Gospel-Fueled Giving

by Erin Bird 

If you were with us this past Sunday for our third birthday celebration, thanks for celebrating with us what God has done! Here’s to not just three more years of Jesus changing lives through His gospel, but countless years of seeing hundreds and thousands find Jesus and follow Him. (Glad you are on this journey with us!)

Giving Conclusion

Today on the blog, we conclude our short series on the topic of generosity. We’ve been walking through 2 Corinthians 9. And this week, we also finish with the last three verses (verses 13-15), which say…

“By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”

Let me help you get your bearings since we are jumping into the middle of one of Paul’s thoughts.

  • When he says “by their approval,” he is talking about the happiness of those who received the financial giving of the Corinthian Jesus-followers.
  • And the “service” he is referring to is the actual act of financial giving.

But I want you to see one thing, found in two places in these last three verses.

The first instance is in verse 13 when Paul says, “they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ.”

Those who receive the financial gift of your giving will glorify God. But notice what the motivation is behind the gift. It isn’t simply to make them happy. It isn’t to make them impressed. Your gift was given because of your obedience, your submission to God which flows from your identity in the gospel.

This means your giving isn’t a duty – it’s worship. It is to be a response to the person and work of Jesus.

That’s why Paul concludes this section with verse 15 (our second instance) – “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” God’s greatest gift was Jesus, who died on a cross for the payment of our sin. And when you realize how great His gift is, one of the ways you express your thanks is through giving. Because God gave so generously, we feel compelled to give generously.

This is why a Jesus-follower doesn’t just drop $10 in an offering plate on a Sunday morning as if he or she were paying for a movie and popcorn. Our giving (and I am talking about our FIST (finances, influence, skills, and time) not just money) is to be generous, extravagant, gospel-fueled, because of what God has done for us.

I want to see you experience this. I want Jesus to be Lord over your entire life, and that includes your finances.

This is why we are offering Financial Peace University. We want to help you get to a place where you can give freely, joyfully, and generously, and not be trapped in debt or unhealthy patterns. To sign-up for this nine-week class, simply email Jeff. It will be an investment you won’t regret. (Scholarships are available.)

Giving A Blessing

Today is officially Riverwood’s 3rd Birthday! It was on Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014 that Riverwood held its first public worship gathering at the W-SR Middle School. A lot has happened and changed since that day. But what hasn’t changed is Riverwood’s commitment to Jesus and His gospel.

That’s why this Sunday, April 23, I’m excited to celebrate these past three years with you by looking at the lives that have changed as a result of the gospel upon which Riverwood is founded. So do everything you can to be there this Sunday, 10:00 am, at the Waverly Area Veterans Post as we celebrate the work of Jesus!

Continuing with Giving

We are in a short series here in the News and Notes on the topic of Giving. We are walking through 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, and this week we come to verses 8-12, which say…

“And 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. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.”

These verses tie back to the topic of “a return to giving” found in verse 6 (which we talked about two weeks ago) as well as the idea that a joy can be found in giving (which we looked at last week). But there are two more ideas Paul brings up in these sentences that I want to focus on today.

1. Giving a Blessing

In verse 9, Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9. The psalmist declares the generosity of God, giving to the poor.

What a blessing to the poor! When God gives to them, they are blessed.

But let’s think about this in spiritual terms. Without Jesus, we were poor spiritually, yet God gave us, the spiritually impoverished, the spiritual wealth of the gospel. Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God has given us every spiritual blessing in heaven. What a blessing!

Likewise, when you give, you are blessing others. When you give to Riverwood, you a blessing the spiritually disconnected in our community, as well as those within the church family. Your giving isn’t simply an act of obedience to God. It is truly blessing others and changing lives.

2. Giving: A Blessing

Second, notice how Paul says that the very act of giving is a blessing to you.

At the tail end of verse 12, he says that when you give, you see God generously provide for you, and that leads you to “overflow in many thanksgivings to God.”

In other words, you can give generously, not hoarding what you have, because God can and will generously provide for your needs. And when you see Him do this, you will be blessed!

So giving to others doesn’t just bless them, it also blesses you!

Applying 2 Corinthians 9:8-12

In light of all this, I want to give you an opportunity to apply what God says to us through Paul in this passage.

