2/9/14

From Ben Fronczek... Giving That Feels Good

Giving That Feels Good  

By: Ben Fronczek

2 Corinthians 9:6-15  (Click on verse to read)

Opening Story:  The Giving Tree   by: Shel Siverstein

Once there was a tree and she love a little boy. And almost everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into a crown and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat her apples. And they would play hide-and-go- seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. But time went by and the boy grew older and the tree was often left alone.
Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, “Come boy, come and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches, eat some apples, play in my shade and be happy.”
“I am too big to climb and play,” said the boy. “I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?”
“I’m sorry,” said the tree, “I have not money. I have only leaves and apples. Take my apples boy, and sell them in the city. Then you will have money and you will be happy.”
And so the boy climbed up in the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time…. And the tree was sad.                                 
And then one day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy and she said, “Come boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and be happy.”
“I am too busy to climb trees,” I want a house to keep me warm.” He said. “I want a wife and I want children, and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?”
“I have no house,” said the tree, “The forest is my house, but you may cut off my branches to help build a house. Then you will be happy.”
And so the boy cut off her branches and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy. 
The boy stayed away for a long time.  And when he came back, the tree was so happy she could hardly speak. “Come boy,” she whispered, “come and play.”
“I am too old and sad to play,” said the boy. “I want a boat that will take me far away from here. Can you give me a boat?”
“I have no boat but you can cut down my trunk and make a boat,” said the tree. “Then you can sail away… and be happy.”
And so the boy cut down her trunk and made a boat and sailed away. And the tree was happy… but not really.
And after a long time the boy came back again.  “I am sorry boy,” said the tree,“I have nothing left to give you…my apples are gone.”                                                                                                                           
“My teeth are too weak for apples,” said the boy.
“My branches are gone,” said the tree. “You cannot swing from them.”                        
“I am too old to swing on branches,” said the boy.
“My trunk is gone,” said the tree, “you cannot climb…”                                                
“I am too tired to climb,” said the boy.
“I am sorry,” sighed the tree. “I wish that I could give you something… but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I am sorry.”
“I don’t need very much now,” said the boy, “just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am very tired.”
“Well,” said the tree straightening herself up as much as she could, “well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come boy, sit down and rest.”                       
And the boy did.   And the tree was happy.  (THE END)

The lesson I have for you today is entitles, “GIVING THAT FEELS GOOD.”  Giving that feels good is much different than giving that doesn’t feel good.

Being the time of year when we think most about giving gifts, I would like to consider a few different attitudes or things that motivate us to give.

As a Christian I believe it is important to have a healthy positive attitude toward giving, but that’s not always the case…..

i) Some giving is generated by feelings of guilt. There is no way to know how much money has been poured out over the years because feeling guilt prompted us to do so.

In our reading from 2 Cor. 9, the Apostle Paul wrote that, 

“each of you must give as you have made up in your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God love a cheerful giver.”

Even though giving prompted by guilt can provide nice gifts or even funding for many good causes, it is not the kind of giving that God is please with. Nor is it the kind of giving we are looking for here in this church as you make your contributions each week.  Why? Because 
#1) It is unbiblical.  
#2) It bring no joy when you give out of guilt.   
#3) Giving out of guilt does not generate a proper or healthy Christian attitude in members.

In many ways it is counterproductive creating negative feelings like sadness, doubt, sometimes even anger when we are guilt-ed into giving.

ii) Some giving can come or grow out of sense of responsibility. This may be referred to as “ought to giving.”    Over and over the Bible instructs the people of God to be generous givers. In 2 Cor. 8:7 Paul instructs his readers to “excel” in their giving. And so there is no doubt that we have a Biblical responsibility to be generous givers and to take care of others.
Frankly I think many people need to wake up to this Biblical mandate. You may have heard of the “20-80 rule.” The “20-80 rule” refers to studies on congregational giving stating that 20% of the church membership gives 80% of the funds, 30% gives 20%, and 50% give nothing at all. This is not true of all congregations, but this is a surveyed average. What is seen in our churches can also be seen in society in general. My wife works for H&R Block and prepares income taxes. As she fills out tax forms for individuals she is shocked how many make absolutely no charitable contributions at all.

