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The Generous Lives of True Believers - Acts 2; 2 Corinthians 9

Taught on | Topic: giving | Keywords: expectantly, generosity, intentionally, joyfully, proportionally, time, talents, treasure

The book of Acts tells us about the very first Christian believers. Their daily lives were simple; their spiritual lives were vibrant. Far from being independent isolationists who only met once a week, they lived their lives together. They were generous people who sought to meet one another’s needs and make an impact in the world by giving their time, talent, and treasure to make sure the message about Jesus went far and wide.

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The Generous Lives of True Believers
Acts 2; 2 Corinthians 9
Skip Heitzig
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The book of Acts tells us about the very first Christian believers. Their daily lives were simple; their spiritual lives were vibrant. Far from being independent isolationists who only met once a week, they lived their lives together. They were generous people who sought to meet one another’s needs and make an impact in the world by giving their time, talent, and treasure to make sure the message about Jesus went far and wide.
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Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life

Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life

We're all on the lookout for helpful tips for everyday tasks. Whether it's a kitchen hack for tear-free onions or a cleaning hack for a mess-free microwave, people are eager to save time and effort. Your walk with Christ can be more consistent, simple, and satisfying with Spirit Hacks: Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life. Let's do this.

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  1. They Are Open-Hearted with Their Time (vv. 44, 46)

  2. They Are Open-Minded with Their Talent (vv. 42, 44b, 47)

  3. They Are Open-Handed with Their Treasure (v. 45)

Study Guide

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Connect Recap Notes: January 27, 2019
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “The Generous Lives of True Believers”
Text: Acts 2; 2 Corinthians 9

Path


The book of Acts tells us about the first Christian believers. Their daily lives were simple; their spiritual lives were vibrant. Far from being independent isolationists who only met once a week, they lived their lives together. They were generous people who sought to meet one another’s needs and make an impact in the world by giving their time, talent, and treasure to make sure the message about Jesus went far and wide.
  1. They Are Open-Hearted with Their Time (vv. 44, 46)
  2. They Are Open-Minded with Their Talent (vv. 42, 44b, 47)
  3. They Are Open-Handed with Their Treasure (v. 45)
Points

They Are Open-Hearted with Their Time

  • Generosity is a character quality that is always present among Christians. Why? Because God is generous—He gave His best for us (see John 3:16).
  • The early church demonstrated a generous life. Generosity pervaded their homes and hearts.
  • The early church was born at Pentecost, when a very real sense of love and purity—led by the Holy Spirit—penetrated their lives, character, and community.
  • It took commitment to one another and to the Christian cause for the early church to live a life of generous love.
  • Notice the phrase “one accord” (v. 46); for the sake of unity in Jesus, they were open-hearted and open-handed.
  • Not every gift is financial; generosity includes time and talents as well. As Warren Wiersbe stated, “Giving is not something we do, but something we are.”
  • Jesus is our ultimate example: He always gave, including giving His life.
    • Jesus was generous with His time because He began by being generous in His time with His Father in prayer.
      • Prayer helps sharpen our axe before chopping-day begins. It prepares our hearts to harvest souls, increasing our awareness of judgment.
    • Jesus said no, so He could say yes.
      • Jesus did not respond to every need. There were some people that Jesus did not heal (see Mark 1). Jesus knew the difference between what was urgent and what was important.
They Are Open-Minded with Their Talent
  • The Apostles were both teaching “doctrine” (v. 42) and doing “signs and wonders” (v. 43). They gave of themselves.
  • Believers also sold their own possessions to meet others' needs, gave of themselves, and provided hospitality and encouragement. The early church pooled talents, time, and treasure to further the gospel.
  • We see this truth played out in 1 Corinthians 12, where different spiritual gifts were given to build up the body of Christ and spread the good news.
  • The church is like the human body—each part is necessary. There are no useless organs.
  • One reason there can be a malfunction within the body, is that some gifts are put on a pedestal. This is not a biblical practice; every gift is important.
They Are Open-Handed with Their Treasure
  • Giving is voluntary, not compulsory. The church is not about communism (taking from others so I may have), but common-ism (giving to others from what I have).
  • Money is a significant subject in the Bible. Money, and our use or misuse of it, is important.
    • It is the subject of over half of Jesus’ parables; sixteen of the twenty-nine parables are related to a person’s relationship with money.
    • One out of every six verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke deals with the topic of money. One in every seven verses in the New Testament deals with money.
    • Compared to 500 verses on prayer, there are over 2,000 on money.
  • Martin Luther said, “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: head, heart, and [pocketbook]. And the last is the hardest.” Similarly, C. H. Spurgeon stated, “With some [Christians] the last part of their nature that ever gets sanctified is their pockets.”
  • In 2 Corinthians 9:6-9, we find a theology of giving.
    • Give intentionally(see v. 7).
      • One is to give as “he purposes in his heart.” This carries the idea of predetermination—not acting with impulse.
    • Give joyfully (see v. 7)
      • Giving should not be done with grief, sorrow, or reluctance. We should be happy to give.
    • Give proportionally.
      • Sow bountifully, reap bountifully (see v. 6). Their giving was in proportion to what they had.
    • Give expectantly (see vv. 6, 8)
      • Give like a farmer: expect to see a return. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you...” (Luke 6:38). Many texts show that we are to give expectantly (Proverbs 3:9; 11:25; 22:9). God’s generous traits are seen through those who are generous to others.
Practice

Connect Up:  Discuss the various ways in which God demonstrates His generosity. Here are a few from Scripture to consider and discuss.
  • Creation (Genesis 1)
  • Life with others—community and family (Genesis 1-2)
  • Salvation (Romans 6:23)
  • Jesus (John 3:16)
What others can you think of?

