In God’s Economy Generosity is Encouraged!

GenerosityRemember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

Is Generosity working in you?

Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:7; Matthew 10:8; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15

What is Generosity? It is a fruit of our impacting relationship with Christ.  Which allows us to give to others because God has given abundantly to us. It is the wise use of stewardship and the attitude that all possessions belong to God. We are merely the caretakers for His purpose. It will see the Lord as the Source of true blessing, not our selfish desires.

What happens when we are not generous? We will be taken in by Greed, Stinginess, Selfishness and being Miserly, the opposites of God’s call. These rotten fruits are rotten because we hoard things and money and do not use them properly as Christ called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and ‘living water’ from flowing in us and then to others around us. We will become stagnant and useless to the Kingdom or the people around us.

How do I know if I am not a person who is generous? Do you see what you have as yours or you as a steward of what God owns? Do pride and arrogance have you? If so, this will be your driving force, the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!

One of the things I both love and hate to do is go out to lunch with a bunch of Christians. I love the fellowship, but when it comes to tip time, I, as the pastor usually ends up paying the tip and sometimes a lion share of the bill too. Then I hear complaints from waitresses about how stingy the various church groups are! This should not happen. When will we learn, as a Church, that our actions enable us to point others to the way to the Lord, and give us the ability to repel others from Him.

Generosity is the realization we have His living water (John 4; 7:38) flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too!

The Dead Sea in Israel is dead. Why? There is no life in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous. As ‘living’ water, it must be moving to be alive.

Generosity is an example of our trust and reliance on God.

Because He has given so much to us, way beyond what we can comprehend, we can therefore be charitable to others. This is an act of worship–to model Christ, and see the big picture that goods and material things are not important, but relationships are. This goes to giving back to God, providing to those who have less, and making sure your church is modeling this character.

Keep in mind that a selfish church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Let yourself be a rich and growing reservoir, overflowing like a fountain of living water that refreshes and encourages all those around you (Eph. 5:18). This will be your sweetness and virtue to others, which will point them to God and be a welcome mat to the Christian life.

We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. Character will be the fruit of that endeavor!

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Got Good Stewardship?

Read Matthew 25:14-30: What is the meaning of unfaithfulness?

Stewardship is a reflection of our spiritual condition! We should never separate money and finances from our spiritual life. The distinction that the material world is not for the Christian is an old heresy called Gnosticism. The material world is God’s too, and we are the stewards, the caretakers, of it.  So, how we allocate the resources that God places in our care is a prime Christian duty that has no separation from the spiritual depth of Biblical character and maturity. All the areas in our life of work, learning, relationships, spiritual gifts, and resources will come through our obedience or our laziness–to God’s glory or to waste.

  • Stewardship is the wise use of our materialistic goods and abilities, as well as with our time. Wasting time, in the eyes of the Puritans, was a sin, and that notion did not originate with them, but with God’s Word.
  • Stewardship is being neither reckless or hiding from our duty by playing it safe.

Read Psalm 24:1; Acts 20:35; 2 Cor. 9:7; stewardship aJames 1:17: What are the standards for stewardship we are to have?

  • Stewardship is recognizing that we, as Christians, as well as everything in creation, belongs to God.
  • Stewardship is proportionate to what we are able to give. The poor person’s small gift is just as important as the rich person’s big gift! Sometimes, we cannot give as much as we would like to, due to economic realities, job loss, business not good, sickness, etc., so, we give honestly and efficiently whatever we can.
  • Stewardship is the giving of ourselves and our resources with joy and gratitude for what we have been given. Stewardship is not something that results from a forced obligation or a bad attitude. Giving should always be cheerful! If it is not, then you are not really giving–are you?
  • Stewardship is the comfort of knowing that everything comes from God. He gives us our clarity and the vision and character of what to be and do. We can trust in Him, and not in our materialistic goods.

Biblical Concepts on Generosity PII

Generosity in Practice 

Generosity is the realization we have His living water flowing in us. To keep it fresh, it must flow out of us, too (John 4; 7:38)!

This is like the Dead Sea in Israel, which is a dead body of water that has little to no life in it. There is no life in it because it has no outlet. It has a river flowing into it, but the water remains there, and becomes stagnated with harsh salts and minerals to the point that nothing can live or grow there. When we are stingy, we become like the Dead Sea–stagnant and lifeless. The living water within us will quickly become stagnant, like a mud puddle with mosquito larvae growing in it, useless, and even dangerous.

Here are positive examples from Scripture (Exodus 36:2-7; Luke 7:44-8:3; 10:33-37; 21:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8:1-7)

Here are negative examples from Scripture (Haggai 1:2-9; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 25:31-46; 26:6-13)

Is the Character of Generosity working in you?

Here is how you can find out. Take a careful look at this character and Fruit of Generosity from God’s most precious Word by examining the passages below. Now ask yourself:

  1. How do I exhibit Generosity in my daily life?
  2. What can I do to develop a mindset to know that all I have in life belongs to God, and, since He supplies all I have and need, I can model His grace through being Generous?
  3. What blocks me from being Generous?
  4. How can I make Generosity function better, stronger, and faster, even in times of uncertainly and stress?

