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December 18, 2021 2:00 am
To find out what God intended His people to be like, we have to go back to the Spirit-led church in the book of Acts. As we take a fresh look at their style, structure, and service, we get the full picture. This group wasn't a bunch of independent isolationists who met once a week. They were generous toward one another and sought to meet the social and economic needs of people in their spiritual family. Because they were so open-hearted, they were also open-handed.
This teaching is from the series Church? Who Needs It.Links:
This week's DevoMail: https://connnectwithskip.com/devomail
According to research, even with the economic downturn in our country. Recently, American Christians are still the most affluent single group of Christians in the past 2000 years of church history by one in five American Christians give no money at all. In less than one out of every 10 ties things refilled again today you could Skip weaker division as we had of this Christmas season. Many will recall this popular say Bah humbug. What comes to mind. The good old Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens classic story, a Christmas Carol Scrooge was a man who was abundant in wealth but lacked in generosity and will many of us might not consider ourselves a Scrooge. The truth is, perhaps we need a lesson similar to the one you learn. Knowing the value of generosity to our fellow man.
No, today of the connection skip. Isaac explores what it means to be a generous Christian. But before we begin.
Here's what we have for you this month in the connectionless Resource Center 19 pandemic is constant reevaluation of priorities like choices and the path forward.
This illuminates the question to my want half-life here Skip I think with some thoughts on priorities that we all want the life with a happy ending life marked by growth life marked by productivity and refreshment in God's touch of blessing and prosperity and maturity. Here's our special offer for this month. For those who support the daily… I Skip hiking playlist messages on significant sums stomach 2022 biscuits daily… And they're both currently thinking that you give $30 to help more people connect with consequent, Lenny country to go online to connect the skip.com sample from scant you pursue him. When you pursue holiness, happiness tags along: 819 C 1888 to give or visit connect the skip.com from our current series church Skip Heitzig begins her study of acts chapter 2. By sharing the story of a lottery where really where this week I was reading an interesting story about a man who bought a lottery ticket for his girlfriend and she one she one $3 million, but the government taxed him on the $3 million and make matters worse, when his ex-wife found out about this whole thing. She up the ante on the alimony payments every month. So this guy just lost all the way around. I guess the moral of the story is be careful who you know who you hang out with and what you do with what you have and I want to talk to you about that this morning. What you do with what you have not mentioned this is not a typical message for me back if there's one area where I've been told that I air in is that I don't bring this up enough and that's because I typically only like to bring it up in matters like today when it's in the context of what were teaching on in the verses deal with it but I want to take you back to a personal experience. The very first time I gave a tie at 10 a, 10% of my income the first time I gave it a tied prototype check. It was a huge ordeal for me.
It was huge.
I felt the Lord speaking to me about this as I was a young Christian, but I was sweating literally.
I was holding onto that check and I was thinking of all the other things I could buy with it if I didn't give it all the other things I can enjoy.
If I didn't give it and then I started thinking about the people around me and I began to rationalize, so they must have more money than I have, they can afford it in another situation I'm in, and all of that. I did finally give it but that I wrestle with it on that day that I discovered something a little while after that that 10% doesn't belong to the Lord, all of it does hundred percent of it does it all his and he is gracious enough to allow me to manage 90% for myself, unless he calls to do otherwise. At some point. So when Lenny and I were first married one of the things we needed to decide upon was our finances so we had a meeting at a decision about her finances.
We decided early on in our marriage that the first check we write would be a 10% of our income check that would always go to our local church that would never change. But then on top of the 10%. There were other missionaries or organizations that we wanted to support we believed in their work beyond that 10%, we would give to other organizations and just trust the Lord in that regard. In fact, when it comes to trusting the Lord. The Bible distinctly says we should not only trust him to get this test him test him were never told the test the Lord in any area except one area.
Interestingly enough, it's the area of tithing in the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi children of Israel had been back in the land for 100 years, but they were delinquent on their tithing to the Lord's work of the temple and so God says to the children of Israel you will rob me in tithes and offerings and then the Lord says in Malachi 3 verse 10 test me in this means prove me okay to slimy out on this God says and see if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such a blessing will not be room enough to receive it. It's a direct point in which God says try me on this test me on this direct command. The title of our messages morning is when Christians are generous and I discovered Christians are generous there generous people. God's generosity makes them generous. According to Barna research. Is this. He said Christians tend to be the most generous group of donors significantly higher than non-Christians to charitable causes, says Barna born again adults remain the most generous givers in a country acknowledged to be the most generous country on the planet but did you hear what he said. He said Christians are generous when compared to non-Christians.
