Faithlife Sermons

Generosity - Developing the Habit of Generosity

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Good Morning, we are in a series on “The Generous life,: and we have been talking about a flow of Generosity… That there is inputs and outputs of Generosity....The funnel of Generosity begins with the God’s gifts or grace towards us… A key passage is found in James chapter One..
James 1:17 ESV
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
God Generosity is more than a sentiment or a feeling… His Generosity has been expressed… in tangible and measurable ways…
His Goodness is revealed in Creation — God abundantly Generous in creation..
In His Plan of Salvation - Sending of His Only Son.
In Our Participation in His Divine nature — We are in Christ and He is in Us…
In the Outpouring of His Holy Spirit --- ..God’s River that flows into us and becomes this resource a reservoir that spills over to others..
“The foundation of the Generous life is a Generous God.”
One of the most encouraging take aways from James 1:17
Is that God is the Father of lights - WITH WHOM THERE IS NO VARIATION OR SHADOW DO TO CHANGE…GOD nature doesn’t change…God doesn’t have mood swings… We talking about God’s Divine Immutability… which means God free from all change.
Everything in this world changes from one degree to the next.. But God is free from Change because He exists outside of time…space and He is free from the movement o History… Everything in Creation changes, yet when it comes to God’s grace — his gifts they remain the same..
When Israel distanced herself from God --- God continued to be faithful and this continued from One Generation to the next...
In the times of the Kings - Israel Desiring to be like other surrounding Kingdoms having their own King rather than being a nation under God.
God listen to Israel and had Samuel anoint Saul as King and so God gave them a dynasty of kings — King Saul was followed by David and Solomon… others… if you read through the history of the Kings… it didn’t work out so well— lines of good and bad kings...
During the times of Prophets both Israel and Judah got off track and getting themselves intrenched in the foreign marriages and practicing idolitary..
Yet, God remained unchanging in His Nature and in His purpose of restoring Israel…
Even when both Israel and Judah were exiled to Babylon it wasn’t going to be forever… After 70- years God planned to give Israel hope and future… It was during this time Jeremiah prophecies to Exiles…Gives a message of Hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 ESV
11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God says to nation that far from Him.... I know … the plans I have for your.” … are not intended to hurt you but to give you “hope and a future.”
This is the ‘Book of comfort and encouragement”, There are great promises of salvation that await those who endure the exile. The phrase ‘I will bring you back from captivity comes up over and over again..
The principle is that God is about restoration and he is about bringing about hope…No matter how dark the night… no matter how hard life feels right now in the moment… God is a God of Hope…
There is a huge difference between what this world calls hope and what the Bible calls hope.
The oxford dictionary tells us that the grounds for hope is believing that something MAY happen.
Biblical hope on the other hand is a SURE WORD, it is a confident expectation that God will be faithful both now in the future.
God was ultimately going to restore the fortunes of Israel..
Once Israel turned to God with a whole heart God would gather them from all the nations that they had been scattered from and bring them back into their land.. They could have hope for their children and grandchildren — would have a destiny of Hope.
One of the things about being part of Community Groups is hearing Stories of God’s goodness… Not only do we know God is Good Theologically, and Biblically… We know that God is Good because of Experience… We have seen God’s goodness in our lives, in our families, in our friends, in our finances…
T/s God’s generosity should lead us into the practice or into the habit of Generosity… But Generosity doesn’t come naturally to us.. We have to practice it.
Jack McDowell in his book, “There is more to life then making a living,” — In the book he Talks about developing the good and bad Habits… … The Habits we form impact our health, our finances, our relationships… The good thing about Habits is that we can reverse them…We can develop habit of spending realistically and strengthening our finances. We can develop the Habit of seeing the best in others and affirming their strengths and building positive relationships
McDowell says that
“Generosity is a character trait that is strengthened by habit.” Jack McDowell
The more we practice generosity, the more deeply that trait becomes a part of who we are. The more we practice a habit the deeper that trait becomes part of who we are…
T/s We are going to look at Three habits we can develop through practice…

