Re:Verse Blog – 7/4/22

Re:Verse passage – Matthew 6:5-13 (day one)

Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through Matthew 6:5-13 in our Summer Re:Verse Series: “Better Together.”

Grudging Obligation

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day seven)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; vs 8

God never gives us anything out of grudging obligation. He always happily and graciously gives out of His love for us. He always provides when we need it. He is always there when we need Him. Yet, it seems that when we return the gift it is out of grudging obligation. We count to the exact percentile of 1/10th of our paycheck. We hold money back when we see a rainy day coming. We let our circumstances dictate our giving. What would it look like for us to give to God as He gives to us? It begins in the heart. Money has a hold on our heart stronger than almost anything in this world, but when we trust God over money, our giving will no longer be out of grudging obligation but out of love.

Beating the Odds

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day six)

There is no way around this, the kingdom minded person is a generous giver. They are giving because there is always a good kingdom return on their investment; it bears lots of fruit, and that makes them glad. And by giving I mean money. That’s what Paul means when writing to the Corinthian church.

Our church family doesn’t beat the national average, roughly 20 percent of our church family has a rhythm of giving a tithe (the Old Testament command to give 10 percent of your first fruits to the temple). So out of, say, 500 possible unique givers at FBCSA, only 100 actually give regularly. Consider the harvest of those 100 faithful, cheerful givers: a dedicated and gifted ministerial staff, beautiful new and historic facilities, planted churches, ongoing ministry and missions, mobilizing thousands to the international mission field, supporting career missionaries through cooperative giving, supplying resources to the poor in our city, beautiful creative arts-the harvest is plentiful! BUT imagine if 50 percent gave cheerfully and expectantly, rather than just 20. 70 percent?

What if generous givers (not defined by quantity, but the quality of the giving) weren’t the minority in our church family? What if we transcended the national average? What if we all really believed Jesus when his said, “It is more blessed to give, than to receive.” Can you imagine the harvest of that kind of generosity?

Maybe that is why so many of us struggle with giving generously. We rarely connect our giving to the harvest. We disconnect the giving from the yield. So we either give because that is what we just do, or we don’t at all. Paul says, “be a giver, and watch what God will do with your generosity.”

Do you believe Jesus and Paul? Out of what he has given you, do you give cheerfully and consistently? Is there a rhythm of Gospel generosity in your life?

Proactive

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day five)

Last week, we read about the early church and how they lived in community with one another. That blissful picture of the church devoting themselves to fellowship and meeting each other’s needs almost sounds like a utopian society, out of reach to us. But I think our passage this week sheds light on how they managed to live together in this way. They were generous.

This image Paul paints of sowing and reaping shows us that generosity is meant to be proactive, not reactive. Planting a seed is a proactive act, you sow the seed in faith that it will grow into a harvest. The same is true with generosity, we proactively sow generously into our relationships, and we have faith that God will turn that into abundant, life-giving community.

Paul is talking about finances here, and we certainly must be proactive in giving financially, but the rule also applies to our relationships.
We can sow generously into a relationship by giving that person our time, our attention, our prayers, giving encouraging words, and sharing our lives in a way that might feel vulnerable. If we want the kind of life-giving fellowship, unity, and joy that we see in the early church, we have to be proactive and sow generously into our relationships, knowing that God is faithful to turn that into a plentiful harvest, just like He did in the early church.

Cheerful Giver

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day four)

These verses are a favorite proof-text for health and wealth preachers.  “If you give abundantly to our church, God will give abundantly to you!”  Wrong.  It is as if God is obligated to give you a lot if you give the church a lot.  The only ones who get wealthy with this kind of theology is the preacher giving the message!

God wants us to be generous and cheerful givers.  Notice in verse 10, God gives on both sides of the equation.   God supplies the seed and then, when we sow it, He brings a bountiful harvest.  From God’s supply, others are blessed.  It is never about personal enrichment, it is about producing thanksgiving to God.  For God, it is always about the heart…what is the motivation of the heart?  Ananias and Sapphira gave a nice gift to the church, but out of a deceitful heart.  (Acts 5)  Give out of a grateful heart of thanksgiving!

Persuade

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day three)

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion.”

Tugging at heart strings, appealing to feelings of guilt, and priority-shaming have all served as tools for attempting to bend the will of people toward open-handedness. Sometimes it works. Coercion of any kind, though – even “benign” – will result only in short-term gain, not long-term transformation. Nobody says, “that time I gave more money to the church in order to feel better about my extravagant vacation has made me a person of joyful generosity.” Instead, straightforward and transparent statements of need, reports of gratitude, and questions that ask directly, “What are you willing to do with your treasure?” will place the church in unity with Paul’s declaration that all the forcefulness we can muster is no match for the whisper of the Holy Spirit.

Love Big

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day two)

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Vs. 6

Have you ever been asked to run for office? Whether student council or some other position it takes effort on your part to succeed. You have to talk to people, invest time in the campaign, and show why you would be worthy of the office. When we don’t invest greatly it is not a surprise if the outcome is defeat. Losing hurts, no doubt, but being convinced of our purpose should cause us to double down and give of ourselves to the effort. Nobody wants to spend time and energy in something only to have it not work out, and that is why we sometimes hold back. We don’t want to be hurt.

We shouldn’t approach our faith journey with the same mindset. We are loved by Jesus, the victory is won. That doesn’t guarantee there won’t be challenges, but it should hopefully reframe our mindset. Love big, serve with abandon, and trust fully.

Re:Verse Blog – 6/27/22

Re:Verse passage – 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 (day one)

Join us as Senior Pastor Chris Johnson, Associate Pastor Aaron Hufty, and Associate Pastor Bryan Richardson walk us through 2 Corinthians 9:6-12 in our Summer Re:Verse Series: “Better Together.”

Commonality

Re:Verse passage – Acts 2:42-47 (day seven)

And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common. vs 44

“You have more in common with a Christian living in a village in Kenya than you do your non-Christian friends that live right down the street.” I often say things like this to our students. You may not be able to talk about the latest Marvel movie or the hottest new song, but there is something unique that brings us all together as Christians. Christ living in me relates and connects to Christ living in you. That commonality creates a bond that is tighter than any friendship the world can offer. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit bridges languages, race, color, and creed. We are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, and even if it may seem that we are miles apart in interests, hobbies, or politics, we can know that we are Better when we are Together because Christ is our commonality.

Opposition

Re:Verse passage – Acts 2:42-47 (day six)

…having favor with all the people. Acts 2:47

The church, in it is earliest days, experienced favor with all the people. Immediately there was a visibility to their faith and practice that was unavoidable; they gathered in the temple to talk about Jesus among themselves and with others in the temple courts. People from all walks of life couldn’t help but see the beauty in their convictions about Jesus, their unity of mind, and the fruit it produced. It was contagious.

The church experienced favor like this,… until it didn’t. Favor would soon be replaced with direct opposition. Opposition arose when the faith and practice of new Jewish Christians threatened the power and influence of the status quo.

And the new growing church (like wild fire) did not cower, but rose in response, not with worldly force, returning efforts in kind, but with truth put on full display with Holy Spirit led grace and extraordinary sacrificial love,…like Jesus.