Connect In: As Pastor Skip noted, Gallup Polls state that born-again adults remain the most generous group of givers in the country. Why is it important for the church to be generous? How would you define generous giving? Also, ask yourself what might be keeping you from living a generous life. Consider these characteristics, which have been listed as aspects of generous living. Do you agree?
  • We have more money to give than we think.
  • Time is as valuable as money.
  • It’s impossible to be generous without being in a place of gratitude.
  • Small gestures (of generosity) make a big impact.
  • Giving people the benefit of the doubt is another form of generosity, as are kindness and compassion.
Connect Out: Pastor Skip quoted psychologist Karl Menninger, who stated, “Generous people are rarely mentally ill.” Though many of the people we reach out to are not mentally ill, what does a statement like this tell us as believers about living a life of generosity? Do you think part of generous living is presenting the gospel to others? Spend some generous time in prayer for those in need.


1Claudine Arndt, Wellness with Claudine, Exploring Generosity, November 18, 2018, https://wellnesswithclaudine.com/2018/11/generosity/, accessed 01/29/2019

Detailed Notes

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"The Generous Lives of True Believers"
Acts 2; 2 Corinthians 9
  1. Introduction
    1. One of the most compelling traits of the church is generosity
      1. Generosity can be seen in one's personality—a generous person is an encouraging person who is eager to share their time and compassion with others
      2. Generosity reflects the character of God Himself (see John 3:16)
        1. Practicing generosity can make your relationship with Christ more satisfying
        2. As Karl Menninger stated, "Generous people are rarely mentally ill"
    2. The generosity of the early church was evidence that the Holy Spirit had transformed their hearts
      1. Generosity is evidence that someone belongs to Jesus
      2. Born-again adults are the most generous givers in the country, and are acknowledged to be the most generous people on the planet
      3. "Besides the Holy Spirit, there is no greater force in the world than the church.... When the church, fueled by the Holy Spirit, rallies around a cause, nothing can stop her" —Shane Pruitt
    3. Acts 2 is a loud and clear testimony of the palpable joy, love, unity, and generosity present in the early church
    4. The generosity of the early church was displayed in three categories:
      1. They shared who they were
      2. They shared what they had with others
      3. They built one another up
  2. They Are Open-Hearted with Their Time (vv. 44, 46)
    1. They were committed to investing their time (see vv. 42, 46)
      1. Not every gift has to be monetary; not every contribution is a financial one
      2. Time can be an effective contribution
        1. You can devote time to go on a mission trip
        2. You can donate time to distribute toys or food to people in your community
      3. "Giving is not something we do; giving is something we are" —Warren Wiersbe
    2. Being generous with your time requires you to manage your time well
      1. "If you want to get something done, ask a busy person" —Benjamin Franklin
      2. Jesus was always busy, and yet He was very generous with His time
        1. He was able to be generous with His time because He was first generous in His time with His Father (see Mark 1:35-39)
        2. Jesus said no to certain things so that He could say yes to other things; He knew the difference between what was urgent and what was important (see John 17:4)
          1. He did not heal Lazarus, but raised him from the dead (see John 11)
          2. John the Baptist doubted Jesus when Jesus apparently didn't meet his expectations (see Matthew 11:2)
          3. Jesus would have had the opportunity to heal the lame man who was "laid daily at the gate of the temple" (Acts 3:2), but He didn't
      3. You manage your time by devoting your time not to what's urgent, but to what's important—to what God has called you to do at that time
    3. What is crowding our time that's keeping us from what's important?
      1. What can we say no to so that we can say yes to what God is calling us to do?
      2. "Redeeming the time" (Ephesians 5:16)
  3. They Are Open-Minded with Their Talent (vv. 42, 44b, 47)
    1. The early church pooled many different talents to further the gospel—different people using different gifts for the same cause
      1. They taught truth—"the apostles' doctrine" (v. 42)
      2. The apostles performed "wonders and signs" (v. 43)
      3. Early Christians with means sold their possessions and shared them with others
    2. One of the reasons churches malfunction is because certain gifts are set on a pedestal, and the result is gift-envy
      1. The body of Christ is meant to use the various gifts toward the same purpose
      2. 1 Corinthians 12:4, 14-40
      3. The church is like a human body, and each part is necessary
  4. They Are Open-Handed with Their Treasure (v. 45)
    1. Giving is voluntary, not compulsory; they didn't have to do it—they wanted to
      1. This is not communism (taking from others so that I may have), but common-ism (giving to others from what I have)
      2. They freely gave of their finances to meet the needs of others
    2. Money is an important topic in the Bible—it is an outward gauge to monitor one's seriousness about their faith
      1. It is the subject of sixteen of Jesus' twenty-nine parables
      2. It is mentioned in one out of every six verses in Matthew, Mark, and Luke
      3. It is the subject of one out of every seven verses in the New Testament
      4. There are over 2,000 verses concerning money in the Bible
      5. “There are three conversions a person needs to experience: head, heart, and [pocketbook]. And the last is the hardest” —Martin Luther
      6. “With some [Christians] the last part of their nature that ever gets sanctified is their pockets” —C.H. Spurgeon
  5. Conclusion: hacks
    1. Give intentionally (see 2 Corinthians 9:7)
      1. Giving should be planned
      2. Giving is between you and God
    2. Give joyfully (see 2 Corinthians 9:7)
      1. Don't give grudgingly—with grief (see 2 Corinthians 9:5)
      2. Do it because you want to do it, not because you have to do it
      3. Exodus 25:2
      4. The Greek word used here is hilaròn, which is where the English word hilarious comes from 
    3. Give proportionally (see 2 Corinthians 9:6)
      1. The more you have, the more you give
      2. 1 Corinthians 16:2
      3. James Kraft gave 25 percent of his income
      4. R.G. LeTourneau gave 90 percent of his income
    4. Give expectantly (see 2 Corinthians 9:6)
      1. As a farmer—sow in order to reap
      2. Expect spiritual returns and God's provision
        1. Proverbs 3:9; 11:25; 22:9
        2. Matthew 7:2
        3. Luke 6:38

