Dear Family in Jesus,
Let us seek to flourish and thrive in being magnanimously generous in our giving. As we learned in Zechariah 6:9-15, we have been set free from slavery as Godâ€™s people to give our gifts to the LORD in gratitude! Because of Godâ€™s grace to us, let us more eagerly desire to honor and glorify God in Christ by â€œcrowningâ€ our King in the extension and advancement of His Kingdom, to the ends of the earth! Jesus is our Priest-King, the Branch of Righteousness God has given for His people to be made holy, who has promised to build us up as His holy temple (John 2:19ff; 1 Peter 2:6-11; cf. 1 Cor. 3:16ff; 2 Cor. 6:14-16) to complete fully the glory He has begun in us.
Yes, this is a message on giving. I am unashamedly writing as your pastor for you to think about giving and generosity. No, please do not put in trash and delete this email; please donâ€™t set your â€œspamâ€ settings to anything from Pastor Charles on giving! :-)Â I realize that giving is more than financial giving but this is a message on financial giving (you can also give your time and talents, etc). I do commend you, dear KCPC family, on your kindness and mercy and the grace of God that I see in you!
However, I am prayerfully seeking to consider, plot, scheme, plan and help you so that you will be stirred up to love and good works as we are commanded to do! (Heb. 10:24-25). I realize that sometimes talking about giving and generosity stirs folks up to other things, not so much love and good works, but I trust the Spirit that He will guide you in this. So, please read onâ€¦.Stop and pray and ask God to help you to consider these things with open minds and hearts. First of all, open your heart to the gospel in Christ:
Let me encourage you concerning generosity and giving today, especially as we prayerfully consider the THANK OFFERING to be received in the next couple of weeks, and as you think about how you would like to increase your giving and seek to be more generous toward God in the new year! Remember to give yourself sacrificially to God and others because Christ has given Himself for you so that you might be abundantly rich in Him. Your treasure is in heaven with Jesus; Your life is hidden with Christ in God! Rejoice!! (Matthew 6:24ff; Col. 3:1-4).
Behold the riches of God in Christ Jesusâ€”all that Christ has is yours! You are a recipient of every spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus!
ESV Ephesians 1:3-6: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Beloved in Jesus: Remember that because of Godâ€™s love to you in Christ, give faithfully in your tithes and offerings. Give yourself back to Jesus who has given Himself for you (Rom. 12:1). Your tithes and offerings are tangible and concrete displays of the giving of yourself back to God in response to His Gospel promises to you in Christ. You are Godâ€™s precious treasure and possession; give yourself fully back to Him (Romans 5:6-11). If you have been redeemed you are not your own. Say it: â€œI am not my own; I belong to the Lord Jesus Christâ€ (Rev. 1:5-7).
Give gratefully to God to the needs that we have in our congregation and the larger denomination; give out of a heart saturated by Godâ€™s mercy to you in Jesus Christ. Meditate and think on how many ways God has blessed you. Say with the Psalmist: â€œBless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within meâ€¦!â€
Psalm 103: Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Forget not all His benefitsâ€¦how easily we forget Godâ€™s mercies to us in Jesusâ€”so make a point of remembering!
In this year alone, God has blessed KCPC in many ways! He has given us new covenant children, new members, even covenant children who have professed their faith. There have been relationships healed, stronger marriages, growth in grace, the faithful ministry of the word, and weekly administration of the sacrament, a closer and more affectionate fellowship at KCPC, the forgiveness of sins, the awakenings of hearts of the need for more grace and prayer, and many other blessings- -and this is just a short list of what God has done in our congregation.
Now think about your own life; your own family. How many mercies? Think of (5) mercies to you and your family; stop. Do it right now. Think about it. I encourage you to make a list of what God has done in your life and is doing presently! Be thankful; be grateful!!
The point in this exercise is to stir you up to love and good works! (Heb. 10:24-25). Now think about how you can more effectively give yourself to God and show Him your love by your giving and generosity to others. As God has abundantly given to you, now go and give voraciously and lavishly and sacrificially to others!
In your giving, always REMEMBER THE GOSPEL! Let the following encourage you in your prayer and planning to the Thank Offering, in your giving practices here at KCPC, especially during Thanksgiving and in the new year!
Meditate on Godâ€™s goodness to you and your family in the Gospel- -DAILY. You may use these scriptures:
CHRIST HAS MADE US RICH!
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
We were impoverished, poor and naked before God, without any righteousness to offer him, and nothing but a weight of guilt, sin and debt to God. Christ put aside all of his glorious riches to make us abundantly rich and gloriously clothed in Him.
CHRIST HAS GIVEN US HIS MIND
Remember our ONE-ness in the Gospel (Othersâ€™ interests should be more important than our interests)! We are united to one another in one body by Christâ€™s Spirit:
ESV Philippians 2:2-4: â€¦Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Let us give to each other because we are one body in Jesus at KCPC. May there never be needs in our congregation that we are aware of, that we do not seek as a congregation to provide together. There should never be anyone in our midst with known needs that are not met. If we cannot be generous to our brothers who we are united with and serve with together, how can we ever serve our enemies and the world as we are called to do?!
