Generous Giving

Bible Verses About Giving Help Us Understand God's Will For The Giver.

Ross Sawyers
Sep 26, 2021    45m
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Have you ever wondered why God calls us to be cheerful givers? By exploring Bible verses about giving, we begin to understand God's will and heart for the giver. We are called to give generously and to give for God's glory to be revealed to others. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:05] In Proverbs chapter 4 verse 23 it says, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life." I think that really gets to the core of what it is that God is looking for in us, that our hearts are guarded, that they're preserved in him, and that they have life and that they're life-giving. I don't know about you, but being around people that are life-giving, it causes me to want to do the same, and it produces life.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:40] Yesterday, and this weekend, there will be football watchers all over. And some of us, depending on the particular fan base that you are in, had a rough day yesterday. But one observation that I've made over the weekend, looking at different coaches, and I look back at Tom Landry and there was something life-giving about him. There was a calm about him, and he was able to get the best out of players. And when there's Tony Dungy, and there are other coaches that somehow have figured out that you can actually be life-giving to your players, you don't have to cuss them down, or flail at them all the time, or constantly be chewing on them. I don't know about you, but that's not motivating to me that that is debilitating. And I know that someone explained to me, well, that's what you have to do on a football field or whatever, and I just don't think that has to be the case. And so watch over your heart with all diligence, we want to watch over our heart so that we actually can breathe life, that we can actually enable people to be better, that we can actually, people want to be around us because we're a refreshment to them and it's life-giving to them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:01:57] We've been thinking about our hearts over the last several weeks and what are those core rhythms that God has called us into as a church? What is it he wants us to be about? What is it that one, he wants us to be, and then what does he want us to be about? And we've been talking about those things, and we've been building a heart over the last few weeks. Some of you have been wondering, what is that here? And it's a heart, and there's been a different piece added each week, and now we have that full heart. And when you have the heart, and it's on fire and lit up with Christ and walking in the rhythms of Christ, then we're the healthiest that we can be, and we actually have life within us and we have life to offer to those around us. And what a privilege that God has given us to be a part of what he's doing.