Even though this kind of giving (‘ought to giving,’) is better than ‘guilt-driven giving,’  this kind of giving often lacks the joy that God desires for us. Giving that is motivated by a sense of responsibility is not sinful or evil, but isn’t always giving that feels good; and God wants you to feel good about your giving! He wants you to be a ‘cheerful giver.’

iii.   Another thing that may prompt us to give is ‘giving that come when we see a need and the desire to help with that need.’ This is more of the “want to” kind of giving. In 2 Cor. 8 & 9, Paul makes it clear that God wants us to respond to needs of others. In that context, the Christians in Jerusalem were experiencing hardships and Paul asked his readers to respond to their need. Sometimes our church is made aware of a special need, and we talk about helping, and many respond.  We understand the need and ‘want to’ help.     I believe when we give because it’s something we want to do we begin to feel joy and good about giving.

iv. And then there is giving and the spirit of giving that grows out of feeling blessed and feeling abundantly thankful to God. It is the ‘can’t help it kind of giving.’  It’s when we want to give because we feel so blessed and so grateful our self.  It’s like our cup of blessing has been filled to the brim and then pours it out onto others. It’s when and where the more we recognize, see, and experience God’s blessings being poured out on us the more we can’t help but want to give more our self.

Listed to what Paul wrote about people of Macedonia, a people who despite their own afflictions needed to give back in return. 

In 2 Cor. 8 Paul wrote,  

“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing …”    
 This is an example of the, ‘Can’t help it kind of Giving.’

Here within this verse we also see one of the primary reasons why they could be so generous, and why many times we fall short. He said, They gave themselves first to the Lord, and then it was just natural to give to others.

I’m not so sure we can fully understand God, or fully appreciate the prompting of His Spirit until we first give our self to Him. When the Macedonian church heard about the need of their brethren in Jerusalem their hearts welled up with the love of God and they just had to help despite their own poverty.

First and foremost God wants our hearts, not our money. If we are going to find peace and joy that is promised to believers, we must first give our self and our heart to the Lord. And if we are His, everything we own is His including our very life.

And when we reach that point in our walk with Him we will become a conduit for His blessings to others; He will use us to bless others with blessings that He pours out on us. 

In 2 Cor. 9:11 Paul wrote;

“You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

In the story of The Giving Tree, she found peace and joy as she gave to the boy. Why? Because her giving was motivated by her love. Because of that love she was able to give every part of herself. God did the same for us. He gave the best gift He could ever give us over 2000 years ago –His one and only Son. Why? Because He loves us that much and it pleased Him to do so.

I encourage you to recognize how richly you are blessed by God. As you give more and more of yourself to Him you will find your heart and motivation for doing things will become less about self. I challenge you to purposely find a way to give something away everyday; a word of encouragement, a complement, a note, a phone call, maybe even a gift or money.  If you do believe a feeling of enthusiasm and joy will grow in you as you give. You will just have to share and give because you feel so blessed. This will please and Glorify our Heavenly Father, and you find peace you like The Giving Tree, you will be happy.

For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

From Jim McGuiggan... Christ's Baptism and ours

Christ's Baptism and ours


In the NT, when people were called to be baptized into the name of Christ it was to have their sins forgiven (Acts 2:37-38 and 22:16). But there was much more to it than that. Peter’s central affirmation in Acts 2:38 is not that baptism brings remission of sins but that baptism is “in the name of” Jesus Christ. A faith-baptism in the NT is a confession of and identification with Jesus Christ and all he means and stands for. They wanted forgiveness—as a nation and as individuals they had foundationally sinned against God and wanted it made right. How are they to make it right (2:37)?

     [It’s silly at this point to say that they asked the wrong question—“What must we do?” Peter wasn’t offended by the question and those of us that verge on having a seizure every time we get a whiff of what we think is “legalism” are simply off base. See Acts 2:40-41.] 