CHRIST HAS GIVEN US FAITH AND WORKS IN OUR UNION WITH HIM
Remember Your Faith and Your Love being demonstrated in your works
ESV James 2:14-18: What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Remember to prove your love to Christ and one another; this is biblical. You say you love God, show it! Jesus said: â€œIf you love me, keep my commandments.â€
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine.
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.
Remember Proverbs 11:24-25
ESV Proverbs 11:24-25: One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
â€œObjectionsâ€ as to why you cannot or do not (will not!?) give!
You say: â€œBut Iâ€™m really already stretched financially!â€
If youâ€™re â€œstretchedâ€, God knows it and will provide for you; you can never out-give God! Hes is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides! Your giving is an act of faith, and this same grace will be returned to you. In fact, it is through sacrificial giving that you learn more about how to be content in whatever situation and to have Christ strengthen you (look at the larger context of Philippians 4:10-23). The Apostle Paul teaches that we can do â€œall thingsâ€ in Christ who strengthens us, and that means all things whether we living in abundance or need. God promises this:
ESV Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:14-15: â€¦Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
You say: â€œBut I tithe, isnâ€™t that enough?!â€
Thanks be to God for your tithing; that is a great start! But let us learn that the tithe was to show our utter dependence upon God for all things; that all that we have or will ever possess comes from God (1 Cor. 4:7), and that we are to learn not merely to give a tithe (10%) but learn to be willing to give all of ourselves and our possessions and belongings (nothing we should hold on too tightly! Luke 14:26ff). In other words, giving is for us to avoid idolatry and weighing ourselves down on our pilgrimage by prosperity. Giving is to give back to God as steward-managers of God, recognizing the danger of having too much stored away that might tempt us to lean on our savings plan rather on the God who has saved us!
â€œCome, follow meâ€¦â€ Jesus says.
You say: â€œBut, I am in so much debt.â€
Most of our lives we have some sort of debt.Â God knows this. We can prayerfully and wisely seek to be debt free, but often the cause of our debt is because we are more consumers by nature than producers. Consumers are takers who want instant gratification and so we buy, and buy, and buyâ€¦. (I include myself in this temptation, 1 Cor. 10:13). We are often guilty of buying, because we hope for some peace or joy or satisfaction that we believe buying will give to us (but this is a lie).
In contrast, Producers will allow for delayed gratification. Producers are givers who want to be steward-managers of Godâ€™s resources and produce as much out of it as possible. Producers know that their giving will bless many and have eternal rewards and pay heavenly dividends; they produce for the Gospelâ€™s sake. Consumers want for self; producers want to extend Christâ€™s kingdom. Most of our lives we will be a bit of both, consumer and producer. But seek consciously and prayerfully to budget not only for your debts, and to pay them off as best as you can, but also budget for your giving, so that you can become more of a producer for the kingdom than a mere consumer.
Wisdom has shown that oftentimes the Christian who is more of a consumer in the marketplace than a producer, is more of a consumer in the church than a producer-giver (meaning that there is a deeper root sin that has usually caused the debt and constrains the giving and generosity, and probably the progress in your sanctification as well).
Let us pray and seek to pay our debts faithfully, but let us put God first in our priorities, and seek to produce more for His kingdom, and trust Him to pay off the debt. If you have tremendous debts, ask God to search your heart, Psalm 139-style, and if there is anything greed, consumerism, selfishness to be repented of, then by all means, get to it and find mercy and grace in Christ (Heb. 4:16).
Remember we are commanded to seek first the Kingdom of God, and therefore we are to seek to be producer-stewards of Godâ€™s kingdom gifts (see Matthew 25:14ff also for caution and wisdom):
ESV Matthew 6:33-34: But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
You say: â€œBut, I can give so little.â€
Give your â€œwidowâ€™s miteâ€; give your few fish and single loaf of bread; give what you can and watch and pray that Jesus in His grace might multiply what you give. Perhaps your small gift will be received, seen, etc. and someone with much more would give because they saw you give little of what you have!? If there is readiness to give, it is from God and acceptable:
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.
EXCEL in the grace of giving generously!
ESV 2 Corinthians 8:7 But as you excel in everything– in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you- see that you excel in this act of grace also.
Let us show our love for God, our love for one another, and the abundant grace of joy and thanksgiving we have by giving tangibly to needs.Â Continue to be faithful to tithing, giving and generosity in general.
If you do not at least tithe 10% and youâ€™re regularly being fed spiritually and being served by others at KCPC then ask God to search your heart and to teach you by His Spirit why youâ€™re being disobedient to the clear teaching of Scripture. If youâ€™re tithing but doing it in a self-righteous, smug spirit, or with an unwilling heart, ask God to search your heart and to teach you by His Spirit why youâ€™re being disobedient to the clear teaching of Scripture.
“Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
ESV 2 Corinthians 9:6-8: The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
Do you believe that you can be MAGNANIMOUSLY GENEROUS and that Jesus can be your ultimate portion and possession and treasure- -and that you can be a greater giver?
â€œDidnâ€™t I say that you would see the **GLORY** of God if you just believed?â€- John 11:40
Let us show our love for God in our giving and generosity. All things are possible with God! He will do above and beyond what we can ever ask or imagine by the power of His Spirit (Eph. 3:20-21).
In Christâ€™s love,