This blog post focuses on a sermon series currently ongoing at Byerland Church. The title is “Living Generously”.
“We live in a culture that has lost the true meaning of a generous life. Jesus spoke about generosity throughout his ministry in ways that now seem foreign even to those in the church. This series is designed to open our eyes to the biblical model of generous living and chart a course for our own journey of generosity.” (Re-imagineGenerosity.com)
There is a video which accompanies this series, with a short segment shown each week. I will try to include a brief recap for each week’s segment.
Frank Donovan – Frank is our main character that we will accompany on his journey. He is a very successful and wealthy businessman and the head of his family of four. Frank’s wealth has become fortified walls in his imagination, protecting himself from the world.
Re – Re is Frank’s gardener. Re is a joyous representation of godly generous living, but we will learn that he has been on a journey as well. He is a sower of seed, both figuratively and literally. God tells us to be joyful givers, and it is clear that Re has no problem with that!
Frank’s family – Cassie, Megan and Evan are Frank’s loving family. They seem to “get it” a little bit more quickly on this journey
Also each week there will be a set of questions to stimulate your thinking on the message theme for that week. Some questions will challenge you to consider what your response could be. You can return to this blog post each week for the new set of questions.
Week 5: September 18-25
Living Generously: Taking Risks, Your Security in God
Video recap: In the last film, Re told Frank that generous living was more than writing checks. This time we see a type of generosity that goes beyond simply throwing money at a problem. The construction company has not only been hired to fix up the soup kitchen, but is hiring workers from those that eat there. This is what happens when we make the transition from viewing the poor as a group to viewing them as individuals. This act of generosity didn’t just fix the roof, it employed individuals. Frank’s journey has taken him not only from selfish to generous – but also from prideful to humble.
Throughout the film, Frank is trying to get a hold of Allan, his financial planner. Of course we assume that is because of the problems in the stock market. But what a great comparison! What if we were, as Frank was, so urgent with our giving? What if seeing a need caused us to jump into action the same way that a dip in the market would?
Simple Kingdom economics. What you sow you will reap. Re, being a gardener and spending his day quite literally sowing seed understands this well. While giving our “good sheep” to God reflects our love for him, “sowing seed” reflects our understanding that we bring glory to Him when we are fruitful for His Kingdom. We sow by serving others, and being led by the Lord to invest our time, gifts and resources as He sees fit. Just as Jesus is the sower and the seed is the good seed of the Kingdom, as Christ followers, we sow our time, gifts and resources as well as sowing the gospel, scattering the seed, watering and harvesting in the hearts of our neighbors.
Questions for Week 5:
•What economic conditions help you to be generous? Do you have to wait on surplus?
•What happens to a seed before a plant can sprout from it?
•Where is there a real need in our church/community that you can be a part of meeting?
•Scripture says that when we invest in the eternal, we lay up treasure there. What can you do today to invest in the eternal?
•What blessings has God given your family to invest? How much time can you give? What resources can you share? How can you give of yourself?
•How does generous living grow your faith?
•How has Living Generously affected you and your family?
Week 4: September 11-17
Living Generously: Worldly Security vs Eternal Security
Video recap: Frank begins the film under stress. How many of us carry that stress – the walls that we are building around our life don’t seem to be as strong as we thought. We strive for protection, for that man made hedge around our family. But what does it bring? Stress.
Re gets to the heart of the matter quickly with his misunderstanding of Frank. Is it a matter of trusts or a matter of trust? God does not bring stress – there may be pressure in life, there may be trials, but stress?
Frank has built impressive walls in his life. He is clearly a wealthy guy, nice house, pool, investments – everything. His financial planner is even impressed by him as we saw in the first film. But Frank learns, as we all do, that when push comes to shove those walls can do precious little. Frank’s investments cannot save Cassie from a purse-snatcher and his retirement plan won’t steady the hands of the doctor.
The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.
To listen to Week 4 sermon click on media link below:
Questions for Week 4:
•This week Frank learned the difference between feeling secure and being secure. When his wife is in the hospital, what can Frank do to help her?
•Everyone experiences struggles and uncertainty. Describe a time when God used someone to minister to you in your time of need. What did they do? How did they point you to Christ?
•Scripture describes God as a “Strong Tower.” Picture in your mind a tower. What does a tower offer those within it?
•What is the difference between eternal security and temporary? Can any man offer you eternal security?
