sermon notes – Luke 12.32-34

I typically do not type or write out my sermons ahead of time in manuscript form; I just imprint them in my mind. However, this morning’s sermon was an exception. Here’s what I carried with me into the pulpit today.

that’s the Spirit: it’s what you give
Sun.; January 27, 2019; 10:30 a.m.
Driving south on Thompson Rd. from I-10 – just before I came to Daniel’s Meat Market – my eyes were drawn to a huge billboard nearby. It was an advertisement for whiskey. Not just any whiskey, you understand, but Crown Royal. It says:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

Now drink that in! For it sounds an awful lot like what our Lord says to us! “It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

Our Lord preached proverbial wisdom: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” It simply cannot be any other way: inevitably, our heart is about we you treasure. It cannot be otherwise. One gives witness to the other.

Our Lord preached that if our heart is after God’s heart, that is, that it treasures what God treasures, our actions will show. And since what God treasures is people, then if God is our treasure, we will be rich in blessing people. That is his program, and so will be our life’s program. As our Lord put it: “Sell your possessions, and give alms.” Taking good care of people and our heart is no small thing. The application of what Jesus said can be a fearsome thing indeed!

And that is why our Lord, the Prince of Peace, preached peace and promise to us as he did: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Where’s that found? You can read it for yourself from the same book we’ve been reading this past week as a church family, Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 12.32-34, to be specific). Luke’s entire Gospel can be well summed up with these words:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

For no writing in the NT speaks more frequently or more fervently about our attitude toward, and our actions with, money and possessions, than Luke’s Gospel. The subject is specifically noted often. Here are five examples. Hear them all with these words in mind:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

• Lk. 3.11-14 – when people approached John the Baptist as to how they should respond in light of his preaching, all of his answers involved how they handled money – [crowds in general:] “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise. …” [tax collectors:] “… collect no more than the amount prescribed for you …” [soldiers:] “Do not extort money from anyone … and be satisfied with your wages.” [They were all challenged to consider: “It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”]

• Lk. 5.28 – When our Lord called Matthew (aka: Levi), Levi “got up, left everything, and followed him.” [“It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

• Lk. 8.1-3 – Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and others sustained Jesus/his disciples “out of their resources.” [“It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

• Lk. 19.1-10 – when Zacchaeus stood and announced his fruits of repentance to our Lord, he said: “‘Half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.’” [He was about: “It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

• Lk. 21.1-4 – and when “Jesus saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins and he said, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all.’” [She was thinking: “It’s not what I have; it’s what I give.”]

That’s the Spirit! Surely Luke would have smiled at that sign if he had been in the car with me and seen that billboard. This much is certain: our Lord does. I know because he gave it all, and still does, for you and me.

Are you taking good care of your heart? Is God’s program – people – your program? Is how you give in any and every way, in any and every place, geared to bless people, and so praise and love the God who made them, and you? Does your heart rest in his promise of his ruling care over your life? Do you need to give up some things, or embrace some things afresh in your heart? Think about your treasure.

Well, that’s what this time of invitation is for – for you to carefully and deeply consider Christ and his good news, namely:

“It’s not what you have; it’s what you give.”

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (16)

MoSt Church‘s three-year Immerse Bible reading project goes hand-in-hand with my Inscribe Scripture copying project. Following is the essence of the Immerse project.

Initiation: today (Sun., Jan. 20)
Motivation: God has revealed his will to us
Method: as a church we’ll read the entire Bible in 3 years
Entry: we will begin our reading with Luke’s Gospel
Rationale: to be exposed to the Lord’s light for our transformation
Social: foster conversation with others over Scripture
Evidence: building up our faith in our Father

Reflection: 32 weeks of reading & 20 weeks of reflection each year
Excitement: enriching our enjoyment of the Author of all life
Association: making connections between Scripture & daily life
Decision: to live by every word that proceeds from him
Inscribe: while we all read I’ll copy the entire Bible by hand
Newness: bring creativity & freshness to our experience of God
Generate: sincere love for God & others thru good works

When you finish each day’s reading, ask yourself the following four questions. Converse with others in this project using these same questions.

1. Channel: “My attention was channeled to _____.”
What stood out to you in today’s reading?

2. Challenge: “I found _____ challenging.”
What was confusing or difficult for you?

3. Christ: “God appears to me as _____.”
Did anything make you think differently about God?

4. Change“This calls for me to change the way I _____.”
How might this change the way you live?

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (15)

More Q & A.

Q. I know you’ve just begun the copying-thing, but what is being impressed on you through this experience?
A. How every word of Scripture is important. How the word speaks to you in some many ways at one time and is what one’s spirit needs to hear. The sheer beauty of the narrative of Luke’s Gospel. There are more matters, but these three leap to my mind right now.

