One in Generosity


Pastor Jerry Gillis - January 26, 2020

Community Group Study Notes

  1. Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s message.
  2. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. What is the proper heart posture of sowing seeds generously? Why does God speak to the motive of our giving not just the action itself?
  3. What heart issues get in the way of generously sowing seeds into God’s kingdom and mission?
  4. Read 1 Corinthians 4:7, paying attention to the second question especially: “what do you have that you did not receive?” If that is true, and all we have is a gift from God, how does that change the way we make decisions about money and possessions?
  5. What is one action step that you can take in response to this message and our discussion? How can we, as a group, help you take that step?


Sermon Transcript

Well, I hope you got to experience this as a kid because I did and I don't want you to miss out. But most kids got to experience bringing home a seed in a little potted soil plant and bring that home and putting it on your window sill and literally having to do nothing except put it in the window and then poof you get a flower or you get a plant or you get a bush or you get a possum or whatever it is you plant. No, you didn't get a possum, right?

It was a great thing. I remember as a kid, I brought home the seed and I brought home the little pot of soil and I got to put the seed in the soil and put it up there. And then if you are like me impatiently, every five minutes I would go back and look and be like nothing. And I'd walk away and then five minutes later I'd be like, "Is there a plant yet?" Nothing. And I couldn't see what was happening underneath all of that. I didn't know exactly what was going on, but I did know that I wanted to see something come out of that soil.

So whenever that happened, I don't know how long that took, the weeks or months or yesterday, whenever that was, when that actually happened, I remember as a kid going back and looking at that and all of a sudden there is this blossoming little plant or flower or whatever it might've been, and I was like, "Yes sir." Right there. I thought that I had done something. I failed to remember as a kid that I just put the seed in the soil, that's really all I did. I put the seed in the soil and put it in the window and then just left it alone and it just did stuff on its own that I didn't have anything to do with yet.

For some reason, if you were like me, you thought you had done something special like boom, look what I created. Well, I failed to remember, right, that the seed wasn't even mine, my teacher gave it to me. The little pot of soil wasn't mine either, teacher gave that to me also. So all I did was put the seed in the soil and then that was that. And so what I got to do is I got to experience the harvest from a seed that wasn't even mine, which is a pretty cool thing, right?

Now as an adult I can reflect back on that and I realize now that that was a really cool thing and maybe you got to experience that. I talked to somebody at the last hour who their kid brought it home when they were four and put it in the window sill and they still have the plant. I don't know what that thing was made out of like titanium or something. I don't know what happened. And by the way, their kid is 40 and it's still in their house.

And they were telling me what it means to them now after hearing this message, they were like, "You don't know what this plant now means. It's taken on a completely different meaning to me." But this is a great insight for us into the generosity of God. If we even as little kids, when we remember back to that, it can be a great insight for us into the generosity of God. You see, when God started all of this at the very beginning, when God created everything out of his love and out of his generosity, he actually reflected his own generosity in his creation.

Because it was so bountiful and so beautiful. And in fact, Genesis actually tells us that when God made the vegetation, he made plants that were seed bearing plants of their kind. It actually says that in the text of Genesis, seed bearing plants of their kind. You see, God in the very inception didn't just create what exists, but he created the potential for everything else to exist. Because inside of that seed was something else.

You see, this was coming from a plant, but inside of that seed was an entire orchard that was waiting to be born. Inside of that seed was an entire forest of trees that were waiting to be born. You see, God, even in creation itself expressed his generosity and his boundlessness and his graciousness by not just creating, but creating also with the potential for there to be an even greater bounty because they were seeds.

It's a really great thing for us to think about and so it's not a shock to us when we come to Paul talking about generosity in second Corinthians nine that Paul as steeped in the scripture as he is, decides to talk generosity using the language of seed. You see, someone as brilliant in the scripture as Paul understands a little bit about the nature of God and God's own generosity. And I believe that with Paul, he was helping to express that in how he was going to kind of give this picture to the Corinthians about what this actually looked like.

Now, when Paul started talking about generosity in second Corinthians nine, he was using two different words that are translated in the NIV, generosity in both cases, but he uses two different Greek words to express the sentiment of generosity. One of those words actually talks about bountiful or blessing. That's kind of the idea of that word that's translated generosity. And the other one translated generosity means liberal as in kind of spreading it out all over the place, liberal or not self-seeking but sincere.

