Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Genesis of Generosity (Generosity Series)

The Genesis of Generosity


The following are my Bible study notes based on my pastor's sermon.  You are invited to watch, listen, and worship with us here.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. - James 1:17

Generosity is not about what God wants from us, but for us.  In the last session, we learned that living generously means that we are increasingly representing God's heart in the world. In the previous session, I listed 3 levels of giving, but I failed to mention the first two, the two that happen before actual tithing.  Here are all five levels.  Take a moment to decide in which level you are currently living.

1.  Beginning Give:  You are just learning about giving.  You give a little here and there.

2.  Consistent Giver:  You give an amount that you have decided to give regularly and you give it consistently.

3.  Tither:  You now consistently give 10% of your income.

4.  Expanding Giver: You consistently give 10% of your income.  Occasionally you give more and you also give freely to others.  You might also give more of your additional resources such as time and other belongings.

5.  Extravagant Giver:  You consistently give far more than 10% of your income.  You consistently give to other causes inside the church and your community.  You have reached a point where you give generously and freely.  Perhaps you love giving so much that you can't seem to give enough.

This is the devotional we are using at my church for this serious on generosity.  Get yours here and then come back and join us.  This is session 2.  You can start with us on session one here.

Whole Life Generosity Devotional
This Whole-Life Generosity Devotional is available here.

Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.
But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. - 2 Corinthians 8:1-9

How do you accomplish generosity in your life?

1.  Preach to yourself.  

We need to continually learn to live out the gospel.  We are recipients of God's generous grace.  We are sinners in need of a Savior.  Jesus came to us so that we can receive God's grace.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. - 2 Corinthians 5:21
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Generosity is not about money.  It's about the heart of the giver.

2.  Simplify your life.

Many of us cannot be generous because our lives are filled with clutter.  Our priorities are not in the right place.  We need to reorganize and simplify so that we can become more generous people. 

Simplify your time.  We need to free up time.  We can't go out and meet people if we are too busy.

Simplify your finances.  If we consume too much of our income ourselves, we don't have enough left over to be generous.
Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. Nor shall you glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger. I am the Lord your God. - Leviticus 19:9-10

Leave extra for others.  We have no idea how God might use our service and resources for His kingdom. 

3.  Live like everything belongs to God . . . because it does . . . not just 10% but all of it . . . everything.
But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. - 1 Chronicles 29:14
Give all your stuff to God or your stuff will become your god.

4.  Keep open hands.  

Selfishness will trap us so that we never know what it is like to experience the heart of God.  We cannot receive or distribute if our hands remain closed.

Martin Luther said:
"I have held many things in my hands and have lost them all, but everything I have placed in God's hand, I still possess." 

Position your heart to hear God's voice.  Be prepared to do whatever God tells you to do.
For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet. - Acts 4:34-37

   You can read all posts in this series here.

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