Christmas! A Good Time For Giving

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There’s a phrase that comes up a lot this time of year. You hear it on commercials, maybe see it in department stores, but most don’t know it’s actually a quote from Jesus. The reason we remember it and say it is because the Bible tells us to remember it.

“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” Acts 20:35 NLT

This weekend in this Christmas season, we’re going to talk about giving. A lot of people follow God the wrong way. Most people are following God and doing what God wants them to do from a sense of obligation rather than passion. Many don’t enjoy praying, reading their Bible, enjoy going to church, or want to give, they just feel they have to.

They’re seeking God out of a sense of duty but not enjoying the ride. That’s not God’s best for us. We want to be people who can’t wait to give in a way that grows God’s Church, enables the Church to reach more people, helps a helpless child, rescues someone from human trafficking, or brings Truth to someone who has never heard it before. 

The goal is to give out of passion, not duty. Of course there is a place for sheer obedience and doing something because God says so, there’s discipline in all things. But God doesn’t ask you to stay there. You can actually come to a point where you delight in the ways of the Lord. Serving God can be a delight not a duty.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure.” 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 NLT

Any farmer or even anyone who’s planted grass seed knows if you put a few seeds in the ground you can expect a small harvest. If you put a lot of seeds in the ground, you can expect a larger harvest. So today, scripture is asking you to not give reluctantly, and to not be pressured into giving out of high emotion or compulsion.

The Bible says decide in your heart. Why? Because:

“For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT

And, when you are generous, here are the blessings promised to you:

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, ‘They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.’  For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:8-12 NLT


Why Give To My Church?

How do you get this kind of perspective on giving? Where does a passionate desire come from? It happens when you define why, the why motivates it all.

When I lose my why, I’ll lose my way.

Some of you have lost your way because you forgot your whys. Your marriage is in trouble because you’ve forgotten why you married them in the first place. You’re not enjoying your job because you forgot there was a day you were asking for that job. There was a day you chose to serve the Lord and you forgot what he’s done for you. All of the sudden you find your relationship with God struggling.

Why should we give and why should we give to the Church? There are actually many more reasons, but for now we will look at four. 

1. Jesus gave to us first

God sent His only son to earth and asked Him to give it all. He asked Jesus to give His life, dreams, position, career, family and body in hopes that each of us would receive His gift of eternal life. We don’t want to ever forget where we would be without Christ.

This is the message of Christmas:

“For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NLT

Ephesians five further explains what He has given:

“Christ loved the church and gave himself for it . . . He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault . . .” Ephesians 5:25,27 NCV

We want to be like Christ. We want to love the Church and give our lives for the Church. One of the most Christlike things you can do is love the Church. When you want to know what something is worth, you look at what someone is willing to give for it.

2. It’s the direct way to give to God

Christian giving is not about giving to a cause; it’s about giving to a person. It’s different than any other type of giving. When you give to the Church, you are giving a gift of thanks to God who breathed life into you.

“All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

The Church is Christ’s body. This is more than a metaphor. The Church is actually the body of Christ on Earth, His presence here until He returns. So, gifts given to the Church should be thought of as being given to Christ himself.

God’s plan is to group us together. The devil attacks your relationships. Your full potential can be reached only when you find your covenant family in your local expressions of the Church. You need to find one and when you do, something powerful happens. Because the Church is the most powerful force in the world.

Jesus: “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it!” Matthew 16:18 NLT

The Church has survived every crumbling culture for 2000 years. Jesus is in the Church building business. He’s not interested in building your reputation, building nations, building businesses, building clubs or organizations. He says He is going to build His family, His Church. All of the global problems cannot be solved without one third of the world which happen to be members of churches.

“This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.” Colossians 1:6 NLT

3. My heart follows my money

Financial giving is one of the primary things we can do to grow our faith. People who get stagnate in their faith tend to find breakthrough when they start giving more.

Giving works. Giving gets results.

