What Happens When You Give

January 13th, 2013

What Happens When You Give
A Sermon on Generosity

Introduction: I shared this with my Church 12/30/12
Have you ever heard a sermon from an angry preacher?  Maybe on TV or maybe in a church.  Seems like there are a lot of angry preachers out there.  As if they LOVE teaching on hell and reminding everyone they are going there.
Maybe you quit going to church because you didn’t want to become an angry Christian led by an angry preacher.
One of the angry preacher’s favorite topics is money.   How you’re spending it wrong.  How you’re selfish because you bought a new car.  
One of the angry preacher’s favorite tactics is guilt.  You could feed 8,234 children if cut out lattes.  Look at this picture.  How can you say no to this face?  What’s the matter with you?
  • Most sermons on giving are designed to get you to give more.  But that’s not what I’m going to try to do.  
I promise a guilt free money message.
  • I want to help you understand what happens when you give.  Cause many of you already give. You’re already support the church.  
Or if you’re thinking about giving, you want to know what happens next.  You don’t need motivation or inspiration…you’re just curious about what happens next.
  • I want to talk to you about what happens when you give.  I’m going to show you five things that happen when we give, and at the end of the message, I’m not going to ask you to do anything at all!
Bet you’ve never heard that before in church!  I want you to listen to this message on giving, and then we’re NOT going to receive an offering.
Are you ready?  Let’s go.
#1 – When you give, you fulfill your purpose.
How many of you were good at math in school?   Man, there are a lot of nerds in here!  I wasn’t good at math.  Well, I take that back.  I was good at math when it just had numbers in it, but for me in the 10th grade, they started adding letters to math.  I was done.  and X = ? I had no idea what  X equaled? I flunked out of Algebra I had a math teacher named MR. Cash and he was no help at all with the X. He would write the problems on the board and then sit down for the rest of the class, you either got it or you didn’t.
  • I was a DIDN’t. 
It was much later after I was out of school when I figured out what X equaled. It was sometime after I started my first business, I went into the roofing trade. And guess who called needing a roof? MR. Cash. I put the roof on his house and made out the bill, X equaled $5000.00 dollar’s. Thats what X equaled.  
But, today where not going to talk about X’s I am going to teach you a giving formula and I am going to give you the answers. How cool is that?
If A = B, and B = C, then A = C.
Ok are you ready for the answer? Cool, here we go.
A = You were created in the Image of God.  Let’s take a look at Genesis 1:26-27.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them;
 male and female he created them.
The Image of God is theological concept that means you and I and everybody on earth was imprinted with God’s image when we were created.  There’s something deep inside us that is like God.  Like a son who has his Father’s eyes, you have a resemblance to God.
B = God is generous.  When you read the Bible and start to piece together information about God, one of those pieces is God’s generosity.  You read things like, “God is love” in 1 John 4:8.  Just how generous is God?  Check out this verse – it’s the most famous verse in all of the Bible.  I know it’s the most famous verse because it’s the only verse I’ve seen written on a sign, held up in the end zone of a nationally televised game.  It’s John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
How generous is God?  He gave his one and only son!
So, let’s put the ABC formula together.   If A = B, and B = C, then A = C.
If you were made in the image of God, and God is generous, then there’s something deep inside you that’s wired for generosity.
You may not always feel generous, but you were created that way.  You’ve got generosity hard wired into your soul.
  • So when you give, you’re fulfilling your purpose…doing what you were created to do in the first place.  You don’t give out of guilt…you give out of purpose.
Okay, that’s the math lesson for today.  Let’s move on to number 2. 
# 2 – When you give, you make God smile.  
Maybe you don’t imagine God smiling because those angry preachers I mentioned earlier never smile.  They spit and sweat a lot, but they never smile.
I bet it’s hard to picture a smiling face of God.  Culture paints a picture of an angry God, God with a frowny face.  Or a Zeus-like god with a lightning bolt in his hand.  A lot of people think God’s motto is I’m gonna getcha.
But the Bible image for God is a father.  But not just any father, a perfect, loving Father.   Some of you had sorry fathers, or fathers who abandoned you.  Some of you had great fathers, who were great examples.  But all of us know deep down in our heart how a father is supposed to be.
  • God is our father and we are his children.
Check out 1 John 3:1.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
God, the perfect heavenly Father, loves his children.
If you have kids, maybe you can relate to this.  As a dad, I like giving my kids gifts.  I like surprising them with something unexpected, or getting them something that they have always wanted.
But I love it even more when they share their stuff with others.  Those rare moments when they let go of a toy, or share something with a friend, or give something away – man, those are special.
I think that’s how God looks at us when we give.  He just loves it when we give.  When we put others first.  When we give things away instead of saying, “that’s mine.”  
  • When we give, we make God smile.
#3 – When you give, you position yourself for blessing.  
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of Christians living in the first century city of Philippi.  You have that letter in your Bible – it’s called Philippians.  
