#Generous Living… A long night

Scripture: Gen 22:1-19, Mat 6:25-33

I want to believe all of us have gone through this experience. Especially most men. I remember the first day, I got my first car. After waiting for so long, I had finally achieved what feels like a monumental point of being a man in our African society, owning my own car. That first night was unusually long, Of-course after cleaning it and re-cleaning it, looking at it from various angles again and again, I locked it and confirmed the locks again. That night was filled with thoughts, can’t wait to tell, to show so and so… did I lock the windows? That night you hear every sound little and small…someone might be trying to sneak in to my car, then oh the traffic, which new roads to use…and the night becomes very long.

We use the Phrase ‘A Long night’ when we for some reason don’t sleep well because usually we have thoughts or concerns characterized by 3 main things, Fear, Anxiety and Worry. Scriptures teaches us in Ps 127:2, that the Lord gives sleep to those He loves.  Are you having a Long night or a nice long nap when you think of your future? How do you sleep when you feel unprepared for tomorrow? How do you sleep unsure of tomorrow? When you think of your resources- how do you sleep?

We continue with our series on generous living and this month we are looking at the fact that we are blessed to be a blessing. Generous living is about expressing the heart of God and finding true freedom by living life with Open hands. Remember again Open hands means a sign of surrender, a sign of gratitude and a sign of accountability.

Last week we began by laying the foundation that God’s LIFE is our all sufficient Resource. First that Generous Living is not about giving from life’s giving, but about the LIFE God has given us. God’s LIFE in us is abundant and as Christians we are not called to plentiful living, but abundant living.

Secondly we also pointed out that Generous Living is the outcome of a Transformed LIFE. Surplus giving has very little transformational value. But when you’re giving causes you to adopt new self-denying attitudes and behaviors of trusting God that is real Transformation. In other words, Only God’s LIFE has the power to break our hands Open.

However, one other reason we do not open our hands is that we have had or we are having a long night? When we think of our future, and whether we are prepared or not, are we ready or not? In other words, do you have any Investments? Or should I say what kind of investments do you have? The answers to these questions make our hands to hold on and fold tightly in fear, anxiety and worry or open them up to God in surrender, gratitude and accountability. It’s said that how we sleep is a picture of how we live. Folded hands and bodies reveal a life reflective of fear, anxiety and stress, while ‘open’ sleeping like my son’s is from a point of security and freedom. Today I will ask, What Kind of Investment do you have?   Do you have a Long night or are you sleeping easy?

Let’s turn to scripture to a story of one you would think should have had a long night? A very familiar story in Gen 22:1-19 (Read)

We would imagine one of the longest nights for Abraham is between vs 2 and 3. The command was clear, ‘Your son, your only son, whom you love so much, sacrifice him to me as a burnt offering’ Did He sleep that night?

This is the son, we may think after waiting in agony for 99 years, a heir finally given as an answered prayer and fulfilled promise, a climax, why would God ask of this strange request? What will it be said of me? Foolishness, What about that heir thing, who will continue my generation, How will I go back to that same hole of telling people, ‘God said’. How will I face His mother and tell him Isaac is no more? Did He sleep with a fist or with open hands? This has all the indications of a long night, but was it?

In the morning, the journey begins in earnest. This morning Abraham begins one of the greatest acts of obedience recorded in history. He travelled 50 miles to mount Moriah near Jerusalem. Was he in his right mind, were his hands in a fist or open.

3 days on the journey would have been sufficient time to rethink this over, but He is still on course. After releasing the servants, He is left alone with Isaac. But this short conversation between father and son, is probably the most powerful conversation a family can ever have.

Read Vs 7-8

Abraham’s answer settles it as the Lesson for today “Say with me ‘God will provide’,  I am convinced from this answer that Abraham’s hands were Open, that what we think may have been a long night for him, was probably a good night sleep- because ‘God will provide’

Over the years Abraham understood this powerful lesson on Stewardship. This story begins by pointing out that God tested Abraham’s faith. But what was God testing? Was it really just about Abraham? Earlier on in Chapter 12, God sovereignly chose Abraham to begin an eternal plan beyond Abraham, A plan that would see salvation for all nations and that all nations would be blessed through Him. In other words, Abraham and all therein him and his experiences was to be seen as God’s investment, and here now we find that God is qualifying the seed he had chosen for his investment. Abraham knew that all that He had or owned was God’s investment in Him. Isaac was not His to Keep but God’s Investment in Him. His obedience to God was simply a response to God’s investment, investing back. With open hands you gave, with Open hands I give back.

First to say, there is a big difference between Savings and Investments. Savings are what we keep aside for a rainy day it’s a starting point, but Investments are savings that take a life of their own, our benefit arises when savings give birth to life. This is true of business. But biblically- This is why the servant who saved his talent by hiding it was punished, but the ones who invested their talents were rewarded.

For Abraham this was not about saving himself or Isaac’s life, and this was about Investing in God’s LIFE- His Kingdom and His Plan. Blessing to the nations. Ultimately God’s LIFE dwelling in all human lives.

