Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
2nd Corithians 1:1-7
2 Corinthians 1:1-14
2nd Corinthians 1:15-24
2nd Corinthians 3:1-18
2nd Corinthians 4
2nd Corinthians 5:12-21
2nd Corinthians 6:4-18
2 Corinthians 7:1-16
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
2 Corinthians 10:1-18
2 Corinthians 11:1-33
2 Corinthian 12:1-21
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2nd Corinthians 8:16-24

 

“But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.  For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.  And we have sent him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:  avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:  providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.  And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.  Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you:  or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.  Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.”

 

Accountability Concerning Offerings

 

“2nd Corinthians chapter 8, we were here last week, and you came back, that’s remarkable.  You know, how you enjoy, first of all, if you’re a visitor, this is just where we are, it takes ten years to go through the Bible, we just ended up in these chapters, 8, 9, about giving.  I don’t want you to leave and say, ‘I told them that, I knew what was going on at that place, they’re raking the people over the coals for money, grumble, grumble…’ Ah, that’s not true, we don’t do any of that stuff.  We just teach through the Bible, and this is where we are.  [What Pastor Joe is trying to say is that they, the Calvary Chapels, teach by the method of the “connective expository sermon.”  See, http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm  and http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm to learn why they teach this way, and what it involves.  It’s a highly effective method of teaching through the Word of God, which is one of the best methods of preaching for nourishing a congregation with the Word of God.  It teaches verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book through the entire Word of God, week in, week out, year by year.]  Imagine how I feel, here we are, it’s Christmas season, everybody’s trying to scrounge together enough money to put toys under the tree, and you’ve gotta come here on Wednesday night and hear this.  But it’s God’s Word and there’s instruction in it for us, there’s blessing in it for us.  We are in chapter 8, and we’ve come as far as verse 16, Paul speaking to the church in Corinth about a decision he had made a year earlier to contribute to collect an offering that he was taking, collecting from the Gentile churches, wanting to take it to the church in Jerusalem that was in desperate need.  Paul seeing that as serving several purposes.  One certainly was the practical application of charity, helping those that were in need.  But beyond that, Paul saw a bridge being built between the Gentile churches and the Jewish church in Jerusalem, and the necessity of that taking place, that Paul saw clearly in his theology, ah, the wall between Jew and Gentile had been broken down by the work of Christ on the cross.  [Comment:  The ‘Gentile’ churches that God raised up through Paul’s evangelism were markedly Judeo-Christian in nature and practice.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  The actual Jewish church of God in Jerusalem and any satellite Jewish churches around it in Judea did have a decidedly more Jewish character to them, being composed of nearly 100 percent ethnic Jews.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1a.htm.  While the apostles Peter and Paul were still alive, as Paul showed in his letter to the Galatians, Peter was the apostle chosen to be over the Jewish churches of God in Judea, and the apostle Paul was chosen to be the apostle to the Gentile side of the Body of Christ, which in reality, was composed of about 50 percent ethnic Jews from the Diaspora synagogues, and the other 50 percent made up of ‘God-fearer’ Gentile’s who had been in the same synagogues Paul had evangelized in.  This is a historic fact which most Gentile Christian believers are unaware of, or they just choose to ignore.  Paul saw the need for this unity Pastor Joe is alluding to, just as the pre-Incarnate Christ, as Yahweh saw, and wrote about in Zephaniah 2:1-3, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophets/Zephaniah/Zephaniah1.htm]  He held up Christ as an example, who left his riches and became poor, so that we might be enriched, and encouraged these Corinthians to remember, to give the same way, willingly, not by constraint.  And as we come to verse 16 he’s going to speak to them about Titus and those who he had asked to be involved in this offering.  And there’s some lessons, and I do think that they’re important, because money is a touchy issue in the Church [Body of Christ].  That is an issue that has been so abused, and people are sick of the begging, and the shenanigans and the carnivals that we see on TV, and there are whole organizations that again will sell your name, if you’ve ever gotten on their mailing lists, you [your name and address] go all over the country after that.  Because if you give ten or twenty-five or fifty or a hundred or a thousand dollars, your name is worth more.  If you’re a ten-dollar giver, eh, you’re on the ten-dollar giver list.  If you give a hundred bucks, now your name is worth a little more, and they sell that to other organizations that make appeals for money, because if you’re on a hundred-dollar list, you’re on an expensive list.  If you give a thousand bucks, somebody’s making more money off of you than you know, selling your name.  And they’re merchandizing, Peter says, God’s people.  It isn’t right.  It’s not what the Lord wanted, it’s not what he ever desired.  He wanted us to give the same way we want our children at home to give.  Because we love them, because we know that it’s right, out of gratitude, because we see what he’s given, because we love him, and we want to respond in kind. 

