Abundant Harvest

Stewardosity

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In this message, we learn that when we give God our little, He turns it into much.

So if you’ve got a Bible, 2 Corinthians 9. 2 Corinthians 9, let me read you a few verses here. Paul is riding to the Corinthian church, so these verses would be very applicable to us. Here’s what he says in verse 6, he says, “Remember this, whoever sow sparingly will also reap sparingly. And whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give not reluctantly or under compulsion for God loves a cheerful giver and God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written, he has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever. Now, he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”

“This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.”

Those verses could totally just stand on their own. We could close the bible and say, “Have a great week. Blessings. Go forth.” They require a little bit of reflection in our heart and I think it’s a great picture of what stewardosity is. And so let me give you three simple thoughts. I want you to write down quick and then I want to illustrate them for you with a story, okay. First thing is this, is you reap what you sow, you reap what you sow. Paul is using a farming analogy here and he’s talking about a farmer. He says, “A farmer has seed and he goes out and he sows his seed.” And however he sows his seed determines the kind of harvest that he’s going to reap. If he’s very sparingly with his seed, like just puts one seed in the ground about every ten yards or so, then when harvest time comes, he’s not going to have a great harvest because he sowed sparingly. But if he sows generously and takes seed and just starts scattering it everywhere he goes, then at harvest time, there’s going to be an incredible harvest for him to reap.

The quality of the harvest is determined by how he sowed his seed. And that’s what Paul is telling us about our generosity, that how we sowed determines the harvest that we’ll reap. That if we are sparing with our generosity and we just give a little bit every so often, every ten steps, every ten weeks, every ten months, every ten years, we give just a little bit then at harvest time, there’s not much to reap and we really shouldn’t complain because we didn’t put any seed in the ground. But if we’re generous with our seed and we’re putting it all over the place then at harvest time, there’s going to be an abundant harvest. And not only is he talking about that in terms of finances, he’s talking about that in terms of encouragement and compassion and love and mercy and forgiveness. The harvest you reap is determined by how you sow your seed. What you set in motion stays in motion and the seed only multiplies when you give it away or put it in the ground.

It does not multiply in your hand. Okay. So you reap what you sow. The second thing is this, you already have everything you need to be generous. You already have everything you need to be generous. Look at verse 11, “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” Okay. I hate to break it to you but you are rich. You are rich. You say, “No, I’m not. Look at the people around me and the cars people drive and people on TV.” Okay. The reason we don’t feel like we’re rich is because we always compare ourselves to people who have more than us. But if you compared yourself to most of the earth, you are incredibly rich and I don’t even need to know how much money you have, you are rich compared to the people in the slums that Pastor Koshy and Joyce are ministering to every single day. You are rich. And not only are you rich in resources, you are rich in church. Like the biggest persecution you face of coming to church is, “What’s the weather outside today?”

So I give you a hard time where you’re like, “Oh, it’s raining. Let’s stay home. We don’t want to go to church and get a little wet.” Like, “Are you kidding me?” is what I would say to that. Like when they go to church, they have to think about, “Am I going to get beat up? Am I going to be arrested? Is the church building going to be burned down?” Like imagine if you showed up every week, you’re like, “I wonder if the building is still standing or if radicals burned it down?” I mean, you are rich in church and in opportunity to meet with Jesus. Ephesians 1:3, “You’ve been blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing there is in Christ.” Riches is not determined by the size of your bank account, it’s determined by the size of your God and you have a very large God. And yet what we say is, “Man, I just don’t have enough.” We don’t feel like we have enough to be generous now but what this verse is telling us is that God has already filled your life full so you can be generous in every occasion of life.”

Let me think of some biblical examples. Think of the widow with two mites, right. She has just two little small cup of coins. That’s all she has and yet she chooses to be generous and give it to God and that’s why Jesus singles her out and celebrates her. She had everything she needed to be generous, or how about the woman with the alabaster jar. A woman who has lived a sinful broken life, Jesus forgives and restores her and all she has is this alabaster jar, a little bit of perfume and she comes and she pours it out on Jesus’s feet as an expression of worship and the fragrance fills the air it changes the atmosphere which is what generosity does, it changes the atmosphere around you. She had everything she needed to be generous, or how about in the Old Testament, the widow of Zarephath, all she has left is one hand full of flour and she’s about to make one last cake for her and her son to eat so that she can die. It’s pretty depressing but that’s what it says. And Elisha, the prophet, comes along and he says, “Hey, would you make me a cake as well?” And she says, “I don’t have enough. I just have enough for me and my son and then we’re going to die.” He says, “Make me a cake. You have everything you need to be generous.” And for three years, that flour did not run out.