 

Figures referenced: Benjamin Franklin, James Kraft, R.G. LeTourneau, Martin Luther, Karl Menninger, Shane Pruitt, C.H. Spurgeon, Warren Wiersbe

Cross references:
Exodus 25:2; Proverbs 3:9; 11:25; 22:9; Matthew 7:2; 11:2; Mark 1:35-39; Luke 6:38; John 3:16; 11; 17:4; Acts 3:2; 1 Corinthians 12:4, 14-40; 16:2; Ephesians 5:16

Greek words:
hilaròn

Transcript

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The Generous Lives of True Believers - Acts 2 & 2 Corinthians 9 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Spirit Hacks-- Tips and Tools for Mastering Your Spiritual Life.

Good morning. Would you turn, in your Bibles, please, to the book of Acts Chapter 2. It's sort of the anchor text that we have been beginning with in this little series that we call Spirit Hacks. And the idea behind that is tips and tools for mastering your spiritual life. Acts Chapter 2-- and if you don't mind, put either a Bible marker or a piece of paper at 2 Corinthians Chapter 9 in your New Testament. Acts Chapter 2, and 2 Corinthians Chapter 9.

In all of my Christian experience, there has been personality type. There has been a characteristic that certain believers exhibit that I have always found compelling, attractive. And that is the trait of generosity. By that, I mean an engaging, encouraging personality, somebody who is generous with that encouragement, with their time, with giving of themselves. You can spot it, and when you see it, it's attractive.

And it is that way, I think, because that's how God is. It reflects the character of God Himself. Wouldn't you agree that we have a generous God? For God so loved that he gave. That's just part of his character. He is a generous, giving God.

I found it interesting that the noted psychiatrist Dr. Karl Menninger, who found the Menninger Clinic and spent years with patients of all types, said generous people are rarely mentally ill. Fascinating statement. Generous people are rarely mentally ill.

So I was on the internet this week, and I found, in a little section called lifehacks.org-- we're doing Spirit Hacks. This is called lifehacks.org-- a little article I want to share with you. Not the whole article, but this is an article called "7 Reasons Generous People Are More Likely to be Successful."

Number 1, generous people are happy people. Makes sense. You don't find grumpy, unhappy generous people. Sort of an oxymoron. So generous people are happy people.

Number 2, generous people are more relaxed. The article explains greed makes people tense. Number 3, generous people are willing to work hard. Makes perfect sense. It's axiomatic.

Number 4, generous people are kind to people. Again, that makes sense. Generosity is all about kindness. Number 5, generous people are free people. The article explains greed and selfishness imprison a person, whereas generosity breaks those chains.

Number 6, generous people have better relationships. It's just a fact that happy, kind, and generous people have more friends, better friends, and stronger personal relationships. And number 7, generous people are confident people. It says insecurity comes with greed, and not generosity.

Well, in this little series on Spirit Hacks, we want to help make your walk with Jesus Christ a more satisfying experience. That is really the end goal. That is our bottom line-- to make your walk with Christ a more satisfying experience.

So today, looking at Acts-- the second chapter-- we want to examine this trait-- this characteristic-- among the early church at Jerusalem. It is there. In fact, because it is there, it gives to us an evidence that shows us these people have been changed by Christ. It's strong evidence that he has invaded their lives and transformed their hearts.

Now, let me just make a statement about Christians in general. I have discovered that generally speaking-- and I'm painting with a broom, but on purpose-- generally speaking, Christians are a generous people. That when Jesus touches their heart, they just lose the tightness in their living and their lifestyle, and they become more relaxed and they become more generous. They become enlarged people, if you will.

And I'm not the only one to notice that. The Barna Group, who does a lot of research in Christian behavior and thinking, says Christians are generous. And their article said born again adults remain the most generous givers in the country, and they're acknowledged to be the most generous people on the planet. It's a very bold statement.