So you start to get a bigger idea of what Paul is talking about when he talks about generosity because he uses a couple of different words to give us a more well rounded meaning. That what he's referring to is this blessing, this bountifulness, this liberality, this non-self seeking, but instead very sincere type of thing and he calls it generosity. Now, what's the occasion for Paul writing to them about the idea of generosity? Well, it's a very specific occasion.

You see, as you remember the church in Jerusalem was kind of the mothership. You remember that? Remember the time of Pentecost where after the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples are gathered and they're praying and then spirit comes on them. And then all of these people come to faith in Christ, and 3000 are saved in one day and it begins what we call the church of Jesus Christ. These were Jewish people who are now putting their faith in Jesus, recognizing that Jesus is the promised one of Israel and is the savior of the world.

And so now the Bible tells us that day by day people were coming to faith in Jesus Christ as a result of their witness and the preaching of the apostles. And it's a really remarkable thing and the church of Jerusalem began to grow. But over the course of time, what happened in the church of Jerusalem is not only did some of the people, because they had come in for the time of Pentecost from all over the place, they didn't go home. So now it was a difficult scenario, right?

Because they were staying there and they didn't have anything, and they were having to look for jobs and having to rely on the generosity of other people that did live there to help them out, to give them food and maybe a place to stay. But that was getting increasingly harder over the course of time, and it was getting increasingly harder as the church began to grow because what was happening is both the Jewish people were starting now to persecute the church of Jesus Christ and the Roman empire was starting to kind of put its iron hand down on the church of Jesus Christ.

And so Paul is recognizing that they're in a bad way in Jerusalem. They are people that are having trouble finding things to eat and finding work and all of that stuff, and he decides by the leading of the spirit, he wants to take up a collection to be able to help the church in Jerusalem. And he begins that by saying to the churches in Macedonia, which would be like Philippi, Thessaloniki, Berea, you've heard of some of those churches.

He talks to the churches in Macedonia and says, "If you want to be a part of this, we would love for you to be a part of this." And then the response to that offering that you read about in second Corinthians chapter eight is remarkable because here's what Paul says, out of their poverty, they weld up with such extraordinary generosity that they gave beyond what they were even able to give. It was a remarkable response of people who were enraptured with the glory of God and wanted to be a help and demonstrate God's glory through being a people of generosity.

They wanted to demonstrate the character of God. So what Paul did is he took that testimony from Macedonia and he challenged the Corinthians with that testimony. He said, "Hey, by the way, they gave out of their poverty," basically and they wanted to make an investment in the people that they wanted to help. They wanted to forward the mission of God in Jerusalem and now he's saying to Corinth, I want to challenge you to do the same. So that's the occasion for this writing, but how is it that Paul talks about generosity?

I'm going to give you two primary ways, two primary buckets in how Paul talks about generosity, and here's the first one. He talks about generosity as a seed to sow. So it's not a shock to us that Paul is going to take the idea or the language of seed to communicate to us what generosity actually looks like. Now what he does when we start getting into the text for the six verses that we're going to look at, he talks about seed in those six verses, seed to sow.

But inside of those six verses, there are four principles that I want to pull out in how he's talking about seed to sow. All right? You might be able to pull out more because you're special and you're a curve buster and you're really smart and you go to the head of the class. But I'm going to give us four principles out of this that we can look at and maybe be encouraged by, instructed by, because we're learning what generosity looks like by the spirit through his apostle.

Here's the very first thing, and it's this, that the first kind of principle is that you reap in proportion to what you sow. You can just jot that down for those of you who are note-takers, I know the rest of you have it memorized. Reap in proportion to what you sow. All right? It's a real simple statement that Paul makes in verse number six of second Corinthians chapter nine. I hope you'll find your place there so that you can see it yourself. But here's what it says.

Remember this, whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Did you catch it? I highlighted it for you. It's really straightforward. Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, whoever sows generously will reap generously, so you reap in proportion to what you saw. Listen to this, if you sow just a little seed, then you get a little harvest, if you sow a lot of seed, you get a lot of harvest. That's the principle that Paul is trying to point out to us.