However, if you were to compare Christian giving to historical trends in Christian giving. We don't fare all that well. According to research, even with the economic downturn in our country recently. American Christians are still the most affluent single group of Christians in the past 2000 years of church history but one in five American Christians give no money at all to charities and less than one out of every 10 will ties in fact alarmingly, I discovered that modern Christian giving doesn't even match what Christians were giving in the Great Depression. One of the worst economic periods in our history during that period, the average person was giving 3.3% of their income to the Lord's work. According to Lloyd Perry getting the church on target. He said the average church member contributes between 1.5 and 2.5% of his total income specifically to the Lord's work interest that wasn't the problem in the book of acts, far from it. The church in the book of acts was vital and growing was birthed in acts chapter 2, and a continued full of life and pure, untainted until acts chapter 5, which will make a note of today. Their fellowship was real. Their love for God's word was intense. Their care for each other was palpable. They were a generous group of people and as a result of their testimony to the world was allowed and clearly because of that testimony. Thousands came to faith in Christ within just a few weeks back.
I'll make this statement, the world has never seen anything like this since before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Our top euro was because after the fall. The Messiah had not yet come.
Now the Messiah has come after the fall, new life had never been implanted as a result of the new birth. Now it had since the fall. The Holy Spirit never lived inside people. Now he did all of that was changed and all of it was pure in the world had never seen such purity and has never seen it since. I would add now. This morning I will look at two verses verse 44 and 45 and it's very simple. What happens when Christians are generous. The answer is evident. Number one they are open hearted and number two, they are openhanded the first time and to spend just a moment on because we have dealt in part with it in the past.
That is their openhearted openhearted I mean is there generous with both time and talent verse 44 says now all who believed were together all who believed were together, they were together physically. The socially but they were also together in purpose not to gather together you have to give of your time. If you make a time commitment to leave your house and gather together like here with a group of people and they did that, like you're doing that you're coming here and giving of your time is a demonstration that you are generous with your time.
You want to spend your time for the right reason devoted to unity that is the second part of verse 44 and they had all things in common. We've already discussed the principle of fellowship coin AR coin in the having all things in common. But let me put a different twist on there is an expanded Greek translation of the New Testament by Kenneth Weise to the translates the second part of verse 44 is saying they were holding all things in joint participation, joint participation, they pooled together their talents. They gave their time and their talents in joint participation and there was great results because of it in the context of that verse 47 tells us, praising God and having favor or being attractive to all the people and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
Think about that this group was so attractive because their fellowship was real. Their love was real. Their care was real and thousands more came to faith in Christ because of it.
There were unified devoted to unity and community generous with time and with talent that there is such a thing as theoretical unity theoretical unity is is the stuff we sing about focusing how one we are we are one in the spirit we are one in the Lord. That's wonderful.
It is too good to great subject matter to sing about but that can be all theoretical.
What we read about here in the book of acts isn't just theoretical unity. This is real unity. This is real stuff this is real. This week I received a letter. It's a wonderful letter on the scooter tell you a little of it was from an 84-year-old widow in this fellowship, and she writes I've debated writing this letter, but I truly feel that you be interested. At the present time for generations of my family are regular attendees at Calvary of Albuquerque, three generations are volunteering their my son and daughter-in-law have got a copy almost from the first days and my son is been a dedicated volunteer for more than 15 years. My 11-year-old great-granddaughter has become also a dedicated volunteer and she goes on a letter to say, you know, we often come to services because one is the one we serve at like many of you do and the other is the one that we come to to listen to these reports are so encouraging. It shows how generous people are with their time and with their talents. A joint participation. So there's a little bit of a snapshot of how openhearted the early church was generous with their time they were together generous with her talent was a joint participation. But there is 1/3 they were not just generous with time and talent but also with their treasure. They were also openhanded that there's a text that I sorta want to place over the top of all of this this morning is what Jesus said. He said for where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also. There will his heart be also. Martin Luther said there are three conversions three conversions that must take place in a person's life. He said the conversion of one's heart. The conversion of one's mind and the conversion of one's wallet which he said proves the first two and is the hardest to convert now want to do with you this morning is have you look at verse 45 as sort of the subject verse for the rest of our time together shows not only that they were openhearted but openhanded. Here's the verse and they sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.
