LIFE group guide: Why Give? The Gladness of Giving

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Feb. 23) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. This sermon is the fourth in a four-part series entitled Giving.

To find previous group discussion guides, look under the category title “LIFE group guides” and you’ll find an archive of previous issues.

Reason

Stated in a single sentence, this is the purpose of this sermon series, or this particular sermon, in a series.

To explore and emphasize the importance of our giving of our means.

Revelation

These Scriptures form some of the foundation of this morning’s sermon.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 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. 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 endures forever.” [Psalm 112.9]

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 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.

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. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9.6-15 NIV)

Relation

Use one of the following icebreaker questions to prime the pump, to help the conversation begin. Choose one to discuss.

1. Tell us of a time where you have personally experienced either of the truths of vs. 7.

2. Relate an instance in which you saw a child put something in the offering plate.

Research

These exercises/questions are meant to help us grapple with the Scripture(s) related to this morning’s sermon.

1. Every sentence of the ten verses above describes some reason to rejoice. Note how so.

2. Read Ps. 112. How is it commentary on Ps. 111.10? What in it makes you recall Ps. 1?

Reflection

These questions assist our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us in our encounter with God’s word.

1. How does giving as a Christian differ from giving on the part of one yet to believe?

2. What does God give to enable our giving? What does God receive from it?

3. Which is greater: to meet a person’s needs or to enable them to thank and praise God?

4. What would it look like for a Christian to “freely scatter their gifts to the poor?”

Response

These ideas/suggestions are for your use beyond the group meeting; to aid in living out today’s message in the coming days.

1. List the good you think will come thru your next offering. Give the list to God in prayer.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Acappella singing, instrumental music & public worship gatherings: The Argument against Musical Instruments in Worship

“Some, not many, church groups do not believe in the use of musical instruments in public worship. The major example is the Churches of Christ. No less than one of their foremost scholars, Everett Ferguson, takes up his case against the use of instruments in public worship (The Early Church and Today, vol. 1). What are the arguments against the use of instruments?”

Benevolence: Care for the Socially Vulnerable in the Early Church—Aristides (2nd century)

“When a poor man dies, if they become aware, they contribute according to their means for his funeral; if they come to know that some people are persecuted or sent to prison or condemned for the sake of Christ’s name, they put their alms together and send them to those in need. If they can do it, they try to obtain their release. When a slave or a beggar is in need of help, they fast two or three days, and give him the food they had prepared for themselves, because they think that he too should be joyful, as he has been called to be joyful like themselves.”

Children, multi-generational church & senior adults: Why Should a Pastor Take His Children to Visit the Elderly in His Church? [replace the word "pastor" with "Christian" it's applicable to all; great article]

“My burden grows that the multi-generational local church is fading into the past. This should not be. The best way for us to fight against it is to do the things that cause young and old to grow in Christian love and affection for each other.”

Faith: Uzzah was Only Trying to Help!

“…  in the kingdom, we must leave the God-matters to God.”

Racism: American Idols: 3 False Beliefs That Can Blind White Men To Their Privilege

“The problem is, for many of us, our world view is based on the mistaken belief that these three things are already part of reality.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (9)

 

Following are the final five passages I’ll share here with you from Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) as I make my way through this amazing book this year.

All the works of the Lord are very good. Every command of his will be carried out in its proper time. It’s not for us to say, ‘What’s this?’ or ‘For what purpose is that?’ Everything will be examined at its proper time. (Sirach 39.16-17)

Kindness is like an orchard of blessings, and an act of charity will last forever (Sirach 40.17)

Guard your reputation, for it will continue after you longer than one thousand great treasures of gold. A good life has a limited number of days, but a good name will continue forever. (Sirach 41.12-13)

All things exist in pairs, one opposite the other, and he made nothing that was incomplete. Each thing strengthens the good parts of the other; who can get enough of seeing God’s glory? (Sirach 42.24-25)

We could say many things and never say enough. The final word is: The Lord is “the All.” (Sirach 43.27)

this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, listening & outreach: Apologetics and the Importance of Listening: A Conversation with Mary Jo Sharp

“Listening to the person right in front of you helps you to discover how to effectively serve that person. … Listening is also vital in avoidance of creating straw men of other views. … We should delight in the truth, even in the truthful representation of another’s beliefs. But we must listen with the intent to do so.”