 

Money Is To Be Handled A Certain Way, With Accountability

 

So, verse 16, Paul says, “But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.”  Now, he had written his first Epistle, it was a difficult letter, there were many things wrong.  But evidently at the same time he had told Titus how he loved the Corinthian church, how God in the Book of Acts had told him to go back into the city, that he had much people there.  And Titus now is discovering many good things about the Corinthians, has really developed a heart for this church, and Paul was praising God for that.  “For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you” (verse 17).  It was on his heart to come.  Notice,  “And we have sent him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;” (verse 18) this famous brother.  Nobody knows who he is, but he’s famous Paul says.  All the churches know who he is, we don’t know who he is.  Trophemus, Silas, Luke, nobody knows.  People can write their entire semester papers on who he is, but it doesn’t matter because nobody knows.  ‘We’ve sent this brother, the important thing is, he’s notable through all of the churches,’ “and not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, [i.e. with the offering they had received] which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:  avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:” (verses19-20), it was a large offering, they don’t want to be accused, “providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” (verse 21)  So Paul says, this procedure of gathering this offering has been a large-scale undertaking, Titus is involved, and this other brother who evidently they all know, Paul doesn’t name here, known throughout all the churches.  And he says not only is his reputation known throughout the churches, but he was chosen by the churches to be part of this, so that there’s accountability.  And Paul says ‘We’re doing it this way, so that no man should blame us, we don’t want anybody saying, ‘Hey, you know, Paul’s like Zorro here, going to all the churches and gouging them for money and riding off into the sunset, and nobody knows what’s happening.’  Paul says, ‘No, the way you do it,’ and it’s a lesson for us today, ‘money is to be handled in a particular way.’  And it’s to be handled with accountability.  It should be recorded, there should be a receipt, there should be record, there should be accountability.  And Paul says, ‘We are doing it this particular way, so we don’t give ammunition to the enemy, to accuse.‘  And Paul knowing it was a touchy issue said, ‘We don’t want anybody to have any occasion to point the finger at us, and turn this into a bad thing.’  Paul doesn’t want to be known for fleecing God’s flock.  Jesus said ‘If you love me, feed my sheep,’ he didn’t say ‘If you love me, fleece my sheep.’  And Paul wants to remain upright in all of this.  And again, you see some of the things that go on.  Remember they had a big expose’ on television about a year ago on one of these guys on TV, ah, who I won’t name, but he could have played the Joker on Batman without makeup, use your imagination.  And, you know, he’s [this Joker] writing to everybody saying how he’s burdened for them, he wakes up in the middle of the night, he prays for them in, and there are all these needs.  And then in the expose’ they say, what they do is they find in the area of Kansas people give more readily if it involves a child with cancer.  So in that area all of his appeal letters said ‘We’re going to take care of this little kid with cancer.’  Ah, in another area, somebody gives more readily when they hear there’s been a disaster, a tornado, ‘We’re helping all these people…’ and saying the right thing to each area, marketing them to get the money out of their pockets, and saying ‘Send your prayer request along with that,’ and then of course on television they show a big dumpster, I mean they go through the envelopes and take all the checks out, and all the cash out, and all the prayer-requests were in the dumpster out back, everybody’s prayers.  Now that happens because there’s no fear of God, and because the Church has become big business.  And it’s important, and there’s a lesson here on the way that we handle money.  Certainly here at the church we want to be free in everything people appreciate us being free in, we want to be able to wear a Hawaiian shirt on Wednesday night, teach the Bible, ah, we want you to be able to sit here in jeans.  We want to put the emphasis on the Word of God, not on externals, and we want to be free to be led of the Spirit.  We want to be sticklers on the things that are important.  And particularly the government and the IRS and the way we handle money, and all of those things are very important, the way that is done.  I have not, from the beginning I have not ever counted a single offering here.  We have men who count the offering, with doors locked, and then pass it and re-count it, right in front of each other, to make sure it is counted, and is written down, and then deposited.  