In the first part of his letter, Paul thanked the Philippians for their generosity and their partnership.  They had contributed to his ministry as a missionary and a preacher.  The Christians who lived  in Philippi were generous supporters.  
I believe there is a clear connection between our generosity and God’s provision.  
Philippians 4:19 says, 
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
You might not understand it, and I might not be able to fully explain it, but there’s something supernatural that happens when our finances come into alignment with God’s heart.  1 + 1 + God doesn’t always equal 2.  
There I go with math again.  I’m sorry.
Romans 8:32 says, 
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
God is a generous God, giving us many blessing in life.  
But these blessings from God are not limited to the financial realm.  A $100 contribution may not result in a $100 blessing, but I do know this…you will be blessed in some way.  And just because those blessings may not be financial doesn’t mean they are not important.  If the best things in life cant be bought with money, perhaps the most important blessings from God are not financial. 
#4 – When you give, you gain perspective.  
Have you ever met someone who went on a mission trip?  Those can be expensive.  Between food, airfare and supplies, you could easily spend thousands of dollars traveling to another country to work with children or work on a house.  
But when they talk to them after they return, they use words like “incredible” and “life changing.”  They talk about that expensive experience like it was one of the most important things they’ve ever done.
I’ve never met anyone that said, “Man, I wish I hadn’t raised all that money to go over there and help people…I would have rather used that money to download movies or buy furniture.”
You never hear that story because spending money on other people feels right.  People often regret something they buy, but they rarely regret something they give.  
Spending money can be fun – new clothes, new restaurants, a new car.  Nothing wrong with those things.  But deep down, they don’t really satisfy.  But when we give or serve with our money, we somehow know we’re doing something more important.
Matthew 6:21 says,
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
The Bible teaches that money isn’t solely a financial issue…it’s primarily a spiritual issue.  Our money and our heart are connected.  Where we send our money says something about what we truly value, and when we give, it’s a statement on what’s truly important.
This isn’t a groundbreaking truth to you, and you already know it, because you spend money.  I spend money. If you were to login into my bank account and see where I spent money, You would be able to tell what is important to me.
You can tell what’s important to me not by hearing me talk about what’s important, but by observing how I spend money.   Because money is a heart issue more than a checking account issue.
So when you give, you’re making an intentional statement that something matters.  This thing over here, that person over there, God’s mission through this church…it matters.  It deserves my attention, focus and support.
Eternity matters, and when you give, you’re shifting your perspective.  
We’re on the home stretch now…one more to go.  This one is a biggie…
#5 – When you give, you partner with God.  
Have you ever thought about the fact that God doesn’t need your money?  Seriously, He doesn’t. I don’t mean to sound rude, but if God wanted your money, He would just take it.  I mean…God could do that.
  • God doesn’t need your permission to access your resources.  If he knows how many hairs are on your head, he knows your online banking password.
Not only does God not need your money in particular, He doesn’t need YOU in general.  I’m not intentionally trying to insult you, but the fact is that God doesn’t need you, me or the Pope to accomplish His purposes in the world.  
God is not sitting in heaven, saying, “If we only had a representative down there…then I could do something.”  His activity is not dependent on our involvement – He can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants.
God does need us, but he INVITES us to join Him.  Because He’s God, He doesn’t NEED us, but he WANTS us.  We don’t invite God into our lives; He invites us into His!
That’s pretty cool when you think about it.  While God doesn’t NEED us, He invites us to participate.
And when you give, that’s what you’re doing.  You join with God in his mission in the world.
You don’t give to keep the lights on (though I’m thankful we’re not sitting in the dark) – you give because the Gospel needs to be heard.
You don’t just give to this church (though I love this church) – you give as a part of a worldwide movement, joining with churches in North America, South America, China, the Ukraine, England, Africa and even North Carolina.
  • There is something bigger going on around us.  More than the here and now.
And when you give, you’re a part of what God is doing everywhere.
So we’re at the end of the message.  This is the part when if I was an angry preacher, I’d lay on some guilt and then take up an offering.  
But I told you I wasn’t going to ask you to do anything.  Instead of challenging you to do something, I trust that you’ve been thinking about this for the last few minutes.  So I don’t want to end with a challenge to give, I just want to say thanks.
For those of you who have ever given anything to this church, thank you.
For those of you who have given clothes or food to the needy, thank you.
For those of you who support a child on the other side of the world, thank you.
For those of you who give your time to serve others in need, thank you.
Thank you for fulfilling your purpose.
Thank you for making God smile.
Thank you for positioning your self for God’s blessing.
Thank you for changing your perspective.
Thank you for partnering with God.
Let’s pray.
With help of the Change Group Inc, and the Rocket company.

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