20070211 Giving Joyfully To God
Giving Joyfully To God
Sunday 11th of February 2007
“Though the have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity.”
2 Corinthians 8:2 NLT
Illustration – When people come to the door asking for money, when people ring up asking for a donation I feel like hiding. Often I’ll make an excuse to try and put them off, but if it’s a good cause and I can’t escape I give but not too much. I’ll get my wallet and see what’s there and generally they’re happy with a couple of dollars! And I’m happy because the pressures off and I can get back to what I’m doing until the phone rings again or I get a knock on the door.
For many people church is just the same. I like the people, I can handle the message, I’ll even fill out the blue card once in a while. But I always feel a little pressured, and I always try and hope I find some money so I can at least help the poor church a bit and the pressures off until next week.
Yet, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. People give joyfully to the Royal Children’s Hospital at Easter, people give joyfully to the Tsunami disaster and people give generously to the poor. Why? I guess because they have been personally affected by these things. So many have known of or have been in the Royal Children’s Hospital. We know the benefit of having a great hospital for kids. Many of us watched helplessly the footage of the devastating Tsunami and thought we can’t do much but we can give. And many of us know what it’s like to be in big trouble, facing hunger and bills and don’t know where to turn so we give joyfully to these needs.
Perhaps as some of you have looked through your purses and wallets at the last minute you notice that there are some who have come prepared and give in an envelope, regularly and they look pleased to give. Some even look like they’re worshipping as they give. What’s going on there?
What’s the difference between the reluctant giver and the joyful giver? What is behind these differences? How does God want me to give?
Context of passage
Paul is writing to the church in Corinth. He’s reminding them about the instructions that he gave them in his previous letter 1 Corinthians. In chapter 16 of that letter he had told them that he would be coming and that they were to collect money each week from the people in the church and put it aside so that when Paul arrived he would take the funds back to help the poorer churches, the Christians in the Jerusalem churches. They were finding it really hard, suffering from poverty and famine, and were a minority often misunderstood by Jews and Gentiles in a Roman occupied city.
Why was Paul doing this? Because when he became a follower of Christ on the Road to Damascus – the risen Lord Jesus told him to go to the Gentiles. The Jewish Christians were a bit concerned about this new move in mission because up until this point on Jews had been the focus of sharing the gospel, focusing on the Gentiles was a new move. So the heavies in Jerusalem called Paul in and asked him all about what he was trying to do. Galatians 2:6-9 shows their gathering and listening to Paul. After hearing him speak they saw that Paul had been indeed given the responsibility by God to preach to the Gentiles. They said, “Go ahead, but one thing we ask, remember the poor.” So for Paul the task of urging the Gentile Christians to give to the poor, hungry Jerusalem church had become a passion for him.
During his third missionary journey, Paul had collected money from the churches in Macedonia – Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. They had given money though they were poor and were suffering persecution. In fact Paul says that they gave more than expected. Here in the verses that we’ve read today Paul is using the example of the Macedonian church to encourage them to give.
Last week we saw how Paul urged them in verse 7 of chapter to excel in giving – they were excelling in faith, in knowledge, in enthusiasm and in love – Paul says “Come on now – excel in giving.”
We talked about the Macedonian church and noticed that the reason they excelled in giving was because they gave themselves to God first.
This morning I want to look at another aspect of these incredible Macedonian churches – they gave joyfully. They didn’t run when there was a knock on their door, or begrudgingly pulled out a few dollars from their wallets. They gave with great joy.
Paul says to the church in Corinth is that they are to give joyfully. Why? Because God has given you grace.
· Give Joyfully to God
Though they have been through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)
Paul explains to the church in Corinth what had happened with the churches in Macedonian. This is an incredible church. They were generous! Though they were in deep poverty they gave with rich generosity. Notice that it doesn’t say here that the Macedonian churches were poor. They were more than that. Paul describes their poverty as deep poverty, in the NIV it says it was “extreme poverty.” This was not normal poverty – it was extreme poverty. I know extreme sports are not normal sports. A normal sport might be bowls or cricket or golf. But those extreme sports are different – they’re spots like skydiving, snow boarding, bungy jumping. There’s a big difference and Paul says that they were in extreme poverty. Yet in deep poverty wonderful joy overflowed. Incredible!
Even though they are in extreme poverty and under trial and they are suffer persecution, yet we find this strange thing that joy starts to flow up, like it’s bubbling out of them; not forced, not put on or worked up; but overflowing like a river breaking it’s banks, a cup that’s filled too much. It’s staggering. In deep trial – joy overflows out of them. How can it be? How can it be?
Hard Times Can Bring Joy If We Cry Out To God For Help
I don’t know about you but I find that out of the most troublesome times of my life, out of the most difficult time of my life, I cry out to God the most. When things are difficult, when there’s challenges at every corner, I spend so much time saying “God, I need you at this time, I want you to protect me, to help me.”
My guess is this is what was going on with the Macedonian Churches. It seems that they were facing persecution, their budgets were empty, their pockets had holes in them and nothing would stay in them, and yet they had joy. And I think it was because of the grace of God in that time. As they cried out to God they found Him true to His promises. In their weakness He was strong. The grace of God was providing for their needs right in the time of trail.
How would that happen? Well I think that they would be crying out to God and saying “We thankyou that you loved us enough to die for us. We thankyou that in our weakness you are strong. Our trust is in you. God we need you at this time. Help us.” And I think he must have been helping them greatly. They experienced His help and they were thankful, so they gave joyfully.