In an article I found by Sean Pruitt, he said beside the Holy Spirit, there's no greater force in the world than the church. When the church, filled with the Holy Spirit, rallies around a cause, nothing can stop her. And he rightly cites the evidence as whenever there's a disaster, whenever there's a catastrophe-- earthquake, flood, fire, et cetera-- and people come in to help, he said long after the movie cameras or the news cameras have gone, Christians remain to build up those lives and to rehabilitate the community.

While we're in Acts Chapter 2-- and it's the day of Pentecost in that setting-- the Holy Spirit has come upon the church. It is their birthday. And as we examine the scene, there is a palpable sense of joy, love, and purity and generosity-- and generosity.

That is, they share who they are, they share what they have, and they share it with others, and they build each other up. And a result is that that strong testimony attracts other people. On the day of Pentecost, thousands came to Christ, but in the weeks that follow, thousands more will come. And in part, I believe, because of the generosity of that church.

So we're going to look at, in Acts Chapter 2, verse 42-- in that paragraph, again-- we're going to observe three categories where their generosity was displayed, and we're going to make these principles for us today. Acts Chapter 2, verse 42-- let's get back to that.

"And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. And then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and they sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they eat their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved."

There were three areas in which those early believers showed generosity-- time, talent, treasure. They were generous with their time. They were generous with their talent. They were generous with their treasure.

Let's look at all three, and here's the first principle. Generous people are open-hearted with their time-- open-hearted with their time. Indulge me and go back, again, to verse 42, where we have begun this little short series. And notice in that verse the third word in. It's the word "continued." It's a time signature word. It shows what they did in relationship to timing. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, and in the prayers.

Now, would you agree that to do all of those things listed in verse 42 takes a commitment of time? It takes time to meet with people. It takes time to eat with people. It takes time to pray together. It takes time to be exposed to Bible study. So they invested their time.

Go down to verse 46. It appears again. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. So this is being open-hearted with your time.

You see, not every gift is a monetary gift, nor does it need to be a monetary gift. Not every contribution is a financial contribution. You can effectively contribute time to a cause.

You can develop a schedule that allows you to invest your time in a worthwhile, God-honoring pursuit. You can give time to go on a missions trip. You can donate time to distribute toys and food to the needy and poor of the community, like we do during Christmas time.

It takes time to come and greet or usher, or it takes time to invest in the children's ministry and be an instructor there. All of that is a contribution of time. Warren Wiersbe said, giving is not something we do. Giving is something we are. This is who they were. These were believers who were committed to investing time in one another's schedule.

What I love-- and I have Matt sitting right here in the front row. We have this thing called Life Track, and we've been doing it since last March, right, Matt? So since doing that, where we expose people to four sessions of Life Track, help them to discover their God-given design, what their gifts are, what their strengths are. Then by the fourth week, we plug them into different ministries and turn them loose to serve.

And since we started in March-- so it's not even a year-- there have been around 2,000 people that have made it all the way through Life Track. So we got 2,000--

[APPLAUSE]

--individuals-- here's the exciting-- who are investing their time. They're being so generous. You are being so generous investing your time. Now, whenever you bring up time, you've got somebody who's thinking, yeah, it's what I don't have-- time.

I wish I had more time. How can I be generous with my time when I have no time to be generous with? And I get you. I understand. We're all pressed for time. But I find it interesting that Ben Franklin said, if you want to get something done, ask a busy person.

There are some people that just manage to manage their time really, really well. And one of those standout personalities is Jesus Christ. Wouldn't you agree he lived a busy life? There were always pressing needs around him, always a leper who wants to be healed, or blind, or mute, or deaf, or theological wrangling or issue. Wherever he went, there were people that wanted a peace of Jesus' time.

And as we read the gospels, we discover he was generous with his time. Which begs the question, how could he be? How could he say, toward the end of his ministry-- and he did-- Father, I've done everything you've wanted me to do.

Now, I'm going to tell you the answer to that. There's a little paragraph I'm going to read to you in the gospel of Mark-- just a few verses-- that gives us insight into how he managed time. This is Mark Chapter 1. I'm reading from verse 35. Let me read it to you now.

"In the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, he went out--" and don't get guilty yet--

[LAUGHTER]

"--he went out and departed to a solitary place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him. And when they found him, they said to him, everyone is looking for you. So he said to them, let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth." And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all of Galilee and casting out demons.

There's a couple of little hints in what I just read to you that shows us how Jesus mastered his time. First, Jesus was able to be generous with his time because he was generous in his time with God. Forget about early in the morning. Yours could be late at night, or middle of the day. Doesn't matter when. But the point is he could be generous with his time because he was first generous in his time with his Heavenly Father.

When you spend time with God, that's where you get oriented for the day. You take a deep breath. You catch your breath. You get a game plan. You're sharpening your axe before the day of chopping begins. Or at the end of that day of chopping, you're sharpening the ax.

So the generosity in Jesus' life began in generous time spent with his Father. That's number 1. Number 2, Jesus said no so that Jesus could say yes. He said no to certain things so that he could say yes to other things.

Now, there's a secret in there for you and I. I think we need to learn to say no to certain things so that we can say yes to other things. No is a holy word. No, I can't do that. No, I won't do that. Yes, I will do this. Yes, I will do that.

Jesus did not respond to every need. At the end of his ministry, he said, I've done everything you wanted me to do, Father, but there were plenty of people unhealed, untouched by Jesus from his ministry. Remember when Mary and Martha called for Jesus because Lazarus, their brother, was sick?