Ross Sawyers: [00:02:49] The core motivation of everything we do is Jesus Christ himself. In one week we talked about serving, and God has called us to be servants. And I wanted to give you a website, I've tried to be practical in these weeks, the things we're doing here. And this website, if you go there, it's continually listing what our upcoming serving opportunities are. And people have mentioned, you know, I'm not sure what we have here, where we can serve. And we have things going constantly, we just don't have enough time to list everything every week. We have an email that you could subscribe to, we get on Fridays, and that would be a way for you to know things. But if you're just thinking, you know what? I would love to just serve this coming weekend, I wonder if there are any opportunities that are going on, and that's an easy way for you to land those. That be a great way for life groups, for families. Sometimes I wonder if, rather than looking for another form of entertainment, what if we looked for a way we could just go serve this weekend with our family? What if we could take a couple of hours and spent some time together serving shoulder to shoulder. So just wanted to pass that on to you, that is the heartbeat of Christ. Christ came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:03] What I want us to think about today, in wrapping up this series on the Heartbeat of 121 and the rhythms that He's given us, is generous giving. And this might be your first time here, and you're thinking this is exactly what I thought the church is always talking about giving, and you're trying to soak me for my money today. And I just want you to know what we're sharing today, I hope we'll give you a really healthy perspective of how God sees our generosity, and why it is that we give, and why we would even talk about it from Scripture.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:38] So I hope today for many of you, this is an incredibly generous church, that you'll be encouraged. I hope others will be challenged, and there might be a refreshment of perspective or a reminder even of why it is that God has asked us to be generous in our giving.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:54] I think most of you know that for your households to run, it does require that you have some kind of finances for you to be able to do the things to take care of your home and to take care of your family. In the same way, as the family of God, it requires resources to be able to do the things that God has called us to do. And so our mission is to lead people to live for Jesus Christ. That's not just a tagline for us, it's not just a way to have a cute something for the website, that that is what we're about is living for Jesus Christ. We believe he's absolutely worth it. We believe that our satisfaction, and joy, and pleasure, come in him, and it's worth leading other people to live for him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:39] Our culture has it right when it pursues pleasure, our culture has it right when it's thinking about that there just wants to be a deep joy and gladness inside, they've got it right. Where we get it wrong, is where we pursue that pleasure and where we pursue that joy. And actually, the place where we find it is in Christ himself, and we want to lead people to that end.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:05] Now I've mentioned, and I'll probably continue to mention over the course of the semester, that a few of us are taking a course called perspectives that is being hosted by 121. It's a global mission’s course, and it's been incredibly rich biblically the first five weeks. But this week, and I've taken the course before, I'm taking it with my wife this time around. And there's just been a mutual sharpening between the two of us doing that together. And this last week, I looked at a page in the workbook, and then in the readings, that I'd asterisked, probably about eight times, and I dog eared it, I asterisked it, because I remember two years ago when I read it, this is not usually what I think about when I think about this word. And I read the article again, and it just reignited my heart for what it means in this particular word, and I think this word is one of the key drivers if we're going to have any interest in the mission to lead people to live for Jesus Christ. The word is passion.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:11] And I tend to think about today, when I hear people talk about passion, this is what I hear. You need to find the job that you're passionate about. Translated, that means you need to be really, really happy in what you're doing and enthused about it, and when you're not, then find another one. Passion to me when I hear it and hear people means, play that sport or whatever for a little while until you're tired of it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:47] Passion is more translated into enthusiasm, that's what I think people think. But the root word, the root Latin word for passion, is to suffer. In other words, if we're passionate, what it means is my desire is such for this, my ambition is such for this, that I'm willing to suffer for it. It is so worth it, I'm willing to suffer. Now, I know people who love their job so much they're willing to suffer. I know people who are willing to play their sport enough, they're willing to suffer for it. There's a lot of passion, I just sometimes wonder if it does mean enthusiasm, and that's two different things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:40] At Easter, it's called The Passion Week, because Jesus is about to suffer, but he's so for the glory of his own Father's name that it's worth the suffering. Do we believe today that Jesus is worth being passionate about? Do we believe today that Jesus is worth suffering for? As people cave all around us, who will remain standing? It will be the people that have a passion for Jesus, that are willing to suffer for the name of Jesus. That's the mission we're on, is to lead people into, it's a paradox, it's the greatest joy and it might bring the greatest suffering. But in the depths of it, the joy will last. Jesus looked on the cross, and for the joy through it, he was able to move through it. It's a joy in Christ that will carry us, it's that kind of passion that will lead us to carry out the vision that God has given us, it's that very passion that will allow us to carry out the core values that God instills in us in His word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:10] If you turn your Bibles to Second Corinthians Chapters 8 and 9. I want to give, really what will be a big overview of chapters 8 and 9, with four ideas around generous giving. I think this is a great chapter, great two chapters of the Bible to help us, one just have our own hearts encouraged, but also to motivate us in the way that Paul was motivating the Corinthians. Now they had lost, just a little context, they had lost a little bit of trust in Paul. He had started the church; he was with some others that did it, he leaves, other leaders come in, they start to undermine his leadership, they start behaving in ways that are totally against the way that Christ would have us to live, and Paul writes these two letters to respond to what's going on.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:56] And one of the ways they were coming after him, is they didn't believe he was a man of integrity. There was an offering being collected for the poor in Jerusalem, the churches had been taken up the offering, the Macedonian churches wanted to be a part of it, and yet they were thinking Paul was going to mishandle the money. And so Paul is writing here to say, hey, let me let you know how this is kind of rolling.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:20] And in Chapter 8, the first part we'd want to think about is that when we generously give, we do it according to and beyond our ability. There are times that God is having us give generously, and it's according to our ability. It's really not a sacrifice, it is just according to the ability that we have to give, there are other times that God will call us to give beyond our ability. As we're walking intimately with him, we'll know the difference, when we're to walk in routine giving, and when we're to go beyond what our ability is to give.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:01] In Chapter 8 when we anchor that in versus 2 and 3, "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." It even says in verse 4, that they were begging to participate in helping the poor in Jerusalem. Now, the Macedonian churches, they were in deep poverty the Scripture says, not just poverty, deep poverty. That's below poverty. And yet, they had been so transformed by Christ that there was an abundance of joy in them, there was a glad heart in the midst of their poverty, and in the midst of being persecuted because of their faith. I would say the Macedonian believers in Christ were passionate, they had such an intense desire for Christ and the people of God, that they were willing to suffer for his name's sake, according to and beyond our ability to give, a joy.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:13] Now, I do think that when people have experienced something, they might tend more to have a heart for people that experience the same. I don't think we have to experience something to be able to speak into it or to be a part of serving in it. In this particular case, though, I wonder if the Macedonian church, they knew what it was to be poor, and they wanted to help their brothers and sisters in Christ who were having problems in this season of time.

