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.

LIFE group guide: who gives? our giving God!

 

NOTE: Following is the discussion guide we’ll use tomorrow (Feb. 2) in our LIFE groups at MoSt Church. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon that morning. This sermon is the first 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.

• the Lord God … gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. (Ps. 84.11 NLT)

• Blessed be the name of God from age to age, for wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with him. (Dan. 2.20-22 NRSV)

• … as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (John 5.21 RSV)

• Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age … (Gal. 1.3-4 NIV)

• … our great God and savior Jesus Christ … gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions. (Titus 2.13b-14 CEB)

• God is against the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. (1 Pet. 5.5 NCV; cf. Prov. 3.34)

Relation

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

1. When I think of the qualities of God, I think of God as being ____________.”

2. “Whenever I gladly and freely give to meet a genuine need, I feel ____________.”

Research

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

1. Using only the Scripture texts above, what can we say we believe God has given?

2. Discuss Psalm 84.11. What does it mean? What does it not mean?

Reflection

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

1. Why does God give his rebellious creation anything at all, and to what end? Where would his creation be without his constant giving?

2. “It’s hard for me to see God as “giving” whenever I see _____. I handle this by _____.”

3. Why does God often elect to give “through” people, partnering with them in blessing?

4. What does God’s gift of Christ to us say to you? Try to describe this indescribable gift.

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. Make a list of all you recall God has given (i.e. – literally count your blessings) and pray.

2. Choose to read any five psalms from the book of Psalms. Note what God is said to have already given and/or is being asked to give, be it explicitly stated or implied.

links: this went thru my mind

 

Adultery: The United States of Adultery

[This is an interactive map. Houston is #2 in the country, beat out only by three-time winner Washington D.C.]

Birth of Jesus & Christmas: * Baby Jesus Meek and Mild, Overthrew an Empire – Wild!; * Is There A Dragon In Your Nativity Set?

* “May your Christmas be a time when you ponder the summons of a subversive kingdom. May you choose to peacefully follow the baby in the manger to the cross and through resurrection, proclaiming with the angels that a new era has begun; an era when the people of God can undo the works of oppressive ‘empires.’ Merry Christmas.”

* “Every nativity set needs a red dragon. If you don’t remember that part of the story, you might want to read chapter 12 of Revelation.”

China, Christianity & persecution: China’s Hardship-Hardened Church

“Vibrant amid persecution, it seeks faithfulness over freedom.”

Contribution, generosity, giving, possessions, sacrifice, stewardship & wealth: The Scary Truth About Christian Giving

“Over the past 40 years, self-identified evangelicals have given between 2 and 3 percent of their incomes to churches and Christian organizations. Stewardship is a crucial part of the Christian life, and according to these figures, it is sadly lacking.”

Criticism, hatred & humility: Haters

“Never criticize what God is blessing.”

Firearms & guns: Gun Country

“They bring families together and they tear them apart. They kill innocent people and protect them. The United States continues to love and revile its hundreds of millions of firearms. Here is a look at that complicated  relationship, told through the personal stories of Americans.”

Insurance & the uninsured: Mapping Uninsured Americans

“Census data released Dec. 17 show where the uninsured live.”

Love & truth: 3 John: When Love is Abused

“He abused his power; he abused the love entrusted to him.”

Poor & poverty: In the War on Poverty, a Dogged Adversary [required reading]

“Without the panoply of government benefits — like food stamps, subsidized school lunches and the earned-income tax credit, which provides extra money to household heads earning low wages — the nation’s poverty rate last year would have reached almost 31 percent, up from 25 percent in 1967, according to the research at Columbia.”

Warfare: The Great War’s Ominous Echoes

“… the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far-off, it is similar to ours — often unsettlingly so — in many ways.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Affordable Care Act, health care system & medicine: Obamacare: The Rest of the Story

“This is the 90 percent of the story that doesn’t make the headlines. … they are transforming medicine from the treatment of disease to the treatment of patients — and ultimately the treatment of populations.”

