Generosity

Connection Offerings

By Karen Polich

There’s something about our habits. We usually do what we usually do. We usually don’t do what we usually don’t do. How do we make the shift? – Michael M. Cook

We all have a role in the body of the Church. Pastor Michael M. Cook wrapped up the Fragile Growth sermon series on Sunday. This eight week series focused on moving forward in our growth as followers. Connection Offerings, teaches from Colossians 4:7-18; looking at five people and their traits. What if we adopted these traits? Listen to the podcast here.

Availability (Tychicus). He was available and dependable. God is more concerned about our availability than our ability. Are we ready to say “yes” when He can use us?

Useful (Onesimus). He was faithful. We see in Philemon 1:11 that he had failure in life, but God still used him. Failure does not have to be final. In failures, we have a choice to give up or move on. It is important as a believer to have the capacity to move forward. God can do anything. There can be new starts and things can turn around. It’s all possible.

Reconciliation (Mark). There is a fine line between we are not right with each other and we are now right with each other. Choosing a church is simply a matter of deciding which group of radically flawed individuals you will commit your life to.

Be careful and be slow to write people off. – Michael M. Cook

Prayer (Epaphras). He was always “wrestling in prayer”. The opposite of prayer is self-reliance. What does a prayer warrior recognize? God is able to do things that we are not able to do. It is heavy, hard work. Not a prayer warrior? What would get you to become one? What can God accomplish that you can’t?

 Generosity (Nympha). Everything she had was at God’s disposal. Is this how we live? Much can happen when we have a generous heart and hold nothing for ourselves.

Whatever condition we find ourselves in, we are all in this together. What would it look like if we all adopted these traits, wrestling in prayer as we give and make ourselves available for His Kingdom? We are all needed somewhere right now.

 

 

Stuff, Struggles & God’s Offer

By Karen Polich

You can’t have everything. Seriously, where would you put it? – Steven Wright

Take a good look into your life. Many of us have full closets but empty hearts. Pastor Michael Cook wrapped up his Stuff sermon series with what God says in the midst of our struggles with stuff.

Revelation 3:17-20 17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

Are we in a place where we have more stuff than ever before but are enjoying less? Homes are three times larger than fifty years ago and lack nothing to fill them. The abundance of stuff can distract our faith. God reminds us we are refined through His fire and clothed through His purification.

God is here, calling us. We tend to focus on the stuff more than Him. He wants to share our lives. The wealth of a Christ follower comes not with stuff, but in Christ. How do we handle our stuff? Over the last few weeks, Pastor Michael Cook has taught us the importance of shifting our focus from stuff to Christ, leading to a truly generous life.

Ready for the next step? Christ whispers into our hearts with endless places to start.

Here are just four possibilities of first steps as we move out of the struggle of stuff.

Edit your life. Start with one area and begin to edit things out. We don’t have to start big. One thing after another, week after week and our lives will be changed.

Begin a gratitude journal. Write down one thing you are grateful for each day. Gratitude trains our heart, combating comparison and the desire for something “better”.

Serve consistently. As God blesses us with stuff, our heart naturally turns inward. Serving others takes our heart back. Serving grows gratitude.

Give faithfully. Don’t wait! It will never get easier to give. Abundance doesn’t lead to giving, intentional generosity does. Whatever you have, be generous now. Developing a spending plan is a great place to start.

Our needs and wants can crossover, but God is ready to do something great in our lives regarding stuff. He stands, He calls, He knocks…

Challenge: Ending the struggle over stuff can begin today. We can choose to seek Christ first, living generously and being who God created each of us to be. Want change in life? Take a new step today.

Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here. Learn about the Hope Effort at www.afbcHope.com

 

 

Enjoying Our Stuff

By Karen Polich

What are the things in your life you really enjoy? The Creator is whispering to all of us, “Enjoy…”

Pastor Michael Cook concluded his Stuff sermon series with a deeper look at enjoying what we have. Wealth is not always a friend of faith. At times we can become so enamored or distracted by what we have that we miss the One who blessed us with all of it.

Often the more we have, the more we experience spiritual drifting. We focus on what we have and what we can do because of what we have. Life begins to operate around the personal. We focus on our kids’ activities, the travel we can easily do, or just the task of caring for the possessions we’ve surrounded ourselves with. How do we keep our hearts moving toward God with gratitude?

1 Timothy 6:17-18  Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.

Serving and sharing will keep our hearts where they need to be. Spiritual growth should never suffer because of the blessings God has bestowed upon us. Our greatest challenge may not be that we are rich, but that we don’t feel rich. When we don’t know and don’t understand how rich we truly are we fall short when it comes to generosity.

He says, “Enjoy…just don’t forget about Me!”

Doing anything for others is better than offering everything “if they need it”! When we become doing people instead of offering people we are truly investing in others. This rescues us from self-focus. When our focus is on others, we can fully enjoy everything God has given us. Our stuff should be a tool that brings glory to God through our generosity. We can all live generously. God has blessed us beyond measure.

Are you a giving, sharing person? Enjoy your stuff, but keep your focus on Him.

Project for the week:

  1. Serve someone in a place that is out of the ordinary for you.
  2. Find out how much you are giving away. What is the percentage? (You just did your taxes.) Knowing how much of your life you are giving away is critical.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give –Winston Churchill

Visit www.AFBCHope.com for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.

Giving Stuff Away – 4 Reflections Concerning Generosity

By Karen Polich

If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will help straighten out almost every other area in his life. – Billy Graham

We can do three things with our money. We can spend it, save it or give it away. Pastor Michael Cook continued his Stuff sermon series with a look at what it means to be generous.

Often we want to give. We really do. Our hearts feel the tug to be generous and help others. We’re ready until we encounter the struggle of giving versus ensuring having enough left for what we need.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Pastor Michael Cook shared four reflections concerning generosity.

1. Planting and harvesting. God moves in tangible and intangible ways. The Bible clearly teaches that those who organize their lives around generosity receive God’s blessing.

2. Decision and follow through. Intention is not decision. We can plan how we are going to give all we want but that does not make us generous. Acting on our decision is how we follow through with a real commitment to generosity. It is not how or what we give, it is that we give. Find a systematic approach that serves you well and implement it.

3. Attitude. God loves a cheerful giver. Why? Have we considered that God is a cheerful giver? His extravagance and generosity are beyond measure. Generosity brings more than we can imagine. Living generously pushes out the ungodliness in our lives.

4. Cycle of care. This goes back to wanting to give, but looking at our needs and not seeing enough. God is able. God will always take care of our needs. Do you believe God sees, loves generosity and will provide? YES! The question we must answer is, will we put our trust in Him? We give, God provides.

There is a certain beauty and value that comes with living a generous life.

Is your life being transformed through a heart of generosity?

Challenge: Commit to a yes or no. Be very careful about the lethal word LATER. There is never an easy, convenient time to give so waiting isn’t the answer. If you want to live a life of generosity, you must decide and act.

Project for the week:

1. Give away 7 items each day for the next 7 days. (If that seems too aggressive for you, give away 1 item each day for the next 7 days.)

2. Find one valuable item you own but don’t use. Give it to someone who needs it.

Visit www.AFBCHope.com for more information regarding the Hope Effort. Listen to Pastor Michael Cook via podcast here.