Summary: This is a Stewardship Sermon Based On The Giving Of The Macedonian Churches in 2 Corinthians.
God’s Mercy Endures Forever
04/6/2001 Text 2 Corin 8:1-9 Eccl. 11:1-6, Act 4:31- 37 Stewardship Sunday
Let’s suppose for a moment that you came to a fork in the road in the path of life and you had to choose a path to go down. On one side of the road was a sign pointing saying the road to receive blessings and the other side said the road to be a blessing. Which road would you prefer going down? Think for a moment, which road would probably lead to the deepest friendships, the sincerest love, the greatest peace, and the greatest challenges in life. Think which will make you more like Christ.
Will you take the road of blessings or the road of chance to be a blessing? Blessings are nice, but if we spend most of our time receiving and collecting, we will die things rich and relationships poor. That includes our relationship to family, to people and most important of all to God.
Today is Stewardship Sunday Part III of God’s Mercy Endures Forever. We are going to look at a group of churches that were more interested in being a blessing than they were in being blessed. The churches are the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea in Macedonia. They were churches which believed God’s mercy endures forever. They had learned of a severe famine going on in the mother church of Jerusalem. People were on the verge of starvation, some dying. It was their desire to be a blessing to the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. They felt such a gratitude and love for God in sending missionaries from Jerusalem, that they wanted to give back something.
The Corinthian church is being challenged by Paul to act as the Macedonian churches had. The Corinthian church was a very powerful an eloquent church in words, but very weak and slow to action when it came to giving. Our text this morning is 2 Corinthians 8. Let’s start at verse 1. And now brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given to the Macedonian churches. What Paul is saying, let me tell you how God is greatly enriching the believers in the Macedonian churches. They have discovered God’s mercy endures forever.
Out of the most severe trials. Now severe trials may not sound like blessings, grace or enrichment but they are a part of God’s mercy. The Macedonian churches had been under heavy persecution. Some had been beaten, some arrested, some kicked out of the synagogues and some had lost all their earthly possessions because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
Somehow God has designed for our trials to go hand in hand with his mercy. God gives us more mercy in trials, because we need it more. There’s something about a trial that will enrich our faith in the way a blessing never could. Why is it the parent who has nearly lost a child to death through an illness, that truly appreciates the good health God gives to that child.
Out of their overflowing joy. Somehow in the middle of all the sorrow, the hurt, and the loss, the Macedonians found an overflowing joy. Their joy was not in their possessions, but in knowing Jesus Christ They knew what a privilege and honor it was to be chosen by Almighty God and be an instrument in his hand. How strange it is, that we accumulate more and more things and comforts, and yet in the process so often lose the closeness we once enjoyed in our families, friends, and even church. When Jesus is first, people are first in our lives and being there for them is more important than simply getting them things.
Out of their extreme poverty. These were poor churches made up of poor people who were experiencing God’s mercy. They were the ones looked upon with scorn and ridicule. The working poor. But their condition in this life, did not hinder them from wanting to be a blessing to someone else. You don’t have to be rich to be a blessing to everyone you meet. You simply have to be willing.
Welled up in rich generosity. Let’s do a simple course in addition. Trials plus poverty plus knowing Jesus Christ equals rich generosity. If that is the case why does good times plus money plus knowing Jesus Christ equals not enough money to even tithe. You know the church that’s in financial trouble with members with good jobs needs to pray, "Lord send everyone of them some trials, and let them start to lose some of the things that they have so they can be liberated to serve you."
The Macedonians were people who had every good reason not to give much, if to give anything at all. They were poor, persecuted, and small in numbers. But they had a love for Jesus Christ that made them rich in heart, big in generosity, and large in their desire to show their appreciation for what God had done for them. They could not thank God enough for what he had done.