Ross Sawyers: [00:13:45] The other day I was at the gym, and I'm there a lot, so I act like I go there once in a while. Anyway, I was in the sauna, and I go to the sauna, just a reminder I'm old, and my body isn't working so well, I try to stay loose, that's why I go there so often. But it's become a phenomenal place to minister and share with people in there, it's just that God opens the door The other day I went into it, and there was a guy I'd met a while back, I'd forgotten his name, so we reintroduced ourselves. He was reading Ephesians Chapter 6, and I love this because when I walked in there, he just started talking about Ephesians 6. Now you've got to read fast when you're in the sauna on your phone because it's going to overheat, and the phone only lasts for so long in there.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:27] We talked about Ephesians 6 for a little bit, then I asked him, I said, remind me what it is that you do. And he told me about his company, he's a broker, a connector, in the oil and gas, solar and wind, energy field, he's all over the country doing that. So give me an example of what you're doing right now. And he said, well, one of the coolest ones...And I asked him if he would email this, so I'd get it right in today's talking about it, and he did. This guy grew up in poverty with a single mom, so he knows what it's like to be in poverty, he's a successful businessman and has done extraordinarily well. And he's a follower of Christ, he tithes to his local church, he gives the first tenth back to his local church, and then he's committed to how he can help others get a step up is the way he described it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:20] And the project he's working on, and they're just now getting started, this man is buying up land near VA hospitals so that he can build thousands of fourplexes for homeless vets across our country. Their first one's going to be in Las Vegas, he said you get just outside all the glitz and glamour, and then you run into something totally different. This man experienced poverty, he's been blessed, he said this project will be billions of dollars over the next 10 years, and he's giving it away to serve others in the name of Christ, according to and beyond our ability.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:09] Now, I think it's interesting in this part, because it also says something about wealth and about giving. Generosity is not dependent on whether someone is wealthy or poor. Some of the wealthiest people are some of the most selfish people, and some of the wealthiest people are some of the most generous people. Some of the poorest people are some of the most selfish people, and some of the poorest people are some of the most generous people. It's about the heart, it's always about the heart, that's where it starts, the very core of who we are.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:50] For the Macedonian churches in verse five of this chapter, the reason that they wanted to give is because they had first in verse five given themselves to the Lord. We wouldn't expect people to have a generous heart for the causes that God is interested in, unless their heart has first been transformed by God himself. So first they gave themselves to the Lord, they said all right God, all of us is yours, a hundred percent. Not part of me, my time is yours, my talent is yours, my treasure is yours, everything is yours, God. That's where they were. and out of that, then they had that spirit of generosity that was to flow to other people. They were a conduit for God to move, and to bless, and to give to others.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:38] Now the second thing when we think about generous giving, so we give according to and beyond our ability, depending on how God is working. And then in verses 7 through 15, we're motivated by God's grace, motivated by the grace of God. Verse 9 says, "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." So we're getting two examples here. We're getting one example of a group of people that are followers of Jesus that are in poverty and yet incredibly generous and filled with joy. Now we're getting Jesus, who, incredibly wealthy steps out of heaven, cashes ou, and gives all so that others might have riches and wealth in him. Now, when Jesus entered this Earth, he borrowed a lot. He borrowed a donkey, he didn't have a permanent place to live, he took the little boy's loaves and fishes, he took a coin for someone to show what was Caesar's and what was God's. We see two different examples of people in their generosity and their giving.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:09] When we think about those who are poor, we look at other stories of the Bible and are encouraged by them. In First Kings 17, Elijah, just was about to begin as a prophet of the Lord, and God said to him, I want you to go to Zarephath There's a city, and in that city, you're going to find a widow. And when you find that widow, I want you to go to her and let her know she needs to provide for you a meal. Elijah goes, and he finds this widow only to find that this widow is in a position where she had just a little bit of flour left, she had a little bit of oil in her jar. She was a widow with a young son, and she said to him, I have just enough for my son and for me, and then we're preparing to die.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:53] Now, I think this story is a little bizarre, but I love how God does it. Elijah says God's going to take care of you, what I want you to do is prepare a meal for me first, and then you can prepare a meal for yourself and your son, and then you're not going to run out. She did it. she trusted this was a man of God, and she did it. And you know what the Scripture says? That God honored his word, and that she didn't run out of flour in the days ahead and her jar never emptied out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:20:48] Well, then we go to Jesus and say, ok, here's Jesus who's entered into this Earth. And in Mark chapter 12, he's doing a little people-watching. Do you ever do that, you like to just kind of sit and watch what people do? Well, Jesus did. It says that he went over here and he sat down across from the treasury of the temple and just started watching people as they were giving. And he sees wealthy people, and as he sees them coming towards the Treasury, they're giving. And he says, look at them, they're giving out of their surplus. And then there's this poor widow, and he calls his disciples over and he says here watch this, and that widow drops into small copper coins. And then Jesus says, she just gave more than the others.