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Your Two Cents

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
January 15, 2023 6:00 pm

Your Two Cents

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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January 15, 2023 6:00 pm

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If you have your Bibles with you today, I want you to turn with me, if you would, to listen to me. Heavenly Father, we pray for Nancy Malone's pre-operation and he has the opportunity not to, and it will be too late to do anything about his hand if he doesn't make that decision wisely. I pray that you give him wisdom. I pray for Beth Crossman as she has lost her dad this week. I pray for Larry Vorce who has COVID. I pray for Dan and Lynn Nicholas as Lynn has COVID. And Lord, we especially pray for Jeremy Carriker. I thank you for the good news that we heard about him this morning, that he has made some conversation and has even asked for a hot cup of tea, and we praise you for that response and pray that he'll get better and better. Father, I ask that you bolster Marie and give her strength and comfort. Lord, we ask you to please heal Kitty Clay and Jim Belk. Lord, I pray for my granddaughter, Madison Roszak, and ask, Lord, that you be with her as she is having operation on her arms this week. Lord, they have not been functionable since she was born and they're giving her great hope.

I pray that that operation will go well. Heavenly Father, we're dealing with the passage of scripture this morning that convicted everybody who's in this story except Jesus and the little widow, convicted the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the scribes and the rabbis and the disciples. She had convict us all as well. His poor widow gave all that she had. Jesus got excited about this lady's heart.

She was not concerned about the lack of finances that she would have to live with. She put God's will above her will. She put other needs above her needs. She gave better than her best. She gave her all. Father, help us to be awed and filled with joy over her selfishness, but may the awe and wonder translate to a change in our own heart.

You have said in your word that you love a cheerful giver. We pray that you might transform us into cheerful givers, convict us, challenge us, and then comfort us when we obey. For it's in the holy and precious name of Jesus that we pray.

Amen. When you walk into the lobby of J. Gresham Machen Hall on the campus of Westminster Theological Seminary, as soon as you walk in that front door, you look over to the right, and there is in a big frame a testimony. I want to read you what that testimony says.

Fannie Mulder was called to glory on October 20, 1987. In a letter from her attorney, we learned that she had only the following personal property in her possession when she died, having been on Title 19 for the last few years. She had some clothes, six robes, two sweaters, 13 adult diapers, 19 hospital gowns, one pair of slippers, five pair of socks, plus two singles. She also had some personal items, a purse, bottles, and a pair of reading glasses.

She needed the glasses so she could read her two copies of the Bible and her Psalter for singing. In addition to a broken radio, the only thing Fannie Mulder had in her possession was some money. You know how much she had?

Not much, only 12 cents, a dime and two pennies. The lawyer explained that the old woman had drawn up a will because she felt strongly that she should invest whatever she had in the work of the kingdom of God. After the will went through probate, the seminary was the beneficiary of the dime and the two pennies. Now gratefully displayed on campus as the lasting testimony of a woman who gave Jesus everything she had. The story that we are looking at today comes right on the heels of Jesus's rebuke to the Sadducees. Jesus has a huge crowd before him, there are disciples before him, and he tells them not to be like the Sadducees. And then he points out the Sadducees' sins. He points out their ostentatious dress. He points out their unabashed social climbing. He points out their love for adulation and for the praise of men.

He points out their pretentious praying. And he points out the way they took advantage of widows. Now that is the setting for the passage that we are looking at today.

I've got four points that I want to share with you today. And this is what Jesus is doing. He's showing us a comparison of a poor widow with affluent Sadducees. Point one is Jesus's observation. I want us to look at verses 41 through 42. And he sat down opposite the treasury and he watched the people putting money into the offering box.

Many rich people put in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins which make a penny. After Jesus rebuked the Sadducees, he walked into the temple, into an area called the Court of the Women. There were certain areas of the temple where women could not go. This area was open to them and men, and it was a place where the collections were taken.

In that area, there were 13 collection boxes. They called them trumpets because they actually looked like a trumpet. And the people would come by, they'd throw their coins or throw their money into those trumpets. So Jesus is standing back and he's observing. He watches many of these Sadducees as they come in, some of them very same ones that he had rebuked. And they come walking in and they begin to throw their money into the trumpets.

Some of them share very lavish amounts of money, but what they do is they wait to be sure that somebody's watching so they will get the acclamation that they need from the giving of that money. And then Jesus watches as a poor widow comes in. She is frail and weak.