You've got to come, and you've got to come now. What did Jesus do? He didn't come. He delayed on purpose. And when he got there, they reprimanded him. If you'd have been here, my brother wouldn't have died. OK, so I'm going to raise him from the dead. That's more important than me being here to heal him before he dies. Watch this.

[LAUGHTER]

Or John the Baptist, who insisted that Jesus be more vociferous, more vocal, more demonstrative in his ministry and really prove that he was the Messiah, and Jesus didn't do that. Or how about this? In the book of Acts Chapter 3, there's a lame man at a gate in Jerusalem in the temple who had been laid there every single day, and he had been lame since birth.

You know why that's important? It shows me that Jesus walked past him and didn't touch him, because he walked into those courts and into those gates on a few different occasions, and if the man was placed there every day since he was young, Jesus obviously walked by him and did not heal him so that we have a lame man in the book of Acts who needs healing.

Why didn't Jesus touch him? Why didn't Jesus respond to Mary and Martha? Here's why. Jesus learned the difference between following the urgent versus following the important.

Sometimes there are demands that seem so urgent, but you manage your time by devoting your time not to what's urgent, but to what's important-- to what God has called you to do at that time. So this is where learning no so that you can say yes comes into view. The urgent says, Jesus, you got to help him now. The importance is I'm going to the next town. Let's go.

Because the disciples come, and they said, people are looking for you everywhere. He didn't say, well, bring them here! I've got to fix what ails them! He said, let's go. He learned the difference between what is urgent and what is important.

So here's the question for you and I. What is crowding our time that keeps us from what's important? It could be as simple as some time-wasting activity. You love watching those cat videos on YouTube. You're always on that screen that's causing relationships to suffer because of it.

Ephesians 5:16, Paul said, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. What a concept. Let's buy that time back. Let me figure out, in my day, what I can cut away and say no to so that I can say yes to something else. So generous people are open-hearted their time-- time.

Let's move to the second. Generous people are open-minded with their talent-- their talent. Go back to verse 42, and please notice it says they continued steadfastly in whose doctrine? It says the apostles' doctrine.

What that means is the apostles are the guys doing the teaching in the early church. That's all that means. That's their gift. That's their strength. If they went through Life Track, by the end, we'd plug Peter into this role-- you do doctrine, Peter. You're good at it.

So they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine. Look at verse 43. "Fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done--" through whom? You can talk to me. The apostles.

OK, so now I'm getting a profile. What are the apostles doing in the early church? Well, they taught people truth-- the doctrine-- and God used them to be agents of healing. Signs and wonders were done through them.

That doesn't mean that they did everything, because by the time we get to Acts chapter 6, there are needs that come up and the apostles go, I can't do that. And we're going to give ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word, but you bring other people to do that. But that's what the apostles did here.

They're not the only group. Look at verse 45. It says, "And they sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had need." So now you have people with means-- they have possessions. You have to own possessions to sell them. Right? Makes sense.

So people with means are selling their possessions and sharing with others. So now you have gifts like the gift of giving, hospitality, encouragement, as well as the gift of teaching and miracles that the apostles are doing. Here's my point.

There is a pooling together of talent. You see that? A pooling together of talent. You have different people using different gifts for the same cause. This is being generous with not just your time, but your time and your talent.

You find your strengths. You maximize them. You give your time and your talent, and magic happens when that happens. I have a letter from a dear lady in our church. She sent it to me a while back.

She was 84 years old when she wrote this letter. An 84-year-old widow said, "I have debated writing this letter, but I truly feel you will be interested. At the present time, four generations of my family are regular attendees at Calvary of Albuquerque. Three generations are volunteering here. My son and daughter-in-law have gone to Calvary almost from the first days and have been dedicated volunteers for more than 15 years."

She goes on to say, "My 11-year-old great-granddaughter has become a dedicated volunteer also." She's right. I was very interested in reading that note-- that somebody generous with time and talent plugged in, involved. And like so many others of you-- and thank you for doing this-- who come and they just don't come. When they come on a weekend, besides stuff they do during the week, they come to two services-- one they sit in, and one they serve at. That's just a generous example of giving.

Later on in the New Testament, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul speaks about using our talents. He calls them spiritual gifts-- rightly so. He says, in 1 Corinthians 12, verse 4, now, there are different kinds of spiritual gifts.

So think about that in terms of the book of Acts. Apostles-- teaching, signs and wonders. People of means selling them, pooling their resources, giving the gift of giving and hospitality, et cetera. Also, it says the Lord added daily to the church-- verse 47-- those who were being saved. So there's an open-mindedness to bringing in new people, discovering what those new people's gifts and talents are, and employing them, using them as well.

It's the concept of the body of Christ-- the body of Christ. Also in 1 Corinthians 12-- the text I just mentioned-- that's what Paul says. He says, you know, the church is like a human body. Now, listen to what he writes-- and I'm reading, now, out of the New Living Translation to make it a little more lively.

1 Corinthians 12, verse 14 through 17-- yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. It's not just a head or a mouth. It's a body. If the foot says, "I'm not a part of the body because I'm not a hand," that does not make it any less a part of the body.

Now, I just want you to picture what Paul is actually writing. Sometimes we read the Bible, and we're just a little bit too stuffy. Imagine your foot talking. "I'm not a hand." Whoa, my foot just spoke, and it's upset that it's not a hand.

