Gear Up PT. 4 - Gear Up To Be Generous

Exploring The True Meaning Of Biblical Generosity.

Tim Lundy
Nov 29, 2020    47m
Do you want to give, but you aren't sure what you are called to do in this as a follower of Jesus Christ? By exploring the true meaning of biblical generosity, you can learn what God's heart was for us in this part of your life. Video recorded at Los Gatos, California.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Tim Lundy: 00:09 Hey, Venture, I hope you've had a great Thanksgiving weekend. I know it's probably been different than many of us expected, not with family or extended relatives, not able to travel in different ways, but despite those difficulties, and despite all this going on, I love this holiday, I love this time of year, I love that we just stop and we thank God. And I'm thankful, I'm thankful for you as a church, I'm thankful for the ways that God's blessed us.

Tim Lundy: 00:40 I'm thankful for all that we have coming up. I'm thankful for December. You know, even though December won't be like we had planned, we've got great opportunities. And I really want to encourage you, I talked about it last week, but if you miss that message, I want to encourage you get involved in all that we're doing. We are going to take December and reach out, sign up to be a part of The Winter Wonderland, December 17th to the 22nd, we'll have two sessions every night. We're going to transform this campus into a safe, but fun, environment for our community. And we want to reach out and serve them, but to serve them, we need your help. We need some of you to sign up and say, yeah, I'll decorate a Christmas tree, or we'll get behind that as a Life Group. We need 25 people every session, each night, that's 50 people a night, who would come and serve on this campus. We need people to step forward in different ways, as we reach out with it.

Tim Lundy: 01:40 And then we combine that with the Christmas boxes that'll have the candles in them, we need to give away 4,000 of them, 4,000. And so I'm going to encourage you be thinking now, who are the friends and neighbors, people that you'd like to invite to our online service and make sure that you get enough of those boxes. We'll give them out at The Winter Wonderland. We're going to set aside the weekend of December 12th and 13th, a day where you can drive onto the campus, pick up boxes, and also drop off a toy that we'll be partnering with city team to give away to needy families. So it's a great exchange that'll happen that day. Again, all of these opportunities for us to take the gifts that God's given us, and reach out to the world. There's a lot to do, there's a lot of ways to get engaged, and there's a lot to be thankful for.

Tim Lundy: 02:33 And so why don't we take a moment on this Thanksgiving weekend, before I dive into the message, and just thank God for all that he's doing through our church. Will you pray with me. Father, I do thank you, I thank you for Venture. I've just been overwhelmed with gratitude this week for the people of this church, for the privilege it is to serve here, for the opportunity of where you've placed us in the Bay area. Lord, we hear a lot of frustration with California, and frustration with things going on out here. And yet I've been reminded this week, I can't think of a better place to shine the light, I can't think of a better place to love people. And so, Lord, I just stop and I thank you for placing our church in this time period, and for the mission that you've called us to. Lord, I want to thank you for December in advance. We don't know all that will happen, but we know you're in control. And you know our desires, you know our plans, you know that we want to teach out to our community, that you would use this Winter Wonderland, that you would use these gift boxes, you'd use the Christmas Eve service, all of it as a way to bring you great glory. So, Lord, I come before you now, I give you great thanks, and pray a prayer of anticipation for all that is to come, and even in this message, I pray that you'd speak through me. I pray this in Christ' name. Amen.

Tim Lundy: 04:01 Well, this weekend we're finishing out our Gear Up series. And in this series we've been looking at ways, how do we gear up right now, really for next year. This whole series has been designed, how do you finish one year well, in preparation for the next one? You know, I read one study that said one of the best ways to prepare your work day, is to begin the day before. When you finish your work day, before you leave your office, or now before you get off zoom for the last time, if you'll take a few minutes at the end of the workday, and go ahead and map out a to do list, a few things that you'd like to do the next day, how you're going to begin the next day. Then when you start the next morning, you're that much more productive if you do that habit.

Tim Lundy: 04:52 And I was thinking about that, if you did that on a work day, what would happen if you did it for a whole year? Instead of waiting until the beginning of January, and we rush out and make some resolutions, and try to put them in place. What if we started now, we gear up now, for some of the key things we want to put in place, some of the key things that we're going to equip you to and call you to as a church next year. But if we did it personally and individually, now, how much further ahead would we be? And so I've got a little bit of a review and preview, it's a review of what we've been covering, but it's also a preview of what we want to put in place as we think about next year.

