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“Deep and Wide” // 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Mary Ellen Ermis April 24, 2022 Devotionals, sermons, 2 Corinthians, cityrise, Deep and Wide, houston, Roger Patterson, West U Baptist,

The following is a manuscript of the sermon presented by Senior Pastor Dr. Roger Patterson on Sunday, April 24, 2022 at our West U Baptist Campus. To view the sermon in full, check out the link below.

Good morning, Church. Today we launch a significant series in the life of our church that we’re calling, “Deep and Wide.” We’ll be walking through 2 Corinthians 8-9 together over the next 5 weeks.

  • community groups have Deep and Wide curriculum,
  • Adults/Students/and Children all are walking through this together for the next 5 weeks,
  • it’s going to be pivotal in the life of our church and campuses. This is a journey and a study of generosity.

If you’re new, generosity is a huge deal for us. We have 12 core values and generosity is one of them. – “We are extravagantly generous.”

In the spirit of generosity, we want to give you a gift this morning.

  • On the floor at the end of your row, we have a great book we want to give to you.
  • It’s beautiful, packed full of great stuff.
  • There is vision content in there
  • explanation about the campaign we are launching today,
  • sermon notes for this series,
  • community group curriculum,
  • A COMMITMENT CARD
  • and so much more.
  • THIS BOOK IS A GIFT AND A GUIDE!
  • It’s yours to keep — PLEASE PUT YOUR NAME IN IT…PLEASE BRING IT WITH YOU ALL 5 WEEKS
  • so grab one, and turn to Page 66, that’s where the sermon notes are today.

Got it? Alright, here we go. Deep and Wide. When you think of generosity who comes to mind?

When you think of generosity, who comes to mind?

A grandparent/parent/someone you know/teacher/coach/friend/church…

There’s a guy in McDonough, GA who would tell you who comes to his mind. Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, the 7-Foot-Tall basketball player. Chris DeArman says that Shaq was the best big man ever…but we know differently, don’t we? Hakeem the Dream Olajuwon owns that title!!!

Anyway, this guy was in Zale’s one day after work to make a payment on his fiancée’s engagement ring.

Shaq is in there to look at some jewelry, and he hears the man ask the salesperson, “How much do I owe to pay off the ring?”

This intrigued Shaq and he walks over to him and asked him how much he owed, and then said, I got you, paid the ring off right there.

Now, as we begin our study on generosity, let me ask you…How do you define generosity? For many, it’s hard to put it into words…but they know it when they see it.

  • Gordon McDonald helps us with this definition.

Generosity is sacrificing something of value to us for the good of another, because we love them.

This is what differentiates generosity and giving.

Giving can be done begrudgingly and devoid of life.

But the true generosity is always initiated by love.

And God is the author of generosity.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave . . .”

Here, we see that God is the first and most generous giver.

Chip Ingram, in his book, The Genius of Generosity takes us back to the Hebrew and Greek of generosity to help us understand our topic today.

  • In Hebrew – generosity – to saturate with water, a symbol of life. – to overflow in a way that brings life to people.
  • In Greek – generosity – ready to distribute – available to give time, talent, and treasures to bless others.

Ingram says, “When you put all of these together you start to get a dramatic picture of a life that is overflowing with care and concern for others.”

One Presupposition that I want to challenge.

Many of you think that someone who is generous is either mega-rich or they are super-holy. So we have these images of people only with the wealth of Elon Musk or the Spiritual Resume of Mother Teresa being generous.

But here is what I believe about every single one of you:  You can live your life with an overflowing care and concern for others so that you would find the life that is truly life.

Who do you think of that lived a life of overwhelming care and concern for others? Does someone’s name come to mind? When you think of generosity, they embody it!

Well, the Apostle Paul, who wrote 2 Corinthians, had some people in mind when he thought of generosity. It wasn’t Shaq or your grandmother. No, it was the churches in Macedonia.

Look at 2 Corinthians 8:1-7 with me.

2 Corinthians 8:1

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

Here’s Paul writing to this church in Corinth, and he is blown away by generosity of these smaller, more impoverished churches in Macedonia, and he is using their example of generosity to challenge the bigger, wealthier church in Corinth. Here, he says of the Macedonian Churches that they are abundantly generous.

So here’s a little background for you for context.  Paul has been traveling around, sharing Jesus with people all over. He is visiting churches he’s helped to start, and encouraging followers of Jesus, and sharing the gospel.

He is sharing with these churches in the Gentile world about how their Jewish brothers and sisters / followers of Jesus in Jerusalem are undergoing a tough time:

  • Major famine
  • extreme poverty
  • and persecution.
  • They are really struggling.

