Scripture: Mark 12: 41-44, Eph 1: 3-20
Have you ever been broke, and I mean really broke, embarrassingly broke? What childhood stories come to mind?
We all have had our various levels of being poor and the truth is, because of our histories we avoid being poor like a plague, being poor is seen as a curse and none of us wants to be poor. It seems like fear of poverty drives our world and our economy, best said in that old song ‘someni vijana muongeze pia bidi, mwisho wa kusoma mutapata kazi muzuri sana or should we say Pesa mingi sana’
But How then do we deal with the scripture teaching that says blessed are the poor for they will inherit the Kingdom of God- Scripture paints a very reversed picture for us as believers- We want the Kingdom of God, but do we anticipate poverty? This may be a source of conflict for many today and sometimes what makes us weak in our faith as believers, when God seems not to provide for me?
But can anything good come from being poor? How do we explain this paradox?
When I am broke, usually I am less distracted- I find my routines simple, my steps careful and honestly I am more grateful just to be alive. I desire less, my appetite is more realistic and quite honestly I sometimes envy the poor who sleep lengthily in some weird street space, but sleep in peace.
Generous living starts with living life with Open hands. Open hands mean a sign of 1. Surrender (We are at your mercy, Just as I am) 2. A sign of Gratitude and thanksgiving and 3. A welcome for accountability before God and others. Generous living is about expressing the heart of God and finding true freedom as we acknowledge that we have been blessed to be a blessing.
But for some of us, as we said last week that feels difficult. Opening your hands feels like you are being tricked, or you are saying deeply in your heart ‘what do they want now’ Why can’t we talk about anything else?
Today we explore, the reason behind Open Hands. As believers, what will make our hands open? What makes our hearts open, what makes our wallets open, what makes our homes and our lives to open up? My thesis is simply God’s LIFE is our ALL sufficient resource. We draw our lessons from a poor widow’s account in Mark 12: 41-44 and Ephesians 1: 3-23.
Read Mark 12:41-44
Not much is said of her, but this simple act of a widow, was important enough record to be in God’s word for us today and also for Jesus to call attention to his disciples for. After teaching and exchanging heavily with the big shots and religious leaders of the time, the stage is set for the simple hearted. The locals and the simple people in the crowds. Jesus sits down and observes the Jews going about their temple duties at the temple. There were several boxes in the temple where money could be placed, some were for collecting the temple tax from Jewish males and others were for free will offering as instructed in the old testament. This particular collection box, was probably in the court for women. But as He watched, the sight of a woman, giving her 2 coins became the center of attention and point of teaching for Jesus. Vs 43.
But what can we learn from this poor widow? Today Jesus is seated here by the collection box and is watching as you drop your collection. what would he say about you? As someone rightly put it, The quality of your giving reflects the quality of your living. Allow me to point out 2 major lessons from this poor widow.
First, Generous Living is not about giving from life’s giving, but about the LIFE God has given us. God did not give us this and that, he did not just give us things, he gave us Himself, His very LIFE, and by doing so He gave us everything for living, this is the true basis of our wealth
See how Ephesians 2: 3-10 says it.
Christ is God’s LIFE and God’s best and only gift for us, what can be more sufficient? Sadly until we learn to appreciate the blessings in heavens, we will never open our hands. If you seem more attracted to blessings here on earth than the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, then your hands tighten instead of opening.
But when we deeply consider, this ALL sufficient resource, because it is God’s it never runs out- Our hands begin to open in thanksgiving, in surrender and in accountability.
The others gave from their surplus of their wealth. They gave plentifully, She gave from her worth- she gave abundantly, her hands opened much easier, because that’s all she had to live on. Contrary to so much teaching on prosperity in the churches, we are not called to live plentifully, we are called to live abundantly and there is a big difference. God’s LIFE in us is not Plenty, it is Abundant.
Offerings on Sunday morning are never about a mere measure of our lives, they are the measure of God’s LIFE in our lives. They do not just reveal our wealth, blessings, success and status- They reveal the nature of our greatest conviction and the most important relationship we have. The Option is to merely give our lives or Give His LIFE in our lives.
God’s nature is He is a giver, abundantly, liberally and joyfully. This is the nature of His LIFE. Once we understand that by nature God is a giver and that He lives in us, then we too, become givers in our new nature in Christ who is God’s LIFE dwelling in us. We are not just imitating his nature, we are living out His nature in us. Christianity is not about Imitation but Habitation- God’s life dwelling in us.
And Sometimes God will take us through various seasons to appreciate that we have other blessings unseen in this world. Simplicity and fewer possessions allow us to more freely turn to God’s LIFE. This is what it means to be spiritually poor?
