GIVE: God Gave Intentionally
Topic: New Testament Passage: Luke 12:35–12:48
GIVE – God gave Intentionally, so We Plan
Good morning! We are in week two of Advent where we are anticipating the celebration of the arrival of King Jesus into history marked by Christmas. Our series for Advent is titled GIVE where are looking at the character of God in how He has given to us and how we are to respond as givers. Last week we saw that God is Generous so we give sacrificially. We started in Genesis 1:28-30 and saw God (the creator of everything) was the first giver as He blessed humanity with dominion over all the animals, plants, and resources of the earth with the express purpose for us to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”. Every good gift is from God and all of creation exists to display His greatness. God is not only generous in His material provision for us but He is also rich in mercy and grace he grants too us. In contrast, we were designed to be givers and to depend on God as our Father, our first parents gave into the well marketed lie that declaring our independence from God would make us ultimately happier. Sin entered the world when we told God His generosity wasn’t sufficient and countless generations of humanity have been unsatisfied with all the world, a part from God, has had to offer. We become discontent, ungrateful, and miserly, the richer we’ve become. While building our kingdoms, increasing our standard of living, we’ve decreased our standard of giving. As Christians, we are both charged by Jesus, and called to respond to Jesus’ giving of Himself to us, by becoming generous givers of our time, talent, and treasure. If our giving is to truly reflect the character of God and me more than guilty offerings or entitlement our giving needs to be Generous, Intentional, Volitional, and Enthusiastic. Take any of those out and you will pervert your relationship with the Creator and His Creation.
This week we move from God giving Generously to how He gives Intentionally. Specifically we will look throughout scripture at God’s intentionality about being with His people and how his people relate to Him. We will see how we are intentional about what matters to us. Review Jesus clear teaching in Luke 12 about what it means to be intentional stewards of His resources and faithful disciples. Lastly we will see how Jesus suffered intentionally for our salvation and His glorious grace.
God Gave Intentionally
God is intentional; meaning every action He takes is performed with awareness; done deliberately, consciously, on purpose. We may not always know what His purposes are or even if we did we would always agree with them, but we can rest knowing God is ultimately knowledgeable, powerful, and loving. Even a casual reading of the Bible reveals from the before creation to the end of days, God’s intention is to be with His people. God is both specific and intentional in giving, planning, and relating to His people.
Gen: God the creator gives a promise to bless the world through the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
Ex: God the deliverer gives freedom from slavery in Egypt to His people and gives them the Ten Commandments. He also spends nearly a dozen chapters discussing the details of the designs Tabernacle (holy camping gear) priestly garments, and furniture, including how all of it should be paid for by contribution from the congregation of God’s people.
Lev: God the legislator gives out hundreds of laws for us to relate to God, His creation, and each other.
Num:(a whole book called numbers!) God the field guide starts with specifics of a military draft and Hebrew seating assignments and parade order for their camp and march. God gives daily food and constant correction.
Joshua: God the General strategically gives His people victory and the promised lands.
Judges: God the judge shows mercy in giving judges to save his people from their own unfaithfulness.
1&2 Sam: God the priest gives Samuel to His people as a priest to renew pure worship and to anoint Saul, then David as kings to lead God’s faithfully.
1&2 Kings: God the King of Kings gives his people numerous human kings to remind them they should seek to God’s kingdom and not the kingdom of men. 1 Kings spends several chapters describing the details of the temple God will dwell in at Jerusalem down to specifics of the furniture and decorations.
Neh: God the restorer uses Nehemiah who gives a specific budget request and purchase order to King Artaxerxes before he returns to Jerusalem to rebuild the city walls.
Psalms: God the poet/musician gives us a window to His head/heart so we can think and feel with Him.
Prvb/Ecc/Songs: God the wise gives wisdom in how to work, live, and love in a way that leads to our joy.
Prophets: God the prophet gives numerous men to remind His people His intentions, plan hasn’t changed. A savior will be given to fulfill the promises made back in Genesis. Isaiah in several places points to Jesus.
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel Isaiah 7:14 (means God with us)
Isaiah 25:1 O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
Ezekiel and Daniel point Revelation where there is a mapped out city where God dwells and Jesus sits on a throne for eternity with His people with no sickness, evil, sin or death.
Malachi, the last prophet before 400 years of silence preceding Jesus birth, affirms God’s unchanging character while reminding God’s people they are not to be presumptuous and rob God in how they give.
6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. 11 I will rebuke the devourerfor you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:6-12
It is no accident God’s last words to His people before the incarnation of Jesus are intentional giving. He couldn’t make a clearer contrast between his unchanging character and intentions to bless us, and our intentions to faithlessly and selfishly hold back all he has already given us.
From the Garden, to desert, to city; By tabernacles, and temples; by promising lands, promising the child Immanuel, to promising Jesus’ return God’s intentional plan to redeem, reconcile, and restore His people is clear. God is intentional about His glory and our Joy because they matter to Him. God is the creator, he is creative, and part of how he is creative is though intentionally, plans, and systems.
