GPS (grow|pray|serve) from Sunday, October 14, 2018

In response to Sunday’s message, “More Like Jesus: Generosity,” read Matthew 8:1-16

Questions for GROWTH …

1. In his sermon Pastor Greg said that he “knows Jesus was a generous person.” However, when he reads and studies the gospels, he doesn’t see Jesus putting shekels in an offering plate nor does he find any record of him ever making a financial gift to anything or anybody. Does this trouble you?

Pastor Greg went on to say…

  • There is no evidence that Jesus ever held any investments.
  • Jesus never owned his own transportation—he walked everywhere he went and borrowed a donkey on Palm Sunday.
  • He was buried in someone else’s grave.
  • And Jesus never purchased property or owned a house. In fact, Jesus says he didn’t even have a bed to call his own (Matthew 8:20).

Jesus’ generosity wasn’t demonstrated in giving money to the Temple. He apparently had none to give. The evidence of his generosity was getting involved in the messiness and brokenness of people’s lives including the leper, the Roman officer, Peter’s mother-in-law and the crowds who followed him. And wherever Jesus encountered human need, people always received more than they hoped for.

2. How much of your weekly or monthly income do you give away? The baseline found in the Old Testament and reaffirmed in the New Testament is the tithe (10%). Both the prophet Malachi and the Lord Jesus promised an overflowing blessing to those who give generously (Malachi 3:10 and Luke 6:38 ). Is it possible you may be lacking abundance in your life because you are withholding from God that which belongs to God already?

3. Pastor Greg said that God is full of grace and generosity. Read Ephesians 1:3-8. How does Paul describes God’s character in giving. How have you experienced his generosity in your own life? Make a list of his good gifts.

Focus for PRAYER …
A man once came to Peter Marshall, former chaplain of the Unites States Senate, with a concern about tithing. “I have a problem,” he said. “I have been tithing for some time. It wasn’t too bad when I was making $20,000 a year; I could afford to give up $2,000. But now that I am making $500,000, there is no way I can afford to give away $50,000 a year.”

Peter Marshall reflected on this wealthy man’s dilemma but gave no advice. He simply said, “Yes sir, I see that you have a problem. I think we ought to pray about it. Is that all right?”

The man agreed, so Marshall bowed his head and prayed, “Dear Lord, this man has a problem, and I pray that you will help him. Please reduce his salary back to the place where he can afford to tithe.”

You say, “I can’t afford to tithe.”  God says, “You can’t afford not to.” In just a couple of weeks, you’ll be ask to prayerfully make a financial commitment to your church for the coming year. Don’t be afraid. God always blesses generosity because he himself is a generous God. If you’re not currently tithing, perhaps you can step up your giving by 1% or 2%. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to step out in faith as you step up your giving.

Actions for SERVICE …
When we see a need, sometimes making a donation isn’t the best response. Sometimes we need to take action—get our hands dirty—invest in a situation by giving our time and our service to others. Do something unexpectedly generous for someone who needs to be touched by God’s grace.

One thing more …
Following Sunday’s service one of our members continued to stew on the sermon. Monday morning during his regular devotional time, he read from The Upper Room. Later in the day he stopped by the church and left a check for $500 to help bridge the current gap in our finances, challenging 40 more persons to help erase the deficit. The devotional he read for October 15 is below:

“Compassionate Giving”

“Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7 CEB)

Our pastor recently challenged us to discover the depths of generosity and the blessings of giving. For each of 15 days, we were given a new task designed to help us discover the gift of generosity.

During this experience, I remembered that in the early years of my parents’ marriage, they struggled financially due to a meager income, seminary expenses, family illness, and a broken-down vehicle. At a prayer meeting, a man stood and told of a family in the community who was experiencing great difficulties and needed help. My father had only two dollars to his name, but with a loving and generous heart, he contributed all of it to the needy family. The following day, he was shocked to learn that the money had been collected for us, his own family.

I am thankful for my father’s example of sacrificial giving. Greater still is the ultimate example of generosity demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ. When opportunities arise to contribute time or resources, I reflect on these examples of selflessness and strive to give with a joyful and grateful heart.

Generous God, help us never to take for granted all that comes from you. Give us generous hearts as we serve others in your name. Amen.

When I acknowledge God’s blessings, I can be more generous.