no exception ...

2019 was a big year of written and audio content at JesusEconomy.org. In January 2019, we released a project that had been years in the making: the book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With the book's release came a series of talks on the biblical view of missions, God's justice, and love. This turned out to be some of our most popular content of 2019. You were also big fans of some of our practical sermons on "Living for Jesus," and our talks on key biblical theology topics. Together, we were inspired to make the world a better place.

Top 5 Jesus' Economy Podcast Episodes

Here's the countdown of the top 5 most popular episodes from the Jesus' Economy Podcast in 2019. You can subscribe to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

#5. Why Did Jesus Speak in Parables? Studying Jesus' Parables

Our fifth most podcast published in 2019 is from the series, "Studying Jesus' Parables." This popular series of talks is based on the research for my book, Parables: Portraits of the Kingdom in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Jesus was fond of speaking in parables. But why did he speak in these short, often confusing, stories? In this talk, I argue that to understand Jesus' parables, we have to look at his first-century context and think of him as the rabbi that he is. We also have to make the commitment that Jesus asks us to make: We have to enter the journey with him; we have to follow Jesus the rabbi like his earliest disciples did.

#4. We Can Trust God to Enact Justice: The Book of Obadiah

Our fourth most popular podcast episode comes in the form of a sermon that focuses on the little Old Testament book of Obadiah. This sermon aims to answer one critical question: Why are there are so many injustices in our world? And will God do anything about these injustices? The book of Obadiah addresses a very real and present injustice that the people of Israel experienced in 586 BC. How would God respond? And what does that tell us about the character of God?

#3. The Future of Missions in an Interconnected World

Behind the ideas of Jesus' Economy is the understanding that our world is more interconnected than ever before. And that changes everything about how we share about Jesus and how we alleviate poverty. With the power of modern technology, we could reasonably bring the good news of Jesus to the last unreached people groups in our lifetimes. Here's how.

#2. The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah: Examining Isaiah 53

This popular podcast lecture is based on the research for my book, The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah. Many have stood in awe of the Suffering Servant prophecy in Isaiah 53, either because of its lack of theological precedence or because of its similarities to the life of Jesus. In biblical scholarship, there is much debate about who the servant is, if the servant is resurrected, and the nature of the servant's suffering. I argue that Isaiah 53 undoubtedly shows resurrection and is a prophecy about Jesus' vicarious suffering on our behalf. Interpreting Isaiah 53 can also teach us three steps for personal Bible study.

#1. How Do I Obtain Wisdom? Proverbs 1–2

This sermon on wisdom clocked in at our number one most popular podcast episode of 2019. This talk examined the question that's behind most of the questions pastors receive. How do I obtain wisdom? We're all searching for wisdom, for answers to the difficult situations we encounter week in and week out. But let's be honest: We want answers quickly, as quick as a fast food restaurant stop. Yet wisdom doesn't work that way, according to Proverbs 1–2. It takes time. It is also a choice.

Sneak peak: There are more sermons like this one coming early this year. They will be featured here on the Jesus' Economy in Action blog and on the Jesus' Economy PodcastJoin us in 2020 by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud. And don't forget to also subscribe to the Jesus' Economy in Action blog.

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#6: God Pursues Us with Loyal Love: Psalm 23

Our number six most popular podcast episode is on Psalm 23. And rightfully so, because Psalm 23 captures our imagination as children and does so today. We read it at weddings and funerals alike. Why? Because we all want to be pursued with a love that is beyond comprehension. This is what Psalm 23 keys in on. Listen: "God Pursues Us with Loyal Love: Psalm 23."

Bonus Popular Post: Free Sample Chapters of Jesus' Economy

Another popular post of 2019 was the release of free chapters of the book, Jesus' Economy. You can still get those free sample chapters here.

 

Never Miss a Jesus' Economy Podcast

This post is part of our "Best of the Year" series. Join us in 2020 by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.

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Here at Jesus' Economy, we believe that together we can make the world a better place. For that reason, our team regularly provides free, long-form articles on how you can live for Jesus each and everyday. And 2019 was no exception ...

