Giving Matters: The Creation of Giving

Giving Matters: The Creation of Giving

Illustration: My Pastor Will Find Me
Two men were marooned on an Island. One man paced back and forth worried and scared while the other man sat back and was sunning himself.  The first man said to the second man, "aren’t you afraid we are about to die." "No," said the second man, "I make $100,000 a week and tithe faithfully to my church every week. My Pastor will find me."   

Illustration: What Type of Giver Are You
Some one has said, there are three kinds of givers -- the flint, the sponge and the hose. To get anything out of a flint you must hammer it. And then you get only chips and sparks. To get water out of a sponge you must squeeze it, and the more you use pressure, the more you will get. When the spigot is turned, the hose just overflows.  Today we will learn that we were designed to be a hose.  God is the providing blessings to flow from within our own generosity.  So, what sort of giver are you?

We need to understand…

Since The Beginning of Time, God Was A Giver!

Background and Context:
Here we have the first chapter of Genesis.  No doubt you have read it many times.  Chances are you have sat in our “Defending the Faith” class taught by Steve Biggs and heard him teach extensively on the creation of our world and universe.  Genesis chapter 1 is a massively important chapter in the Bible because it lays the ground work for the creation and eventual salvation of mankind.  

In Genesis 1:2 we are introduced to the Creator.

In Genesis 1:3-5 we see the establishment of the Clock. God creates light and separates the day from the darkness and we have the first day.

In Genesis 1:6-8 we see the birth of the Clouds. God separates water from water and the heavens are made.  

In Genesis 1:9-10 we see the rise of the Continents. God pulls back the waters and dry land is formed.  Mighty oceans and rivers spring forth.  

In Genesis 1:11-13 we see God bring forth the Crops.  Vegetation, plant yielding seeds and awesome trees take over the land.  New life.  

In Genesis 1:14-19 God creates Celestial Bodies. We see the dawn of the sun, the rising of the moon and twinkling stars in the nighttime sky.  

In Genesis 1:20-25 God calls out the Creatures.  He makes all kinds of living creatures both animals, fish, insects and every other type you can think of.  

Then we come to Genesis 1:26-31 and we see God’s Children.  The chief of all of God’s creation, mankind is finally on the scene.  Man, made in God’s image and easily the most important thing God ever did.  We know the first two people that God created as Adam and Eve.  One man and one woman united in Holy Matrimony.  We use Adam and Eve for the justification and foundation of our families today.  

However, in Genesis 1:26-31, we see more than what He has created, we see God’s Character.  Let’s read along together and see what we can discover about God’s true nature.  

Genesis 1:26-31 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Look At What God Gave!

I. Tools Genesis 1:1-25

Point: 
Have you ever questioned “why did God make people”?  Seems like a simple question yet there have been scholars and theologians who have tried to answer and debated that question for centuries.  Chances are, there are lots of answers to that question right here in this room.  Most of those answers, although different, are probably very valid and important.  Even though they may be different, they can be correct.  

For me, I believe that God created people because He wanted people to know Him.  God is so great and awesome, that He must be known.  Yes, God created us out of an overflow of love for Himself, but He also created us to know Him.  The Bible testifies that the greatest gift that God ever gave was to ultimately know Him.  

Ezra, believed to be the author of I Chronicles 16:8 commands the people to make known God saying,

I Chronicles 16:8 NLT
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done.

In John 17, Jesus proclaims the importance of knowing God…

John 17:3 NASB
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. 

Again in John 17:25-26 Jesus prays that His disciples will know God,

John 17:25-26 ESV
25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

The greatest gift that God ever gave is the ability to know him.  

Perhaps the best quote of man’s purpose here on earth is stated simply as “To Know God and Make Him Known.

So, how do we know God?  Well in Genesis 1 we see God give mankind tools for knowing Him.  Namely, He provided us with His creation.  Just look around friends.  Look at the mountains.  See the valleys.  When you wake up do you see the beauty and splendor of creation and thank God for His marvelous gifts.  We live in one of the most beautiful places on planet earth.  The Eastern Shore is full of God’s majesty.  This week I marveled at the power of mighty storms as they crossed from Mobile to Daphne.  I saw lightening rip across the sky.  Look at the vegetation and witness all the various kinds of animals, fish and water fowl that populate our area.  Did all of this happen by accident.  Does the delicate balance of life that makes this region so spectacular happen by happenstance?  I think not.   I believe that God created all of this first to bring Him glory, but second so that can use our common sense and know that we are not cosmic accidents.  God has a purpose and He is shouting the truth of His existence through the evidence of His creation.  