I have no idea who gives what, never have.  I don’t know if you give ten dollars or if you give a thousand dollars.  I’m much too carnal to know that.  If I knew you were dropping ten thousand bucks in the offering every month, I’d probably be nice to you [laughter].  ‘Hey, how good to see you here this week J,’ you know.  You know, I’m joking, I’m making a joke.  But I don’t want to know any of that, because I don’t ever want to be tempted to treat anybody differently who comes and has nothing, and somebody who comes and [cf. James 2:1-9]…in fact, if we see a large check in the offering, $5,000 $10,000, we don’t deposit it, we call the person and say “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”  “If you’ve been hit in the head or anything, does your husband know about this, does your wife know about this?  We’re not going to deposit it, we’re going to hold it, we’ll let you pray about it.”  You know, sometimes they say, “No, no, don’t be crazy, do you think we’d do this without praying, we’ve prayed for months about this, you know.”  But we make sure.  And it’s important, I think, how all of those things are “handled.”  And Paul is making mention of that.  [Comment:  All of the Epistles are written and preserved in God’s Word as instruction for how the various churches and members should be run and governed, i.e. in a church/congregational setting.  Corinthians deals with the practical in church governance, Hebrews deals with how the Old Testament Law of God, while not done away with by Christ (cf. Matthew 5:17-19), has been tweaked to be able to be applied to churches instead of being the Constitutional laws for the running of a godly nation, God’s nation Israel now they’ve been tweaked for the governing of churches and Christians.  Different Epistles play different roles, cover different areas in the governance of churches and members within the Body of Christ.  Financial accountability is a big one, along with not allowing a practicing sinner (who is a baptized believer) to remain within the congregation.  That’s another big one the Epistles to the Corinthians cover.  Romans is an incredible dissertation on Christian New Testament theology.]  Certainly I’m in a position of overseeing that, I see a print-out, so I know where the money goes, I’m very involved in how money is spent, and there’s a purchase order system so I don’t have to do all of that “stuff.”  But as far as who gives it, I know generally what comes in on a weekly basis, but I don’t know who gives it, I don’t count it, I don’t sign the checks.  So if there is ever a scandal Jerry will go to jail, not me [laughter].  I can keep teaching the Word.  When we saved money for this building, we had a savings account.  We never had a building fund, you guys know if you were here, we never put a giving-thermometer on the wall and said ‘OK we’re up to here this week, we’re going to have triple-tithe Sunday this week to get that thermometer up…’ we don’t do any of that stuff.  And we had money we were saving for the building and I was a signer on that, it took five signatures to get anything out of that.  And I of course, that was a big decision, I wanted to be a part of that.  Beyond that I don’t sign them.  I don’t go to jail if there’s a scandal, I just keep teaching the Word here.  Wisdom, there has to be wisdom.  You see in the Book of Acts, this is with the apostles present.  There was a dispute between the Hebrew widows and the Grecian widows.  The accusation was that the Hebrew widows were being shown more favor, the way the money was being distributed than the Hellenistic Jews, the Grecian widows.  The apostles said, ‘Look, it’s not fitting that we should wait on tables, distribute the money like this, we should give ourselves to the Word of God and to prayer.  Seek out seven men from among you, filled with the Holy Ghost, just to wait on tables, filled with the Holy Ghost,’  wisdom, ‘of good report…’ tact.  And of course they picked out seven men with Grecian names, so there would be no sense of favoritism.  But you know, you have the perfect Church, the Book of Acts, with the apostles present, money an issue.  So it’s very important how those things are handled, and how they’re overseen, important part of Scripture.  Paul says ‘We’re doing all of this, verses 21-23, “providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.  And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.  Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you:  or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.”  “messengers of the churches,” “apostles,” not in the sense of the twelve, not in the sense of someone that would write Scripture or have their names on the foundation stones, not in the governmental sense of the foundation of the Church, but “messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.”  “Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf” (verse 24).  ‘Be who we told them you would be concerning this offering’