1. Cultivating Right Attitudes

Hoarding is becoming a huge problem…
There’s been an enormous amount of research on the widespread problem with hoarding.
In a recent article in Scientific American… there was an article entiled
Material things don’t just fill basic emotional needs:
In fact, our possessions do not just make us feel secure by substituting for important people in our lives; we actually see these objects as an extension of ourselves.
We believe—or perhaps act as if we believe—that in some ways our very essence permeates our things. If these things become damaged or lost, we ourselves become damaged or lost.
People can and do let us down, but not things. “That worn sweatshirt is not human. It does not show us compassion. Neither does a teddy bear or a coffee mug. But, scientists point out, these objects are utterly reliable, always present and under our control.
“We can count on them.” According to Professor Ian Norris, “Other people are an extension of our self-concept. When those relationships are unstable or unfulfilling, people may lack the connection they need and attach meaning to products that fill the void.”
Hoarding sufferers use their belongings to safeguard their identity, to ‘soothe their fears’ and to build ‘fortresses’ to make them feel more secure.”
Somehow our possession give us a sense of Security… replace the need for community and relationships!
The apostle Paul was an amazing man --- When he wrote to the Philippians he was a prisoner chained to a Roman Guard. He had not comforts and no guarantees but yet he talks about having joy and hope.
We don’t find Paul bemoaning his life --- but rather his thoughts are occupied with the thoughts of others… In Philippians chapter 2 Paul encourages us to have the right attitude towards ourselves others .
Philippians 2:1–7 ESV
1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.
Paul in this text deals with two important attitudes… Our attitudes towards ourselves and others…He starts with these — If statements…He is asking rhetorical questions… which everyone already knew the answer too..l
Is there any encouragement in Christ? Being a Christians and being part of his body… In Christ… have you found verbal or nonverbal encouragement? How about from the scriptures...
(Well, yes, I suppose there is.)
Is there any consolation of love? (Well, yes, I guess so.) Is there the feeling of being loved..
Is there any fellowship of the Spirit? (ok, that too.)
Is there any affection and compassion? (Yes, I suppose so.)
Paul’s goal was not to make us question these things, but to remind us that they are present… Paul is using a Rhetorical Device used in Greco Roman argument…
He makes truth statements that lead us his readers to come to the same conclusion…
If these things are true… then… is the implication...
If you have received anything from following Jesus… if His love has made any difference in your life… THEN make my joy complete… by being of one mind.. Paul is not asking for uniformity… but rather unity… Uniformity comes from pressure from without.. We don’t have to all look the same… However, because we have been changed from the inside out… Because … we have been immersed into Christ… We are baptised into Christ, We are baptized into his Spirit....
The H.S the Comforter Himself lives within, and knits our hearts together with other Christians. What ‘fellowship of the Spirit’! The Holy Spirit shares His very presence and gives a new desire to share themselves, with God and with others who know Christ, and help one another.
Then the natural Outcome is being like-minded… Whenever you see God’s people having one heart and one mind in the Bible good things begin to happen within the community. When the spirit fell on the day of Pentecost… they were were in one place with one heart…Unity comes when we practice habits that bring like minded… Habits have to be practiced they don’t come naturally,
Practice Having the SAME MIND
Having the same love
United in spirit
Doing nothing from selfish ambition
Counting others more important
Not looking after your own interests.
At first glance, it looks like Paul is telling us to forsake our own interests in the pursuit of serving others, but this is not the case.
He could have told us to look out for our own interests and the interests of others, but this would have made them equally important. Using the rhetorical “Not only … but also …” construction tells us that he wants us to do both. But there is more to it....
As human beings, we most likely look out for our own interests, possibly even to the exclusion of anyone else’s!
A sure cure for selfish ambition is appreciative recognition of others’ good qualities and their walk with the Lord. It is easy to get caught up in competition, aggressive acquiring, and vying for our own rights and needs. But compared to knowing Christ, those interests seem shallow. We need Christ’s attitude of self-sacrifice to look beyond ourselves to the needs of others.
The Key is balance…In Matt 22:37 Jesus told the Pharisees the greatest Command is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, Soul and mind… and the second is like it Love the your neighbor as yourself… The whole law is summed up in these two laws… Love God and love others as yourself…
Self love needs to be balanced with love for others..
We need a positive view of self… self esteem means to give value respect and worth… its a realistic assessments of ourselves…strengths weakness.. positive and negative qualities.. potentials and limitations…
Two common problems with self-esteem..
(a). to overestimate ourselves - leads to pride and ego-centricism)
(b) The other is to unerestimate oneself… which can lead to pleasing others and other addictive behaviors… axiety and depression.
If we are going to be affective ministers of God grace… demonstrate the Generosity of God we need healthy view of self.

