Speaker: Rev. Dr. Marnie Crumpler
Date: November 6, 2016
Text: Connected for Good: Generous To God
GENEROUS TO GOD
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified; and those whom he justified, he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Merciful and generous God, in your great love for this world you gave your only son. Through his death on the cross we have received life and hope. We confess that we cling tightly to our own lives. We are slow to sacrifice and quick to possess. We multiply our comforts and guard them against threat. Forgive us, and shape your likeness in us that we might be ready to risk and eager to give freely for the glory of your name and the good of our neighbors. Amen
In these verses, Paul orients us to the gracious way in which God provides for us.
We're assured that the circumstances of our lives are ordered in such a way as to work to our good. We're told that God has taken the initiative in our lives to give us faith and to make us more like Christ. We are assured that since any resistance to God's purposes in the world will be overcome and if we have aligned ourselves with God's purposes then we will overcome as God does.
In light of this grand design of God, we draw four conclusions regarding our stewardship both of our lives, our influence, and our resources:
- We cannot out give God.
- We cannot pay God back, nor does he desire it.
- When we give, our actions reflect God's character.
- We give because we love what God loves.
1. Paul affirms that, "God causes all things to work for good for those who love him" (28). How have you seen this affirmation to be true in your own life? What did you learn about God through that experience?
2. Paul describes God's purpose and work in your life and mine in verses 29-30. His work begins with knowing our destiny and ends with our experience of glorification in the presence of God. Try putting verses 29 and 30 into your own words in order to let this truth sink it.
3. In verse 32, Paul writes that God "freely gives." In other words, God's grace is not a response to anything we do or fail to do; God gives us His grace only because he wishes to give us his grace. Our response to that grace is repentance and faith. We believe not in order to be saved, but because we have been saved. Does this reality make a difference in your Christian life? Is so, what?
4. Paul concludes that since God has provided grace for us in a superabundant fashion in Christ, how can we be in doubt about God's intentions towards us in other areas of our lives? How is this truth a comfort to you?
5. Marnie noted that we "cannot out-give God." The generosity of a philanthropist like Bill Gates is a drop in the bucket compared with the lavish grace that God has bestowed upon his children. How does this truth affect your generosity?
6. We cannot pay God back, and indeed God doesn't want us to try. If you're honest with yourself, to what extent are you trying to pay God back for the good things in your life? How is that outlook limiting or freeing?
7. When we give we act in a God-like manner. Have you considered that the good things that we do, and the virtues we exhibit in our lives are echoes of the good that's found in the nature and character of God? Does this change how you think of things like decisions, values, etc.?
8. God invites us to love what God loves. One of the ways that we do this is through giving to advance the works of God's kingdom. Search the Scriptures for a few moments and make a list of the things that God values. What are they?
Gracious and love Father,
Help us not to place our trust in princes nor in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation. Help us, rather, to place our trust in you who alone are God, and whose purposes never fail. Amen.