Illustration: The Telescope
For his birthday, Jack, my middle son wanted a telescope.  Why?  Jack wanted to see the stars.  He is captivated by the moon, the stars and space.  At age 6, Jack is captivated by the great beyond.  I asked Jack if he believed that God made the stars and the universe and he responded with an absolute “yes, Daddy”.  

Paul, who wrote the book of Romans expounds on how God has given us the tool of creation to know Him saying…

Romans 1:20 NIV
For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 

Point:
Yes, there is nature that points us to knowing God, but we have so much more than that.  God has revealed Himself through Scripture.  

Hebrews 1:1-4 NLT
Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. 2 And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. 3 The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. 4 This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.

Today we are blessed.  Why?  We are blessed because we have the gift of knowing God.  God has given us tools to know Him.  He has given us His creation as a testimony to His power.  He has given us His Word, the witness of the prophets and ultimately His Son Jesus Christ.  After all, to know Jesus is to know God.  

John 14:7 NIV
If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."

Look At What God Gave!

I. Tools Genesis 1:1-25

II. Treasures Genesis 1:26-28
Genesis 1:26-28 ESV
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
    in the image of God he created him;
    male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God Gave Us The Treasure Of…

A. Image

B. Intimacy 

C. Importance
Point:
So just what treasures did God give mankind.  First, we have been created in His image.  Of all creation, man was the only one created in God’s image.  What exactly does this mean?  Well, it means that we have the special personal touch of the master artist.  God planned and prepared a specific type of existence for mankind that he did not prepare for any other living being.  Being created in the image of God means that we have the capacity to think critically, act morally, and fellowship socially.  Just like God, we have the power to create, make, mold, build, construct and establish.  Like our Father, we too are artists.  We can be creative.  To be made in the image of God means that we are immortal.  No, this does not mean that our physical bodies will never die.  It does mean that there is a part of us that will never die.  Some call it our spirit or soul.  

Jesus talks about the our spirit in Matthew 10:28 ESV

Matthew 10:28 ESV
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Solomon understood the eternal soul of man. 

Ecclesiastes 12:7 ESV
And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

Point:
Being created in the image of God is one tremendous gift, but there is so much more.  God also gave companionship.  He gave us intimacy.  Scripture tells us that He created man in His image.  He created men and women.  These men and women were to be joined together in marriage and they were to procreate and populate this world.  God did not want man to be alone.  So He created the great institution of friendship.  

Joke:
Boring husband: Honey, why are you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger? Bored wife: Because I married the wrong man!

Ok, so that’s the wrong type of companionship.  

Point:
God gave mankind intimacy.  Do you know another way of saying that powerful word?  Into-Me-See.  God gave mankind the ability to see into one another.  We see our needs and we have the ability to communicate our deepest desires.  We have the ability to commit and love one another for life.  It truly is an amazing gift that came direct from God.  

Not only are we intimate with each other but God knows us intimately as well.  Just like a painter is familiar with every stoke on a work of art, God is intimately involved in knowing you.  He knows you thoughts.  He knows your fears.  He knows your troubles.  He also knows your joys and successes.  He knows everything about you.  

Psalm 139:13-14 NLT
13You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Point:
So, God gave us the gift of His image.  He gifted us with intimacy.  He has also gifted us with importance.  We are important to Him as His chief creation.  We also serve an important role here on earth.  God has delegated care and stewardship over every earthly resource.  I say resource because that is exactly what they are.  Should trees, coal, oil, animals, birds, insects be protected by mankind?  Yes!  We should care for this world because God made it and commanded us to do so.  However, protection does not mean that these resources should not be used.  Quite the contrary.  God gave us this wonderful world to use.  He gave us resources to feed our families.  He gave us resources to clothe ourselves and place secure shelters over us. 

The Scriptures tell us that we are to have dominion over this earth.  We are the caretakers.  

David reinforces this truth saying…

Psalm 8:6 ESV
You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet. 

Point:
כבשׁ kbš to subjugate; to violate
3899 כָּבַשׁ (kā·ḇǎš): v.; Str 3533; TWOT 951—1. LN 39.52–39.61 (qal) subdue, overcome, enslave, i.e., conquer and control an environment or people (Ge 1:28; 2Ch 28:10; Ne 5:5a; Jer 34:11 Q,16; Zec 9:15+); (nif) be subdued, be subject, be brought under control (Nu 32:22, 29; Jos 18:1; 1Ch 22:18; Ne 5:5b+); (piel) subdue (2Sa 8:11+); (hif) subdue, subjugate (Jer 34:11 K+); 2. LN 88.271–88.282 (qal) molest, formally, subdue, i.e., commit a sexual violation of a female, as an extension of conquering a people or environment (Est 7:8+); 3. LN 40.8–40.13 unit: כָּבַשׁ עָוֹן (kā·ḇǎš ʿā·wōn) remove sin, formally, subdue wrongs, i.e., remove guilt from wrongdoing, implying relationship, as a figurative extension of conquering a people or nation (Mic 7:19+) 
DBL Hebrew

Man is to be the steward of the earth; he is to bring the material world and all of its varied elements into the service of God and the good of mankind. The command to “subdue” the earth is actually part of God’s blessing on mankind. Created in the image of God, Adam and Eve were to use the earth’s vast resources in the service of both God and themselves. It would only make sense for God to decree this, since only humans were created in God’s image.

