House to Home Offering

Notes below based on sermon preached at One Church Home on October 23, 2022

Sunday, we gathered as One Church Home to be part of something BIG that God is up to right here in Fairview, Tennessee!

Like the widow at Zarephath in last week’s blog, we are a called people, given an opportunity to meet a clear need and, in so doing, to bless and to be blessed. God’s people stepped forward faithfully, generously, and sacrificially to answer His call, not knowing but trusting, believing, and waiting in confident expectation for God’s miraculous provision, His purpose, and plan for One Church Home.

Also, like the widow who first offered food and later lodging to Elijah, we may not be there when all the miracles happen over generations and generations to come. But we will be part of it because of the seed we have sown to provide for His Word and His work to go forth.

Before He went to heaven, James Ryle, a gifted storyteller and founding Board Member of Promise Keepers, in his book, Released from the Prison My Father Built, told the story of being sentenced at the age of 19 to the Texas State Penitentiary. It was a prison his father had literally helped to build while he, too, was confined in the state’s penal system.

What if your memoir or even your eulogy instead tells the story of your child, your grandchild, maybe your great-grandchild, or someone’s child that you don’t even know meeting the LORD Jesus Christ and being forever changed in a building you helped to build for One Church Home? What if they hear the Word while sitting in a chair you bought for the sanctuary or discover that Jesus loves them as a child sitting on a rug you bought for their classroom?

You may never know the lives you have touched this side of heaven, but make no mistake; God knows. And He is keeping an account.

This is not an account of our sins. As believers, that account has been settled once and for all.

Jeremiah 31:34
“…For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

This is an account of our deeds.

We see this in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30 — take a few minutes to read it if you aren’t familiar with the story).

The Master in the Parable represents Jesus, and the three servants represent us—believers entrusted by Him with things of great value to Him. These represent treasures, wealth, and our time and talents—our gifts and abilities and the opportunities He has given us to use all those things in service to Him. As in the Parable, our Master will one day return and ask us to give an account of our faithfulness in how we have invested the things given to us for His purpose and glory.

This will not determine our eternal salvation. We are saved by faith (not by works).

Ephesians 2:8
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

But we are saved to do good works.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

And for those good works, we will be rewarded in heaven.

II Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

Revelation 22:12
Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 

Randy Alcorn, in his book The Law of Rewards, says:

“Our works are what we have done with our resources—time, energy, talents, money, possessions. The fire of God’s holiness will reveal the quality of these works, the eternal significance of what we’ve done with our God-given assets and opportunities.”

Here are a couple of essential things to understand here:

  1. The judgment seat of Christ is not the great white throne of judgment where those who have rejected Jesus and His offer of salvation will be sentenced to eternal suffering and separation in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11–15).
  2. Some of the works we have done will be burned up, and there will be no reward for them.

 

I Corinthians 3:9-13
9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.
11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw,
13 their work will be shown for what it is because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.
14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.
15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. 

So what determines the works that will be burned and those that will be rewarded? Verse 13 in the original Greek text uses three different verbs to emphasize how our works will be “shown for what it is” (phainō); “[brought] to light” (dēloō); and “revealed” (apokaluptō).

Phainō is the same word used by Jesus in Mark 3:12 to order impure spirits not to “tell others about him” after they had fallen down before Him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.”

He said the same to the people He healed in Matthew 12:16. It was not yet time for His true identity, His purpose to be revealed.

Apokaluptō is used to speak of the revelation of Jesus at his second coming (Luke 17:30).

In each instance, this is a manifestation or revelation of who Jesus truly is and why He has come, regardless of what people may have said or believed.

The same will be true of our works. At the judgment seat of Christ, our hearts will be known—manifested, revealed- not just our actions but our motives and purposes.

As Jesus did in Mark 12:41, by intentionally positioning Himself to behold, consider and discern what and how people gave, Jesus discerns the attitude of people’s hearts when we give, not just our actions but our motives.