We are Intentional
We are created in His image to be creative stewards so when we plan or are intentional in any aspect of our life we are acting in God’s image. When we fail to plan or plan for our glory over His we are sinning. While our financial stewardship as a government, as a society and individually is often sorely lacking or even foolish, there is no question we are very intentional people that make plans for the things that matter to us most or that we believe are a priority. We easily and intentionally commit money we have and money we hope we will have in the future to things we find necessary, important, valuable, or worthwhile.
Making big financial commitments are so natural to us we don’t even really think about it. We easily indebt ourselves beyond what even our annual incomes are. We intentional pay bills once or twice a month each time spending more than many people in the world make in a year. We sign cellphone and cable contracts for 1-2 years ranging from $500 to $5000 commitments. If you are a renter you sign leases for a year committing to spend $10-20k. We get loans for cars for 3-5 years ranging from a few thousand to $30-40K as much as some of us make in a year. You can go to the boat show next month and get loans for 15 years. We sign mortgages for 15-40 years from ¼ to ½ a million dollars. We save or plan to spend for vacations, school/sports for kids, retirement or any other of things our heart or head can convince us are ultimately important. Let’s look at things the average American family/person spends money on over the course of the year beyond housing, clothes and groceries that can be considered needs:
Gasoline: At the price of $3.50 per gallon, the average household spent $4,155 a year on gasoline.
Overall Driving Costs: A 2011 AAA study estimates that, after accounting for insurance, gas, depreciation, and other expenses, the average car that’s driven 15,000 miles per year costs $8,776 annually.
Caffeine: The average worker in the U.S. currently coughs up over $20 a week on coffee, soda or energy drinks, working out to a grand total of $1,092 annually
Pets: The average dog owner spends $1,542 annually, while the average cat owner spends $1,183.
Christmas: The average adult in the US will spend $700, a couple will spend $1,400
Cell Phone: Average cell phone costs $605.95 annually. That’s the total for recurring monthly charges, taxes, overages, and such, and that doesn’t include the cost of the phone itself. And that’s for an average cell phone, not a smartphone. The costs related to using an iPhone can easily top $1,900 per year
Entertainment and Eating away from home are both $2,500 per year. $5,000 total
If someone were to observe your life for week (spending) what would they say you value, what would they say your priorities are? Ask a spouse or friend their honest assessment. Look at your actually bank account.
Let’s compare some of those numbers to how Christians in America give to their churches.
50% of “Christians” in churches give NOTHING to a church. 36% report giving less than 2% of their income meaning 86% of people who self-identify as Christians are giving between 0 an 2% flip that an only 14% of Christians are giving more than the average person spends on coffee. ($1,100 ) Look back at some of those other numbers and ask yourself do you value your church as much as coffee, pets, or your iPhone?
This is a problem that has gotten dramatically worse in the last decade. % of self-described evangelical “born again” Christians that actually tithe (10%) has fallen from 14% in 2001 to 6% in 2011 that’s less than half in a decade. This is a conversation that needs to be started, not ended.
Giving at Damascus Road As a church we are better than “average”. Praise God for that because average stinks. There is still room for collective and individual growth. Roughly 25% of people don’t give. Are you new? Welcome. Not a Christian? We don’t want your money, we want you to meet Jesus. Not either of those? Let’s talk. 25% of our givers give less than a $1 per day (DR is not a starving orphan in Africa) 50% of our church give between 0 and $365 per year. Average per family (that actually give) $2,800 ($235 per month) Average per Adult $1,705 ($142 per month)
Elders: Elders have incomes near the median income for our county “we’re average in income”. We have 1.2 earners per family, an average of 4 kids at home. We all have mortgages and other debts. We’ve all had medical bills or job losses/changes. We give between $500-$700 per month ($6k - $8500 per year)
What does giving look like for you specifically? We tithe as a form of worship and as a way of proclaiming that we have no other God before Him. Tithing is a “Declaration of Dependence” on God. Giving of tithes and offerings should be a giving of our best and our “first fruits” to God. Is giving your first check you write each month? Besides your home is it the biggest check you write? I want us to consider how we interact with money, possessions, time, talent, intentionally (or unintentionally) as we continue looking at Jesus teaching in Luke 12.
Jesus calls us to be Intentional stewards
35 “Stay dressed for actionand keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Verse 35 literally translates “gird your loins” or in our day put a cup on because you might get kicked. Jesus tells us there is hard work to do, and resources are needed for longevity (to keep lamps burning) We are servants of a master who are called to be prepared and intentionally plan for an extended season of personal and corporate ministry so at the end he can tell us “well done good and faithful servant”. There are eternal rewards and blessings for faithful servants. If you are going to be a disciple of Jesus you are going to actually be disciplined. Disciples are stewards. Steward means recognizing everything we have belongs to God. A steward does not own anything; they make their master a profit and manage it for His Glory. Faithful stewards are awake! Many of us have little or no practical intentionally when it comes to our time, talent, treasure so we are effectively servants sleeping on the job! One of the reasons we fail to give properly is because we fail to manage what God has given us. Our lamps run out, we are not prepared to weather storms. To paraphrase Dave Ramsey, when it comes to what God has given you to manage, if your life was a company and you were the CEO would you promote you, give yourself a raise, or would put yourself on probation or would you fire you?