Paul says, if that happened, it's still a part of the body. And if the ear says, "I'm not a part of the body, because I'm only an ear and not an eye," would that make it any less a part of the body? Now, here's where I want you to actually picture what Paul is saying.

Suppose the whole body were an eye. Are you picturing a 6-foot eyeball?

[LAUGHTER]

Suppose the whole body were an eye. How, then, would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one, big ear-- yuck--

[LAUGHTER]

--how would you smell anything? Here's his point. The church is like a human body, and every part of the body is needed. In the church, in the body of Christ, there are no vestigial organs-- unnecessary organs, unnecessary parts.

For a long time, doctors used to debate whether or not the appendix was a vestigial organ-- that you may or may not need it. And they argued that-- they said something along the lines of the human appendix is part of our evolutionary past, and we no longer need it today. But then further research showed that that may not be true-- that actually, the appendix could be seen as the physiological gatekeeper that separates the sterile part of your bowel from the unsterile, bacteria-laden part. I won't get into more detail than that. You get the picture.

It's not a vestigial organ, they're now saying. In the church, there are no vestigial organs. Every single person, part, gift is absolutely necessary.

Now, one of the reasons churches malfunction is because certain gifts are placed on pedestals. Certain gifts, certain people are regarded as important, others not so important. And the result is gift envy.

Well, I wish I had that gift. If I had that gift, I'd be important. If I could sing like him or speak like her, that would be important. So you essentially, then, have feet wanting to be hands and ears wanting to be eyes.

Now, the comparison Paul makes is pretty easy to see. The hand is something visible and seen, regarded, usually, as important, because what you do with it-- you work with your hands. You don't work with your feet, typically.

You don't shake feet. You shake hands. You don't wave with your feet-- typically. Don't do it to just show me you can do it.

[LAUGHTER]

You do it with your hands. Your feet are covered. You don't pay much attention to them. You do pay attention to a hand. Same with an eye and an ear. When I first met Lenya, I noticed her eyes. They're beautiful. I didn't go, man, that chick's earlobes are awesome.

[LAUGHTER]

Because ears are ugly-- but important. They convey sound just right into the inner ear. So back to the early church, they are open-hearted with their time. They're open-minded with their talent. Third and finally, they're open-handed with their treasure.

That takes us to verse 45. We should just look at it again. They sold their possessions and goods and divided them among all, as anyone had need. Now, here's what I want you to notice about that. Nobody told them to do this.

You don't have Peter saying, thus saith the Lord. Sell everything you have. Now, I'm telling you why that's important, because people have read Acts 2 and said, oh, Acts Chapter 2-- the early church-- was a form of communism. This is pure communism-- people selling and distributing.

No. This is not communism. This is "common-ism." And there's a difference. Communism says what's yours is mine. "Common-ism" says what's mine is yours. One is compulsory, it's forced, it's regulated. The other is voluntary. I want to do this. And so that's what it was.

I made a discovery, over the years. I've taught the Bible a long time, and I have discovered that money is an important topic in the Bible. Now, I knew it was in there, I just didn't know how much it was in there. In fact, to be quite honest, until recent years, I didn't understand the proportion was quite what it is.

I've discovered that money is the main subject of over half of Jesus' parables. Here's the math. Out of 29 parables that Jesus taught, 16 deal with a person's relationship to money.

In Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 1 out of every 6 verses deals with the topic of money. In addition, 1 out of every 7 verses in the New Testament deals with this topic. Here's another perspective.

In the Bible, it offers 500 verses on prayer. It offers less than 500 verses on faith. And yet, there are over 2,000 verses on finances. Would you say it's important in the Bible? Now, why is that? Why does the Bible, why does Jesus speak so much about it?

Here's why-- I believe-- because your relationship to finances, my relationship to finances is a gauge-- a gauge-- an outward gauge of spirituality. Not the gauge, not the only gauge, but certainly, it is a gauge. Even Jesus said where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also.

You want to find out what's important to a person, take a tour of their checkbook. That'll give you an indication. Where a man's treasure is, there will his heart be also. Martin Luther used to say there are three conversions a person needs to experience-- a conversion of the head, a conversion of the heart, and a conversion of the purse-- pocketbook, wallet. And he said, of all three, the last one's the hardest.

Charles Spurgeon, whom I quote a lot, said with some Christians, the last part of their nature that ever gets sanctified is their pockets. Well, with that in mind, now turn-- and we'll close here-- 2 Corinthians, Chapter 9. 2 Corinthians Chapter 9. I'm having you turn there because it's the famous section where the apostle Paul writes several chapters about financial giving.

You probably know the setting. The church in Jerusalem was struggling. The churches in the Gentile world could help. So Paul goes around to take an offering from Gentile believers to give that as a monetary gift to the church in Jerusalem. It's his third missionary journey.

So in 2 Corinthians Chapter 9-- I'm just going to take a few versus-- verse 6, "But this I say-- he who sews sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sews bountifully will also reap bountifully." Trust me when I say the context of chapter 8 and 9 is the context of finances and giving. That's what it's about.

"So--" verse 7-- "--let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written, 'He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever."

In these two chapters, principally, Paul is giving us a theology of giving. And let me give you a few pointers on it. First of all, when you give, give intentionally. That is, with purpose. Look at verse 7.

