Summary: As God’s family, we are called to be people who walk in love, acceptance and forgiveness, and give generously of our hearts, our lives, and our resources.
THE FAMILY OF GOD #1: GIVING GENEROUSLY
INTRO TO TOPIC: Discuss my experiences in the church as the family of God.
A LOOK AT THE EARLY CHURCH:
“42 They joined with the other believers and devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord's Supper and in prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together constantly and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity -- 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47, NLT).
• See how Luke described the early church: they met together, shared everything, shared meals with joy and generosity, and God added to the church new people every day.
THE BIG IDEA: As God’s family, we are called to be people who walk in love, acceptance and forgiveness, and give generously of our hearts, our lives, and our resources.
1. GOD’S CHILDREN WALK IN LOVE, ACCEPTANCE AND FORGIVENESS:
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.” (Ephesians 5:1, NKJV).
• As Christians, we are called to be like God. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world…”
Jesus said, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35, NKJV).
“We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, NKJV).
• If we want to be like Jesus, we need to love like Jesus. He helps us to do this!
“So accept each other just as Christ has accepted you; then God will be glorified.” (Romans 5:17, NLT).
• QUOTE: “Love means accepting people the way they are for Jesus’ sake. Jesus hung around with sinners. He didn’t isolate Himself in the synagogue. In fact, Jesus mixed with sinners so much that the self-righteous people got upset about it.” (Jerry Cook, Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness).
Have people stand up and give them signs: what country they’re from, what job they do, whether they are old are young. Despite all our differences, we are all children of God.
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NLT).
• If we want to be like Jesus, we need to forgive like Jesus. Three things we need to know:
• 1. God’s children are imperfect and they are sometimes going to hurt us.
• 2. When we are hurt, we must choose to forgive.
• 3. We must choose to stick together. No ‘unfriending’. Faithful. Commitment.
2. GOD’S CHILDREN GIVE GENEROUSLY:
Verse 32: “All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had.”
• “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Heb. 13:5, NLT).
• When you believe in Jesus – when you trust His love – you don’t have to worry.
• “As the Scriptures say, "Godly people give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will never be forgotten.” (2 Corinthians 9:9, NLT).
• Those who know and believe the love of God will be the most generous people.
THE EXAMPLE OF BARNABAS:
“32 All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had. 33 And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God's great favor was upon them all. 34 There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them 35 and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need. 36 For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means "Son of Encouragement"). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles for those in need.” (Acts 4:32-37, NKJV).
• Barnabas is one of the little known heroes of the book of Acts:
• 9:27 - Barnabas believed in Saul when no one else did
• 11:22 - he encouraged and cared for the new believers in Antioch
• 11:30 - he was trusted to bring relief money to the poor
• 13:2 - he was the first partner of Paul on his first missionary journey