Attitude, mind clutter & thinking: The Single Principle You Need to Clean Out the Mind Clutter for Good [required reading]

“We should start choosing our thoughts like we choose our clothes for the day. … We have chosen to give away the physical clutter that piles up in our spaces in exchange for serenity, for simplicity, and for a richer life. But what about non-physical clutter that fills up our minds and fogs our vision every day, every second even? Why can’t we apply the same principle to our thoughts, which could benefit a thousand fold from a little clean-up in their dusty attic?”

Calvin & Calvinism: Where Calvin Went Wrong

“… Calvin’s view of sovereignty so overwhelmed his theology that he ends up denying the capacity of humans to choose to believe.”

Christian college education & crisis of faith: The Christian College and the Crisis of Faith–and Why That Might be a Good Thing

“Many young people have an immature faith. Schools do not do them a service by helping them embrace this faith via dubious apologetics. Examination should always precede entrenchment.”

Church, God, idolatry & worship: Am I Just Now Beginning to Worship God? [required reading]

“When first converted I thought true worship was because of two facts: we did church right and we didn’t do it wrong.  That seemed to be both the message and the conclusion. … Our worship has failed to reach God for so many moments because we have stopped to worship the created rather than the Creator.”

Churches of Christ & the Restoration Movement: Why the Restoration Movement Needs a Gospel Revival [required reading]

“… biblically speaking, gospel is largely about us. It’s public. It’s as much about the restoration of the world as it is about the restoration of my soul.”

Facebook & privacy: How to Stay Private Now That Anyone Can Find You on Facebook

“You can control the audience of your updates, photos, or bio information if you don’t want strangers seeing your information.”

Generosity & giving: Generosity Is Its Own Reward

“… the relation between generous spending and happiness holds around the world, even in countries as impoverished as India and Uganda.”

Marriage: Things My Wife Does I Take for Granted

“How many things does she do that I take for granted? … Men, what do you take for granted that your wife does?”

Parenting: Random Bedtimes Breed Bad Behavior In Kids

“Parents learn the hard way that late bedtimes make for cranky kids the next day. But inconsistent bedtimes may have a greater effect on children’s behavior, a study says.”

Tipping & wages: Why You Should Tip 25%

“The shameful state of the salaries of restaurant workers, who often earn a poverty-level $2.13 an hour before gratuities, is a topic … But while politicians argue about the minimum wage and lobbyists push to keep workers’ salaries artificially low, I have an unconventional recipe for righting this obvious wrong: Tip more.”

links: this went thru my mind

 

Anger, culture, morality, outrage & thinking: Addicted to Outrage

“I fear that outrage has become an addiction for many people of faith. I’m caused to wonder if certain endorphins are released when we feel anger over a just cause; an emotional, pseudo-spiritual ‘rush’ that just keeps us coming back for more. In order for us to feel ‘righteous,’ has it become essential that ‘indignation’ be an inseparable companion? ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers… twerkers.’ Reread the context of Luke 18:9-14 to be reminded of why Jesus told this parable.” The more I am consumed by moral outrage, the less time I have to dwell on those things that are ‘true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and of good repute; things that are excellent and worthy of praise,’ (Philippians 4:8).”

Community, generosity, greed, poverty, stinginess & wealth: As We Become Richer, Do We Become Stingier?

“…  the effects that wealth has on people: ‘We become more individualistic, less family and community oriented.’ … Greenfield’s findings and theories dovetail with a variety of other studies and research projects, including Robert Putnam’s 2000 book, Bowling Alone, which explores the decline in community relationships in the U.S.”

Faith, grace, law, OT, NT & works: Law and Grace, Faith and Works

“When we think that what Jesus did was substitute one written code for another, we fall into the trap that Paul condemned in the Galatian letter. When we depend on law, any kind of law, then we are no longer depending on grace.”

Fasting, peace, prayer this Saturday & Syria: A Fast for Peace September 7th [count me in, too; how about you?]