Stott (1984) eloquently addressed this issue by emphasizing that we must “affirm” our true self, that is, who we are by creation, and we must contain, temper, and even “disown” our false self, that is, who we are by the fall. He added that true self-denial (denying the desires and wishes of our false and fallen self) is not the road to self-destruction but the road to self-discovery. We

Humility does not mean putting ourselves down but rather lifting others up.
The challenge is to do the one without ignoring the other.
If we don’t look after our own interests, we may burn out or be taken advantage of.
Ignoring the interests of others would contradict the clear teaching of Scripture.
It is not just a matter of your interests or those of others. Instead, we need to look out for the one without letting go of the other. Only then will a biblically-sound balance be struck.
Looking only to our own interests results in selfishness. Looking only to the interests of others is not sustainable, even though it sounds like a good thing. The key is to do both.. see diagram...
The Example that we are given is Jesus himself — Jesus gave himself to others while all the time remaining God… He did not for one moment stop being God… rather he added humanity to his Divinity.
Jesus’ decision to humble Himself and die on the cross took place in a specific context: while He was fully God. Instead of holding on to His “rights and privileges,” He chose a different path. This path is described by Paul in both positive and negative terms. Even though He could have asserted His divine right, He chose instead not to regard equality with God as something to be grasped. On the contrary, He emptied and humbled Himself. The implication is that if Jesus is willing to set aside His own rights in obedience to the Father’s higher purposes, then why can’t we do the same? Why can’t we be like-minded and consider others more important than ourselves?
T/s we can develop the Habit of Generosity through practice…
1. Cultivating Right Attitudes -

2. Nurturing the Art of loving Others Well.

1 John 4:7–11 ESV
7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
One of the most profound statements of the whole Bible and perhaps for many people today one of the hardest to believe. God is love.
John is not identifying a quality which God possesses; he is making a statement about the essence of God’s being. It is not simply that God loves, but that he is love.
Love flows between the three persons in a constant interaction, so that every activity expresses the love which is the divine nature. The Father loves the Son; the Son loves the Father; the Spirit loves the Son, and so on. This is not just a static description, but a living, active dynamism. God loves, within his own being, because his nature is to love...
God’s nature is to love therefore God is love.
John tells us that Divine love has been poured out… and as his Children Love has been received and there are some implications of this transaction… John tells us that there is natural flow of love...
b. A Natural flow of love…
John is pointing out -There are Theological implications/mandate that believers are to participate with God’s love...
In other words, it was in God’s plan to involve humans in the fulfillment of His love for us. We become participants in God’s love for us through loving one another. If we neglect love one another would have the result of the failure of the realization or actualization of God’s love in another person’s life.
Every human relationship is like a triangle. The two people in the relationship are at the base of the triangle, and God is at the top. As the two people draw closer to the top of the triangle, closer to God, they will also draw closer to one another. Weak relationships are made strong when both people draw close to the Lord!
In this love (sacrifial love) God made known (Manifest)
-Through the sending of God into the world. The love of God is not dependent on our action... God loved regardless of our response..
In This Love -- God loved us unconditionally
Love is the deepest possible expression of God's Character - The ultimate expression of love is demonstrated through the person and work of Christ..
Through Propitiation -
propitiation n. — the means of appeasing wrath and gaining the good will of an offended person; especially with respect to sacrifices for appeasing angered deities.
The greatness of God’s love is shown not only in saving us from the judgment we deserved, but also in wanting us to live through Him.
As those who have received God s love... we ought to love one another. The implication of God's love should motivate us to action.
Love Becomes visible...No one has seen God... But if we love one another and abide in love... love is perfected -- According to John if all we did on regular basis --
Love needs to be accompanied by deeds..
T/s we can develop the Habit of Generosity through practice…
1. Cultivating Right Attitudes
2. Nurturing the Art of loving Others Well.

3. Practicing the Habit of Generosity.

A fews years ago our family went to Anaheim as a family did the Disney Trip and it was crowded but we had a great time as a family. While we were there Ryan saw this homeless guy — pan handling — and he had compassion on the man… He gave him money and we literally watched him go straight from us to the liquor store… I had to admit that I regretted that we gave the man money..
And I had this thought this man does not deserve Generosity.
And this leads to the question of our Generosity towards the Poor… One of the road blocks to our generosity is the question of Deserving…
Does that person Deserve Generosity?
When you think about God’s gift in salvation— There was nothing good in us to deserve the gift of Salvation… We had no righteousness in ourselves...
Grace is a gift from God that can never be earned, no matter how great we think we are. It’s a gift we do not deserve that was given to us amid our failures, mistakes, and sins. And although we will continue to fall short of the glory of God, his never-ending grace surrounds us like the roaring ocean surrounds a piece of driftwood.
The Bible is very compassionate towards the poor and disenfranchised of the world… Jesus himself said — He didn’t come for those who had it all together --- he came for those who needed healing...
When it comes to the poor in the world… the world is very disproportionate when it comes to wealth… Global Poverty...
Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of lives on less than $10 a day.
in the USA - 12 % population below the poverty line...
In 2017, there were 39.7 million people in poverty, not statisti­cally different from the number in poverty in 2016.
Dictionary of Bible Themes 5449 poverty, remedies for

Although poverty can never be totally eliminated from this sinful world, it can be alleviated. Scripture provides guidance concerning how this may be done.