You already have everything you need to be generous. The question is, are you willing to sow it. It’s like if a farmer only has one seed, he has everything he needs for a great harvest. The question is, does he have the faith to put it in the ground and wait while that tree begins to grow and the fruit begins to come? That’s the question. Seed only multiplies when you sow it, when you give it away. 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. You have everything you need to be generous.” The question is, are you willing? It’s not what’s in your hand, it’s who’s in your heart that determines your ability to be generous, okay. And the last thing is this, is that your generosity meets needs and glorifies God. Look at verse 12, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” So he says that when you’re generous, God uses your generosity to meet the needs of the people he loves and he says it glorifies God. In other words, generosity is worship.

Worship isn’t just singing four songs on a Sunday morning and raising our hands, worship is generosity. Why? Because when you give, what you’re doing is you’re declaring the greatness of God, you’re declaring your trust in him and what you’re doing is representing or representing his nature to the world and showing everyone around you that you serve a generous God, okay. Now, let me try to illustrate that for you with the story of the feeding of the 5,000. You probably remember this story, it’s one of the few stories that’s recorded for us in all four of the gospels and basically here’s what happens, Jesus goes out one day and he’s out on the side of the mountain and a big crowd develops and he begins to teach and it is a great day. I mean, you know, Jesus is teaching, he’s talking about the kingdom, he’s saying things people have never heard before, it’s full revelation. People are sitting there and they’re just soaking it up and it’s amazing.

But Jesus just keeps going on and on and he teaches all day. Like it started in the morning and then went into the afternoon and then it’s getting into the evening and it’s just going on and on and on and you think it’s bad that you have to listen to me for 35 minutes on a Sunday morning. Imagine sitting there all day. And so it’s getting later in the day and the disciples are watching and the crowd’s getting hungry, they’re getting tired and they keep thinking, “Jesus, land the plane, man.”

And every time he gets there, you know, they think, “Oh, he’s coming down, he’s going to bring it by,” and he does a touch and go and comes back up and starts another – you know, another point. They’re like, “Oh, Jesus, that was perfect.” So finally, they kind of discussed amongst themselves, “Somebody needs to tell Jesus. He’s clueless of the condition of the crowd.” And so one of them gets the courage and walks up to the Jesus, “Hey, Jesus. Man, it’s been a great day. Your teaching has been incredible. We’ve got pages of notes. We’ve written down everything you’ve said. It’s been awesome. But Jesus, we were just thinking, the crowd looks a little hungry and we’re a little tired. So maybe you could send them away so they could go get something to eat.”

And in that moment, the disciples, they see the crowd is a problem to avoid. They see the crowd as an inconvenience to get rid of but Jesus saw the crowd as an opportunity for a miracle. He saw compassion to be released. And so they said, “Jesus, maybe you can send the crowd away.” And he looks right back at him, he says, “Well, why don’t you give them something to eat,” which was the last thing the disciples were ever expecting to hear and I think in that moment, when they heard that, they were like, “Never mind. Forget we brought that up. Go back to teaching. Teach as long as you feel like you need to.” Because this is 5,000 people. They were saying to Jesus, “Jesus, we don’t have that. That would take eight months of a man’s wages.” And I love Jesus’s response, it’s basically like so, “I don’t care how much it’s going to cost. Feed the people, if you noticed the — “But we don’t have that.” He says, “Well, what do you have?” Whenever you want to talk to Jesus about what you don’t have, he always asks you what you do have.

We’re concerned about what we don’t have, he’s concerned about what we’re doing with that we do have. “What do you have?” So they go away and they look and they come back and they say, “Five loaves and two fish,” which you understand was a lie because they didn’t have five loaves and two fish, a little boy had five loaves and two fish. All that they had was the lint in Peter’s pocket. That’s the extent of what the disciples had but a little boy had five loaves and two fish and he was willing to give it to the disciples to give to Jesus and they come back and say, “Five loaves and two fish,” Jesus says, “Great. That’s plenty.” He says, “Now, have the crowd sit in groups of 50.” Now, you got to just smile for a moment. Can you imagine trying to get 5,000 people on the side of a mountain side to sit in groups of 50 led by the disciples nonetheless? Okay. The disciples, these weren’t the sharpest tools in the shed. And you have to think about this, on a weekend we have fixed sitting. It’s hard to get hundreds of people to just sit still in their seat for 30 minutes in this room let alone getting 5,000 people on the side of a mountain to sit in groups of 50. So that in and of itself must have been just a sight to see.