And you go, "Okay, make sense?" But isn't it interesting that when he starts verse number six and when he's writing, he doesn't just tell us that principle, he starts with saying something very specific, two words, you find them right there in the NIV. He says this, remember this, whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, whoever sows generously will reap generously. Why did Paul say, "Remember this." I'll tell you why. Because we often forget this. That's why he said it. Remember this, why?

Because what happens in our lives is we live lives of frustration and entitlement because we expect to harvest in places we haven't sown. And Paul says this, remember, you think that you're owed a massive harvest and you haven't even planted a seed. You reap in proportion to what you sow. Sow a lot, reap a lot, sow a little, reap a little. But there's a second principle that I want you to see as well. Not only do we reap in proportion to what we sow, but we reap what we sow, right?

This is pretty simple when you start thinking about the law of harvest and the law of seed, but you don't plant an orange seed and get a hippopotamus, right? You just don't do that. You reap what you sow. That's kind of the principle here. Look at what it says in verse number seven. It says, each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. Not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver. You see what verse number seven is trying to teach us here is that the heart is central to the idea of generosity. It is crucial.

Grateful hearts end up giving, not under compulsion, not reluctantly, but out of a response of love. You see, that's really what it's about, isn't it? It's about giving from a heart of love. Because you can actually run through motions, you can actually go through kind of postures of giving without love. Although I didn't make up this phrase, it's been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. And it's true, we can give without loving and that could be maybe for show, maybe we want people to see it, we want to post it on our social media.

I did some really great stuff that I just wanted everybody to know. I don't want it to be about me, that's why I posted it. I don't want this to be about me. That's so confusing. When people, "Look what I did. I don't want this to be about me." Okay, well then here's a simple solve. Don't post that if you don't want it to be about you. Because you clearly want it to be about you, because you want all your friends to see and comment on how awesome you are, right?

Maybe I'm overstepping, maybe not. Now, why is this imperative for us? Because we reap what we sow and this has to be something that comes from our heart because this is bigger. Listen, this is bigger than just material things this is also spiritual. You see Paul when he's writing this to the Corinthians has also written something to the church in Galatia and he uses the same exact principle to describe it, that you reap what you sow. Listen to what he says in Galatians chapter number six he says, do not be deceived God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he sows, a woman reaps what she sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction. Whoever sows to please the spirit, from the spirit will reap eternal life. Let's not become weary in doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. You see, ladies and gentlemen, we reap what we sow.

If we sow to the flesh, if we sow to sinful indulgence, what we reap is destruction. If we sow to the spirit, what we reap is life. That's what God has intended for us. It's not only true in the material realm that we reap what we sow, but it is also true in the spiritual realm and people of generosity are people whose hearts are postured in deep gratitude and love to God. And as a result, from their heart they flow with generosity. Because this is really the life of God in us that is demonstrating that.

So that's two of the four principles under the seed to sow. Let me give you the third one. It's this, the seed and the harvest are God's. This is a principle. You say, "Well man, that seems relatively obvious to me." Well, I want you to look at what Paul actually taught here in verse eight and nine and verse 11. Notice what he said. It says, now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, who is this? He who supplies seed to the sower.

We're talking about God here. He's the one who supplies seed to the sower, he's the one who supplies bread for food. He will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You see, what Paul is saying here is exactly what we learned when we were little kids, when we brought home the seed and the soil and we put it in the window. We learn something here if we will look at it with eyes that see a generous God. Maybe you could say it this way if you wanted to jot this down.

It's a simple truth and it's this. Is that God is so generous that he gives us a harvest from seed that isn't even ours. God is so generous he gives us a harvest from seed that isn't even ours. Did you catch what Paul said here? He said this. He said, he who supplies seed to the sower and he who supplies bread. In other words, the outcome of that seed for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. It's all God's.

The seed is God's, the outcome or the harvest is God's. And ladies and gentlemen, if we could ever settle that issue in our hearts, it would change who we are as a generous people. If we could ever settle the ownership issue, who owns it all? Is it all God's or not? You see, when we understand ourselves as managers, trustees, stewards, and that actually the owner is God, he's the one who supplies seed, he's the one who supplies bread, he's the one who supplies the harvest.

But sometimes we think, "Look what I've done." Even though I know my teacher gave me the seed, my teacher gave me the soil. I didn't do anything. I didn't see it happen, I didn't make it happen. I just came back and there it was. I had nothing to do with that, but we do this, don't we? We don't settle the ownership issue. We somehow think that we did this. We think this is all ours when in truth, everything is God's and we are simply stewards and managers.

