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  • The Grace of Giving

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    Life Group Discussion Notes for 25.03.12

    The Grace of Giving - primary image

    As the Crowds gathered for the day of feasts, it had only been a few weeks earlier that crowds had gathered and turned on Jesus- leading to Pilate ordering his crucifixion. Surely this great act of defiance would not go unpunished. After all, when Moses returned from Mt Sinai with the commandments and the people had built a golden calf to worship, God destroyed 3000 men. Instead the disciples came and preached and proclaimed the gospel of grace and 3000 men were saved that day; people deserving judgment but freely forgiven and flooded with the Holy Spirit’s presence.  This grace transformed this early community and they relinquished rights to their own possessions and shared with others as had need. There we no needy persons among them. This outpouring of grace left them radically transformed.

    Some years later Paul writes to Corinth. He wants the church to enjoy a similar experience and is planning an offering to share with the poor in Jerusalem.

    Read together 2 Corinthians 8:1-9

    Before Paul talks about giving he refers to the extraordinary generosity of the Macedonians; he first tells them of the grace of God that had been given to them. It takes grace to free you to give extravagantly. Grace had so liberated the Macedonians that “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity”.

    1. They gave themselves first of all to the Lord
    Their response to grace was absolute devotion to God. Until we give ourselves… every pound is a battle! If we see our money as our own or our time as our own… there will always be an inner conflict. The Macedonians had experienced such liberating grace that they had first given themselves to God. When we take that step, all that is yours comes within the orbit of God’s control…Giving as God directs is a matter of our ongoing obedience.

    2. They gave themselves to Paul
    They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
    Their devotion was first to God but then also to the apostolic mission they were caught up in.
    We are together on a mission with our brothers and sisters in apostolic family of churches called Newfrontiers. As a church this has enabled us to partner in giving people and finances to church planting and ministry to the poor around the world.

    3. Out of Sincere love
    Paul says “I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.”James 2:26 says Faith without deeds is dead. Words are easy. Actions are harder. Sincerity is shown in our actions…Paul is encouraging us not to give lip service when it comes to our generosity but to also live it out in a meaningful way.

    4. Giving Rooted in Christ
    For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.  Our ultimate motivation is found in the giving of Jesus Christ. The grace demonstrated on the cross for us to win our hearts. Laying aside his heavenly glory, humbled himself, took on human form, even to the cross. The grace of Jesus comes setting us free. In inviting the Corinthians to be generous… Paul unashamedly points to Jesus… believing that their hearts would be touched and their generosity stirred.

    Some questions:
    1. Do you find it easy or hard to give generously? What wrestles do you go through?
    2. What happened for you when the second offering went around on Sunday? Do you naturally want to serve in church life?
    3. How much do you value being part of a wider family of churches? What do you see as the benefits?
    4. Is anyone going through any financial pressures or health related issues that the group can pray for?

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