Essentials: Generosity

Luke 20.45-21.4

God’s economy is different than ours. The widow’s offering is a reminder that God is not looking at the size of the gift, but the motivation behind giving it. God’s not after our money, but us. And yet we cannot give ourselves to Him without giving everything to Him, including our stuff.

Throughout church history, generosity has been one of the defining characteristics of Christianity. The care of the poor, the first hospitals and schools, leper colonies, providing for widows and orphans, for the downtrodden and left behind…all witnesses to the power and provision of God. Just as our Father is generous, He wants us to be generous too. Because of our so great salvation, our thankful and happy hearts should loosen our grip on our stuff and free us up to give…and to give generously. In fact, we as believers should be the most generous folks on the planet!

But so often we’re not. Maybe it’s because we have too low a view of God. Maybe we’re afraid to trust Him because deep down inside we believe Him to be stingy…that somehow He might hold out on us. And if we give away what we have, there won’t be enough for us. Yeah…but that’s not the picture that the Bible paints of who God is…think about the number of stars in the heavens, the number of galaxies, the greatness and vastness of space. In the Genesis account, when God creates the sun, moon and stars, what is their purpose? To give light to the earth, and for signs and for seasons. Seems to be a bit extravagant, doesn’t it?

What about God’s grace and His mercy and His love? His boundless, immeasurable love? The cross where the sins of all mankind were placed on His beloved Son. Every sin atoned for. Every one. So that all might be saved…if they will believe in Jesus.

So if God is so incredibly generous in these things…both in creation and in redemption, then why would He be stingy in providing for our needs? Our generosity problem has nothing to do with our wealth or lack thereof. The widow was certainly not rich by anyone’s standards. It has everything to do with our faith and obedience. So the question is, do you trust God enough to give generously?

If so, where might you start? Well, if you’ve never given before or have only given sporadically, then start by being intentional. Sit down with your family and pick an amount and give that amount regularly. Maybe sign up for online giving. Revisit your giving throughout the year to see how you’re doing. If you’ve been a consistent giver, make it a goal to increase that amount…shoot for generous. Watch how God provides. Strive to become a generous giver, not a bigger barn builder. Remember God gives generously to us so that we can then give generously to others. When we invest in the kingdom, it pays eternal dividends.

Here at Central we are striving to be generous with our finances, too. We give away 20% of our budget…both locally and globally through missions and, soon, through church planting. Definitely something to celebrate. I know some folks in Japan who are thanking God for your generosity!

Make 2020 the year that generous giving becomes a priority for you…just like the poor widow.

pro rege

This post is based on our January Series, Essentials. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster

Questioning the Resurrection

Luke 20.27-21.4

The Sadducees’ question about the resurrection backfires. Jesus says there’s no doubt there will be a resurrection. God is faithful and will fulfill all that He has promised. Jesus will sit at the right hand of the Father, He will rule over the kingdom and His enemies will be crushed beneath His feet.

What the Sadducees considered a trick question because of their own doubt and misunderstanding is the central question of Christianity…is the resurrection real? The resurrection is central to our faith, and is our hope as Christians. If there is no resurrection, then eat and drink for tomorrow we die. If there is no resurrection, this life is all we have. If there is no resurrection there is no future kingdom, and our hope is only a fleeting and fading one. If there is no resurrection all the promises that God has made…are false, and frankly, we are all wasting our time here today.

Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection…first for Jesus, then for us. For Jesus to conquer sin and death, a resurrection is required. In the parable of the nobleman, Jesus says He goes away to receive His kingdom and then return, picturing His death, resurrection, ascension, and return. The promises made to the patriarchs can only be fulfilled for them if there is a resurrection. For us to live in the kingdom that both the OT and Jesus describe, there must be a resurrection. We know that God is faithful to His promises. Our hope is not in vain. We know that since Jesus was raised, we too will be raised with Him. And we will reign with Him in His kingdom. We know that there is a resurrection.

Knowing that the resurrection is real, it should affect the way live. We have a real hope in Jesus. Hope that this life is not the end. A hope that one day wrongs will be made right. No more tears or pain or sorrow. No death. Endless joy and unheard of satisfaction living life in the kingdom, serving and worshiping Jesus our King.

Knowing that the resurrection is real, we should live, not for the here and now, building our own kingdoms, selfishly grabbing all that we can get…but for the kingdom to come, willingly giving of ourselves and our resources, investing our mina in the lives of those who are around us.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life…our hope is in Him. If you have not yet trusted in Him, make today the day. Recognize that you are a sinner in need of repentance. Believe that Jesus can save you and trust Him to do so. The kingdom awaits.

Until next time…stay salty.

This post is based on a sermon from our series in the book of Luke. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster