2=Generosity
Sermon Summary
This message discusses what steps must we take in order to take the vision of Northshore Church to reality. It's so important to not only have vision, but it is equally important to have steps and action plans in place to take the vision to a place of reality! The V of V2R equals vision. The 2 of V2R equals or stands for generosity. Why? Because generosity is the way our God-given vision will become a reality. One might ask how generosity is the way to fulfill the vision. This first point of this message is that God has been generous to us and that is why we have a vision in the first place. Secondly, God shares His generosity to the world through us. We are the vessels of His love, forgiveness and hope. The final point is that God’s generosity through us is not dependent on our power or our resources. The God who gives the vision will also provide the way for us to be generous and see the vision become a reality.

Community Group Discussion Guide

Ice Breaker: Share some of the ways God has been generous to you spiritually, emotionally, physically or materially.

1. By realizing God’s generosity to us we can better understand why God desires to be generous through us. What are some ways you could allow God to be generous through you? (time, talent, resources, friendship)
1 Pet 4:8  Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
1 Pet 4:9  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.
1 Pet 4:10  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

2. It does take material resources to allow the church to carry out its mission of transforming worship, people and the world. There’s the ongoing operational needs and then the “over and above” needs like the buildout of additional facility space. Discuss your understanding of “over and above.”
Mal 3:10  Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

3. Our ability to be generous is not dependent on our power or resources. Discuss your thoughts on this and maybe share a personal example of how God has given you the power or resources to be generous in the past.
Eph 3:16  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Eph 3:17  so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
Eph 3:18  may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
Eph 3:19  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Eph 3:20  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
Eph 3:21  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.



Full Sermon Notes
V2R
2=Generosity!
What steps must we take in order to take the vision to reality? It's so important to not only have vision, but it is equally important to have steps and action plans in place to take the vision to a place of reality! The V of V2R equals vision. You might be curious as to how 2=generosity! I'll show you today. Last week we talked about various characteristics of being a healthy church, which is a major part of our vision for Northshore Church.

Vision: To raise up a healthy church that will impact the north shore and ultimately the world with the life changing message of Jesus Christ!

A Healthy Church Knows It's Purpose!
A Healthy Church Carries Out Its Mission!
A Healthy Church Looks to Jesus for Leadership and to His Word for Doctrine!
A Healthy Church is Filled with Sinners Who've Changed Their M.O. (modus operandi)

The result of being a healthy church is impact through the life changing message of Jesus Christ! A healthy church has a passion and a drive to see the message of Christ literally change individuals, families, communities, and even the culture!!  A healthy church does not measure success simply by size and numbers, but by lives transformed! There are tangible tools that can help us transform lives like buildings, equipment, web-sites, pod-cast, video-cast, financial resources, but the tools are never to become the focus!

Unfortunately some churches become so focused on bigger and better tools, they never get around to doing the work of transforming lives. They don't think they can do ministry if they don't have the latest and greatest gadgets, the newest and best decor. Some in the church world have adopted the theme of a well known baseball themed movie, "Field of Dreams!" Build it and they will come! But let me tell you something. You can have the biggest, most amazing facilities, but when it comes to raising up a healthy church that will impact it's world with the life-changing message of Jesus Christ, if the main thing is not the main thing anymore, if the God given purpose has been forgotten and the Spirit of Almighty God is not moving and speaking  through the lives and actions of its people then the vision will absolutely not become a reality!

And the other sad thing that has been repeated over and over down through the years in many churches and ministries is this…They've gotten themselves in such a financial bind through borrowing and over spending their focus has left their God-given purpose of impacting the world with the life changing message of Jesus to raising money. We never want to do that.

There's a difference when you share a vision and what it will take to make that vision happen and ask the people to pray about their participation on the front end. This way there's no pressure on the leadership or on you. It's simply let's pray and see what God does.

Let's pray right now and ask God to speak to our hearts today through His Word!
PRAY!!

Now let me share with you why 2=Generosity. The 2 stands for the way in which we will accomplish the vision God has given us to raise up a healthy church that will impact the world with the life changing message of Jesus Christ! What is that way? Generosity!
Take your Bibles and turn with me again to Paul's letter to the Ephesian Church. Beginning with Chapter 1:22-ff

2=Generosity
Because
God is Generous!

Ephesians 1:22 - 2:5
1:22 And God placed all things under his (Jesus) feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
1:23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
2:1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,
2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.
3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.