Jack Arnold explains it plainly as “what was done to glorify God and what was done to glorify self…At the Judgment Seat of Christ, each person’s works will be seen in their true character, and the piercing, searching eye of Christ will see right through all our phony, false, self-centered motives… So much of what appears to the Christian work is really the energy of the flesh, and on judgment day, God will get down to the truth of why we did what we did…It is possible for a person who has seemingly done little work to have a big reward because his motives were right. But it is also possible for a person to have outwardly done much work but whose motives were terrible to have little reward.”

Revelation 2:23
I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 

Paul tells us in Hebrews 6:10 that God will remember not just our work but our love for Him while we were doing it:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 

The Bible is full of stories of people who gave offerings for the right reasons:

  • Mary’s pouring of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet that she wiped with her hair (John 12:3);
  • The widow’s two mites (Luke 21:1-4);

And for the wrong ones:

  • The hypocrite who announces their gifts with trumpets in the synagogues and on the streets, “to be honored by men” (Matthew 6:1-4); and
  • The Pharisees and teachers of the law who tithed even on their spices—mint, dill, and cumin- neglected the more important matters of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the examples of the church at Corinth and the churches at Macedonia and the opportunity each had to give to the church at Jerusalem.

But first, a bit of background:

The church at Jerusalem was the first Christian church in the world, established after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus into heaven. The Holy Spirit had come upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost, Peter delivered a sermon, and 3,000 were added to their numbers.

Some early Christians were very poor, but Luke tells us that the church adopted a stewardship model with shared ownership of their possessions.

Acts 2:44
And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

The Amplified Bible adds [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole].

Acts 4:32
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.

Those with greater wealth sold their possessions and gave that income to the apostles to share with others as needed.

Acts 2:45
And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Acts 4:34–35
There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Imagine how this set them apart In a Helenistic (Greek) culture dedicated to the supremacy of human authority rather than God and the accumulation of material possessions to provide oneself with luxury and comfort. (Imagine how it would set us apart in today’s world.)

As the church continued to grow, a complaint was made that the Helenist (or Gentile—not Jewish) widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food, so the apostles chose seven men to ensure they were taken care of (Acts 6:1-6). They were a body committed to caring for one another.

As the first Christians, they were first to suffer for their faith in Christ—mainly at the hand of Saul (who would later become the Apostle Paul).

Acts 8:3
But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison. Many lost their homes, their jobs, their families.

After Paul became a Christian, he was eager to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem. And he did so on more than one occasion.

Before the first missionary journey in Acts 13, Paul delivered funds to Jerusalem collected by the Antioch church (Acts 11:27-30). In response to a prophecy of a great famine all over the world, the church at Antioch (made up mostly of Gentiles) “as each one was able, decided to provide help for the [Jewish] brothers and sisters living in Judea [i.e., Jerusalem].” 

Another collection that is the focus of this study is introduced at the end of 1 Corinthians, chapter 16:1-4 to the church at Corinth, in Achaia. This church was primarily made up of Gentile believers.

Corinth was a wealthy city, the wealthiest city of the Empire. It was located on a narrow strip of land with sea on either side, including bustling trade ports facing Europe and Asia. It was also the capital of Achaia and a center of banking and finance.

It seems that the wealth and pride of the culture had infiltrated the church at Corinth, and some believers’ arrogance led to division and strife among the body, along with a number of ungodly practices. Each of these Paul took head-on, instructing them how to walk out their commitment to Christ faithfully.

Amid such a materialistic culture, perhaps it is not surprising that Paul closed the letter with an instruction to take up a collection for the church in Jerusalem. As we discussed in week 1 of the Prosper series, “Tithing [perhaps even more so giving] begins to put our priorities in order. It reorients our perspective…helping us understand that everything we have was given to us by God and belongs to God. Tithing transforms us by changing the way we think about money. And when it does, it helps us take the next steps to turn money from a source of self-satisfaction and security on this earth to a gracious gift to be stewarded through tithing, giving, and sacrificial offerings that advance God’s glory and His purposes on the earth while storing incorruptible treasures in heaven.”

We know from II Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 that in the beginning, the Christians in Corinth were eager to give for God’s work. It was their enthusiasm that had spurred on their fellow believers in other churches.

