Lynn Swart at Ivy MCR Called to Extravagance

These notes from Lynn’s talk tonight form a great study for our Grow Groups:

When she was in the USA recently, saw amazing manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Gold dust on people etc., that’s a miracle – but how about all the other provisions he gives us? Discuss: What do you think about that kind of thing happening in services? Weird – or God?

Discuss: When was the last time something took your breath away?

Watch the Frozen Planet; the penguins jumping out of the water – WOW! Isn’t our God amazing? It can take your breath away.

We can’t script for those moments.

God takes people’s breath away in the Bible:

Read Isaiah 6: and pray that God will keep taking our breath away…

Ezekiel fell on his face before God, as did John – read Revelation 1.

What would we do if we saw God in his glory like that?

We need to recognise that the Trinity is here with us, now. Do we see that? Or can worship become commonplace to us?

When Lynn was in a wheelchair, unable to stand and praise him, she made a promise to God, ‘I will never get bored in worship.’

Read Matthew 26: 6-13
6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? 9 For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

This is NOT Mary Magdelene, its Mary the sister of Lazarus, a worshipper.

She’s extravagant. Four marks of that:

Extravagance is UNRESERVED

Lazarus has been raised from the dead. And Simon the Leper is also someone who has been healed. Then – get the picture of Mary. She wasn’t focusing on the meal, or even on having her brother back. Because in her hand, she had this incredibly expensive perfume. An alabaster vase full. A whole year’s wages. A family heirloom. Her dowry. It was her future. And she has come prepared. She pours her future over the head of Jesus. Completely unreserved.

Extravagance seems IMPRACTICAL

The disciples were unimpressed, speaking harshly behind her back. Corridor conversations. We have to watch our reaction to extravagance. Why all this business of giving to the poor? The spirit behind this was Judas… who actually was syphoning off funds for himself. Watch it!

Extravagance is IRREPROACHABLE. .

Jesus says it’s perfect. Why are you bothering her? She has done a wonderfully significant, beautiful thing. They had all the right language, but Jesus was asking them to check their HEARTS. He was not having a go, or contrasting one thing with another.

God says I want you to be like Him – to be LAVISH! Have you got a lavish heart?

Extravagance is UNPARALLELED

Mary made a high choice, and there was high value in it! Jesus gave HER High praise! She got a glimpse of who Jesus was (what he was going to do on the cross as she anointed him for his burial), and nothing was too much – for him.

Discuss – what can you do in the run up to Christmas as individuals and as a group- that has those four marks – what others might call a waste; what looks like extravagant worship, sacrificial, just to put a smile on Jesus’ face?

Reminder: next Sunday we’ll be taking in our Christmas Offering in our services, to help establish a CAP Centre to help rescue people in debt here in South Manchester. 50% will do that.

The rest will help the work of Betel (Christian drug rehab community in Chorlton), the Life Association (Dalits in India), Barnabas (Homeless in MCR) and Boaz (Refugees in the city).

Please PRAY for this!