 

2nd Corinthians 9:1-15

 

“For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:  for I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.  Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:  lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.  Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:  (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor:  his righteousness remaineth forever.  Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.  For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men.  And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

 

Putting Giving Of This Offering In Context With Today

 

“For as touching the ministering to the saints” I love King James, “it is superfluous for me to write to you.” (verse 1)  You’re thinking, ‘Is that good, is that bad?  Am I in trouble?  Is that superfloss something you do if your teeth are really clogged?  What is that?’  “Superfluous” means  “unnecessary.”  Paul says, ‘Look, I know it’s unnecessary to write.’  Paul’s using tact here with the Corinthians.  “For I know the forwardness of your mind” ‘You’re ready.’  “For what I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.” (verse 2)  ‘I’ve told others of you, the church in Corinth, ready to give, your willingness has been an example, provoked others to be involved.’  “Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:  lest haply perhaps they in Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.” (verses 3-4)  Paul says, ‘You know, I’ve been telling everybody how you’re going to be part of this offering, ‘Hey, the church in Corinth, they’re going to be part of this, they’re going to get involved, and you guys should get involved, and you provoked them to give, so make sure, I don’t want to show up there with these guys now, and you guys all standing around going ‘Duh, we didn’t give nothing,’ because he said, ‘We’re going to be embarrassed, because we’ve been boasting in you.’  And, you know, look, it was an important thing.  I hope that at some point we’ll be able to let you guys know how much your giving has meant in New York, that Sunday after the Trade Towers went down,  Your giving that Sunday enabled us Tuesday to go up with $25,000, and help initiate the Billy Graham Prayer Center up there.  And hundreds and hundreds of people have been ministered to. There is still more that we’re going to take up from that offering.  Now, particularly, there are particular needs up there.  And it was so, I can say, I can brag about that and say “Hey, we never begged the rest for money, we mentioned the need, and Boom!, the church jumped in.”  And since then, other churches [Calvary Chapels] have gotten involved, they’ve heard of our involvement, other Calvary’s in the area, other folks, they’ve heard of what we are doing, and they said, ‘Hey, that sounds like a great thing, we want to be involved too.’  [I know Horizon Christian Fellowship in Fitchburg, MA (with Pastor George Small) got involved like this too, big time.]  And your example [in Philly] has lent itself not only to the financial gift that we were able to take, but then to be an example to other churches, and you can ask Jerry how many, and other denominations in the area that have gone up, other pastors have gotten involved, and very much the same thing [that Paul was talking about here].  You know, God has chosen giving to be the means of supporting his ministry, the Lord has made the decision, he’s chosen giving to be the means.  [And giving through ‘good works’ as well.  Many folk from the Calvary Chapels went up as volunteer teams to staff that BG prayer ministry, which gave spiritual and physical supports to multiple tens of thousands of New Yorkers who came and sought aid and comfort.  Volunteers from the various Calvary’s went up, or down to New York City, from all over to lend support in that way.  This was a good works project where potentially hundreds of thousands of donated dollars and tens of thousands of volunteer hours were donated to these hurting New Yorkers.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm.]  But because there isn’t anything that’s more after his own heart.  Paul said that, in the chapter before this, he [Jesus] gave himself, ‘though he was rich, he became poor, that we might be rich.’  Paul says, ‘We’ve told everybody how ready you are, what an example you are, now see that you follow though on your words, so that when we come there, everybody will see that what we were saying was true.’ 

 

Pastors & Congregations Shouldn’t Beg Their Members For Money!

 

Verse 5, “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.” ‘We don’t want to come there and beg you for money,’ Paul said, ‘you said you were willing to do this, that’s the way we wanted it to come from you, we want you to give, but we want it to be a matter of bounty and not of covetousness, we don’t want to be there, you know, saying, ‘The poor people in Jerusalem, you need to do this, and if you don’t do this, this will happen, and the Kingdom won’t go on, you gotta give, and you know, there’s five people here that are gonna give a thousand dollars, stand up so everybody can see,’ Paul doesn’t want any of that stuff going on.  And you know what it’s like to get harangued for money.  I mean, I’ve been in churches where I’ve taken money out of my pocket, and getting ready to put it in the offering, and by the time the offering plate got there I felt so beat up, I put my money back in my pocket and refused to give.  Because I don’t want anybody to think that’s the way they should act and that I’m in favor of it.  I’m not as bad as Mark Twain.  Mark Twain talked about being in a church, and they begged so long before they passed the offering bucket, that when it went by, not only did he not put anything in, he took something out.  [laughter]  And believe me, we watch you guys, if you drop the bucket more than five times, ‘Ooops, it’s all over the floor, I’ll pick it up, don’t worry…’  That’s not the way to give, we don’t want to be begged, we don’t want to beat you guys over the head, and Paul said the same thing, he even said that.  When we pray, if someone forgets once in a while, and says ‘Let’s pray before we take the offering.’  When they come off [the stage], I say, “We don’t take an offering, we receive an offering, we don’t take an offering, we receive an offering.”  That’s important, just because the whole issue is so sensitive.  [I love the way Pastor George and many other Calvary Chapels do it.  They also have a place where offerings can be given, no passing of a bucket per se, mail them in, etc., where giving is personal, private, and not coerced.  And nothing is ever said about it, people give as they are led to on their own, tithes, offerings, whatever.  And Calvary Chapel congregations are not hurting financially either.]  Paul says this, the point is, ‘We want you giving because you want to give.  We don’t want it as a matter of [our] covetousness, have to come there and beg.’  That’s the reputation you have, it’s the reputation you should have, giving, not just financial, ok, giving is a normal part of the Christian experience, helping your neighbor, helping rake leaves, baking an extra loaf of bread, there are a thousand different ways to give, to serve.  Jesus Christ is being formed in us, and he’s the ultimate giver.  He wants to find his way, through our hands, through our feet, through our mouths, through our lives, to give to a lost world, to a hurting world [again, see http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm], to build up the Body of Christ.  He wants to find through his Spirit he can live through us. 

