Generosity – Sacrificial Givers

In our Generosity series we’ve talked about starter givers, steady givers, and scriptural givers. Some of you may identify as a one of these, but you know God is calling you to take the next step to sacrificial or supernatural giving. What is sacrificial?  It is living a selfless life of generosity. It is focusing not so much on ourselves, but focusing on others. In Mark 12, we see what it means to be a sacrificial giver.

 

Where We Give

Verse 41 says, “Sitting across from the temple treasury, [Jesus] watched how the crowd dropped money into the treasury.” The first place we give is where we worship. That pattern is consistent in the Old and New Testament. People gave the first where they worshipped – the altar, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and then, the local church. The Bible teaches tithes and offerings. Tithes go to your local place of worship, and offerings are given to other worthwhile Kingdom causes. The Bible says we “bring” or “return” the tithe because you cannot give what does not belong to you.

 

Let’s say you borrow a friend’s truck. You can’t keep it! You have to bring it back and return it. You return it cheerfully and gratefully. You don’t return it reluctantly saying, “I am going to give you this truck.” They will look at you like you have lost your mind and say, “You are not giving me anything because it was my truck to begin with!” The tithe is the Lord’s. He says the first is Mine. The tithe is just the starting place. Offerings are given above and beyond. Tammy and I personally practice this and have seen God’s blessing and faithfulness many times over.

 

What We Give

This passage picks up saying, “Many rich people were putting in large sums. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two tiny coins worth very little. Summoning his disciples, he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. For they all gave out of their surplus, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had—all she had to live on.’” The Bible teaches proportional giving. It is not equal gifts, but equal sacrifice. We should judge our giving not by the amount we give, but by how much we have left over. One-third of the world lives on $2 a day or less. Imagine going on a mission trip and speaking through an interpreter, explaining your financial pressure to the villagers: student loan, car payment, rent, phone payment… They would look at you like you are crazy because we are crazy! Andy Stanley says we are bad at being rich. Rich people give less. The national statistics show the more we have, the less we give proportionately. As your income increases your generosity should increase. The essence of generosity is sacrifice. It is doing without something.  It is putting others first. The tithe is a good place to start, but a bad place to stop. God gave His best. Jesus gave His all. So should we.

 

Why We Give

This was probably not this widow’s first time to be generous. She had grown from being a starter giver to a steady giver to a scriptural giver to a sacrificial giver. God had proven Himself faithful to her over and over again! God will provide! She could have kept one coin and given one, but she had learned to walk by faith and not by sight. She learned you can’t out give God. She had seen His provision and gave out of gratitude. A sacrifice is given out of gratitude to God.

 

When we talk about giving, it’s not just the where and the what, but the why. Sacrificial givers move from what you have to do, to what you get to do. When you lose your why you will lose your way. When you start thinking wrong, you do wrong. Remind yourself of all the Lord has done for you. David said, I will not offer anything that cost me nothing. Jesus took our place. He gave His all. He asks for ours in return. In this story, we see that He is not looking at the portion, but the proportion.

Generosity – Scriptural Givers

At Liberty we say, “It’s not just church… it’s life!” Our Life Track series was all about a pathway for you to get your spiritual life on track. The next step on this journey is generosity. Generosity, too, is a lifestyle. It is something we want FOR you and not FROM you. Nothing brings more joy on earth and more blessing in heaven than generosity. Last week, we talked about starter and steady givers. Today, we will look at what it means to be a scriptural giver and live a biblical lifestyle of generosity.

 

Bible

Both the Old and New Testaments teach proportional giving and that God cannot be second. In Exodus 13:1-2, “…the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.’” This is one example showing that God owns everything. All that we have is on loan from Him. He wants the first. Cain and Abel brought offerings to God, but God accepted Abel’s and rejected Cain’s. Why? Abel brought the firstborn. Cain brought some of his crops, not the firstfruits. It is not that God won’t accept less, it is that He can’t. God can’t lie. God can’t change. And, God cannot be second. A good rule of thumb is the “First Principle.” Give God the first hour of every day (spending time in the word and in prayer), the first day of every week (attending church regularly), and the first dime of every dollar (tithing what we earn).

 

Some people argue that tithing is Old Testament and we are not under the law. The fact is, tithing existed before the law. 400 years before the law, Abraham gave 10% to God. Tithing was an act of love before it was an act of law. Tithing is also after the law. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus said there are four things we should not neglect: justice, faith, mercy, and tithing.

 

Budget

Tithe means first ten. We don’t pay our bills and then give God the leftovers. Why? It takes faith to give the first tithe. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Think of the 10-10-80 rule. Give God 10%, save 10%, and live off 80%. Too many people are living beyond their means. They give God 0%, save 0%, and live off 125%! God asks His people to be generous in proportion to what He has given. If you have nothing, you give nothing. If you have a little, you give a little. If you have a lot, you give a lot, as God has prospered you. There is no exclusion clause. No one is too rich or too poor. There is no pressure like financial pressure! Money is the number one reason for divorce. People who tithe will tell you, God just makes things last longer, go farther, and He blesses you in ways you can’t put a price on when you put Him first! The only place in Scripture we are challenged to put God to the test is over tithing. Try it!

 

Blessing

Money lies. It gives you false promises. Many think that money makes you secure and insulates you from problems. That is simply not true.  It is ok to have money, but it is not good for money to have you. Malachi 3:10-11 says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes….’” Don’t let your money control you. Don’t believe the lies it tells. Give the first tenth to the Lord. There is great blessing when we tithe. He can make 90% go further than you can make 100% go. Had you rather have a blessed 90% or a cursed 100%?