Tim Lundy: 05:31 Look at the three things that we've talked about. The first one we talked about, how do we gear up to be spiritually fit through daily time and Bible and prayer? How are we putting in place a daily Bible reading, a daily prayer time? What are some of those simple tools that are in place? And the month of December is actually a great time. In fact, you'll see it, your notes at the end, I've got a link there for a Bible reading plan, a real simple one, but twenty-five days that leads up to Christmas. And it's a great way to get in the game and gear up now, because starting in January, we're going to do a Bible reading plan as a church where we read through the New Testament this year. And so in all these ways, we want to be spiritually fit, connecting with God.

Tim Lundy: 06:14 Second thing we looked at, how do we gear up to spiritually invest in the next generation? How do we focus as parents? How do we focus as grandparents? How do we focus as those who are further along in the faith? How are we investing down, and what are some of the tools that we can use to be able to invest in those who are coming behind us?

Tim Lundy: 06:34 Last week, we looked at how do we gear up to share the good news of what Jesus has done for us? How are we people, that we're always telling people, let me tell you what Jesus has done for my life? And how do we gear up evangelistically?

Tim Lundy: 06:49 And this week we're going to conclude. And again, it's just another characteristic that I would love to see mark my life this coming year. And so maybe in all of these things, it's things I want to grow in, and I want you to grow in as well.

Tim Lundy: 07:02 But here's the fourth thing, how do we gear up to live in the freedom of biblical generosity? And those two words that are highlighted, there's a freedom that comes in it when your life is marked with generosity. I don't know about you, there's few things that are more attractive to me in someone else, then when they have a generous character, when they're a generous person. I mean, I admire it so much when I see genuine generosity. And I have had so many people that have crossed my path, friends that I can think of, that were truly generous.

Tim Lundy: 07:39 You know, I think of a friend of mine who was always generous with this time, a friend of mine named Terrance. He lived in Little Rock, still lives there. And he's a NICU doctor, worked in the neonatal ICU, and a very trained man as a doctor. But interesting guy in that, his family were all craftsmen. And so even though he's a doctor, he's incredible at building things, he's incredible working with his hands, and he's absolutely phenomenal at painting. You know, especially in those early years, I can't tell you how many times we painted the house, different rooms, different places. Every time Terrance knew I was painting, I didn't even have to say anything, he just showed up with his paintbrush. And it was always awesome when he did, because an hour of Terrence's painting was like four hours of Tim's painting, he was just that good, especially cutting in. And as I thought about it over the years, how many times he would show up, I always just admired his generosity. Because I knew sometimes it was after he did a night shift where he was on call all night long, and then he was there to give.

Tim Lundy: 08:51 I'm sure you can think of people like this too, people that give of their time, people that maybe have given financially, or you know of gifts they've given. I think there's few things that we admire more, and would want to strive to more, than generosity, to actually be great at it. In fact, I love how Paul puts it. Look at 2nd Corinthians, he says, "But as you Excel in everything." He's telling them, hey, you want to live an excellent life, if you want to get better in everything, "In your faith, in your speech, in your knowledge, in your earnestness." He said, man, I want you guys to grow in all these things and then "in our love for you." And then he puts his last line, "See that you Excel in this act of grace also." And what act of grace is he talking about? He's talking about generosity, he's talking about giving. He says, I want to see you grow in this, not just settle in it, but actually excel in it.

Tim Lundy: 09:51 So how do we gear up for that? And as I say that some of you, you're kind of on edge, because you're waiting for the specific thing with it. I just want to teach on generosity as we think about it going into next year, and I don't say that with a specific ask, I just want to grow in it, and I want to gear up personally in it. So I want to walk you through characteristics of biblical generosity. And so when I use that term biblical generosity, I think it's important that we define it in that way. Because we can use generous any way we want to. I mean, I may give $1 to the Red Cross bucket, you know, the red bucket on the way in, and I consider myself a very generous person. In fact, a lot of our generosity is in comparison. But like anything else, if we're Christians, we want to go back and go, okay, how would the Bible define this? And if I'm going to grow in it, and excel in it, I probably should measure my life according to how God defines it. And so as we look at this concept of biblical generosity, let me just give you five things.