 

The Spiritual Laws Of Giving

 

Paul says this, he wants you to give willingly, but this is the way it works: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” (verse 6)  Paul says there’s a spiritual law involved here.  The more seed you sow, the more that grows.  If you just sow a little bit of seed, you know, if you have this giant field in front of you, you can’t just sow a few seeds over this corner and watch the whole field to see what’s going to grow, it ain’t gonna grow.  If you sow sparingly, you’re going to reap sparingly.  If you sow bountifully, that’s the way you also reap.  Paul says it’s a spiritual law.  Ah, understand it.  There are laws that we’re all subject to, the law of gravity.  You don’t see it, you’ve read about it.  You accept it by faith.  All I need to do is stand next to a cliff or the edge of a tall building, and the law of gravity is speaking to me, because there’s something inside of me that gets the heebee-geevees leaning over there.  I would never think, ‘I’m just gonna step out there, always wanted to fly.’  Law of gravity.  Again, electricity, there’s a law, ah, you don’t see electricity [unless you look at lightning, or solar prominences, those are bundles of pure electrons, trillions of them], you believe it’s there.  How’s this, you don’t see it, yet you pay for it every month.  You see the evidence of it when your lights come on, you see the evidence of it when your bill comes.  But it’s there.  And it moves, again.  I remember when we were younger, it was BC [before Christ], and there was at least one person that was there, we were in la-la land, it was the mid-sixties, so were a lot of other people, don’t pick on us, but we used to go out to this cow pasture, and we used to all hold hands, because there was an electric fence, the cows were smarter than we were, they never touched it.  But we would all get in a long line, and we’d all hold hands, sometimes like twelve or thirteen of us, and the end guy would go like this with the wire, and we’d go ‘Ah, ahh, ahh, ahh’, and finally he’d grab the wire and the electricity would go WHAM! through everybody, you’re hands would fly apart, sometimes you would fall on the ground.  It felt like somebody had slammed you on the chest, WHAM!  We were idiots, you don’t think?  [laughter]  Thank the Lord we didn’t have a heart attack, laying there on the ground.  It’s a law of electricity, it works, it’s there.  You’re out in the cow pasture, it’s fun, you know [laughter].  I’ve talked to other guys in church who used to punch cows, to see if they could knock them out.  We didn’t do that, we were non-violent.  In fact, one guy, I said ‘Did you knock him out?  No, I staggered him [they really are a “her”, not a “him”].”  He said, ‘I hit him, he staggered over and went Mooo.  No, I staggered him.’  That’s good I guess.  Laws of sowing and reaping, they’re in the Scripture, they’re reflected in nature.  There are three laws of sowing and reaping:  1) You will reap of the same kind that you sow. It’s a law.  If you sow rye, you’re not gonna harvest wheat.  If you sow apple seeds, you’re not going to get pares.  If you sow apple seeds, chances are, you’re going to get apples.  You are going to reap after the same kind that you sow.  Very important law.  If you sow to the Spirit, you reap life, if you sow to the flesh, you reap corruption.  It’s gonna happen.  Some people want to sow nonsense their whole life and then reap spiritual things, it’s not gonna happen.  You’re not going to sow in a fleshly field and then run over and wait for the harvest in the spiritual field, it’s not gonna happen.  It’s very important to realize in our marriages, and in our child-raising, there’s a law.  [to see some of those laws in marriage, see http://www.HOWMARRIAGEWORKS.com.]  If you sow spiritually in your marriage or even with your children, you’re going to reap spiritually.  It’s just as sure as the law of gravity.  It’s gonna happen.  Here are the things you have to understand about it.  First, you’re going to reap the same kind that you sow.  2) Secondly, the second law is, you will reap after you sow.  The harvest comes after the planting.  Now, for a believer, that can be a little torturous, you can be sowing into your marriage, sowing into your marriage, sowing into your marriage, sowing into a business, sowing into a business, spiritual integrity, or sowing into your children’s lives, and you know, sometimes that season between sowing and harvest is a long season.  And we’re Americans, we have instant-on television, instant coffee, instant breakfast, instant cameras, we want instant spiritual results.  