Her dress is just horrible, threadbare. She walks over to one of the trumpets of the collection box and she takes her purse and she turns it upside down. Two little coins fall out into the collection box. Those coins are called depta. They are the smallest coins in Roman currency.

They are the smallest amount of worth in their currency and they fall right into the box. But she gave all that she had. You know, if you want to know about a person's character, check out what excites that person. What puts a smile on that person's face? What lights a fire in that person's belly?

That will tell you where a person's heart is. What is it that excites Jesus? Let me share with you a few situations where Jesus got excited. There was a gentile woman, a Sarafenetian woman in Mark chapter 7, who came to Jesus and she said, Jesus, I need help. My daughter is possessed by a demon.

I need you to deliver the demon from my daughter. And Jesus responded to her by testing her faith. And he said to her, is it right to give the children's bread to the dogs? And what Jesus was saying was, is it right for me to take my time away from the Jewish people and give my time to the gentiles? That could have greatly offended her. She could have walked off an absolute huff, but she didn't do it. She said, yes, Jesus, that's true.

But isn't it also true that the puppies that are under the table should get the crumbs that fall off the table and the puppies should be able to eat them, right? Oh, Jesus got excited. And Jesus rejoiced and he said, for this statement of faith, for this statement of faith, go your way.

The demon has been delivered from your daughter. Folks, humble faith excited the heart of Jesus. And there was a centurion, Roman centurion, and he came to Jesus and said, Jesus, I need some help. He said, my servant is sick.

He's at the point of death. Jesus said, okay, I'll go with you. He said, no, no, you don't have to go with me.

You don't have to do that. You don't have to go with me because I know that all you have to do is say the word and my servant will be healed because I know how you operate. You operate under authority just like I do.

He said, I'm a centurion. I tell my soldiers to do this or do that and they do it because they know that I'm under the authority of the Roman government and they will do what I tell them to do because they respect Rome. And say, Lord, I know that you were under the authority of your heavenly father.

And if you say for a disease or a sickness to go, it has no recourse but to go because they are under the authority of your heavenly father. Remember what Jesus said? He said, wow, I have not seen this kind of faith.

No, not even in Israel. He said to him, go and your servant has been made well. Folks, Jesus didn't get excited about fancy clothes, beautiful homes, or shiny chariots. Jesus got excited about faith. He got excited about people who would devote their all to God and trust God with everything they've got. Jesus got excited about that.

Why? Because faith glorifies God and that's what this little widow was doing. She put into the collection box all that she had. Jesus is sitting there observing. The Sadducees are throwing in much larger amounts of money but her little two cents is what got Jesus excited. Alright, point two is little is much when God's in it.

Verse 42. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins which make a penny. What do you think most people would have thought about that?

They'd have laughed at it. They just said, that's not anything. That's not much.

That's nothing. She's just, she shouldn't have to do that. She's not going to help anything.

That little pittance is not going to, it's not going to help a thing. So she should have just thought about her own well-being. She's in poverty.

She should have just used this money to fill her hungry belly. Folks, this was a woman who refused to think with a this world mentality. She knew something that we all need to learn and that is this, little is much when God's in it. Folks, what she understood was this, our God is a big powerful God and he can take what we give him, multiply it for his glory. Little is much when God's in it. Folks, I like to look at this with a phrase called resources in the hands of omnipotence. I like that phrase and it reminds me of what happened in John chapter 6.

There's a little boy there. But Jesus was out teaching and there's a great crowd, 5,000 men, not including the women, children, probably 20,000. Jesus had been teaching them all day long and they were enthralled with his teaching. They forgot about what time it was and all of a sudden started getting dark. Dusk was approaching and they didn't have any food. They didn't have time now to go home.

What in the world were they going to do? This little boy realizes it and he comes up to Andrew, hands him the bag of his sack lunch. He says, got five loaves and two fish there. He says, I'll give my lunch to Jesus. Andrew says, you keep it.

You're going with me. Takes his hand and he walks him right to Jesus. He gets up to Jesus' feet and the little boy looks up at Jesus and he hands him the sack and he said, Jesus, you can have my lunch. Andrew looked over and kind of sheepishly said, yes, Lord, just five, five loaves and two fish, but what are they among so many?