"Let each one give as he purposes in his heart." This indicates that you've thought about it. It's not impulse. Isn't (BEGRUDGINGLY) OK. You have given premeditated thought-- purpose.

That thought comes out in verse 5. I neglected to read that. Let's go back. 2 Corinthians 9, verse 5-- "Therefore, I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised that it might be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation."

So think about it, prepare it, purpose in your heart what you're going to do. Not out of impulse, but out of purpose. Paul wanted them to have the right motivation, and to have the right motivation, you have to give it personal thought.

Now, your giving is absolutely none of my business, and I don't make it my business. In fact, I make it my business to not know your business. So I never go to the Accounting office, say, hey, so tell me the top 10 tithers.

[LAUGHTER]

Who are the top 20 givers? Or what is-- I don't do that. Why? Because that's between you and-- not me, but you and Him. You purpose in your heart. That's why I don't tell you to pledge this or pledge that, because that is a matter of the heart before God. So give intentionally.

Another pointer-- and we're putting these up on the screen, here-- give joyfully. Give joyfully-- verse 7. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity. That word means not with grief. And I can just hear people, when-- sometimes people take offerings, they put their hand in their pocket-- oh, good grief.

No, it's not a good grief. There should be no grief. It should be pure joy. Not grudging, not of necessity-- for it says God loves a cheerful, or joyful giver. In other words, do it because you want to do it, not because you have to do it. And if you don't want to do it-- if you don't want to give financially, if you don't want to share-- here's my counsel to you.

Keep it please. Keep it and spend it all on yourself-- or change your heart. But if your heart is not changed, spend it all on yourself. And once your heart gets changed and you want to do it because you see the benefit of it and you get the blessing of it, then do it, because God loves a cheerful giver.

Did you know that this is not just a New Testament principle. It is a biblical principle extending far back into the Old Testament. Second book of the Bible, God tells Moses, take an offering from my people for the Tabernacle. You remember those days.

Exodus 25-- the Lord says, speak to the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering. That's God taking an offering. Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart, you shall take my offering.

You get the qualification? Want to do it, it's willing, it's from the heart. That's the offering. By the way-- can't resist this. It says, "God loves a cheerful giver."

You've heard me tell you this before. The word "cheerful" is hilaron. It's a Greek word. Hilaron is where we get the English word "hilarious." God loves a hilarious giver.

Now, how many hilarious givers do you know? I know a few, and they're happy people. They're awesome folks. Their whole life is that disposition-- but very few. But here's what it tells me.

I know God loves everyone, but I'm told here that God has a special place of love in his heart for a generous person. God loves a hilarious or a joyful giver. And here's why I think that is-- because that's how he is.

When God sees somebody generous, he goes, that's how I am! I love that, and I love you for that. That's his personality. So give intentionally. Give joyfully.

Third tip-- give proportionally. Proportionally to what you have and what you make. Here in this text, Paul says, like a farmer, he who sews or plants seed sparingly will reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. But it's always in proportion to what a person has.

Listen to one book prior-- 1 Corinthians chapter 16. Paul's talking, here, about the same collection, but in a different book. He said, on the first day of the week, let each one of you set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up so that when I come, no collections will have to be made. It has to be-- or should be-- in keeping with your income.

I always get asked this question-- well, how much should I give? I don't know. How much should you give? I don't know, pastor, how much should I give? I don't know. How much should you give?

[LAUGHTER]

Have you purposed something in your heart? Have you gone before the Lord with it? I don't know your income. I don't know your proportion. So where people usually want to land with this question is 10%-- that's the tithe. But then people say, yeah, but is it 10% of the gross, or is it 10% of the net?

Come on, purpose something in your heart. But be careful. If you're going to go by the Old Testament tithe-- which is baseline for a lot of people-- what you need to understand is it's far more than 10%.

There was not one Old Testament tithe. There were three, if you know your Torah. And the Old Testament tithe, which managed the government of Israel, was about 23% or 27%, depending on what commentary you consult.

So you should give proportionally. It's a matter of the heart. One person it's this amount. With another person, it's that amount. That's between you and God. But let me give you a couple examples.

Have you ever heard of Kraft cheese-- anybody here? Raise your hand if you've heard of Kraft cheese. OK, I've just spoke your love language, some of you.

[LAUGHTER]

You heard angels when I said "Kraft cheese--" which is a little scary to me. But anyway, Kraft cheese corporation was started by a guy named James Kraft, and he was a Christian believer. And he decided that he would give 25% of all of his earnings-- corporate earnings, personal earnings from that corporation-- to Christian causes-- 25%. And he said, the only investment I ever made, which has paid consistently increasing dividends, is the money I've given to the Lord.

So that's where I see the benefits. Everything I give to the Lord. That's a generous heart. Let me give you another example, but on the extreme. You've seen bulldozers, and you've seen those big, earth-moving gadgets that pick logs up and move great pieces of earth and rock and stuff.

Most of those have their roots in a guy by the name of R.G. Letourneau. He invented most of those machines. R.G. Letourneau held 300 patents by the time he died-- personally. He invented these things.

He had an enormous corporation, and he decided that he would give not 10% of his income, but he gave 90% of his income, and lived on 10% of his income. He reversed the 90%, 10% principle.