And it’s never happened that way.  So the challenge for you and I then is to exercise faith, to believe.  If this is what God says, and this is what God says in regards to you’re going to reap after that same kind that we sow, if we sow to the Spirit, we’re going to reap life, and I don’t see it today, that’s because the harvest is not coming yet.  And I’ll tell you what the unbeliever does, they make a mistake.  Because if they live in rebellion, or they’re backslidden, or they sow to the flesh, they’re deceived into thinking, ‘Look, God’s still blessing me.  Yeah, sure I’m sleeping with my girlfriend,’ or ‘Sure I’m getting stoned.  But look, my business is doing good,’ and they’re deceived.  No, no, you don’t understand, the harvest comes later, and it is coming.  It is the goodness of God, the longsuffering of God that is sometimes in place, longing to see someone come to repentance.  God is patient.  But you’re just running out of room.  And the unbeliever or the backslider can misinterpret that second rule of the harvest, because they can be sowing to the flesh, or sowing to rebellion or sowing in sin, and examine their life and say, ‘No, no, look, everything’s ok, God understands.’  God understands, we can tell that by looking at the cross, and see his Son nailed there.  He certainly understands your heart, and he understands your sin.  But don’t take the fact the hammer hasn’t come down yet, and say ‘God understands.’  No, that’s you’re defying something God has put in place.  First law of the harvest, you will reap the same kind that you’ve sown.  Second law of the harvest, you will reap after you’ve sown.  The harvest comes later.  3) The 3rd rule of the harvest is this.  You will reap more than you’ve sown.  You plant one seed, one apple seed, you get an entire apple tree with millions of apples on it.  In the positive, the spiritual realm, if you sow to the Spirit, God is never going to be your debtor.  He’s never going to go through eternity, and every time he sees you, ‘Hey, I owe you one.’  He’s not going to do that.  He’s not going to owe you, he’s not going to be anybody’s debtor, you will always reap more than you’ve sown, spiritually, in blessing, in God’s promise if you sow to the Spirit.  The other side of the coin is, if you sow to the flesh, if you sow to the wind, you reap the whirlwind.  That’s what the Bible says.  We can see that in society, we can see it in a generation, turning away from standards, from morals, from absolutes, and what it produces.  You sow to the wind, you reap the whirlwind.  [Comment:  There are national laws of sowing and reaping.  Read Leviticus 26:1-46 and Deuteronomy 28:1-68.  God judges nations just as he judges people, and these two chapters specifically spell out laws of sowing and reaping.  So be careful what you sow, as well, and not just how much, whether you sow to the Spirit, or sow to the flesh.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html and read through that whole series, ancient Israel reaped whatever they sowed.  See also http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm to see what the nations of this world under Satan’s influence will reap leading up to the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.  If we sow to the Spirit, what is one of the things we will we reap?  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm and read Romans 6:23 to sum it all up.]  There’s a law.  If you sow bountifully, and you sow spiritually, you will reap, you will reap later, it may not come instantly, but you will reap more than you’ve sown, you will reap bountifully.  If you sow sparingly, you’ll reap sparingly.  It doesn’t necessarily mean carnally.  But it’s certainly a law when it comes to sowing after the flesh also.  Paul says ‘This I say,’ you have to understand this, ‘he which soweth sparingly, shall reap sparingly.  He which soweth bountifully, shall reap also bountifully.’  Jesus said it this way, ‘Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over shall men give unto your bosom.  For with the same measure that you meet out, it shall be measured to you again.’  Jesus re-affirmed this…[tape switchover, some text lost]…’substance, with the first-fruits of all thine increase, so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine,’ ah, principle throughout Scripture, God, and I think the bottom line is, will not be any man’s debtor, you’ll never out-give him.  Ah, that is with your time, with your energy, with your ear, listening to somebody with a broken heart, with your resources, he’ll never be your debtor. 