Imagine if we ever settled that issue and recognize that all we have is God's, everything that we have it's the Lords. Do you know that it's not hard to be generous at that point? It's not difficult. Do you know why? Because you live this way. A hand that receives from God and a hand that gives generously as opposed to this way, a hand that does not receive from God and just hangs on to everything that it has. That's called being stingy, not being generous.

Generosity looks like two open hands, one to receive and one to give. We receive, we give, we receive, we give and guess what we have learned over the course of experience with walking with God? We can't out give him. It's all his, everything. He never runs out. You see, we've got to remember that the seed and the harvest is God's and if we come to that place in our hearts where we recognize that, generosity is natural, it's just who we are. It doesn't become so difficult anymore. It's not mine, it's his.

Now we have to be wise stewards. It doesn't just mean we just start going, "Hey, what's going on everybody?" It's not that, right? We want to plant in good soil. We want to be able to meet needs. We want to be able to do all of those things, but it's important that we remember that everything is God's. There's a fourth principle about seed to sow as well that I want you to see and it's this, sowing seed brings more seed to sow. Say that 10 times fast. Sowing seed brings more seed to sow.

I'm going to point out what Paul teaches us here in verses eight and nine and then verse 11, here's what he says. I want you to look at this with me. In the highlighted parts I want you to talk back. And God is able to bless you abundantly so that in all things at all times having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written, they have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endorsed forever. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

You saw it right with me, didn't you? In all things at all times having all that you need, you'll abound in every good work and you'll be enriched in every way so that you'd be generous on every occasion. Do you know what sowing seed brings more seed to sow? Listen to this. God is so generous that he gives us a harvest from seed that isn't even ours so that in turn we can take that harvest and sow more seed to see more fruit for his glory. This is how generous God is.

And I'm talking about this not just only in the material sphere, but in the spiritual sphere as well. These things are true for both. You see, what we need to recognize is that this is the kind of posture of generosity that Paul is teaching to the church at Corinth and it's the posture of generosity that we want to be as a people. We want The Chapel to be this kind of church. Just like Corinth was that kind of church or the churches of Macedonia were that kind of church, we want to be that kind of church. That we invest in the things of the kingdom and see a people of generosity.

It was three years ago, 2017 at this time, 2017 three years ago almost exactly that I stood before a congregation and I shared kind of what we desired to see over the next five years. You call it a five year vision or a five year plan or five-year desires, call it whatever you want. But I stood up here and those of you that were here three years ago, I had three barrels on stage. Maybe you remember those, and when I turned them they had names on them.

The first one said expand and then the second one you can see them, I'm pretending. And the second one said partner and then the third one said release. You guys remember that? Big barrels where we talked about kind of what we wanted to do in that five years. So the first barrel I went to the expand barrel. First thing I pulled out was a popcorn bucket. The reason I pulled out of popcorn bucket was because at the time our Cheektowaga campus was meeting in a movie theater.

And what we desired for God to do was to provide generously through all of us the opportunity for them to be in their own home, their own place because we knew we'd be able to reach more people if we were located somewhere rather than just mobile. We wanted to get started, but we wanted to see that happen. Well, check. God has done that and that campus has exploded from 250 people that were meeting in a movie theater to 700 people weekly that are meeting at our Cheektowaga campus today.

Yeah, to God be the glory. I also reached in and I pulled out a poster of Niagara Falls because we felt like God was leading us to put a campus in Niagara Falls to help reduce the darkness in Niagara Falls. But we didn't know what that was going to look like. And so we ended up looking at 40, 50 kinds of different places as possible spots to be able to do it. And we ended up just saying, "Let's just do something." So we started meeting in a movie theater and then we ended up going to the...

We got the Niagara Catholic facility, but so that was something we desired to see the Lord do and check, God was gracious to us. Then on the partner barrel, I reached in and I pulled out an on mission magazine because it had all of these kingdom come partners in it. You remember that? All these kingdom partners that we've got, around some 80 something, right? And I said that even while we're expanding and even what we want to do in this last bucket, I don't want to take a step back from our partnerships.