Time and time again this one discussion has the ability to create spiritual growth in a way that most other discussions do not. So much of our faith is words. We sing words. The Bible is made up of words. Sermons are filled with words. We sit around small groups and put our thoughts to words.

For some people their entire relationship with God happens only with their mouth. Words are very, very powerful. But we must put our money where our mouth is. Giving is the best way to do that. Giving is an action.

You’re doing something very real that’s going to stretch your faith. There’s nothing elusive or mysterious about it. You either give or you don’t. But when you do, it moves the needle.

“Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Luke 12:21 NLT

You have two accounts going in life. You have an earthly account and a heavenly account. Which one are you investing in? The one that’s temporary, or the one that’s eternal?

One thing about giving is that it leads us to more freely enjoy what we have on earth. We can have some nice things and not feel guilty about it because the chains of materialism are broken.

“Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Luke 12:34 NLT

This order is so important. He’s not saying you give to what you care about. What Jesus is saying is far more interesting than that! He’s saying how you use your money determines what you care about.

You don’t become more generous, and then give. You give, which makes you more generous. You don’t develop more faith, and then give. You give, and it grows your faith. You don’t grow closer to God and then give. You give, and then start to feel closer to God.

4. One day I want to hear Jesus say, Well done.”

We will all meet Him one day and it will be the best thing to hear, “Way to Go! You did it!” The Bible says He’s coming on the clouds one day to meet you and He’s bringing His rewards with Him. The word in the Greek means He wants to pay us back. This verse will keep you going:

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” Matthew 25:23 NLT

One day your name will be called and you’ll be with Jesus, and you want to be prepared for it. If you’re discouraged or it’s not working for you in this life, remember there is more to this life than this life.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion from last week, a good time for gratitude. How has giving thank IN all things gone for you this week?

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

This week’s message focused on celebrating through giving. We can celebrate through giving and through our serving, but the most important thing we can give is the hope we have in Christ. We can either give through obligation—because we think we have to, or delight—because we find joy in making a difference through our giving, deepening our relationship with Christ and being rewarded by Christ.

Spend some time in the word. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

“You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” — Acts 20:35 NLT

Application

1. Get the conversation on giving going. What’s one of the most generous things you’ve ever received?

2. Throughout scripture, God has desired a willingness to give on our part, and a willingness on his part to provide for us and protect us. Have you settled giving out of passion rather than duty? Explain.

3. Discuss the four reasons to give. Do they resonate with you as a motivation for giving?

4. Share some other reasons why you give. What are some things you could focus on to remind yourself WHY give? How has your motivation to give changed as your faith has grown?

5. Who’s the most generous person you know? How have you seen that affect the joy in their life?

Prayer Focus: Thank God for giving you life. Ask for courage to spend your life giving back to him. Ask Him to give you a heart of generosity toward God, your church, neighbors, family and world.

Tell Someone Else

Share with the group who you’re praying will respond to invite to a Christmas service at Rock Brook this year.

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Building Your Life On Values That Last | Celebration Weekend

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We put Celebration Weekend on our calendar every year around Thanksgiving to give thanks to God, turn the corner into the the holidays, give to Him and celebrate what God has done in our lives this fall.

With Celebration Weekend, we open up a giving opportunity called the Celebration Offering. Our first priority for you is to give out of your relationship with God and give through the church, that’s called the tithe. If you choose to give beyond your tithe, that is called an offering. The Celebration Offering we bring at the end of the year, to celebrate what God has done in our lives.

The Bible says the way you give to God is through the church because the church is the body of Christ. Here’s how we plan on using the money given during this year’s Celebration Offering.

In previous years, we’ve used part of the offering to give an extra month of support to the missionaries and amazing organizations we support as a church. Through your giving this year we’ve been already able to cover that.

This year, we want to give half of what comes in to church planters. The other half we’ll use for some improvements around here.

