Give
Sermon Summary
This message is the second in the mission’s month sermon series, Pray, Give and Go. The concept of living a life of giving is critical to missions. First of all you have the willingness of God to give to us His love by giving His Son to save us and then to call us to be a part of His mission to save the world. Then you have the missionary’s willingness to give their life to the calling of missions. And how could they do missions if there were not people to support the mission? Paul quoted Jesus in Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He did this in the context of encouraging the leaders of the Ephesian Church to continue following God’s mission in Ephesus. Paul committed them to the Lord, reminded them of God’s willingness to give to them in the form of grace, told them to give to the weak, and reminded them of Jesus’ words on giving.

Community Group Discussion Guide

1. Has there every been a time in your life where you reluctantly gave something away, but in the end found more joy in giving than in keeping? Explain.

2. Outside of his relationship with God, the people he had reached through the churches he had planted were his most valuable possession and he gave them to God by committed them to Him. Paul didn’t own much in the way of personal possessions, so when he did this he was in essence giving everything he had to God. Why is it so hard for us to commit everything to God?
1 Timothy 6-10
6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

3. Pastor Larry said we should consume God’s words of grace. How can remembering God’s willingness to give to us help us be willing to give to others?
Psalm 103:1-5
1Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

4. Sometimes we are really giving when we just carry our own weight and responsibilities in life. Why is that?
Galatians 6:4-5 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

Full Sermon Notes
Give

Sometimes life can place what may seem like a rugged, extremely high, unclimbable mountain in your path! Ever been there? Can't see over it, can't see around it!
Maybe the answer is to climb it! Maybe the answer is to move it! Wait, move a mountain? How do you do that? Now I know the Sunday School answer is faith! That's good, but how does that work? This morning we're going to talk about a subject that many don't understand, or they misunderstand. I believe if we can lean the secret to today's topic, you may just see mountains moved in your life.
The bridge of the song Bronie just sang said,
"So let go my soul and trust in Him, The waves and wind still know His name."
Learning to give your trust, your hope, your future, your resources, your time, your very life to your Creator God will move so many mountains in your life. Let's pray and we'll see  how!

Sweet Jesus, I come before you this morning with this one prayer request, teach us what it means to give. Somehow, giving is the secret to real life! But it is so counter intuitive! It just doesn't seem rational! There's so much we want so it seems we should be in a gathering mode, and it just seems weird that the way to get what we really need is by giving things away. Help us understand this truth today! So I'm going to give You this message I'm about to share and I believe You will take it and make it what it needs to be for every single person here! I give you honor, glory, and thanksgiving! In Jesus Name I pray and believe, Amen!

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Acts 20:32-36. We once again look to one of the greatest Christian missionaries who has ever lived: Paul the Apostle! In this passage he is on his way to share the good news of Jesus at Jerusalem. The Holy Spirit had directed him to go there. On the way he sends for some of the leaders of the church at Ephesus to meet him at Miletus. He talked with them about his ministry he had with them in the past. He warned them of coming troubles for the church there at Ephesus both from the outside and from within. He told them to be on their guard and to remember his example during the years he had ministered there. He then left them with these words...

Acts 20:32-36  “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.

In these words Paul reminds the leaders of the church of the importance of living a life of giving rather than taking. By the way, If somehow you think this message is a message about money, then you've already missed the whole point and may miss the opportunity to understand one of the greatest concepts in all of the Bible! It's a concept that's been tragically misunderstood and misused down through the years!  As I said in my prayer, the whole point of this sermon today is for us to learn what it means to give, and why giving is the secret to real life! Giving money is such a small part of what living a life of giving is all about. It's so much more! Let me explain as we examine Paul's words. Paul gives us some important concepts of living a life of giving. The first is this...

Commit Everything
To God!

Acts 20:32 “Now I commit you to God...

Now I know you may be wondering if I'm taking this out of context or it may be a stretch for me to use Paul's words here to tell you to commit everything to God! But let me explain. A lot of people have a last will and testament. Why? Because they've worked hard and long for what they have and they care about what happens to it when they are gone. They want to know it will go to someone they care about or for something they believe really matters. Paul had given up his worldly possessions to become a missionary so he didn't have a lot of stuff. About the only things we know he owned was a cloak he had left at Troas, along with some scrolls and parchments. So when he said he was committing the church at Ephesus to God...well, besides the parchments and scrolls of writing, the people of the churches he had planted were his life. He cared what was going to happen to those people after he was dead and gone! It mattered to him. He knew the enemy would try to destroy the churches and his life work. So what did Paul do? He gave them up to God by committing them to God!

You see when Paul the Apostle was named Saul of Tarsus, he was a taker! It was all about Saul and what he could get out of life by getting ahead no matter the cost! Oh, he did what he did in the name of God, but the bottom line was he was motivated by self, as were many of the other religious leaders. He did some terrible things. Listen to his testimony after he was arrested in Jerusalem.

