Faithlife Sermons

Someone's Gotta Give

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Series Review

Our Christmas sermon series follows the December Sunday School lessons the children are learning this month. The Big Give. On the very first Christmas morning, God gave us His own son, Jesus, who was born of the virgin Mary in a town called Bethlehem, to save His people from their sins! And as we read in the Easter story this same Jesus gave His life for our sake. This is the basis of our generosity. God loved us so much that we gave. We love God so much that we give. ,That’s how we demonstrate our love towards God. Giving is a grateful response to what God has given to us. .
This month our children are learning a verse from Scripture: It comes from .Let’s read it together:
1 Timothy 6:18 NIV
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
This month our children are learning a verse from Scripture: It comes from . Let’s read it together: Our December sermon series follows the December Sunday School lessons the children are learning this month. The Big Give, is about celebrating and imitating God’s generosity. God is a generous God – He gave us His own son, Jesus! And because God gave us Jesus and Jesus gave His life, we can be generous. And that’s how we demonstrate our love towards God: how can we say we love God and not be generous?
1 Tiimothy 6:18
1 Timothy 6:18 NIV
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
1 Timothy 6:18 NIV
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

Sermon Intro

Let me say something about this series - what it is and what it is not:
When I was living in Frederick, before I was engaged, I was still commuting to seminary, I would stop every morning at the WAWA to get coffee. Not financially wise, but I actually built some relationships there, around that island where you get the cups, cream and sugar. There was always a group of construction workers who would come in at about the same time as me. Mostly nice guys, but there was one that I really had trouble with. He was full of bitter complaints, and most complaints were about his money. His boss was cheap and not paying him enough. His corrupt government was taking his hard earned money. His ex wife was taking the rest. He was rude. Bombastic. Offensive.
I dropped by the WAWA on Christmas Eve after the candlelight service, and needed a coffee before I hit the road and headed for North Carolina. I was at the register and I did not have enough cash - someone patted me on the back and said Merry Christmas fella! I’ll pay for this. It was the chronic complainer. I suppose that could have been a heartwarming experience for me (aw, he’s a nice guy now that it’s Christmas). Instead, I was full of cynicism and fully expected him to be the same jerk once the clock hit 12:01am on December 26.
Let me be clear about something: I’m not just talking about doing an extra good deed during the holidays so we can feel good about ourselves: I’m talking about making generosity a habit, a lifestyle, to the point where people see and hear the testimony of Jesus through you.
I want us to take this morning to consider some practical ways we might resist the messages that we hear throughout this season of joy: The messages that tell us to buy; resist the messages that tell us to consume; resist the urge to get busy in preparation, stop and look around the church, look around the neighborhood, our workplaces, the world, and see the many opportunities to give. Looking for opportunities to give, living in anticipation of those opportunities to give may not be second nature to us…but it should be if we are going to call ourselves followers of Jesus. Joyful giving should be a way of life for us.
I want us to take this morning to consider some ways we might resist the messages that we hear throughout this season of joy: The messages that tell us to buy; resist the messages that tell us to consume; resist the urge to get busy in preparation, stop and look around the church, look around the neighborhood, our workplaces, the world, and see the many opportunities to give. Looking for opportunities to give, living in anticipation of those opportunities to give may not be second nature to us…but it should be if we are going to call ourselves followers of Jesus. Joyful giving should be a way of life for us.
Why do I think that for a Christian, giving should be 2nd nature? One reason is this:

Discipleship begins with a denial of self-interest.

Jesus said to his disciples (Matthew 16:24), Whoever wants to be my disciples must...
attend church semi regularly and be a member
wear a Christian t-shirt
engage in religious activity
This is what Jesus really said:
Matthew 16:24 NIV
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
That’s pretty hard core stuff, but it’s Christianity 101. Want to follow Jesus? Then start putting the kingdom of God before the kingdom of self. If we are our primary concern, then we are off the tracks. We are outside the bounds of Christian faith.
At one point in my pastoral ministry I was officiating 7 weddings per year. A young couple contacted me about officiating their wedding. I had reservations from the get go: “Tell me how you met.” “Well, this is the 3rd time we’re tried to get married.” THAT IS A RED FLAG, FOR THOSE OF YOU CONSIDERING BEING A WEDDING PASTOR. My follow up question: “That’s interesting, can you tell me more about that?” This couple could name many things they liked about the other person (attractive, nice, fun), but they could also name everything they did not like (she spends too much $, he stays out late with his friends). I did the best thing I could for that couple: I went through the wedding vows word for word and said, are you ready for this kind of unconditional, self-sacrificing, other centered relationship. I never heard from them again.
The Bible uses marriage lingo to describe our relationship with Jesus. Like marriage, we make vows as Christians. When we are baptized, when we enter into a covenant relationship with a church, when we are confirmed, the implicit understanding is that moving forward, our lives are not about us.
Same with confirmation, baptism and church membership. Saying our baptismal / membership / confirmation vows with integrity. When we...
It doesn’t matter how sound our doctrine is or how perfect our church attendance is or what Christian t-shirt we wear out in public and what Christian lingo we use in conversation. If we want to truly follow Christ, we put our own interests, desires and needs in the back seat and follow Jesus.
So I want us to consider three ways we can grow in our generosity this Christmas: 1) We can give our time, 2) We can give our talents and 3) We can give our possessions.
Philippians 1:21–24 NIV
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Philippians 3:7–8 NIV
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ
The happiest givers are those who are happy in Jesus, content with Christ and grateful for all that God has given them. Their giving is an outgrowth of their relationship with Jesus Christ.
I’m going to talk about 3 things we can give this Christmas: 1) We can give our time, we can give our talent and we can give our possessions.

