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*Giving Yourself To God!*
*Sunday 3rd of February 2007*
*9 & 11am Services*
/Week 1 of 4/
This morning, I want to talk with you about giving.
And specifically about the key to godly giving.
The reason I want to talk about giving today is that it’s a core part of being a Christian, its one of the very core aspects of being a Christian.
We give our time, our gifts, our talents and our money to God in response and thankfulness for all that he has done for us.
The Bible is a book about giving.
The Bible talks more about giving than it does about either heaven or hell.
Jesus talked more about giving than almost any other subject.
Over half of His parables have to do with money.
There are more promises in the Bible related to giving than any other subject. 
1 Corinthians 16:2 /"On the first day of every week set aside some of what you have earned and give it as an offering.
The amount depends on how much the Lord has helped you earn."/
It says /"the first day of every week"/.
When the church gathered together on the first day of the week they gave.
That’s regularly.
That mean that it was a consistent, regular habit for them.
Phillip Harman – an example of generous giving
He gave to us kids – and we had great joy, we felt so much excitement in receiving the gift, we loved him – because he showed his loves for us by giving us in giving us tangible, thoughtful, and generous gifts.
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Corinth and he wrote
/“Since you excel in so many ways – you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us – now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving.”/
2 Corinthians 8: 7 (NLT)
Now the church in Corinth had a lot of problems.
You’ll remember in 1 Corinthians Paul addresses with strong word toward different factions which had broken out in the church, some saying “I follow Apollos” and others “I follow Paul”.
You’ll perhaps remember that there were real problems of sexual immorality occurring and there were people being greedy at the communion meal, feeding their faces even getting drunk while others went without because it was all gone.
There were lost of problems but Paul says – “you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for one us…” So while there were problems Paul encouraged them that they were doing a lot of great things.
They were doing a lot of things right.
In faith – they had a strong faith in God
Knowledge – they had a deep knowledge of the Scriptures
Such enthusiasm – they were full of zeal as they served God
And love – love was obvious to Paul.
I think what was true for them in many ways is true for us…
And don’t you think that’s true as well for us as a church.
Like the church in Corinth we’ve had our share over the years of problem.
But we have also the traits that Paul saw in the church in Corinth.
Paul would probably say we have strong faith in God.
We have grown in faith.
More than 50 years ago the church began here in Wodonga.
It was a small country church.
About 25 years later a small solid group members moved to the growing West of the city and began meeting in a home.
What marked that group was faith.
They prayed for people to come to know Christ and held evangelistic services and saw those they prayed for give their lives to Jesus and trust Him as their Lord and Saviour.
One day they prayed for three more families to come and God answered their faith filled prayers.
They took great steps of faith to move to the High School and then later to build the church building we are so thankful for.
Its debt free, paid off completely.
That’s faith.
And right up until this day the church continues to put their faith and trust in God.
Paul might well say to us that we have a deep knowledge of the Scripture.
This church has been in Wodonga now for more than 50 years.
Some of you have been part of this church for 10, 20, 30 years.
If these’s 52 weeks in a year, if you missed say two services over the year that would mean that you might hear 50 messages a year.
In ten years you would hear 500 messages.
Some of you have come morning an night for 10 years, that’s 1000 messages.
Allen Cummins has been here since the early days so that’s 2,500 sermons but he comes at night too so that’s another 2,500 so 5,000 sermons in total he would have listened to!
No wonder he’s tired!
Many of us have read God’s Word through from front to back more than once.
If you’ve had your heart changed through faith in Christ and have obediently developed the habit of daily reading and prayer that 365 days a year prayerfully reading God’s Word.
We too have so many enthusiastic people – full of enthusiasm, willing to serve, ready to go, looking for opportunities, engaged in ministry, part of a  
Paul was saying to them – you have so much faith, there are gifted speakers among you, you’ve got lots of knowledge, heaps of enthusiasm, and such love for us.
Well, now also excel in giving.
Excel in the grace of giving.
*Excel* in the dictionary means to do better than others.
It speaks of comparison.
You need to be doing better than the ordinary to excel.
You need to be very good to excel.
What was the context at Corinth?
Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee.
School by the greatest Rabbias of his day.
He was excellent at what he did, he was diligent.
And when in came to the Christians Paul was diligent in persecuting them.
He got letter of approval to have them thrown in jail.
Yet on the road to the road to Damascus he came face to face with the risen Jesus.
He saw a light and he heard a voice saying “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” From that day on his life was changed.
God spoke to Him on the road to Damascus and said “I want you to go to the Gentiles.”
Now for Jewish people this was a paradigm shift – a whole new way of thinking.
The Gentiles up until this point we’re seen as being favoured by God but now Paul was being sent to share the gospel with  them as a priority.
This caused a lot of problems especially amongst the church in Jerusalem, and there came a time where Paul was brought before the Authorities to actually explain himself and what he was doing.
This happens in Galatians 2 where Paul comes before the Jerusalem counsel.
Why don’t we turn there now.
Galatians Chapter 2:8-10…
*/8 /**/For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles./*
*/9 /**/In fact, James, Peter,~* and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers.
They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. 10 Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do./*
*/Galatians 2:8-10 NLT/*
So Paul goes and speak to the heavies in Jerusalem and they all agree that it’s okay for Paul and Barnabas to go and share the gospel to the gentiles while James, Peter and John gave themselves to evangelising the Jewish people.
So that’s what happened.
And they said to Paul that the one thing they wanted Paul to do as he was going and that was to remember the poor.
Now at the time the Church in Jerusalem was in the heart of Roman occupied territory and Jewish people who had put their trust in Jesus were suffering.
They didn’t have a lot of resources.
It was dire strait for them.
They didn’t have much money.
So Jewish Christians found it very hard and struggled at that time.
So when they say to Paul, “Look you’re going off to evangelise to the Gentiles, don’t forget the poor – we’re the struggling church in Jerusalem, the Jewish believers are struggling so when you’re going out to those rich Gentiles and they come to the Lord please don’t forget us.
And Paul says, “Sure, I  was going to do that anyway, that’s fine.”
1 Corinthians 16:1-2 sees putting this into practice.
*/Now regarding your question about the money being collected for God’s people in Jerusalem.
You should follow the same procedure I gave to the churches in Galatia. 2 On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned.
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