sermon follow-up: 28 acts of generously giving good in Acts

 

My sermon this past Sunday morning (Nov. 6) was in regard to the sixth aspect of the fruit of the Spirit: generosity/goodness.

Each of my sermons in the series of which this sermon was a part (Acts: The Way, It Works) makes some connection with the fruit of the Spirit and the lives of Christ-followers in the book of Acts. However, I deliberately left the connection with Acts missing from this past Sunday’s sermon … until now.

Even just a quick skim of Acts reveals a multitude of instances of generosity/goodness recorded by the book’s author (Luke). Following are twenty-eight examples, one from each of the Acts’ twenty-eight chapters.

1. Giving the community of faith your presence for the sake of united prayer.

“They all joined together constantly in prayer …” (Acts 1.14)

2. Giving your heart and your possessions to those in need.

“They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” (Acts 2.45)

3. Giving your attention to those who have become virtually invisible to others.

“Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him …” (Acts 3.2-4a)

4. Giving the word of God to others, freely and without fear.

“… they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4.31)

5. Giving encouragement to others by having a healthy attitude about the things you suffer.

“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.” (Acts 5.41)

6. Giving welcome and acceptance to those new to faith in Christ.

“The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6.7)

7. Giving grace to those who misunderstand you, hate you, and work your harm.

“While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed … ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he had said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7.59-60)

8. Giving obvious evidence of your faith by sticking with God and taking your faith with you through all of life’s changes.

“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. … Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8.1,4)

9. Giving your talents and skills over to the Lord’s disposal for the blessing of others.

“… showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made …” (Acts 9.39)

10. Giving your mind over to God for him to teach you new things as to your perspective of, and way toward, others who are very much unlike you.

“… God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.” (Acts 10.28)

11. Giving others the gift of an open mind as to their understanding of things.

“… when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him … Starting from the beginning, Peter told them the whole story … When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God …” (Acts 11.1,4,18)

12. Giving room for others to join you in your service to Christ.

“When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark.” (Acts 12.25)

13. Giving energy and morivation to others to keep on keeping on with God.

“… Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.” (Acts 13.43)

14. Giving inspiration to fellow Christ-followers by sharing the generous good you have experienced thru God in your life.

“… they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them …” (Acts 14.27)

15. Giving well-timed use of conciliatory statements in moments of tension.

“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” (Acts 15.11)

16. Giving of your home to bless other believers.

“When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. ‘If you consider me a believer in the Lord,’ she said, ‘come and stay at my house.’ And she persuaded us.” (Acts 16.15)

17. Giving credit where credit is due, particularly when you see those yet to believe catch a glimpse of what is true and right about God and people.

“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17.26-28)

18. Giving the grace of real connection and helpful guidance rather than the world’s way of criticism and complaining, which only breeds problems and distance.

“Apollos … was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. … When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” (Acts 18.24-27)

19. Giving your sinful habits up in public confession and repentance so as to solidify your commitment and to give testimony of the Lord’s work in your life.

“Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. [nearly 150 years’ wages for the average worker] In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19.18-20)

20. Giving your daily existence completely over to the Lord so as to not only free yourself from fear and dread, but to lead others to do likewise.

“… I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” (Acts 20.24)

21. Giving yourself over to full establishment of faith in the lives of your children.

“… Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven … had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.” (Acts 21.8-9)

22. Giving clear thought as to how you can best share with those who could benefit from knowing why you are a Christian and how you became one.