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:48] Jesus has a weird economy of scale. See, again, it's not about the amount, it's according to and beyond the ability of what God has given to us and how he wants to distribute through us. But when he looks, he looks at the heart, and said what she did, she sacrificed. Like that was genuine, that was all she had. Like, she would wonder how she's going to eat the rest of the day because of what she just gave. Now, I don't think that Jesus is necessarily denying the wealthy at that point, I think he's just making a point, they're giving out of their surplus, they have a lot. that's what they're giving out of. She's giving out of what she has is a little, this is what sacrifice looks like, according to and beyond, and then our motivation ultimately is God's grace.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:56] That key verse there, in chapter 8 verse 9. See, Jesus entered this Earth and lived perfectly on this Earth, gave his life away on the cross during passion week. He took our selfishness, our greed, our pride, our sin, on himself, and made an exchange and he gives us his righteousness through faith if we believe that. Nothing I can earn, it's totally what he's done on my behalf. The motivation for us to give generously is because God gave generously in his own Son.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:49] Weren't those the coolest stories this morning, the baptisms? The baptism is publicly showing it, what we heard were the stories of how God has changed hearts, there has to be a heart change. In Jeremiah chapter 17 verse 9 it says, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?" The reason we have greed and selfishness in our culture today is because of deceitful hearts, sick hearts, the heart is the problem, and the only way that changes is through what Christ did on our behalf.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:26] And the way we respond to what that message of Jesus is in Romans 10:9-10, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." So I'm confessing to the Lord that I need him, that my sin separates me from him, and that he's the only one that can give me life. And we just need to remind ourselves, again and again, Jesus didn't come so that we could obey the golden rule, that's not what he's about. What he came to do is take dead hearts, this heart has been blackened for weeks as we've added each piece, and that heart represents what our hearts are like before we know Christ, they're dark and they're dead. They're not bad and they need to be made nice, they're dead, they're not beating, but then Jesus brings life. He came to take us from being dead to making us alive. And its as we remind ourselves of that, that we're motivated to be the generous givers that he is intended for us to be.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:44] In Matthew chapter 6 verses 19 and 21, Jesus said...I just want to read verse 21 on it, he talks about our treasure. He said, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." So once we come to Christ, he becomes our treasure. And then once we come to Christ, we recognize Psalm 24:1, "The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it." We recognize everything is God's now, the Macedonians first gave themselves to the Lord, we give ourselves to the Lord. And when I give myself to the Lord, what I'm saying is, hey God, here I am, one hundred percent of my time, it's yours. How do you want to use the time you've given me? My talents, God, they're yours. How do you want to use them? How do you want to use my skill sets? How do you want to use my gifting? How do you want to use them? My treasure, God, my money, not the first tenth, but the whole hundred percent God, it's your money, the Earth is the Lord's, and all it contains. How do you want to use it? That's all I'm doing, I'm coming to him and saying, God, you've generously given to me, now, how do you want to use what you've given? God gives, we receive, and then we give, it just keeps going in that cycle. That's where the abundance of joy is when we're generous givers of all that we have. He was encouraging them at this point in this letter to finish what they started. You committed to something, now finish it. He said I'm not even asking you to not be at ease, just give out of your abundance so that you can supply those who don't, but this is your motivation to finish.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:48] One of the things I love that happened at 121, this building that we're worshipping right now, it was a little over $15 million at the time that we did it. And people committed, they started something, and we finished four years later, fully paid. And I just love the generosity of this body of Christ, it's a great example of Paul saying you started something, finish it. We started it, we finished it. And then we keep asking, alright, God, what do you want next? What do you want to do through us? How do you want to work through us? And there are incredible things that God is up to.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:22] So when we think about it, in generous giving, we are giving according to and beyond our ability. We're motivated by God's grace. And then the third thing that we pick up in chapter 8 verse 16 through 9:5, is to properly administer all that we get for God's glory. That it's one thing to have it, and then how do we properly administer it? And I would say, by the way, for your home today, this is a good word that we're properly administering for God's glory, for the sake of his name, advancing the gospel, that we're using what we've been given for his name, and then in the same way as a church that we're doing that.