 

How We Should Give, With What Attitude

 

And he says in verse 7, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver.”  ‘According as he has purposed in his heart,’ that’s the only way to give, the only thing that God wants.  Over in chapter 8, verse 12 he said, “For if there first be a willing mind, then it is accepted according to what a man hath.”  Giving, ‘according to as he has purposed in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver, not grudgingly or of necessity.’  If you give grudgingly, don’t give.  We don’t bother to take an offering on Wednesday nights, the Bible says they should gather the offering on the first day of the week, that’s Sunday, that’s when we take an offering.  [Some believe Sunday was designated because doing business or monetary transactions on the 7th Day Sabbath was forbidden in the Old Testament, and the early Christian Church in Paul’s and Peter’s day was a Sabbath/Holy Day observing Church J .  No proof for Sunday observance in that passage he’s referring to.]  If people come up an say ‘where is the offering?’ there’s a box in the designated area, if you really want to do something on Wednesday nights.  That’s up to you, we don’t need anything.  But you know, on Sunday if you’re saying, ‘Now here it comes again, there’s the chicken bucket, grumble, grumble, grumble,’  Hey, it looks like a chicken bucket to you, it looks like something different to God.  If that’s the way you feel, don’t put it in there.  Because if you’re going to gripe and complain, that’s the only reward you’re going to get.  Keep your five bucks, go eat pizza, because that’s all you’re going to get for it.  But if you give five bucks because you love Jesus with all of your heart, it lays up an eternity, there are returns.  That’s the way to give.  We don’t need anything from anybody grudgingly.  We never beg, never make it an issue, we pass the chicken buckets, we worship, study God’s Word.  If every believer in any church is led by the Spirit, that church will always have the means to do what it needs to accomplish.  So, “not grudgingly, or of necessity:  for God loveth a cheerful giver…” don’t give and then tell everybody about it, we’re not here with fundraisers.  God loves a cheerful giver.  Everybody says that means “hilarious,” because the Greek word is hilaros.  God loves a hilarious giver, like we’re mindless, ‘Ohh, ho, ho, here comes the chicken bucket!  I love this part, I’m not staying for the sermon, I just want to give, I’ll come back the next service and give again, ah, ha, ha, ha!’  No, it doesn’t say God loves a delirious giver.  Cheerful is the word that brings across the idea, it’s just he wants the attitude of our hearts to be right.  He knows we’re not idiots, ‘God loves a hilarious giver, a, ha, ha, ha!’  And I understand, you can get the English word from that.  But the idea is “cheerful,” he wants the right attitude.  He doesn’t want it to be grudging.  He’s giving us a comparison in the grammar, he says that right before, he doesn’t want anything given grudgingly, he wants us to give with a right attitude.  And it certainly reflects that we understand the grace that we have received.  God loves a cheerful giver, it doesn’t say he loves a cheerful tither, and this is all written by Jewish men.  Again, I don’t think that that is enforced, we’re not under the law.  Many choose to tithe, and it’s because the Holy Spirit tells them to do that, and that’s what you should do.  But the principle in the New Testament is giving.  So important.  Because everything we have is his.  [For the actual legislation about tithing in the New Testament, you have to turn to the Epistle of Paul where he deals with how the Law of God is meant to be applied to the Church in specific areas.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews%207%201-28.htm  and http://www.unityinchrist.com/gifts.htm.  Corinthians is not one of those Epistles, but instead deals with church behavior and discipline.]  And he says this, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” (verse 8)  And you and I need all grace to abound towards us.  God will not be our debtor, he’s going to give us all of his grace, all sufficiency, in all things, he won’t owe us anything.  “(As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor:  his righteousness remaineth for ever…”  Now it’s an example from the Old Testament, and it’s a passage about having the right heart in giving, giving the right way, particularly caring for the poor and the downcast, giving of yourself to those that are less fortunate.  God says that there’s a righteousness attached to that, that abides, because certainly because that’s what he did.  It’s a great investment program, just laying up for yourself treasures in heaven. 

 

What We Are To Do With Our Resources

 

“Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)” (verse 10) Paul still looking at their giving as seed sown.  Not horded, you don’t give seed to store it up in a barn somewhere and let it rot and go to seed, you get it into the ground, you sow it, disperse it, that it might bring forth fruit.  And again, he’s looking there in the agricultural realm, saying ‘This is the one, God, now he who can provide all things bountifully,’ “he that ministereth or gives us seed, both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, increase the fruits of your righteousness;) being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth us thanksgiving to God.” (verse 11)  So, in giving, there is a ministry where people will praise and thank God in regards to that giving.  “For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgiving unto God;” (verse 12)  It provides a practical need, and it also gives opportunity for the name of Jesus Christ to be glorified.  [cf. Matthew 5:16, the light we shine through our good works cause men to praise God, helping remove the carnal hostile attitude of those receiving this “light” of our good works, so that they’re no longer hostile toward God.]  “Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;” (verse 13)  Paul’s thinking about the Jewish church in Jerusalem that will praise God for the obedience of the Gentiles, for a financial gift.  If you take money out of your pocket and put it somewhere, that means you believe in something.  That means there’s some emotion involved, there’s some love.  You remember what it was like when you were dating.  You took money out of your pocket, you opened the door, shut the door, and waited till she got out before you shut the door. [laughter] You bought deodorant, brushed your teeth, gargled, plucked out gray hairs [there’s too many of them now], trimmed your nose.  There was no, you know, when you’re in love, there’s no expense too great.  Love is a powerful motivation for giving, you know, that should be there, should stay there.  Sometimes after you’re married your wife says, ‘Honey, I need a couple bucks, a pair of pantyhose,’  ‘How much!?’  [laughter]  ‘You bought a pair of those in the fall, didn’t you, last year?  What do you do, play football in those things?  They don’t hold up.’  You know, the point is, when you’re in love, when there’s infatuation, there should be no grudging, there is a yieldedness in our heart, in love with Jesus Christ, and that’s how we want to pass out of this world, in love with Jesus Christ, giving.  We don’t want to die miserable, selfish, old, crotchety men and women.  We want to be like Jesus.  That’s the image that we’re growing into, by the power of the Holy Spirit, by abiding in his Word.  And that develops within us a sacrificial nature. 

