Church on the Move | Part 3
A Curious Case of Generosity
Big Idea: A church on the move must be faithfully generous together.
- Almost 2000 years ago a movement began.
- The church began not as a place with pews, robes, hymnals, bands, liturgies, or committees.
- No… The church began as a movement of God fueled by an event: Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection
- With this as their declaration, with the Holy Spirit, the eyewitnesses of this event launched the church as a multicultural, multiplying movement with a specific mission: to make disciples (churchy word) or fully surrendered followers of Jesus.
- On day one, over 3,000 people joined the movement.
- The church was on the move. And this upset the apple cart of the people in power.
- They thought they got rid of Jesus with His crucifixion but they weren’t counting on His resurrection. They weren’t counting on the boldness of God indwelling in those who surrendered their life in faith to Jesus – the Messiah/Christ, the Son of the Living God
- They were not counting on these uneducated and untrained men being so sold-out to Jesus that they could not “stop speaking about what [they had] seen and heard.”
- And so the Rulers and Elders of the Temple did what they could to stop the movement. Their first move was to threaten Peter and John. They commanded them not to speak the name of Jesus. They tried to bully them. But Peter and John stood boldly with God.
- And so the Temple leaders threatened some more but they let them go.
- Peter and John rushed back to where the core group of the church – their friends – was gathered. Their friends were expecting the worst. These same powerful people – the Temple leaders – had just orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus not long before.
- But what a surprise when Peter and John came walking up. Peter and John told them all that had happened. They told them about the miracle of the lame man, sharing gospel, how the people were saying yes to Jesus, their arrest, and the threats. They told them that the chief priests commanded them never to speak or teach about Jesus ever again.
- And do you know what they did? They prayed. The whole group prayed. The church prayed, and they prayed for boldness.
29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence [pah-ray-see-uh = with all boldness],
30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. [There is that word again from v29, pah-ray-see-uh = boldness]
- Now remember, Acts is a historical account of the movement of the church. In a way, it’s an unfolding story with a captivating storyline.
- If you were writing the story you may expect that right after the church prays big, bold prayers that the very next thing you would read about would be about the big, bold things that would happen:
- The next big miracle
- The next big innovation
- The next big explosion of new believers
- But that’s not what comes next. It’s as though the Holy Spirit through the pen of Luke (the author of Acts) wants to call our attention to something else, something seemingly disjointed/out-of-place/definitely unique…
- And that is that a curious case of generosity breaks out in the church on the move.
- God is making this truth clear:
A Church on the Move must be faithfully generous together.
32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. [They were not pulling in opposing directions. They were going forward together.
Illustration: Pulling opposite directions, or going forward together.
One Body of Christ
One Spirit who
- Commissions every follower of Christ Jesus into One mission
A Church on the Move is boldly moving forward together with their eyes on One prize – Christ Jesus
And together they were faithfully generous.
32 …No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
A Church on the Move must be faithfully generous together.
(1.) Generosity is motivated by your faithful love for Jesus
1.) They were not generous with their stuff because someone told them to be. Not because of religion. And not because of guilt.
2.) They were generous with their stuff because they couldn’t help themselves.
3.) There was a natural and powerful connection between their bold love of Jesus and their generosity.
33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
A bold love of Jesus and gratefulness for His grace fueled their generosity.
And it will fuel yours.
4.) Their generosity sacrificially followed their prayers, their love for Jesus, their confession of Jesus as Lord.
Your generosity follows yours as well.
Generosity is not necessarily easy…
(2.) Generosity is a sacrificial step of faith
34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.
1.) It’s easy to miss how big a deal this is. Jewish culture was fixated on owning property.
2.) And now you see these new believers saying, “The Promised Land is not here on earth. It’s in heaven. I don’t want to cling to what’s on earth. I want to cling to my Jesus in heaven. And I want to bring with me as many people as possible to Jesus, no matter what it costs.”
3.) Jim Elliot — “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
4.) Martin Luther — “I have held many things in my hands and I lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still posses.”
5.) Jesus teaches us this way in Matthew 6:19-21: 19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
6.) Generosity is a sacrificial step of faith because when you surrender your life to Christ, you are surrendering everything. You are trusting God with everything. It is a step of faith.
7.) Sam Houston, the colorful soldier and politician of the mid-1800s, came to Christ. And to be frank, that was to many people’s amazement. What astounded the people who knew him even more is that after his baptism, Houston said he wanted to pay half of the local minister’s salary. When he was asked why, Sam Houston responded, “My pocketbook was baptized too.”
8.) When you follow Jesus, you are trusting Him – faith – with everything.
9.) God calls us to the same faith and God calls us to the same level of sacrificial generosity – not the same amount.
34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
10.) There were different gifts of different amounts, but there was one sacrificial spirit in which they were given.
11.) When God gives you an increase, it’s intended purpose is not to raise your standard of living but rather raise your standard of giving.
12.) Every gift is important. Every sacrifice is important. Every step in faith is important.
Generosity is a sacrificial step of faith
(3.) God is the first and most generous giver
1.) Why is generosity so important? Because God is the first and most generous giver.
2.) He has given you everything you have
3.) And more than that He has given you Jesus.
4.) The more your life is shaped like Christ, the more you will follow Jesus’ example of selflessness and sacrifice.
5.) A life of following Christ is inseparable from a life of faithful, sacrificial generosity.
1.) The church began as a movement of God. It’s still moving.
2.) The church is not a monument paying homage to a by-gone era. The church is a present day movement of God.
3.) This movement takes all of us with open hearts in prayer and open palms in faithful generosity fully surrendered to mission of Jesus – on the move with Him.
4.) By God’s grace, as His church, we must be on the move together, with faithful, bold generosity, knowing that what God has given us He has given us to use to take His Gospel forward.
5.) Generosity goes beyond dollars and cents.
6.) To take the gospel forward to those who still do not have a personal relationship with Jesus it takes you being generous with your treasure (income/possessions) AND with your talent… AND with your time (vacation time, after hours time, retirement time)
7.) Christ is calling you to move toward generosity in every area of your life.
- What does that look like in your life?
- Start giving to God
- Scholarship a missionary
- Take a vacation to serve
- Take your talent off the shelf
8.) A church on the move is a church moving toward faithful generosity together.
9.) By God’s grace, together, with faithful generosity, we will be part of the movement of God—the church for our generation.