In the past, we’ve been able to renovate a room or space or add technology to help us get the gospel out to more people through the Celebration Offering.

If you want to give to that, you can designate your gift, Celebration Offering. You can give online at RockBrook.org/Giving to give online.


“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples…”  Mark 8:34a NIV

Jesus understood all of the people who were following Him. There were people in different stages of their spiritual journey, they weren’t all disciples. He had a crowd of people who were kicking the tires and trying to figure out if Jesus was real. He was talking to both of them at the same time.

“and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34b NIV

In other words, “Let’s go!” Come from where you are to the full potential God has for your life. By the way, all of us need to do that. We’re still growing and learning and becoming more like him.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it,”  Mark 8:35a NIV

It says here you have to give an exchange for the things you’re currently doing that aren’t what God wants.

“but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”  Mark 8:35-36 NIV

What good is it to have a great marriage, great job, the house, cars or vacations if you don’t deal with your soul issues? The real you and the part of you that’s going to live forever?


One of the things we’re passionate about is making a growth process clear to everyone. Basically, there are four different groups of people that attend our church on any given weekend.

  • Crowd: Come and see

Someone gave them an invitation in some way. The message we say is come and see. Take your time. We’re not expecting anything from you. You don’t need to give or serve or worship the way the rest of the room worships. 

We want a church that’s not full of church people.

  • Congregation: Come and join us

These are the members of the church. First, join Jesus then you join a church.

Christianity is being part of the family of God.

We belong to each other as the body of Christ. This is a local expression of that family. There are so many verses, chapters and whole books of the New Testament that you can’t fulfill if you’re not connected to a local church. So, come and join us.

  • Committed: Come and grow

Christianity doesn’t end a process, it begins a process. We’re becoming more like Jesus. Believing happens in a moment, you get saved in a moment of belief. But there’s a long process where we’re becoming more like Jesus. That’s why this entire Fall Spiritual Growth Campaign was built on Small Groups.

Life change happens in the context of relationships.

  • Core: Come and serve

Don’t just attend church, participate in your church. 

Worship one, serve one. Come be a part of the Dream Team that has over 400 volunteers of people on it serving together. You might say, “With that many people you probably have everything covered.” We’re doing okay, but it’d be a lot better with you on the team. We want to make a big impact this Christmas season and in 2020! There’s a place for you! You’re not only welcome, you’re wanted!

If you’re wonder where to start, we’ve designed a process that ushers you through this journey called Growth Track. Four steps, four Sundays. We cycle through it every month.

The first step is next Sunday, December 1st, the membership class. StepONE just explains our vision and what being a member here looks like. This would be a great time to jump in.


Baptism

We have many people on our Dream Team that have a unique story about their journey to Christ, to Rock Brook and to serving and making a difference. Many people you see serving around our church would tell you they got serious about their faith when they took a step of obedience and got baptized. Let’s look at what baptism means and the power of obedience.

“Those who accepted his message were baptized and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”  Acts 2:41 NIV

Notice that baptism is a post-decision to believe, not pre-decision. So we don’t baptize infants here. Some churches do, but honestly it’s more of a dedication service. We dedicate babies and young children, but we baptize believers.

There are 27 accounts of baptism in the New Testament all of them were after the decision to believe.

Baptism is a vibrant part of the church. Baptism doesn’t save you, but it’s where your faith goes public. Just in the last 10 weeks of our Fall Spiritual Growth Campaign, 44 people indicated on their communication card that they either began trusting or renewed their trust in Jesus Christ.

Those people can now take their next step and be baptized. They can follow God right away. We make baptisms available every month. If you would like to be baptized at Rock Brook, sign-up HERE.

When you get baptized, what does that express?

1. You are a follower of Jesus Christ

When we get baptized we’re saying Jesus doesn’t live only on the pages of history but Jesus lives today! Even more than that, He lives in the lives of people who put their faith in Him.

