Generosity: What is it? What is it not? The opposite. The counterfeit.

WHAT IS IT?
John.12:3 “Mary took a pound of very costly oil of Spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil”.

· Generosity is unlimited – you choose how generous you are.
· Generosity that is extravagant is like a sweet fragrance – very noticeable.
· Generosity flows out of a heart of gratitude – Mary was grateful Lazarus is alive.
· Generosity exposes greed. Judas: “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor”.
· Generosity is rewarded in unexpected ways (Matthew.26:13 – I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”).

tzedakah-generosity.jpg

Generosity is a lifestyle. The concept of living by ‘Tzedakah’ ( צדקה ) continues to this day in Judaism, it is a lifestyle and a way of living that would have been familiar to the culture at Jesus’ time. The Hebrew word ‘Tzedakah’ is translated in the bible as ‘Generosity’. It is derived from the word ‘Tzedek’ ( צדק‬ ) which is translated as ‘Righteousness’, ‘Tzedakah’ literally means ‘Righteousness Revealed’.

Tzedakah is the responsibility to give aid, assistance and money to the poor and needy, or to worthwhile causes particularly those with no means of repaying. Tzedakah means being good stewards of and planning to give a portion of one’s personal substance for the common good. Although it is related to charity, the translation of Tzedakah is broader than the definition of charity. Charity suggests benevolence and generosity, an act of the powerful and wealthy for the benefit of the poor and needy. Tzedakah is derived from the Hebrew language and means righteousness, fairness or justice. In Judaism, giving to the poor is not viewed as a generous act; it is simply an act of justice, the performance of a duty, giving the poor their due. It is the right thing to do.

Generosity operates from a place of God’s provision and faithfulness rather than a sense of lack or poverty. Cheerful giving is spontaneous and non-reluctant and is performed by someone who is won over and satisfied. Generosity, especially to the poor is the Practical Expression of being Right with God. It isn’t just about money; Jesus speaks about being generous with mercy, grace and forgiveness as well as with our resources.

Matthew 5:6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
·
1 John 3:17Whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?”

WHAT PRAISE IS NOT! THE OPPOSITE OF GENEROSITY
• Mean – a shut hand.
• Selfish
• Unkind
• Greedy
• Inconsiderate
• Stinginess
• Lack – a Poverty mind-set.
• Covetous
• Hard Hearted

Don't let your left hand know

THE COUNTERFEIT OF GENEROSITY

• Giving gifts with strings attached is not honour. It’s manipulation.
• Selfish agenda, giving just to receive a blessing. God’s desire is for us to love being a giver, being generous without an agenda. There is no evidence of grace (true generosity) when we give with an agenda.
• Giving to receive attention or to be a hero.
• Reluctant giving or giving under compulsion. 2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

 

“All [God’s] gifts point us back to him. Or at least that’s how it should work. The gift should cause us to love and worship the giver more deeply. But all too easily God’s gifts to us end up being His greatest competition.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a parent out shopping for a present to give your child. You’ve heard him talking, in tones of awe, about the latest gaming console. You see it at the store, and the thought of the smile on his face puts a smile on yours. It’s not inexpensive; in fact it’s somewhat of a sacrifice. But you want the best for your child.

When you get home and present the gift, your child offers a shout, a tight hug, and a dozen frenzied thank-yous. It was worth every penny for this moment. You stop by his room a couple of times and watch him setting it up and playing it with utter concentration. You ask him a question about the game, and he says, “Wait–can’t talk,” and then seems to forget you’re there.

Later you ask him to go out to dinner with the family, and but he begs off, wanting only to stay and play with his new game. Later on he starts to tell you about the add-ons and games his friends have, arguing that their version is much better than his. Not only do you not see him as much as before, but he seems less content and happy than before you bought this console. How could such a nice gift go so wrong?

It happened because the gift became more important than the giver. The beauty was not meant to be so much in the thing itself, but the love that brought it about.” Karl Idleman

Generous Person’s Prayer – Shane Willard
Give me seed for sowing; Give me the discernment to know what is seed and what is fruit.
Give me the courage to sow my seed and the grace to eat my fruit without feeling guilty.

