Emmanuel CRC
      • Bible Trivia
  • Hear The Call Of The Kingdom
  • What Grace Is Mine
  • This morning is our third Sunday of Missions Emphasis and the 1st Sunday of Lent

    Saturday morning, everyone on our email list received from me a message with the subject line: How can Lent deepen our experience of giving? I am going to answer that question, but before I do.

    Let’s reorient ourselves . . .

    to the ground we have covered and where we are going in this series: Investing the Kingdom: A Biblical View of Stewardship, Money, and Giving. Our home base for this series is the parable of the 10 Minas, which we just heard.
    The first Sunday in February, we explored a biblical view of stewardship. From the parable we learned everything belongs to the king and we are his servants. Beyond this, we heard Jesus tell us that stewardship is a matter of the heart. Jesus said,
    Matthew 6:21 NIV
    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
    From various scriptures, we saw that good stewardship involves receiving our life as an expression of God’s sovereign power, goodness, and love.

    Last Sunday, we delved into a biblical view of money and wealth.

    From the parable we learned the King gives us money and other resources as tools to produce wealth for the King. Jesus taught us in the parable that when God entrusts resources to us, individually and as a church family, he is giving us the opportunity to show our ability to be stewards of his wealth. This is because God wants to give us even more resources and larger responsibilities to use for his glory in this world and in the world to come.
    Today we open ourselves to a biblical view of giving. From scripture we will answer three questions:
    1. Why do we give?
    2. What do we give?
    3. What do we get?

    Next week will wrestle with the fact that investing in the kingdom is a spiritual battle.

    This necessarily flows from the fact that biblical stewardship, which is how we manage, grow, and invest the resources God gives us, is fundamentally a matter of the heart.
    Today as we look at the parable, we will see that . . .

    We give back to the King what he has given us with its increase.

    The increase of our giving is its impact for the Kingdom.
    I want to pause here and give an example of giving that produces a kingdom affect that by faith we give back to the Lord. I have debated about using this example because it involves sending our children to Christian schools. By telling this story, I do not intend to state or imply that parents who send their children to Christians schools are better parents or better Christians than those who send their children to public school. Christian parents can have good reasons for not sending their children to Christian schools.
    Nevertheless, with that understanding stated, I decided to use the illustration because I believe it will be a relatable example to us of what it means to invest in the Kingdom and by faith give its increase to the Lord. So here it is.
    Among us a considerable number of our parents made enormous sacrifices to send us to Christian schools. As parents a substantial number of us made an enormous investment of our money and other resources and often at the sacrifice of other good things to educate our children in Christian schools. Beyond this, there are those among us that have contributed to the Christian education of their grandchildren and/or of other children.
    Those of you who have done this, need to know and believe that the investment you made in your children’s Christian education is a stewardship investment of your God-given resources for the Kingdom.
    We give the Lord that investment and its increase when we put that money to work trusting God that our investment is going to bear fruit for the Kingdom by making our children better disciples of Jesus and so will help our grandchildren be better disciples of Jesus. Because of this investment, we expect that our great-grandchildren and our great-great-great-great grandchildren will be better disciples of Jesus. By faith we invested in building a generational legacy for our families, whose impact for the Kingdom will far exceed the monetary value of our investment.
    We invested the resources the King put at our disposal to make our children better disciples of Jesus and the increase of that investment is the good fruit of the Kingdom that our children and their children and their children’s children will bring forth in the world.

    Why Do We Give?

    The primary reason that we give is because our God is a generous God.
    Our God is a generous God. King David teaches us that . . .
    Psalm 24:1 NIV
    The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;
    Our God, Sovereign King of the Universe, the Creator and Owner of all that exists, lavishes his generosity on all humankind through his common grace. Louis Berkoff said that God’s generosity in common grace
    appears . . . in the natural blessings which God showers upon man in the present life, in spite of the fact that man has forfeited them and lies under the sentence of death. It is seen in all that God does to restrain the devastating influence and development of sin in the world, and to maintain and enrich and develop the natural life of mankind in general and of those individuals who constitute the human race.[1]
    In short, we give because all that we have comes from the hand of our generous God who by his grace lavishes life and the resources for life upon each of us.
    God’s greatest act of generosity toward us was giving his Son to die for our sins.
    John 3:16–17 NIV
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

    How does Lent deepen our experience of giving?

    Lent deepens our experience of giving because Lent demands our attention to the ultimate generosity of our Heavenly Father in giving his Son to die the death we should have died.
    In return for the Father withholding nothing from us, Jesus calls us to be like our Father and withhold nothing from Him. Jesus calls us to lay down all of who we are and of what we have for Him. Jesus said,
    Luke 9:23 NIV
    Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
    Lent deepens our experience of giving by challenging us individually and as a church family to become more like Jesus by growing deeper in our generosity. Generosity flowing from our love and thankfulness for all God’s good gifts and salvation through the blood of our Lord Jesus will naturally help others to come to know Jesus and become like him.

    What Do We Give?

    We give the only things we can give.

    We give back to the Lord what He has given to us with its increase.