I can just see Jesus reaching down and hugging that little guy and then maybe scruffing his hair a little bit. And then he says to the little boy, watch this, son. And he takes that, those five loaves and two fish and he, first of all, prays over them and then he breaks them. And then he breaks them and they start multiplying in his hand and they multiply and they multiply until he feeds 20,000 people and they all don't get just a bite. They are fully satisfied.

I mean, their bellies are absolutely full. And then he collects 12 basketfuls of leftovers. Little boy goes home that next morning. Sure, his mama was worried sick about him.

Son, where have you been? He says, mama, you ain't going to believe what that preacher did with your biscuits. Folks, little is much when God's in it. Gideon had an army of 22,000 soldiers, but the Midianite army was much bigger. They were getting ready to go to war. Gideon was worried about it. He started praying, Lord, what in the world are we going to do? The Lord said, I'll tell you what let's do. He said, let's cut down to 10,000.

Sure, that shot Gideon. And then the Lord said, no, let's cut it down a little more. Let's cut it down to 300.

They cut it down to 300. And then the 300 went out to fight the Midianites. And when they did, all of a sudden the Lord confused the Midianite army. They fought against each other. And the battle was won by Israel with 300 soldiers.

That was an odds of 100 to one. What does that tell us? It tell us little is much when God's in it. When Naaman the great Syrian general contracted leprosy, he had a little Israeli domestic slave that worked in his home. And this little girl went to Mrs. Naaman and she said, we serve the real God down in Israel.

And I believe that if we can get your husband together with the prophet Elisha, I believe that God will make your husband well. Folks, our world is filled with hot shots, isn't it? We've always had them. The Domitians and the Mussolinis and the Hitler's and the Stalin's, the Idi Amin's and the Sodom Hussein's. You know where they are? They're all in hell right now.

They've all died and the world is glad that they are gone. But here's a little Israeli slave girl who shared a testimony for God in a time of trouble. And God used that to shape two nations for the Lord.

And she got something that none of those big hot shots got. She got a place in God's book. Folks, don't ever think that God can't use you. God can use you.

A little is much when God's in it. Here in the temple was a little widow. We don't know her name. We don't know if she had any children or not.

We don't know much about her at all. But we know this, she brought a little tiny offering and she gave her all to Christ. And for the last 2,000 years, we've been reading about this woman. We've been reading about her. Her testimony has gone forward and God has multiplied what she's given.

And what has it done? It has fed the hungry. It has sent missionaries across the world.

It has planted churches all over the world because little is much when God's in it. In John chapter 12, after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he went to a little home in Bethany. Mary came up to him, the sister of Lazarus. She got down on her knees right there in front of Jesus. She took a really expensive jar of perfume. She broke it open and she poured the whole jar over Jesus' feet.

Most of it probably ended up in the floor. Then she took her hair and she dried Jesus' feet with her hair. Judas was there.

He's the treasure for the disciples. Judas got mad. He said she should not have done that.

She should have taken that expensive perfume and sold it and then put the money in the treasury so it could be distributed among the poor. Listen, Judas didn't care anything about the poor. He wanted to steal that money.

That's what he'd been doing anyway. He didn't like it because Mary had treated Jesus so lavishly. She had given unto him. Jesus said to the disciples, he said, this is very important, he said, leave her alone for she has done this for my burial. Over in the Gospel of Matthew, another statement is made.

Let me read that to you. Truly I say to you, wherever this Gospel is proclaimed, in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her. It's true for Mary.

It's also true for this widow. How many millions and millions of people down through the last 2,000 years have read her story and have been just lifted up by what this woman had done? How many sermons have been preached on this woman's actions and her attitude? How many people's patterns of giving has totally changed because what they saw in this woman's life? People, when we invest in this kingdom of God, we enter into the supernatural realm. And when we're in the supernatural realm, God doesn't just add to what we give. God multiplies to what we give. Jesus said in Luke chapter 6 verse 38, give and it shall be given unto you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over shall men give unto your bosom. And with the measure that you measure to others, it will be measured out to you. I love the term resources in the hands of omnipotence.

That's exactly what I see in her. All right, point three is the Lord's evaluation. Verse 43, and he called his disciples to him and said to them, truly I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.

Listen to what Philip Ryken said here. What the widow gave was hardly big enough to clink as it fell into the treasury. But as far as Jesus was concerned, her contribution was worth more than everything the rich people gave. This is what Jesus meant when he said she put in more than all of them. He meant more than all of them combined.