2019 was a big year of content at JesusEconomy.org. In January of 2019 we released a project that had been years in the making: the book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. We were absolutely honored that it was endorsed by Christian leaders from around the world. With the book's release came a series of content on the biblical view of poverty. This turned out to be some of our most popular content of 2019. You were also big fans of some of our other practical, "Living for Jesus" content. Together, we were inspired to make the world a better place.

Top 5 Living for Jesus Articles

Here's the countdown of the top 5 most popular "Living for Jesus" articles published on the Jesus' Economy in Action blog in 2019.

#5. 3 Ways to Be a Model for Jesus, in All Spheres of Life

Our fifth most popular essay published in 2019 comes to us from the series, "How to Authentically Live as a Christian: Paul's Letter to Titus." This essay highlights that among Christians in America, there is often a separation between what happens in church and the rest of life. The church building walls function like a boundary between our Christianity and the outside world. But that’s not the way things should be. Here are three ways to be a model for Jesus, in all spheres of life. Read: "3 Ways to Be a Model for Jesus in All Spheres of Life."

#4. Homeless Jesus Teaches Us a Profound Lesson about Poverty

The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus had "nowhere to lay his head." For his primary years in ministry, Jesus was essentially homeless. He depended completely on the hospitality of other people. In Jesus' experience of poverty, we can find the empathy needed to tackle poverty. Read: "Homeless Jesus Teaches Us a Profound Lesson about Poverty."

#3. We Can Do Better than "Teach a Man to Fish"

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” This proverb is a good start, but ultimately inadequate. We must do more than just feed the poor and teach them how to put food on the table. We must empower the impoverished to transform their communities. Read: "We Can Do Better Than 'Teach a Man to Fish.'"

#2. 10 Ways to Live for Jesus in 2019

How are your New Year's resolutions going? If not well, we've got some better options for you. In this article, we've listed 10 ways to live for Jesus and they're not as cliche as you think. The popularity of this article by our always practical editor-in-chief, Kayli Thompson, shows how many of you were looking for practical tips on following Jesus. And the encouraging feedback we received from this article was incredible. Here in 2020, this article's advice is just as applicable. Read: "10 Ways to Live for Jesus in 2019."

#1. How Was Jesus Poor? Why Was Jesus Poor?

This article, which clocks in at the number one most popular piece of long-form content published on the Jesus' Economy in Action blog in 2019, represents an important but often forgotten bit of theology. Why would God come into the world as a man in poverty? How was Jesus poor and why did he become poor? Paul the apostle tells us that Jesus became poor for the sake of the world. The implications of this for our lives cannot be overstated. Read more in "How Was Jesus Poor? Why Was Jesus Poor?"

And Don't Miss These Articles ...

Bonus Popular Post: Free Sample Chapters of Jesus' Economy

Another popular post of 2019 was the release of free chapters of the book, Jesus' Economy. You can still get those free sample chapters here.

Extra Bonus, New Article: How to Redeem 2019 & Find Hope in 2020

In this brand-new article, we reflect on how to think about the past decade and coming one from a Christian perspective. As we say goodbye to a decade, it's easy to look back with grief and regret. We think of all that could have been and all the pain of recent. It may seem audacious to say now, but if I've learned anything about God, it's that he is a master of redemption. And in God's redemption, we can find hope in 2020. Here's how. Read: "How to Redeem 2019 & Find Hope in 2020."

 

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This is the first of our "Best of the Year" series. Join us in 2020 for inspiring stories, articles, and updates. It's completely free.

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As we say goodbye to 2019 and the last decade, it's easy to look back with grief and perhaps regret. We think of all that could have been and all the pains we've experienced. It may seem audacious to say now, but if I've learned anything about God, it's that he is a master of redemption. And in God's redemption, we can find hope in 2020. Here's how.

Look Back to Christmas, to Look Forward

A reflection on 2019 cannot be complete without looking at it from the perspective of Christmas. The celebration of Christmas is a reminder that the arrival of the Son of God equals unfathomable hope. The hope of Christ changes everything. For the hope of Christ means you are not alone, but instead that God is "with us." The Gospel of Matthew says it this way:

"'The virgin [Mary] will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')" (Matthew 1:20 NIV; compare Isaiah 7:14).