Ross Sawyers: [00:29:03] We've tried to be practical over these last several weeks with what it is that God has invited us into. And so I want you just to hear from Zach Cunningham, he's our treasurer at 121, about the way that things are administered here. In verses 19 and 20, and then in 23 and 24, it talks about how it's being administered by us for the glory of the Lord himself, and we're taking precautions so that no one will discredit us in our administration of this generous gift. There's a trust here, and we want to make sure that we are handling that trust well, and this is just a picture of how we do that at 121.

Zach Cunningham: [00:29:45] 121 Community Church, we're all about leading people to live for Jesus Christ. And we accomplish this mission by worshipping God, serving others, and doing life together. A key part of living out our mission is understanding that God owns every facet of our lives, all our time, talents, and resources ultimately belong to God to use for his glory. Today, I want to give you a brief overview of how God uses your financial gifts at 121.

Zach Cunningham: [00:30:16] When you think about how we manage our financial resources at 121, you have to think about it in two distinct buckets. The first is our annual operating budget, and the second is Vision 2025. First, let's talk about our operating budget. The total budget for 2021 is six million dollars. We structured our budget to align with the mission, in that we have three main areas of activity. The first area is Worship, this is managed primarily by David Parker and includes the budget for all our music and creative arts, guest speakers, and Sunday hospitality, worship is four percent of the total budget. The second area is, Do Life Together, and is managed primarily by Eric Estes, this budget funds all of the activities and events associated with our life groups, from Creation Land through our adult ministries. Key events like men's and women's retreats, youth summer camps, and family events are also here. Finally, this is where we budget for all of our worship experiences from birth through students, as well as the majority of our leadership development investments. Do Life Together accounts for about 10 percent of the total budget. The third main area of activity in our budget is Missions, managed by Elvis Gallegos. This budget is about giving as a church to our ministry partner, funding mission trips, and supporting missionaries in the field. We have significant investments in ministry partnerships around the globe, with an emphasis on unreached people groups. For example, of our 17 missionary families in active service, 13 are serving in the 10 40 window, which is where the majority of unreached people groups live. Missions is 17.5 percent of our total budget. Another key area of the budget that is managed by Joe Sanchez, is the people, assets, and support services required to support the three main areas of activity. Currently, we have twenty-five people on staff, which makes up 40-45 percent of the total budget. Maintenance and operations of our building, and communications are the largest components of another 15 percent. And finally, every year we reserve some money for bigger multi-year items, such as Vision 2025, and major building repairs, as well as to jump on whatever new opportunities God might bring us during the year, this makes up the final 10 to 12 percent of the budget. So that's a quick overview of our operating budget.