Giving Our Time this Christmas

So I want us to consider three ways we can start giving this Christmas: 1) We can give our time, 2) We can give our talents and 3) We can give our possessions.

Giving Our Time this Christmas

Giving Our Time this Christmas

Ephesians 5:16 NIV
making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
There is lots of evil in the world, which means there are endless opportunities for us to give of ourselves.
I was talking with a group of clergy colleagues this past week, and we were talking about the NFL controversy. Is it right for players to opt out of the national anthem? Or should they be allowed to express their views? People on both sides of the debate have said, “I’m going to boycott watching football.” I’ve wondered when people say that, but not anymore. Two of the clergy in our group had similar testimonies: I was surprised how well I’ve done without it. It’s been nice: so much more time with my wife, family. Less time in front of a TV. My point is not about boycotting the NFL, but about looking at where our time goes.
I was talking with a group of clergy colleagues this past week, and we were talking about the NFL controversy. Players kneeling for the national anthem. Should they? Shouldn’t they. I’ve been skeptical when I hear people say they’re going to boycott watching football.

I am convinced that we don’t need as much “me” time as we think we do. I believe in self-care, taking time away from work and other obligations to be with family, but we can easily overdo this.
What can I do? Find the need.
Question: What should I do with my time? Find the need. . Here at HUMC we’ve already identified the needs...
Do it until it becomes a discipline. A habit. A pattern.

Giving Our Talents this Christmas

Giving Our Talents this Christmas

1 Peter 4:10–11 NIV
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Everyone has at least one spiritual gift. No one has them all. Some Bible scholars call this the principle of distribution. The question is not, “Do we have gifted people in our congregation?” Rather, “Will those with the gifts please step forward?”
I did my first ministry intern at a Southern Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA. During my time there we had a serious ministry vacancy: there was no one to lead the high school Sunday School class. After multiple pleas from the pulpit, bulletin announcements and multiple requests, the pastor made a bold decision. You see, in the Baptist church they have such a good time on Sunday morning, that over half of them come back for more that evening. So the high school ministry met during the Sunday evening service. The pastor made an announcement: he would be leading the high school ministry until God led someone else to do it. He knew that there was no way that God would overlook such an important need. He knew that someone in that church of 300 had the gifts and graces to work with youth: he was right.
how to discover: explore areas of ministry; take a spiritual gifts class;
how to discover: explore areas of ministry; take a spiritual gifts class;
Questions to ask: What are my gifts? (take a class) What are the needs? How can I meet this need?
make it a habit; let it become a routine; a discipline

Giving Our Possessions this Christmas

2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
A few years ago I watched with amusement one Sunday morning when a man took out a two hershey bars as he was giving the message. He gave one bar to one kid and told him, “It’s yours.” Eat it now if you want (never asked the parents). The other bar he broke up into tiny mini squares, gave them to another person and asked him to share with the rest.
He asked the group: Whom do you think enjoyed their candy the most? The group reached a speedy consensus: the boy with his own candy bar received much greater enjoyment than the rest of us. That was the wrong answer, of course. The right Sunday School answer was supposed to be “We did, because we shared.” But that wasn’t the reality that morning, and that isn’t always the reality in churches.
How many of you have ever re-gifted? Gotten that phone call and left used items to be picked up by Purple Heart or some other non-profit. This is the easiest way to give - give to get rid of.
The most unhappy givers I’ve ever met are the ones who give for the wrong reasons: give because their spouse made them, or give because the pastor guilted them into giving, giving because if they didn’t do it no else would, or giving make them feel good about themselves.
Sacrifice, but not a dreary obligation: freedom from self pursuit
children’s message / Hershey bars
The happiest givers are those who are happy in Jesus, content in Christ and grateful for all that God has given them. Their giving is an outgrowth of their relationship with Jesus Christ.
ex. parent destroying gifts and posting it on youtube; parent selling the toys on ebay
Questions to ask: How much do I need? What can I give? Where are the needs.
roommate with calculator - he was generous, he would round it to the upper number

Just Give

In a market economy, whenever we give, we expect or hope to receive something in return.
Christmas is that time of year when we remember Jesus, who emptied himself () and took on human form. He was born in poverty and humility. He gave his entire life receiving nothing in return.
When we give of our time, we may not get a thank you. We may not see the results of our work. But we are faithful and that is our blessing.
1 T
1 Timothy 6:18 NIV
Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.
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