 A selfish Christian or a self-centered church that does not give, and only sees themselves as a charity, will become a Dead Sea rather quickly. How sad and pathetic that would be–an unconcerned, uncaring, and self-absorbed quandary to the neighborhood, and a disgrace to the Kingdom!

Think through the steps you need to take to put Generosity into action in a specific instance. If you are not a giving or hospitable person, seek to discover why. You are blocking God’s work in you. How can you release your selfish attitudes, and embrace the flowing in and out of His work in you?

The lack of Generosity will reflect a lack of faith and obedience! If you think there are no rivers coming into you, then seek what is blocking them. Is it sin, attitude, fear….?

God blesses those who steadfastly embrace His call, and who stay true to Christ. We need to stop looking for approval from society, and seek His approval. True Character will be the fruit of our encounter with Christ and the endeavor of how we are with others around us!

 

 

Biblical Concepts on Generosity PI

 

Generosity

What is “Generosity?”

What are the things that cause you to be stingy with what God gives you?

Generosity is actually a ‘Fruit’ of the Holy Spirit that gets a hold of the real believer; thus, this action will inspire one to be more charitable to others. This allows us to give to others because God has given abundantly to us. It is also the wise use of stewardship and the proper attitude that all possessions belong to God. Since, we are merely the caretakers for His stuff, we can properly manage and re-purpose for Christ’s purpose. 

Key passages: Deuteronomy 16:17; Proverbs 11:24-25; 13:7; Matthew 10:8; 2 Corinthians 9: 6-15; 1 John 3:17 

This Fruit encounter will see the Lord as the Source of true blessing, not our selfish desires.

Basically, God wants us to get rid of Stinginess, and is a person of character who in endowed by the Fruit of the Spirit so we can exhibit and practice Generosity.

What happens when we are not generous? What are the opposites of God’s call?Greed, Stinginess, Selfishness and Miserlinessare the fruits of the flesh that cause us to be ‘possessed’ by our possessions, stopping us from being a blessing and of use to God and others. These rotten fruits ‘rot’ because we hoard them and do not use them properly as Christ called us to do. This blocks the flow of God’s blessings and ‘living water’ from flowing in us. We will become stagnant and useless to the Kingdom or the people around us. Pride and arrogance will be the driving force, the quintessential things that God hates the most (Proverbs 6:16-18)!

Generosity is an example of our trust and reliance on God. Because He has given so much to us, way beyond what we can comprehend, we can therefore be charitable to others.

Generosity is also an act of worship–to model Christ, and see the big picture that goods and material things are not important, but relationships are. This goes to giving back to God, providing to those who have less, and making sure your church is modeling this character.

One of the things I both love and hate to do is go out to lunch with a bunch of fellow Christians after church or Bible study. I love the fellowship and conversation; but, when it comes to tip time, I, as the pastor usually ends up paying the tip or make up the rest bill. Then, hear complaints from waitresses about how stingy the various church groups are! When will we learn, as a Church, that our actions enable us to point others to the way to the Lord, and give us the ability to repel others from Him!

Let yourself be a rich and growing reservoir, overflowing like a fountain of living water that refreshes and encourages all those around you (Eph. 5:18). This will be your sweetness and virtue to others, which will point them to God and be a welcome mat to the Christian life.

 

Have you wondered what is our ultimate inheritance?

Read 1 Peter 1: 3-12

“Praise Be” or “Blessed be the God” is an incredible proncment of who we are in Christ. This word, phrase comes from the Greek, brake, used in Jewish blessings, and means the God Who blesses us. It also means rebirth—that God converts or “re-births” us.

Our inheritance means Chrisr re-purposed us, re-birthed us.

It is the theme that, as Christians, we are born again because God adopts and changes our nature as in starting again as new (Jer. 1:11-12; Ezek. 36:24-27; Mic. 1:10-15; John 3; 7:37-39). In Peter’s time, this phrase also referred to Gentiles who converted to Judaism. Now, He switches it to those who converted to Christ as their new living Hope, inheritance, security, and God.

So, let’s take a look at this wondrous key word, “Inheritance” here in 1 Peter, it means the “substance” of the hope we have in Christ. What does this have to do with stewardship? A lot, because we tend to think all stewardship is about is money. And what we are working for and why is so much more profound and powerful. It is not money or things, nor power or authority. Rather, it refers to salvation—our deliverance from sin; we are God’s children, sealed in Him and joint-heirs with Him by His Work. That we have God’s blessing, and also in context refers to how lovingly God goes out of His way to redeem us (Rom. 8:16-17; Heb. 1:14).

For the Jews in Jesus time, this meant inheriting a future world such as Israel’s inheritance of the Promised Land while wandering the desert. It infers redemption and the process God used to redeem us. It meant treasures stored up in Heaven for them (4 Ezra—a Jewish apocryphal book). For us, by Jesus’ righteousness and our obedience, our treasures are also stored up, while we still have opportunities now.