They finally get it done. They come back to Jesus. He says, “Okay. Bring me the loaves and the fish.” He takes it, he blesses it, he breaks it, he hands it back to the disciples and says, “Now, go and feed the crowd.” And I could picture Peter getting — because it’s still five loaves and two fish getting his little piece looking at Jesus like, “Man, Jesus, don’t you need to throw in a few like, ‘Dearest Lordeth of heaveneths, multiplyeth this breadeth and loaveth miracleth, pleaseth.’ I mean, Jesus, that wasn’t prayer. I don’t think it cut it, man.” Jesus says, “Go.” And you have to think it took faith because he didn’t just multiply it and create a big stockpile. There was no manna from heaven, there’s five loaves and two fish in this moment. And so they walk up to the first group and they’re looking and they’re thinking, “How is this going to work?” And so, you know, the first guy that got fed he got ripped off, he got like a crumb.

This is the one scenario you want to be last. The first shall be last, the last shall be first. And so, you know, this guy gets a crumb and then another little crumb and as they’re watching, they’re watching it’s multiplying in their hand. As they’re giving away, it’s growing. So what they start doing is they start breaking off bigger pieces and bigger pieces and the next thing you know, they’re just start ripping the whole halves of loaves of bread and giving it away to people. And what I want you to see in the story is that the miracle happens in their hand. The miracle didn’t happen in Jesus’s hand, he blessed it and broke it and gave it back to them, it was still five loaves and two fish. It happened as they gave it away because things only multiply when you give them away. And so he’s giving it away and they feed the crowd and it says — everyone, 5,000 people, everyone was satisfied the bible says and there was 12 basketfuls leftover, 12 basketfuls. And what I love is that they were willing to give God their little and he turned it into much, which is always how God works. You give him a little bit of prayer, he’ll do the impossible. You have a little bit of faith, he’ll move a mountain. You take a little next step, he’ll release significant breakthrough. You sow a little seed, he creates an abundant harvest.

The miracle is in your hand and God is just waiting for you to give it away so that he can multiply your little and turn it into much and do the miraculous and abundant harvest for the people of this world. And we never feel like we have enough but there’s something about when you give God your little you are reminded, I have everything I need because I have him. And what I love about this story is that we read the story but this isn’t a story about the disciples, it’s not a story about the crowd, it’s not even a story about Jesus’s miracle. This is really a story about a little boy. The little boy is the main character of this story. And you have to ask yourself, “Why is this little boy there? Like this has been a long day of teaching and he’s still there, and he was right there close to Jesus. Why? Because obviously he wanted to follow Jesus. He wanted to be like Jesus, he wanted to hear from Jesus that’s why he was there. And it’s amazing, if you will take a little bit of time to look at the lives of our students and the children in this church, you would be amazed that how sometimes they understand the heart of following God a whole lot better that we as adults do.

There’s something about that childlike faith that they just get it. So here’s this little boy, he wants to be like Jesus. And not only that, but he’s willing to give his five loaves and his two fish. Think about it, there’s 5,000 people in this crowd. I don’t know if you ever thought about this or not, but you know in 5,000 people there were some planners in that group. Like there were some people that woke up that morning, they knew it was going to be a long day so they packed their little goodie bag to go with them because they’re planners. And so, you know, when it’s getting late in the day and everybody is getting hungry, you know, some guy had a stick of lamb jerky in his pocket.

He’s kind of looking around. You know. And you know, somebody else had trail mix and somebody else brought some fruit, you know, some mom brought carrots and celery for the kids, you know, “Don’t let anybody see it. This is for you,” kind of deal. And none of them were willing to offer it. But this little boy was. Because he showed up that day not to receive a miracle, he showed up that day to release a miracle.

His mindset was very different. The crowd was there because they wanted Jesus to do something amazing for them. The little boy was there because he wanted to do something amazing with Jesus. Very big difference. And so the question I would ask you is, do you walk through life expecting other people to release a miracle into your life or do you walk through life thinking, I’m here to release a miracle into someone else’s life. Do you show up today saying, “I’m here to release a miracle into the world around me.” That’s why that little boy was there. And I’ve told you before that when you become the answer to someone else’s miracle, you position yourself to receive your own. When you become the answer to someone else’s need, you position yourself to have your own need met. And that was this little boy. His generosity fed the crowd. Your generosity feeds our family and feeds this world. And so what stewardosity is, is this is an invitation from God to be a miracle releaser not just a receiver.