Zach Cunningham: [00:32:29] But I also want to talk about Vision 2025. Vision 2025 is about 121 moving into new ministry areas to establish worship in areas where there is none. There are many things happening here, but a quick list includes focusing on establishing life groups in all neighborhoods and communities in our area, supporting needs-based scholarship for Lionheart, a Christian daycare that operates in our facility during the week, identifying and funding new church plants locally, across the U.S. and internationally, partnering with new ministry partnerships in Africa, and funding multiple new Bible translations.

Zach Cunningham: [00:33:07] If you're interested in learning more about our budget, Vision 2025, and just how we manage our financial resources in general, I encourage you to attend our annual budget meeting on December 12th. God has provided for our church, and as a body, we've been faithful givers, I'm excited to see what God has in store for us as we continue to commit our time, talents, and treasure to Him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:33:35] Love it. I'm so grateful for Zach, he does a phenomenal job as treasurer. Joe Sanchez and Denise Keeter on our staff oversee all the different things that happen regarding our finances, HR. Our elders are an ongoing part of what we do financially, we do routine audits. So I just think everything is in place that makes for a credible and trustworthy use of the resources that we have, and I'm so grateful for the ways that people give and then the way that it's being distributed to advance the gospel for God's glory.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:11] And then the last thing that is helpful from chapters 8 and 9, is in verses 6 through 15, is that when we give generously, that is to be cheerfully and bountifully done, there's an attitude with which we're to do it. So we give according to and beyond our ability, depending on how God is leading us. And then we're motivated by God's grace, that's our motivation. And then we administer it properly so that God's name is glorified with how it's utilized. And then our hearts are such that it's cheerfully and bountifully done. Verse 6, "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." Now there's a principle of reaping and sowing, that if we give a lot, then there will be a lot given back. If we give sparingly, there will be a sparing return. Now, what is he talking about here? Here's how we have to be careful because if we take this to mean, OK, I'm going to give this so that I can just get more for me, that would not be the way that God is looking at our resources. He's looking at it in such a way that when we give, that there's actually more, so we can continue to be givers.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:21] In verse 6, when he says about that reaping and sowing. There are two ways, in my understanding, of how you can actually sow seed, how you actually plant seed. One would be to just dig narrow troughs, and then just go along the ditches and just go along there and carefully place the seed, that'd be one way to do it. Or there's this kind of a wild swinging of the seed, you got the bag and they're just flinging it, letting it go. I think that's what he's calling us to right there, to not just be so sparing and careful, but to put a lot out there and then see what God does with that. So we reap and we sow.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:06] I was at a conference a few years ago and they talked about scarcity mentality, and how we have to be careful in the church and his Christians that we don't get a scarcity mentality, that somehow we think God doesn't have enough to supply our needs and somehow there's not enough for what he's doing. So we'd want to guard our heart so that we continue to recognize that God is an incredibly generous God, and there will be plenty of whatever it is that he wants us to have so that we can give, and we can do so with the right attitude.

Ross Sawyers: [00:36:37] So we give bountifully, but in verse 7, we do it cheerfully, "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." That's what God loves, and it's clear here we're not to do this because we feel guilty, we're not to do this because we're coerced, we're not to do this because we're manipulated. The reason that we give, is because of what Christ has done for us. And notice that this is voluntary, it's each person before the Lord, according to that person's heart before the Lord, and what He would have us to give, and it's with a cheerful heart.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:21] You say, well, what if I don't have a cheerful heart? God has called us to obedience, and sometimes if we'll just simply start walking in obedience to what he says, the heart will catch up with the cheerful part. So we give with a cheerful heart, if it's not cheerful, then we're going to ask, ok, why is that? What is it that has caused me to not be cheerful in my giving? Sometimes, quite candidly, that's because our hearts have shrunk and we're chasing after other things, and we've lost interest in God himself. And once we do that, the interest in giving will not be as much.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:01] Just to sum up, in First Timothy 6:17-19, he gives instruction, Paul does, so that "Those who are rich in this present world will not fix their hope on the riches and uncertainty of them, but rather fix their hope on God, the one who richly supplies everything for us to enjoy." So that we can enjoy what it is that God has given.