I want to still be able to facilitate partnerships because this mission is not just about us at The Chapel, it's about the kingdom of God. It's about every man, woman, and child hearing and seeing and responding to the gospel of Jesus Christ. And The Chapel can't do that all by ourselves. We need to plant churches, we need to partner with ministries, and we need to take that responsibility serious here in our own home, but also in our nation and in our world.

And so we did not want to take one single step back from what we were doing in terms of partnerships. Well, not only did we not take a step back from our partnerships in this three year period, but in these three years, based on the commitments that we had to partners, we have surpassed those commitments by 43% because of, listen to this, because of the goodness of God in the people of God and together God has made us a generous place. Thank God for that. And I commend you in Jesus name. I commend you.

Now I'm not commending those of you who have done nothing. I mean, I like you and I love you and I'm glad you're here, but this isn't a commendation to you to feel good about having sat here for years and years and years and just parasitingly sucking the life out of a church that you're not investing in at all. Not commending that. Because that's not who we are. That's not what we're supposed to be, right?

Some of you going, "Okay, tell us what you think. Tell us what you really think." I already told you I loved you. So shut up. No, I'm kidding, kidding. But I'm commending you because this is what God is doing in and through us together. It's beautiful. And then the very last barrel we called release. And what I pulled out of that barrel was just a box of matches. And I lit it carefully and I said, "We want to light something on fire so that we can light something else on fire."

What I said is we want to light on fire our debt, the overall debt of The Chapel so that we can light on fire generosity in our region in even more advanced ways. People would already consider us a very generous as a church. We want to be wildly so because God is wildly generous, wildly so. And so we wanted to be able to do that. Well, over this three year period, here's what's happened. We were able to fully pay off the Apex, which is across the street where students gather and we've got a gym over there and all that stuff.

It's fully paid off, no debt on that at all, we're done. We were able to make sure that Lockport was fully squared away in their place and they are debt free and rent free completely. We were able to purchase as a church, total church, the Cheektowaga campus and renovate it and we didn't take on any additional debt to do so. We were able to move Niagara Falls. Well we haven't moved them yet, but we were able to get in where we are and we were able to purchase the Niagara Catholic facility straight up for cash and we were able to have some money still available to start renovations.

We don't have enough to be able to finish the renovations that we're doing, that's still going to come but we're not taking on any new debt to be able to do that. So we've done all of this and when we make an additional debt payment this first quarter of this year, we will have knocked our overall debt position down by 40% even while not taking on new debt, having done all of these things. To God be the glory.

You see, what this looks like for us is this, is that over this three year period, we have seen a 21% increase in giving by the people of God. And I say that as a testimony to the Lord and to commend you as the people of God that we together are being able to invest in things that matter. And here's what's happening. Listen to this. Here's what's happening. As we take the seed that God gives us and we seriously get invested in things of the kingdom and in the mission of God, God's giving us more seed to sow.

As we sow, God's giving us more seed to sow. And I thank God for that. So Paul talks at the very beginning about a seed to sow as a picture of generosity. And there are a lot of principles in there for us to be able to embrace and think about. But he also talks about generosity not only as a seed to sow, but in a second way he talks about it as a service to perform. So not just a seed to sow, but a service to perform. In other words, it's an act of worship to the Lord, it's an act of worship and service to people.

It's an act of worship and service to the mission of God that it's a service to perform. Notice how Paul goes on to talk about generosity beginning in verse number 12. He says, listen to this, this service that you perform, pause right there. If you're wondering where I get my points, I am a plagiarist of the highest order from the Bible. That's the job. This isn't to show up on Sundays and get four inspirational sayings from Jerry. This is the show up here and say, "What did God through his Holy Spirit say to us?"

So I'm just taking the language of scripture here. Paul talks about generosity as a seed to sow and as a service to perform. He says, this service, generosity, that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

And in their prayers for you, their hearts will go out to you because of the surpassing grace God has given you. You see, the beautiful thing about this service to perform is that when Paul unpacks that for us, he actually talks about two outcomes of this service. This service of generosity that we are involved in. He talks about two outcomes. Here's the first outcome, is that it proves our belief in the gospel. Our generosity actually proves or validates our belief in the gospel.

Sometimes people can be all talk when it comes to the gospel. I believe that. I believe that. Yeah, I believe that. I believe that and lives look nothing like it. But generosity helps to validate the nature of our belief in the gospel itself, that God is generous and he has generously provided for us in Jesus Christ. Notice what verse 13 says. It says this, because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for this. For the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ.

