Summary: This sermon examines the priorities of wholehearted commitment.
For the next four Sundays I plan to preach a new series of sermons, which I have titled, Wholehearted Generosity.
Now, what is “wholehearted generosity”?
Wholehearted is defined as “completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic; marked by complete earnest commitment; free from all reserve or hesitation.” Related words include “ardent, fervent, impassioned, passionate; earnest, serious; authentic, bona fide, genuine.”
Recently, I attended a Walk Thru the Bible Old Testament seminar. Some of you may have attended one of those seminars. It is a helpful seminar in which one learns an overview of the entire Old Testament in about 5 hours. The seminar is highly interactive using key words and hand signs to help with the learning process.
During the seminar students learn about the first three kings of Israel: Saul, David, and Solomon. Each king is described in terms of his heart attitude and relationship to God: Saul has “no heart” for God, David has a “whole heart” for God, and Solomon has a “half heart” for God. Now, how would you want to be described? Clearly, you would want to be described as “whole heart.”
Generosity of course refers to “the quality or fact of being generous.” It has to do with liberality in giving.
Thus, “wholehearted generosity” refers to a person who is completely and sincerely generous.
And wholehearted generosity begins with wholehearted commitment. And that is where we will begin our series today: “Wholehearted Commitment.”
My favorite character in the Bible is the apostle Paul. Few people in the Bible illustrate wholehearted commitment as well as the apostle Paul. Today’s message is an exposition of wholehearted commitment in the life of the apostle Paul rather than an exposition of a text. Let me begin by reading you the account of Paul’s conversion as it is given to us in Acts 9:1-20.
Let us read Acts 9:1-20:
1But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” 7The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” 11And the Lord said to him, “Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, 12and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” 13But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. 14And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name.” 15But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. 16For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 17So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 18And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized; 19and taking food, he was strengthened.
For some days he was with the disciples at Damascus. 20And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” (Acts 9:1-20)
“I have seen the most horrible things, but I have met people who are still full of faith in spite of what they have endured.”
That was the opening statement to a gathering of leaders and supporters of Samaritan’s Purse, the organization led by Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham. The speaker was Matt Nowery, who serves with Samaritan’s Purse in Sudan, the most dangerous place in Africa and perhaps the entire world.