•How is God’s peace better than any you can get from a security firm or insurance company?
•When things go wrong, where do you run in your day of trouble?
•Are you investing your effort and treasure in the eternal or the temporary? How can you invest in the eternal?
Week 3: September 4 – September 11
Living Generously: “Jesus, Ladled Out”
Video recap: Frank awoke from his dream knowing he had to do something – he hoped to give Re some money and find a benefit to donate some to as well, just enough to assuage his guilt. But what he found was a step that would take him outside of his comfort zone in a big way. For Frank, the “good sheep”, as we talked about in the first film, is not a hastily written check. Before Frank knows it, he has gone from a distant comfortable giver, to a reluctant servant. He finds himself working in a soup kitchen, humbling himself to serve the homeless by using a ladle.
To listen to Week 3 sermon click on media link below:
Questions for Week 3
•Describe a time when you saw someone in real need:
•Scripture tells us that Jesus became poor so that we could know real richness. What kind of richness does that verse mean?
•When Frank arrives at the soup kitchen, he would rather write a check than pick up a ladle. Serving was outside his comfort level but he soon discovered he enjoyed serving. How have you experienced the joy of serving?
•This week, step outside your comfort zone and serve! How many times this week can you say “What can I do to help?”
•Sometimes it can be hard to ask for help. Have you ever stopped to think that when you give others an opportunity to serve you, you are also giving them the opportunity to experience the blessing of serving?
•In the wilderness, God allowed Israel to be hungry and thirsty. How was their need an opportunity to know God’s provision? Do you try to take care of your needs yourself, complain against God when you need, or see your needs as an opportunity to cry out to God and see His provision?
•Sacrifice and serving can make us uncomfortable, but God is more concerned with your righteousness than your comfort. How do sacrifice and serving grow your faith?
Week 2: August 28 – September 3
Living Generously: “Loving $ More Than God”
Video recap for this week: Frank has a dream in which he is on trial as to whether he loves God or money more. He is found to be guilty of loving and trusting money more than God. Frank is guilty of idolatry. It is that simple. Christ is clear: there is room for only one master of our life. The issue for Frank is not his money, but his heart.
Click on media link below to listen to Week 2 sermon
Questions for Week 2
- If “Money talks”, what does your money day about you? What piece of budget takes the most of your spending?
- Which is more valuable to you, your time, your money, your comfort, your space, or your stuff?
- “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…” How have you seen people distracted by their pursuit of wealth?
- How long do you think it would take you to spend $1 million? What would be the first thing you would do with the money? How much would you give away?
- How important is giving to your family? In our video, Frank gave, but he only gave a small percent of his wealth. Most of his money was spent on what he wanted. Regardless of your income, it is easy to spend money on yourself. How do you combat that urge?
- The Macedonians in 2 Corinthians 8 begged to be able to give. Imagine how our church would be different if people begged to give. Describe one area of our church that would benefit by us being more generous.
- How does your faith have to grow for you to be able to be more generous?
Week 1: August 21 – 27
Living Generously: Stinky Sheep vs. Good Sheep
Video recap for this week: Frank lacks generosity across his whole life. He sees that his efforts and heart are not in the right place. The thrust comes from Matt. 22:36-40 where Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The metaphor we use is of a healthy sheep and a sickly sheep. Frank is convicted that he is not giving his first or his best to God or his neighbor. He was left stunned by his son, Evan’s, generosity, when Evan gave away his most prized possession. Evan learned a valuable lesson from Re about giving God your first and best – not giving him your “stinky sheep”. Evan’s childlike faith caused him to take that to heart by giving away his favorite toy – a vintage bi-plane.
To listen to Week 1 message click on media link below:
Questions for Week 1
- Webster’s defines generous: freely giving or sharing your money and other valuable things; providing more than the amount that is needed or normal; abundant or ample; showing kindness and concern for others. Which definition is the best and why?
- How have you experienced God’s generosity in your life?
- Describe a time when another person’s generosity blessed you.
- Repeatedly in Scripture you are commanded to love God with your heart (feelings), your soul (security or comfort), your strength (the work of your hands), and your mind (your thoughts). Which area is it easiest to give to God? Which is hardest?
- When you first get your paycheck, what is the first thing you spend it on?
- Evan gave his favorite toy. Describe a time when you gave sacrificially. How did it make you feel? What do you have that God may be prompting you to think about giving?
- Do you want to give God your first and best or your leftovers?