    King David gave generously from the national treasury and from his personal wealth for the building of the temple. Following his example, the kingdom’s officials gave generously of their wealth. Then, following the example of their leaders, the people gave generously of their wealth. David summed it all up in these few words to God,
    1 Chronicles 29:14 NIV
    “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.
    In our parable the two faithful servants returned to the King his first investment, plus its increase.
    Luke 19:16 NIV
    “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
    Along with giving back to the Lord what he has given us with its increase . . .

    We give ourselves

    When I say we give ourselves along with giving to the Lord what is his, I do not mean we give ourselves in addition to what He has given us. I mean we give ourselves to the Lord in the act of giving back to him what is his with its increase. We give ourselves along with what belongs to the Lord in two ways. The first way is that we too belong to the Lord. When we give ourselves to the Lord, we are returning to him what is his.
    King David said,
    Psalm 139:13–14 NIV
    For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
    The Lord made us. We belong to him.
    The second way in which we give ourselves along with giving the Lord what he has given us is that our time, our effort, our intentions, our motivations, and our hopes are bound together with what we give back to the Lord. God created it that way, because even the works that generate the increase we bring, the Lord ordained and orchestrated them.
    Ephesians 2:10 NIV
    For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
    Ourselves, the resources God gives us, the work he gives us to increase his resources, and the outcomes of that stewardship all belong to God and are inseparably intertwined.
    God has so orchestrated our success that we cannot fail, except if we choose not to give ourselves over to God’s goodness and in joyous gratitude give to Him all we are and all we have. That sounds like a high ideal and it is. However, it is not an impossible ideal. God works in us over our lifetime to make us more like Jesus. So, let us not let discouragement paralyze our progress when we realize our hesitation and resistance to giving God all of who we are and all that He has given us.
    Philippians 2:13 NIV
    for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
    God is at work in us making us more like Jesus every day. This means that as we intentionally follow Jesus, every day we become more capable of giving to God all that is His.

    What Do we Get?

    . . . when we give God, what belongs to Him along with its increase.

    We share in the abundance and glory of God

    Imagine the surprise and delight of the two faithful servants when their King let them keep the original investment, plus its increase, and then gave them more resources and larger responsibilities. Let’s hear those sweet words once again,
    Luke 19:17 NIV
    “ ‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
    The two faithful servants took full advantage of the opportunity given to them by their master to prove their ability to steward His resources and then offer his investment and its increase back to him. In return, the servants lost nothing and gained a great participation in the wealth and glory of their King.
    Israel experienced this in the giving for and dedication of the Lord’s Temple. Israel also experienced this in the giving for and the dedication of the tabernacle.
    One encouraging part of the tabernacle experience was that it came after the people had utterly failed God by worshipping the golden calf. However, they repented and rededicate themselves to the Lord and to the work of the worship of the Lord. In Exodus 35 & 36 after Moses told the people the requirements for constructing the tabernacle we read,
    Exodus 35:20–21 NIV
    Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved them came and brought an offering to the Lord for the work on the tent of meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments.
    Exodus 36:6–7 NIV
    Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.
    What was the result of this generous giving of what the Lord had given them?
    Exodus 40:33–34 NIV
    Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
    Exodus 40:38 NIV
    So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
    The result of the Israelites giving was that they shared in the presence and glory of the Lord at work among them.
    Is anything happening among us like that? I propose to you that it is. For years, our church has been investing the resources entrusted to us in the food pantry. During the pandemic God has worked to bless us with hundreds of tons of free food. During the lockdown, our pantry has been a physical and spiritual lifeline for hundreds of families. God has expanded the local reach of our church family well beyond Sauk Village and Lynwood. We are touching the lives of individuals and families that before the pandemic our normal operational limitations would not have allowed us to reach. If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, we can see the generous glory of the Lord among us doing for us what we could not do for ourselves, so that we can generously do for others what they cannot do for themselves.

    Why do we Give?

    We give because God generously gives us everything. We give because He gave his Son Jesus to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, by living the life we could not live and dying the death we should have died.

    What Do We Give?

    We give all of who we are and all of what we have to the Lord, plus its increase. We do this because in his grace he has given to us our life, all we have, and all our ability and opportunities to bear fruit with those resources for His glory.

    What Do We Get?

    We get to share in God’s abundance and glory as we see Him at work in us, among us, and through us.
    Emmanuel, we are a generous people. As we follow Jesus, this is what we can look forward to. Our generosity will increase. Our joy in and love for God will increase as we steward the generosity that God has lavished upon us all.
    [1] Berkhof, L. (1938). Systematic theology (p. 435). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co.
      • Luke 19:11–27NIV2011

      • Psalm 24:1NIV2011

      • John 3:16–17NIV2011

      • Luke 9:23NIV2011

      • 1 Chronicles 29:14NIV2011

      • Psalm 139:13–14NIV2011

      • Ephesians 2:10NIV2011

      • Philippians 2:13NIV2011

      • Luke 19:17NIV2011

      • Exodus 35:20–21NIV2011

      • Exodus 36:6–7NIV2011

      • Exodus 40:33–34NIV2011

      • Exodus 40:38NIV2011

  • Bring Forth the Kingdom

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