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Summary: This sermon is about the importance of honoring God with our money, and the blessings that come when we put the Lord first in our finances.

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"Remember this: 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." (2 Corinthians 9:6–11, NIV84)

Friends and former members of Faith Bible Church made beautiful use of this term as they named their Elmer, NJ Candle company, A Cheerful Giver. They now live in Panama near their daughter and her family, who operate an orphanage in Panama. I always admired the name of their company - a name that reflects the attitude of the Christian regarding giving.

Today we are going to speak about the importance of honoring God with our money, and the blessings that come when we put the Lord first in our finances.

As a pastor, there are several factors that make this a difficult subject on which to speak.

1) Many people turn away from the gospel, because they think that all the church wants is their money.

2) I don’t want to manipulate anyone.

3) I receive my income from the church, and I don’t want anyone to think that I am appealing for money for selfish reasons.

THAT BEING SAID, our finances are a MAJOR part of our lives!

David Giuliano, "Clergy Journal." Sep 2006. "There are 500 verses in the Bible address prayer. 500 verses in the Bible address Faith. But there are 5,000 verses in the Bible address money or possessions."

In his book, A Bib Theo of Material Possessions, Gene Getz writes:

Jesus spoke about finances. 1/4 of Jesus parables deal with money. In His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke about investment, saving, indebtedness, hiring procedures, wage structure, leasing, banking, interest, building of barns, finding lost money, paying taxes, bad financial management, rich men, poor men, tithing. Jesus spoke more about money than He did about heaven!

Background of 2 Corinthians 8-9

For several years, Paul had been collecting funds for the Jerusalem church. Rom 15:25-28 "Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way." (Romans 15:25–28, NIV84)

The churches in Macedonia had given generously (Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea)

"And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." (2 Corinthians 8:1–2, NIV84)

But the Corinthians were neglecting to fulfill their earlier commitment. "There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given." (2 Corinthians 9:1–5, NIV84)

Paul’s exhortation provides important lessons on Grace Giving

Giving is a Grace. (2 Corinthians 8:7, NIV84) "But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving."

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