Sunday 09.30.18 (God and Money: Give Generously)

This week we’ll finish our “God and Money” series by taking a look at 1 Timothy 6 and what it means to be generous in our world. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering

Sermon Notes
Give Generously ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19

The sermon in one sentence: Having learned to stay focused, plan well, and live within your means, work to increase your generosity toward others.

  • The attitudes of generosity (6:17)
    • Be humble
    • Be wise
    • Be hopeful
    • Be joyful
  • The actions of generosity (6:18-19)
    • Do much good (6:18)
    • Share more freely (6:18-19)

God and Money (sermon series)

Image used and modified with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/working-business-money-coins-34204/

Songs for Worship
The Solid Rock
I Exalt Thee
All in All
Simple Living
Because I Have Been Given Much
Let Your Heart Be Broken

Sunday 07.22.18 (generosity)

This morning, we’ll take a look at Exodus 35:4-29 and reflect on the topic of generosity. Then this evening, we’ll wrap up our video study on Philippians. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Philippians Study in youth room

Sermon Notes
Generosity ~ Exodus 35:4-29

The sermon in one sentence: God generously gives us all things through Jesus and he calls us to be generous toward others.

  • Defining Generosity: Generosity is freely and happily giving of our resources (money, time, possession) for the benefit of others
  • Generosity is a response to God’s grace (35:4-9, 20-29)
    • Recognize God’s great generosity toward you
    • Give to needs in response to God’s prompting
    • Position yourself to give more abundantly
  • Generosity helps meet the needs of the moment (35:5-19)
    • Generosity considers the need and gives accordingly (35:10-19)
    • Generosity gives from the resources on hand (35:5-9; 1 John 3:17-18)

Songs for Worship
Wonderful Words of Life
Freely, Freely
Peace Like a River
Glorify Thy Name
I Love You Lord
Take My Life and Let It Be

Generosity

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Jesus, Luke 12:32-34 (ESV)

The Bible regularly calls us to generosity. In the Old Testament, the attitude is pictured with a wide-open hand. Instead of holding back for yourself, you open up to share with others.

Jesus gives us the foundational cause for our generosity in Luke 12–when God is our Father, we already have everything.

With this, there will be a disconnect that we feel between this life and eternity. When we live on budgets, balance our bank accounts, and try not to spend more than we bring in, it might seem like we don’t have much. But, our share in everything is coming. This is why the Bible describes our eternal gain through Jesus as an “inheritance.” An inheritance is something that is becoming ours but not yet in our hands.

The problem with earthly inheritances is that they are never guaranteed. Even if a parent or grandparent promises us a large sum of money, something could always happen that results in a far reduced share. Our eternal inheritance, however, will be ours without question. Jesus already gained it on the cross, and the God who never lies has promised that will we receive our full share through Christ.

This reality shapes what we do with our money now. Do we want to be wise with it? Of course. Is there still room for investing and saving? Yes, as we are able. But, we should not let gain in this life be a driving motive. What we do with our treasure reflects our hearts.

If we live as children of the Kingdom, we’ll be interested in helping out, as much as we can, those who are in need. We can be generous because we don’t live for the money in the account, but rather because we live for Jesus and he has promised us a treasure that will never fade.

Good Reads 08.10.17 (on: Bible reading, friendships, giving, and more!)

Here is a collection of good reads gathered from across the internet this past week. Enjoy!

On family Bible reading: Three Surprising Ways Bible Reading With My Kids Has Changed Me by Jon Nielson

I have found that since reading the Bible regularly with my children, I am finding deep delight in discipling them. I am loving the sweet conversations with them about the the things of God, as they form questions and wrestle through theological thoughts. I love watching them discover new and beautiful things about God, his grace, and his glorious redemption of sinners. There is a new dimension of friendship opening up, a spiritual friendship between my kids and I, and I pray this will continue to grow and flourish as they get older. (click here to read more)

On men and friendships: Guys Need Bros: Five Ways to Find Male Friendships by Bryan Stoudt

A few years after this uncomfortable conversation, a respected Christian author challenged us to form close male friendships in a men-only session at a marriage conference. At the time, I knew nothing about the risks isolation posed. Physically, I felt great. But then he drew a connection between our friendships with other men and our marriages.

Now he had my attention.

Letting our friendships with other men fade, he warned, turns our wives into unintentional idols where they become our only true confidante and friend. This is a role God never intended them to fill, and places a tremendous amount of stress on our marriages. (click here to read more)

On giving as a spiritual gift: Giving Might Be the Most Neglected Spiritual Gift by Rand Alcorn

It’s increasingly common for Christians in accountability groups to ask one another the tough questions: “Have you been spending time in the Word?” “Are you living in sexual purity?” or “Have you been sharing your faith?” But how often do we ask, “Are you winning the battle against materialism?” or “How are you doing with your giving?”

When it comes to giving, many churches operate under a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. We lack communication, accountability, and modeling. It’s as if we have an unspoken agreement: I won’t talk about it if you won’t, so we can continue living as we are.

Think about it. If a young person wants to learn how to teach, pray, or lead a group, the church provides many examples to learn from. But how does a young Christian learn to give? Where can he or she go to see what giving looks like in the life of a believer captivated by Christ? Why are we surprised when, seeing no alternative examples, our young people take their cues from a materialistic society? (click here to read more)

Finally… A video clip of John Piper talking about how through Jesus we have freedom from condemnation and from the wrath of God. (click here to view)

Generous

Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving, except you only. Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.

I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. ~Philippians 4:14-23 (ESV)

Paul concluded his letter to the church at Philippi thanking them for their ministry support. They had given to the cause of Christ, so that Paul could spread the gospel further without the need to support himself. This freed him to share even more on his missionary travels.