Tim Lundy: 10:53 Here's the first thing, biblical generosity is a sign of thanksgiving, grateful people are generous. If you look throughout the Bible, they always go hand in hand. This concept of, it's not just the act of giving, it's why you're giving. And in that moment that we're giving out of a gratitude, because as a Christian, and if you're a follower of Christ you recognize, I'm giving this because I got it all from God, none of it was mine to begin with. And so grateful people are generous. You can flip these words around grateful and generous, generous people are also grateful, you see this all the time.

Tim Lundy: 11:32 One of my favorite passages is when Solomon, King Solomon, is dedicating the temple in Jerusalem. And if you know anything about the temple, Solomon's temple was one of the seven wonders of the world. It was just so magnificent, everything's covered in gold, the pillars, it was tall, the jewels that were everywhere. And as he's going to dedicate this temple, the reason it was so magnificent is the people were so generous in their giving, they gave their rings, they gave their gold, they gave their jewelry, they gave because they wanted to give this as this token to God. And I love when Solomon is dedicating the temple in prayer. Look what he says to God, he says, "Who am I, and who are my people, that we could give anything to you? Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us." Man, I love that prayer, I love how he recognizes, because it would be so easy in that moment to go, hey, God, look what we did for you. Look at this temple, nothing like it in the whole world, we delivered didn't we? And I'll be honest, sometimes when I give, if I'm really stretch and give, it's easy in that moment to kind of have that attitude, look what I did for you, God. He actually has the opposite attitude. He goes, no matter what I'm giving, no matter what we've done, I can only do this because you gave to me. See it's that moment where it's not a focus on what I'm doing for you, it's that reminder, always, of what he's done for me, and that heart of gratitude that comes

Tim Lundy: 13:17 Paul's talking about, when he calls people to give in Second Corinthians, he says, "Each one must give as he's decided in his heart." And look how he says it, :Not reluctantly or under compulsion." It's not this have to thing, "God loves a cheerful giver. God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." See, this is the goal, how do I grow as this kind of cheerful giver? And I would say maybe as you're gearing up, as you think about this issue of generosity, a lot of times, anytime you preach on this, or you talk about it, we always feel so guilty about it. And then we kind of, we want to grind ourselves, we're going to make ourselves do it. All right, I'm going to be generous, I'm going to give, I'm going to do it. And I think it's wrong approach, I think you can kind of gear yourself up maybe for that one act, but it doesn't really change your character. What if we focused at a heart level first? And said, all right, God, how do I grow in my gratitude? Because as I recognize what you've given more, than I'm prompted to give, then it comes out of that.

Tim Lundy: 14:27 And I'd encourage you, gratitude like generosity, it's not something that just happens, there actually is a learning with it. You know, as I've studied gratitude, it's one of the most fascinating topics because unbelievably people that are grateful and thankful and grow in that, it changes their health, it changes mental perspective. In fact, Shawn Achor, Harvard University, he cited a study where they took a group of people, and here's all they did, it was so simple, it's unbelievable though. They said for seven days, we want you to practice gratitude. And here's all we want you to do, for seven days, take five minutes a day, and think of three specific things from that day that you're thankful for. And it doesn't need to be these broad things like, oh, I'm thankful for family, and health, and that, no, think of something specific to that day. And then it can be as specific as I'm thankful for the delicious Thai food I had tonight. I'm thankful my daughter gave me a hug. I mean little things, but they would have them do that for seven days. And after seven days, they tracked all the people at it, and every single one of a measured higher on happiness, and lower on depression and anxiety. Now here's the fascinating part, when they came back a month later, the same group of people, even the ones that had stopped it after seven days, still marked higher in happiness, low in anxiety. When they came back three months later, even when they had stopped it then, it had that impact on them.

Tim Lundy: 16:02 Now you look at it and you go, how could such a simple thing have such long lasting impact? Here's his words on it? He said, "They hypothesize that the simple practice of writing down three thanksgivings a day over the course of a week, primed the participants' minds to search for the good in their life." That one action, it wasn't just coming up with it, you also had to write it down. And by doing that for a week, it started to train their minds, you know there are good things every day, and it had impact on them. I would encourage you, because in this season with so many things frustrating, so many things that are going wrong, so many things to get angry or anxious about. What if your first step was to stop and go, you know what, I'm going to take some time every day and write down three things I'm thankful for. And then out of that gratitude, that heart of gratitude, do you know what flows out of that? Generosity, because when I start realizing, especially when I'm thankful to God, all that he's given, it's amazing how I'm now taking on his characteristic and I'm becoming more generous.