Bible: The Bible OutLoud: Your Voice Needed [creative & cool!]

“We need your help. This project depends on hundreds of people getting together to memorize Scripture. It only takes a few minutes to upload a video with a few verses. We are challenging everyone to pick up the bible and memorize a passage.”

Benevolence & charitable giving: Pure Charity: An Interview With Mike Rusch

“Mike Rusch is the COO for Pure Charity. Pure Charity, a non-profit organization, makes it possible to leverage everyday spending, allowing you to support causes and organizations that matter most to you.”

Church, leadership, ministry & vision: * Inspi(re)ality: Leading By Vision by Jonathan Storment [required reading]; * Seven Deadly Thoughts of Leader by Thom Rainer [required reading]; * 10 Reflections on a Decade of Church Consulting by Thom Rainer [required reading]

* “If you have a church of a hundred different people, chances are you have at least 100 different expectations about what church should be about, what your services should look like, what kind of sermon you should preach, etc. And there are two ways to going about how to minister through these differences. 1) is to turn internally, and help them see that they are a part of a community, and each time they gather they must submit their individual needs and preferences to the community. That’s a good response. But alone, I think it fails. 2) Cast a vision larger than your organization.”

* “I’ve had the opportunity through the years to listen to leaders talk about their biggest victories and their greatest failures. When the latter takes place, these leaders reflect that, most of the time, the failure took place in a deadly thought pattern. They lament they didn’t recognize these deadly thoughts for the warnings that they were. Here are the seven most significant warning thoughts I’ve heard.”

* “For ten years, I’ve had the privilege of consulting with churches seeking to grow. Here are my reflections of those years – one reflection for each year. If you’re a pastor in a struggling church, be sure to read to the end.  I think you’ll find hope there.”

Computing, privacy & smartphones: * Get Notified When a Site’s Terms of Service Change; * Facebook Is Said to Create Mobile Location-Tracking App [reason # 47 why I don't have Facebook on my smartphone]

* “Try the Docracy Terms of Service Tracker. True to its name, this site monitors the TOS agreements and privacy policies for nearly a thousand Web services.”

* “Facebook Inc. (FB) is developing a smartphone application that will track the location of users, two people with knowledge of the matter said, bolstering efforts to benefit from growing use of social media on mobile computers. The app, scheduled for release by mid-March, is designed to help users find nearby friends and would run even when the program isn’t open on a handset, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. … The tracking app could help Facebook sell ads based on users’ whereabouts and daily habits.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (3)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus). Here’s the next installment. Enjoy.

Don’t praise people for their beautiful looks, and don’t despise people for their appearance. (Sirach 11.2)

Don’t find fault before you investigate … Don’t answer before you listen … (Sirach 11.7a,8a)

… don’t be busy with many things; if you multiply pursuits, you won’t be held guiltless. (Sirach 11.10)

There is nothing good for those who continue to do evil or for those who don’t freely offer charity. (Sirach 12.3)

Rich people inflict injury, but then act as if they’re the ones who have been wronged; the poor suffer injury, but they’re the ones who must apologize. (Sirach 13.3)

golden nuggets from Sirach (2)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have jumped out at me as I make my way through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the next installment. Read and consider.

Let those who are at peace with you be many, but let only one in a thousand be your advisor. (Sirach 6.6)

“Don’t seek political power from the Lord or a seat of honor from the king.” (Sirach 7.4)

“Don’t be timid in your prayer, and don’t neglect caring for those in need.” (Sirach 7.10)

“Don’t make fun of the uneducated, or your ancestors might be insulted.” (Sirach 8.4)

“Turn your eye away from a shapely woman, and don’t stare at beauty belonging to someone else.” (Sirach 9.8a)

this went thru my mind

 

Apologetics, C.S. Lewis & witness: Why ‘Mere Christianity’ Should Have Bombed by John G. Stackhouse, Jr.