Q. Are you reading anything in conjunction with Luke’s Gospel as you copy the text (a commentary, etc.)?
A. Yes, but not merely so much as I’d like to be doing. I am only reading one book through (N.T. Wright’s uber-accessible volume entitled Luke for Everyone), but am also dipping a number of reference works.

Q. How’s that rollerball pen working out for you? I know you’re usually a felt-tip man.
A. Short answer: different, for sure! Long answer: I changed up further from what I had originally planned, opting at the last moment for a ballpoint (shifting, specifically, from this to this). It is a real adjustment from a felt-tip, but that is what I wanted; another little something that forces me to concentrate on what I’m doing just a wee bit more.

QAre there things you wish you had done for the sake of better preparation?
A. Oh, yes: hand exercises! I am not used to writing so much in one stretch.

Q. Made any mistakes yet?
A. Ha! Yes, but only one that I’m aware of at this time. What was it? I accidentally capitalized the word “festival” in Luke 2.43. The TNIV text capitalizes the word “Festival” in 2.41, but not in 2.43, so rather than correcting it, I just left it alone.

Postscript: I copied Luke 2.8-52 today.
https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+2.8-52&version=NIV

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (13)

Boomer! Sooner!*

I began copying the Bible by hand – my Inscribe project – this morning. Yes, one week earlier than I had previously announced (Jan. 20).

The church’s Immerse Bible reading project will begin next Sun., Jan. 20.

What did I copy this morning? Luke 1.1-45.

And why did I start Inscribe one week early? So as to coincide with my firstborn’s birthday.

Happy birthday, son! 🙂

* This is a nod to my birth state, not the OU football team. Boomers were people who had lobbied for the opening of the “Unassigned Territories” for settlement by non-Native-Americans. Sooners were those who entered the land ahead of the designated legal day and time so as to get a jump on everyone else (cf. the Oklahoma Land Run of April 22, 1889).

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (11)

As I prepare to copy the Bible by hand, I’ve been reading a bit about the work of the scribes in ancient times who copied Scripture long before the invention of the printing press. To say they were meticulous is a grand understatement. Consider this excerpt from the Talmud on the subject:

“A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of clean animals, prepared for the particular use of the synagogue by a Jew. These must be fastened together with strings taken from clean animals. Every skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the entire codex. The length of each column must not extend over less than forty-eight, or more than sixty lines; and the breadth must consist of thirty letters. The whole copy must first be lined: and if three words be written in it without a line, it is worthless. The ink should be black, neither red, green, nor any other color and be prepared according to a definite recipe.

“An authentic copy must be the exemplar, from which the transcriber ought not in the least to deviate. No word or letter, not even a yod, must be written from memory, the scribe not having looked at the codex before him. … Between every consonant the space of a hair or thread must intervene; between every word the breadth of a narrow consonant; between every new parashah, or section, the breadth of nine consonants; between every book, three lines. The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line; but the rest need not do so.

“Besides this, the copyist must sit in full Jewish dress, wash his whole body, not begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink, and should a king address him while writing that name he must take no notice of him. …

“The rolls in which these regulations are not observed are condemned to be buried in the ground or burned; or they are banished to the schools, to be used as reading books.”*

[Selah]

Three thoughts leap to mind …

We can have profound confidence in the integrity of the Biblical text as it has arrived to us today.

What care we ought to have with the word of the Lord.

What level of, and evidence for, such confidence and care for what God has said is there in my life?

* Source: How We Got the Bible by Neil R. Lightfoot (Baker, 2003); pp.133-134, who is citing from Frederick Kenyon’s work ‘Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts’ (Harper, 1958).

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (10)

Today, the countdown begins. T-10. As in just ten more days until the Immerse Bible reading project – and my Bible-copying project – begins.

It (finally) occurs to me that as the reading portion of this effort has a project name (Immerse), the writing portion deserves one, too. Inscribe seems fitting.

inscribe: to write, engrave, or print as a lasting record

So it is.

a scribe’s scribblings: a log (9)

I plan to do the vast majority of my Bible-copying while standing.

Why? Three reasons.

First, because I believe I’ll do better work – both in terms of focus of spirit and legibility of writing – if I stand while writing.

Second, because the scenes in Nehemiah 8-9 have been favorites of mine, deeply impressive to me for a very long time, since the first time I ever read them, actually. As you read that passage, pay attention to who stands and for how long. [And if you can’t stand reading all of that (sorry, that pun was simply too easy to pass up) at least read these verses – 8.1-4a; 9.3]

Third, because I already do the vast majority of my work while standing and have done so for quite some time now.

So, do pray specifically for my knees, too, please. 🙂

Seriously.