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Summary: Thankfulness, Ministry to Others, Obedience

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CULTIVATING A GENEROUS HEART - Overflowing Thanks to God

2 Corinthians 9:12-14 (p. 807) July 23, 2017

Introduction:

It took 18 people 10 days to construct…It involved a quarter of a million dominoes…and it set a Guinness World Record for the most dominoes toppled in the United States. (Watch)

SHOW DOMINO VIDEO

I believe when we cultivate a generous heart for Jesus we become a lot like these dominoes.

The Apostle Paul says, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

In other words…when you gave, it not only helped those you intended to help…it became like a chain of dominoes in regards to people, thanking God, that you didn't know…It spurred others on to want to give of themselves.

[At a Starbucks in Cordora California one person paid for the order of the person behind them in the drive through…and then for the next 4 1/2 hours this pay it forward generosity continued until it was broken.]

I think this is exactly what happens when people give and sacrifice generously. Like dominoes of grace it topples forward and spurs others on to think about others…it’s an avalanch of joy… “It truly is more blessed to give than to receive” when you drive away with that stupid smile on your face anticipating what the person behind you will feel when they receive the gift…It’s better than the free cup of coffee you received.

It’s this attitude that is so Christlike and it’s this attitude that cultivates a generous heart…It’s this attitude that makes us cheerful givers…whether it’s our tithe…or a special gift for someone in need.

I. IF OBEDIENCE DOESN’T ACCOMPANY CONFESSION IT’S NOT THE GOSPEL

How would you feel if you were really hungry and someone came and told you “I’m going to bring you a wonderful meal…fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, banana cream pie…I’ll get it to you by this evening.

5 o’clock rolls around, then 6, and 7…nothing. The next day you see them and they say “Oh…I’m so sorry, I forgot all about it…I got really busy with other stuff.

I don’t care how godly you are, you’re going to feel disappointed and have some ill feelings toward the one who promised you something good and then didn’t deliver.

The Gospel isn’t Good News because God said I’m going to send my son as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of all mankind…He’ll die as the Lamb who takes away all your sin…and rise from the dead.

The Gospel is Good News because…He said He would do this…and then He did this!

Paul tells the Corinthians…who had made a promise…“prove yourselves…If you want others to praise God, then your obedience needs to accompany your confession of the Gospel of Christ and your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.”

The truth is if obedience does not accompany our confession, it’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Listen I understand we are all sinners who are only saved, “By grace, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

But grace isn’t received by us as sinners without a realization we need change…The New Testament describes our salvation in terms of a death, burial and resurrection, becoming new creations, old becoming new…Darkness becoming light…radical stuff…that goes way beyond just “saying some words” or doing something so I don’t go to Hell.

If we do that it’s like promising someone a great meal…and then forgetting all about doing it…and it puts us in the same category as the demons…Listen:

JAMES 2:14-24 (p. 848)

Abraham didn’t just say, “God, I trust you enough to walk up the mountain and sacrifice my son.” He walked up the mountain and raise the knife with a commitment to bring it down.”

It’s why what we as Christians do with our money is such a strong indicator of our faith. Money is important…it is loved by this world more than anything else and the child of God…the follower of Christ cannot say, “Jesus you are Lord and Savior…oh, except for my paycheck God.”

You cannot serve both God and money at the same time…Jesus' words…not mine.

“God loves a cheerful giver…and is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all you need you will abound in every good work.” (v. 7-8)

Confession becomes obedience when we live believing that…whether we are in Corinth or Gardenside.

Let me also emphasize that when we choose to live a life of cultivating a generous heart.

II. IT CONNECTS US WITH OTHERS THROUGH GRACE

Paul tells the Corinthians that when they complete their gift and help others, those “others” will thank God for them. Their hearts, will go out to them, because of “grace.”

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