This idea of Generosity to the poor and to the needs of others goes back to the Mosaic Law… We see this in Deuteronomy 15..
Deuteronomy is in fact a repetition of the law of Moses as delivered at Mount Sinai (Horeb) in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers....
Deuteronomy was addressed specifically to a younger generation of Israelites poised to enter the promised land…
There was provision for the poor in the OT and for good reason..
Deuteronomy 15:7–8 ESV
7 “If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, 8 but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be.
Moses says, If someone is made poor in the land that God is giving you. Do not harden your heart or shut your hand.
Notice that your heart is connected to your hand… hardened heart means your hand is closed… Generous heart means your hand is open to your brother.... and lend to him what is sufficient...
Moses deals with undeniable fact that poverty is endemic to human existence.. Moses tells us that the poor will always be with Israel… Jesus himself said the exact something.. The poor will always be with you…
So this is not a dismissive statement.. rather tells us that the opportunity to serve the poor will always be there.
One of Deuteronomy’s striking features is its concern with the poor and disadvantaged members of society - and the provision of the sabbatical year or the year of release… It is Amazing Law..
“At the end of seven years”—in Jewish tradition, the remission of debts took place at sunset on the last day of the seventh year. The Hebrew word “release” (שׁמטה) means literally “a letting drop, remitting.”
There was a purpose for this law.. The first is for the benefit of the Giver.
a. To Enable the Giver to be a Blessing.
The law was given was given not to constrain Israel but rather a means of receiving Gods grace and blessing…… God wanted Israel to be the lenders and not the borrowers… so that in turn they would be a blessing to surrounding nations
Deuteronomy 15:6 ESV
6 For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.
b. Free God’s people from Materialism.
The law of debt cancellation was intended to instill a spirit of generosity within the Israelites and thus a freedom from the love of money and things…
Matthew 19:21 ESV21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
The absence of compassion would lead men to the degrading reaction described in verse 9 and a law that was designed to protect the poor would become a reason for oppressing them. As the seventh year approached men of wealth would hesitate to make loans which would not be reimbursed
c. To Alleviate the Plight of the Poor.
The purpose of the legislation here is that “there shall not be among you any poor.” This is an ideal goal, as v 11 below demonstrates—“the poor will not cease out of the land” (הארץ).
Deuteronomy: An Expositional Commentary Making Poverty History (vv. 1–6)

Sadly, while poverty can be greatly reduced, ‘You always have the poor with you’ (Matthew 26:11). There will always be need for caring and providing for the poor.

In spite of the reality of the human condition that produces poverty, the law here is an attempt to alleviate the suffering of the poor.
But the problem with being a lender is that some calculated the Sabbatical year into their lending… and hardened their hearts to the plight of others.. because of the fear of not being repaid… being tightfisted meant that they were not trusting the lord to bless them…
Not only to lend and release those the debt on the seventh year, but to give even more generously… to those who had to contract themselves because of Debt..
Deuteronomy 15:12–14 ESV
12 “If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. 13 And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. 14 You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him.
Not only was the person to be released but was to be given a generous bonus (v. 14) to enable him to get a good start in life.
The reason for such a gracious law is Israel’s experience of release by the Lord from Egyptian slavery. God’s nature and redemptive action become a model for ethics.
Conclusion
Generosity is a character trait that is strengthened by habit. The more we practice generosity, the more deeply that trait becomes a part of who we are… God is by nature loving and generous… and so it is no surprise that Generosity is expected to be expressed in his disciples..
What is interesting is generosity seems to move from those nearest to us out....
Jesus said,
Matthew 10:42 ESV
42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
The little ones Jesus is talking about are new believers..
Paul told the Galation’s do not give up and loose heart in their good deeds… because in due season they would reap a harvest.. keep on doing good… but he doesn’t leave open ended generosity he prioritizes it…
Galatians 6:10 ESV
10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
There is always going to be opportunity to show goodness there are always going opportunities to give of your time, talents and treasure… Where do we start? One of the principles that the Bible teaches us is that we start where we are at… Generosity begins in our Homes… It begins with our family… It begins in the local church and it extends outwards..
As we continue in this series -— One of the ways that we can increase our influence is through our Generosity… We can make a difference.
November 8th is when the Camp Fire hit paradise and even though we might be moving on — its easy to forget those survivors — who still processing what happened that day… Our paradise Church was impacted… As we talk about giving… I want to challenge us together… with a project…
One of the ways we can help is to support Pastor Art Worthington as he shepherds…pastors those in his congregation who survived the fire… next four weeks we are going to have envelopes available you can just put camp fire...
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