So, he is taking up an offering to take back to Jerusalem to help these brothers and sisters who are in desperate need.

Don’t miss it, as he explains how the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem are hurting and in need, the churches in Macedonia blow him away as they give and exercise generosity.

Let me give you a few observations in this text about the Macedonian’s Generosity…Here’s what we see. Those who are abundantly generous…

Those who are abundantly generous…

  1. Don’t wait for perfect

2 Corinthians 8:3-4

“For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—”

Those Who Are Abundantly Generous…Don’t wait for perfect circumstances. (verses 3-4)

  • Don’t miss it, these churches hear about the food insecurity and poverty and hardships of those in Jerusalem. And in verse 4, they beg to be part of the solution, to participate.
  • What we see them doing is they simply hear of the opportunity to help. They have a decision to make. Go inward and consider how giving will affect themselves, or go outward and consider how giving will help others. That was the choice. Incredible.
  • Timing wasn’t their concern. Helping was their concern. Loving was their concern.
  • The heart of our church is to lift our city and the world by generously giving the gospel of Jesus Christ. And in this book, man there are some great needs you see. We are boldly asking the Lord to do something incredible for his glory through our network and our campuses.

Some of you have seen this and if honest, you may be like, man this is really not a great season for me. You may be thinking the timing couldn’t be more terrible. I get that. But the truth is, we all have something to give.

The network of churches in Macedonia didn’t have a ton to give and the circumstances probably weren’t ideal for them to contribute to this need, as they had their own things they were dealing with and going through. But they simply looked at the need, and they gave according to what they did have (vs. 3). They begged to be involved, they didn’t look for ways to get out of an opportunity.

  • You want to be abundant in generosity, don’t wait for perfect circumstances. They’ll probably never be perfect. And you’ll miss out on something special as you wait.

Here’s another one…

Those who are abundantly generous…

  1. Give themselves first to the LORD.

Those who are abundantly generous give themselves first to the Lord. (vs. 5)

2 Corinthians 8:5

“and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.”

  1. This is really the big idea this morning. This network of churches in Macedonia could be generous because they gave themselves first to the Lord.
  2. They had ownership and stewardship rightly defined. This is what we must do and learn from.

Are we the owners or stewards of our resources? For them, God owned, and they managed/stewarded.

  1. They were free to give because the things they did own, did not own them.

Another way to say that is that the things they possessed did not possess them.

  1. And their joy didn’t come from their stuff, but the Savior. They were so gripped by the gospel and the Lord’s generosity towards them in the cross, that they gave themselves first to the Lord.
  2. And they lived out Colossians 1:18 –

Colossians 1:18

“And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”

They lived this out!

Did you catch that, in everything, he would be foremost? In their relationships, in their jobs, in their families, in their money. Everything.

  1. They were so gripped by the gospel that generosity resulted.

The third thing we see in our outline today…right there on page 66 of your notes in your Deep and Wide curriculum…

Those who are abundantly generous…

  1. Seek to Grow in the Grace of Giving

2 Corinthians 8:7

“But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.”

Thirdly, those who are abundantly generous seek to grow in the grace of giving. (vs. 7)

When was the last time you determined to grow in the grace of giving? When was the last time you said, “Lord, here are my finances…I want you to be first…grow me in this gracious discipline of giving.”?

  • We never stop growing here, we never arrive until Jesus comes back or takes us home.
  • Paul tells them to excel – increase or grow. To keep it up. Don’t stop.

This is what Deep and Wide is – it is a tool for growth in generosity, in trust, in surrender. Deep and Wide is helping us put shoe leather on how to be generous.

  1. I need to develop here. Julee and I need to develop here.

 We are praying and seeking what God would have us do and how we can contribute.

  1. It’s not about $$$, that’s not the primary goal, it’s about 100% engagement, everyone who calls one of our campuses their church, to engage on whatever level you can.

Deep and Wide is an All-In Endeavor…Where WE ALL COLLECTIVELY DECIDE TO GROW…FOR EACH OF US TO TAKE OUR NEXT STEPS!

This Macedonian network of churches were unbelievable. They were generous. AND THERE WAS POWER IN ALL THEY PUT TOGETHER.

Let me show you what abundant, OVERFLOWING Generosity looks like…Here are a few ingredients –

Ingredients of Overflowing Generosity…

  1. They were given grace for the season

Ingredients of Overflowing Generosity…

  1. They were given grace for the season
  2. They were under heavy affliction

They had some kind of big pressure or challenge. It says severe test of affliction. We’re not privy to knowing what it was, but we do know that they were troubled, but their trouble didn’t hinder their generosity.