Acts 22: 4-5 I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as also the high priest and all the Council can testify. I even obtained letters from them to their brothers in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

Now I know what someone may be thinking. "Well, I'm not that bad! I've never done any of those kinds of things! This doesn't apply to me!" But here's a question for us…Have we not been guilty of sometimes putting ourselves ahead of others at work, at school, at home? Is it sometimes not more about me than it should be? Of course it is! Let's be honest. And until we become givers rather than takers in life, we're going to continue to live for self and by the "what's in it for me" attitude. But when you understand the word give from a Godly perspective, you realize that the very act of creation was an act of giving to us by a loving God and He created us to be givers. When Paul met Christ, everything changed. Listen to how he describes it in Phil. 3:4-11.

Phil. 3:4-11... If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

What a powerful testimony Paul had. But he had to come to a point in his life where he was willing to give! Give what? His very life to Christ. Which he did and wow did God give back to Paul. He may not have owned a lot of stuff, but he sure had a bunch of dear brothers and sisters in Christ and he had a personal relationship with God through Christ! And he lived with such a passionate purpose!
What are you living for? Are you willing to lay down everything at the feet of Christ and trust Him to let you keep the things you need and to get rid of the things that are preventing you from really living! When you lay something at His feet, and He says pick it back up, then that means He's okay with you having it or it means He's going to use it in your life for something good! And the freedom that comes from not being driven by material things is amazing. What was profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ! Paul said knowing Christ surpassed anything this world had to offer! He considered the things he once thought most important as rubbish, trash, garbage!

And Paul shows us by example that committing everything to God is not just about things. It's also about relationships, careers, etc. Paul committed the people of the churches he had grown to love to God. He prayed for them and they prayed for him. Are you willing to commit your relationships to God? Your spouse, boy friend, girl friend? Your children? Your friends? Your career? I realize it takes trust to do this! Trust that God wants what's best for you. That's a big leap of faith for many, but it's so worth the leap! Paul then gives us another important concept of living a life of giving...

Consume the Word
of His grace!

Acts 20:32 “Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

And what is the word of His grace? Well, God's grace is God's gift to us! Grace is what we call it when a Holy God gives His love, His forgiveness, His mercy and His friendship to a bunch of sinners like me and you! People who have learned the secret of giving learned it because they were recipients of God's gifts. Let me give you an example of God's Word of grace…

Romans 3:21-24 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

How does this help me live a life of giving? I've been forgiven, I can give forgiveness! I've been given a righteousness I didn't earn and don't deserve so I can give that good news to others and let them know the same grace is available to them as well!
Paul said the word of grace builds up and gives you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. What is the word sanctified? Let me put it to you like this: Justified is what happens when we receive the word of grace about Jesus going to the Cross for us and we then ask Him to forgive us and to cleanse us. When we ask God to justify us, He does and we know that we are saved by His grace, not because of good things we've done, but because of the perfect life of Jesus and then His death!

Justification is a one and done. You're saved by grace and you stay saved by grace! Sanctification, on the other hand, is the process of allowing God's word of grace to change the way we live our lives. It is the process of becoming more like Jesus Christ in attitude and action! It is not a one and done, it is a lifetime of spiritual growth. Some grow quicker, some are a bit slower. Don't judge!

So when we give our lives to Christ, He gives us justification and begins the process of sanctification, helping us become the men and women God created us to be! I love the way Paul put it to the Philippians.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

And what is God's good purpose? He wants to build you up. And the way He builds you up, is by helping you become more like Jesus! Why become more like Jesus? Some might think God just wants cookie cutter people who are clones. That's not it! God made you with a unique personality and unique giftedness! He wants me to be me and for you to be you, but in a Christ-like way! This way we can all be different as God made us, but we can be the same in loving, caring, helping, forgiving, serving and giving!
Paul then gives us a third concept of living a life of giving...

Carry Your Responsibilities!

Acts 20:33-34 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

Sometimes the best way to give is to do your part so others don't have to take up your slack. This is true in marriage, family, work, and church! Some of the most discouraging times in my life have been when others were capable, but were unwilling to carry their responsibilities. I was at a little inner city church in Nashville and I loved the folks there.
Someone told me something one day. It was meant as a compliment. He said, "You're the hardest working little preacher we've ever had!" I said thank you, but I was thinking, "Thanks, but I could sure use a little help!"

Sometimes folks are very willing to sit back and watch others do the work! Doing your part is giving; It may not be obvious but it is!

Paul put it this way to Titus...

Titus 3:8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

And then to the Galatians...