Aren't you glad God is rich in mercy and has been generous towards you with that mercy? I mean it says, "you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world…" Folks, we were dead in our sins. We had transgressed against the very laws of God and were deserving of eternal separation from God! Paul says we lived in sin. It wasn't like we just did a few things wrong from time to time, but we were living in it! Paul says we gratified the cravings of our sinful nature and followed its desires and thoughts. As a result we were objects of wrath, guilty as charged, but hold everything, stay the execution...

Eph 2: 4... because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,
5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved.

You see, it's because of God's amazing generosity we even have a vision to accomplish! If it weren't for God's generosity we could never raise up a healthy church to impact the world because we would all still be hopelessly lost in our sin and without hope.

But the life changing message of Jesus is that He offers us forgiveness for the past, purpose for today and hope for the future! Here's the way Jesus put it in John 10:10-11...

John 10-11
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

God has indeed been generous to us! He allowed His One and Only Son to die in our place. He took our punishment. You just can't get more generous than that! So God has been generous to us in a spiritual sense, but has He not also been good to us in a material sense? Some of us may have more than others, but when we compare ourselves with so many other nations, are we not blessed. Even having gone through hurricane Katrina, are we not blessed? More on this in a minute, but first, there's another reason 2=Generosity...

2=Generosity
Because
God is Generous Through Us!

The next few verses of our text say it well...

Eph 2:6-10
6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—
9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God wants to show the incomparable riches of His grace to the world through us! What a privilege we've been given to allow God to be generous through us. When people see God's grace working in our lives through faith it causes them to wonder what makes us so different. The difference is that we are God's workmanship! We can tell others that. "Hey it's not me or my goodness, but God's amazing grace that has made and is making the difference in my life. You see, He has a work for me to do in this life and that work is now my priority goal.

You see, it's no longer me, myself and I that's most important, but God and others. And you know what? The peace, comfort and real purpose that have come into my life since I found this new set of priorities causes me to be generous. Generous with my time, my talents and my resources. Let me share with you how God taught me this lesson in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. I was so concerned that we no longer had building to meet in. We had built out 16,000 square feet of the old Pottery World building in the factory outlet mall, but the owners would not let us get back in after the storm. They voided our lease purchase contract through a clause that stated if the building were ever 40% damaged in a disaster the contract would be voided. We met with them twice to tell them we would be willing to rehab the building, but they said no and later told the city none of their tenants wanted back in the building. Wow!

About year two of our homelessness, I began to second guess my decision not to pursue legal action to try and get back in  that building. I was talking to Dr. Nave one day and told him I was so discouraged with not having a place of our own. All of the set up and tear down every week was wearing on me and everyone else. But Jeff didn't respond with sympathy I was looking for! Sometime counselors just won't tell you what you want to hear! He responded with a question. He asked me what we would have done if we could have gotten our storm ravaged building back. To which I replied, "we would have brought in volunteers and rolled up our sleeves and fixed our building."
To which Jeff responded with yet another question. "Yes, but what did we do?" I'm like what do you mean what did we do? and Jeff asked again, "What did we do since we couldn't get back in there and work on our building?" I said, "Well we gutted homes and cleared debris and then we helped rebuild peoples homes!" Jeff said, "That's exactly right. Now, what do you think God wanted us to do? Work on our church building or help the hurting people of our community rebuild their lives?"

I'm thinking, "Wow! Jeff do you always have to be right?" Not really!!! I was convicted to the core and God used this to finally give me a peace about the decisions we had made. I knew we had done exactly what Jesus wanted us to do! God wanted to be generous through us! As a result of that conversation and as I was preparing a sermon a short time later God spoke this to my heart...

If you can't be a church without a building you won't be much of a church with a building!!  

And by the way, the New Testament church had no building!! Now you might think it strange for me say such things at the beginning of a ministry called V2R in which one of its major components is to build out a portion of our building as a tool for ministry focusing on our children! It's not strange at all, it's simply making sure that our priorities never get inverted! It's making sure we understand the building is a tool for ministry and is never to become the main thing. In fact, our ministry leader for the V2R, Dale Galloway wrote the following after one of our meetings...

"As I understand the vision: We are being led to provide a larger “regional” church that is focused on reaching the unchurched, unsaved people of St Tammany Parish and beyond. We are not interested in numbers in the congregation but being a vessel
to lead people to God and to provide a vehicle for maturing spiritual growth…"

Can I get an Amen? You think we got the right guy in this leadership position? Indeed we do!! He goes on to say...

“By working together to build the church we should focus on building personal Christian relationships as well as building church facilities. We should provide opportunities for the congregation to reach out to their friends, neighbors and coworkers.”