“… a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative.”

Food stamps, poverty & the poor: On the Edge of Poverty, at the Center of a Debate on Food Stamps [required reading]

“No matter what Congress decides, benefits will be reduced in November, when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill expires. Yet as lawmakers cast the fight in terms of spending, nonpartisan budget analysts and hunger relief advocates warn of a spike in ‘food insecurity’ among Americans who … ‘look like we are fine,’ but live on the edge of poverty, skipping meals and rationing food.”

Jesus, sin & sinners: * He Looked Like a Sinner; * Jesus is Not Mr. Rogers

* “Jesus didn’t look like a saint. Jesus didn’t look holy. He hung out with prostitutes and drank too much wine. He was a convicted criminal. He was given the death penalty. And he died under God’s curse. Jesus looked like a sinner.”

* “Jesus wasn’t always the nicest guy.”

Leadership, momentum & morale: 16 Practices that Reignite Momentum

“Working on positives more than negatives. Avoid taking the wind out of people’s sails.”

Singing: Love the Lord with All Your Voice

“Singing is a forgotten—but essential—spiritual discipline. … We might ask … why we could not simply speak the words of Scripture as if they were our own. What is gained by singing them? Just this: In song, we learn not just the content of the spiritual life, but something of its posture, inflection, and emotional disposition.”

Restoration Heritage & the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian History Magazine Puts a Focus on Stone-Campbell Movement

“Restoration scholars Richard Hughes and Doug Foster served as advisers on the project and ‘provided a fair amount of content, along with other well-known authors/scholars in the movement’ … Download the full issue for free.”

golden nuggets from Sirach (6)

 

Every few days now I’m posting five passages that have stood out to me as I read through Sirach (aka: Ecclesiasticus) this time. Here’s the latest batch of gleanings.

Many have sinned because of money, and whoever seeks to get more will turn a blind eye. A stake is driven between cracks in stones, and sin will be wedged between selling and buying. (Sirach 27.1)

Limit the time you spend with unintelligent people, but linger with the thoughtful. (Sirach 27.12)

A fire burns in proportion to its fuel, and conflict increases the longer it continues. The more powerful individuals are, the stronger their anger will be; and the wealthier they are, the more their wrath will increase. (Sirach 28.10)

… be patient with those in humble circumstances, and don’t make them wait for assistance. Help the needy for the commandment’s sake,     and in proportion to their need don’t turn them away empty-handed. (Sirach 29.8-9)

A parent who spoils children now will end up tending to their wounds, and will experience heartache at every outcry. A horse that is unbroken turns out stubborn, and a child, when given free rein, turns out reckless. (Sirach 30.7-8)

this went thru my mind

 

Church & expectations: Not As You Envisioned It by Timothy Archer [essential reading]

“Church is never going to be exactly the way you envision it. And that’s a good thing.”

Generosity: How Generous are You? by Jim Martin

“…  Christian leaders would do well to be generous.  In fact, I believe there is nothing to be lost by being generous.  The result is that you get to participate in adding value to others’ lives. Four suggestions. 1. Be generous with your friends. … 2. Be generous with your resources. 3. Be generous with your praise and affirmation. 4. Be generous with your attention.”

Healthcare: The Future of Healthcare [infographic]

“…  the convergence of personal medical data and technology …”

Les Misérables: Les Misérables: Valjean or Javert? by Katelin Hansen

“Both Javert and Valjean are Christian men, acting in the name of God. But as Morgan Guyton notes, they represent two different Christianities and ‘Javert’s Christianity is winning big time in today’s America.’”

Obedience: Fridays with Benedict: Chapter 5, Obedience by Richard Beck

“… I find value in Benedict’s directives about obedience. … If we aren’t practicing monastic obedience, and I’m not suggesting that you should, where are we getting some equivalent formation? Where are we learning to mortify our will today?”

Twitter: Vine: A New Way to Share Video

“… we’re introducing Vine: a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos.”