Imagine Generosity

  • Imagine Generosity
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 & Ephesians 3:20
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • October 14, 2018
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10-14-18 from LakeRidge UMC on Vimeo.

I did a study of the major words of the Bible, the key words of the Bible.

 

Believe- We all know that’s important, is used 272 time in the Bible.

Pray- That’s an important word, is used in the Bible 371 times.

Love- Obviously that’s an important word, is used 714 times in the Bible.

Give is used 2,152 times.  Why?  Because God is a giver.

 

Everything you have in your life is a gift from God.  If God was not generous you would have nothing.  Your heart would stop beating right now.  God is a generous God.  He gives you air, sunshine, a mind to think and everything else in your life is a sheer gift from God.  Even the ability to earn is a gift from God.

 

God wants us to learn to be like Him. Since today we’re going to give a historic offering as part of our LakeRidge Imagine Campaign, I thought we would spend some time talking about some promises about generosity in Scripture.

 

  1. Generosity honors God.

Giving is an act of worship and it’s a recognition that everything you have is a gift from God.

 

The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:13, “You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts.  [That’s what we’re going to do together in just a minute.]  Your generosity will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ.”

 

  1. Generosity draws me closer to God.

Why?  Because whatever I invest in is what I’m interested in.  If I invest my time in something, I invest my money in something, I invest my energy in something – whether it’s golf or a new business plan, whatever I invest my time and money in shows what’s important to me.

 

When I invest in God and His work it not only honors God it draws me closer to Him because wherever my money and time go that is what attracts me.

 

The Bible says this in Proverbs 14:23, “The purpose of tithing is to teach you to always put God first in your lives.”

 

We give the first part of our income, the first ten percent, on the first day of the week.  We say God, you’re really number one – it all came from you.

 

Matthew 6:21, Jesus said, “Your heart will be wherever your treasure is.”

Wherever you put your money that’s where your heart’s going to be.  If you want to be closer to God, put some money there.  It’ll draw you closer to God.

 

  1. Generosity makes me more like Jesus.

Because the most generous person who ever lived, of course, was Jesus Christ.  He sacrificed His own life. The Bible says we have been saved because of the generosity of Jesus.

 

Every time you give – time, money, energy, anything – you become more like Jesus.  Every time you give, your heart grows bigger.  Every time you give, you become more like Christ.

 

Proverbs 21:26, “The greedy always want more, but the godly love to give!”

 

I think I’ve shared with you before the story of Bob McCuen. One day he took his young son to McDonalds to buy him some French fries.  He takes him through the drive through and gives his son the French fries.  He said as he was driving back home it smelled so good, I just reached over and took one of my son’s French fries.  He said “My little son said, ‘Dad! You can’t have any. These are my fries!’”

 

Bob said, “I immediately had three thoughts.”  He said, “Number one, I realized that my child had forgotten that I am the source of all fries.  He would have no French fries if it weren’t for me.  I brought him here.  I drove him here.  I bought the fries.  I paid for the fries.  He would have no fries in life if it weren’t for his father.  And the only reason he got any was because of me. The second thing I realized is that my child doesn’t realize that I could take them all away if I wanted to. Or on the other hand, I could go back and buy him a truckload of fries if I wanted to.  I was totally in charge; he was not. Third, I realized that I really didn’t need his fries.  That if I had wanted fries I could have bought them for myself.  I had plenty of money.  I could easily get my own.  I just wanted my young son to learn unselfishness.”

 

Those are the same three reasons God wants you to learn generosity.  God does not need your money.  It all belongs to Him anyway. He just loaned it to you while you’re alive.  It’s all His.  He is the source of all fries.  Everything you have in your life, if God didn’t love you and be generous with you, you would have zip, nada, nothing. He just wants you to learn how to be unselfish.

 

  1. Generosity is the cure for materialism.

Materialism is all about getting.  Get, get, get, get, get.  Get all you can and can all you get.  Materialism is about taking in, acquiring and hoarding, with an attitude of, “I’ve got to get more and more and more.”  The only antidote to materialism is giving.

 

You may say, “I’m not materialistic.”  But if you’re not generous you are. Every time you give you break the grip of materialism in your life.  You break it.  You stop being a materialist.

 

Jesus says this in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

 

Notice He didn’t say you should not serve both God and money.  He said you can’t.  It’s impossible.  You can’t have two gods in your life.  You have to decide what’s more important to you–being rich or serving God.

 

It’s very easy to get caught up in being a consumer and thinking that my net worth determines my self-worth.  It does not.  Your values are not your valuables.  Your net worth and your self-worth are not connected.

 

But daily you are bombarded by advertising.  Satan has tools he likes to use to make you materialistic.  They’re called catalogs, email advertisements and pop up ads, to name a few.  When you look through a catalog you think, “I didn’t even know they made that but I’ve got to have it now!”

 

1 Timothy 6:17-19 says, “Command those who are rich [And by the way, everybody listening right now…  I hate to tell you this – you’re rich.  You may be unemployed but you’re rich.  The poorest of the poor in America are richer than most of the rest of the world.  Most of the world would love to have the problems of the people who are poor in America…] 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.”

 

Did you know that everything God created is for your enjoyment?  God wants you to enjoy life not just endure it. That’s how generous God is.

 

You don’t know what you’re really living for until you break the grip of materialism in your life.

 

  1. Generosity demonstrates my faith.

Generosity, every time you give, it demonstrates your faith.  Because it shows that you’re trusting in the promises of God.  It shows what you believe.  It shows that you believe that God will take care of you if you obey Him.