This Sunday, at our Birthday Celebration, we are going to give you an opportunity to sponsor a child through Compassion International. For less than a monthly cell phone plan, you can truly change a child’s life, knowing your gift is going to not only provide some food, clothing, and education for an impoverished child, but your sponsored child will receive these blessings through a local church that will teach them about the love of God seen through Jesus.

And when you get letters from your sponsored child, you will not only realize just how much God has used you to bless them, but you will be blessed as well!

Joy Giving

by Erin Bird

There is a video trend currently happening on YouTube called “The Bad Joke Challenge .” Two people will sit across from each other, telling “bad” jokes (think “Dad” jokes, not “dirty” jokes). The “winner” of the challenge is the one who DOESN’T laugh. In other words, first to laugh loses.

While both contestants do their best to keep their laughs stifled, eventually one of them busts. But it’s interesting that as soon as one person laughs, the second person immediately laughs as well.

Because joy is contagious.

Joy in Giving

We are in a series here on the blog about Giving, walking through 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. Last week, as we looked at verse 6, we saw there is a return to our giving . This week we move on to verse 7, and we discover that giving should contain joy.

When someone gives you a gift, whether for your birthday, or at Christmas, or just because, you feel honored. But if they gave the gift to you with a glum face, sulking about the amount of money they spent, you wouldn’t feel very honored, would you?

I think this is why God wrote through the Apostle Paul…

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Just like you don’t want a gift given reluctantly, God doesn’t want you giving out of duty or with a bad attitude. Your giving is part of your worship of what God has done for you through Jesus. He wants you to give with joy.

But something else happens when you give with joy than just the actual giving. Your joy will be contagious. It will help others to give. It will help others be in awe of God. And it will help others have joy as well.

So give. Give generously. Give sacrificially. But do it joyfully. Because you might just give joy to someone else.

Return to Giving

by Erin Bird

Here in Iowa, we are moving into planting season in the next month or so. Farmers all over our state will be preparing their fields to put seed in the ground.

Every farmer hopes their seed is good, their ground will be fertile, and the weather will cooperate to make a bountiful harvest in the fall. But can you imagine a farmer planting only one-fourth of his land, and yet getting irate when he doesn’t have a record harvest in the fall? You’d look at him like he was crazy! He planted incredibly sparingly, so why should he expect to get a full yield as if he planted all of his acres?

This is exactly the Apostle Paul’s point in 2 Corinthians 9:6.

Sparingly vs. Bountifully

We started a new series here in the News & Notes email last week on the topic of financial generosity. Paul talks about this issue in 2 Corinthians 9, and this week we are going to look at verse 6, which says…

“The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (ESV)

Paul isn’t talking farming here like I did at the start of this post. The context is finances. And his point is incredibly clear. If you give a little bit of money, you can expect to get back only a little. But if you give generously and bountifully, you can expect a bountiful return.

Some Giving Questions

But this brings up a couple of questions. First, how do we get a “return” and who gives it?

As we’ll see over the next couple of weeks, the “who” is God. God gives a return to us in accordance with what we give as part of our worship.

But does this mean we give for the sole purpose of getting? Personally, that makes me uncomfortable. The giving that Paul is talking about (and that we will see together over the next couple of weeks) is to be for worship to God and for the blessing of others. Giving isn’t to be first about us and what we can get out of it.

And yet, there is a “return” to our giving that we can’t ignore. If we are only willing to give a little bit, then we’ll only get a small return. But when we are willing to give generously, God provides for our needs abundantly.

It All Belongs to God

And that brings me to the last point I will make today. Everything we have is God’s in the first place. Your home, your family, your job, even the air you breathe is God’s, and He happily gives it to you.

That is why when you are stingy with your financial giving, you are acting as though your money is yours. And because you are (in a sense) hoarding His stuff, God isn’t going to entrust more to you. But if you are willing to be generous, recognizing it is God’s and He wants you to use the finances He gives you to bless others and exhibit faith in Him, He will gladly provide for you.

So don’t “sow sparingly.” Instead, learn the joy of giving “bountifully” and generously, trusting that God can do more with your money than you ever could, and there will be a return in your giving.

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