 

God’s Unspeakable Gift

 

Paul says, the saints in Jerusalem, they’re going to glorify God, they’re going to realize this is real, they’re going to see that in your giving, that you are in subjection to the Lord, that your faith is observable, it’s not just talk, it walks.  They’re going to know it’s real.  “And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.” (verse 14)  ‘And their prayer for you, longing after you, knowing the grace of God that’s in you.’  And then he says this, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” (verse 15)  I love Paul, the pragmatist, because he gets there.  He’s going to tell us in another chapter, ‘You know I was caught up to paradise, and I saw things that were, apparently, unspeakable.’  Come-on Paul, you took us to the edge, and said ‘Ah, never mind, there’s not even words to describe what I saw.’  That’s why God took John to the Isle of Patmos, because if he took Paul there, Paul would have said ‘I was on the Isle of Patmos on the Lord’s day, and I heard a voice behind me like a trumpet, and I turned around, and I saw.  Ah, never mind.  I could never describe it, it’s unspeakable.’  God’s unspeakable gift, Paul says, ‘Uh, what am I going to say about, God giving Jesus Christ so that we can live, God’s unspeakable gift.’  You know, this is the time of the year when we talk about it.  Isaiah would say this, “Unto us a child is born…”  The unimaginable part of that equation is “unto us a Son is given.”  A child born is one thing, a Son given is vastly different.  I am longing to see my oldest son this weekend, coming home from college, I haven’t seen him since August.  No, I’m wrong, I saw him September 13th, because we couldn’t fly home, so we drove to southern California before he drove across the country.  But you know, in times like this, anthrax, threats, southern California, 28 hundred miles away seems awful far away.  Listened to his voice on the phone, can’t wait to hold him in my arms.  And when I think “unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given”, it is an unspeakable gift.  It is because of Jesus Christ that we have an ability to pray.  It is because of Jesus Christ that we have an ability to come here and sing praises, heaven’s expense.  It is because of Jesus Christ that we have the remarkable privilege to open God’s Word, and to have it be alive and powerful to us, the Spirit that authored the Book living within us, bringing it to life, heaven’s expense.  It is because of Jesus Christ that we have consolation, that we have hope.  Imagine watching CNN and not knowing Jesus Christ [as the Trade Towers went down].  Imagine watching what’s happening in the world today, and not being able to bring into the equation, ‘Well, if smallpox rages through here, I’m going to stand on the other side in the presence of the Lord.’  If a nuke goes off here, I’m going to step through to the other side and see Jesus, my grandpa, many friends, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Noah (have some questions to ask him) [laughter], Spurgeon, Whitfield, Moody.  But, I will look into the face of God’s unspeakable gift, and we will throw down our crowns, and there will be no giving that we have ever done that will be worth being brought up in the face of the Lamb that was slain, his giving.  Gonna be something, isn’t it?  I watch what’s going on in the world today, and I think ‘You know, it could happen anytime, could happen anytime.’  And the sooner, the better.  In fact, if we knew it was going to happen at the beginning of January, we could really give everybody a great Christmas present, run up all of our credit cards, and just, what a wonderful season.  Many of us are in that situation anyway, aren’t we.  None of those gifts will compare with God’s unspeakable gifts.  Paul’s exhortation to be givers, and again, not just financially, but a giver by nature, and with the right attitude, with the right heart.  [transcript of a connective expository sermon given on 2nd Corinthians 8:16-24 and 2nd Corinthians 9:1-15, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:

 

What is a “connective expository sermon”?  see:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/pom/philofmin.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/smith.htm

 

The Gentile Christian Church, part of the Body of Christ, was Judeo-Christian more than Gentile.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1a.htm

 

Giving through “good works,” “letting your light shine by your good works” is another method of demonstrating the Gospel to people.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm

 

 

Be careful what you sow.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/1.html

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm

 

Tithing laws adjusted for the Body of Christ in Hebrews.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/hebrews/Hebrews%207%201-28.htm  and

http://www.unityinchrist.com/gifts.htm

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