And maybe my favorite part in this entire story is this, all four of the gospel accounts tell us that when it’s done, there’s 12 basketfuls leftover. All four of them say that. But not one of the accounts tells us what happens with the 12 basketfuls. Everybody is fed. There’s 12 basketfuls leftover. So what happens with the 12 basketfuls? Well, here in my mind as I read the Bible and try to understand the heart of God and look at the principles, the biblical principles that exist, here’s what I believe happens with the 12 basketfuls. Everybody is fed. Jesus dismisses the crowd. They start to disperse. He tells the disciples we’re going to get in the boat and move on to the next thing that God has in store for us. But there’s 12 basketfuls leftover. And so here’s what I think happens. I think Jesus himself picks up the 12 basketfuls, walks over to the little boy, looks him in the eye, sets the 12 baskets down in front of him and says thank you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving my people and thank you for releasing this miracle into the world. Here you go.

And in that moment, a little boy reaped what he sowed. He had everything he needed to be generous with five loaves and two fish and his generosity met the needs of the crowd and glorified God. Can you imagine what that moment would have been like for the little boy? I want to be like the little boy. I think this whole concept is an invitation for you and me to be like the little boy. We don’t think we have enough. God says, “Try me. Try me.” Become a miracle releaser. And yet I told you in the beginning of the series, the reason we don’t live like this is because we’re afraid. We live in a world full of fear, but we follow a God of love by faith. And if you give to God, He always gives back to you.

In fact, receiving is not the motive but it is always the result of our generosity. This is why I’ve saved it to the end because of the time in church is we talk about giving. Give so you can get. Give so you get. That’s the wrong motive. That’s why we don’t actually get because we’re doing it with the wrong motive. It’s not the motive. Our motive is love. But the result is always getting more back from God. Proverbs 11:24, the world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller.” Luke 6:38, give and it will be given to you. Galatians 6:7, do not be deceived. God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Getting back from God is not our motive, but it is always the result. That’s why I think that little boy got the 12 basketfuls when it was all said and done. And I’ve been hearing some great stories from people recently. I heard a story just recently of a guy. He said that he had this pile of money. It was a pile for him and he had saved it up and he — for years, he just kind of stockpiled it away and it was his security. It was his comfort.

And because it was his security and his comfort, you know what God did, right? God showed up and asked him to give it all away. “Give it away, God? That’s my security and that’s my comfort.” “Exactly why I’m asking you to give it away.” And so he wrestled with God and got to that place in his heart where he was willing to do it. And so he gave it away and he’s kind of broken up over it and he wrestled through it. Well, within a few months, God came back around and gave him three times the amount back and said, “Now, that there’s not an idle in your heart, I can entrust you with even more. Here you go.” I heard another story recently of a guy who has never tithed in his entire life, never given back to God what belongs to him. And so he said, he knew God was asking him to do it. And so that first time he was going to tithe, he said this hand was shaking trying to write the tithe check. Like how am I going to do it, how am I going to get through this week? This is crazy. What am I doing? All those thoughts, so he’s literally shaking. You probably couldn’t even read what was actually written on the check. He was so nervous as he was writing out and he writes it and he walks out the back of the room and he puts it in the box and he gets two steps out and he turns around, comes back and tries to get it back out of the box.

That’s why it’s locked. You can’t get it back once it goes in. And so he said he left and he was all stressed. And the next day, he showed up to work and got an unexpected bonus for the exact amount that he just gave to God the day before. So God is saying, “You can trust me.” Or a story of somebody that told me about the missional move that we did. And they said God put a number on their heart and it was so big for them, they thought there’s no way we can do this. So two years above and beyond where we are, there’s no way. But they knew God was asking them to do it. So they decided to follow by faith and they stepped into it. And within that first year of walking that journey out, God gave them a raise for the exact amount that they committed to give over two years. Now, they get that amount back from God every single year. Receiving is not the motive but it is always the result of when we genuinely trust God. And it’s not always money. Sometimes, He gives you back peace or purpose. Sometimes, He gives you opportunity or renewal, restoration, redemption, compassion, comfort, things that set freedom.

It’s amazing. What does God want to give to you when you finally trust him with your little? You set in motion an abundant harvest not only for the world but for you. That’s stewardosity. So watching God turn our little into much. And you say, “Well, okay. Great. Like the series. Like — okay. So how do we wrap this whole thing up? How do we land the plane not touch and go? How do we do that?” Here’s how I would say to end the series for you, I think this, you need to ask, listen and respond. You need to just ask, listen or respond. What does He have for you? What is He asking you to do in the midst of everything we’ve talked about these last few weeks? Hebrews 3:15, it says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Listen, I know God has been speaking in the series. What has he said to you? Don’t harden your heart.