Did you catch that? That we are actually validating by our obedience to the confession of the gospel through our generosity, we are validating our belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ. This takes us out of the realm of all talk and puts us in the realm of action. Where we're not saying we believe Jesus owns it all, but I'm not going to entrust him with any of it. We believe Jesus wants us to fulfill this mission, but I'm expecting everyone else to do it. No.

If we believe it, then we will do it and see, this teaches us that generosity proves our belief in the gospel, that we value Jesus and we value the kingdom and we value people and we value the mission over our fleshly self-indulgences, that we value eternal things. But it also shows us a second outcome and that's this. It invokes praise to God. This is a beautiful reminder that when we're engaged in the service of generosity, it actually causes others to praise and worship God.

Look in verse 12 and 13 again. It says this, this service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people, but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. Do you know it's a beautiful thing when our generosity causes others to praise God for it?

Do you know why that's a good thing? Because we were made to praise and worship God. And so if what we're doing in generosity causes people's lives to rise up and praise the Lord, that is a beautiful thing. In fact, we actually want to share a few of those responses with you right now. So take a look at the screen.

Speaker 3:          Good morning, Chapel Family. We just want to pause from Jerry there say thank you so much for all of your support and your generosity. Through your generosity, we've been able to truly extend your resources to really meet the needs of people both locally and abroad, really being the hands and feet of Jesus. So thank you. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you in your gifts and your resources to help us continue to do this work that had been set before us. Thank you.

Speaker 4:          Hey everyone, on behalf of the Winter Compass Care Service for New Babies, thank you for your amazing generosity. In Buffalo in 2019, 84 abortion minded women chose to have their babies and 53 submitted their lives to Christ. Your investment is erasing the need for abortion one woman at a time. Thank you.

Speaker 5:          Hello to all my family at The Chapel. Words cannot begin to express how much we praise and thank God for the amazing act of love that you show toward us. Please know that what God blessed your hearts to do will not only bless the church right now, but for generations to come. So thank you for your love, thank you for your support and thank you for your generosity. God bless.

Speaker 6:          So long to you from Haifa in the North of Israel. Thank you The Chapel church community for your sacrificial and consistent support of our work in Israel, which allows us to consistently serve the local believers, both Jews and Arabs. To help them take care of their families, to support their local church, to bless their community and to advance the kingdom of God by being faithful witnesses of God's love.

Speaker 7:          Dear Chapel family, I wish to thank each of you for your compassionate hearts. We are so grateful for your support in what God is doing in and through not just our mission, but your mission. We are excited to continue showing our region of Western New York Christ's abundant love. For without your generosity, we would not be able to continue to serve those in need. Thank you again, and God bless you all.

Speaker 8:          Thank you so much Chapel family for how wonderfully you steward the resources God has given you. It goes a long way in helping train, equip, and release church planters to plant healthy churches throughout Western New York. We praise God for your faithfulness.

Aren't those great to be able to hear and be encouraged by? It encourages me because it reminds me of the goodness of God. We could've had dozens and dozens more of those, of people expressing their gratefulness to God for the generosity of the people of The Chapel who are investing in the mission of God. Now listen, the reason that we sow seed and the reason that we serve God and the mission through generosity is because of God himself.

It's because of what God has done in Jesus Christ, that's the motivation for why we sow and the motivation for why we serve, this act of generosity because we're reflecting what God has done in Jesus Christ. So it shouldn't be a shock to us, ladies and gentlemen, the way that Paul ends this entire passage teaching on generosity is with a very straightforward, very simple statement that says this right at the end of that passage, thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

This is how Paul ends his communication on generosity by talking about what God has done in Jesus Christ, the beauty of the gospel, reflecting the generosity of who God is. That this is our motivation. Maybe if you'll stop for just a moment and think with me and if you'll allow me to say it in this way, what God saw God dealt with. He saw the great need of humanity and a barren soil spiritually, and so God sent the smallest seed into the womb of a virgin girl in a small village.

