Living Generously – Part 1 Matthew 22:34-40 34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:34-39 1. We Live Generously with our Priorities. The Pharisees had codified the law into 248 positive commandments and 365 negative commandments. These were imposed by the Pharisees on their followers as their obligation. There was constant debate over which was the most important. There can be no holding back or incompleteness in our devotion and commitment to God. We simply cannot divide our love, our affections, or our trust. So often, we filter everything through the question “How is this going to be good for me?”, instead of “How does God want to use me?” What road did Jesus take? He left all the protection of heaven and came to risk everything for our good. What are our top priorities? Evan had an airplane, Frank had watches and Re had his service. We all have something to give - time, gifts, and even money. What they did with what they had didn’t reflect their level of financial ability – it reflected their heart; their view of God. Where is your heart today? Does your heart take joy in an opportunity to honor God through giving? Or does your heart search through dusty drawers to find what it will give to God? 2. We Live Generously with our First and Best. To love God with all our soul or life means to be willing to give one’s life to God and to devote it all to Him. It means total commitment. To love God with all our mind means to submit our minds, thought patterns, opinions, and decisions to God’s Word. “Love your neighbor as yourself” points to an ensuing response. It is an expression and extension of God’s love operating in and through the believer who is living in a vital relationship with the Lord. Knowing God in true fellowship with Him is extremely practical. It is never merely religious, or ceremonial, or ritualistic. 19 you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. 20 Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf. (Lev. 22:19-20) They were to go out to their flocks, their livelihood. They were to choose the best of their flock. Would you be tempted to think that was just a waste! Generous is showing a readiness to give more of something than is strictly necessary or expected. Compare David to Frank. What did the old watch cost him? Compare David to Re. He is blessed and filled with joy by the offering he gives! How often do we miss great opportunities by saying “we’ll do it next time?” We must learn to be a people that acts on what God prompts us to do right away before our selfish nature interrupts us. 3. We Live Generously with our Mites. Ask the following questions when priorities conflict. What demonstrates my love for God, with all my heart, soul, and strength? Which shows the most love for my neighbor? Frank withheld and Re gave – but what about Evan? … 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-- all she had to live on." (Mk. 12:41-44) Frank gave sparingly out of his abundance. Re gave sacrificially of his time. But Evan – Evan gave his all. Spend time talking to God this week about where you aren’t giving your first and best. What is God asking you to give? Time? Money? Service? Let’s give our first and best this week. What we offer Him reflects our heart! When we walk away from a message like this, we may think that the key to pleasing God is giving – that is only part of the answer, and it is only a result of His influence in our lives. Without God, our best offerings are inadequate and unacceptable. (Present Gospel) God has more in store for Frank and more in store for us. We are going to continue to see Frank’s journey next time in a court case you won’t want to miss!
Living Generously- Part 1 First
February 11, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Living Generously- Part 5 Seedtime
March 11, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Living Generously: Seedtime Galatians 6:7-10 1. God cannot be mocked by how we live our lives; 6:7. 7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. No discussion of “sowing seed” would be complete without Galatians 6. Simple Kingdom economics. What you sow you will reap. Many times we deceive ourselves, wanting to believe something that we know deep down is not right. The word “Mock” means "to turn up the nose up at." God has set the world up so that the proper results will take place. This does not mean that all evil people will reap corruption in this life, because the world is in a fallen state. It does mean if one goes through life living for self and rejecting the call of the Holy Spirit, he will live eternally in Hell - separated from the love of God. If we fail to live lives of generosity with all that God has given us, there will be consequences. God is Judge and we can't fool Him. What we do shows our true nature and status before God. No one is going to get away with anything. Ultimately all will reap what they sow in this life. We sow by serving others and being led by the Lord to invest our time, gifts and resources as He sees fit. Just as Jesus is the sower and the seed is the good seed of the Kingdom, as Christ followers we sow our time, gifts, and resources as well as sowing the gospel, scattering the seed, watering, and harvesting in the hearts of our neighbors. 2. We truly reap what we sow with our lives; 6:8. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. We cannot plant one thing and get another. We cannot plant cheap quality corn and expect a bountiful harvest. Not only do you reap what you sow, but you reap more than you sow. This should be encouragement to a Christian. We do not cower at the thought of God judging us, but have even more confidence knowing we have done all that God has called us to do. We've been faithful, not perfect, but faithful to his call. Sow sin and selfishness and reap corruption. Sowing such cannot reap a harvest of the Kingdom of God. Those who plant a nominal Christian life will reap less of a capacity to enjoy heaven. What we plant here has eternal consequences. Generous Living is godly living. 3. Now is the time to live generously; 6:9-10. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Though no one knows, cares, or recognizes your good deeds, God causes a great harvest. There is a temptation to grow weary or tired. We want instant results. Take advantage of opportunities to do good. It is not that we do not have opportunities to do good, but that we do not take them when they come. Take them as they come, do not wait until later. Later is not guaranteed. Our present time is seed time. Simply put – now is the time to sow seed. We’re called to sow seed, not store seed. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. (Deut. 15:10) We have learned some keys to our journey of generous living. But we must apply them and walk together on this journey. Ask yourself, with the Holy Spirit’s help: Have we been putting off something that God wants from us? Now is the time. Its seedtime. It is often said that 2 questions will be asked of us in Heaven: 1. What did you do with Jesus? Did you accept God’s offer of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection? 2. What did you do with what He gave you? It is now seedtime! The harvest is coming but we will not have a harvest unless we sow. John 15:8 says “My Father is glorified in this; that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
