Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Joy of Generosity

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, November 21, 2010 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody

The Joy of Generosity

2 Kings 3:9-20
Lk. 12.15-21
2 Co 8.7
Malachi 3.10
Phil. 2: 6-9

 As I look through the scriptures searching for God’s words about generosity, I learn that there are some benefits to generosity. In fact, I wouldn’t expect to learn about these benefits just from observing life in general. I need God to reveal them to me in his word, or reveal them to me in my experience with him. 

I find three specific life-benefits--three spiritual results of generosity that affect me by their presence or absence in my life. In fact, they point to how God can transform us by our generosity. Said another way, it seems God does not bless us first so we can then be generous. Rather, he asks us to be generous first, so that then he will hand us his blessings for our faithful obedience.

Here are the three benefits of generosity:

1.  Practicing generosity is the only way to battle the monster of selfishness. Jesus himself taught that “it is better to give than to receive.” (Yes, that’s in the Bible, unlike “cleanliness is next to godliness.”)
Neglecting generosity is selling out to selfishness. I don’t want to be a sellout.   

2.  Practicing generosity allows God to grow us into whole people.

Many complain that their life is empty, or broken, or missing something. They are dissatisfied with their lives and feel as though they have no purpose. We desire wholeness. Completeness. We want to turn I Can’t Get No Satisfaction into a song like Come thou Fount of Every Blessing.

Wholeness is a great gift of God. Faith, speech, knowledge, zeal, and love are all disciplines leading to spiritual wholeness. Yet these are incomplete without the discipline of generosity.  Paul writes in 2 Co 8.7 the words “just as you excel in everything-- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel in this grace of giving [emphasis added].

3.   Practicing generosity allows us to experience God!

Malachi 3:1o is often abused as a passage about tithing to the church, but it’s real wisdom is what we learn in it about the character of God.   Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.  [Malachi 3.10]  From this we learn that God reciprocates to our giving. We are generous toward him, then he responds with generosity toward us.

You may ask, “Why doesn’t God act generously first?” He does and he has!

“We love God because he loved us first.” [1 John 4:19]

Phi. 2: 6-9--  “You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature.  He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross!  As a result God exalted him . . .”

My conclusion?  God is generous to us; so we should be generous to him.

Let’s do what is against our fallen nature and become obedient in giving.  Be generous toward God who has been generous to you in the gift of his Son for our redemption.

He gave of his best—oh, so generously.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Generosity Changes the World

Click Here to Listen to the Sunday, November 7, 2010 Sermon by Pastor Chip Moody.

Scripture Reference:  1Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19

In the Heart of God Lives Generosity

When Jesus said to “store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . for where you treasure is there will your heart be also,” he used an interesting reflexive phrase. He proclaims that by giving to others you store up “for yourselves.” Who doesn’t want to store up treasures for one’s self?  But Jesus says we can do this only by choosing not to make a priority of storing up for ourselves treasures on earth. (Matthew 6.19-21)

The passage in Timothy we learned from last Sunday is about learning to serve yourself by serving others. It is counterintuitive to the carnal mind that we can fulfill our needs for self-treasuring by sharing our treasure with others. Yet in verse 17 Paul commands the rich in this present world (that’s us Americans, incidentally) not to put their hope in wealth. If we have ever put our hope in wealth I think it has been cured for a while. We have learned in the last three years that the words “financial security” can be an oxymoron in a recession.

Rather than putting our hope in wealth, the Apostle says, Command them [we the rich] to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

Those are some powerful phrases that Paul loads into verses 18-19! Generous. Willing to share. Laying up treasure for the coming age. To take hold of Real Life.

Here are the lessons I learn from this passage, as well as Jesus’ words about generosity, care for the poor, and treasure in heaven:

Generosity toward God changes my thinking.
When we get it in our heads that God owns everything and entrusts it to us for management, then we will be more cognizant of God’s priorities when we get our paycheck. We will learn from the aftermath of foolish purchases. We will grieve over our inability to serve God with our generosity because of runaway debt. We will also begin to see our own greed and selfishness clearly for what it is.

Generosity toward God changes my actions.
We now behave like a trusted manager. Our hearts are now tied together with our money. Our giving becomes systematic—not occasional or inconsistent. We start “seeing” the poor and afflicted as those to whom god has called us to share of what we have.