Notice he said congregation! Not men's ministry! This V2R ministry initiative is for all of us. When we begin the buildout we will be doing as much of it as we possibly can with volunteers. Why? Well of course we want to be good stewards and save as much money as we can, but we also know through volunteering we can each contribute in our own way to the vision. But it's also because of the personal Christian relationships we can build while we build the facility! In this sanctuary and much of the other parts of our children and youth areas our ladies floated the sheetrock and then did much of the painting. Our youth also helped with the build out. Of course it's too much risk for the children to be a part of the construction, but you can involve them by keeping them updated on the progress and by asking them to pray for the safety of the workers and that God will continue to provide the resources for the materials. You can even use the giving part of this initiative to teach them about Christian stewardship and they can help.
Sure it may be small, but a small amount given for the right reasons become large amounts in God's hands. And folks, I'm no prosperity preacher who's gonna tell you give money to this or that cause and God will make you rich in material possessions and give you every thing you ever wanted. Why not? Because that's not what God's Word teaches. God's Word does, however, promise that God will meet your needs. Here's the way it puts it...

Philippians 4:19-20
19 And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

And guess what? God will sometimes go beyond your needs and give you some of the things you want. And if God wants to use you as a vessel of His blessing to someone else or to a ministry initiative like V2R, He will provide you an abundance so you can give above and beyond your normal support which is your tithe.

In fact Dale Galloway said something about this in his notes to me after one of our meetings...

“The congregation should understand that they are the church and the facilities and church mission/vision is their responsibility. God will provide but we must execute.

Stewardship and Christianity are inseparable. The Bible talks about first fruits throughout. Stewardship should be an intrinsic concept for every individual
throughout Church.”

I've asked Dr. Nave to come up and talk for just a moment about Biblical stewardship. Come on up Jeff...

Dr. Jeff Nave, Associate Pastor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, Northshore Church and Counseling Professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

"At NSC we believe it is the responsibility of the members of a local congregation to support the regular ministries of their church through the biblical practice of tithing.
It is clear from the Old Testament that this tenth of one's material earnings was intended as provision for the basic financial requirements of the local place of worship and the needs of those who had given their lives to meeting the faith needs of the people of God (Leviticus 27:30-33)."

Leviticus 27:30-33
30 “ ‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.
31 If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it.
32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod —will be holy to the LORD.
33 He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed. ’ ”

"It is, in fact, the very last command, or final word in Leviticus, the primary record of the Old Testament law. Jesus reinforced the concept of tithing as foundation to godly obedience in the New Testament and challenged his followers to do even more (Matthew 23:23, Luke 11:42)."

Matthew 23:23
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

Luke 11:42
42 “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

“As we enter into a season of growth and building at NSC, we want of be faithful as a church to fulfill our basic responsibilities as men and women of God as we search our lives for evidence that God has provided for us even more that we might put to use for his glory and in a way that touches lives. If you have chosen to make yourself a part of what God is doing at NSC, we want you to know that your staff has been praying for you in some specific ways. We have been praying that God will cause you to prosper: spiritually, emotionally, physically and materially. We have prayed that God will prosper you so that you may be blessed by giving above and beyond your tithe out of the resources of his provision. If God has been blessing you, we want you to know about the opportunities he is providing for you to make a difference here in this local community of faith and in this larger community as we touch the lives of more families with children."

Pastor Larry then continued...
Wow, that's good wisdom and straight from God's Word. Now let me share something with you. Do you know why you don't hear us harping on money at Northshore Church?
We don't have to because our people are faithful and that lets us concentrate on impacting the world with the life changing message of Jesus Christ! And let me just say this. We are going to have intention cards for you to let us know if you are willing to help us with the buildout as a volunteer, as a prayer partner, as well as financially. It will be an intention card not a pledge card. We're not asking you to make a pledge, we're asking you to share what you intend to do if God makes a way for you to do it. It's that simple. It might surprise you, but some churches have actually sent letters to people in pledge campaigns to request payment for unfulfilled pledges. That will not happen under my watch!

The information you place on the card in the coming weeks will simply be used to give us an estimate of what's going to come in according to your intentions. This will help us move forward as good stewards. And by the way, God has blessed our stewardship and we already have around 200,000 in our building fund!

We won't know the exact cost of the buildout until we get final drawings and bids, but we know it's going to be at least twice what we have so we wanted to give you the opportunity to know the need and participate in helping us bring the vision to reality by being a part of the V2R Ministry Inititive!

This takes me to my third and final point today.

2=Generosity
Because
Our Generosity is Resourced and Powered by God!

Ephesians 3:14-16
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,

15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,

17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,

18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,

19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Thank the Lord, our vision is not dependent on our power or our resources, but God's! We just have to be obedient and let His generosity to us and through us flow!
Let's pray!