Tim Lundy: 17:16 Here's the second thing with biblical generosity, biblical generosity means giving to God first, not waiting to see what's left. All right, now this is specific, when you start reading through the Bible, there's a concept that God calls his people to over and over again. It's give first, as soon as you get something, you give out of that. In fact, if you read through the Old Testament with the nation of Israel, there was a term they used over and over again called first fruits, you give the first fruits.

Tim Lundy: 17:46 I'll just give you one passage, Proverbs, you can see in it, Proverbs 3 says, "Honor the Lord with your wealth, and with the first fruits of your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, your vats will be bursting with wine." It makes this promise here, and I'm not pointing this out for a give to get, I was just pointing out this concept of first fruits of all your produce. And so for the nation of Israel, they understood what this meant, because remember they're an agrarian society. They didn't get paychecks, everything they had came out of the ground. And so every year they lived in this cycle that they are always looking, you've planted the seeds by faith, you you've been tilling the ground, you've been working the land. And then when those first fruits, when that first vine comes up, that first fruit that they see on the tree. See it was that symbol at the beginning of that cycle, God's provided again, we'll have food this year, we've got resources to be able to go forward. And so here's what they would do, they would go over and they'd look at the first fruits and they'd find the strongest vine, or they find the greatest branch, the one that had the most fruit on, and they would tie a reed around that. And that was their commitment, this part's God's, out of the first and out of the best, we want to give this to him. It's a great picture in that of what God's calling us, he says, hey, when you've been given, you give out of that.

Tim Lundy: 19:31 Now for us, we're not agrarian society for the most part, and maybe you're a farmer, or someone that you know, that they live in that cycle of that. But for us, what would be the representation? Well, when you get a paycheck, when you get that dividend, when you get...As soon as you get that, it's that recognition. And again, this is a reminder that I have to do, because in that moment when I get paid, do I think, oh, God provided for me again? Or do I think, oh, look what I earned, look what I did? See, it's that moment of recognizing, okay, this came from God, and so because all of it came from him, I give first to him. Instead of waiting until I got it, and now I'm going to take care of this need, and that need, and what I'm going to do, and what I'm going to spend, and then I see what's left. Now hear me, I can be a generous person giving out of what's left, many people are.

Tim Lundy: 20:32 If we're going to really embrace this whole concept of biblical generosity, if you just read through the Bible, and I'd encourage you, study this on your own. One of the things, when you get on this topic, the Bible talks so much, we don't talk about it much because we get so uncomfortable or we think there's some angle in it. But if we're going to be biblically faithful, and if you study the Bible, as you read through it, you're going to be surprised how much God talks about it, because he knows how much this impacts our life. And so when we think about this concept of being biblically generous, you'll see the theme comes up over and over again. God's not just concerned about the amount, he's trying to train our soul in it, he's trying to break riches and money from becoming our idol, our God, our sources, security. And one of the ways he does that is, as soon as you get it, instead of thinking it's mine and I'll use it, and then what's left is God. If you look at it and go, oh, it all came from God, so I want to give first to him, I want to recognize that, ad you give out of those first fruits.