As a Christian, our chief inheritance is that Christ is our Redeemer! Christ is our Living Hope that will never fade away! This real inheritance gives us the confidence and conviction we have that our living God keeps His promises and secures us in Him. It is the assurance—and fact—that God has redeemed us, will bless us, and will care for us (1 Peter 1:13, 21; 3:15).

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18

We are chosen and given our new birth! We live in hope! As Christians, we have God’s abundant mercy, hope, and assurance so we can praise God for His grace and salvation! In our new life, we are set apart, as we have salvation and an eternal inheritance available to us! God makes us holy in His sight and relevant for life here and now as well as for the eternity to come.

Salvation produces hope and joy. He is our living Hope that will not fade away! This bond ties us to the responsibility of responding to what our God has done for us. He gives us faith; we are responsible for keeping the faith going and growing because we will be delivered from those who oppose us (Eph. 6:16; Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Pet. 5:8-9).

This inheritance is about our God’s most abundant mercy, love, and grace, given to us, without merit, before the foundations of matter and time. He loves and cares for us beyond any depth or limit, beyond any human comprehension. This inheritance is given to us so we can declare it to others. We know Christ because He has made Himself known to us so we can make Him known to others.

The Providence of Stewardship

What is a good way to have good Stewardship? We talked about gratitude, now, one more key word, Providence!

Providence (Genesis 50:20; Job. 38:1-41:34; Psalm 103: 19; Daniel 4:34-35; Acts 2:22-24; 14:16; Romans 1:26-32; 11:33-36; James 1:13-17)

Providence is the doctrine that gives us the knowledge and comfort that God is Sovereign, and thus, He is in control. We are not mere rats in a meaningless maze, where there is no divine plan or purpose.

God, indeed, is in control. Thus, he is in control of our lives and in our finances, if we allow Him to do so.

He does, indeed, have a plan; there is no stray molecule in the universe that does not have His hand of control over it. So, let Him have your checkbook! Be wise with His principles!

Jesus tells us that God knows when even a sparrow falls to the ground. He knows the number of hairs on our head–or the number of hairs we do not have. Therefore there is no chance, no luck, no gambling, no fate, in the worldly sense, to what if or what may have been or what is, as all things happen according to His plan.

 Providence gives us the comfort that Christ is in charge; there are no accidents or mistakes. All we are and have is for His glory and we are His steward.

Or, you may feel you have made a lot of bad decisions in life. If you feel you made too many money mistakes or feel overwhelmed, angry or even prideful that you are entitled, get over yourself and fall to your knees to the Providence of Christ!

Well, you have–we all have made bad choices—but God is still working things out for good (Rom. 8). Therefore, we have no need to dwell upon the past, complain, or play the what if games or fight with our loved ones. Just reboot to His plan and precepts and see your life change for the better, in stewardship and in life!

 How would a healthy biblical view of Stewardship, Gratitude and Providence help you and your church?

Getting our Hearts Centered On What Is Important PII

Matthew 6:19-24

Have you had possessions that claimed your identity and devotion? How and why? What can you do to rid yourself of those false devotions?

You cannot serve two masters: When your attention is divided, you cannot be attentive to either one. In biblical times slaves rarely had more than one owner. That would have been foolish, as their time, interests, and commitment would have been divided. When it did happen, it almost always meant disaster. Just as people try to work two jobs, although sometimes it is necessary for financial reasons, one’s commitment will be divided. But, in our commitment to the Lord, He must be Lord, which means He is ruler over all. When we are seeking things outside of His parameters and precepts, especially with virtue and character, we will be dividing ourselves away from Christ.

When our focus is on possessions, they become our idol and we worship them (1 John 5:21). Our identity, and personification of who we are, becomes branded by what we have, and not who we are in Christ.

Can you go though all of your possessions and tell which ones will rot, and will not apply to your Christian growth? How can that list motivate you to seek what is in verse 33?

When this happens, all of our Christian life will be affected. Those around us will get the wrong impression of Christ as He is reflected in a skewed way. The word, Master, by definition, master demands total loyalty. We cannot please two masters at the same time, especially with God (Ex. 34:14). We have to choose whom we will serve, and be determined to keep our promise and commitment (Josh. 24:14-15; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5)!

Fear the LORD means to trust, serve, and worship Him. Because money and things can easily become the priorities in our lives! The choice becomes whether we will worship the One True God, or be idolaters, following after false gods (Matt. 6:33)!

“Mammon” is the Aramaic word for possessions, acquired by wealth or riches (Luke 16: 9-11). By gaining mastery over our Mammon, we will avoid lusts, temptations, and foolish decisions (1 Tim. 6:9-19). This will lay a good foundation now and in our eternity to come. You must make the decision. What do you really want?

When we do not obey the Light, all that we are and do will turn into darkness and strife! This will happen when we start to get so busy that we have no time for growth in Christ. Or, when pride and experiences take the place of our sanctification, our growth and maturity are placed on hold. This creates a spiritual vacuum that will collect all that is wrong and unworthy for our character and purpose to glorify Christ.

Whom will you serve, and will you be determined to keep your promise and commitment?