 

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Generosity: Where to start. Practices to begin with

The Promise of Life
Because life is a gift, we live thankfully,
Savour what we have, pray for what we need.
No longer hurried, distracted or worried,
We’ll walk through each moment with God.
Because everything is a gift, we live with open hands,
Tread lightly on the earth, Share freely our homes and our things.
No longer restlessly chasing identity,
We’ll be known by our love, not our logos.
Because giving is a gift, we live generously.
Give ourselves deeply to family and community,
Give joyfully to those in need.
No longer caught in the consumer dream,
We’ll invest in the kingdom of love.

What do you have to be generous with? Consider your Three T’s
1. Time.
2. Talent.
3. Treasure.

Generosity in giving helps us to shift focus from ourselves to the needs of others and the kingdom. It can be deeply satisfying and can even make us cheerful!

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God – the rest will be given.” Mother Teresa

Matthew 5:23-4 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice[h] at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.

Teaching about Giving to the Needy

Matthew 6:1-4Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven. 2 When you give to someone in need, don’t do as the hypocrites do—blowing trumpets in the synagogues and streets to call attention to their acts of charity! I tell you the truth, they have received all the reward they will ever get. 3 But when you give to someone in need, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. 4 Give your gifts in private, and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Matthew 6:31-34So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[e] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Give as decided

PRACTICAL WAYS TO BEGIN
1. Reflect on God’s generosity. Trust God to provide your needs. Trust Him to keep His promises.
2. Seek first the kingdom of God. What does this look like for you? Your time? Your talents? Your treasure? Where are you quietly angry when you are not noticed?
3. Prepare to be generous. Generosity is a Lifestyle. Set aside your first fruits for God – tithe.
· God intends that generosity overflow from our life continually particularly to those who cannot repay.
· Generosity is both intentional (you plan it) and spontaneous.
· Plan to set aside a portion intentionally so have provision to give.
4. Let your motivation be justice, gratitude and doing the right thing. Not charity. Be cheerful in your generosity, park reluctance.
5. Don’t let your left hand know what your right is doing. Give in private to those in need. Remember the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. Both at home and abroad.
6. Look for opportunities. Child sponsorship. Food bank. Helping hands. Look out for the thirsty, hungry, lonely, the stranger (invite them in), those that need clothes, care for the sick and visit those in prison. Keep attention even if it is just to give a glass of water. Matthew 10:42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded.”
7. Accept generosity from others when it comes your way.  Give without remembering and receive without forgetting.

Week 4: Generosity of Giving : Atawhai – Why Be Generous?

st_basilIn all of my years of service to my Lord, I have discovered a truth that has never failed and has never been compromised. That truth is that it is beyond the realm of possibilities that one has the ability to out-give God. Even if I give the whole of my worth to Him, He will find a way to give back to me much more than I gave.  Charles Spurgeon

God is generous towards us – He is generous in His character.  God has given so much to us. What we have has always been his. God is generous in his character. We could never out give him. Kindness righteousness and goodness are part of his generosity.

 

  • John 3:16. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God so loved the world that he gave.

 

  • Psalm 23:5-6 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honour me by anointing my head with oil.  My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

 

God has made us right with Him.  Generosity is an outworking of our righteousness – it brings honour to His name and demonstrates our faith in Him.  Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom of righteousness. Generosity lifts others up. A sense of justice and balance. Equality.

Sharing with others.  Satisfying.  He provides richly to us and expects us to be generous with our lifestyle.

 

  • 2 Corinthians 9:10-15 In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!

 

  • Psalm 112 Praise the Lord!  How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly.  They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.  They will have influence and honour. 10 The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

 

Your treasure is where your heart is.

He is able to provide all our needs. We need to be motivated by God who will always provide enough.

 

  • Matthew 6:21 …store up your treasures in heaven. Where moth and rust cannot destroy. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. What do you love?

 

  • 1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

 

It is important and pleasing to God. The book of Malachi teaches about what God thinks of giving when He calls out His people for short changing Him.   God invites His people to test Him by bringing the full tithe. It honours God. His name is great.

 

  • Malachi 3. 6-15 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant

 

Hebrews 13:16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

Friday: Worship: SHIFT YOUR FOCUS

“In happy moments, PRAISE GOD. In difficult moments, SEEK GOD. In quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD. In painful moments, TRUST GOD. Every moment, THANK GOD.” – Rick Warren

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Daniel 2:19-23 That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven. 20 He said,
“Praise the name of God forever and ever, for he has all wisdom and power.
21 He controls the course of world events; he removes kings and sets up other kings.
He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars.
22 He reveals deep and mysterious things and knows what lies hidden in darkness, though he is surrounded by light.
23 I thank and praise you, God of my ancestors, for you have given me wisdom and strength.
You have told me what we asked of you and revealed to us what the king demanded.”