In fact, the great danger for us and the American church is we can sit in series like this, hear revelation, hear God speak to us and then not do anything about it. If you hear revelation and don’t do anything about it, it makes your heart harder than it already was. That’s why Jesus is so cautious on the revelation that He gives out because He loves you so much. He doesn’t want to give you something you’re not going to do something with because He doesn’t want your heart to get harder than it already is. So what are you going to do with what He’s been saying to you? The second thing is this, is pursue unity. If you’re married or in a family or in a relationship, you need to talk about this stuff. Don’t just ignore it or do your own thing or think through it on your own. You’ve got to take everything out of the darkness and bring it into the light and put it on the table and say, “We as a family, we as a couple, we as in a marriage, we need to talk about this and process through it together and understand His mercies are new every morning.” When I say talk about it, I’m not saying go back and point it out. Well, you are the one that bought that car and you made us move here and you wanted that house and you racked up the credit card debt and I’m still paying for your school loans. And — oh, okay. No, no, no, no. Nothing helpful about that at all.

Start today and move forward in freedom. Here is where we are. Here is what God has said. How do we not follow him. You got to pursue unity. If you don’t talk about it, finances create relational carnage in our lives. And the last thing is this, let’s just be faith filled. We follow a God of love by faith into the unknown, but He promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us. Listen to me, this was not a series about money. You’re like, “Oh yes, it was.” Think about it for a second. If you were here for all four weeks, this was a series on hearing God’s voice, walking in his freedom and submitting to His lordship. That’s what the series was. Listening to what God wanted to say to you and your life, experiencing the freedom He promises is available for you and learning to submit to his lordship, to Jesus as Lord not as just Savior.

You see, God doesn’t want the money out of your pockets, He wants the idles out of your heart. That’s what we’ve been talking about. And stewardosity comes alive when we acknowledge that Jesus is Lord. And so the way we’re going to close this series together at both campuses, is we’re going to take communion. And so if you put your stuff down, our ushers are going to come forward and pass it out for a moment and if you could just be still for the next few minutes. As our ushers just begin to start passing it out, this is for everybody who has put their faith and their trust in Jesus. And maybe today is your day to finally trust in Jesus, the savior and Lord, and we invite you to partake because what you’re holding in your hands in a moment is the broken body and the shed blood of Jesus, which represents his lordship in your life.

That He’s not just my savior, He is my Lord. And that’s what we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks. This had nothing to do with money. It’s had everything to do with Jesus as Lord. And so what does He want to say to you? What does He want to whisper into Your heart? What does He want to speak in this area of your life? Jesus didn’t just die to save you, He died to free you. And you only live in freedom when you’re submitted to His lordship.

Every area of your life that is not submitted to Jesus, you are currently in bondage in. But you know what, I’m free when I do it my way. No, you’re enslaving yourself when you do it your way. You’re only free when he is Lord. So where is He inviting you to trust him? That’s why I love this series because I haven’t told you to do anything. I have just invited you to listen to Him and say, “Jesus, what do you want to say?” What do you want to do? Some of you, He is whispering to you right now saying, “I will provide.”

Some of you, He’s telling you, “You can trust me.” Some of you, He’s saying, “I want to free you.” Some of you, He’s saying, “I’ll get rid of that fear and insecurity that resides in your heart.” What does he want to say to you? Do you have the courage to just ask Him, is He Lord in this area. You see, if you trust Jesus for your salvation, why would you not trust him with your stewardship? If I believe he is enough to keep me from going to hell and living with Him in eternity in heaven, why would I question Him over the area of financial stewardship?

He who did not spare His own son but gave Him up for us all, will He not then in Him give us all things? In other words, God gave you Jesus His best, will He not then give you everything else? You see, on the night the Lord Jesus was betrayed, after He had given things, He broke the bread. He broke it and He gave it away as a sign that he was going to be broken. Things only multiply when they’re given away. And what Jesus was saying is, “My body is going to be sown into the ground. I am going to be broken and I’m going to be put there and given to you and it’s going to produce an abundant harvest in your life.” Can you receive the seed that Jesus sowed into your life together? And in the same way after the supper, Jesus took the cup. He said, “This is the cup of the new covenant.” He said, “My blood is going to be shed. I’m going to be poured out so you can be poured into.”

I’m going to be poured out so you can be poured into. Can you receive a fresh feeling of the love and provision of Jesus together today? So Jesus, we say to you today, you are not just Savior, you are Lord. We choose to hear your voice. We want your freedom and we submit to you to say, “You are the Lord and master of our life and we follow You into a life of freedom and love. Give us courage and faith to follow You into new places. Give us courage and faith to be set free from the things that have clung onto our hearts, the things that have been rooted inside of us.” Come, Lord Jesus, come and set us free. Would you release an abundant harvest in our lives and in the world around us. We love you, Jesus. In Your Name, we pray, amen.

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