At times that happens to us, right? We are troubled about something, and that’s all we can think about. We’re tunnel visioned about the pressure or problem, such that we can’t see the world around us. Let us take a page from the Macedonians who were generous in the midst of severe troubles.

Ingredients of Overflowing Generosity…

  1. They were given grace for the season
  2. They were under heavy affliction
  3. Abundance of Joy

This is interesting. They also had an Abundance of Joy. (vs. 2) We talked about it earlier, so I won’t spend a ton of time here, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, right? The result of that was an abundance of joy that freed them to help.

Ingredients of Overflowing Generosity…

  1. They were given grace for the season
  2. They were under heavy affliction
  3. Abundance of Joy
  4. Extreme Poverty

They also had extreme poverty.  (vs. 2/5)This is just the fact of their economic situation. They didn’t have a ton, but what they did have, they went for it. And it was more than Paul  could believe – it blew him away!

There is a similar story from a church in Cuba. This headline appeared in the Baptist Press in 2007…

Cubans’ gifts for missions: more than just an offering

by Erich Bridges

Date: February 05, 2007 – Monday

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP)–When time came for the mission offering, a young Cuban Christian took the patched shirt off his back, came forward and put it in the box.

It was all he had, but he gave it gladly.

Another believer gave his socks. Several offered their watches and rings. Another contributed a handkerchief with words from the Bible written on it: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

A Southern Baptist missionary witnessed this scene on a recent visit to Cuba, where he spoke at a mission training conference involving more than 300 mostly young home missionaries from around the island nation.

“I have never seen that kind of sacrificial giving — not in my country or any other country where we’ve served,” the missionary told International Mission Board trustees during their Jan. 29-31 meeting in Ontario, Calif. “They gave what they had.”

The impromptu mission offering came after the missionary finished his planned participation in the conference. The Cuban Baptist pastor who organized the annual session unexpectedly announced, “We’re glad our missionary brother is still with us. Brother, right after lunch I want you to come back and share for 30 minutes about what God is doing in the world. Would you do that?”

The missionary gulped, agreed and cobbled together a quick global overview during lunch. After he presented it to the conference participants, the Cuban pastor took the podium again.

“We’re going to be involved in world missions,” he said. “We can’t go and share around the world, but we are praying for missions and today we’re going to give. Some of you might say, ‘We don’t have anything to give. We depend on others to give to us so that we can reach our own country for Christ. One day when we have more we’ll give.’ But if we wait until we have more, we won’t give then, either. We’re going to give today. Brother, what place in the world needs our grain of sand, our mission offering?”

The IMB missionary suggested China, where hundreds of millions of souls have yet to hear of the saving love of Christ.

“We’re going to give an offering to China, then,” the pastor declared. “Let’s pray.”

As the hundreds of Cuban workers bowed their heads, the missionary thought about their financial resources. Most of them work for local churches and make an average salary equivalent to $10 to $12 dollars a month. He winced at the thought of challenging them to give to others far beyond their needy shores.

“What happened next was completely unexpected on my part,” he recounted. “When the pastor said amen, the young people ran to the front and began emptying their pockets into these boxes. When the final tally was made and converted into dollars, it was an offering of $201.55.”

Later, the missionary told the Cuban pastor he would be glad to “redeem” the items given with an offering of his own so that essentials like shirts, socks and food money could be returned to those who gave.

The pastor was offended.

“Brother, they didn’t give these things to you,” he sternly informed the missionary. “They gave these things to God, and God is going to use these things the way He sees fit. They’re not going to take them back.”

He wrapped up the items and money and gave the package to the missionary, with orders to see that it go toward ministries in China. The missionary heard later that they had begun praying God would multiply their offering — like the loaves and fishes of old — into 1 million Cuban pesos. That’s about $53,000.

“They believe God is going to do that,” the missionary told the IMB trustees. “I do, too. I don’t know how, but He’s going to do it.”

In the midst of extreme poverty, they gave with joy!

So a couple of application statements – Right there on page 66… as I want you to note these…

Application:

  • Ideal circumstances don’t have to be present for JOY TO ABOUND..
  • Joy that has no LIMIT, LIFTS OTHER LIDS in our lives so that we aren’t defined by circumstance.

Would you consider these questions today?

Does our giving reflect a Jesus first commitment that has an:

  1. Investment Mindset?
  2. According to our means?
  3. And sacrificially at times?

THESE ARE YES OR NO QUESTIONS…Can you say “YES” to these?

Bottom Line: Is Jesus first? Preeminent?

This is what drove their generosity!

Don’t stop reflecting on the generosity Jesus has shown you in the cross and in his resurrection and your new life in Him. Let that drive you to generosity.

Spend some time with this book this week, and bring it back with you next week as we continue Deep and Wide.

Let’s pray.

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