Tim Lundy: 21:36 You know, the churches in Northeast India, in the state of Mizoram, they've got a statement of this, I love the beautiful picture of how they live this out. They have a statement called [foreign language] I'm probably butchering that, I'm sorry if I'm saying it wrong, for those of your native speakers. But this statement [foreign language] means one handful of rice at a time. And it goes back to 1914, as the churches they're calling the people to give, and the people had no resources, but here's what they recognized, they did have rice. And so what they would do at every meal, instead of eating all the rice that they had, they'd make a decision to take one handful of rice and put it aside and give it to God. And they would collect that rice, as it went through the week, and then they would bring it to the church. And the church used the rice, they would sell it, to be able to support the church and the ministries out of it. And when they first started back in 1914, all the rice together, it was worth about $1.50. But over the years, as they continue to do that, several years ago, the amount was about $1.5 million and with it, they were not only supporting the church there, they were supporting over 1800 missionaries out from that place. As family after family would take one handful of rice, instead of eating all of our food, we give some to God. Some would do it with their vegetables, some would do it with their firewood, it was just simple ways, but they were committed to living out this first fruits principle. Listen to one member, he said, "There are many ways of serving the Lord, some people do great things, some people are great preachers, some people contribute lots and lots of money. But when we talk about this handful of rice, it is very humble, the service is done in the corner of the kitchen where nobody sees, but God knows, and he blesses." Another church member said, "It is not our richness or our poverty that makes us serve the Lord, but our willingness. So we Mizo people say, as long as we have something to eat every day, we have something to give to God every day." Guys, isn't that powerful, that example in it?

Tim Lundy: 23:59 And so as you're thinking about your life, as I'm thinking about my life, do we have a first fruits mentality? Do we give to God first?

Tim Lundy: 24:10 The third principle, biblical generosity begins at 10%, it begins at 10%. And again, this is another one that's hard, you don't have to give 10% to be a generous person, there's many generous people in the world that give a different percentage. I'm just looking at it, they'll go, what does the Bible teach in it? And a lot of people debate about this, that word, that 10%, that's where we get the word tithe, maybe you've been a part of a church that taught you to tithe. And we often use the word tithe that's synonymous with giving anything, so somebody will say, I tithed a dollar. Well, that would mean 10% of what make is $10, out of it. Tithe, actually in the Bible, meant 10%. And if you look at it, the children of Israel, they actually had three different tithes, they had two that they did every year, and one they did every third year. And so if you add it up, you kind of go back through their whole system in it, there was one tithe that was 10%, another tithe that was 10%, another tithe every three years that was 10%. So on a yearly basis, they were giving about 23.5%. Now, again, different system, different time, it was a theocracy, it was a nation in that, and so I think it's wrong to come in, and we get real legalistic out of that. But here's what I've looked at through my study, over and over again in scripture, you find this 10% coming up. And I think it's that place where you feel the sacrifice, no matter how much you make.

Tim Lundy: 25:40 You know, I love the story of John Maxwell tells about his son, Joel Porter, who got his first paycheck at age 14. And he walks in and he's so excited, he's finally got a paycheck, he's got a job and a paycheck, more money than he's ever had in his life. And he goes and sits in his room because his parents had talked to him about it, and he came out and he said, you know, I've thought about this whole tithing thing, and I just don't think I can afford it. And John Maxwell just kind of laughed, because he looked at him and he said, man, that is such a picture of all of our hearts. He's got more money than he's ever had in his life, but because he does, he really feels it in that moment, and feels what that means.

Tim Lundy: 26:18 And I think it's one of the reasons, and maybe you're feeling it right now. When you talk about this, man, people get so defensive, I know I do. I don't like talking about my money, or your money, or anything else. But if I'm going to grow, if I really want to excel as a person that's biblically generous, I've got to look at this. And as I read this scripture, that 10% principle, it goes beyond just a legalism of ancient Israel. A lot of people write it off and they go, well, we're not under that law anymore. You know, there's an interesting passage for me. I go, even before the law, I go before the nation of Israel even existed. If you go to Abraham, remember Abraham, he's our father of faith. It's a fascinating story in Genesis 14, where Abraham, his nephew Lot has been taken captive, along with five of the kings. It was a place of city state, so each city had its own king, and five of these kings were captured by an army. And Abraham, as an act of faith, he gets his men together and they go and rescue all of them. They rescue Lot, but they also rescue the King of Sodom, the King of Gomorrah, the King of these different areas. And after the battle, Abraham has this encounter with two different kings. One of them Melchizedek is the King of Salem, one of them is the King of Sodom.

Tim Lundy: 27:45 Look at the passage real quick with me, "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High God.) Now, even as we read this, it's kind of a strange passage. Because you say a priest of the most high God, priest of what? There was no Israel, there was no temple, there was nothing out there. Where did this priest come from? And actually the Book of Hebrews, in the New Testament, points out the fact Melchizedek is a type, he's a fore figure of Christ. In fact, a lot of people think this is Jesus in the Old Testament. It's called a theophany, when Jesus would show up, take on a human form. Some say he was just a priest who foreshadowed Christ, some say it was him. But if you notice everything about him points to Jesus, Melchizedek, he's the king of Salem or Jerusalem. Look what he brings out, he brings out bread and wine, isn't that fascinating. A little bit later, we're going to celebrate communion, where Jesus took bread and wine to point to him.

