In this week’s message, I will be using clips from the classic movie, “Field Of Dreams”, to illustrate Biblical truth. At the end of the movie, there is an exchange between Ray (Kevin Costner) and his dad who magically appears many years after his death on Ray’s baseball field. His dad asks, “Is this heaven?”. Ray says, “It’s Iowa”. Ray then asks his dad, “Is there a heaven?”. “Oh yeah”, he says, “it’s the place where dreams come true”. To which Ray replies, “Maybe this is heaven”.
If you’re wondering, there is a way to experience part of heaven on earth. In fact, we can experience quite a bit of heaven here. Jesus said that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. It’s here because it begins here! I feel sorry for those who wait a lifetime to experience the kingdom that Jesus brought to us and has deposited into our own souls. He said it’s in us and it’s meant to be enjoyed. Make no mistake, it has its price. Because Jesus’ kingdom, power, and fulfillment are eternally bound to His goodness. That means that we must practice His goodness in order to experience His Kingdom. You want to experience the love and the joy of heaven? Lavish it on someone in need, and immediately, His love and joy will be released in your heart.
It’s amazing how that works. It’s like an explosion of blessing. When the power is released, it affects everyone involved. You can’t escape it. We need God! But Jesus said, “if you’ve done it to the least among you, you’ve done it to Me”. He also said, “If they receive you, they receive me”. God works in us but also through us. He loves everyone, but how will they know that He loves them if we, His body, do not love them. And how will we be able to hang on to the truth of His love if our own brothers and sisters don’t put an arm around our should or speak words of encouragement and love to us?
Heaven comes to earth through you and me. It’s the way He wanted it. It’s the way it is and I absolutely love it!
Why does the church always ask for money? How many times have you heard someone ask this question? My grandfather never went to church and he always said church people were hypocrites and were always asking for money. There is a good bit of truth in what he said. As I talked about a couple of weeks ago, we are all hypocrites in the church, until we stop sinning and completely obey God in every area of life. We say we believe in one thing and then in some cases, we act as if we don’t believe it at all. Sorry, but that is the definition of a hypocrite. And we ask for money because God is telling us to do things. Most of these things cost money.
The question we all ask in the church is how much should we give. There are two ways to ask this question. One way is to say, “God, everything I have is yours, what should I give and where should I give it”? The other way is to say, “what is the bare minimum that I must give”? The problem with the second way is that it assumes that everything I have is mine. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him take up his cross and follow me”. Jesus carried His cross up a hill called Golgotha, which means “the place of the skull” because it had indentions on the side and looked like a skull. He laid his life down in that place and He calls us to do the same. We MUST carry OUR cross and lay our lives down in the place of the skull.
We must change how we think. We must change what we think. We must put others first. We must give ourselves, all of ourselves to God along with all we possess. It’s never a matter of what we give and what we keep but always a question of how God leads us to use all that He has placed in our hands. If we are grateful to be worthy stewards of God’s wealth and happy to direct it where He leads us, then money will not keep us from the kingdom. And we will be very blessed. Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.” It really is! But if like the rich young ruler, we ask what must I do to inherit eternal life, which is just another way of saying, “what’s the minimum requirement, where’s the threshold”, then we will not like the answer any more than he did. The answer? “Everything, I require everything.”
If you believe that God holds the universe in His hands, and you want all that He can give you, then it’s simple. You must give Him everything that you have. Most of us, even in the church, unfortunately, will walk away from this proposition because we have so much. And some of us will eagerly make the trade. But remember, God is not after your money, He is after your heart. “Wherever your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”