A Giving Church Acts 2 & 4 3 01
A GIVING CHURCH
- I once read of a farmer who went to the office of a televangelist and asked if he could see "the Head Hog of the Trough."
The receptionist was offended and said in response, "Sir, if you’re talking about our beloved minister, you may call him Reverend or Pastor, but I don’t think it would be proper to refer to him as ’Head Hog of the Trough."
"Well, all right," said the farmer, "I just sold a few sows and was going to donate ten thousand dollars to the building fund, so I was hoping to catch him. But obviously I have offended you."
"Oh, no, no, just a minute sir, I think the Big Pig just walked in."
- Well, unfortunately this is how many people view the church. Always wanting, always asking for more. Always taking. Sometimes it is unfair and not true, but often, their are churches that are rightfully given the label of a taker.
In fact, the church that we see in the NT, and the church that the world needs is completely opposite.
The church of the NT is a Giving Church.
A church that is willing to sacrifice of itself, give of itself, offer something to those in need, to those doing God’s work, to those who are hurting, who are searching.
One of the greatest tragedies is when the church seeks to take and not give.
- In fact, the picture the book of Act paints is that of a Giving Church. For instance,
Acts 2: 42-45
It is this mark of giving that should be seen in us.
v This church should be one that is viewed by others, without hesitation, as a church that seeks to give generously.
So how do we do this?
How can we be a church that is marked with the same attributes as the early church of Acts? How can we be a Giving Church?
- Well, obviously the first place to start is "The Giving of our Money."
Now I realize that when it comes to the topic of money, it is never a popular subject. Maybe some of you cringed when you heard me use the "M" word...
q Money, when used properly, can be a great blessing to us, our families, and the church.
q Money doesn’t have to be a bad word.
Money only becomes dangerous and a curse when we live our lives in a way that is marked by the love of money.
When we become selfish with our money, when we become greedy always wanting more, never satisfied with what we have, wanting to cling to it, to trust in it.
***That is when money can corrupt us and corrupt the church.
|- Listen to what Paul wrote to Timothy, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness and pierced themselves through many sorrows.” I I Timothy 6:9-10..|
It is true for us on a personal level, and it is true for us as a church.
Churches can be guilty of having a love for money. And when that happens, then evil things are sure to follow.
- Now listen, I realize that it takes money to do things. In order to run a youth group, it takes money. In order to do our various children’s ministries it takes money. In order to maintain a church building ,it takes money. I know that, you know that.
…..This is why we expect those who are members of this church to give a portion of their income to the church---- But the reason you give, and the reason this church collects an offering, is not so that we can sit on it, and watch it build up, and see how much we can get and take. But, the reason we give of our money, is so that the church can give in return.
- In fact, it is Jesus who once said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
The more we give, the more God will bless us.
q The more this church gives to those in need,
q The more this church gives to the children and young people of this community,
q The more this church gives to those who are hurting and in trouble,
q The more this church gives to those serving as missionaries around the world, the more this church gives to the teaching and spreading of God’s word,
then the more this church will be blessed.
- But we can do more than just the giving of our money, we can also "Give of our Gifts."
***Now I’m not referring to physical or monitary gifts, I am talking about spiritual gifts.
|Gifts given to Christians by God and through the Holy Spirit. The Bible has much to say concerning spiritual gifts...|
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of services, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men."ICorinthian12:4-6
"It is he (God) who gave some to be... pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." Ephesians 4:12-13
"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in it’s various forms." I Peter 4:10
|- Listen to a clear and concise definition of what a spiritual gift is...|
"A spiritual gift is a gift of "grace." It is a natural talent given by the Holy Spirit or a special ability enhanced by the Holy Spirit to every member of the body of Christ to be used for the benefit of others and the glory of God."
- And the Scriptural fact is this.
If you are a Christian, you have spiritual gifts!!!.
You have talents, and strengths, and experiences that you can give. ******God has blessed you with these gifts so that you can bless other people.
----So that you can encourage and lift others up, so that you can help further God’s kingdom.
In order to be a giving church, all of us as Christians must be willing to give of our gifts.
- From preaching to singing, from teaching children to working in the nursery, from physical maintenance to leadership, God expects his people to use the gifts he has blessed us with.
Not for self-serving purposes, but for God-serving purposes.
- Well, maybe you are sitting in your pews, thinking to yourselves.. what in the world is he talking about?
(examples of service at Crest View)
- So you see, if we as a church want to be a Giving Church, then it is vital that we give of our money and our gifts.
We must give with the purpose of seeing God’s kingdom grow, with purpose of building others up.
We must give not with self-serving purposes, but out of a love for God and for others.
A while back on the "The Merv Griffin Show," the guest was a body builder. During the interview, Merv asked, "Why do you develop those particular muscles?" The body builder simply stepped forward and flexed a series of well-defined muscles from chest to calf. The audience applauded. "What do you use all those muscles for?" Merv asked. Again, the muscular specimen flexed, and biceps and triceps sprouted to impressive proportions.
"But what do you use those muscles for?" Merv persisted. The body builder was bewildered. He didn't have an answer other than to display his well-developed frame.
I was reminded that our spiritual exercises -- Bible study, prayer, reading Christian books, listening to Christian radio and tapes -- are also for a purpose. They're meant to strengthen our ability to build God's kingdom, not simply to improve our pose before an admiring audience.
Not for self-serving purposes, but for God-serving purposes.
- Now, understand, that that which we give to God is not done with the intention of earning His love or favor or earning salvation.
Ø Nothing we do will cause Him to love us any more or any less than He already does.
Ø Actually, the gifts and the money we give to God is done out of response to His love for us.
***Because it is God who sent his son Jesus Christ to die on a cross for all of us. †††
Such great love and such great compassion demands and deserves a response from his people.
And the way we can respond is with the giving of our money and the giving of our gifts, but more importantly we should respond with the Giving of our Lives.
Live churches are constantly changing.
Dead churches don't have to.
Live churches have lots of noisy kids.
Dead churches are fairly quiet.
Live churches are constantly improving for the future.
Dead churches worship their past.
Live churches move out in faith.
Dead churches operate totally by human sight.
Live churches are filled with tithers.
Dead churches are filled with tippers.
Live churches dream great dreams of God.
Dead churches relive nightmares.
Live churches don't have "can't" in their dictionary.
Dead churches have nothing but.
Live churches evangelize.
Dead churches fossilize.
|"Therefore, my dear brothers (and sisters), stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."|
I Cor. 15:58
- Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord.
q *Because when we fully give our lives to God, then will love our spouse the way God would want us to.
ü When we fully give our lives to God, then we will raise our children the way God wants us to,
ü we will handle our money the way God wants us to,
ü we will use our gifts and talents and time the way God wants us to.
If each of us as the church gives our lives fully to God, then we will truly be a Giving Church. So let me encourage each and every one of you, find a place, a ministry, a service which will allow you to fully give yourselves to God Give your lives fully to him, and he will use you for his purpose where ever you are in a powerful way.
- I love the true story of a young boy who wrote a letter to Mother Teresa the great, recently deceased missionary who gave her life to the orphans of India in the city of Calcutta. The young boy asked her how he could make a difference with his life. The kind of difference Mother Teresa had made with hers. For months he didn’t hear anything from her. Then one day he received a letter from Calcutta, India. He quickly opened it up and read four words that changed his life...
"Find Your Own Calcutta" signed Mother Teresa.
- In order to be a Giving Church, each and every one of us must find our own Calcutta. Our own place where we can give ourselves fully to God.