Can't Hughes comment? Jesus held in his hands the balance scales of eternity. On one side, he emptied all the contents of the 13 trumpets, the shekels, the denarii, that heavy gold and silver. On the other side, he placed the two minuscule copper coins and the massive load of the rich gave way to the eternal weight of the widow's tiny offerings. Jesus said this because rather than comparing what one person gave to what another person gave, he compared what each person gave to what each person had. The rich people were given a lot, but then they had a lot to give. As Jesus put it, they were given out of their abundance.

They had so much money to begin with that even after they had made their contributions, they still had money to spare. In other words, when the Lord evaluates our giving, he doesn't just look at your check, he looks at your ledger to see not just what you gave but what you had left. Two things determine the value of the gift.

Number one, there is a spirit in which it is given. If the gift is forced or if it's given unwillingly or if it's given with a grudge or if it's given to gain prestige, then that gift is greatly devalued. The kind of gift that I'm talking about here is a gift that honors God, that flows from a loving heart, that flows from a heart that's excited about giving. 2 Corinthians 9, 6 through 7 says this, the point is this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.

Whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he's decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Now I've heard people use this passage to negate the practice of tithing because it says that each one must give as he's decided in his heart.

I believe that's as wrong as it can be. Do you know tithing's not really giving? The scripture says that the tithe is the Lord's and tithing is, if you tithe, you're just keeping yourself from robbing God. So giving is really what you do over and above the tithe.

I shared this illustration with you on Christmas Eve when I preached on the gift of the Magi, but it really hits on what I'm trying to to get at here. My son, when he was two years old, we had Christmas together and we gave him some presents. He opened up the presents and two years old he was not very impressed with what he got and he just looked kind of disappointed. We went over to my dad's to finish celebrating Christmas and my brother was there. Scott, my brother was there. Scott, my brother, was 14 and he came up. He said, Doug, I got a present for Jake.

I think he's really gonna like it. I said, man, give it to him. So he gave it to him and Jake opened the present up and it was a Popeye punching bag. It was a Popeye punching bag with a weight down on the bottom and Scott had to blow it up in a big balloon standing up and then as soon as Scott got it all blown up, he popped it and went down to the floor and jumped back up. Jake's eyes got as big as saucers.

He ran over there and he tackled that thing and then he beat on it and he beat on it. He was laughing, having a great time and I looked over there at my brother and he had a tear in his eye and a huge smile on his face and I gave him a thumbs up. Now when I think of what it means to be a cheerful giver, I think of what my brother did in his gift to my son. So as we look at the value of the widow's gift, first we see the spirit in which it is given and it needs to be a cheerful spirit. Secondly, we see the sacrifice involved. This woman gave everything that she had.

Others gave gifts that were much more monetary value but not as much spiritual value. Centuries ago, King David said it all in response to a man whose name was Arunah. He was a Jebusite. David went to him and said, I need to buy a parcel of land for you from you right there in the center of Jerusalem. I need to buy this from you because I want to build an altar to God there.

And Arunah got excited about that and he said, well, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. He said, I'm not going to sell it to you. I'm just going to give it to you and I'll give you some animals to sacrifice along with it. This place was going to be the very location where the temple of Jehovah was going to be placed a little bit years later.

And so David looked at this man. He said, no, no, I can't take it for free. He said, because I cannot offer to the Lord of that which cost me nothing. Folks, godly giving is costly.

Listen to what C.S. Lewis said about it. He said, I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, et cetera, is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we're probably giving away too little.

If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things that we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures exclude them. Point four is giving that glorifies. Look at verse 44. They all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on. As always, our Lord Jesus is mostly and primarily concerned about the condition of the heart. You go through the four gospels, it's amazing how much Jesus has to say about money. Jesus spoke twice as much about money as he did about heaven and hell combined. It was Jesus who said, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Jesus talked a lot about money because he knew that your attitude about money would show a lot about the condition of your heart. One of the most beautiful examples of this in scripture is found in second Corinthians chapter eight when Paul is writing to the Corinthian church and he is teaching them about the principle of giving.

And he uses the church at Macedonia as his example. Now, this was the situation. The nation of Israel had experienced a terrible drought and so the people in Jerusalem had very little food. The rain hadn't come and so the crops didn't grow and there was just very, very little food available.