What type of steward are you?
41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
I love Peter’s question, because it’s one we all ask when we hear the commands in Jesus. Are you talking to me? or is this just for everyone else? When faced with hard truth that bucks against our personal feelings of entitlement or our self-centered experience we act like Peter and start to question hoping well find that we’re the exception to whatever Jesus teaches. Don’t minimize or compartmentalize your life into believing the lie that God only cares about your bible reading, church participation, what creeds you’ve confessed, prayer, and occasionally doing good things for others. Everything we have is from God, all of our possessions, our finances, our bodies, each day we live, and our very breath. He owns it ALL, we are to steward all these things so it matters to Him how we use them. God’s not interested in your money, he is interested in every aspect of your entire life. That should be both sobering to consider and lead us to joyful obedience until we meet Jesus face to face at our death or His Return. Yet this is not always the case. In this section of scripture Jesus talks about 4 types of servants/stewards. Which type are you?
Faithful and Wise- These people live in the reality we’ve just described that God is the owner of all. They seek to be faithful because of their loyalty and devotion to their master. They are also possess enough wisdom effectively manage what they’ve been entrusted too. They have the right heart and head to intentionally guide their hands to profitable action that blesses other servants and glorifies their master. If this isn’t you, is the issue with your heart or your head? Start with your heart first because out of the overflow of your heart you speak and act.
Wicked and Selfish- Jesus has gone from birds and flowers earlier in the chapter to darker turn. He is talking about people who claim be servants but have no real fear, respect, or devotion the master. They assume the blessings from God come without accountability to God. They become incredibly selfish with things they don’t actually own. Rather than using things to love people and God they use God’s resources and abuse other people to love things and themselves. God has given them resources for the purpose of blessing and care for other servants those around them and they have kept and indulged beyond godly enjoyment what was supposed to pass through them. Apparently, Jesus takes this type of sin among his servants seriously because he says in verese 46 he will cut him to pieces and put him with the “unfaithful”.
Knowledgeable and Unresponsive – This servant doesn’t lack for knowledge, they’ve been instructed, challenged, called to be faithful and wise stewards but they have failed to connect God’s instructions and wisdom and put them into practice. Their lack of planning, inaction, and laziness has turned into disobedience and sin. They are not “prepared” or “acting according to His will” and so there are real and painful consequences. Proverbs is clear that “everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty” and “The sluggard craves and gets nothing.” This doesn’t mean everyone who is in poverty has failed to plan or is lazy, it does mean there are direct (if not immediate) consequences for laziness and poor stewardship.
Ignorant Servant – This last servant is just plain ignorant to the masters instruction. They are new believers or have not been given wise godly counsel in how to manage various aspects of their lives. Because of this there are still difficult circumstances or painful consequences for their actions, ignorance is not bliss. It is ok to be ignorant, but it is not ok to stay ignorant. God loves us enough in our stupidity to give us the gift of wisdom if we are humble enough to ask. James 1:5 says “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given.” Wisdom comes from God in the form of the Holy Spirit and practical teaching. Resources, counseling, books, coaching, are all available.
Budget for your Joy, living with no plan, no intentionally, and no budget is not freedom it’s a plan for stress, hardship and folly. It may feel restrictive but God’s boundaries are for our protection and joy. Sin and poor decision get us into difficult places that wisdom and obedience can help us avoid. Live your life with intentionality not so God will be pleased or bless you but out of a response to how he already has.
Jesus suffered intentionally
During Advent we are celebrating the intentional arrival of Jesus, the God-Man, coming down from His gloriously comfortable throne in heaven to a life of humble poverty on earth. It’s easy even as a Christian during advent to focus on Baby Jesus and lose sight of why He came in the first place. It was to fulfill God’s plan to save His people from their sin. Advent/Christmas should always point us to Good Friday and Easter. Jesus came to intentionally live the perfect life all of us have failed to live and it was his intention from before beginning of creation to give His life on the Cross. We saw earlier Isaiah prophesies 700 years before Jesus the intentional plan for the Christ child’s birth but if you read on in Isaiah 53 you see the intentional plan for His suffering and death as the sinless man of sorrows who is wounded for our rebellion, crushed for our brokenness, and suffers for our sins so we can have peace with our master and creator God. More than servants of a master, in Christ, we get to become sons and daughters of the King.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Ephesians 1:3-10
It is out of God’s loving purpose of salvation, forgiveness of sin, and restoration that He suffers for us. God’s love is shown in God’s intentional giving. Now is the time for our intentional response.
We will pray confessing our sins of pride, greed, selfishness, laziness and praise His mercy and grace.
We will intentional and purposely come to the table to be reminded of Jesus suffering, His shed blood with the cup and broken body with bread, through the taking of communion.
We will give our tithes/offerings not out of guilt, shame, or expectation, but because He has already given all things to us generously, intentionally, volitionally, and enthusiastically.
We will sing in celebration of the unchanging God who was, who is, and is to come.
Benediction Luke 14: 27-33
27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.