They were openhanded. Now what does that verse mean because I bet if you're honest, this verse has bothered you before it's bothered me before when I first read it I thought, what is that mean exactly does this mean that every Christian in every church, hereafter must do the same. Yes and no. Yes, and that every Christian hereafter must be generous if touched and forgiven by a generous God, we must be generous because we fit the description in verse 44, all who believed it. So if you believe you ought to also be generous. But no, in the sense that we should do exactly the same thing that they did. Since we don't have exactly the same circumstances that they had now in all fairness to history. Some groups have read verse 45 and concluded that all Christians must do this if you really are a true Christian, you gotta sell everything you own and you pull it together.
The Anabaptists in the 16th century the hood right brethren movement in 18th-century Moravia made as a strong encouragement, if not a stipulation that if you want to join their community.
Gotta do this but certainly not all of the followers of Christ did this. How do I know that verse 46 so continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from what from what house house to house who has a house that they sold their homes and they gave the money will apparently not everyone did. Apparently this was voluntary. This was not compulsory. They could do it if the Lord lay that on their hearts, and there were so many poor people. The Lord laid out on a lot of hearts because they wanted to take care of each other. Now would you turn with me to acts chapter 4 and look at a few verses acts chapter 4 verse 32 takes what we just read and expands on it just a little bit asked for verse 32 now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. No notice how the group is describe its is now the was a number of them multitude went on with the number is. It's interesting they stopped counting by this time and ask when they count as 120 of them and asked to. They count as 3000 souls added. Now the group is getting so large they don't even count anymore is just the multitude of those who believe there's a lot of them and what accounts for that growth. I can only conclude that it was this unity. This love this magnanimity. This generosity was so compelling to the world that many joined the ranks.
Let's finish off a few verses, verse 33 and with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles feet and distributed to each one as anyone had need. Joseph's was also named Barnabas by the apostles. It's translated son of encouragement, a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold, brought the money and laid it at the apostles feet, wealthy man was asked how much money would be responded, just a little more. As Christians we should have quite a different attitude and that we shouldn't have defined enough in order to give that's over time we have for today but before we fill you in on how to get a copy of today's teaching stricken with Skip in linear, they talk about how we can extend God's love to others. When you let in stunning site. It would be to see the church having so generously as we reflect on the great love the early church demonstrated let's talk about how we can share the same love for others with our finances. Well I would say speaking as a pastor as a leader and somebody serves on boards of other Christian organizations that most churches and most Christian organizations aspire to do more than their doing. I would say that the vision is always bigger than the capacity for food to fulfill the vision and so we always have to have budgets and constraints and would love to do more but we just can't. That's way it is and in the in the whole Christian world. However, I think I'm good. It might astound her listeners to realize that Christians aren't as generous as they think the latest USA Today pulse is the average believer who goes to church contributes about 2 to 2.5% of their income, not 10% because the Old Testament minimum they went up to 30% of them falls or just give generously. You know with that with Larry and Valerius Hart. So the, the going rate is about 2 to 2.5 questions. Now that I really am surprised and yet Jesus spoke so much about it.
A one in every six verses in the synoptic Gospels Matthew Mark and Luke, Jesus is speaking about finances of the 29 parables, he gave 16 of them have to do with how we treat temporal monetary items I want to get Pentecostal or weird or anything about that.
But are we robbing God when we don't give our time and we don't share of the things he's given us. Yet that is the biblical perspective you know that's a test text from the Old Testament of the gods people robbing God because it's not ours to begin with is not like you know 10% belongs to God or 2.500% peanut he's were stewards of it. He's put it in our fingers to do something with two invested to sow seed and its 10% of the hundred percent I remember I was working as a waitress.
When I got saved and I would put away 10% of my tips not just my check that came because he knows when your waitress to get a lot more in the tents and I left it at home. I traveled somewhere. My mom said amen this in a lot of money and jewelry box and I said and send it to me that's my tithe of my tips and I think she does not is not stuck.
Who gives a tithe of tips that we really are supposed to give hilariously good. Here's a good question to ponder what if God made our income proportional to our generosity because he says in the word the word to give proportional to our income. So what if God blessed us according to our generosity and actually it could be that he does because he said give and it will be given to you press down, running over, shaken together, so I think that you can't out give God. And I would encourage her listeners to just give God a try. In fact, it's the only area in the Scripture where the Lord says test me on this and see what I will do. Thanks guys for taking time to share with us today.
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