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How to Live Life with Open Hands - Choose sacrifice over selfishness

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How to live life with open hands?  What enables generosity?

Choose sacrifice over selfishness!

            Try this sometime.  Using each letter of the word THANKS!  TH-AN-KS!  Make a list of what are you thankful for?  Here’s my list starting with T!  I’m thankful for my wife Tricia, Turkey, Time with family & friends, Talk, Tomatoes, that Truth is a person and not a concept, The Gift Shop, Teriyaki Chicken and Tim Tebow.  H!  Hands that grip, a Head that thinks, Hair on top of that head that thinks, a Heart that beats, Ham, Hugs, Honey and a House to live in!  A!  Air to breathe, my Automobile, my Arms & Ankles, Angels, cake that Angels eat & Anesthesia before surgery.  N!  I’m thankful for this Nation, really Nice weather, Nuts-cashews, my Neighbors, my glasses because I’m Nearsighted, Naps, Numbers, and for clothes – some people walk around this planet NAKED!  K!  My Kids (Jeanna & Sam), Klondike ice cream bars, Kisses, Knuckles, Knees and my Nose, Kettle corn, Knowledge, Kittens and Kind people.  And now S!  Scott Krouse, Seasons-Spring & Summer, Smiles, Samples at the grocery store, Salt on my potatoes, Shade on my head, Sunshine on my face, Sand on my feet, Silence, Sound, the Scriptures, my Sister Cheryl, my brothers & Sisters in this church and most of all - my Savior Jesus!  Sometime today – you make YOUR list!  Now if that’s not enough to help you say THANKS to Jesus?  Maybe this will help?  (Video-Thanksgiving 2012) 

            Why am I thankful for Jesus Christ?  He lived life with open hands.  Open hands led to open arms!  He wants us to live that way too!  Not everybody does!  Why not?  Open up your Bible today to Revelation 2:12!  Do you need a Bible?  I have one right here you can use! We do have MORE!  Locate the insert in the Handout! 

The Book of Revelation comes from Jesus and was penned by John the Apostle.  The word Revelation is the word apocalypse which means “to uncover or reveal!”  You see John the Apostle is all alone, but not really ALL alone!  Jesus is with him.  Jesus charges John.  Write to angels what you see and hear and send it to seven churches found in chapters 2&3!  The church at Ephesus is first!  They had forsaken their first love!  They started to love the Son of God less than more!  Pretend right in front of me there’s a Priority Ladder!  He was here, but dropped to here!  When it comes to a relationship priority - where is Jesus for you and for me?  Smyrna is the 2nd church.  I have a little chart for you!  Notice that neither Smyrna nor Philadelphia receive any “Houston, we have a problem,” speeches from Jesus.  For that reason we’ll skip it!  I want us to dig into church #3 – Pergamum.  John starts by drawing a portrait of Jesus.  What John saw with his own eyes!  Look at Revelation 2:12.  (Angels are messengers – stationed in heaven or on earth.  An angel can be Gabriel or a pastor – it could be you!  You’ll meet this pastor in a moment.)  Finish verse 12 - John tells us in chapter 1 that this sword is coming from Jesus’ mouth!  What comes from your mouth?  WORDS!  Paul tells us the Bible is the Sword of the Spirit in Ephesians 6.  From Jesus’ mouth the enemies of his church will receive words of judgment.  Pergamum was a wild place to live.  Look at Revelation 2:13.  (Address must be 666 something)   

I’m not a tour guide, but here we go!  Pergamum was 20 miles inland from the Aegean Sea and 65 miles north of Smyrna.  When you read Pergamum think “Parchment.”[i]  They invented “vellum” which are animal skins used for writing to develop scrolls.  Pergamum was a place of trade & commerce.  They boasted of a library which held thousands of copies.  There were sculptures.  Pergamum put the capital C in capital.  Pergamum was the capital of the Roman Province of Asia Minor!  Pergamum was the religious capital of pagan cults.  Cults like Athena (the goddess of wisdom), Bacchus (the god of drunkenness) and of course Zeus!  This is what’s left of the great altar to Zeus.[ii]  Pergamum was the first city to build a temple to Caesar, becoming the capital of emperor worship![iii]  Let’s finish verse 13.  I have found that Satan will live anywhere as long as he’s invited!  Satan will live in Pergamum, Vegas, Atlantic City, Amsterdam and Westerville.  He can reside on computers, in cars, at churches, schools and in the military.  Satan often uses people to accomplish his purpose of leading people away from God!  Jesus provides three examples.  Find verse 14.  (Read 14-15)  Thyatira is similar to Pergamum.  Find verse 20! 