How are they to make things right with God? They must accept Jesus Christ as the one God marks him out to be (2:22-33). And how was this to be done? In trusting repentance they were to be baptized in his name, that is, acknowledging him as God’s, Lord and Messiah (2:36).

But while this is true it isn’t enough. Clear teaching on baptism in the NT (setting aside some texts that may be mused over as indecisive) is a conscious and trusting response by repentant people to identify themselves with Jesus Christ and what that name means.

I mean more than that baptism does identify them with Jesus Christ; I’m saying that in clear NT teaching people who came to be baptized meant to and were called to identify themselves with Jesus Christ. As in the case of Israel with the baptism of John the Baptist so it is with all who are called together from the nations of the world by God through the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. Baptism for Israel was a turning to God, a conscious acceptance of God’s judgement on the nation and a turning to him. So it is with all who are called into the body of Christ by the gospel—it is more than a gift they are being offered (and it mostly certainly is sheer gift), it is a call to responsive commitment. Baptism is not a simple request for forgiveness—it is a commitment to God’s agenda in Christ and his method of gaining his purposes in Christ. Baptism is a God-induced and free response from the sinner by which he commits himself to God and all God’s purposes in and for the world.
      
And certainly while Jesus Christ is uniquely God’s Son and was the sinless one by holy righteousness, he was called by God to commit himself to God’s creative and redemptive enterprise by being baptized by John. Though sinless and in no need of personal repentance, Jesus justified God’s judgment on a nation that needed to repent—a nation of which Christ was a part—by joining them in a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

In being baptized Jesus not only accepted the Father’s assessment of Israel’s state, he not only identified himself with his sinful family, he also saw that identification as having its place in God’s redeeming action and so he insisted on fulfilling all righteousness.

For the best reasons John might have wanted to debate the matter of Christ needing to be baptized but Jesus saw it as a matter of humble and holy obedience and not something to be debated. For the best reasons John would have turned Jesus from baptism (Matthew 3:13-15) but the sinless One saw it as the will of his Holy Father.

[And in the face of plain and consistent NT teaching why would we turn sinful ones away from baptism?]

What if Jesus had refused to be baptized? Would he even have debated it within himself?

I wonder who first asked the question, "Yes, but do I have to be baptized?"



©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Mark Copeland... Elders And Their Qualifications ( Titus 1:5-9)

                         "THE EPISTLE TO TITUS"

                Elders And Their Qualifications (1:5-9)

INTRODUCTION

1. In writing Titus, Paul reminds him why he was left in Crete...
   a. To set in order the things the things that are lacking - Tit 1:5
   b. To appoint elders in every city - ibid.

2. The word 'elder' comes from the Greek word presbuteros...
   a. Lit., an older person
   b. Often used to describe "persons of ripe age and experience who
      were called to take part in the management of public affairs."
      - The Complete WordStudy Dictionary
   c. Applied to certain members of the Jewish Council (the Sanhedrin)
      - e.g., Mt 26:57
   d. Also applied to men appointed to positions in the church - cf. Ti
      1:5; Ac 14:27

[What service did the elders render in the church? What qualifications
were necessary to be appointed as an elder?  Let's first review...]

I. THE OFFICE OF ELDERS

   A. IN THE ORGANIZATION OF NEW TESTAMENT CHURCHES...
      1. The elders were also known as:
         a. Bishops (Grk., episkopos, overseer) - for their duty was
            to oversee the local congregation - cf. Ac 20:17; 1Pe 5:1-2
         b. Pastors (Grk. poimen, shepherd) - for their task was to
            shepherd and feed the flock of God - cf. Ac 20:17,28; 1 Pe 5:1-2
      2. Elder, bishop, and pastor were not three distinct offices, but
         different ways to describe the men and their work - cf.
         Easton's Bible Dictionary, Moody Handbook of Theology
      3. A congregation that was completely and scripturally
         organized...
         a. Contained a plurality of qualified men serving as bishops
            - e.g., Php 1:1
         b. They were assisted by qualified men serving as deacons
            - ibid.
      4. Their authority was limited to their local congregation
         a. They were to take heed to the flock of God "among which" the
            Holy Spirit made them overseers - Ac 20:28
         b. They were to shepherd the flock "among them", serving as
            overseers - 1Pe 5:1-2
         c. The elders of one congregation did not have oversight of
            Christians in other churches

