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The Lavish Generosity of God

Isn’t human nature interesting? It doesn’t matter how good of a deal we get, if someone else gets a better deal than us – we’re not usually happy about it, are we?

For example, let’s say that you decided to buy a brand new truck, and being the shrewed negotiator that you are, you manage to convince the dealer to sell you the truck for $10,000 less than what it’s really worth. You’d be pretty pleased with the deal you got, right?

But then, what if, after you got your truck and you’re feeling great about the deal you got – what if you found out that your friend went to that same dealer and got the exact same truck for $5000 less than what you paid?

Now be honest: Would you be happy that your friend got such a good deal – or would you be upset that you had to pay $5000 more than he did?

Seconds ago you were very pleased with the deal you got – now you’re upset over the same deal!

So why is that? Why is it that no matter how well things are going for us, if someone else seems to have something better, we get jealous and envious?

Well, Jesus once told a parable that addresses this very issue. This is one of those “The Kingdom of Heaven is like…. This” stories. It’s found in Matthew chapter 20. And I want to read that for you today. Starting in verse 1, Jesus begins the story like this…

“For the Kingdom of Heaven is like the landowner who went out early one morning to hire workers for his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay the normal daily wage and sent them out to work.

3 “At nine o’clock in the morning he was passing through the marketplace and saw some people standing around doing nothing. 4 So he hired them, telling them he would pay them whatever was right at the end of the day. 5 So they went to work in the vineyard. At noon and again at three o’clock he did the same thing.

6 “At five o’clock that afternoon he was in town again and saw some more people standing around. He asked them, ‘Why haven’t you been working today?’

7 “They replied, ‘Because no one hired us.’ 

“The landowner told them, ‘Then go out and join the others in my vineyard.’

8 “That evening he told the foreman to call the workers in and pay them, beginning with the last workers first. 9 When those hired at five o’clock were paid, each received a full day’s wage.10 When those hired first came to get their pay, they assumed they would receive more. But they, too, were paid a day’s wage. 11 When they received their pay, they protested to the owner,12 ‘Those people worked only one hour, and yet you’ve paid them just as much as you paid us who worked all day in the scorching heat.’

13 “He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? 14 Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you.15 Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’

Matthew 20:1-15

And that’s where Jesus ends the story. It’s quite a pointed question at the end, isn’t it? Very applicable to us… In fact, this story illustrates exactly the problem that we’ve been talking about.

So let’s walk through the story and point out a couple things along the way.

The story begins with a man going out and hiring a few men to spend the day working in his vineyard. Now that in itself was a quite a blessing to these men.  Back then it would be very common not to have a regular job that you go to every day, but rather, you would get hired on a day-by-day basis. All the men looking for work would gather and hang out in the marketplaces hoping to get hired for the day by a local farmer or businessmen so that they would be able to buy food for their families. Of course, there was no guarantee of work – and thus no guarantee of pay that day.

So the fact that these men were hired at all on this day was already a blessing. I imagine these fellows would have been quite pleased to earn a days wage. There would have been many men who wouldn’t get the chance to work and earn anything that day. So these guys would have been pretty happy to have been hired by this vineyard owner. 

If that’s where the story ended, I’m sure these men would have eagerly worked all day and then gone home with their money – very happy they were hired and very satisfied with their wages.

But of course, that’s not where the story ends. It just so happened that the vineyard owner traveled through the market several times throughout that day – at 9:00am, at noon, at three, and even at 5:00pm – and each time he finds men standing around doing nothing – so he offers them all a chance to work in his vineyard that day – even if it’s only for an hour or so.

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Submission Equals Trust

Last week, we waded into a potentially controversial topic. You see, for the past several weeks, we’ve been talking about the church in your house. That church being, of course, your family.

When we started this series, we noted that “church” is not just a building or an event – but it’s people. The church is the family of God. And anyone who has put their trust in Jesus is part of that family.

That means, that if your family is part of the family of God, then your home is really like a little mini-church. There is a church in your house – and each person in your house has a role to play in that church. So what are those roles?

Well over the course of these past few weeks, we’ve spend quite a bit of time looking specifically at the roles of husbands and wives in marriage and we’ve discovered that God has actually designed our marriages to be modelled after Christ’s relationship with his church. 

We’ve discovered that husbands are to play the role of Christ – and we are to do for our families exactly what Christ has done for us.  Not that we can die on a cross for the forgiveness of sins, but we are are to love our wives with that same self-sacrificing love that Christ demonstrated for all of us. Likewise, wives are to play the part of the church – relating to their husbands in the same way as the church relates to Christ.