Worship – Rick Warren

It is important to understand that worship is much more than just music. There are thousands of ways to worship. Anytime I turn my attention to God, that’s worship. When I express my love to God, that’s worship. You don’t have to be in church to worship.

When you worship God, you move your focus off of your problem and onto God.
The Bible says of Daniel, “That night the secret was revealed to Daniel in a vision. Then Daniel praised the God of heaven” (Daniel 2:19 NLT).
The passage shows you how to worship God in the midst of a crisis. Specifically, Daniel did three things.

· He praised God for who he is. (v. 20)

· He honoured God for what he does. (v. 21-22)

· He thanked God for his help. (v. 23)

That’s worship. Do that and you’ll move the focus off of you and your problems, and put it on God.
And he’s always where our focus should be.

Psalm 95
1 Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
3 For the LORD is a great God, a great King above all gods.
4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains.
5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too.
6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker,
7 for he is our God.
We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.
If only you would listen to his voice today!

Thursday: Worship: The Example of Jesus

John 4:21- 26  Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”

25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

26 Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!

 

Jesus observed that the Samaritans worshiped in spirit without truth. They had been enthusiastic in their worship but had been distracted by a number of ‘other’ God’s.  They had blended truth with error, righteousness with unrighteousness.

The Jews on the other hand worshipped in truth without spirit. They were whitewashed tombs, they held to a truth but did not have life. Their worship was dead and wooden.

Earth's crammed with heaven keeper

Worship By Oswald Chambers

He moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. —Genesis 12:8 Worship is giving God the best that He has given you. Be careful what you do with the best you have. Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love-gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard it for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded (see Exodus 16:20). God will never allow you to keep a spiritual blessing completely for yourself. It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing to others.

Bethel is the symbol of fellowship with God; Ai is the symbol of the world. Abram “pitched his tent” between the two. The lasting value of our public service for God is measured by the depth of the intimacy of our private times of fellowship and oneness with Him. Rushing in and out of worship is wrong every time— there is always plenty of time to worship God. Days set apart for quiet can be a trap, detracting from the need to have daily quiet time with God. That is why we must “pitch our tents” where we will always have quiet times with Him, however noisy our times with the world may be. There are not three levels of spiritual life— worship, waiting, and work. Yet some of us seem to jump like spiritual frogs from worship to waiting, and from waiting to work. God’s idea is that the three should go together as one. They were always together in the life of our Lord and in perfect harmony. It is a discipline that must be developed; it will not happen overnight.

The truth is we have nothing to fear and nothing to overcome because He is all in all and we are more than conquerors through Him. The recognition of this truth is not flattering to the worker’s sense of heroics, but it is amazingly glorifying to the work of Christ.
 

Wednesday: Worship: What is it? What is it not? The opposite. The counterfeit.

WHAT IS IT? –
“There are no unique postures and times and limitations that restrict our access to God. My relationship with God is intimate and personal. The Christian does not go to the temple to worship. The Christian takes the temple with him or her. Jesus lifts us beyond the building and pays the human body the highest compliment by making it His dwelling place, the place where He meets with us.” Ravi Zacharias

Worship can be defined as ‘worth ship’, in the bible it is translated from a word which means “kiss towards”.

Worship is an opportunity to encounter God. Where he can speak to each one of us and send us out into our calling to change the world. I am a new creation. Worship is the created catching a glimpse of the creator and then responding. It is the human spirit which engages with God in worship. God is in the business of self-revelation.

Worship is seeking after God as your King and God revealing Himself to you in the process. It is submission to God of your of mind, body and will. I will be what you call me to be. I will do what you call me to do. I will go where you call me to go. Ultimately it is living out your calling and in doing so bringing glory to God.

True worship is genuine and real, it has a heart dimension. God desires worshippers in spirit and in truth. It results in a sacrificial lifestyle.

God has changed the world through people just like you.

  • Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.
  • Romans 12: 1-2 (NLT) And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. 2 Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Defining the differences between thanks and praise and between praise and worship.
• We thank God for his goodness
• We praise God for his greatness
• We worship God for his holiness
Thanksgiving and Praise are utterances from the mouth. Worship is an attitude of the heart.

Here I am_Isaiah-6-8

WHAT WORSHIP IS NOT! THE OPPOSITE OF WORSHIP
• Condemnation
• Criticism
• Dishonour
• Dislike
• Disregard
• Disrespect
• Hate
• Humiliation
• Scorn

THE COUNTERFEIT OF WORSHIP
• Multi-tasking, distracted worship.
• Apathetic Worship – an external experience with no heart – ‘…no worship is better than apathetic worship’ Francis Chan
• Insincerity – phony or pretend worship. An empty ritual.
• Tolerating God – I sometimes struggle with how to properly respond to God’s magnitude in a world bent on ignoring or merely tolerating Him. But know this: God will not be tolerated. He instructs us to worship and fear Him. Francis Chan.

Worship: Tim Keller

Not everything we feel Sunday morning can be labelled true worship. Several emotions can be mistakenly associated with true worship.

Nostalgia. Some people are moved to tears by listening to “The Old Rugged Cross” and others by “The Wind Beneath My Wings.” But those feelings are not necessarily worship. They could also be merely a sentimental connection; the song reminds people of a warm memory. This is one reason why people will say, “I can’t worship if I don’t sit in my pew,” or “I can’t worship because you rearranged the furniture,” or “I can’t worship if I don’t know the hymns.”

That’s nostalgia, a fond sentiment that people often need because everything else in life is changing. But that feeling isn’t worship, and there is no resulting impact on their whole lives.

Conscience clearing. Some people feel guilty because they haven’t gone to church for a while, or they haven’t been praying, or whatever. So because they’re in church, singing a hymn and putting something in the offering plate, they feel better. Their consciences are clear. Perhaps that feeling is better than the sentimental feeling, but it’s still not worship.

Aesthetic experiences. Other people may have only an aesthetic experience, which is still not worship. Even people hostile to the gospel can weep while listening to Handel’s Messiah. C. S. Lewis said that his imagination was baptized when he was still an atheist because of excellent Christian art.

Our emotions become a legitimate part of worship when, in response to a truth about God, we give something back to God: our money, our sin, our praise. Again, the three elements must be there: mind, will, emotion.

As it relates to worship, I’d rather use the word moved than the word emotion. If we don’t find that our affections have been moved from earthly idols toward God, we haven’t worshiped. Our affections are more than just our emotions.

Some of us, myself included, are not emotionally expressive. That’s just who I am. However, if I leave Sunday morning having had no emotional connection whatsoever, I haven’t worshiped. I must allow my heart to be touched to worship.

Tuesday: Worship: Where to start. Practices to begin with

I need to worship because without it I can forget that I have a big God beside me and live in fear. I need to worship because without it I can forget His calling and begin to live in a spirit of self-preoccupation. I need to worship because without it I lose a sense of wonder and gratitude and plod through life with blinders on. I need worship because my natural tendency is toward self-reliance and stubborn independence. John Ortberg

37649-John-Piper-Quote-God-is-most-glorified-in-us-when-we-are-most

  • Isaiah 6:1-8 (NLT) It was in the year King Uzziah died[a] that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. 2 Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 They were calling out to each other,  “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!”
    4 Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
    5 Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.”
    6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”
    8 Then I heard the Lord asking, “Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?”
    I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

PRACTICAL WAYS TO BEGIN
1. Turn your full attention towards God. Hold the multi-tasking.
2. Express your love towards Him.
3. What does God want to reveal to you about Himself? Ask Him! Consider the fruit of the Spirit if you need a starting point. ‘Nothing teaches us about the preciousness of the Creator as much as when we learn the emptiness of everything else’ Charles Spurgeon.
4. What is God calling you towards? Give God some room.  What passions has He placed in you? What brings you the greatest satisfaction? What brings you greatest challenge? What steps can you take towards your calling? Place your dreams in His hands.
5. God desires worship in Spirit and Truth – What can you do to pursue Spirit? What can you do to pursue Truth? Prioritise your alone time with God. Prioritise meeting up with other believers regularly.
6. Involve God in your day. Your thoughts, your work, your alone time, your boring times and your busy times. ‘Work becomes worship when you dedicate it to God and perform it with an awareness of His presence’ Rick Warren