   B. IN THE SERVICE OF NEW TESTAMENT CHURCHES...
      1. Elders were 'shepherds' (pastors) and 'overseers' (bishops) of
         the congregation
         a. Taking heed to themselves - Ac 20:28a
         b. Taking heed to the flock of God among them - Ac 20:28b; 1 Pe 5:2
         c. Leading by example - 1Pe 5:3
         d. Watching out for trouble - Ac 20:29-31
         e. Depending upon God and His Word - Ac 20:32
      2. Elders were to be 'teachers' and 'rulers' of the flock
         a. Able to teach - 1Ti 3:2
         b. Able to rule others well - 1Ti 3:4-5; 5:17
         c. Holding fast what they were taught - Tit 1:9
         d. Able to use the word to exhort and convict - Tit 1:9

[The work of elders (bishops, pastors) was to oversee the flock, leading
and guarding the sheep. Paul called it 'a good work' (1Ti 3:1).  Such a
work required qualified men.  The qualifications are found in two places
(Tit 1:5-9;1Ti 3:1-7)...]

II. THE QUALIFICATIONS OF ELDERS

   A. GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS...
      1. They describe what an elder 'must be' - Tit 1:7; 1Ti 3:2
      2. A bishop must be 'a man' - Tit 1:6; 1Ti 3:1-2; cf. 1Ti 2:11,
         12; 1Co 14:34-37
      3. A bishop must be 'blameless'- Tit 1:6-7; 1Ti 3:2
         a. One against whom no evil charge can be sustained
         b. Free from accusations that can be rightly proven - cf. 1 Ti 5:19-20
      4. As a 'steward of God' - Tit 1:7
         a. A steward was a servant entrusted with that which belongs to
            another
         b. A steward must be faithful, that is, trustworthy - cf. 1Co 4:1-2

   B. FAMILIAL QUALIFICATIONS...
      1. The husband of one wife (i.e., married) - Tit 1:6; 1Ti 3:1
      2. Having faithful children, not accused of dissipation or
         insubordination - Tit 1:6
      3. Ruling his own house well - 1Ti 3:4-5

   C. SPECIFIC NEGATIVE QUALIFICATIONS...
      1. Not self-willed (must not be arrogant) - Tit 1:7
      2. Not quick-tempered (not soon angry) - Tit 1:7
      3. Not given to wine (not a brawler) - Tit 1:7; 1Ti 3:3
      4. Not violent (no striker, not pugnacious) - Tit 1:7; 1Ti 3:3
      5. Not greedy for money (not fond of sordid gain) - Tit 1:7; 1 Ti 3:3
      6. Not quarrelsome (not contentious) - 1Ti 3:3
      7. Not covetous (no lover of money) - 1Ti 3:3
      8. Not a novice (not a new convert) - 1Ti 3:6

   D. SPECIFIC POSITIVE QUALIFICATIONS...
      1. Hospitable (given to hospitality) - Tit 1:8; 1Ti 3:2
      2. Lover of what is good (of good men, of goodness) - Tit 1:8
      3. Sober-minded (prudent, sensible) - Tit 1:8; 1Ti 3:2
      4. Just (upright) - Tit 1:8
      5. Holy (devout) - Tit 1:8
      6. Self-controlled (temperate) - Tit 1:8
      7. Holding fast the faithful Word as taught - Tit 1:9
      8. Able to teach, exhort, convict - Tit 1:9; 1Ti 3:2
      9. Temperate (vigilant) - 1Ti 3:2
     10. Good behavior (orderly, respectable) - 1Ti 3:2
     11. Gentle (patient) - 1Ti 3:3
     12. Good testimony from without (well thought of) - 1Ti 3:7