Living Generously- Part 4 Tower
2 Corinthians 8:1-7 • March 4, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Living Generously: Tower 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 1. Living Generously is a matter of trust; 8:1-2. 1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. Paul begins with the past experiences of the Macedonians. Their poverty and joy combined to produce such a wealth of generosity. Their generosity is evidence that they passed the test brought on by their afflictions. Such joyous giving in the midst of adversity confirms that their faith was real. We strive for protection - for that manmade hedge around our family. But what does it bring? Stress. God does not bring stress – there may be pressure in life, there may be trials, but stress? Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) He gives us peace – not as the world gives. When we lack that peace, it is time to make sure what you’re doing is in line with what God is wanting to do. 2. Living Generously tears down imaginary walls to giving; 8:3-5. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. They tore down the walls that said they were too small, weak, or poor. Their giving exceeded their ability, and was done entirely on their own as they trusted God. They were pleading to be involved in the collections. Not only did they participate in the collection, but also gave themselves to God and to Paul in accordance with God’s will. The greatest expression of God’s grace is its response to God and His cause. They not only gave their money but their lives to God. 10 The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. 11 The wealth of the rich is their fortified city; they imagine it an unscalable wall. (Prov. 18:10-11) We may think, “I want to be generous with my hands, feet, time, money, ears, and service, but I just can’t right now. I have things that tie me down: job, kids, grandkids, extended family, hobbies, houses, pets, yards, etc.” We’re tied down with ropes of gold. We are enclosed within beautiful walls. If Jesus sets you free you are free indeed. It’s time to say enough is enough, and tear down the imaginary walls that hinder our generous living. I choose to die to self and be free to be generous. 3. Living Generously is an act of grace on our part; 8:6-7. 6 So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But 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. The grace of God received by the Macedonians was their ability to well up with a wealth of generosity toward others in the midst of their own afflictions. Only the grace of God can account for such generosity out of the extreme poverty and yet overflowing joy. Joyful giving and joy in the midst of our own poverty and suffering is the sign of having received God’s grace. Now before you think that this is only a hard lesson to learn for the wealthy, consider the story Re told about his own journey. We touched on it earlier. Re saw those around him that had financial wealth and began to hate them. We all face trouble in this life. We are tested and sometimes feel overwhelmed. We can call upon the name of the Lord, the strong tower. For those of us who are believers: what does running to the strong tower look like? Run to Christ, run to His WORD, and run to His people that we may lift one another up in prayer. Spend time this week asking God to reveal your imaginary walls. Seek His help in dismantling them and running to the strong tower. There is a lost world dying and spending an eternity in a real physical Hell and we’re too tied down by our golden ropes and by our imaginary wall to be generous, to act in grace.
Living Generously- Part 3 Poor
2 Corinthians 9:12-14 • February 25, 2018 • Monty Mullenix
Living Generously: Poor 2 Corinthians 9:12-14 1. Living generously is a heart matter; 9:12. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. The Lord enriches us as his people with ability for great generosity. Our generosity will also bring about a harvest of thanksgiving to God, which will ultimately enable the Corinthians and us to glorify God. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:8-9) 2. Living generously means seeing people and their needs; 9:13. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. So how do we break through? How do we engage with the pain and the poverty when all we see is a vast, faceless need? We start seeing with the eyes of God. As Jesus was on his way, the crowds almost crushed him. 43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 "Who touched me?" Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you." 46 But Jesus said, "Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me." 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace." (Luke 8:47-48) Why does Jesus call attention to what she has done? Has she not suffered enough public embarrassment? Could he not let her go in peace with a silent wink? The public embarrassment caused by singling her out signifies his individual care for her. He will not allow her to slip away and remain anonymous. He forces the issue so that when she leaves healed, she will leave knowing that the one who healed her knows her and cares for her. She is a person who is worth taking time with and addressing. Isolation is no longer defined by how far we are from another person geographically but by the feelings of no one cares. 3. Living generously causes us to be more like Jesus; 9:14 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. In living generous lives, we impact the lives of others, becoming the body of Christ at work in the world. 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8) Christ emptied himself – ladled himself out for us. He literally died for us. Our job is to die to self daily, humbling ourselves like Frank learned and serve one another. So, where are you? Take some time this week to “compare yourself with the earnestness of others.” Don’t think that you are on this journey alone. You affect others’ journeys, just as their journeys affect yours. The outflowing of gospel living is in our service. Just as Christ emptied himself, we are called to become poor that others may become rich. Where is God asking me to roll up my sleeves and grab a ladle? Go do it.