And this is where the potential controversy comes in. In describing this role of the church as it relates to Christ and the role of wives as they relate to their husbands, the Bible describes this role as one of submission. Ephesians 5:22 says…

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24

Now in our modern North American culture of 2019, this idea of wives submitting to their husbands often comes across as a very negative thing. Many would say that it is demeaning to women – that it robs them of their true value and worth and degrades them as second class citizens.

But that understanding of submission is not at all what the Bible teaches. In fact, I would argue that Biblical submission actually goes the opposite way – it actually affirms the incredible value and worth of women. 

Think of it like this: It’s kinda like how the president of the United State puts his trust in his secret service body guards. To a certain extent, the president places himself under the care and protection of his body guards. The president is the important one – and those bodyguards affirm that because they are willing to take a bullet to keep him safe.

Well, in Biblical submission – the husband is the bodyguard. God has entrusted him with the job of keeping her safe. In fact, the definition that we’ve been looking at for headship is this:

Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. ~ John Piper

The husband is the bodyguard. That’s why the Bible tells husbands to love their wives like they love their own bodies! We are to be willing take a bullet both figuratively and literally for our wives. We put her good ahead of our own!

Of course, this is exactly what we see Jesus doing for us. He took the bullet – he died on the cross for our sin so that we could live. Why? Was it because he thought we were worthless and second-class citizens? No way! He did that because of how valuable we are to him. Ephesians 2:4 says…

4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) Ephesians 2:4-5

Jesus took the bullet for us because he loved us sooo much! When we accept Christ as our Lord and saviour – when we willingly submit ourselves under his leadership, under his provision, and under his protection – that doesn’t de-value us in any way. It’s actually the opposite – what Christ has done for us affirms how valuable we are to God.

So when it comes to our roles in marriage, in the same way, I think submission only affirms the great value and worth of our wives.

For a woman to willingly submit to her husband means that she knows without a shadow of a doubt that he loves her like crazy – and that he will sacrifice his own good for her good! When she places herself under his protection and provision and leadership, that’s a huge responsibility for him! For him to take on that responsibility, he has got to think the world of this girl!

Biblical submission in marriage should only affirm the incredible worth and value of our wives.

But that being said, that’s not always what we see in the world around us, and it’s not always what we experience even in our own marriages.

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Submission vs Subjection

I have done some foolish and dangerous things in my lifetime – some of them years ago when I was a kid, and some of them not all that long ago. For example, when I was probably about 9 or 10 years old, I decided one day I wanted to see how long and how far I could ride my bike with my eyes closed. For some reason, I didn’t really see the potential danger in this and so I took off down our driveway of our farm – eyes closed and pedalling hard! It wasn’t until I was slapped in the face with a spruce tree branch, that I began to realize that I may have done something foolish. I opened my eyes just in time to avoid the tree trunk but still ended up in the barbwire fence. I still have a scar on my arm to remind me of my foolishness that day.

But that didn’t keep me from doing foolish and dangerous things as an adult. A short time after my wife & I were married, we lived in the farmyard across from her family. Her brother Roger was still living at home at that time, and so we often got together to do guy stuff in the shop – like carefully filling up lightbulbs with acetylene and oxygen and watching them explode when you turn on the light and things like that. Well, we had learned that if you mix tin foil with a certain cleaner – there is a chemical react that lets off a couple gases. If you do this in a 2 litre pop bottle and close the lid, the pressure increases until the pop bottle explodes with a tremendous bang. So one day, we decided to explode a hot water bottle – It would be pretty exciting to see how big those things would become until they finally burst!

So we filled the bottom of the hot water bottle with little balls of tin foil and then Roger went to put in the cleaner. Well, it reacted so quickly, that as he was pouring it in, the pressure began spewing out the cleaner out the top of the bottle. Of course, we had never thought to wear eye protection or anything and so Roger got this highly corrosive cleaner in his eyes! So we immediately drop the bottle and rush to flush his eyes out. I think we put him in the shower or put his face under the gardenhose or something like that. I believe he eventually went to the doctor to get his eyes check out – and if I remember correctly, there was some marks on his eyeballs, but thankfully no damage was done to his retinas. But the potential for significant damage was great! We’re thankful that God was watching over us – even while we did those foolish and dangerous things.

That being said, I’m trusting that God will watch over us again today, as I attempt yet another potentially foolish and dangerous thing this morning. This morning I want to talk to you about the role of women in marriage.

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Provision and Protection

This week – as a good chunk of North American sat under the infamous polar vortex – as cold weather records were broken all over the country – in the midst of all the -30 degree temperatures we experienced here in Penhold – this week, I put in my order for my garden seeds, perennials, and fruit trees.

