Shaped by Generosity: The Gift

Deuteronomy 8:11-20

May 7, 2017 • Rev. David Juelfs

If only it was like flipping a switch; just decide to change that thing about you and “flip” you’re different. Find another behavior or thought pattern you want to change and, like flicking the light on or off, boom, changed. If only. God’s word tells us that he is transforming us, conforming us to the image Christ. He does this by the work of his Spirit and he guarantees to complete the work he has started. Can we participate in this work of the Spirit? If so, how ? We can and should. Our spiritual formation is not like flipping a switch, but similarly it is a small movement, one done slowly, consistently in the same direction over the course of time, over and over again. Do you know what kinds of practices, what kinds of small movements, we can give ourselves to that allow us to participate with the Spirit in our formation? Over the next several years we will periodically break from our current sermon series to engage two or three sermons in a row that explore the kinds of practices Christians have participated in for countless generations that have shaped us as a people. Well worn practices that the Spirit of Christ has used to slowly transform his people. The first practice we will explore is generosity. Over the weekend read and meditate on Deuteronomy 8:11-20. One New Testament scholar and pastor has said, “virtue is what happens when wise and courageous choices become second nature.” Over the next three weeks we will explore how generosity can become second nature to us. I can’t wait to worship with you all. Pastor David

Shaped by Generosity: Strength to Give

2 Corinthians 9:6-15 • June 4, 2017 • Rev. David Juelfs

Want a picture of your insides? X-rays and MRI’s, they show us what is going on underneath. They help diagnose structural weaknesses in our body and therefore help us plan on what to do to fix what is broken. This Sunday we conclude our series on the spiritual practice of generosity. In our last sermon we saw that tithing is not being generous, it is simply trusting and obeying God. However, tithing is one practice that helps form us into generous people. Tithing is not about guilt and financial planning. It is about learning to taste and see God’s love and care for us and participate with God in his work of renewal in the world. Tithing forms us, but like an X-ray it also diagnoses us. In the last sermon I asked all of us to do three things: Find out how much your household tithed last year (to the worship and ministry of the local church), ask why you tithed that amount, and compare that to what you personally feel the scripture calls you to tithe. What did this activity show you about what is underneath? Did you find some structural weaknesses? If so don’t be afraid. Don’t be ashamed. Read, meditate and pray through 2 Corinthians 9:6–15. Where you might have found weaknesses, God wants to build strength. Where you might have found the phantom of scarcity, God wants to show you a future of abundance. N.T. Wright reminds us, “In the normal and healthy Christian life, everything proceeds from God’s generosity, and everything returns to God in thanksgiving. Grace, generosity and gratitude: these are not optional extras of Christian living, but are the very heart of it all.” I look forward to worshiping together. Pastor David

Shaped by Generosity: Direction to Give

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 • May 21, 2017 • Rev. David Juelfs

Just tell me what to do! Fine. Talking about money at church is tricky, but we need to do it. Over the last two weeks we have been talking about generosity as a way of life rooted in God’s generosity towards us. I have invited us to start some new habits that put us into contact daily with God’s abundant generosity towards us. That of course is the soil out of which true personal generosity grows. So what about tithing? How is tithing connected to becoming generous people and does the bible really direct us to give a specific amount of money to the church? This is what we will talk about Sunday. I know that this can be an uncomfortable topic for many of us. To help I also plan to make offensive political jokes as well! It should be fun for all. Seriously though, tithing is not about guilt and financial planning. It is about learning to taste and see God’s love and care for us, being shaped into generous people, and participating with God in his work of renewal in the world. Tithing is an invitation to a rejoicingly raucous party. It really is. Read Deuteronomy 14:22-29. I can’t wait to worship together. Pastor David

Shaped by Generosity: Taste & See

Deuteronomy 6 • May 14, 2017 • Rev. David Juelfs

More than enough or barely enough? Which one are you? Which describes your home? Last week I asked you to get with someone you trust and with them ask this question of yourself: “To what level do I functionally believe that everything I have is a gift from God?” Don’t let that conversation be theoretical or vague. Look at your actual behaviors and thought patterns. If you have not done this, consider taking a few minutes today or tomorrow. If you want to grow as a truly generous person this could be a significant step forward. When you think about becoming a deeply generous person, where giving of yourself in healthy ways for the good of others becomes second nature, not a chore or even a hesitation, do you know where to start? Does that seem like a massive and overwhelming project of personal change? Read Deuteronomy 6. Notice the behavioral strategies that God gives Israel so that they would stay empowered for the mission. He is completely reshaping the identity of his people and empowering them for a massive mission, but by means of small, ordinary behaviors and habits. Read the passage again. Did you notice them? This Sunday Deuteronomy 6 will help us see the power of small habits, little behaviors, to fundamentally shape us. Developing these small habits and little behaviors will build deep and genuine generosity into our character. I look forward to worshiping together. Pastor David