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How to Test God and Not Die

“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” ACTS 4:32-35 ESV

My Giving and my receiving are both vertical

“Freely you have received; freely give.” MATTHEW 10:8 NIV

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” JAMES 1:17 ESV

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:10-12 ESV

“But who am I, and what are my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you… O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.” 1 CHRONICLES 29:11-17 ESV

“Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” ACTS 4:36-37 ESV

The person who is most blessed by my giving is me

“…remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” ACTS 20:35 ESV

“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’ When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.” ACTS 5:1-6 ESV

“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the Lord of hosts. Oh that there was one among you who would shut the doors… I will not accept an offering from your hand.” MALACHI 1:8-10 ESV

Biblical generosity is:

– Not fake

“Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of a gift he does not give.” PROVERBS 25:14 ESV

– Not compelled

“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 CORINTHIANS 9:7 ESV

– Not sporadic

“On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” 1 CORINTHIANS 16:2 ESV

– Not transactional

“Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, ‘Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.’ But Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!’” ACTS 8:18-20 ESV

– Not painless

“But the king said to Araunah, ‘No, but I will buy it from you for a price. I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver”. 2 SAMUEL 24:24 ESV

– Not robbing God

“Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.’” MALACHI 3:8-9 ESV

I can stop asking God what is right to give and start asking what is right to keep

“Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so 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.” MALACHI 3:10 ESV

God invites me to test him through my giving

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” PROVERBS 11:24-25 ESV

My Notes

Personal Reflection Guide

Find a space where you can relax with God. Take a moment to call your mind, heart and soul to become still. Take some deep breaths and allow your focus to shift towards God’s presence. Distractions may arise; if they do and your attention is triggered to something else, simply allow yourself to return to being present to God. When God gives us health, relationships, money, etc, there is a purpose behind it. Generosity is the heartbeat of real faith and God uses money to test our heart of generosity (or lack thereof). Begin a conversation with God about your heart towards generosity. Have a conversation with God about the ways in which he’s been generous towards you. Ask God some questions like: “In what way has God demonstrated his generosity to you? How does your giving to God and others demonstrate God’s heart of generosity? What are you holding onto in your life that is getting in the way of you growing in generosity? What small steps can you take to challenge yourself in giving while trusting God to care for you in the process?” When you’re done, close your time with God by thanking him for his generosity towards you.

Discussion Questions

Personal Reflection: Begin group time with the Personal Reflection Guide, above. Journal any reflections in the space below, sharing with the group what God brought up, if you feel comfortable.

  1. Real with Self: Read 2 Corinthians 9:1. In what ways have you seen God’s generosity in your life? In what ways do you think he’s inviting you to reflect his heart of generosity?
  2. Real with God: Pastor Claude said, “The person most blessed by my giving is me.” What are your challenges in being generous (e.g. money, grace, love, forgiveness, etc)? If God was sitting with you right now, what do you think he’d say in response to those challenges?
  3. Real with God: Read Matthew 4:7 (NLT) and compare that with Malachi 3:10 (NLT). Why do you think God invites one kind of test while rejecting others?
  4. Real with Others: In what way are your finances a reflection of God’s generosity? How is the way in which you’re handling your finances potentially causing you to miss out on seeing more of God’s generosity?
  5. Take Action: When you consider the biblical principles of giving, we all fall short in some areas; what is one practical step you can take this week to reflect God’s generosity?