Summary: Part 4 of 5

“Blueprints: A Study in 2 Corinthians”

Part 4 – Cost of Living

NewSong Church – 08/24/08

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:: Background [s.1]

2 Corinthians 8-9 // Teachings on Dedication and Endurance

Galations 6:9 [s.2]

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.”

2 Corinthians 8:1-2 [s.3]

Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.

• The churches in Macedonia were made up of believers in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea. Life had been very difficult for the believers in those cities.

• What God has done in his kindness: translated “grace.” Paul does not credit the Macedonian church for their giving – he credits God working through them

• One theologian stated it this way: “Their giving was not of themselves naturally, but of God’s grace given to them, enabling them to be the extension of God’s “grace” to others.”

• Grace allowed the believers to experience God’s work and power within their extremely difficult situation:

o Poverty: ptocheia (pto-khi’-ah) beggary, indigence – their need was real

o Joy: chara (khar-ah’) cheerfulness, calm delight, gladness – their joy was evident

• This was not a superficial joy that tried to gloss over the pain of a difficult situation. This joy is not about “making the best of it” or “staying optimistic” or anything clichéd.

• This is a joy produced by God working in our lives – not necessarily expressed through happiness or smiles, but with an understanding that our trust and hope are in God, that he will be faithful to us regardless of our situation.

• When the doctors say, “It’s cancer.” When your husband tells you he’s had an affair. When you find your teenager comes home high or drunk or both. When you get laid off because your company is downsizing. When your questions about life remain unanswered. Whenever we ask that question “Why?” God is there, and his grace is real and powerful and will give us joy.

• Joy that provides us with peace, and strength and trust and hope and faith. Joy that doesn’t necessarily provide all the answers but allows us to endure our difficulties and then share grace with others.

** Where do we need to experience joy in our lives? **

:: Grace, Joy, and Generosity

• This God-work fills them with abundant joy, which overflows in rich generosity.

• There are three principles at work here that we can examine our lives by: [s.4-6]

o Working of God’s Grace – completely not of us or our ability

o Filling with Abundant Joy – we would usually stop here. I have experienced many problems and difficulties, but God is with me, his joy has filled me, and that’s that.

o Overflowing in Rich Generosity – when God is working in our lives, it not only blesses us, it blesses those around us because we are sharing God’s grace and blessing with them.

• Beautiful contrast: their poverty did not produce limited gifts but overflowing, rich generosity.

• 2 of the 3 principles at work in our lives is not enough – we need all three to be present, otherwise we miss out on what God is trying to accomplish in and through us:

o Grace + Joy – Generosity = Looking out for our own interest

o Grace + Generosity – Joy = Eventually will tire us out, resentment

o Joy + Generosity – Grace = Relies on our own ability and resources

2 Corinthians 8:3-5 [s.7]

For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.

• “Not only what they could afford, but far more” – When our generosity and giving is based out joy as a result of God’s grace, God is able to take what we give and multiply it, increase it and do far more than we ever could on our own.

• “Of their own free will” – when we feel forced to do something, we often do not experience joy; instead we become frustrated and resentful. However, when we give out of a desire to help someone, or to share blessing with someone, we experience joy and happiness.

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