But their enthusiasm was short-lived, and they failed to follow through on their commitment to set aside money each week. So in chapters 8 and 9, Paul was rebuking them, reminding them of the gift that had been given them by the LORD Jesus Christ and also using the Macedonian churches as an example—yes, to change their actions, but more importantly to change their hearts:

II Corinthians 8:8
I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others…

And to change the lives of others, resulting in praise and glory to God:

II Corinthians 8:12-13, 15
12 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. 13 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.
15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Unlike the wealthy church at Corinth, the churches at Macedonia were incredibly poor, so poor that Paul had not even asked them to give. But when they heard about the gift Paul was taking to Jerusalem, they also urged Paul to bring their gifts.

II Corinthians 8:1-5
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churchesIn the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy, and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s peopleAnd they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.

There are at least important 3 points in this passage:

The first is that the giving by the Macedonian churches was rooted in the grace of God given to them. James Ryle makes a powerful case that the Biblical definition of grace is “the empowering presence of God that enables us to be who He created us to be and do all He calls us to do.” On our own, let’s face it: we are selfish and self-centered. But by His grace, He can work even in our “extreme poverty” to bring forth” rich generosity” for His purpose and glory.

Philippians 2:13
“for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”

The second point is that the Macedonian Christians considered it a privilege to give to their Jewish brothers and sisters in need. They didn’t perceive it as a burden, put it off, or make excuses to avoid it.

II Corinthians 8:3-4
3 …Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 

The Christians in Jerusalem were people they had never met and would likely never meet. Moreover, they were Jews, while the churches in Macedonia were primarily Gentile. There had been (and would continue to be) long-standing divisions between the Jewish and Gentile believers. And the Jerusalem church was also poor, which made it quite unlikely they would ever be able to return the favor.

How much more powerful then was the testimony of the Macedonians in giving? 

Jesus said in Luke 14:12-14:
12 … “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13 But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14 and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

And then He gave His life for us…a debt we could never repay. 

This brings us to the third point: like Jesus, the Macedonians gave all of themselves—first to the LORD and then to others. They pledged their support to Paul, Titus, and the other men in leadership, thanking and praying for them. And as they gave their hearts to God, their money followed. 

Godfred Nyamadi writes, “The Macedonian church displayed the core essence of the Christian faith – Loving God and loving one another…They displayed what the church should look like. They were the epitome of Christ’s bride… In the midst of their affliction, they literally laid down their lives for the brethren by forfeiting their own comfort for the comfort of others. Their wealth of generosity was not how much they gave but how they gave. They gave in their poverty with cheerfulness and in the abundance of joy.”

As Pastor Steve said, “We are never more like God than when we give sacrificially.” We talked about it last week; He is our model for giving. God loving us so much that He gave everything to be with us, for us to be with Him.

John 3:16 perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

May we continue to follow His example and the example of the Macedonian churches in our love and our sacrificial giving. And may we prosper, asking to God bless our gift to “produce fruit beyond the sacrifice” and “leaving a legacy that moves behind the immediate into the eternal.

Note: all scripture references are from the New International Version. (2011) BibleGateway.com

Questions for reflection or discussion: 

Can you think of a time when someone else’s generous, sacrificial giving impacted your life? 

Imagine meeting that person in heaven…what will you say to them?

Can you think of a time in your life when your own generous, sacrificial giving impacted someone else’s life?

Now imagine meeting that person (or persons) in heaven. Better yet, imagine standing face-to-face with Jesus and hearing Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:23) How does that change your perspective on giving?

Have you ever asked God for grace to give generously, sacrificially? If not, say a prayer right now, asking the Holy Spirit to give you the grace to give yourself first to Him, and then to others for His purpose and glory. 

Look back on the entire Prosper series and reflect on how it has changed your heart about tithes, offerings and sacrificial giving. What are the specific things you will do to make sure this Word is not stolen from you, and that it goes forth to produce an abundant harvest in your life?

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Church Mailing Address:
PO Box 717
Fairview, TN 37062