I think ordering seeds in February is a great expression of faith. I have faith that winter will not last forever. I have faith that spring will come and things will grow in my garden once again. There’s a great verse in Romans that speaks to this issue.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance. Romans 8:25 NET

I think that describes every Canadian every winter. We hope for what we do not see, but we must eagerly wait for it with endurance.

Well, this morning, I’m not really intending to talk about the weather and not even so much about faith or hope at this point – but rather, I want to talk a bit about gardening.

Some of you know that I like to dabble in gardening and landscaping and all that good stuff. It’s one of my hobbies that keeps me busy in the summertime. 

And for the most part, I think I’m pretty good at it, but you won’t know that by looking at the plants we have in our house right now. 

For some reason, my outdoor gardening goes really well, but the indoor gardening… not so much. Outdoors, I’ve grown plums and cherries and pears and apples and grapes and watermelons, and all kinds of delightful things. Outside in the yard and garden, things seem to flourish –  In fact, I have a well visited blog where I’ve documented most of the things I’ve grown – you can check it out at AlbertaHomeGardening.com

But when it comes to my indoor gardening, most of our house plants struggle to stay alive. I bought a fig tree on a wim last spring – but of course, fig trees can’t survive in this kind of winter, so brought it in to the house last fall. Well, this week, I snapped a picture of it for you so you can see just how well it’s doing. 

This is my fig tree. As you can see – it is not exactly thriving. It is barely surviving! It’s got like six leaves on it. Now just to give you a comparison, here’s a picture I found of a healthy, flourishing fig tree.

That’s what my fig tree should look like. There’s a significant difference there. And there’s a lot of reasons for that – it’s winter, so there’s not much sun in general.  Our house doesn’t have any good south facing windows, so that really minimizes the sunlight. The pot it’s in is much too small for the size of tree it is. And I rarely make the effort to give it any fertilizer. 

So while I think it will stay alive until spring – I’m pretty confident that there will be next to zero growth and there will certainly be no fruit – no figs this year. It’s surviving, but it’s certainly not thriving.

Now I want you to keep this image of my fig tree in your mind – we’re going to come back to it in a little while, so just hold on to it for a bit. But first, I remind everyone what we’ve been talking about for the last several weeks.

We’ve been talking about the church in your house.

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Drenching Your Home in The Gospel

This week I happened to see the headline for an article in Psychology Today – and the title was “Why Would Anyone Want To Be A Leader?”

And that’s a good question! Being a leader is hard. I know many of you have been in some type of leadership role and you know that being a leader comes with a lot of challenges, it comes with stress and frustration, and you have to deal with a lot of difficult stuff. The article focused mostly on how hard it was in the workplace to lead and keep employees motivated and on task  and all that stuff – but I think leadership in any realm is hard.

In church. At school. In the community. On a team of some sort. In your family. Leadership of any kind is hard.

So why, as this article asked, would anyone want to be a leader? And I bring this up today because the answer to that question is really what we want to talk about today as we continue talking about the church in your house.

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The Husband’s Role – Christlike Servant Leadership

Last week we began looking at the church in your house! In case you weren’t here and you didn’t realize you even had a church in your house, let me briefly recap what we talked about.

We started off with the reminder that as followers of Jesus Christ – we are the church. The church isn’t a building – it’s not a weekly event that we attend. The church is people. It’s God’s people.

So you are the church. I am the church. Anyone who has put their trust in Jesus is the church. And we’re not just the church on Sunday mornings. We are the church 24/7 – 365 days a year.

We’re the church on Sundays and on Mondays. We’re the church here at the hall and we’re the church in your living room. Where ever you find followers of Jesus – that’s where you find the church.

That means, that if you are a Christian today – then there is a church in your house. Perhaps not at this exact moment because you’re here right now – but when you are at home (which is the majority of the time) there is a church in your house.

And so my question to you last week was, “Does the church in your house look like the church that meets in this hall?”

You hear about athletes putting on their game face – well, I think Christians often put on their church face. When we arrive here Sunday mornings, we all look good and righteous and God-honoring and all that… (We’re not yelling or cussing or fighting with each other) And that’s all fine and good, but when we go home, we take off the church-face and we resume our ‘normal life’ – which unfortunately, is often really no different than any one else in the world.

But God did not call us to be the church for one hour each Sunday morning. We are to be the church every hour of every day all year round. In fact, I would argue that it’s maybe even more important that we live like the church at home more than anywhere else because that is where our lives will have the most impact. We will have more influence on our families than we will on anyone else.

Our role in the church in our house is way more significant than any role any of us will ever play in our local congregation.

So it’s really important that we understand what our role is and what our responsibilities are in the church in our house. Because if you don’t take up your role and your responsibilities in the church in your house – then who will? No one.

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