That seed was born and it began communicating the life of the father, reconciliation to the father and the nature of the kingdom of God. And in fact, Jesus, this seed, viewed his life like a seed. In fact, when he was talking in John's gospel about his upcoming death, he recognized exactly what this was. This was his generous way of offering himself like a seed. Jesus said, the hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

You see, just like it was in creation where God created the potential for more with seed bearing plants so that it wouldn't just demonstrate his bounty in what is singularly, but what could be now in Jesus Christ, the great seed that was implanted in the womb of a teenage virgin that lived and viewed his life as a sacrificial act, like a seed that has died and been put into the ground. That is exactly what he did on our behalf. But we know that Jesus rose up on the third day out of that soil, and out of that grew this tree of life, the first fruits of new creation.

And from that seed, we now see the fruit of the church. And now when the church connects to that seed, we can now experience what generosity looks like by his life living in us because we are the fruit of his generosity. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It's a seed that wasn't ours that was planted on our behalf so that we can experience the fruitfulness from a seed that we didn't even own. This is the beauty and the glory and the generosity of God.

And there's maybe not a better way to pause and celebrate that truth than to sit for a moment around the Lord's table to recognize how generous God has been to us through the gift of his son laying his life down for us and being able to take of the bread and take of the cup so that we can pause to remember that. Our ushers are coming and they're going to be distributing the elements to you and as you can help them, we would appreciate it because many of our ushers are home sick like many other people, and so they're a little shorthanded today.

So if you need to help pass across an aisle or do whatever you need to do, they'll be around shortly. But as they begin to pass these elements out, here's what I'd ask of you. First, if you would just prepare your heart. Secondly, if you would just wait on everyone because we're going to take the elements together in just a moment. But I'm praying that you would stop where you are and just begin to reflect on how generous God has been, that for those of us that did not deserve grace, he poured it out anyway.

For those of us who never actually should have deserved the harvest of righteousness he's given us, he did it on our behalf anyway. God has been exceptionally generous to us. So think on that for a moment as the elements are being passed and in just a moment we'll take them together. When Paul writes to the Corinthians the first time, he says, for I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you. That the Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, this is my body, which is for you do this in remembrance of me.

Father, we thank you for the generosity that you have shown to us in offering the Lord Jesus and Jesus, your willing offering of yourself. So we receive this now in remembrance of your startling and beautiful and glorious generosity to us in your sacrifice. Let's eat together. If you'd open the cup as well. Paul wrote in the same way after supper, he took the cup saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood, do this whenever you drink it in remembrance of me.

Paul adds, for whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. Father, we want to be proclaimers of the death of the Lord Jesus and his resurrection because it communicates to a world just how generous you are. That when we lived in darkness, behold a light has come and that we know that Jesus is the first fruits of new creation, the very tree of life himself. And so we reflect not only on your death and your resurrection, but on your return.

And we thank you for the blood that you have shed for us so that we may now be reconciled to the father. Your incredibly generous sacrifice on our behalf. We now drink in remembrance of that. Let's drink together. It is right for us to think about the generosity of Jesus even as we gather around his table and what I hope our response will be is a response of worship. I realize that some of us may be in a place now when you hear a message and talk about generosity and you're thinking to yourself, "You know what? I'm in a little bit of a mess. I've been in a mess financially and I don't even know where to start."

Some of us, it's not that we're in a mess financially, it's that our hearts are maybe in a mess. What I would hope is that you would be reminded that this generous God, he's the one who makes a way for us when we posture our hearts toward him, that he makes a way for us. That he's the one who said, I promise I'll never leave you and never forsake you. That I'll give you what you need when you need it. That I'll supply seed for the sower and bread for food so that your harvest of righteousness can be enlarged and can increase.

This is the God who said that. The God who's faithful, the God who is among us right now. So what I want us to do is to turn our attention toward him for a moment and worship him and then at the close of that, I want to take a moment and give us a challenge and an application on our way out. So why don't we stand together as we take a few moments here to worship. That's who he is. Listen, even when you don't see it, he's working, even when you don't feel it, he's working.

Like a seed that is planted in soil that you can't see, all you see is the outcome, but it's he who is doing the work under the soil to bring forth the harvest. So maybe in our minds, what we have to remember is number one, even when we don't see it, he's working because he is the one who makes the way. He's the miracle worker. He's the light in the darkness. That's who he is. He's generous, he's generous.

And maybe what we have to remember in our hearts is this. If we haven't gotten settled, the ownership issue, then maybe generosity is something we struggle with because we have still claimed things that aren't ours like a kid saying, "That's my seed, that's my soil." But when we settle the ownership issue, generosity is who we are because that's who he is. It's he in us. And maybe for some of us, it's not that we don't say that we believe that it's all his, but we struggle because it's a heart issue.

