Word Alive! © 2023 Winter Series Living and Thriving Again! Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 7 Mar. 2023, Lesson/Chapter 3, Part 2
Thom S. Rainer, Anatomy Of A Revived Church, ©2020
Quiet Time: Thom S.Rainer, Lesson/Chapter 3 (pp. 43-57)
Putting Intentionality Over Score Cards – Renewed life and meaningful change in the Christian life, cannot be attained by merely “keeping score” of our wrongs and rights. Although genuine change does involve deep spiritual reflection and inner adjustments, these should not be the result of obsessive effort. Because we live in a society that gives credence to “how much” we do,have, and engage in certain activities; there’s a tendency to measure success by quantity, rather than quality. When Jesus sat near the temple one day observing the habits of people who participated in the collections, he noticed a stark contrast between those who gave prideful from their large wealth, and one person who had very little, but humbly gave all she had. Jesus redefined how we count generosity, by focusing on the intentional nature of the woman in honoring God with her gift (Read, Mark 12:41-44, NLT). The two coins the woman gave, represented about two cents for every larger coin the others gave. Another way of looking at this is, if the offering of the wealthy who prided themselves on what they gave, represented an eight-hour work day wage; the woman’s gift represented 20 minutes of a work day. Jesus saw the modesty of her offering, and commended her in that she didn’t give from what she had; but all of what she possessed. In the eyes of Jesus, the widow’s gift had much greater value. Our spiritual worth is of greater value than the standards the world measures things by. We should all avoid being tempted by the amount of the things we do. A Christian’s emphasis should be on how intentional we are in being used of God to grow in Christ; and to represent His presence in the church and the world. In our personal lives in Christ, and in our ministry as His body, it is helpful to use some meaningful standard to measure our effectiveness. However, that standard should encourage and help us to grow deeper in Christ; and to see evidence of our Christian lives and ministries in how we reach others outside of Christ. We are encouraged in this way: “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm. God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” (Hebrews 10:23—24, NLT). Jesus shares a parable
where, among other things, he warns His listeners about holding to obsessive habits and standards that draw attention to self. Of the two men who went to pray, the non-religious man, a self- confessed sinner, is forgiven by God. Only sincerity and intentionality of purpose, will bring spiritual renewal and maturity. In his book, Anatomy of A Revived Church, Thom Rainer says, we measure “to make sure we’re on track.”
Putting Intentionality Over Score Cards, Part 2 – The urgent need of the Church today, is for maturity in Christian character. When Christians are mature in character and faith, the witness of the Church will be exceedingly effective. An instance of this is described by the character of the Berean Christians spoken of in the Book of Acts. They evidently were not interested in “keeping a score card” of accomplishments. The Bereans were intentional about study in the Word; discipling; and the formation of mature Christian character. It was the zeal of the Bereans that impacted persons beyond their fellowship. The Scripture says, “They searched the scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.” (Acts 17:11b-12, NLT).” As intentional as we should be in the Word, we must be just as intentional with how we live and treat others. This urgent admonition for character maturity, was strongly emphasized by the Apostle Paul to the Christians in Rome (Read, Romans 12:9-18, NLT). We also must look at Jesus with fresh eyes; especially how He gave the disciples instructions during crisis moments; which challenged them to look beyond staggering “numbers.” Consider the feeding of the multitude. The disciples’ concern was the size of the crowd; not in exercising their faith. In their panic, Jesus instructed the disciples to “sit down.” From that lowly vantage point, Jesus taught them something about the miraculous worth of intentional faith and prayer. (Read, Luke 9:12-13;14b-16, NLT). After praying over the miniscule provisions, a young boy had given them, Jesus directed the disciples to meet the needs of the people. The narrative ends with this postlude: “They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftovers!” (Luke 9:17, NLT). In the urgency of a need, the disciples thought of metrics; why things could not work; because they had “crunched” the numbers. Jesus looked at how the people would be fed. For Jesus it was having an intentional plan of faith, prayer, and seeing what they had become maximized; for the benefit of all who were present. Dr. Rainer says, “Revived churches are not about making much of numbers… but making much of God…”
What We Believe!
“We must be intentional, and not obsessive, in our need to revive life and renew vigor in our Christian life and ministry.
Being intentional in our faith, brings maturity and renewal.
Obsessively keeping scores, can harm substantive change.
Mark 12:41-44, NLT
“Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large sums of money. Then a poor widow came and
dropped in two small coins. Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has to live on.”
Luke 18:9-13a, NLT
“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer. ‘I thank you God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared
not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow saying,
‘O God be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home more justified before God…”
Romans 12:9-18, NLT,
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble; and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be ready to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all. Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.”
Luke 9:12-13;14-16, NLT
“Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to Him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in the remote place. But Jesus said, “You feed them.” “But we have only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. Or, are you expecting us to go and have enough food for the whole crowd?”…Jesus replied, “Tell them to sit down in groups of about fifty each…” Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, and looked toward heaven and blessed them. Then breaking the loaves into pieces, He kept giving the bread and fish to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people…”