Jesus gives us generous hearts

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Grace transforms us in so many ways – the start is forgiven, but there is so much more.
Last week we saw the result of grateful hearts – did you write the letter?
This week look at generosity

Amazed at the special offering for Newday – just over £2k. Means that 15 young people are going. Pray for huge breakthroughs and changed lives

Average christian gives 3x as much as non-churchgoers
Bible believing Christians give on average 11.5% of income

More about attitude than amount

i) Grudge giving – “I have to” – like when have to pay for a parking ticket
ii) Duty giving This is giving that says “I ought to.” This is how we give to the electric company. It's a bill.
iii) Thanks giving Thanksgiving says, “I want to.” It is with this kind of attitude like a young man who saves several months of income, buys an engagement ring, and then gives it with great joy and enthusiasm. So how do we view God? Is He like the traffic warden? The electric company? Or is He the object of our love and desire?

2 Cor 9:7 God loves a cheerful giver

Look at key passage for today Phil 4:14-20

v14 Share together
When Paul wrote Philippians it was a thank you letter. He'd seen first hand how they were sharing together in what he was going through, through their giving.

In v15 he calls it Partnership – not just sharing in the burden financially but it becomes a partnership. Your giving is a stake in lives getting transformed here among us and in the cities of Europe where we are partnering with Relational Mission to see churches planted.

People generally give to vision. That's why the emotional Telethon videos get money. You are not just seeing the need, but someone is casting a vision to tug your heart to respond with your cash, cards or cheqes.

In v16 Paul talks about how his Needs
have been met again and again – it's a sign of how the Philippians have caught hold his vision and are partnering with him to make sure his needs are met.

Twice in verses 14-16, Paul uses the word “share” in this encouragement. In English we can't see it but there is a special word buried in the Greek construction that you may have heard before. “Koinonia,” the partnership of believers in the common cause of Christ. As Paul saw it, generosity was inseparable from their Christian relationships. Jesus gave them generous hearts and that was a means of Christian fellowship.
His needs were their needs. They felt his needs and responded to them. His suffering did not go unnoticed but touched them deeply so that they fellowshipped in his need.
We see this principle expressed in other parts of the Bible as well. John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:16-18).

The next thing is that giving without expecting something back is means of eternal investment. Paul expresses this in the next verse: “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (4:17).
v17 Giving is an eternal investment
Randy Alcorn “You can't take it with you so send it on ahead”

It's like the story of the sailor who was shipwrecked on a South Sea island. He was seized by the natives who carried him to their village and set him on a crude throne. They treated him as royalty. Soon he learned that their custom was once each year to make a man king, king for a year. He thought this was a pretty good deal until he started wondering what happened to all the former kings after their year was up. He found out that after the year, the king was banished to a deserted island where he starved to death. That worried him, but he was a smart king, so he put his carpenters to work making boats and his gardeners to work transplanting fruit trees and other crops to the island where he would be banished. His carpenters built a nice home there. So when his year was over, he was banished, not to a barren island, but to an island of abundance

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:19-21).

v18 fragrant act of worship
Next Paul uses OT worship language of “fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable”
After the Flood, Noah offered a burnt offering to the Lord in Genesis 8:21 and we read that “The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of man…'” The burnt offering expresses obedience and dedication to God and God delights in this. So Paul takes that imagery and applies it to Christians taking note of Christian needs and generously sacrificing to meet those needs. For God, our giving, sacrificial giving, is the burnt offering, a sweet aroma to the Lord.

Then in v19 we see big returns
And my God will supply every need of your according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
My God – Paul personalises this.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is my God
The God of Moses is my God
The God who went with Joshua around Jericho is my God
The God who defeated Goliath is my God
The God of the prophets is my God
The God of the virgin birth is my God
The God who raise Jesus from the dead is my God.