Tim Lundy: 28:49 He's a priest of the most high God. "He blessed Abraham and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” So he's pointing out to Abraham, hey, the only reason you have this, is God gave it to you, that gratitude. Look what Abraham does, unprompted, this fore figure of Christ, this priest of God, unprompted Abraham gave him a 10th of everything. He gives him a tithe. He says, I want to recognize what God has done, and he gives him this gift. Now that's fascinating enough, look at the very next verse. Here comes the King of Sodom, and you remember Sodom and Gomorrah, these are not good people. And yet this king has been rescued Abraham, and the king of Sodom said to Abraham, give me the persons, but you take the goods yourself. He says to him, hey, you've rescued us, you rescued the people in the city, but you know what? We're going to let you have all the goods of the city as a way of saying, thank you. Look what Abraham says, "He said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich." It's a fascinating story, as Abraham faces these two kings, you've got one who's the king of the most high God, you've got one who's the king who represents everything that's wrong with the worldly system. This one says, hey, I want to make you more rich, I'm going to give you all the goods because of what you've done. Abraham looks at him and he goes, you know what? I've already made a commitment before God, that if I took all of that from you, people might look at my life and they would think I'm blessed and I'm rich because of you, and I don't want that to be the image of my life. See, I made a commitment to God, and he's the one that's blessed me, and he's the one that's given to me. And as a token of that commitment, as an act of that gratitude, what does he do? He says, hey, let me take a 10th of what I have, and I want to give it to God.

Tim Lundy: 31:19 Guy's I'd encourage you to wrestle with this, because many of you right now, even as I say this, you look at it and you go, Tim, I couldn't give a 10th of what I make, I can't give 1%. And again, I'm not teaching this because I've got to put some guilt on you right now, I'm teaching it because I want to grow in generosity, and I want you to understand biblical generosity. And so before you get all kind of twisted on is it a 10th of the net or the gross, or, or does it all have to go to the church first? All the questions we get, that we can get kind of sidetracked on. Let's just focus on first, alright, God, if I'm going to grow in this biblical generosity, man, grow my heart that I'm grateful, help me to get that first. Man, I want to hit that tenth to get in the game, because you don't have to stop there by the way, it's not a 10th and only a 10th. It's that place of sacrificial giving, to be a generous person, to wherever God's calling me to give it in his kingdom. I'm not worried about your where, I'm not worried about the amount, I'm actually focused on what I think he focuses on, what's happening in my heart and how do I grow in this?

Tim Lundy: 32:39 And then as we do that, look at the fourth thing, biblical generosity looks for extra ways to help those in need. So I want to give this core 10th of what I'm giving to his kingdom, I'm giving that away. But I don't stop there, I look for extra ways, look how he called the children of Israel. You know, they had the three different tithes that they had to do, but even on top of that, look what he calls them to do in Leviticus 19. He says, "“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God." He's talking to this agrarian people, so remember these crops, this is their paycheck, this is their profits. And he said, hey, when you're getting all the harvest of the field, don't go to the very edges, leave some there. If you go down a line and you miss one, leave it, let it be. If you're pulling grapes and some of the fruit falls on the ground, leave it there. If you see you didn't pull all of it, leave some. And why do you do that? So that the poor people, the foreigner, people that didn't have a home, they could then go through the field and it would give them something eat. It was that extra, and this part didn't even count toward your tithe, it didn't count toward anything else, you didn't get to attribute it later. It was just part of life, God says, a part of your life should have this extra giving, that you're looking to help those who are in need.

Tim Lundy: 34:20 You know it's fascinating, do you remember when Jesus and his disciples are walking through the field, and it says, they take some of the grain and they eat it. And the Pharisees get so mad, they said, you shouldn't do that on the Sabbath, you broke the Sabbath law. And Jesus is like, I'm the Lord of the Sabbath, you guys have turned. these rules backwards. Notice one thing they didn't say to him though, they didn't say, hey, you're stealing that grain, how dare you take that? Why did they not say that? Because Jesus was so poor, he qualified. Because Jesus and his followers, remember for three years, he didn't have a place to lay his head, he didn't own anything. But because he chose to live that way, he qualified as someone who's poor enough to eat the grain. It's a fascinating picture of how much Jesus sacrificed for us.