Generosity toward God changes my feelings.
I am now willing to share.  (v. 18)  I now want to take hold of life that is really life. Most folks chase getting, spending and hoarding for me, me, me. God changes my feelings so I no longer think that making more money and spending it on me is the purpose of life. 

I now know that generosity is how we take hold of real living. I now feel cheerful when I give. A cheerful, satisfied giver. It is actually FUN to have set aside money (or my time, goods, presence, prayers, skills) with which to bless someone who is in need of it. And it isn’t always important for me to know if the recipient is “worthy” or “responsible” since it isn’t my money anyway. 


These three lessons above amount to a single principle for life that can guide me: WHEN GENEROSITY CHANGES ME, MY GENEROSITY WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.

Here are some parting words for the resistant:

I have heard from people time and again when they are challenged to become generous people toward God, “Once I have more, then I will give more to God.” To which I answer,No you won’t.”  You won’t because giving is a faith issue.  If you are faithful in little then you will be faithful in much.  In the parable of the stewards you will notice that the amount the stewards were responsible for wasn’t of concern to the master.  What mattered was their faithfulness.

Let’s not sugarcoat this friends.  The reason we are not generous people is because we think that our money and possessions belong to us.  Either we believe God owns everything or we don’t, and most folks don’t believe it. I want to be think differently, act differently, feel differently.  I want to be generous.  I feel good being generous.  I act a lot better when I am generous.  I think straighter when I’m generous. 

There is no more profound model of generosity that our Lord Jesus Christ, whose generosity in giving his life for all us ingrates is monumental. Let his generosity be our inspiration. Let us also “run the race with endurance that is set before us. fixing our eyes on Jesus . . . who for the joy set before him endured the cross.”  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Monday, November 1, 2010

His Name Was Al

The Flame that I Lit in Memory of Pastor Al
and All the Others Who Have Passed the
Torch of the Gospel on for Generations.
What was that person's name?  You know the one.  They walked on your Journey with you awhile.  They encouraged you, brought you hope, loved you.  Perhaps they are the one who got you to think about God for the first time. 

For me, that person was Pastor Al.  He cared enough to go head-to-head with me and defeat all my objections to God.  He took the time to share Christ with me.  He changed my world and lit a fire in me that continues to this day.  I never got a chance to tell him in this life how thankful I am, but I know I will one day see him again in heaven and can thank him there.*

Sunday was All Hallows Eve and today is All Saints Day.  Though many have connected these dates with pagan holidays, they are actually Christian holidays.  Yes, the Celts celebrated Samhain around this time, but many cultures have celebrated death at this time of year.  Though we Americans live in a time of abundance, much of the world through most of our history have not.  This time of year was when harvest was finishing and it was time to consider the long winter ahead, wondering if your family would survive till spring.  Without electricity, the longer nights meant greater darkness and fear of those things that controlled the night.  It's only natural to contemplate our mortality in these times.

All Saints is a time of hope.  We remember those who have gone before us and take encouragement and hope because of what they brought us.  Sorrow and Joy are just two sides of the same coin when we consider those we've lost.

A single lamp can light a room, but thousands can light the world.  If we take any hope or encouragement from those that shared their Journey of faith with us before, then it is our absolute responsibility to honor them by sharing our faith and hope with others.

Our All Saints Celebration this last Sunday was about that very idea.  As one match lights another and another, so too, someone shared with you and you must share your story with others. 

Please listen through our service below.  Contemplate those you've lost and then turn that into action. 

* More about Pastor Al can be heard in the sermon link below and you can read the full story on my personal blog by clicking this link.

All Saints Celebration Service - Mountain View Christian Church 2010:

Scripture Reference: Matthew 28:19-20

Click on each link to listen to the Sunday, October 31, 2010 Service. 

Welcome & Explanation of All Saints Celebration - Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Readings & Solo - Sarah Drum, Erin Paige, Rebecca Loar, Sharon Vincent (Readings) & Shellie Allen (Solo)

"His Name Was Al" Sermon by Pastor Rodger S. Loar

Songs of Remembrance, Prayer & Offering - Daniel Vincent and Earl Lewis

Communion & Sacred Space - Pastor Rodger S. Loar & Sharon Vincent (Piano)

Songs of Praise & Benediction - MVCC Praise Team