Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: To let Christians know that for someone’s 2009 to be better than their 2008 will require them to increase their giving.

Would you agree that most people find it challenging to keep a good secret? Can you imagine what it would be like to be the keeper of thousands of juicy secrets? Frank Warren is such a person. There is probably no person in all of history who has been told more secrets than Frank Warren.

In 2004 Warren set out on a project to find out what kind of secrets people have and if they’d be willing to share those secrets with others. And so he set out by leaving self addressed and stamped postcards scattered throughout Washington D.C. that asked people to share their regrets, fears, betrayals, desires and confessions. They were invited to reveal anything they wanted as long as it is true and they had never shared it with anyone before. Warren now has over 100,000 secret postcards in storage and receives about 1,000 more cards a week.

I went to his blog the other day and read some of the secrets he posted. And there are some juicy secrets. Granted I haven’t read all of his secrets, but of the ones I did, I noticed one secret that wasn’t mentioned. And that’s the secret for how someone can make 2009 better than 2008. I thought about sending my own postcard to him with that secret written on the back, but instead I wanted you to be the first to hear it.

Would you like to hear the secret that could help you have a better year, this year? [S] The second secret for having a better year is to “Earn all you can.”

You heard me right. The second Secret for making 2009 better than 2008 for someone is to make as much money as you can. I wish I could say that this little secret is just between you and me, but the truth of the matter is that the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley, blabbed this secret to the Methodists over 200 years ago when he told them to earn all they could. Why? Well, let me tell you the rest of the secret. John Wesley told the Methodists to [S] “Earn all you can, save all you can, so you can give all you can.” According to Wesleynomics 101 Methodists are encouraged to earn as much as they can, not so that they can increase their standard of living but so they can increase their standard of giving.

As ironic as it sounds, I believe that someone’s key to having a better year will be determined by whether or not they increase their standard of giving. No doubt, some people might think that this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, and it does. But conventional wisdom is not the finale word when it comes to being a Christ follower. The word of God is.

[S] Hear the holy scripture read from 2 Corinthians 9.7-15. “Remember this” the Apostle Paul wrote. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply

and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” [S] (NIV).

There is a very relevant statement in this passage. Paul said “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” Doesn’t that sound like Wesleynomics? Doesn’t that sound like Wesley’s secret of earning all you can so you can give all you can?

Now there’s no doubt in our minds I don’t think, that one of the fundamental values of being a Christian is generosity. One of the distinguishing marks of a Methodist is giving. The giving of ourselves, the giving of our time, the giving of our service, but also the giving of our resources, our wealth, our finances. And for some, indeed for many, that is the last stronghold that the evil one has on our lives. And in our hearts, we know it. For some Christ followers, there is a struggle within, when it comes to giving. It’s a battle and for different reasons. But fundamentally, it stems from the fear that a person won’t be better off than they are now if they start giving or increase their giving. That’s a big obstacle for some that really doesn’t need to be there. My guess is that what most people have discovered is that when they live from this perspective that they feel like they’ve swallowed a spiritual hairball. And well, I want to help you cough it up so you can experience a better life this year.

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