Jesus is "God with us." But perhaps at this point, you're thinking, but my regrets and grief produce serious fears. I'm afraid of what may come in 2020. Even fear itself is confronted in Jesus. Joseph, Jesus' adopted father, is told, "do not be afraid." And the angel continues, "give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20 NIV).

The salvation that comes in Jesus is a saving power, from both sin and fear. That means you can feel rest assured that God can address whatever happened in 2019.

Let Jesus Lift Your Regrets and Bear Your Sins

Jesus is born into uncertainty, fear, and poverty; and his life is marked by suffering. But it is also marked by redemption. By the end of the story, we know that his life is marked by resurrection. We know he is savior.

It is the resurrected life of Jesus, which he describes as "life and life abundant," that God wants to offer us (John 10:10). The prophetic book of Isaiah, over 500 years before Jesus' birth, puts it this way:

“From the trouble of his life he will see light. He will be satisfied. In his knowledge, my righteous servant shall make the many righteous and he will bear their iniquities" (Isaiah 53:11, my translation).

Jesus can bear your sins. Jesus can bear your grief. Whatever you're facing, Jesus can. Reflecting on the beauty of this Christian hope, the apostle Paul says:

“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. [Christ!] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” (Romans 8:34–35 ESV).

God doesn't want us to stay in regret for 2019, but to find repentance. Nothing can separate you from the love of God, from God's hope.

Ask God to Use 2019’s Pain and Grief for Good

As you reflect back on the pain of 2019 and the past decade, ask: “What has God been doing in my life? Where is God at work and how can I follow him in that work?" I bet in the process of reflection you will find that God has been doing much more than you realized.

But perhaps you're reflecting back on a deep grief. Perhaps you have lost someone dear to you in 2019. That's happened in my family. And while 2019 meant saying goodbye, I find comfort that those we've lost no longer feel pain. And that they live on through the stories we tell of their life. And that those who know Jesus have been healed in heaven and are in deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus now than I can even fathom (2 Corinthians 5:1–10).

I also find hope in 2020 knowing that one day, we will see our loved ones again—we didn’t truly say goodbye, but rather acknowledged a stepping off point. For one day, we will all have resurrected bodies (Revelation 20:11–15; 1 Corinthians 15:12–58).

When I look back at the losses of 2019, and the past decade, I remind myself that this is not the end. But simply a stepping off point to a new period of life. That God will have the final say; and that word will be good.

Embrace the Hope of a Resurrected Perspective

As a Christian, my theology demands that I examine 2019 from the perspective of resurrection. I ask Christ to lift, and even bear, all of the last decades pains. I'm not strong enough on my own, but I know that "I can do all this through him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13 NIV).

I lift a glass up to God here at the beginning of 2020, requesting that he redeem the last decade. I ask God to give me new life, by the power of the resurrection of the Son of God. As I do so, I realize that my times of pain and grief are not in vain, but that God is there in all of it, working tirelessly to draw me closer to him. And that relationship has eternal value. What price wouldn't I pay for that? God will have the final say in the end:

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39 ESV).

I believe in hope for 2020, because I know a God of hope. I believe in redemption for the last decade because I trust a God of resurrection. I want God to have the final word on 2019 and the first word on 2020. I pray the same for you.

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From the beginning of the early church, there is a concern for the impoverished and for effective alleviation of poverty. Right off the bat, early Christians are pooling their resources for the sake of the marginalized and impoverished. Early Christians sold their stuff so that they could share resources with the hurting (Acts 2:44–45). Self-sacrifice is a core part of the gospel. That's the core story behind my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. Here are three principles that emerge in the Jesus' Economy book.

1. Jesus’ Economy is Based on Self-Sacrifice

We have to be willing to sacrifice our own comforts for the sake of the impoverished. I can’t look at the situation in Bihar, India—where millions of people are living in extreme poverty—and deny them clean water or economic opportunities. As a Christian, I should experience a conversion in those moments of witnessing poverty. I should be inspired to give of my time and resources to empower the poor. I should be willing to go so far as to sell my house and my belongings. That’s at least what Jesus told one man (Matthew 19:16–22).