CONCLUSION

1. The list of qualifications can be revealing about the work of
   elders...
   a. It involves teaching, patiently guiding and leading the family of
      God
   b. It tests one's patience (when there is murmuring, discontent, or
      apathy among brethren)
   c. It can place one in volatile situations (e.g., that faced by the
      apostles, cf. Ac 6:1-2)
   d. It can be tempting for those attracted by money (e.g., Judas, the
      Pharisees)

2. For the flock of God to be well-fed and well-led, it requires men who
   meet both...
   a. The positive qualifications (what an elder must be)
   b. The negative qualifications (what an elder must not be)

3. For those qualified to serve as elders...
   a. It is a good work - 1Ti 3:1
   b. It is an awesome work - He 13:17
   c. It is a rewarding work - 1Pe 5:4
   d. It is a much needed work - Tit 1:5

May the Lord raise up men to serve His flock in this way; for the need
is certainly great...!

Note:  For a detailed series of outlines on the work and qualifications
of elders (bishops, pastors), please see my series entitled "Shepherds
Of The Flock".

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Gary.... Bible Reading February 9






Bible Reading  

February 9

The World English Bible




Feb. 9
Genesis 40

Gen 40:1 It happened after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord, the king of Egypt.
Gen 40:2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker.
Gen 40:3 He put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
Gen 40:4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he took care of them. They stayed in prison many days.
Gen 40:5 They both dreamed a dream, each man his dream, in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were bound in the prison.
Gen 40:6 Joseph came in to them in the morning, and saw them, and saw that they were sad.
Gen 40:7 He asked Pharaoh's officers who were with him in custody in his master's house, saying, "Why do you look so sad today?"
Gen 40:8 They said to him, "We have dreamed a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it." Joseph said to them, "Don't interpretations belong to God? Please tell it to me."
Gen 40:9 The chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, "In my dream, behold, a vine was in front of me,
Gen 40:10 and in the vine were three branches. It was as though it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and its clusters brought forth ripe grapes.
Gen 40:11 Pharaoh's cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand."
Gen 40:12 Joseph said to him, "This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days.
Gen 40:13 Within three more days, Pharaoh will lift up your head, and restore you to your office. You will give Pharaoh's cup into his hand, the way you did when you were his cupbearer.
Gen 40:14 But remember me when it will be well with you, and show kindness, please, to me, and make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.
Gen 40:15 For indeed, I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon."
Gen 40:16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, "I also was in my dream, and behold, three baskets of white bread were on my head.
Gen 40:17 In the uppermost basket there was all kinds of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head."
Gen 40:18 Joseph answered, "This is its interpretation. The three baskets are three days.
Gen 40:19 Within three more days, Pharaoh will lift up your head from off you, and will hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from off you."
Gen 40:20 It happened the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants, and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.
Gen 40:21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position again, and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand;
Gen 40:22 but he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.
Gen 40:23 Yet the chief cupbearer didn't remember Joseph, but forgot him.


From Gary... Need help... its snow problem















Recently, my good friend Bruce Arnold sent me this picture of the snow they received in New Jersey.  Even though it has been cold and rainy here, our weather is nothing compared to this.  Having lived in Jersey, I can appreciate what all this snow means in terms of traffic, but in Florida we have different problems- namely the congestion caused by the recent influx of "snow-birds".  Now, this picture did evoke a sense of solidarity with Bruce and when I looked at it today, I thought of Paul's relationship with other Christians....

Galatians, chapter 6
1 Brothers, even if a man is caught in some fault, you who are spiritual must restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; looking to yourself so that you also aren’t tempted.  2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.  3 For if a man thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  4 But let each man test his own work, and then he will take pride in himself and not in his neighbor.  5 For each man will bear his own burden.

 Like it or not, we all have problems.  When it comes to spiritual things, we need help from others who are spiritual.  Oh, we still have to solve our own matters, BUT both we and they should be willing to seek and give guidance.  So- Bruce: enough your snow and know that my heart goes out to you.  If the weather gets you down, know that my door in Florida is always open to both you and your lovely wife.  By the way, what a nice picture!!!!