Saturday, October 15, 2011

God Is Able


The heart of our message today will come from Mark 12.

Ever since the creation of Adam, God’s plan for mankind has included a simple formula for success in life. This formula can be divided into four recognizable categories:

1. Work – (Our opportunity for supply and increase)

2. Give – (Of ourselves and our stuff in worship and witness)

3. Save – (Considers, prepares and preserves for the future)

4. Live – (Family and Community)

When any one of these areas gets out of balance we can miss the abundant life God intended even if we are a born again, spirit filled, Bible believing, God fearing Christian. However, when these four areas are in balance, life on planet earth will work for the believer and the non-believer alike.

We tend to look at and look up to people whom we consider to be good at life without respect as to whether or not they claim a connection to God, simply because they appear successful. Life is designed to work and at times the children of this world are wiser in this world than the children of light. Why?

I can’t help but believe that at times some children of God expect their Heavenly Father to do more than His share of their work. This is not to say that God does not help His children and favor them above the children of this world … however, I do mean to say that life, even the life of a believer, is work.

Work provides increase and opportunity. What we do with our increase and opportunity often determines our quality of life.

Many times people make life too much about work, too much about giving, too much about saving or too much about living. Each of these areas should be in harmony and in their proper place as for as life priorities go.

Work is the platform God designed from which all other areas of life draw opportunity and make increase.

In the beginning Genesis says:

Genesis 1: 15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

· God took the man: A picture of Adam in God’s hand for a purpose

· “put” – set in a place of rest; repose; relaxation; enjoyment; ease

· “to tend” – till; cultivate; work; increase through labor

· “keep” – guard; protect; preserve – speaks of the future intent

God had a plan and a purpose for mankind and that included connecting him to the benefit, relaxation and enjoyment of labor and the increase which it yields. As well, God intended for Adam to look towards the future benefit and preserve the garden’s capacity for continued increase. Whether it was a simple matter of protecting it by enclosure or providing some labor for the harvest of fruit to be consumed and some labor of fruit to be prepared as seed, preserved for future planting, it was protected. (Both alike take the same amount of labor whether harvested for bread or for seed … God supplies both in a single harvest. It is man’s responsibility to divide the labor and the harvest into these categories.)

It is God’s intent that our labor be enjoyable as we work, wherever we work, as though we are working for the Lord and not for man. Work is designed to occupy a majority of our time and it is God’s desire and design that our work be both a blessing to us and an opportunity for us to bless others.

When God came to check on Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening he was no doubt interested in how they were progressing in the tasks to which they were assigned. This helps explain the parable Jesus told in:

Mark 12

1 ¶ Then He began to speak to them in parables: "A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.

2 "Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers.

This parable, as well as many others such as those concerning the talents, give us to note that God has an expectation that we would increase in the place He “puts” us. And, that we would realize that God expects us to increase and that our labor is directly connected to God’s greater plan for all mankind. Again, work is our opportunity to be of greater benefit to God’s overall plan.

Ephesians 4:28 Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

The Apostle Paul directly connected the increase we gain from working to our increased opportunities to give. God expects us to share our increase.

This morning I want to us to re-discover three things the Bible says about God and giving.

1. God sees

2. God loves

3. God rewards

First let’s look a little farther down in the 12th chapter of Mark to verse 41.

Mark 12

41 ¶ Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. (about 1/3 of a cent – enough to buy one piece of bread)

43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;

44 "for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood." (all of the increase for which she had worked; everything she possessed; the whole of her resources)

God sees what every person gives and He is the One who receives each gift that is given in His name.

Not only does God see but God also keeps records … not so much as to the amount that is given, but rather He records how much it costs the giver to give what they have given. The poor are not exempt from giving.

2 Corinthians 8

13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;

14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack — that there may be equality.

God desires that people give equally – not equal amounts but equal sacrifice. This is accomplished in God’s plan for man to bring all the tithe into the storehouse so that there might be enough even in times of lack. What should we base our giving upon … according to “all our increase”.

Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD with your possessions, And with the firstfruits of all your increase;

Just as God sees what every person gives – God also loves the cheerful giver.

It is evident that Jesus loved and respected the poor widow who gave her 2 cents into the Temple treasury that day. This amount of money was the least amount which would be accepted by the Temple priests. There is no telling just how long she labored and saved and did without other things she wanted so that she might have the opportunity to gather enough to contribute to the work and will of God.

Even though we know that the Priests and scholars of Jesus’ day were not the best representation of heaven’s work and will, nonetheless Jesus commended the widow for giving and exemplified her as someone whose example should be followed in every generation.

2 Corinthians 8:12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.

There is no telling how happy this woman was to finally get to the place in life where she could participate in giving – and … all it costs her was all she had. But that’s what God accepts … what we have. It cost to give …

In 2 Samuel 24:24 David says that he would not give to the Lord that which cost him nothing. In other words, David did not want to be numbered among those who only gave that which they would not miss. Unless it costs us to give, perhaps we give nothing. At any rate, God accepts from us according to what we have. He does not want our living … He does not demand our bread – but he does expect our seed and a portion of our increase.

Giving to the Lord can be a challenge when we encounter unexpected hard times or unexpected increase. However, God expects nothing more and nothing less from the rich as he does from the poor or the average person. And …

2 Corinthians 9:7 … God loves the cheerful giver.

Cheerful – hilaros – joyful, willing, compassionate, and prompt

God sees what each one of us gives … He loves to see us joyfully excited about what we give … and God rewards us when we give.

2 Corinthians 9

6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Remember – God is able!