Ross Sawyers: [00:38:23] And then we're instructed to do good and to do good works with what we've been given. In Ephesians chapter 4, they shared this with us at our staff retreat the other day, and the back half of it, I've probably not paid as much attention to until the other day. But it starts out by saying you shouldn't steal any longer, but rather work and labor. And do so, so that you'll have something to share with one who has need. God's design is for us to work, that is in his perfect and good design. And Paul says here, we're not to steal or take away from somewhere else, We're to labor with our own hands. To the Thessalonians, he said the same, he said you need to work if you can work. And then our work is for God, not for others. Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men."

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:30] So when we think about the way God views work, it's for him. And if I'm not thinking about the person above me, or the person that's my same level, or the person that's below me, but first, I'm looking at God and saying, I want to honor you today, God, in my work and my work ethic and my integrity. I want to be the hardest worker here. And when people wonder why that is, God, it's for your glory and for your honor. I'm working for you. You've gifted me this way, you've given me these abilities to do this, this is why I'm doing it. And then everybody benefits, those above you, those beside you, and those below you, everybody benefits when we're working for God's glory and for his honor.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:19] It's sad to me that in our culture it seems we're incentivizing not working. That is not God's good design, his design is to work. And when we work, we can take care of our families, when we work, we have something to share with others, and we have ways we can generously give. And there are certainly times where we've been knocked out of our ability to work, and that's when we step in and we help those who are unable. But if there's the ability, in God's design, we work, so we can provide and share and give.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:08] He goes on to say, that God will make all grace abound, I mean he just uses all these superfluous words, and that our supply will multiply, and the harvest of righteousness will increase, and you'll be enriched in everything, and the reason for it is so God will be thanked. The reason you'll be enriched, the reason you'll be given, is so that God will be thanked. And then we go on, and we continue to supply, and it overflows through many thanksgivings to God, and it's a proof that we're a follower of Jesus and that it's a glorifying of God. And then it ends by saying, thanks be to God, who's giving us this indescribable gift, you know, it comes back to Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:56] But the end game of our generosity is so that other people will look at that and they'll thank God and glorify God. They'll look at that and say, wow, God was worth that? Yeah, he is, he's worthy. Can I tell you about him? He's worth it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:42:21] When we did this building, I met with, I can't remember how many people exactly, and life groups and so forth, and it was just so cool to hear people and their love for the Lord, and their generosity. And one of the stories I don't think I'll ever forget was one lady, a single lady at the time, and she said, you know, I'm praying on what God wants me to give, and she said, I don't want to miss out. And she went to that Exodus 36 story, and she said, you know when they were bringing the resources for the Tabernacle, and then they said there's more than enough, it's more than sufficient, and you don't need to bring any more, that's what happened when they were building that tabernacle, they restrained the people from giving. She said, I don't ever want to be at the back of the line, because if you were at the back of the line on building the Tabernacle, then you didn't get to participate, you missed out on the privilege of being able to give. And I love, that's a heartbeat that's been changed by God that says I don't want to be at the back of the line and miss out on giving if they say that's already taken care of. I want to be at the front of the line and generously giving because of what Christ did first for me, and how generously gave himself away from me.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:49] I love that heart, and I believe that's the heartbeat of so many at 121, it's an incredibly generous body of believers. God has entrusted us, and he's doing all kinds of things through it. So I just want to say thank you, and I hope that thank you then transfers to gratitude to God for his goodness towards us as he causes his blessings to flow to others.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:14] Father, thank you for our moments together this morning, and it's just been exciting to be able to worship you and to sing of your goodness. And God to know that you do, you take dry bones and you make them alive with your Spirit. You take that which is dead, and you bring it to life, God, and you've done that in your own generosity towards us. And I pray, Father, that our hearts will just swell with generosity towards others, for the sake of your name, God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:43] And Father, I thank you today for all those that we're obedient in their baptism, and just what a cool picture of the life and joy in each of them, and thank you for their stories, and what you've done in their hearts. God, will you continue to change hearts wherever we are today, so that we can be life-giving in this culture, and that when people are around us, they just have to wonder what is that? And Father, I pray they'd be drawn to the joy and the life that's in Jesus today. And I pray in Christ's name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:43] Let's be quiet before the Lord. And I give this space, if your newer here, just so can have time, just a minute or two to contemplate the things that God has done all morning long. And is he saying anything specific to us as we move out?



Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051
817.488.1213