Now, in Jerusalem, the Christians that were there were being ostracized and they were being greatly persecuted. And so they really found it hard to get food because they couldn't get jobs. If they didn't have a job, they didn't have money.

If they didn't have money, they couldn't get food. And there was a problem that the Christians didn't get food because they had a problem that they very well may starve and that they may die over this situation. Well, the news reaches Paul's ears in Macedonia. And one night, Paul got the Macedonian church together and he wanted to share the burden that he had for the Christians in Jerusalem with them. This was primarily a gentile church, probably a few Jews there but not many. And they were a baby church, baby Christians. They were not grounded in the Word of God yet. They were just young converts.

They were growing and maturing in the Lord, had a long way to go. And Paul shares with them his concern in his heart. He tells them about this dilemma in Jerusalem. He says, I want to pray for the Christians in Jerusalem because they don't have good jobs and they don't have enough money and they can't buy food.

And if something doesn't happen, those Christians in Jerusalem are going to starve and they're going to die. So Paul says, I just want for us to, I want us to really pray for them. And so Paul prays. After Paul prays for them, one of the young converts comes up and he says, Paul, he says, I think we ought to put some feet to these prayers. He says, I think that we ought to take up an offering.

I think we ought to do some extra work. I think we ought to sacrifice. Then you can take the offering, go back to Jerusalem and you can give it to them and keep them from starving. Paul uses them as an example to the Corinthian church of what it means to give in the way that the Lord wants you to give.

Let me read you what he says and listen carefully for what Jesus said about the widow. Paul is saying about the churches in Macedonia. This is from 2 Corinthians 8, 1 through 6. We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia. For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints. And this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, then by the will of God to us.

Accordingly, we urge Titus that as he has started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. Paul takes off with that offering. He goes to Jerusalem.

I want you to picture what happened. He walks up to James, and James is the pastor in Jerusalem. He's the half-brother of Jesus Christ.

He takes that offering and he just plops it right down at James's feet. And he said, this offering came from the poor church in Macedonia. He said, they worked hard for this. The women took in clothes and washed clothes and they baked goods and sold them.

The men took on part-time jobs. Little children worked extra little jobs and they gave all that money. And they wanted to give it and they gave it and told me to take it and bring it to you so that the Christians here would not starve.

They gave, not out of their abundance, they gave out of their poverty. James stands there with a bunch of money, enough to buy food, to feed all these Christians, to get them completely out of this horrible crisis that they were in. And I can imagine James looking at Paul and he says, Paul, this was a Gentile church. These are new converts.

These are poor people and they don't even know us. Paul, did you force them to do this? And Paul says, no, it was not my idea.

It was their idea. I could not keep them from giving. And he said, when I left, they weren't complaining about the burden of giving. They were rejoicing and praising God that they had the privilege of giving. And brothers and sisters, I don't know about you, but that knocked my socks off.

Man, that knocks the biscuits off my table. I love that. I love that because I believe that's exactly what Jesus is calling us to do. I want to close with these words from Kent Hughes. Kent Hughes said this, Kent Hughes said this, at the judgment, Christ will square his accounts. There's no evidence that the woman ever knew what Jesus thought of her gift.

There's no evidence that she ever became a prosperous woman in this life. In fact, since the final judgment and the ultimate bestowing of eternal rewards is still future for the whole church, there's every possibility that she does not know to this very day what we know about her. The judgment is going to reveal her work.

The architecture of a beautiful soul adorned with gold, silver and precious stones. The memory of the widow's giving stayed with Jesus as he went from the temple to the judgment hall and to the Mount of Calvary. She, to use his words, put in all she had to live on. And he gave all he had to, even his life. Someday he's going to say to her, I saw what you did.

The crown of our widow's sister will be glorious. God does not want our money. He wants us. And yet we cannot give ourselves to him apart from our money.

It is true that money speaks. It tells us where our hearts are. What does our giving say about us? Jesus sits across from the treasury of every church and watches.

What does he see in your church and in your life? Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we understand that you don't need our money. You don't want our money. You want us. But we cannot give ourselves to you apart from our money.

We also know that money speaks, tells us where our hearts are. Lord, help us that our hearts might be in the right place, absolutely sold out to you. Thank you for putting up with us our prayers that you will help us to love you unconditionally. For it's in the precious and holy name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-15 14:32:40 / 2023-01-15 14:45:11 / 13

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