Tim Lundy: 35:14 But this is also a fascinating, I think, picture for us to look at and go, you know, if I'm going to be generous, what are those extra ways I could give? You know, I've got some friends who they'll walk around, always with a little extra cash in their pocket. One friend who carries around a hundred dollar bill all the time, and whenever God prompts, he looks for that way, you know what? I think God's called me to give to this person. That's just simple thing that I could do, this a great time of year to be thinking about it. You think about times of Christmas need, you think about times of people and families, of just doing those extra things that come out of a heart of biblical generosity.

Tim Lundy: 35:54 I was reading the story of an Uber driver, Latanya Young, she drives Uber in Atlanta. And she picked up one fair Kevin Ash, and they were talking and Kevin had asked her, hey, what are you doing, is this your only thing? She said, well, I'm actually, I'm trying to go to school at Georgia State and get my associates degree, but I'm not going this semester. He said, oh, why are you not? And she said, well, I've got this back fee that I've got to pay before I could register again. And every time I think I'm going to pay it, there's another bill that comes due for the kids or something else, but I'm going to get back in school, don't you worry. You know, as Kevin listened to her, just something prompted in him, and he called Georgia State University, and said, hey, would you look up her account? She owed $700. He said, I'll pay it. You can imagine her shock when the school called her and said, hey, you can come back to school, you can register. And when Kevin was able to watch her finish her associate's degree, and he was asked about it, he said, you know, I was just going to probably buy myself some more stuff. And I realized it's so much more powerful in this way.

Tim Lundy: 37:04 How do we give that extra? You know, we're in a campaign right now, Faith Promise is our extra. We have our core giving that we do as a church. One of the things I love that we do though, before we ever get into next year, and you'll notice as a church, we don't call you to specific amounts for us, but we do make a pledge together for what we give away. And every year we give an amount, it usually ends up being about 15% of our budget, beyond 10%, and I think that's just healthy for us as a church that we're giving away, and we do that Faith Promise pledge. Now I've been concerned this year, I think with the digital, with all this going on with it. You know, usually at this point, I looked it up, this time last year we had 741 commitment cards. That was 741 households that said, I want to be a part of it. This year, we're at about 300 commitment cards, and I really think the drop-off is, we're not here in person. It's harder to fill it out, and it's easy to let it slip your mind, and then it kind of drifts away. And I really want to challenge you, because this is our way that we fund so many things, that we give money that's used to feed children, and to rescue people, and to educate, and to plant churches, and all of it that goes out there. I really want to challenge you, this is one of the few things that I call everybody to do, everybody needs to be a part of this, even if you could only, by faith, give just a small, small amount. Because that small commitment, it's all of us together, and it turns our hearts outward together. And then when we talk about all that we're doing next year, we say we, you're a part of that we. No matter how much, remember, God's not real worried about amounts, he's more interested in hearts, and your commitment to it. So I'd encourage you, if you've not taken that extra step, do that, fill that out, go online. You can click on it, it'll take you about two minutes, you'd be amazed though, the impact it'll have on your heart and focusing you outward.

Tim Lundy: 39:01 Hey, one final thing here, and it's pretty obvious, but it's so important. Biblical generosity at its core is being like Jesus. This is all we're doing, is being like Jesus. Look how Paul puts it, I love how he says it in Second Corinthians, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." Isn't this awesome journey that he took, even though he was rich. And if you think about it, there's no one that is richer than Jesus, no one who owns everything, who's King over everything. Even though he was rich, what did he do? He became poor. And we'll celebrate that this month, we'll rehearse again, the story of how God left his throne. And he didn't just come to this earth, he came to a poor family on this earth. Who were so poor, and so displaced, when he was born, he's not even in a cradle, he's in a feeding trough. He became poor.