Point:
Remember, this world is special but it is not be worshipped.  Yes, animals are important and should be taken care of, however human life is superior.  We are not to act violently to this world or treat animals poorly because they too are created by God and gifted to us all as humans.  

Point:
Not only do we have a responsibility to take care of this world and everything in it, we also have a responsibility to care for one another.  After all, we are all here too…right?  Are you taking care of people?  Do you visit the sick, pray for the hurting, share Christ with the lost?  Friend, this was the first command and directive of God towards Adam and Eve.  

“Adam and Eve, listen Im putting you in charge!”

Thats a big command and a command that was broken by Cain.  “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The answer is yes, because God told us to take care of this place that includes the people.  Cain failed to regard his own brother as worthy of taking care of and was punished accordingly.  Friend, care for the planet by caring first for people.  Develop a sense of love, compassion and tenderness towards your fellow man.  

The ultimate act of love is sharing Christ with someone.  

Illustration: Charles Barkley
Many of you I’m sure remember Charles Barkley, the NBA Basketball star who didn’t want people watching him too closely. People were disappointed with his actions and attitude on and off the court and challenged him to be a better role model. His response was basically, “Hey, I’m a basketball player. I didn’t ask to be anyone’s role model and I don’t need that added responsibility.” As an NBA star, Barkley didn’t have the option to choose whether or not he wanted to be a role model. That decision had already been made for him when he signed a contract to play in the highly publicized NBA. 

The same is true for those of us who call ourselves Christians. Once we make that decision to follow Christ, people are watching. Whether you like it or not or whether or not you think it’s fair, you’ve become an example for the family of God. We have been given a huge responsibility.

Look At What God Gave!

I. Tools Genesis 1:1-25

II. Treasures Genesis 1:26-28

III. Trajectory Genesis 1:28-31
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Point:
Let me read this passage for you once more.  

Now, let me say these short statements to you and let’s see what you deduce…

-And God blessed them…

-Behold, I have given you…

-I have given…

Three separate occasions we see God blessing and giving.  Ask yourselves this question, “What did Adam and Eve do to earn any of this?” The answer is absolutely nothing.  These gifts were unmerited and unwarranted.  Adam and Eve did not earn it, they didn’t ask for it, they didn’t even do anything to deserve it.  God simply gave the best he had to the best He made.  Did you see what happened next?  God gave all He had to the best He made and behold, IT WAS VERY GOOD!  After God gave it all, God was joyful.  He was happy and exuberant.  It was amazingly, tremendously and phenomenally good.  

In the first chapter of Genesis we are exposed to God’s overwhelming generosity.  He provides for us an example, a trajectory of giving.  We see the ultimate realization of His character.  God, at His core is a GIVER!  Since we are created in God’s image, we have the capacity to give greatly as well.  Understand, we have been tasked with stewardship.  We have been given a responsibility to caretake this world and everything in it.  Adam and Eve didn’t own this creation but they were allowed to look after it, take from it and expected to give back to God as a sacrifice.  How do I know this?  We see it in the practice of their children Cain and Abel in Genesis 4.  God commanded a sacrifice as a part of worship but it was also a visual and financial reminder that it all belonged to God anyway.  

God is a giver throughout the Scriptures.

Before God asks you for anything, He gives you everything!  

Think about this, God says, “I will give you eternal life, you give me your sin.”
Think about this, God says, “I will give you salvation, you give me your wickedness.”
Think about this, God says, “I will give you joy, you give me your pain.”
Think about this, God says, “I will give you peace, you give me your frustration.”
Think about this, God says, “I will give you purpose, you give me your questions.”

You see, at every turn God is giving…and taking.  For me, He is taking what no other person would want.  It’s really hard to imagine that He would want all of that but He does.  

Point:
So, what’s the thesis statement of today’s sermon?  Simple, from the beginning of time, God is a giver and He expects His people to give the way He gave.  

In What Manner Did God Give?

A. God gave Unanimously (The Father, Son and Spirit were in total agreement that they wanted to give to us.)

B. God gave Unselfishly (God gave all He had and still gives today.)

C. God gave Unbelievably (God gave the best of what He had)

Philippians 4:19 ESV
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


Do You Know This Giving God?

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