 

God saw the greatest need and He is the greatest giver. I was a sinner with the greatest need.  Jesus gave His life for me. When we live a biblical lifestyle of generosity by tithing, we are saying that Jesus is Lord of all. I give because I want to obey Him and please Him, out of love.  It is not what I have to do, but what I get to do!

Generosity – Starter and Steady Givers

Life Track was not just another sermon series. Life Track is a pathway to discipleship. It is not over… we’ve only just begun! The next step in the pathway to discipleship is Generosity. You cannot serve people and leave a legacy apart from a life of generosity. Nothing brings more joy on earth and more blessing in heaven than being generous. For all the skeptics who say the church is just after money, let me be clear that this is NOT a campaign. We have done campaigns and God used them, but this is not a campaign. We are not wanting something from you, but we want something for you. We want you to take the next step on your spiritual journey. We are not raising money, we are raising disciples.

Did you know that in the Bible the word “believe” is mentioned 272 times? We read the word “pray” 371 times and the word “love” 714 times. The word “give,” however, is mentioned 2161 times! That is who God is. For God so loved the world that He gave. Our theme passage is 1 Timothy 6:17-19: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them 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.” God gives everything to us to be enjoyed. Think of all you enjoy! You will enjoy forever what you invest in heaven.

Give Intentionally
In 2 Corinthians we read about an offering that Paul is going to collect. In 2 Corinthians 9:5, we read that the gift was planned. Every person has to decide to give. Make up your mind and settle in your heart that you are going to give. We also read that the gift wasn’t given grudgingly. Your decision to give shouldn’t be based on pressure or appeal. The filter is always eternity. At the end of the day, the reason why we give is to be more like God. God never stops giving, so let’s start.

Give Cheerfully
2 Corinthians 9:7 says that God loves a cheerful giver. Everyone will be known for something. We want Liberty to be known as a generous people. When the community talks about us, we don’t want it to be about worship style or our position on any given issue, but instead about how we love the community. No matter what you have going on in your life, you can still be generous. When Paul talked about the Macedonian churches, he said, “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Cor. 8:2). In God’s economy, trial and joy can co-exist. Poverty and generosity co-exist. If anyone got a pass, the Macedonian church did. But they begged to give! They gave financially, but they also gave of themselves. Generosity is not just about giving money. It is giving hugs, kisses, encouragement, service, love; it’s giving of yourself.

Give Regularly
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 says, “Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income….” If you’ve already started giving, I encourage you to become a steady giver. Give regularly. Let it be part of your lifestyle. Give something on a regular basis as you would other monthly expenses – rent, utilities, groceries, etc.

There are so many ways we can give! Give of your time, talent, and treasure. You can send an encouraging email, text a friend, give a book, send a handwritten card, take food, leave a generous tip, be kind to your server, welcome a new neighbor, pay for someone’s groceries, and so much more! God never stops giving to us… so let’s start!

Life Track 4: Leave A Legacy

What an awesome four weeks we’ve had at Liberty! I thank God for all that He’s done through the Life Track series. Hearing of so many of you starting to have daily devotions, joining Connect Groups, and figuring out your spiritual gift in order to serve, has been awesome! This Sunday was nothing short of a miracle… watching so many of you follow the Lord and make your faith public through baptism! Praise the Lord for such a great day!

The final message in the Life Track series is on leaving a legacy. Legacy is not just about dying and leaving money! It is about living a legacy and pouring into the next generation right now.

Look at this story from Matthew 28:16-20: “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” Notice in this passage that there are two groups of people. There are those who see and respond in worship and obedience, and there are those who doubt. Which group are you in? 

Give to the Mission

One day we will all die and give an account of our lives. God owns everything. We own nothing. Everything we have is on loan from God. When you think about responding to the Lord in worship and obedience, it is first and foremost about giving yourself wholeheartedly to God.

Think about the people who have most influenced your life to this point. You don’t have to die to make a difference! I think about those who’ve loved me, invested in me, and given me opportunities. The gospel travels on the tracks of relationships. A true legacy cannot be washed away or erased. You never forget it and, most of all, God never forgets it. Each of you have the capacity to live and leave that kind of legacy. Paul lists names of people throughout his writings. Who is on your list? Whose list are you on?

John Maxwell gives three ways to pursue a lasting legacy. He says first, you have to choose to pursue significance over success. Success is not bad, but it’s not enough. There is more to life than a profit and loss statement. We can all choose to do something meaningful and make a difference. Second, he says that you have to choose influence over awards. When you focus on developing people rather than chasing achievement, you will discover personal fulfillment. Finally, he says to focus on impact over income. There are people who could make more money, but love the impact they make on the lives of others. Think of the things you value. Are they helping you to live and leave a legacy?

Go on the Mission

In addition to giving ourselves to the Lord, we can also go intentionally on the mission. In the story from Matthew 28, we read that we are to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them. We can certainly go on mission trips, but we can live on mission right where we are as well. Have gospel conversations with people. Tell your story. Here are two easy acrostics to help. The first is FIRE. You can talk to people about their Family, Interests, Religious Background, and then Eternity. You can use FAITH to talk to them about eternity – Forgiveness, Available, Impossible, Turn, Heaven. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but that you do it.

Life Track is the pathway to make disciples. Are you a disciple? Is your life leading others to be disciples?