Now, understandably, his 10% was huge compared to if you or I tried to do that. But he decided that I can do this, and I can invest this into-- he wanted to get the gospel out, and he wanted to invest in causes that got the gospel out. He was so passionate about seeing people saved and discipled and trained and sent, and he gave 90% of his income to such causes. That was his proportion before the Lord.

So give intentionally, give joyfully, give proportionally. Fourth and finally-- we close on, this really quickly-- give expectantly. How does a farmer give? Expectantly. He sews seed in the ground. Why does he do that? Because he thinks he's going to come up at harvest time and see something grow.

Now, if he goes, I'm just going to put in a little bit-- well, you're going to get a little bit. But if he goes, I got a lot of seed, and I'm going to spread it around, he's going to see a huge return. If a farmer is miserly in sowing, he'll be miserable in reaping. So give like a farmer-- with expectancy.

Now, I am not preaching a health and wealth gospel here. If you know anything about my theology, you know I'm 180 degrees from that. However, here is a true biblical principle that is as true in the spiritual realm as it is in the physical realm. Listen to what Jesus said in Luke 6:38-- give, and it will be given to you.

Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your bosom. For the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you. There it is. Same principle.

This is Proverbs 11:25-- the generous soul will be made rich, or will prosper, and he who waters will also be watered himself. Proverbs 22, verse 9-- a generous man will himself be blessed. Proverbs 3, verse 9-- honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the first fruit of all your increase so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.

Here's the same principle, and it's this-- you can never out-give God. Try it. I dare you. Try to out-give him. Give, and it will be given to you. Bless, and you'll be blessed. God is generous with those who are generous, so give expectantly.

I close with this. One of the greatest illustrations on giving can be seen when you go to Israel, and on the same day, we show you the two inland bodies of water-- the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. It's remarkable. You'll start the morning at the Sea of Galilee, and you'll notice the Jordan River feeds it. You'll go down to the Dead Sea, and you'll see the Jordan River empties into it.

But the Sea of Galilee is green and filled with life. The Dead Sea is-- well, it's named Dead Sea for a reason-- because everything in it is dead and everything around it is barren. So you wonder, what's the difference between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea?

Easy. Sea of Galilee has an inlet and an outlet. Dead Sea has an inlet, no outlet. It only collects. It only takes in. The difference is not the source of water. It's the flow of water. One takes in, but gives out. The other just takes in, takes in, takes in. The rest of that water in that body evaporates into the sunlight.

I think that's an illustration of the believer. We should be generous as a characteristic of a transformed life with our time, our talent, and our treasure-- for a simple reason. None of it's ours. It's all His. He is the giver of life and the giver of all things. We are merely stewards.

And Father, with that stewardship, we ask your wisdom. We pray, Father, that we-- as Paul said we should-- we should give with purpose, with joy, in proportion to what you blessed us with so far, and with the expectancy of seeing return on the investment-- spiritually especially, but also in other ways.

So Father, we commit our time, our talent, our treasure to you for your glory, and ask for your wisdom as we flesh out these principles in days and weeks and months and years ahead. We pray that generosity, like the early church, would mark us. Thank you, Lord, for such generous, benevolent, kindhearted, open-hearted people who always rise to meet needs in the community and needs with school children, projects that go on. Thank you, and bless in Jesus' name. Amen.

We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. How will you put the truths that you learned into action in your life? Let us know. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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Date Title   Watch Listen Notes Share Save Buy
1/6/2019
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Community Is...
Acts 2:44-46
Nate Heitzig
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Message Summary
Every day brings with it a list of tasks we must accomplish in order to live life and get through the day—tasks that range from mundane to difficult. Sometimes we find tips or shortcuts—often called life hacks—that save us time and effort. Like everyday life, our walk with Christ can be tough to get through, but we have built-in assistance to help us along the way: an authentic community of people who share our faith. This week's Spirit Hacks from the book of Acts help us give and get the most out of fellowship.
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1/13/2019
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How to Grow Up and Not Give Up
Acts 2:42
Skip Heitzig
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The term growth rate is usually reserved for the financial world to describe market change over a period of time. It tells you how fast a country’s economy is growing. But let’s think of it as a spiritual and personal term—and use it to describe our own spiritual growth. How’s that going? Let’s look at one aspect of spiritual growth and consider some tips from one verse to accentuate and accelerate it.
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1/20/2019
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Tapping into the Power Source
Acts 2; Acts 4
Skip Heitzig
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The earliest Christian believers huddled together in Jerusalem, listened to the apostles, and talked to God in prayer. There were a lot of things missing from that first church. They lacked charters, committees, strategies, and church buildings (things some would consider vital for church health). But one thing they had was power. Why? Because they learned to tap into the source of power through prayer. Let’s examine their prayer life generally and then specifically.
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2/3/2019
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The Good News IS Really Good
Acts 2:47
Skip Heitzig
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If the gospel is such good news (which is what gospel means), why don’t we hear more of it? Especially in a world filled with such bad news, it seems hearing a good proclamation would be a nice change. Well, there are some preliminaries to know about that will help us enjoy telling others the gospel. It’s time for some of us to get over the embarrassment of sharing our faith. It really is one of the most fulfilling activities we can ever engage in.
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There are 4 additional messages in this series.