I think most of us would love to be known as generous people, but the reality is, we have lots of responsibilities and questions that can keep us from getting there. Tune in to worship and find a way forward into generosity that’s actually doable. Do you love what’s happening at Harmony? Help us advance the Kingdom by supporting our online ministry (harmonychurch.cc/give) Have kids? Check out Harmony Kids online (updated weekly) https://www.harmonychurch.cc/harmony-kids-online/!
Sermon Notes Slide Key:
- Sermons always start with “OPENING ILLUSTRATION:” and end with “CLOSING ILLUSTRATION:”
- Red = Scripture slides (reflect formatting of scripture on slides, ie – underlines, bold, etc.)
- All scriptures are NIV unless otherwise noted
- Bold = Slide text
- “b” or “B” on a line by iself = Slide break/New slide
- Bold ALL CAPS WORDS = heading to be ignored
- [some text] = programming notes to be paid attention to
OPENING ILLUSTRATION:Used to have this gas fire place, couldn’t figure out how to light it… Till someone showed me – had all the stuff there, just didn’t know how to get the fire started-lots of stuff is like that-never forget going to a leadership event that Bob Russell puts on and walking around Southeast and realizing that it was possible anywhere…
Sometimes, you have to be shown howSometimes you have to have your vision lifted from where you are to where you want to go
Let me ask you a questionWhat kind of person do you want to be known as?BDo you want to be known as a generous person?bDo you want to be known as someone who made a difference?
How do you get there?That’s the question, right?
How do I go from here to there?
Most people I know would say, “I want to be generous, but first I’ve got to pay off this credit card…orI’d love to be more generous, but we can barely get by on what we’ve got right now…
Most of us want to get the fire going, but don’t know what to do.
Here’s what I want you to knowYou have what it takes to be generous today, without anything changing about your situation.
How do I know?let’s jump into a story
BACKGROUND:In around 45 AD – a LONG time ago, there was a trifecta that brought about over a decade long period of famine in the ancient world…
-The nile rose 27 feet above normal levels and decimated crops.-45AD the Maurusii tribe rebelled and caused agricultural trade along the North African Mediterranean coast to be disrupted-The typical winter rains in Syria and Judea did not come and their crops failed as well
All of this led to severe starvation in the first century world-literally people were starving to death
and the emperor Claudius did hardly anything about it – the people in Rome rioted and so he finally tried to help them, but he did nothing to help the people in other parts of the kingdom…
There was actually a Christian who prophesied about this a year before the famine occurred…
The New Testament church was only a few years old and they knew this could be bad… So they did something radical
knowing the Christians in Jerusalem specifically were starving to death, they sent out Paul and Barnabus to collect money to be brought back and to help these believers…
It’s into this context that Paul writes what we are about to read..
2 Corinthians 8:1-6,7And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.The Macedonian churches are the churches in Thessalonia, Philippi, Berea, this region…
Paul is going to describe the grace God has given them…-it’s got to be good, right?-it’s got to be how they invested in real estate and have tons to give and be generous…
2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme povertywelled up in rich generosity.
ILLUSTRATION:This reminds me of a story from the life of Jesus – He’s been teaching, warning people against the leadership of the teachers of the law – he says, they devour widows houses and make long prayers for people to see… As Jesus is speaking, he’s standing next to these 13 giant trumpet shaped basins where the Jewish people would bring financial offerings to God in the temple. He’s standing there watching people. The wealthy are coming up, you can hear the change from their gifts jangling down into the trumpets. I love that Jesus is just standing there watching… Then, this woman comes over – she’s why He’s there. She comes up and puts two very small coins in, these are practically worthless, I mean, imagine, she’s giving a couple of pennies in the midst to help pay for Rupp Arena. It’s almost comical if it wasn’t so sad. But then Jesus says something. He points this women out and says,Luke 21:3-4“Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. 4 All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”
Her gift was bigger because her gift required faith – she gave out of poverty-they gave out of the their wealth
This is the same thing Paul is saying about the Macedonian churches-did you hear the weird way he talked about them?
2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme povertywelled up in rich generosity. These peoples poverty is not American poverty – you need to think of people in India living in the slums…-they don’t have running water-they don’t have food stored up-they don’t have refrigerators-they are literally hand to mouth
Here are these Christians who have nothing and were scrounging up to find a way to give to othersListen to Paul’s testimony about them3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
ILLUSTRATION:I’ve had the privilege of knowing some truly generous people in my time in ministry. It’s one of the coolest parts of being a pastor. I have regularly had people come up to me and say, “I keep seeing that single mom come into our church and I feel like God has put it on my heart to give her some money.” One time they said, I feel like I’m supposed to buy a mom a couch, I talked to the mom and she said she’d been praying because they didn’t have any furniture. She starts weeping because God was using this other person to answer her prayer.
But here’s what I’ve learned about the generous…Generosity isn’t found in the balance of your bank accountGenerosity is a condition of your heart
I’ve seen incredibly rich people be generous in ways no one else knew and I’ve seen 90 yr old women with nothing give till it had to have hurt…
Because the reality is,if you aren’t generous when you have only have $10 in your pocket, what makes you think you’ll be generous when you have $10,000 in your pocket?bGenerosity is about the condition of your heart, not the condition of your bank account
Paul’s challenge to the Corinthians is the same as the challenge I have for you today – I’m just coopting it 🙂 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
My big ask today is thisFind a way to advance the Kingdom of God this week by loving someone with generosity -it may be paying for the groceries for the family in front of you at Kroger-it may be giving a meal to the homeless person on the corner-it may be by paying a widow’s heating bill
Here’s what I know My prayer is that God will present you with an opportunity this week and you will take the shot.
CLOSING:I want to close by challenging you with something that challenged me…We were building a house in Mexico for this extremely poor family. I was looking for the mother of the family and we couldn’t find her, hours later, I saw off in the distance this woman walking, she was setting down bags of KFC and walking back to grab other bags, and bring them up. This woman with nothing had just spent all her money to buy all these rich spoiled American kids KFC, something they never once thought about spending 5-$10 on. And I’m telling you, I broke. This woman gave it all for us. I’ve never eaten such expensive chicken in my life.
And I’m telling you, I left there realizing that the condition of my heart had become calloused and hard.
and we wept… because we had and wouldn’t give itshe had nothing and gave it all….