“Sixty years ago, London publisher Geoffrey Bles first released a revision of three sets of radio talks by an Oxford literature don. The book was called Mere Christianity, and there was nothing ‘mere’ about it. A somewhat disjointed set of C. S. Lewis’s views on a wide range of theological, philosophical, and ethical matters, the book became the most important and effective defense of the Christian faith in its century. As Mere Christianity (henceforth “MC”) goes into its seventh decade of publishing success, rivaled still by no other apologetic, it’s worth taking a look at its unlikely success.”

Benevolence & violence: The Bad Samaritan by James McGrath [required reading]

“… what ought we to say about those in our time who claim to be followers of Jesus, and yet sound more like the Samaritan in the image above than the one in the original story?”

Bible interpretation: Pete Enns: “Hey, Get Away from My Bible!“–Christian Appropriation of a Jewish Bible

“We trust the first Christians in their interpretation of the OT, not so much because of how they interpreted it but because of the one whom they were proclaiming in their interpretation. That may not make much sense. It may even sound a bit odd, so let me try to explain.”

Church & ministry: Lies We’ve Been Told But Have Bought Anyway by Dave Jacobs [required reading]

“If you work really hard you can grow your church. … Great preaching and great music will bring great growth. … Mission statements are really important. … Outreach events result in church growth. … If a church isn’t growing there must be something wrong. … All healthy things grow and reproduce. ..”

Computing, hacking, & security: Anonymous: ‘Expect Us’ in 2013

“Along with a statement released over the weekend, which stated that the world should ‘Expect us 2013,’ the hackers issued a video boasting of cyberattacks which took place last year — including temporarily shutting down the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) and attacks against the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) web site in protest at the closure of file-hosting website MegaUpload.”

Critics, criticism, leadership & ministry: Death, Taxes & Criticism by Dan Bouchelle [required reading]

“Nothing is more ubiquitous than criticism including death and taxes. No matter what you do you will be criticized. If you don’t do anything you will be criticized. If you take criticism to heart and respond with explanations you are defensive. If you give into criticism you are indecisive and unprincipled. If you ignore criticism you are out of touch, inflexible, or pig-headed. If you listen but don’t response as desired, you are insincere. You can’t avoid criticism. You can only decide from whom you want it to come and for what reasons you want to receive it. But, come it will. Anyone in leadership learns this in time.”

Evil, God, pain, suffering & violence: “Why, God?” Asked the American People, and Would Not Stay for an Answer by John Stackhouse

“We certainly don’t want to look any harder than easy, quick, simple solutions …”

Gossip & slander: The Most Ignored Sin by Jon Zens

“Bob Mumford once said, ‘The Christian army is the only one that shoots its wounded.’ Regrettably, I have observed his statement to be all too true.”

Leadership: Behavior Lessons for Leadership and Teamwork by Deborah Gruenfeld [required reading]

“Before a critical meeting with your boss, an important customer, or your teenage son or daughter, do you spend time mentally roughing out and revising what you are going to say? If so, social psychologist Deborah Gruenfeld has a message for you: You are misdirecting your energy. Spend time instead practicing how to walk, stand, sit, and quickly grasp how other people are moving their bodies.”

Murder, respect, violence & words: Jesus on Murder

“You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, ‘Do not murder.’ I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill.” (Matthew 5:21-22) … As Christ’s church we are called to believe this seeming stretch of a connection between insult (which we routinely accept and sometimes proudly practice) and murder (which we roundly condemn and mourn).”

Non-violence & peace(Dis)Arming the Disciples by Drew Strait

“For Jesus, the evil of Rome would be defeated not through personal armament but through a revolution of God’s love displayed on a Roman cross.”