He is my God, you God

He will meet all your needs. Anything you need, he will provide! You cannot outlive God.
When I've struggled financially, I've not been giving generously. Giving again has been the way out. I'll never forget when this church was having bit of financial crisis, one of our Trustees Andy Richards said you need to give your way out of this mess. So we started, small at first, but increasing. Now our giving is 8% of our expenditure budget for this year – and that is not enough! We will look to grow it.

The principle is you reap what you sow. God has a way of giving by the cartloads to those who give away by shovelfuls.—Charles Spurgeon

Where to be generous?

i) Church
The church is the hope of the whole world. We are on a mission to be a gateway for the gospel to goto the nations. For us that means we are a multi cultural church, passionately pursuing God, drawing people in, sending people out resulting in church planting in the region and the re-evangelisation of Northern Europe.
We haven't even scratched the surface of that yet, just getting started in fact.
Mission and ministry cost money. This year the budget is just under £90,000 which will cover me full time, Mike & Sarah part time and Kerry who cleans the offices wonderfully. The pie chart shows that staffing is your biggest cost followed by premises, giving out and ministry.

ii) People in need – wisdom money or food, bus tickets
A second area to be generous is with individuals in need. I was challenged by a friend who never passes a homeless person without buying them some food or a drink. Never give money – it gets spent on drugs or alcohol. Homeless charities cite figures of 70% tested for class A drugs. You might say it's only a few pence, but Thamesreach a London based homeless charity says Giving to people who beg is not a benign act without consequences. As an organisation that has worked with people on the street for early thirty years, we have seen many lives damaged by hard drugs and alcohol misuse. We have even lost people through overdoses in situations where a significant portion of the money they spent on drugs came from members of the public giving loose change.
Tossing a few coins in the hat is a guilt assuage, not generosity. Stopping, having a short conversation and asking if they want something to eat or drink and then getting it – is generosity with time and money. Some of you excel at this so much.

iii) Charities and organisations
There will be ministries and charities that are close to your heart that you can support, go for it!

Why not?

Why don't some have generous hearts?
For whatever reason, you may have never even thought about giving away your money regularly. It never occurred to you that this is part of worship. Perhaps one of the 10 commandments “Thou shalt not steal.” is the mantra. Good start. But now God is calling you to hear the New Testament command. Not just: Don't take what's not yours, but give what is yours. “Contribute to the needs of the saints.” “Let him who contributes do so generously.” Don't be oblivious anymore.

Perhaps we are not oblivious. We know this is what people who love Christ do. But we just never seem to get around to planning how much and when and where to give. Things just slide. God has appointed this message to bring you to a critical new place in your walk with him this week. Don't be careless. Be thoughtful. Be intentional.

The desire to keep more than we need. The spirit of greed groans when it gives. It thinks of all the things we could buy if we didn't give. The biblical alternative to this is not disciplined groaning. The alternative is a new heart and the joy of being free from the bondage of greed. It's the glad experience that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Don't live in the bondage of greed. Be free.

that we won't have what we need. Fear is the flip side of greed. Greed focuses on what we don't have but would like to have. Fear focuses on the consequences of not having what we need to have. The answer to greed is the pleasure of Christ'spresence. The answer to fear is the certainty of Christ's promise. Don't live in fear. Be satisfied with Christ, and trust his promises.

How to break free into generosity

Grasp the riches of God's grace
Pray and Plan it! – Arnold Bell “How much do we get keep this year?” First year he did that, they set an outrageous target, more than met it and ended up being able to buy their first new car too!
In 1 Cor 16:2 Paul suggests weekly planning, because most people were paid weekly! On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
Do it!
Easy to be full of good intentions, but careless in practice. Do it today – grab a giving leaflet in the welcome display. Check out the website to give online. But do it today. Pray, plan and do it! It's a lot of fun, being a blessing, sowing and reaping.



Andy planted the Gateway Church in Sept 2007. He and Janet love to gather different nations together to grow in Christ while eating good food! He also helps to shape and serve a couple of Relational Mission's church plants in mainland Europe. Andy and Janet run regularly, largely to offset the hospitality eating! He also runs a popular WordPress plugin Church Admin