Galatians 6:4-5 Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

If there's a reason you can't do your part, like a medical issue or unusual circumstance, that's where the family of God should come in and help. Paul mentions this when he says we should be willing to carry another's burden if they are weak. It's here that Paul quotes Jesus and gives us our final concept for living a life of giving.

It's More Blessed To Give!

Acts 20: 35-36 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.

How can it be more blessed to give than to receive? How is that possible? Well, it begins with a change of heart! It begins with a new motivation. If life is all about you, then you're going to naturally enjoy receiving more than giving, but that kind of joy will be short lived and will never approach the joy that comes to a person when they have learned to be a cheerful giver.

When you realize that through your gift, whether it be a gift of money, a gift of time, a gift of talent, or a gift of service and help, through your gift, a life is changed, a spirit is lifted, a child is fed, a person decides to live instead of checking out, and the list goes on and on! As I've said before, I've gotten a lot of Birthday gifts and Christmas presents down through the years, and I remember a few! But I've forgotten more than I remember. However, when it comes to the times I've been able to help someone by giving, wow, those times really stand out years after the fact! And here's the funny thing, you really can't out give God! This concept was mentioned by David in Psalm 37:25-26...

Psalm 37:25-26 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.

Even in a place like Haiti where our team is today, I've seen how God takes care of those who are willing to share! Here's an important thing to remember, God wants us to share and to give not because it's some kind of legalistic formula for being blessed. It's not some kind of "give to get" magic. No! It's giving because the need is there and you care. If you get nothing in return, it's okay.

Don't get me wrong, He will bless you, but that doesn't mean you're going to get four times your money back. Scripture teaches that God will meet your needs and give you enough extra to be generous to others. But if you don't get a big financial return on your giving, listen...

Your return may be the gratitude from a hurting person who found hope in life because someone really cared, and that should be okay!! Listen to the words of this song...
"Life is but a vapor soon it vanishes away
We don't even have promised another single day, and life is like a river that flows into the sea, everyone has an appointment with eternity
so don't live your life so selfishly
storing up treasures you'll have to leave eventually, You can't take it with you so let go and you'll be free
If you're living your life for Jesus, there'll be rewards that will last
but so many will have nothing to show for their past,
Caring for others is what He said we should do
obedience in this will let His light shine through
so don't live your life so selfishly
storing up treasures you'll have to leave eventually
You can't take it with you so let go and you'll be free
Don't let real life pass you by no
Don't let real life pass you by
Now when you've helped a little one, in the name of Jesus Christ
The smile upon it's face will make it worth the sacrifice
Life is but a vapor soon it vanishes away
We don't even have promised another single day
and life is like a river that flows into the sea, everyone has an appointment with eternity
What is life, it is but a vapor, it appears for a moment and then it vanishes away.

Copyright Mc's Manna Music

I had a mentor named Bo Henderson. He was a dear friend of mine. He and his wife raised over 19 foster children. He was a Christian counselor and teacher. He spoke at my youth camps when I was a young man and then when I became a youth pastor, I had him come and speak to my youth. When he passed away a few years ago, he didn't have much in the way of material things. He had given most of everything he ever made away! But boy was he rich in Christ! Over a thousand folks attended his memorial in Pleasant Grove, Alabama and then over a thousand more attended his memorial in Shreveport, LA. He had preached a sermon, I think the name of it was "What's most important when you die?" Or “What I would hope they could say at my funeral.” They played a recording of the message at his funeral. So he kind of preached his own funeral.

Now I have a question for you. How many people are remembered fondly because they died having accumulated a bunch of stuff!
But I can tell you this…Bo followed Jesus' advice in Matthew's gospel...

Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

And Paul taught this...

2 Corinthians 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

I'm not saying, nor do I believe God's Word instructs us that it is wrong to own anything and that we have to give everything away! It doesn't. However, we need to remember that while it's not bad to receive things, it truly is more blessed to give than to receive.

For Paul, the fact that God had given him a second chance and forgiveness for the terrible things he had done to others, Paul became a cheerful giver. He dedicated his life to giving away the same grace he had been given! Listen to what he said in Acts 20:24

Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me —the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

I'll close with the words to this song...

Just give me another day to bring glory to You and I will, yes I will.
Even though at times I'm tempted to steal it away,
just give me another day and to You I'll give the praise, yes I will.
Just give me another day to share Your love with someone and I will, yes I will.
As busy as I am I could just pass them right on by,
but just give me another day, I'll stop to listen to their cries, yes, I will.
Another day to live another day to give, I don't want to wast it I don't want to lose it,
so I'll just let Him use it, that way I can keep it and that way I can take it into eternity.
Just give me another day to serve someone in need and I will, yes I will.
Self centered as I can be, when I know it's gonna cost me just give me another day,
 I'll meet a need along the way. Yes I will.
Copyright Mc's Manna Music
Let's pray!