“You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (Acts 22.15-16)

23. Giving yourself over to intervening for the lives of others.

“The next morning some Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink until they had killed Paul. … But when the son of Paul’s sister heard of this plot, he went into the barracks and told Paul.” (Acts 23.12,16)

24. Giving respect to whom respect his due.

“When the governor motioned for him to speak, Paul replied: ‘I know that for a number of years you have been a judge over this nation; so I gladly make my defense.'” (Acts 24.10)

25. Giving others the courage of your convictions and standing up for your true rights.

“Paul answered: ‘I am now standing before Caesar’s court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well. If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!'” (Acts 25.10-11)

26. Giving prayer to God for others come to faith in God, to become disciples of Christ.

“Agrippa said to Paul, ‘Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?’ Paul replied, ‘Short time or long—I pray to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'” (Acts 26.28-29)

27. Giving thanks to God, openly and sincerely, whether in the presence of believers or not.

“… he took some bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all. Then he broke it and began to eat.” (Acts 27.35)

28. Giving kindness to others in the ways they need most in the moment.

“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.” (Acts 28.1-2)

And so, let us make our faith practical. Let us practice what we preach, namely that “God is good, all of the time.” Let us do and give good, generously so, to others, every day, in the name of, and by, the Spirit of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. For his glory, not our own.

Amen.

this is the word you want to be

 

 
There’s a word you’re listening for; listening for with all of your heart. The doctor might give you ten thousand words, but no other stands out like this one; none gives you such clarity and relief. It is the kindest word of all.
 
Benign.
 
Upon hearing that single word, one of two things happens. We hear – and hear with truer clarity – what follows far better than we ever could. Or, all of the other words now fade for we have heard what we wanted and needed to hear most of all; we have heard what matters most.
 
“The results show the mass is such and such … and is benign … blah, blah, blah …”
 
Benign.
 
You turn the word over and over, again and again, in your mind. It simply will not go away, and how glad you are for that fact. You think: is there a more beautiful word?
 
One wonders.
 
You have likely heard of the name John Wycliffe, a Christian in the 1300’s. He was the first to translate the New Testament into English. And for doing so, remarkably, he was reviled. By many. With great power. So much so that even nearly half a century after his death, religious authorities had the remains of his body dug up and burned.
 
Is there even a word for that sort of darkness? If there is, surely it is …
 
Malignancy.
 
Which leads me to note: when John Wycliffe translated the texts in the New Testament that speak of the thought of kindness, he used the word “benign.”
 
* “… love ye your enemies, and do ye well, and lend ye, hoping nothing thereof, and your meed shall be much, and ye shall be the sons of the Highest, for he is benign on unkind men and evil men.” (Luke 6.35)
 
* “Knowest thou not, that the benignity of God leadeth thee to repenting?” (Rom. 2.4)
 
* “Charity is patient, it is benign …” (1 Cor. 13.4)
 
* “… the fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy … benignity …” (Gal. 5.22)
 
* “… be ye together benign, merciful, forgiving together, as also God forgave to you in Christ.” (Eph. 4.32)
 
* “Therefore ye, as the chosen of God, holy and loved, clothe you with the entrails of mercy, benignity …” (Col. 3.12)
 
Benign is beautiful for benignity is godly.
 
And so, let us choose not to be malignant to others in any way today, or any day the One true and kind living God gives us. Let us seek to be benign/kind in every big and small way, fleeing from every desire, impulse, thought, word, or way that even hints of anything malignant.
 
For in doing so, we will not merely bring better health to ourselves, or even give relief – great relief – to others, but will do what we were made to do in the beginning and are being remade in Christ to be now …
 
Bearers of the likeness of the Christ who is kind to us.

strong medicine for all of us

 

A few nights ago (Tuesday) I dedicated two hours to systematically going through my Facebook friends list with one specific question in view: what are my fellow church members posting regarding current events?

Why? Curiosity and to be informed.

I found many good things, and for that, I thank God. However, I must say, it was, to say the very least, and all too very often – by no means an edifying exercise. I would certainly not recommend this exercise to the faint of heart and I would warn the depressed or doubting to not do anything like it. And, given the dates of posting, it was apparent that such matters have only increased in darkness and intensity over the past several weeks as a national election date draws ever closer.

It was as if I was witnessing points of light being dimmed, or even completely overcome, by darkness. (sigh)

As I scrolled and read, five passages of Scripture kept popping up in my mind, firing off like popcorn. What were those passages? Here they are (with my own application points inserted in all CAPS, within brackets).