We've got a heart issue when it comes to these kinds of things because central to generosity is the issue of the heart and God, his heart is so pure and so Holy and as a result, he's generous by nature. And when our hearts are made like his heart, we too are generous. Some of you I realize are saying, "Yeah man, I don't even know where to begin my financial world is upside down. I don't know where to start."

Let me give you a couple things to think about. One, if you're not in a community group, you should be. And it's not just because it's a program, it's because these are people that you would be investing your life with that can help you, that can grow with you, alongside of you, that you can help them and grow alongside of them, that you together can work toward the outworking of the truth of what we talk about in the word of God.

This is why we want you there because this is life. If you sow to the flesh, then you reap destruction. If you sow to the spirit, you reap life. That's what we want to see in the lives of people. So if you haven't signed up, then do when you leave, when you're on your way out, there'll be people out there in the atrium. You can go online, do whatever you got to do, but just get it done. Secondly, maybe you're saying, I don't even know my way around building a budget or figuring out how to give or maybe my world's okay, but I just haven't learned what it looks like to structure my life that way financially or with my resources or the posture of my heart.

Well, maybe you should pick up the Financial Peace University class that we're doing. You can sign up online, and you can find out just where to sign up online. And I would encourage you to do it. It takes a little bit of an investment for you because the things that are free, generally, we don't care. We don't pay much attention. If you invest a little bit in it, you're going to see a great return in what God wants to do in your life. I hope you'll do it.

But at the end of the day, ladies and gentlemen, what we want to see is we want to see a people, a church, The Chapel as a place of generosity. Because what we want to do is we want to inspire worship in the hearts of people all over Western New York. We want them to see and testify to the generous God who's loved them radically, bountifully, generously. And we want to be that kind of people. So I commend you in the name of Jesus for your generosity. And I challenge us together to continue to live in a posture of generosity for the glory of Christ.

And then finally, maybe you're here and you've never actually entered into relationship with Jesus Christ. This generous God has made a way for sinful people to be reconciled to him, but it's only through his son. It's not because you think I'll do a couple of good things and then I'll tie his hands behind his back and he'll have to let me in. That's not how it goes. See, God is Holy and we are sinful, and the only way that our sinfulness can come into the place of his holiness is that we have to be made Holy.

And the only way that can happen is if there is a sacrifice on our behalf in a perfect human being, Jesus, who is fully God and fully man. Who laid his life down, shed his blood to atone for our sin and to satisfy the justice of a Holy God so that God would judge sin on him as opposed to on me and you. What a generous God? Jesus knew what he was doing. He didn't go because he was forced. He didn't go out of compulsion. He was cheerful for the joy set before him.

He endured the cross scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your own blood. That's what the Bible says. This is what he did for the joy set before him. You're in his joy. He wants you to know him, and if you've never come to that place when we dismiss in just a moment, I hope you'll come by the fireside room.

Let one of pastors or prayer partners talk to you about what it means to have your sins forgiven, your life made new so that you can know the generous God who will generously save you. Father, thank you for the reminder today that everything's yours. God, thank you for the reminder today that you're the one who provides everything. Thank you for the reminder that you allow us to experience a harvest from seed that's not even ours, that we are enlarged in our harvest of righteousness because of what Jesus has done.

I pray that today we would leave being more in awe of you, being more in love with who you are and being more willing to surrender our lives in radical obedience so that the world around us may see a clear picture of Jesus. Because the world doesn't need more of us, it needs more of you. Your life in us, cast back the darkness. So would you do that way maker? Would you do that miracle worker? Would you do that light in the darkness? That is who you are. May we allow you to be that in us? We pray in Jesus name and all God's people say amen.

More From This Series

One in Prayer

Pastor Jerry Gillis, Pastor Wes Aarum, Kim Holet, Pastor Deone Drake, Edwin Perez, Multiple Speakers Part 1 - Jan 5, 2020

One in Worship

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 2 - Jan 12, 2020

One in Mission

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 3 - Jan 19, 2020
Watching Now

One in Generosity

Pastor Jerry Gillis Part 4 - Jan 26, 2020

Worship Set List

Open The Gates

Vertical Worship


Fade Away



Goodness of God

Bethel Music





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