Our sermon title today is the value of generosity. And today is the church gift day, a strange coincidence, me thinks not. Why should we be generous? Well lets see if we can get any wisdom from our reading of psalm 112. Verse 1 says 1 Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands.
Is that you is it me do we praise the Lord, every day from Sunday to the next Sunday and so on, our do we just praise the Lord for an hour or so on a Sunday. Chris and I pray together every day and we start by thanking God for answers to pray, and we see answerers every day, and also thanking Him for his love and for that free gift of grace and also dictating ourselves to Him again day by day. That free gift of God saving grace now that’s generosity.
Then the next bit of verse 1 - Blessed are those who fear the Lord, should God be feared?, well in many ways yes because if you look at fear as being the start of respect, just like when I was a child I would fear doing something that would upset my parents, and that turned into respect and the fear of upsetting them stilled remained, not because they would beat me or stop me doing something but because it would sadden them.
So we should look at fear as upsetting God, and yes if we do not accept the free offer of salvation there will be a price to pay but that is our choice. So are we afraid of letting God down. And Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in his commands. What does this look like in your life? Remember that Jesus gave only two commandments when Jesus was asked in Matthew 22 36 ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’
37 Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
On these two commandments hang all that God has said and all that Jesus has shown us, and on these is what the Holy Spirit will have been prompting those who are open to his will.
Do you find delight in following what Jesus said and showed us to do? The next three verses say this 2 Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed. 3 Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures for ever. 4 Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for those who are gracious and compassionate and righteous.
We must remember that the writer is talking about God’s kingdom not man’s, he is not saying your son will be the next great power brokers or a football star or that your daughter will be a prime minister one day or a great talent on tv or the big screen, or that your house will over flow with gold and money and that you will live on this earth for ever. Or that bad things will not come upon you and your family.
What is being said is that if you and your family follow God, you and your children will be respected and that they would be blessed by God, in Gods way. Yes some of us are not understood in the world and there are many, many persecuted Christians in the world, we are the most persecuted people group in the world, but the people who matter to God will shine in the darkness and those with open hearts will recognise a true follower of Jesus. Are you shining the light of Jesus into the world?
What does that look like, some of you may remember Ruth, a lady who when she was able used to come to St Michaels, she got old very old ninety three, she got ill, and what happened this very Godly woman was so loved by her neighbours that they looked after her popping in and doing things for her, this lady shun Jesus into all around her and people responded to her in love. In her darkest days near the end of her life light was shun into her life as a result of her witness to Jesus.
In verses 5 we read 5 Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.
This passage has been used to say if you give me lots of money God will give you more, that is a worldly view a human view money for money, God does give money in a book I read recently about the 24/7 pray movement one women felt God tell her to give up her job and set up a 24/7 pray centre in Stockholm, so she did and then her savings run out and she prayed Lord if you want me to do this then you are going to have to provide the funds, she was a little embarrassed so she did not tell anyone about the problem is was facing and then one day she open her airing cupboard and lots of money fell, a few days later she had a friend over for coffee and was telling the friend about the money and the friend asked if she could look in the cupboard, so they looked and there was no way the money could get in the cupboard other than via the door, us they were drinking there coffee they heard a noise from the cupboard went to it and more money feel out.
Yes we are talking about freely giving of our money, of our time. After all what has Jesus done for you and me, in our culture to often we think what is in it for me, in this case I think we should look at Jesus and ask ourselves the question what can I do for Jesus.
We read in Matthew 22 about the wedding banquet, God preparing a banquet for us his children. Are we prepared to give back part of what he has given us?
Are we giving our full tithe are we giving back to God a far portion of our bonus or pay increase are we giving of our time, some job’s on a Sunday don’t take a lot of brain power, helping with the tea / coffee rota, putting out the tables and chairs, being a welcome, praying for people. What has Jesus done for us, everything what can we do for Jesus, give, give in all parts of our lives, be Generous as God is generous to us.
At last week’s ladies breakfast the question asked was Jesus how can we be more like you. And we read verses 6-8 6 Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered for ever. 7 They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
8 Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
Last Saturday afternoon a friend of ours who actually came to the ladies breakfast got a message that her 21 year old son had been involved in a car accident in Brighton and was on the way to hospital, she called a friend and went straight to Brighton on a Saturday afternoon, and got there without a single problem, her son and his friends were ok except for a few burns from the air bags and off course shaken up, but what did she do while she was in the car on the way, she contacted us and all her friends and asked for prayer for her son the passages and the car that hit them, as they were doing a three point turn. Her and her family’s hearts were secure, they trusted in the Lord, and yes bad things do happen, but the bible say we are to trust in the Lord and His plan, and yes it would be very helpful if God set out that plan day by day, step by step, but if that were the case were would faith be, I am not alone when I pray about stuff in wanting God to send we an email with his thoughts or instructions on, but we have Gods thoughts hear in the Bible.
And in verse 9 we read 9 They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor, their righteousness endures for ever; their horn[c] will be lifted high in honour. Have we freely scattered our gifts on the poor, do we want our lives to mean something in the Kingdom of God, and then we have this “their horn[c] will be lifted high in honour” well according to some scholars it is ones dignity, ones worth in the community. We are back to dear old Ruth.
And we read in verse 10 10 The wicked will see and be vexed, they will gnash their teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing.
Look at that, God is into street talk way before the kids were, if they know that the word vexed was in the bible what would they do, man God’s enemies are so vexed they are going away, I love it 10 The wicked will see and be vexed, ok so it is saying that if you do this for God that the wicked the enemy of the Lord will be a tad upset and that he will not have his way. As the apostle James says in James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
So in conclusion.
Do we praise the Lord every day?
Are we doing our best to not let God down, are we following what Jesus taught us?
Are you shining the light of Jesus into the world?
Do you find delight in following what Jesus said and what he showed us to do?
Are we asking the question - Jesus how can we be more like you?
Are you respected for being a Godly person? Are you shining the light of Jesus into the world?
Are we prepared to give back part of what God has given us?
Are we being generous with our money our time, or are we happy to just take and not give God anything back. Some churches are very generous allowing there leaders and PCC to bless other churches and other things in their area, Holy trinity Brompton is a very well blessed church with money and people, they have plant over 33 congregations into churches and give them a war fund to help them, the avage attendance in those churches has gone up 2,000%. When God’s people give God gives back. Htb have even planted in Gateshead , five families moved to Gateshead. Now that is generosity, and God is giving back that church has over a hundred very week.
Are we in constant contact through prayer and reading our bible with God, are we open to His Holy Spirit to guide us?
Have we freely scattered our gifts on the poor, do we want our lives to mean something in the Kingdom of God?
Whose side do you want to be on, God’s or the other side?
So today please take away the envelops and read your bibles, pray and see what God is telling you to do, if you feel prompted to give money thank you, if you feel prompted to give time thank you, if you feel prompted to do both thank you thank you, what every you do there is on condemnation from Phil, myself or God, that is between you and God.
God will still love you, but sometime we make it hard to love ourselves.
I would like to close in prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank you that you love us, thank you that you are a generous God, thank you that Jesus came to die for our sins and to show your love and to show your generous spirit, help us to be more like you. In Jesus name, Amen.