God is watching our lives and how we live – but does that influence anything about what happens in our life? Join us for worship and to unpack this question this week! 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:In 1972 a psychologist named Walter Mischel at Stanford created what has been called, “the marshmallow test.” You’ve probably heard of it. The experimenters put a marshmallow in front of a child with one simple instruction, “you can eat this marshmallow now, or if you wait, when I come back, I’ll give you two marshmallows…” The experimenters then watched as these kids who were tormented by the marshmallow in front of them.
It’s pretty funny to watch them squirm and twist around, some of them taking little nibbles of the marshmallow or squishing it trying their hardest not to eat the marshmallow…
TAKE THE TURN:I was reading in the scripture the other day and noticed something I’d never seen before…
Listen to what happens next:It’s the book of Act’s the story of the church starting out – lots of supernatural thing are happening. There is a guy named Cornelius who is Jewish, not a Christian, but He’s faithful to God and prays and is generous to the poor – God sends an angel to him…Acts 10:4-64 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”
Here is what struck meGod was actually paying attention to the way Cornelius lived his life
Did you see it?“Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God.”
I immediately thought of the marshmallow experiment – these researchers were giving these kids something and watching what they did with it…
Now, I’m not trying to suggest that we are all involved in some grand experiment from God.
But it got me thinkingWhat does scripture says about the way God looks at those who are generous with what they have…
You might not know this, but because of Cornelious’s generosity, he became the first non-Jewish person to be baptized as a Christian and you and I are literally sitting in this room because of the barriers that were broke down because of him.-and it all started with him being a man of prayer and being generous to the poor
So, what does the scripture say about how God sees the generous?Can I take you on the journey of what I found?
God sees your generosity as an indicator that you are ready for more.Jesus has just got done telling the parable of the shrewd manager – I referenced it a couple weeks ago. You might remember this part, He says to use your worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves…and it is right after this, that Jesus says this… Listen closely.
Luke 16:10-1210 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?
Jesus is saying that the “little” – the thing of no consequence that He’s watching how we handle it is worldly wealth
worldly wealth = the little thing
“So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?“
This shouldn’t shock you, God is watching the way you handle a little thing like “money” to see if you are worthy of handling more, something of significance like impacting lives for the Kingdom.
There’s a principle hereGetting more from God starts with giving more for God
as I went on this hunt, I found this principle all through scripture:
Listen to these passages:
2 Corinthians 9:6-116 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”[a]10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Paul is saying that God is looking to bless those who bless. He’s using an illustration from agriculture – that the more seeds you put in the ground, the larger the harvest you will reap.
Or what about what Jesus said, listen to this:Luke 6:37-3837 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Over and over again the message seems to be that God doesn’t give toGod didn’t give to give TO you, He gave to give THROUGH YouThis is Living for God 101
And the idea is very clear, that God is watching the way we handle the resources He has placed in our hands to see what we do with them… Whether we are faithful, even with a little…
CLOSING ILLUSTRATION:Over and over again I’ve seen God provide as I have stepped out to trust Him with my whole life and advance His Kingdom. When I was first in ministry I was working for a youth center to tell kids who were far from God about Jesus, and I had to raise my own salary. I could have been making pretty decent money in any other job, but I chose to follow God in this endeavor. The problem is, no one wants to support a college student. After I paid my bills monthly, I had about $50 for food for the entire month. I was trying to be tough and not tell anyone, but it was a struggle, I’ll never forget the time I went to Dairy queen, I only had a quarter but my friends wanted to go and I didn’t want to tell them that was all the money I had left. I just told them I wasn’t hungry. They had one of those things you could drop the quarter in and if it landed on the arm you got a free peanut buster parfait. I prayed over that quarter and dropped it in. and it landed on the arm. I almost started crying!
It was getting pretty bad. One day I’m at the front desk of the youth center – I had moved into it in order to try and make it. Everyone thought I was foolish, but I was trying to honor God. I’m sitting there and a guy comes to the desk and he says, “do you guys like pizza?” I was like, “of course I like pizza” He said, well good, we had a semi full of frozen pizzas that dumped over and we can’t use them, do you want them? We loaded every freezer we had with frozen pizzas and I’m telling you, I ate frozen pizza for months for every meal. It was like Mana from heaven. The day the pizza ran out, this is no joke, I got a letter form this sweet family that had been praying about it and felt led to start supporting my ministry again. And I had enough money to eat.
Here’s what I’ve learned. God is looking for us all to be faithful with what we’ve been givenHe’s watching waiting to see what we’ll do with the marshmallow that’s been put in front of us…
Except for him the question isn’t whether we will eat it, it’s whether we will give it away.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had the privilege of being on the other side of the equation now and to be the one who sends the check saying, “we were praying and felt like we were supposed to give this to you.”
What about you?Here’s what I want to encourage you to do today – a take home if you will
I want to challenge you to develop a strategy to be generous-that may mean sitting down and prayerfully setting aside a portion of your income for God’s kingdom-it may mean starting to intentionally watch for opportunities to be generous-it may mean you start a journey to study the scripture on your own about generosity
But what I want to ask of you is that you will do something!