Secondly, God expects us to Invest, because He expects a return on His investment. He did not just save us from death, but He has also invested in us for LIFE. We don’t mature as Christians when we remain at the point of being saved. ‘I made it’.  It falls short that God saved us only so that we can make it to heaven. See how well it is said. Eph 1:11-14

His investment in us is His LIFE and so He expects LIFE returns not merely life returns. Your best offering to god is not wealth and riches, but your transformed life in alignment with His LIFE plans. Like Abraham, He understood that all He had- God had provided, for His Plans not mine. This is a paramount lesson in Biblical Investments.

Imagine if this is how we went about our Investment- God has provided, God will provide- We sleep easy and find our hands Opening to invest all we have back to God for His plans.

Perhaps the biggest mistake we make about our investments today is because we invest for our life reasons. We invest so that we can save our lives in future, As scripture teaches who ever loses his life for my sake will gain it and whoever gains his life will lose it.

We usually invest from a point of fear and anxiety of what will happen tomorrow, what will be said of us, such investments are made with fisted hands and usually the returns are temporary, and unsatisfactory.  

Are we insecure about what God has given us? Can we trust that If He has given it to us, He will retain it for us? If God gave me the car then He will preserve it and secure it, so that I can continue having it. Why do I lack sleep to think that it’s now up to me to hold on to it, to protect it and preserve it? And when the time comes that He wants it, as easily as I received it, as easily it will go? (My car experience). So yes, build your walls high, fit the alarms, get bigger locks, put big gates, get an insurance cover, but remember, unless the Lord watches over the city, the laborers labor in vain.

If your only motivation to find a job is so that tomorrow you are saved, then you miss the blessing of work as God’s plan for mankind. If your motivation for asking for an increase or promotion is to save your life from fear, shame, or lack it still falls short.

If your motivation of giving and tithing is equally to save you from shame, guilt or buying security from God, then it falls short.

But On the contrary if your Investments serve LIFE purpose, then you sleep easy, your hands open easily. Because God will provide for His own cause.

When thinking of Investments- Do you start by asking

Why Has God given me what he has given me and how best can I achieve His purposes.

What if you asked yourself first- How can I grow my income, so that I can give more?

What if I was to increase my giving to 20 percent- What new targets can I set for my investment or business? And not the other way round?

Generous living is only possible when we are making LIFE investments not life investments. Because ‘God will Provide’ – We sleep easy and Our hands open when we make LIFE investments but we sleep with fists and difficulty when we only have our life investments. So turn to your neighbor and tell them- Sleep, God will provide.

So how do we go about LIFE Investments?

How did Abraham go about offering Isaac, as a LIFE investment? We know the rest of the Story God truly provided. Because God will Provide we can invest.

We invest with Love not with Fear- Fear discourages love when it comes to investments. It’s easier to Invest in what you love and in those you love. But if you are suspicious, you hold back. Abraham invested because He had experienced God’s love, because his life was a testimony of God’s Love. Isaac himself was a gift of Love and in the same likeness- God’s investment to us is seen in the love espoused by the sacrifice of his son on the Cross. God made an investment of Love in Christ. He has risked Loving you.

We invest with Faith not with Anxiety- We invest not so that we can be sure of tomorrow, but because we believe in the God of tomorrow we Invest. LIFE investments are never in vain, God will not let any investment made for His Kingdom waste away, Our faith is that God will surely bring forth fruit. As a farmer plants and wait, we trust- that it will eventually sprout.

We Invest with Hope not with worry- Hope is the language of investment. The other day we sent off Lyn – The Mulei’s daughter to study abroad. They mentioned that it was not out of surplus but because of sacrifice. Because of the hope we have in our children, we go to extensive length to invest for them. And the more the hope the more generous we invest. Our giving reflects the hope we have in Christ, the hope we have for the church and the hope we have for God’s Kingdom.

When we invest because of LIFE reasons, we invest in Faith, Hope and Love- We sleep easy and our hands open. But when we invest for life reasons, we invest in fear, anxiety and worry- the result is we don’t sleep well and our hands tighten.  

But allow me to close with this important point

Vs 15-18- God reaffirms Abraham’s blessing. God provided for His own sacrifice and the steward was richly rewarded.

It may be rather surprising, that God does not seem to reward Abraham Immediately with another promise of more sons or another addition, but simply a re-affirmation of God’s call and promise.

In the same way, the primary reward for our LIFE investments usually are not material or immediate gains (that may or may not come) but the best reward is a reaffirmation that God has called you and the inheritance He has kept for you stands for eternity. That’s what you call secured hope.

In other words this bold act of obedience while honorable before God, was not an earning of one more thing, but a confirmation of what he had already earned. When we invest in God, our primary reward is the reaffirmation of what we already have in Christ Jesus already. Because Christ simply put is our best and only reward.  Investments reaffirm our riches in Christ.

Read Mat 6:25-33 (Sleep, God loves you and He will Provide)

Will you then consider making a LIFE Investment with us? Our facilities vision to provide spaces for LIFE transformation gives us such an opportunity- Will you consider this investment? What sacrifices is the Lord calling you to make? Are your hands open or closed

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

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