That’s precisely what my wife and I did—we put all of our resources into empowering the impoverished and bringing the gospel to the unreached. We sold our house and our stuff, for the sake of the mission. I’m not saying this to boast, because I can tell you that there is no glory in it. I’m saying this to note that I’m not asking you to do something I haven’t done myself. I’m also not saying everyone’s journey will be so radically life altering, but I do ask, “Are you giving enough that it hurts?” That’s the model of the early church.

Jesus has a different economy in mind than the one on offer in our world. He believes in empowering the impoverished. Jesus’ economy is based on self-sacrifice. Jesus’ currency is love.

2. Jesus’ Economy Means Giving Joyously and Intelligently

When the earliest Christians gave, it wasn’t about guilt (2 Corinthians 9:6–7). And likewise, their love wasn’t an empty love—one where I give of my resources without thought of relationship. I believe in intelligent love and I believe in love that calls people to a higher standard. I believe in this because the early church did. I also believe in love that respects the value of hard work (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8). There is a time for charity, such as meeting a basic need like clean water, but people also need economic opportunities. They need jobs. 

The early church built intelligence in their giving. We see this in the appointment of deacons—following an issue over distribution of charity to widows, one of the most impoverished groups of the day (Acts 6:1–7). Jesus would have us give in ways that multiply and to think about how we’re giving and to whom we’re giving.

This is why I believe in job creation efforts being a core part of the work of the church. We can meet a person’s need today or we can give them the ability to meet their own need tomorrow. But no matter what we do, showing Jesus’ love in word and deed should be our mission. We should live on mission and empower missions, so that all can know Jesus.

3. Jesus’ Economy Means Living on Mission and Empowering Others

The early church sent missionaries out, but their goal was to train and empower local leadership. Much of 1 Timothy and Titus is about this—the appointment of local elders and deacons. We also see Paul in 1–2 Thessalonians and 1–2 Corinthians working to instruct local leaders on how to lead their own church. Paul’s model was always about raising up indigenous leaders. 

Today, we can do the same. We need to empower local leadership around the world. What we need is to sponsor indigenous church planting movements and to empower them with quality, Bible-focused training. And we need to empower them with strong project management, resources for community development, and let them sit at the center of an effort to renew a community.

Churches around the world should partner together, for the sake of both bringing the gospel to unreached people groups and to meet basic needs. And where there are needs to be met, we should meet them. Near the end of Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he requests that they join him and other churches in bringing together an aid package for the impoverished in Jerusalem (Romans 15:26–29).

As Christians, we need to have a holistic approach to life transformation. We need to be about creating jobs, planting churches, and meeting basic needs—one community at a time.

Imagine what could be if the church functioned this way—if we looked at the biblical model of self-sacrifice and lived with the principles of the early church in mind. Imagine how different our world be. Imagine what would happen if we had a truly Jesus economy in mind at all times.*


Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.

 

*While writing my book Jesus' Economy, I published the above article as, "Jesus' Has an Entirely Different Economy in Mind."

The story of God and his people has profound implications for our lives and our calling. We are part of this story. The book of Isaiah retells this story and, in doing so, offers a prophecy about Jesus. Over 500 years before Jesus, we learn of a servant that will take up Israel's call and suffer, die, and rise on our behalf. We also learn what our calling means.

In this sermon, I expound upon my extensive research for The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah. Isaiah illustrates God's purpose for our lives.

I originally delivered this sermon at The Table, a missional church plant in Bellingham, WA, on May 31, 2015.

Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this sermon? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.

Our lives are often struggles. We search for meaning and have desires. Some of these are self-prompted, others from the divine spark inside. We look to God as a guide, wondering if we will find what we’re looking for. Paul sensed this same struggle and urgency in the Thessalonian Christians and penned words that still resonate today.

“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith” (2 Thessalonians 1:11 NIV).

Paul could see far beyond his life. He looked into the future and saw a day when Jesus would return—to make all things right and new (2 Thessalonians 1:6–10). He looked beyond his life and held onto something eternal. This changed absolutely everything.

