This morning I’m going to be poking the hornet’s nest, touching the live rail and pouring lighter fuel on a lit Barbie. Living dangerously! Speaking about the biggest rival god to Jesus Christ in the UK. Not Islam, not New Age, not Paganism but
Money, Money, Money. Don’t touch that.
Brits are renowned for being reserved. Money is terribly, terribly, terribly private!
And yet it’s a big deal – UK debt is now £900 Billion.
I want to get to the heart. Not the surface. And I want to deal with it from the perspective of grace. Grace deals with the inside not just the outside.
How many have seen the King’s Speech? About King George VI, who was a stutterer. His wife takes him to see a voice coach to help with the mechanics of stuttering. He just wanted him to deal with the muscles and mechanics. The coach tells he has got to deal with why he stutters the heart of the problem.
Money – it’s not just about spend less than you make – it’s a heart issue, a grace issue
2 Cor 8:1-15 is part of one of the most helpful NT passages on money and giving. Let’s read it and dig in.
Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth and he is letting them know that the church in Jerusalem is struggling financially. The Macedonian churches have already taken up an offering to help and now he’s encouraging the Corinthians to give too.
You need to see that how we handle money and giving is a grace issue v1 grace of God, v6 an act of grace, excel in this act of grace also v7
Paul appeals to the church to give generously on the basis of the grace of God at work in their lives.
1) Tap into the riches of God’s grace.
Paul appeals to them to give generously on the basis of grace not tithing, or even Malachi – you are robbing God.
v9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
He uses financial language to explain the grace of God at work in us. And he wants us to tap into the riches of God’s
though he was rich – second person of the trinity, sat at the right hand of the Father
became poor – the incarnation, coming as a man, born in the most humble of circumstance, living as a wandering preacher with no where to lay his head. Dying for us on the cross, with even his clothes gambled away
so that by his poverty you became rich
Not prosperity doctrine. he didn’t do it so you could have a big Mercedes, a nice house and white teeth.
Paul is using financial language to explain how amazing grace is. He borrows language from lots of settings – the marketplace, the law courts and often with grace – he uses money, because money talks.
Let me show from Ephesians 2 an example
Dead in sin – born spiritually dead
Following the prince of the power of the air – Satan
Might not know it – all either following Jesus or Sata Before came to Christ following Satan – living passions of the flesh, carrying out the desires of the body
So by nature a child of wrath.
Might not have been that naughty – maybe even pretty self-righteous in your goodness, saying God we don’t need you or let me clean up my mess first.
Fact is dead in sin and a child of wrath. Bible says it pretty clear
Big But in v4 – I like big buts and I cannot lie!
But God being RICH in mercy! His mercy is rich. there is no credit crunch with God’s mercy. No austerity cuts. It’s rich, abundant and freely available.
God made us alive in Christ because of his great love
Saved us by his grace
Seated us in the heavenly realms. You are sat here in KLA but as a believer you are also sat in the heavenly realms
God did it to show the immeasurable riches of his grace in the kindness of Christ Jesus
Do you get excited about the riches of God’s grace? Or the footie score, the next promotion, a new car?
Paul wants us to tap into the riches of God’s grace.
The outflow of that is
2) Give generously to the cause of Christ
Back to 2 Cor 8. Paul lets the Corinthians know that the Macedonians have tapped into the grace of God – the result is abundance of joy and overflowing generosity even in poverty and affliction.
They begged Paul to be able to give – Grace changed their hearts and makes them generosity. They gave beyond their ability – how often have you had to trust God because you gave.
At a bible week Jan and I heard God tell us to give £100 to the offering. That meant then that we would not be able to buy food that week. We got home and there was a birthday card from Jan’s great aunt saying she had forgotten her 21st birthday five years before and with it a cheque for how much? Yep £100.
Giving is a grace issue – an overflow of abundant grace in our lives. The grace of God sets us free to be generous so others can receive grace too.
We don’t teach tithing. OT concept. Actually predates the law by 400 years. Abraham voluntarily tithed to Melchizedek. It was enshrined in the law. Israelites actually paid three tithes – one every 3 years – so their tithe was 23%!
Tithing is only mentioned once in the NT by Jesus where he criticises the Pharisees for their meticulous tithing while exploiting the poor with the other 90%. Tithing is good news for the rich, not the poor.
NT giving is by grace! An overflow of the riches of God’s grace. Grace goes way beyond the law! I remember Arnold Bell telling me the embarrassment of asking Terry Virgo whether he tithed gross or net and getting the answer – Oh we are way beyond that!
Giving is an overflow of grace and a faith issue. Lets look at 2 Cor 9:6-15
Paul talks about sowing and reaping, giving what you have decided in your heart and giving it cheerfully. He will make grace abound to you, so you can do it!
Trust God to provide.
Elsewhere Paul says set aside a sum at the beginning of the week – I’m paid monthly, but my giving is the first transaction after payday.
If you give God the leftovers, perhaps that’s why there is not any leftover.
World says budget living expenses, then paying off debt, perhaps saving and then maybe a bit of giving. Grace turns that upside down – giving, saving/debts then living expenses.
Not giving – showing is a lack of faith, lack of receiving grace.
Stuck at 10% take home – your giving by law, the letter, which is death. Why not live by faith!
V10 God supplies our needs, not our greeds
As we give out of the riches of God’s grace, there’s some great effects.
i) Increases the harvest.
Our giving means that people get saved – 14 so far at The Gateway Church and we want to see many more.
ii) Produces thanksgiving to God for needs met and lives changed.
iii) proves yourselves. Oops Paul just dropped a bomb. Our giving is evidence that grace has touched our hearts. Grace sets us free to be generous. Has grace really touched your heart?
iv) causes people to pray for you. To thank God they found grace too!
We cannot out give God!
You may be at school or college, or unemployed and think this isn’t for me.I remember giving my last £10 as a student and the next day finding a tenner inside a pile of books!
LeTourneau was an inventor of earthmoving machines, and by a certain point of his life he was giving away 90 percent of his income to the Lord. He discovered that, no matter how hard he tried, he could not out-give God. As he put it, “I shovel out the money, and God shovels it back to me – but God has a bigger shovel.”
The truth is, we never give to get; but when we give, we do get! Generosity increases generosity! As Randy Alcorn puts it, “God does not bless us to increase our standard of living but to increase our standard of giving.”
3) Learn contentment Phil 4:11-13
Our entire economy is based on not being content – every advert is about making you discontent with what you have.
The Iphone 6 was announced this week. The iphone 5 only came out last year and funnily enough the 6 will be like the 4 but a bit bigger. And some of you will run out and queue at midnight to go buy it when your 4 works fine.
Paul tells us we can learn to be content whether we are poor or rich – he had been poor and he’d been upper middle class. God’s grace can strengthen us to be content with what we have.
When we are content we are free to be more generous.
SLIDE 13 Apply this
1) Tap into the riches of God’s grace.
Some may realise that you are spiritually dead, chasing after the world and discontent.
God loves you and wants you to turn to Him and be rescued by Him. So you can be spiritually alive in Christ full of joy in any circumstance.
Some need to allow the riches of God’s grace to captivate your heart again so you can get that sense of adventure trusting God again.
2) Give generously to the cause of Christ.
Get a hub, 31 St James St for extending the kingdom of God in King’s Lynn. Cost £750pm extra and a deposit.
Gift day on the 28th – pray about what God wants you to give then
And ask the Lord how he wants you to excel in the grace of giving on a monthly basis too.
We have giving leaflets to show you how you can give to The Gateway
3) Learn contentment.
Ask the Lord to teach how to be content and give us strength to do that!