 

2 Corinthians 9:13 says this, “Your giving proves the reality of your faith…” Philemon 1:6 says, “You are generous because of your faith.”

 

Stinginess is caused by unbelief.  “I don’t really believe that God can take care of me.  I don’t believe that if I give this away I’ll have enough for myself.”  That’s a worry.  That’s an anxiety.  That’s a fear.  That’s an unbelief.

 

You’re generous because of your faith.  In Malachi 3:10, God dares you to trust His promises.  He says, “Bring your whole tithe [that’s ten percent] to My storehouse.  [What’s the storehouse?  It’s the temple.  It’s wherever you worship.]  Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you won’t have room enough for it!”

 

God says, I dare you. In the Bible it says the way you prove that God exists is by tithing and see if He doesn’t bless you more.  It demonstrates my faith.

 

  1. Generosity brings God’s blessing.

I could give you a hundred verses on this in the Bible.  Generosity brings God’s blessing.  If you want God’s blessing on your life you must learn to not be a miser; you must learn to not be stingy.  You must learn to be open handed with what God has given you–helping other people with everything you have.  The more you give away your time, your talent, your treasure, the more God will give you.  Giving brings God’s blessing.

 

Proverb 22:9, “Generous people will be blessed…” You either believe that or you don’t.  But God said it and it’s true.

 

2 Corinthians 9:7-8, “God loves the one who gives gladly.  And God will make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others.”

 

  1. Generosity increases my happiness.

Generosity increases my happiness.  Everybody knows this.  That generosity increases your happiness.  The only people who don’t know it are people who aren’t generous.  Jesus said this in Acts 20, “There is more happiness in giving than in receiving.”

 

I will admit to you, when I was a child, at Christmas it wasn’t all about what I bought everybody else.  When I was a child it was all about what I got.  As a child all my joy came from the presents I got not from the presents I gave to other people.

 

But that was a long time ago.  I was immature and I was self-centered. Today at Christmas it’s not about the presents I get.  My joy comes from watching other people unwrap the gifts that I’ve given to them. Why?  Because I grew up!  It stopped being about me.  That’s called maturity.

 

Unfortunately some people never grow up.  At eighty years old it’s still all about them– What am I getting out of this?  They’ve never learned the joy of generosity.  Generosity increases my happiness.

 

  1. Generosity multiplies my money.

God has worked out the universe in such a way that when I give God ten percent of my income–that’s called tithing–that He makes the ninety percent go farther than if I had a hundred percent on my own.

 

Proverbs 11:25, “A generous man will prosper; [You want to prosper?  There it is.  A generous man will prosper.  That’s God talking] He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

 

2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched [That means you’re going to have more than you have now…]  So that [You can be a fat cat and spend it on yourself.  No. You will be enriched so…] you can give even more generously.”

 

God multiplies your money.  You play this game.  God says, “You give to me and I’ll give to you and you give to others and I’ll give to you and we’ll see who wins.”  You’re never going to win the generosity game. I can tell you that.  Generosity multiplies my money.

 

 

  1. Generosity will be rewarded in heaven.

1 Timothy 6:18-19, “Use your money to do good…”   Money is to be used.  It is not to be loved.  It is to be used.  If you use money, you love people.  If you start loving money, you’re going to use people.

 

Money is a tool. Money is neither good nor bad, it’s neutral.  You can use it for good or you can use it for bad.  There’s nothing evil about money, it’s neutral.  It can be used in really good ways; it can be used in bad ways.

 

People say, “Doesn’t the Bible say money is the root of all evil?”  No, it doesn’t.  It says the love of money is the root of all evil.  You’re to love people and use money.  Not reversed.  So He says use your money to do good.

 

You can’t take it with you.  You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.  You can’t take it with you but you can send it on ahead.

 

One of the most important things that Jesus said on this topic is in Luke 16:9, “I tell you, [This is Jesus talking…] use your worldly resources [That’s your money] to benefit others and make friends. In this way, your generosity stores up a reward for you in heaven.”

 

What does it mean to use my worldly resources to benefit others and make friends?  He’s not saying go out and buy a bunch of friends.  That’s not what He’s saying.

 

What He’s saying is this, “Take some of your money and use it to build bridges of friendship to bring people to Jesus Christ who are then going to be saved and they’re going to go to heaven with you.”  When you get to heaven then there will be people in heaven who greet you and say, “You’re here!  Thank God for all you did.  You gave some money that brought me to Jesus Christ.  I’m in heaven because of you.  I’m your friend forever.”

 

Is anybody going to be in heaven because of the way you use your money?

 

That is what it means to be rewarded in heaven.  Those are rewards you’re going to have forever.  Everything I spend on myself on earth, I’m losing.  Everything I invest in others and in God’s work I’m going to gain again in heaven.

 

Where do I want to keep my greatest wealth?  Here where I get to use it for eighty year or in heaven where I get to use it for trillions of years in eternity?  It’s a no brainer.  Generosity will be rewarded in heaven.  Let’s bow for prayer.

 

We pray believing that You are the one who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within us. As we make our commitments for the Imagine Campaign this morning, we thank You for the gifts that are about to be given.  I know what You’re going to do in people’s lives and I thank You for that.

 

Father, maybe even there are people here today who didn’t participate but you’re going to put it on their heart this week and they’ll say I do not want to miss out in the miracles in my own life, on making a part of history, of being a part of something bigger than myself.  Help them to get over their fear, their anxiety, or their unwillingness to trust you.  I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.