What things distract you from appreciating God’s LIFE in you and the Spiritual blessings you have in Christ? Next time you are broke, ask yourself whether you have considered not plentiful living but abundant living? When we begin from the point of God’s LIFE in ours, our hands automatically open, our hearts open, our homes open, our wallets open, Our small fists give way to the power of God’s LIFE that forces them Open.
In the same way, Our hands will not open up, our feet will not loosen up to share the Gospel and invite others if we have not appreciated this. Generous living is not selfish, but invites all to this Abundant LIFE that is available for all? Are your hands Open?
Secondly I want to point out that Generous Living is the outcome of a Transformed LIFE.
You can be sure that the poor widow, because she gave all she had, tomorrow there will be real changes she will have to make in her life. She will have to do something different to live on, She will trust God for a new way of provision because she has no surplus. The others gave from their surplus, I doubt much will change.
Surplus giving from excess has very little transformational value. When your giving causes you to adopt new attitudes, new behaviors of trusting God that that is real Transformation. Jesus is not only Savior but Lord of your life. You have to entirely trust him.
Like the beggars, when we live without reserves, we can sleep anywhere, we can eat anywhere and anything, we can go anywhere not our usual joints, this is partly why the poor survive longer in hardship because they have learnt to adopt and change.
God is concerned with who we are more than what we give, God is more concerned with our life transformation than our money interactions.
As someone said, Giving is not God’s way of raising money, but God’s way of raising transformed people.
Generous living is a self -disciplined life surrendered to God and is not because we emphasized on how badly the church is doing, or the communication tactics and formulas that have been used. Generous Living draws from the Consistent LIFE of God in us not from our inconsistent lives.
In other words, when your hands open to many times, you will wonder why close them in the first place. Because it was ‘easier’ for the widow to release her 2 coins, it will even be easier for her to release 3, 4 or others. But for those who gave from their surplus, it will become harder to give when there is no surplus.
Again how about you- What does Jesus see, as you come to the collection box- Is there difficulty in opening your hands? Like Zacchaeus, his encounter with Christ burst open his hands and he went deep into where he hid his treasures and abundantly spewed it out to those he had robbed many times as much. Generous Living is the outcome of a Transformed LIFE.
When scripture says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, we are being transformed into His image with ever increasing glory which comes from the Lord. This glory is God’s LIFE, His LIFE changing our lives. The glory of God is people fully alive by the presence of God’s LIFE in their Lives through Jesus Christ.
So are we broke? No! We are broken by God’s LIFE?
Do we have plenty to give? No! We have abundance in God’s LIFE,
Because God’s LIFE is our all sufficient resource, Generous Living is possible. We are blessed to bless
As a way of Response, Consider then what God may be saying to you as you plan to participate in our forthcoming Facilities fundraiser that has been moved to 30th of October. Remember this is not about merely a building of stone and mortar but about facilitating and creating spaces for LIFE transformation. We are trusting God to raise 1.8M Ksh to advance the development of our facilities.
It’s not because we have surplus, or plenty? But over and above your tithe, how is the Lord prompting you to open your hands?
Remember every gift counts, every person counts, every member counts, GOD’s LIFE is our All Sufficient Resource. There will be stories of transformation as you sit down as a family to adjust your budgets, to change menu’s, to change certain things, to talk to new and old friends and family- so that you can trust God to give and Live generously. What will you do more, do less or do without- That is transformation?
Generous Living Prayer
I am blessed of the Lord, to be a blessing to the Nations, God’s LIFE is my all sufficient Resource. All that I am, all that I have, I give for the extension of God’s Kingdom. With Open hands I give to the Lord and with open hands I receive from the Lord. Be it unto me according to your word. Amen.
If You would like to receive God’s LIFE, or You would like to be discipled one on one, or you would like counselling, prayer or even a home visit Or you would like to be baptized, be married- or know of someone- Please come and talk to us- 0720806453, firstname.lastname@example.org Pst. Aluma
Questions for LIFE group Study
1. Share what feelings or memories come to mind when you have been broke? Where is God in the picture.
2. What motivates Generosity, Discuss how God’s LIFE makes the difference in your life.
3. Consider the stories of Zaccheaus and the poor widow, what stories of transformation do you have about your giving?
4. What ways can we train our children on the right motivation ofGenerosity.
5. Are there areas to confess in your life, New attitudes, behaviours or commitments to make. What distracts you from abundant living to plentiful living?
6. Take time to pray for the church and consider how you can participate in our facilities fundraiser? Discuss and pray together with your family and ask your life Group to keep you accountable.
Close your time by saying the generous living prayer.