Paul himself talked about how in his challenges had brought joy because he’d cried out to God.
Let’s turn to 2 Corinthian 12:9-10 Paul here is talking about a thorn in his flesh, a problem that caused him so much grief that he’d begged God three times to take it away, it says here…
Each time he said, “My gracious favour is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Paul had cried out and the Lord said to Paul “My grace is sufficient for you! My power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul’s response is key for us. “So now I am glad, I’m happy, I’m filled with joy.” Because in his weaknesses he found God’s grace, God’s power, God’s love.
Do you know God’s grace? Some of you are going through all kinds of hard times and challenges. Cry out to him! Ask Him to be your strength. Depend on Him. Pray continually, feed on His Word. Ask God to help you. You’ll find that his grace is sufficient for you.
When We Think Of All God’s Joyfully Given Us – We Love to Give Joyfully
Many people have never known God’s grace. They think that this is all there is and all that they have is because of their hard work, their giftedness, their blood sweat and tears. Many people don’t believe that God is the Creator of the heavens and earth and therefore life for them is about getting and keeping. It’s not about being thankful to anyone but ourselves for what we’ve worked hard for.
This is the opposite belief of Christians. When we realise that God is a joyfully giver and that everything we have comes from Him we can’t help but love to give!
1. This is my Father's world,
and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world:
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.
2. This is my Father's world,
the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world:
he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.
3. This is my Father's world.
O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world:
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!
Maltbie D. Babcock, in 1901 wrote those words, and Maltbie obviously knew that God is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. This is His world. Everything we have comes from Him – and He’s in control. So rather than focusing on what I don’t have, focus on all that God has given me to enjoy!
The sounds of birds and crickets,
The music that we love, that moves our hearts
Rocks and trees and skies and seas
Flowers dressed by God in beauty and colour
A delicious three course meal,
A babies smile, the silence of a babies sleep,
Holding hands with someone I love,
A day to rest and play,
A sleep in,
Reading a great book,
Rain, rain, rain,
A wrong forgiven,
A call from a friend,
A great day at the work,
A new discovery about God,
Lindt Lindor Chocolate,
Finding a small group who really care,
An Assignment given,
The incredible creation of human beings,
The death of a Son for us,
The Resurrection of the Son,
The love of God the Father,
Why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!
It’s true -When We Think Of All God’s Joyfully Given Us – We Love to Give Joyfully.
God has given us everything – He’s given joyfully! So lets’ give like He has to us.
Someone has once said, “You are never more like God, than when you give.”
It’s no wonder Paul wrote…
“…For God loves the person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NLT)
Bumper sticker: "God loveth a cheerful give but He also accepteth from a grouch." The Greek word for "cheerful" is the word we get our word "hilarious". In the New Testament church, when they gave, it was hilarious. In the modern church today, when you take the offering, that's the low point of the service. It’s such a shame. People might just have forgotten whose world it is and treated the church like a charity that’s after money and missed the opportunity of giving joyfully to God, the one who rules and reigns.
Are you a joyful giver? Do you consistently give a tithe? Do you find delight in giving your day, your activities your gifts, your time to God, recognising that it all belongs to Him? If you can't tithe and give cheerfully, what you need to work on is your attitude. The Bible wants to look at your attitude.
As your pastor, I want to say that I do believe that as a tribe of God’s people, as his church, we are a church that gives joyfully! Last week all we did was let you know that on the 25th of February we’re asking you to come with a free-will special offering and we received $11,000!
I see our joy overflow when I realise that last year, which is not unusal year, we gave more than $65,000 away. We gave away $15,000 to the Baptist Union of Victoria who gives that money to other churches who need more. We gave $10,000 to Albury Baptist which they were so appreciative of. We gave more than $7,000 for those suffering most through disasters around the world through Baptist World Aid. We helped bring Christian Medical Doctors and Dentists from poorer countries to conferences in Australia, more that $12,000 to Malawi for purchase of a vehicle. We gave $5,000 to the Wodonga Secondary College Chaplaincy. We gave to Gideons International more than $3,000 to place Bibles in Australia. We gave for Everyman’s, to people in our church family and in the community. And each week there’s always people who bring groceries and put them in the box in the foyer for those who are struggling.
That’s not even mentioning the giving of your time and gifts and prayers that you have given. Wow! You really understand that this is our Father’s World!
This is just like what happened when Joash became king. The people were so pleased that finally a king was doing what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord, that when Joash asked people to bring offerings to repair and restore the temple of the Lord, they responded with joy.
“This pleased all the leaders and the people, and they gladly brought their money and filled the chest with it.”
2 Chronicles 24:10 NLT
They kept emptying that chest and the people kept filling it up – glady being the key word.
That’s why one writer wrote,
Give strength, give thought, give deeds, give wealth.
Give love, give tears, and give thyself.
Give, give, be always giving.
Who gives not, is not living;
The more you give, the more you live.
Apply – ask them whether they give joyfully, what it will take to give joyfully, are they ready to make the decision to give joyfully.
Closing Illustration – Georgia and Me giving food to a family who needed help – the joy it brought us!
Yesterday the phone rang and a lady was calling, she had three children and not enough food to make it through until Tuesday. Could we help? I told I’d come as soon as I could.
I was home with Georgia and we were kind of playing together and I told her that someone needed some food and that we needed to go and get some from the church and take it to her so her family could have something to eat.
I don’t think she really understood what I wanted us to do so she said, “Dad can I just keep playing with my Barbies for a while. So I left her and came back a little later.”
Then we went together to the church -