Philippi was alone in their giving in this season of Paul’s ministry, but they gave generously. So much so that Paul was able to say to them, “I am well supplied.” In other words, he didn’t need them to keep sending him money at this point. This shows that Paul was no charlatan preacher. He wasn’t in it for what he could gain. He wasn’t pleading for more and more money despite having a nice house and fancy clothes.

And in return, Paul assured them that God would bless them and supply their needs. This not that every want would necessarily be met, but that they would not lack in the basics of day to day living.

From this example, we learn what it means to be generous. God has chosen human beings as the ordinary means for the gospel to spread in this world. He could use a choir of angels. Jesus even said he could make the rocks cry out if every other voice fell silent of God’s glory. Yet, he chose people as the means.

The spread of the gospel takes money, then. It costs to travel and to live in new places. It costs for new Bibles to be printed in the languages of those who have no access to the scripture. It costs to meet basic human needs of clean water, good food, and clothing. Those of us who have been supplied by God have a duty to share with those who are in need.

But we should also be careful to whom we give our money. When people who are more than “well supplied” beg for our giving, we should question just what they intend to use our money for. There are too many needs in the world, too many people who have not heard the gospel for us to give unwisely. Let us be generous to the cause of Christ all throughout the world.

This is our last post in this devotional series on Philippians. Look for a new series starting next week.

Philippians 4_19-20

A Cheerful Giver (a meditation)

Everyone should do as they have determined in their heart, not in a gloomy spirit or simply because they have to, since “God loves a cheerful giver.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7

Giving of our resources has always been an important task of God’s people. In the Old Testament there was a series of tithes (a one-tenth of something) and offerings established for various purposes. Some were simply sacrificed to God as an act of faith, trusting him as the ultimate Giver. Others were given to support the poor or the Levites who served as priests and had no territory of their own among Israel.

In the New Testament giving continues to be an important part of following Jesus. Through the pages of scripture we find three primary purposes for giving.

First, is to help the poor and needy. This, arguably, is the most important reason to give of what we have as more is said about it than any other form of giving. In Deuteronomy we find a vivid illustration of what it means to give generously. Moses called the people to “open wide your hand” to the poor and needy in their land. A wide-open hand is a sign of generosity from a heart that refuses to be stingy.

In the New Testament, Jesus spoke about how his followers would give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, and clothes to the naked (Matthew 25:31-46). Many in the early church went so far as to sell home and property so there would not be “a needy person among them” (Acts 4:34-35). Paul commanded the rich to enjoy their wealth but also “to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:17-19). And his encouragement to give in 2 Corinthians 8&9 was in the context of helping the poor in Jerusalem.

Second, is to support missionaries in their work to spread the gospel to places most of us will not be able to go. Paul encouraged Titus and the churches he helped lead to speed some men on their way, one of which was a known traveling preacher, and to “see that they lack nothing” (Titus 3:13). Paul also thanked the church at Philippi for their contributions to his missionary work and told them they could stop giving since he was fully supplied for the moment (Philippians 4:10-20). Such selfless giving to see the gospel spread is a good example for us all.

Third, is to support the daily functioning of the local church and especially so that the leaders are free to pray, study, and teach without the burden of other work. Though Paul gave up this right while in Corinth (thus showing that there may be appropriate times for self-funded or bi-vocational church leaders, depending on the circumstances), he spoke of having the right to be supported by the church, saying, “If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you?” (1 Corinthians 9:11). And Paul told Timothy to make sure the elders (pastors, overseers, leaders) of the church were supported, “especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17-18).

In whatever act of giving, Paul told the Corinthians that “God loves a cheerful giver.” In the New Testament we don’t find percentages assigned to these gifts. The New Testament doesn’t tell us that 5% must go here or 10% there. Instead, Paul wrote that each person should determine what God wants them to give—this to be understood in seeking God’s will through prayer and the Bible. And then give happily what God has led them to.

A heart that has been changed by the generosity of God toward us in Jesus will not have to be compelled to give. The generosity of God breeds generosity among his people. Thus, we will want to give. And if we seek God and his will in our giving, we will become people who give cheerfully, especially to help the needs of others.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

Lending to God (a meditation on helping those in need)

The title of this post should cause you to pause. Lending to God—isn’t that saying there might be a time that God needs something and so we are to let him borrow it? But God is self-sufficient and self-sustaining, indeed the One who gives sustenance to others (Acts 17:24-25). So how can we lend to God?

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 19:17:

Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deeds.

To be generous is to freely give of our own resources to another, expecting nothing in return. Again and again the Bible calls us to generosity, even using an apt illustration of a hand that is open wide, not clinging but freely giving, in order to help the poor and needy (Deuteronomy 15:11). This reflects the generous nature of our God who has given us himself in Jesus.

The all-generous God who calls us to generosity needs nothing. We cannot in fact lend to God. Yet at the same time we can. In this proverb, Solomon captured a truth we find more explicit elsewhere in the Bible: God so closely identifies with people, and especially his people in Jesus, that what we do to them is as if we do it to him.

Jesus captured this truth in Matthew 25 speaking on the final judgment where he will say to his people, his sheep:

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (25:34-36)

His people then ask When did we do all of this?

Jesus said, “The King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’” (25:40)

As we do to others, we do to Jesus, to God. The proverb says that in helping the poor we “lend to God” and that “he will repay.” This means there is reward in generosity. This isn’t reward from the people we have given to. Neither Solomon nor Jesus tells us to expect back from the poor and needy we help—that would not be generosity. But there is reward from God himself.

Sometimes we may see that reward in this life (2 Corinthians 9:6-10, which speaks of a financial reward that should lead us to be even more generous), but for certain we will see this as an eternal reward (Matthew 25:34, 19:28-30).

So lend to God by being generous to others, and especially helping those who are in need.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

proverbs 19_17