Pastor Nelson Bonilla: 3-5-23 Sermon – “Intentional Faith Development Acts 2:42-47”

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Today I will wrap up our five-part series on Bishop Robert Schnase’s book, The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations. The first week we looked at Radical Hospitality. The second week we focused on Passionate Worship. Week three, we talked about Risk-Taking Mission and Service. Last week, we considered Risk-Taking Mission and Service. Today, we wrap things up with a look at Extravagant Generosity. 

            About Extravagant Generosity Bishop Schnase says, “Extravagant Generosity describes the Christian’s unselfish willingness to give in order to make a positive difference for the purposes of Christ. Congregations that practice Extravagant Generosity provide ministries that address our spiritual need to give in ways that exceed all expectations and extend to unexpected measures. Fruitful congregations thrive because of extraordinary sharing, willing sacrifice, and joyous giving out of love for God and neighbor.

            So, what is extravagant generosity? Extravagant Generosity is synonym of abundant giving and abundant giving is as much about attitude as it is about amount, as much about quality as it is quantity. Extravagant Generosity is a giving that comes from a humble heart. Extravagant Generosity is a response to Jesus’ love, It is a way to communicate that same love to those who need to feel it, sense it, and experience it for themselves. Extravagant Generosity is the love of Jesus in us, moving us to give our lives—our time, our talent, an even our treasure to a mission.

            In the scripture from 2 Corinthians Paul explains the church in Corinth how to give and why to give. How to give? Paul invites the church in Corinth to give generously. Generously is defined by the dictionary as, “giving in a way that shows a readiness to give more of something than is necessary or expected.” Verse 11 says,  “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” When we give in a generous way we are following God’s way of giving. Verse 8 says, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”

            When we give generously, we follow Jesus’ example. In the previous chapter. Chapter 8 verse 9 Paul says this, “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.    

Over and over again the Bible  reminds us of God’s great generosity towards us. The Book of Genesis tells us the story of Abraham. God called Abraham and made him the Father of Israel. God blessed him abundantly so that the whole world might be blessed through him. We believe this old story comes into clear focus in the person of Jesus Christ who “though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty we might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

Bishop Robert Schnase says, “People who practice extravagant generosity change their lives in order to become more generous. They become rich in giving. They do not wait to be asked. When they see a need, they step forward to meet it, offering resources as a means of help. They look at difficult financial times through the eyes of faith rather than of fear. They persist in doing good. They give in all seasons. They enjoy giving. They pray and hope and dream about the good they accomplish through their gifts. They consecrate their giving to God. They delight in generosity. They expect nothing in return.”

And, why do we have to give? Paul says, “Because others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you, their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”

One more quote from Bishop Schnase, “Through the practice of Extravagant Generosity, we offer our material resources in a manner that supports the causes that transform life and relieve suffering and that enlarges the soul and sustains the spirit. God uses our giving to reconfigure our interior lives and form us anew.” 

 we offer our material resources in a manner that supports the causes that transform life and relieve suffering. I wonder how many young boys and girls have been transform with the Extravagant Given we send every year; I wonder how many young boys and girls praise God when they received all the offering we collect for them. I wonder how many prayers they lift on our favor. I wonder how many blessing God has pour over us in response of those prayers.

I wonder how many lives we are saving in Turkey and Syria with the offering we send to UMCOR.

Extravagant Generosity helps us to value others and their needs above ourselves,not looking to our own interests but each of us to the interests of the others and also help us in your relationships with one another  have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very natureGod, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death even death on a cross! Philippians 2”6

Giving is not merely about the church’s need for money but about the Christian’s need to grow the image of Jesus and as Ephesians 3:18 say, “together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.”

God uses our Extravagant Generosity to change the world for God’s purposes, and God uses our giving to reconfigure our interior lives and to change us!

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