The Perspective Prayer Provides

Paul desired that the Thessalonian Christians would share his perspective. Jesus had called them to something truly extraordinary: to be a beacon of hope in a struggling world. But this hope was not rooted deep in themselves; it wasn’t about finding themselves. It was about finding their calling in Christ Jesus. It was about finding the divine spark of Christ and embracing it.

Jesus is at work in our lives. He is working in us to bring about goodness for this struggling and hurting world. Rather than look at the despair of our world and merely cry, we must look at the pain and ask God to use us for good.

Prayer Shows Us What God is Doing in Us

God is working in us to bring about goodness. He is faithfully prompting us to take action on his behalf.

The eternal perspective of Jesus’ return should prompt us to stop and look around. It should prompt us to ask how we can be people who bring mercy to the hurting. It should prompt us to love. It should prompt us to do good. It should prompt us to ask God to change us, to make us more like him—so that we may love better and more fully. 

Prayer gives us divine perspective. Sometimes that is in a word from God. But more often, we experience in prayer the deep rooted sense that God is present. God is with us. God is working is us, even now, to make us worthy of the calling that he has placed upon our lives. Take that hope with you today. Take that hope to prayer.*


Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.



*This article is adapted from my previous article, "An Eternal Perspective on Our Prayers."

 

There are words that change your life forever. This is the case for words of love and words of grief. This is the case for a word that inspires us to take up a calling and a word that makes our whole world come crashing down. What is the key to strength and courage when such a word is spoken? Where does our help come from?

In this sermon, I examine Joshua 1 to find the key to strength and courage. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on July 8, 2018.

Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this sermon? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.

We often think of giving as one way, but the biblical writer Paul sees it very differently. For Paul, the work of God is not a linear process, but a cycle. When we give, it’s not just the receivers who get a gift, but also us.

Why We Give and How We Give

When addressing the need for the Corinthian church to give to the impoverished church in Jerusalem, Paul says:

“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one should give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or from compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to cause all grace to abound to you, so that in everything at all times, because you have enough of everything, you may overflow in every good work. Just as it is written, ‘He scattered widely, he gave to the poor; his righteousness remains forever’” (2 Corinthians 9:6–9 LEB).

Saint Paul's 7 Lessons on Giving

Here are seven lessons we can glean from what Paul said to the Corinthian church:

  1. If you give much, for the right reasons, you will receive much.
  2. Give what you feel led to give.
  3. God wants you to be cheerful when you give.
  4. God will be abundantly gracious to givers.
  5. If you give what you feel led to give, you will have more than enough.
  6. When you learn to give, you will overflow in every good work.
  7. Giving to others is an expression of righteousness—right living (Psalm 112:9).

When you express what Paul said in seven points like this, his statements suddenly become both shocking and hard to believe. (“Could God really view giving this way?” we may ask.) Yet giving is a fundamental law and order of God. It is how the world is meant to function. Nothing that we hold is truly ours—instead, what we have (everything we have) is a gift to steward. It is meant to be shared (see Luke 19:11–27).

Put simply, giving is a two-way street. One could even say giving is a three-way street: the person who is benefiting from the gift; the person who gives who is changed by the act; and God who blesses those involved.

When we give to others, all sorts of possibilities are opened up. The cycle of poverty can be ended and the cycle of our lives can be transformed in the process. The question is: Will we believe Paul and act on his words?*


Enjoy this article? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.



*This article is adapted from my earlier article, "7 Lessons about Giving from Saint Paul." The research for this article became part of my 2019 book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change.

In life, events can take a turn and suddenly we're on an unexpected path. We can't see a way forward or backward. Life can feel like an unexpected journey without a map. As Paul the apostle experiences the unexpected in Acts 28, he shows us what it means to really see and hear God.

In this sermon, I examine Acts 28 (the closing chapter of the book of Acts) to illustrate how God works in the unexpected. This sermon was originally delivered at Faith Reformed Church in Lynden, WA on October 14, 2018

Get more talks like this one by subscribing to the Jesus' Economy Podcast on iTunesSpotify, or SoundCloud.


Enjoy this sermon? Check out my new book, Jesus' Economy: A Biblical View of Poverty, the Currency of Love, and a Pattern for Lasting Change. With simple, everyday choices you can make the world a better place. Learn how to live the currency of love.

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