Tim Lundy: 40:14 But you know that wasn't the only time he became poor. You know, when he was 30 years old, he left a carpenter shop, he left a pretty good trade, he left a good livelihood, and for three years he walked around and he didn't own a pillow to put his head on. He didn't have a place to stay. He didn't have one dollar, or dime, or penny, or drachma in the bank that was his. He was poor enough, he qualified for the national program that poor people get to eat the grain when they walked by the field, that's how poor he was. Why did he become that? So that we might become rich. And when you look at that you go, what kind of rich are we talking about? Well, spiritually rich. But if you think about it, it's not just a spiritual richness, it's all his riches. One day when we go to heaven, instead of him hoarding his treasure, he shares it with us. And so one day I'm going to live in a place that is so wealthy, the streets are made out of gold, the flooring is made out of jewelry. That gives you some concept of the economy of heaven, and Jesus doesn't hold that back for me, he shares it with me. He's going to share with me a new home that I can't fathom, because he's been preparing it for me. He shares with me any eternal family, where I'll always be loved and accepted. He shares with me divine purpose, I'm going to have purpose and meaning like I've never experienced before. He shares with me the adventures of eternity, as we finally get to exert the dominion over this universe that God always intended for us. He shares with me hope, and joy, and laughter.

Tim Lundy: 42:13 Guys, any way that you would define riches, that's what Christ shares with us. And to share it with us, he became poor, he became a servant. He became the one who died on a cross, taking all of our sin and shame, so that we could experience the richness of eternity with him. And I can't think of anything else to motivate me more, to be grateful, to be generous, to be like Jesus, that's my prayer for you, that's my prayer for us.

Tim Lundy: 43:06 If you look in your notes, you know, each week, I'm just giving you some practical ways to do this. And here's all I would call you to do on this message. If you want to get it in gear, one, I'll call you back, you need to spend time with him daily. I've got the link there for that Christmas reading plan, why don't you click on that? Let's go through a voyage together in December, every day, looking at God's Word so that we can grow like Christ. Secondly, I would challenge you write down three things you're thankful for every day in the month of December, three things every day, start growing in your gratitude. And then the third thing, I think it's just a decision, I'm going to be biblically generous this year. I'm going to be biblically generous this year. Maybe it's looking and going, okay, how do I set aside those first fruits? And maybe you look at it and you go, Tim, I can't fathom 10%, start at 1%, start at 2%, start at something that stretches you. Look for ways that you could be spontaneously generous, or give that extra during this season. If you haven't filled out a Faith Promise card, fill that out, that's a way of stepping out by faith and doing this. Because in all of this, we want to be like the one who became poor for us.

Tim Lundy: 44:37 In fact, as we finish out now, I can't think of a better way of finishing out this message than remembering him through communion. And so I'm going to ask you if you've got the elements that are there, so you've got bread, if you've got juice, maybe you have wine. Those representations, if you'll go ahead and get those elements and take them, and as we do this, let's remember him. You know that night when he was with his disciples, it was fascinating to me, there's a little phrase that I missed in it. Before he gives them the elements, do you know what he does with both of them? He holds up the bread, and he also holds up the cup, and it says in scripture in both cases, giving thanks for them. Jesus is literally holding up an element that represents the fact that his body is about to be broken on a cross, but he's thankful for what it means, because he knew what it would mean for you and me, and he knew what it would accomplish. And so as we come to this moment, it's a place out of gratitude, it's a place out of reflection, it's a place out of receiving again, his gift. We give thanks, we give thanks for his body that was broken for us, let's take and eat. We give thanks for his blood that was shed for us, let's take and drink.

Tim Lundy: 46:22 Will you pray with me? Father, I do thank you for Jesus, I thank you for the cross and what it represents, I thank you for his humility, Lord, I thank you for his poverty, that he was willing to live, frankly, in a way that I don't embrace, he was willing to give up so much more. And so, Lord, I just pray, would you move in me to be more like him? I want to be more biblically generous. I pray that you'd move in our church. I pray that you'd move in the heart of anybody hearing this, Lord, would you break down some of those walls of defensiveness? I know when money's brought up, we get real defensive. I just pray, would you break through some of that? Could we see this for what it is, and live for what you've called us to live? Lord, we pray these things in the name of the one who makes it possible, in Christ' name. Amen.

Recorded in Los Gatos, California.
Read More
Venture Christian Church
16845 Hicks Road
Los Gatos, California 95032