Wednesday, December 7, 2016

EmmDev 2016-12-06 [Treasure in Clay Pots (2Cor)] Generosity (9): Consequences of #2

Hi Everyone
I sent this one out yesterday, but it seems to have got lost, here it is again.

Generosity (9): Consequences of #2

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!      (2Corinthians9:12-15)
In the previous eDev we started looking at the consequences of generosity and saw that God makes His grace abound in and through us. that He increases our seed store and that He is glorified.

Today's reading takes this a bit further:
Firstly, good generosity doesn't only meet needs but brings glory to God. There are ways of giving that make the giver look good and there are ways of giving that make God look good. We should strive for the latter.

Secondly, good giving should come from obedience to God's prompting and not from guilt or peer-pressure. When it comes from obedience to God's prompting, people can sense the "right-ness" of the decision and will recognise God's hand in the giving and praise Him for it.

Thirdly, when people see Godly giving at work in the heart of His people, they are moved to prayer (rather than showy displays of gratitude) because they see the kindness of God, who gave His Son, being lived out in His people. Again, this points towards God's glory and not human glory.

And so we complete a marathon session on generosity...
We've seen that:
1. Generosity shown to anyone is actually generosity to God.
2. We do it because of what Jesus did for us.
3. Our thoughts and attitudes are more important than the gift.
4. There is a justice issue of equality around giving.
5. All giving should be done decently and in order.
6. Giving transforms brokenness and so Paul pushes generosity.
7. Understanding that "our stuff belongs to God" will help us give cheerfully.
8. Giving bears good fruit like grace abounding in our lives
9. Giving also transforms the giver and brings glory to God.

I hope you've enjoyed the journey.
Christmas can be a time of generosity - may I challenge you to read through the last few EmmDevs and think through your generosity?
Having reached the end of this section, I'm going to end the edevs for this year. I pray for God's blessing over you and your loved ones over this Christ-mass season and I pray that you may have time to rest, reflect and revive.
I will re-commence when the government schools start up again.
God bless.

Theo Groeneveld
Emmanuel Presby Church Cell: 082-5510752

Friday, December 2, 2016

EmmDev 2016-12-02 [Treasure in Clay Pots (2Cor)] Generosity (8): Consequences of #1

Generosity (8): Consequences of (#1)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.      (2Corinthians9:8-11)
When God's people are genuinely generous, then God does beautiful things in our midst. Let's look at a few:
  1. Grace abounds, so that we abound in good works. What does this mean? Grace is the understanding that all the goodness and forgiveness that we receive from God is undeserved and unearned by us who receive it. GRACE is God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
    When we properly grasp and understand this kind of generosity, goodness and grace it transforms us - We become kind and generous people who "abound in every good work" which increases our understanding of grace and makes use do more good work which increases our understanding of grace, which... (and so the cycle continues...)
  2. He increases our store of seed. We become rich in every way (not just money) so that we can be generous on every occasion. When we cultivate generous hearts we begin to see life differently we realise that there is more than money that we can give. We can give time. We can give encouragement. We can give some of our knowledge away. We can give a friendly smile or a kind word. We can share a meal, offer a safe space, lend a listening ear. The more we do it, the more God will work in us and the better we will become.
  3. God gets the Glory. When our generosity is God directed and not self-serving, people see it and God gets glorified.

Have you grasped Grace? Has Grace grasped you?
Take a moment to reflect on God's Gifts of Life(Creation), His Son (Christmas and Easter), the Holy Spirit and Providence from day to day. Count your abundant blessings.

Now go into the day and use your time and your talents, your smile, and your kindness of heart to share this grace with others. Don't give money today. Give of yourself.

When we give away of what God has given us, it doesn't become less, it becomes more!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

EmmDev 2016-12-01 [Treasure in Clay Pots (2Cor)] Generosity (7): Seeing it differently.

Generosity (7): Seeing it differently.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.      (2Corinthians9:6-7)
There is a little cartoon that I enjoy: It's a family of three shaking hands with the minister at the door. The baby and the husband have tear-stained faces. The wife says: "I'm sorry about my baby crying pastor - he's teething." "I understand," replies the pastor, "but why is your husband also crying?" "Oh" she replies, "He's tithing."

For many of people, being generous is hard. They see generosity as sacrificing their time, talent and treasure. They see their income as something that has been hard-earned, their time as an exclusive commodity and only want to use their talents if there is adequate recognition.

But Paul doesn't see our possessions, opportunities and abilities as finite commodities to be hung on to - he sees them as seeds. When a seed is put into the ground, watered and kept weed-free it produces a plant that produces more seed - and so there is multiplication.

Now while we don't buy into the claims of the so-called "prosperity gospel" that implies that the blessing for financial generosity is financial prosperity, we cannot ignore the clear indications from Scripture that the attitude of generosity bears good fruit. The good fruit can take many forms: undeserved good health, amazing opportunities, strength in weakness, love in families, the blessings of simplicity and the reward of seeing the our seed grow in the lives of others.

God loves the cheerful giver.

If tithing is like teething to us then we are missing the point.

A cheerful giver realises that:
- everything they have comes from God
- God is good and there are many good things in our lives
- we have much that we can offer to serve God and others

It's not only treasure, it's our time, and it's our talent.
But we can give away all three with a bad attitude... Then our heart's soil is dry and weedy and very little good will grow.

But if we recognise that time, talent and treasure aren't actually ours, that seed is best put in the ground rather than hoarded and that great good can come from generous cheerful hearts, then great blessing awaits.