ThanksGIVING

2 Corinthians 8.1-15

Generosity is easily overlooked as a spiritual discipline. You have heard me say often…pray every day, spend time in the Word every day, fellowship with other believers as often as you can, and share your story at every opportunity, but generosity is another one of those disciplines that’s at the core of what it means to follow Jesus. I don’t know how we can express love…for God or for our neighbor…without being generous. Being generous with our time. Being generous with our abilities. Being generous with our resources. Being generous with our lives. Generosity reflects the love that God so generously has shown toward us in Jesus.

Two characters in the Gospel of Luke highlight for me the two opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to generosity…the Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18) and Zacchaeus (Luke 19). They are alike in some ways. Both are wealthy. Both have the resources to be generous. But, their characters couldn’t have been more different. We expect the Rich Young Ruler to be generous…he is well respected, a much loved leader in religious circles and generally a good guy. Zacchaeus…not so much. We don’t expect him to be generous at all. He is a despised tax collector…and not just a tax collector, but a chief tax collector. Both of them have an encounter with Jesus…one becomes a generous giver out of the overflow of his thankfulness for what Jesus has done for him, and the other leaves very sad. Jesus changes everything. And it’s not what we expected. For Zacchaeus, Jesus’ gracious offer of salvation is Good News indeed, and he goes from being a taker to a giver, from greedy to generous, from entitled to thankful… But the Rich Young Ruler can’t stand to part with his stuff. His selfishness and greed, which were already there, have just been revealed.

Let me ask you a question, and be honest with yourself…which one best describes you? 

Let me ask it another way. What would Central look like if everyone was as committed as you are? If everyone gave and served and prayed exactly like you, would we be more thankful and generous, or less?

Everything that we have comes from God. We are merely stewards of what He’s entrusted to us. Whether He’s entrusted us with little like the widow or much like King Solomon, it’s all His. We have to keep that in mind. And know this…God is more concerned about the “why” of our giving than the “what”. He looks at the heart. Sometimes it’s harder to be generous when you have more…our stuff tends to get in the way…to capture our hearts and cause us to want more. But the more we pursue generosity, the easier it is to let go of our stuff.

If being generous…if giving…is new to you, I know what it feels like to look at your finances and wonder, “how?” Let me just challenge you to try it. Taste and see that the LORD is good. And you’ll see for yourself, that when we’re generous, God’s always faithful to meet our needs.

And like our spiritual gifts, God has given us resources to build up the body. We won’t experience the fullness of joy and abundance of life that Jesus wants for us until He has all of us, including our resources.

If you haven’t experienced it yet, as I said earlier, this is a very generous church. I know there are a ton of stories of folks who give and give generously. We couldn’t do the ministry we do…we couldn’t reach the folks in this valley and around the world we’re reaching…we couldn’t have the kingdom impact we’re having…without you. So thank you.

But may we excel still more and more, and may we grow in the grace of giving.

pro rege

This post is based on this week’s sermon. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or Twitter: @ccclancaster. You can also download our Central Christian app in the iTunes App Store, Google Play or the Amazon App Store.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

This year we asked the Staff at Central what they were thankful for…here’s a little glimpse into the hearts of your Staff…
Alisa

I am thankful for the kind hearted people of Central Christian Church. And for coffee.

Alissa

I am thankful for the “8-15” God put in my life. They are all people I never thought I would have anything in common with and now they are some of my closest friends. Now to get them to JESUS!

Andrew

I’m thankful for the way I feel supported and loved by my church family.

I’m thankful that God is in control and works all things to good.

Bev

I am thankful for my whole family, especially my husband, kids and their kids.

I am also thankful for the Count team and their faithfulness.

Christina

I’m thankful that God gently prepares us for each coming season of life.

I’m thankful for the family of God who pray together, encourage each other, comfort one another, and lean into God as one.

Cyndy

I am thankful for my community group who is there to encourage, to challenge and to laugh and cry with.

I am thankful for the times when my family can all be together and sit around the table to share a meal and talk and laugh and have a great time!

Debbie

I am thankful that for the mornings when I head out to drop my daughter Alli off at school…I can look up at the beautifully painted sky and tell her that we know the Artist and He loves us!

I am thankful for the smiling faces that greet me every morning when I get to work.

I am thankful for a husband who will wash the dishes after dinner!

Evelyn

To this day I still stand amazed that God has provided this work place for me. After 13 years I still love to be here with the most amazing people…God’s people. That is what I am very thankful for. He has blessed me with the most amazing job to help and serve and I love to be here every day! Thank you LORD!!

Gerry

I am thankful for a warm home to live in…

I am thankful to spend time with my two sons on Thanksgiving

I am thankful that God’s mercies are new every morning!

Jim

I am thankful for the opportunity Central provides for my family and I to worship and serve, a home that allows us to use our gifts for His service.

John

…for the gifts given by God – for His Son (my Savior and Lord) and the life I now have

…for the wonderful gift of my wife and the love she has for her Lord and Savior

Mark

I am thankful for my family, they have been a great help this past year.

Matt

What am I thankful for? Debt paid off, fantastic staff, great leaders, and an outstanding Central family. Folks inviting their 8-15. Dozens of rose bushes. Speaking of family…time together with my amazing wife and incredible sons. Just a few things.

Myron

I am thankful for a beautiful, loving wife and two great kids who love the Lord. I am also thankful for so many of God’s blessings and His faithfulness to supply all my needs throughout my life.

Ricky

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving… (1 Tim. 4:4 ESV)

I am thankful for the gift of life and new life

I am thankful for my beautiful wife and baby

I am thankful that God is always at work in my life and in the lives of the people around me

I am thankful for food and drink and good books!

I am thankful for friends that like to have fun and enjoy life

I am thankful for belonging to a church that relentlessly strives to honor Christ

I am thankful that God continues to reveal more and more of who He is as I study His Word

Sheryl

I am thankful for the technology that allows me to stay in touch with my family, especially during the holidays.

I am thankful for my friends and my church who have become my family.

I am thankful for hot coffee and warm fires…

Don’t let another moment go by without acknowledging what you’re thankful for! We have a BIG God, who has done…and will do…BIG things!
Happy Thanksgiving!!