Our Lord Jesus said …

1. “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter [VIA SHARING ON SOCIAL MEDIA].” (Matthew 12.36)

An apostle of our Savior said …

2. “[POSTING] Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes [ON SOCIAL MEDIA] — these are not for you.” (Ephesians 5.4)

3. “Let your [SOCIAL MEDIA] conversation be always full of grace …” (Colossians 4.6a)

An unknown preacher, inspired by the Holy Spirit said …

4. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone [ON SOCIAL MEDIA] and to be holy, for without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12.14)

And the Lord’s half-brother said …

5. “With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image [VIA SOCIAL MEDIA]. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! My friends, this can’t go on. A spring doesn’t gush fresh water one day [OR POST] and brackish the next, does it?” (James 3.9-11)

And so …

Let us re-dedicate our tongues and typing fingers to the Lord, my brothers and sisters. May we do that by re-dedicating our heart to him in repentance and profession of faith. Daily.

And may we never forget that along with our God who knows even the motives unknown to us that help give rise to our thoughts, feelings, words, and ways, a world full of people, yet to believe, are also closely watching us and reading us, along with brothers and sisters of greatly varying degrees of strength, burden, understanding, and maturity.

Let us not stumble, and let us not unwittingly cause, or lead, others to do the same, or worse. Rather, may we be an example of humility and godliness not only to all fellow believers, but to all who are yet to believe.

Deliver us from evil, Lord. Grant us, by your grace, to rise to this occasion, reflecting your light, and by no means, or media, adding to this world’s darkness. Amen.

Grace and PEACE, my fellow sheep.

By preachersmith Posted in Links

a preacher’s prayer at sunrise on Sunday

 

Father, who will give attention to you this morning? And should you allow me the privilege once more to speak of you, who, I ask, will hear you through my feeble, fumbling words? Will it be those who have heard many times before? Let them not be indifferent or complacent through familiarity. Will it be some who have never heard you before? Do not allow any of us to not encounter you. Work out my words, work through my words, work despite my words this morning – just work what you will in the moment, Father.

Give us your attention, Lord, even as we ask your help in our giving you our own; give us audience as we seek you. Take us by our hands to the Father and plead our need with your outstretched hands. Open our minds and break open our hearts, shining all you are on all that we are that we might change more into the likeness of you. Let us be all about you – entralled and enraptured with you, adoring you and freshly committing ourselves to emulating you.

Spirit holy, your ways and words are beyond our grasp, and yet, it is your words and words that must touch us, stir us, trouble us, settle us, and teach us. And so, I pray you will handle us and hold us this morning, working into each spirit present things far beyond what any of us can see and hear with our eyes and ears. As you have arranged for this time and place, our providential meeting with you in the presence of others, do walk among us and talk to us.

Begin this work with me, I pray. Where I need to tremble afresh, make me tremble. Where I need to rest confident in you, please plant me there. In all things today, work through me for the blessing of others and so bless me to that end.

In the name of my Savior, with trust, I come asking.

Amen.

prayer at the start of a school year

 

Father God, you are the Great Teacher and we are your students. You alone know how to shape us right in mind and actions. You alone are true knowledge and wisdom. Your matchless care for even the smallest and least of us, the youngest or weakest of us, is unlike any other. You are the Loving Guide and Good to each and every one of us. Praise be to you forever for who you are!

And so, Father, we lift up to you the children that you have given us. And, we hold up to you, for your blessing, every person who is a guide and teacher, a source of wisdom and knowledge, and a model of unbiased care and good to our children, and the children of all others.

Grant to both those who learn and to those who teach, minds and hearts ever more full of what you have them to become and share. Put into their spirits all that is humility and confidence, inquisitiveness and discernment, strength and courage, hope and joy. Bind these, and these qualities, all the more together in love of you and for each other.

For your glory, Father, not our own, we ask. All praise be to you forever, in the name of your Son, Jesus.

Amen.

By preachersmith Posted in Links