            I want to encourage you to live life with open hands.  Because open hands = a generous heart!  What enables generosity?  Don’t forsake your first love and don’t fall for false teaching!  False teachers, whether they are Balaam, Nicolas[iv] or Jezebel promote selfishness over sacrifice. 

            Balaam is dead.  His story is told in Numbers chapters 22-25.  Apparently Balaam was allot like Nicolas.  Who is Nicolas?  Look at Acts 6:5.  John MacArthur quotes Irenaeus[v] who said that Nicolas walked away from God and began to live a life of self-indulgence and encouraged others to do the same.[vi]  Jezebel is also dead, but apparently there was a woman in Pergamum who resurrected her teaching.  Ignore – God – Worship idols – Get drunk – Have sex! This is nothing new!  What was happening then is happening now!  Worship yourself!  Buy whatever you want.  Worship pleasure. “If it feels good, do it!”[vii]

Do you remember our word THANKS!  TH- AN- KS – I’ll give you a shot at this!  But only one letter.  The letter S!  What are you thankful for that starts with the letter S!  I could have said SEX!  I can see people putting their hands over the ears now!  Or their kids ears!  He just said SEX!  My sermons are rated R!  The R stands for Reality!  Here’s reality - Sex is good – God’s idea – sex creates intimacy between husbands and wives, but oh does Satan ever use SEX to lead people away from God!    

A company called CARE Heating & Cooling put up this billboard!  Your wife is HOT!  I think that’s funny, but there are TONS of billboards that display images I do not need to see and messages I don’t need to read!  Satan has an arsenal of D’s!  Discouragement, Depression, Distraction, Disagreement, Division, but my experience tells me his chief method is Deception.  He deceives us into thinking that selfishness is ok!  But selfishness will not enable generosity – sacrifice does!  So what do we do?  How do we overcome selfishness?  Go to Revelation 2:16.  REPENT!  Repentance is a change of mind!  Some people followed Antipas who followed Jesus.  Others followed men like Balaam and women like Jezebel!  Who are you following?  It’s easy to spot a false teacher!  Have you ever read some of those church bulletin bloopers?  Here’s one:  Everyone is asked to bring a jar of peanut butter which will be forwarded to Potter's House for distribution as part of the Food Baskets for greedy families during the month of June.  False teachers are greedy!  They are selfish!  They only think of themselves.  They are not humble!  They don’t act like Jesus!  If you are caught up in some sin that has a grip on you!  Repent, confess, and call out to God for help and ask another Christ follower to help you be accountable to God!  But that’s not all!  Go back to verse 16!  Who’s talking here?  This is Jesus!  HEED THE WARNING!  “Greg, Jesus is too compassionate to do anything like this!” That’s not what the money changers experienced in John 2!  That’s not what the religious leaders experienced when Jesus called them white washed tombs that look good on the outside but are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean!  Jesus brought salvation.  He came so we might be free.  Not free to sin, but free to live for him and his purposes!  Note verse 17.  We can overcome.  You can be an overcomer, but not on your own!  You cannot overcome selfishness on your own!  You need God.  You need God’s Son.  You need God’s Spirit.  And you need God’s church!  You need God’s word! 

            Doesn’t overcoming all go back to gratitude?  I am so grateful for what Jesus said, for what he did and or what he gave!  Did you know he still keeps giving?  Let’s finish verse 17!  He gave and still gives!  May we give too!  Maybe that’s as practical as reconsidering your Christmas list OR giving to the Gift Shop OR looking over your yearly salary and giving God 10% of what you make OR deciding to accept the GIVER by making him your Savior and LORD!  Jesus is not just the S in Thanks.[viii]  He’s worthy of our Trust.  He’s the Holy One of God and the Hope of the world.  He’s our Advocate to God.  He’s the Nazarene – the fulfiller of all prophecy.  He’s the King of kings and our Savior and he lives with open hands!  Will you?

Sat Night only:

For instance.  Will you remember me after this service?  After a month?  After a year?  I don’t think so and I can prove it.  Knock Knock!  Who’s there?  Told ya!


[i] [i] The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1996

[ii] Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 1144

[iii] The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1997

[iv] The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1996


[vi] The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1996

[vii] Mark E. Moore, How to Dodge a Dragon, 24


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