Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: You can sum life in two words: faithfulness and fruitfulness. Every day we need to get up and say, “Lord, help me to be purely faithful that I may maximize my fruitfulness for your purpose.” Life is about being faithful and fruitful for the Lord

Empowered for Kingdom Lifestyles

II Corinthians 8:1-12

I can sum life in two words: faithfulness and fruitfulness. Every day we need to get up and say, “Lord, help me to be purely faithful that I may maximize my fruitfulness for your purpose.” Life is about being faithful and fruitful for the Lord. Most folks have mastered busyness in their lives but busyness doesn’t mean anything if you are not fruitful for God’s purpose. So we should always be striving to be fruitful for God’s purpose.

What can you do beyond your job to maximize your fruitfulness with the gifts, the knowledge and the resources God has given you? One primary way we can make a difference for Jesus Christ and advance his mission of expanding the kingdom of God is through financial resources. And the only place we are going to get those resources is from your pocket and mine. You as the body of Christ become the means and the conduit through which God delivers the resources of heaven to the needs of people on earth. You are the only bank account God has. You are the only hands and feet, the only skill set and the only resources God has to build the kingdom of God. But it starts with you. Jesus calls it binding and loosing. Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.

In our Scripture today, we find four principles of giving. Paul writes of Macedonia which was a poor area in a Gentile country in Asia Minor. The area included the churches at Phillipi, Thessalonica, and Berea. These people living very modestly and from a human perspective, it had limited resources. Yet God increased their fruitfulness because of their faithfulness. In their poverty and limited resources, this church in their faithfulness reached out to the Jewish church in Jerusalem which was starving to death in the midst of famine. First is the law of faith. The Law of Faith (vs.5,7a) is the belief that everything is possible through faith. In fact, God uses finances to test us all the time. Have you ever had to make decision whether to but that new outfit or give a tithe? This is a test. God is testing you to see how much you trust him, how much you believe. There are two ways to give: You can give by faith, or you can give by fear. Giving by fear is when you say, "How much can I afford to give?". Giving by faith is when you say, "How much does God want me to give?" This is exactly what the Macedonians did. We give because we trust God that he will provide our needs. Our attitude is to put God first and believe that all things will be added.

The first verse reads, “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.” Grace is a gift, you don’t earn it but it is given to you even though you haven’t earned it or you don’t deserve it. The grace he refers to is a clear reference to the opportunity to give of their money to the work of God. God has given you the opportunity to give to a cause greater than any other on the face of the earth. When you give to God and his work, you give to a cause whose work is greater than you and will leave a legacy that will last forever, the building of the kingdom of God.

The second is the law of miraculous increase. Verse 2 says, Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” It’s out of the most severe trials of life that God is most active. And even in severe poverty, you don’t become a damn where God’s resources pile up but a channel through which God’s blessings flow. It’s in the poverty of the Macedonian church and their faithfulness that we see the law of miraculous increase because they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. In other words, they didn’t give what they thought they could afford, they gave what God called them to give. Too often in our lives, we think we can’t afford to give extravagantly when in reality if we want God to work most powerfully in our lives, we can’t afford not to give sacrificially and extravagantly. Do you know who the most generous Americans are? Research indicates that the weakest givers are those with incomes between $40,000 and $100,000 per year. The highest percentage of income given or the most sacrificial gifts were from those who make more who make less than $20,000. The most generous people are those who make the least. Kind of reminds you of the story of the widow who gave her last two coins, doesn’t it?

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