The Contagious Generosity of God

image 1 - generous.jpg

We read about the generosity of the early Jerusalem church in Acts 4:

“And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. ” (Acts 4:33-34)

The result of God’s grace at work within the church was a generosity that was unparalleled by those around them. It was a generosity that was contagious. Of course, we know that the source of this generosity was God Himself.

“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 through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

The God that we hear about in the Bible, that we are dealing with in Christianity, is a generous God. God is not stingy, but gives us what we could not get through our own means. The word that captures God’s generosity is grace.

Grace means that we receive what we do not deserve. The God of the universe, in one sense, owns everything, and we have nothing. Yet, though we have nothing, and, perhaps, have less than nothing because of the dark power of sin that infects our lives, God does not give up on this wonderful, cracked creation of which we are a part.

God does more than not give up on the creation. He gives into the creation, taking on human flesh and bone to live in the messy and marvelous world we inhabit. And God coming in, Jesus the Messiah, though He holds all things as His own, lets them go that we might partake of His treasures.

Like some cosmic Robin Hood, Jesus comes to take from the rich to give to the poor…except He is both the rich man and the revolutionary, giving all He can into our lives.

“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 through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

We come empty to God, and He fills us.

Christianity tells us that God is generous.

And it is because God is generous that His people, too, become generous. This is what we see in the New Testament record. It is not just the Jerusalem church, but the Antioch church that sends off its best to share the message of Christ with the rest of the known world in Barnabas and Paul (Acts 13:1-3). It is the Thessalonian church whose faith rang out in the known world because of how they lived it out (1 Thessalonians 4:2-10).

God is a generous God, and His generosity – His grace – is contagious within His people.

Sacrificial Generosity

Continuing our “Roots” series this past weekend at Eastbrook Church, I took us into an exploration of “Sacrificial Generosity.” No one can read the description of the early church in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37 without being deeply moved and challenged. What was it in this early church experiment in Jerusalem that we can learn from as we grapple with wealth and possessions? While also drawing upon Paul’s words to the young pastor in 1 Timothy 6:6-10, the entire message was rooted in 2 Corinthians 8:9:

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 through his poverty might become rich.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities for involvement.

Read More »

Prayer as Mission: The Early Church in Acts

I continued our series on prayer, “Great Prayers of the Bible“, at Eastbrook Church this past weekend by looking at four themes on prayer from the early church in the book of Acts. I try not have a romanticized view of the early church that leads into an impulse to “recover the true church.” However, I do believe we can learn some important lessons on prayer from the earliest believers who walked with Jesus.

You can view the message video and the sermon outline below. You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast.

Read More »

Generous (Study Questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church entitled “Generous.”

Discussion Questions:

1. Who is the most generous person that you have ever met? Why would you describe them in this way?

2. As we continue our “Living Church” series, we are looking at the topic of generosity. The starting point for generosity with others is God’s generosity with us. Take some time to read the following Scripture passages, and then describe, in your own words, the generosity of God:Read More »

Generous

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we continued our series “Living Church” by looking at the generosity of the early church in Jerusalem. My message was built around seven characteristics of the generosity seen in the early church in Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37.

You can listen to my message online at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also subscribe to the Eastbrook podcast here or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter.

The message outline is included below.

Read More »

Devoted to Prayer (Study Questions)

Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church entitled “Devoted to Prayer.”

Discussion Questions:

1. This weekend, we are continuing our series “Living Church” from Acts 2:42-47 with a look at what it means to be devoted to prayer. Given that topic, what are your greatest joys and challenges in developing a life of prayer?

2. Prayer permeates the book of Acts. Although we often default into thinking of prayer as a personal activity, Acts shows the early church praying corporately most of the time. Take a look at these examples of corporate prayer in Acts and reflect on what they teach you about praying with others:

  • Acts 1:13-14
  • Acts 2:42
  • Acts 12:5-16
  • Acts 13:2-3
  • Acts 14:23
  • Acts 16:25
  • Acts 20:36

3. Acts 4:23-31 is one of the clearest pictures of prayer in the early church. Read through Acts 4:1-31 to understand the background to prayer. What is the situation that leads the early believers into prayer?

4. Ask the following questions about Acts 4:23-31:

  • What does this passage say about God?
  • What does this passage say about prayer?
  • What does this passage say about how we handle circumstances?

5. Since the word ‘devoted’ conveys the idea of continuous, steadfast activity, consider what it means to have steadfast, continuous devotion to prayer. What has your experience of devotion to prayer been like, either personally or corporately?

6. Identify one practical way you will devote yourself to prayer as a response to this week’s study and sermon. Write it down, reflect on it, and put it into practice this week. If you are in a small group, discuss this with one another.