We’re not talking about history, we’re talking about a living real person. We’re not talking about subscribing to a set of principles, entering into a list of rules we’re talking about entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Look at this passage after Jesus raises his friend Lazarus from the dead,

“When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.” John 12:9-11 NLT

You’d think everyone would have believed in Jesus. That everyone who came to see Jesus would have believed in him. But there are still some on the edges who weren’t 100% sure.

Many people did put their faith in Jesus. They came hearing about him, but they left having put their faith in him. Their life changed from knowing about someone to believing Jesus could save them.

2. You are beginning a new life in Christ

No one getting baptized, is doing it because they were a bad person and want to try to be a better person. That’s not the picture of baptism.

Why did God give us a picture of water baptism?

It’s important that we actually immerse people, dunk people under the water, because Jesus got baptized under the water. He didn’t get in the river and stand around and splash around. He got in the river and was immersed in the water.

That’s actually what the word baptism means. It means to dip under the water.

Why was Jesus baptized? It was a picture of what was coming. Jesus was dedicated by his parents at a young age. That was their decision. He wasn’t dishonoring their decision. Now He’s saying this is a choice I am making and it’s pointing to the ultimate choice I will be making.

For us it’s a picture of what happens when we trust in Christ to be our Savior. So we put someone under the water and quickly bring them back up. When Christ died we died. When Christ was raised, we can be raised too. When He went down in the depths for my sin, I went down, but when He was raised it’s as though I was raised up too.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:4 NIV

Though we had a sentence of death on our lives because of sin, we now have life and life to the full because of the work of Jesus.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV

When you get in the water, you are saying that when you got in Christ you became a new creation. It doesn’t mean we won’t stumble. It means our desires have changed and our defense for life changed because now Jesus is in us.

No one getting baptized says they used to be a mess but now are perfect. No, the message is we could never be perfect, but Jesus is perfect and we got into Jesus by putting my faith in Him. Our lives are joined up with the perfect one and He is going to work in us to make us like him. Our lives are now changing!

What is changing? What is the life change that we’re saying happens when we get baptized?

3. You are part of a new family

It used to be all about me, but I’m coming forward in my baptism to say it’s all about us now. I used to be an individual rolling through life and now I am walking with him and his body, the church.

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:26-27 NIV

It’s not just me that this happened to, it happened to a “we” and now I’m part of that “we.” I’m a sister or a brother in that “we” and there’s no changing that.

Baptism is the door to the church. It’s the doorway to being a part of the family of God. People say faith is a private thing and a private decision, not according to Jesus…

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33 NIV


Frequently Asked Questions About Baptism

  • I have already been baptized. Should I be baptized again?

Your baptism should have signified you becoming a follower of Jesus, beginning a new life, and uniting with a new family. If your baptism did not reflect this change of life, then you should be baptized again.

  • May my child be baptized?

We encourage parents to partner with Rock Brook for Kids and take their child through our Kids Baptism Class. This class is offered for third through sixth grade. You can find out more information at http://www.rbfk.net/kids-baptism-class

  • May my infant be baptized?

Throughout the New Testament, the Bible teaches that baptism is a public expression of worship symbolizing the new life we have when we follow Jesus. In the Bible we see that Jesus’ parents dedicated him to the Lord (Luke 2:22–40), and he was later baptized as an adult (Matthew 3:16–17).

We understand that some churches practice “baptism of confirmation” for children. This ceremony is intended to be a commitment between the parents and God on the behalf of the child. The parents promise to raise their child in the faith until the child is old enough to make his or her own personal confession of Christ. This custom is different from the biblical examples of new believers being baptized to publicly profess their faith in Jesus. At Rock Brook we provide opportunities for child dedication. Let us know on the communication card if you would like to dedicate your child.


Check Back

Check back on your discussion about love, or your discussions from the spiritual growth campaign. Any loose ends you need to tie up? What was your favorite week of the campaign?

 

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Hear the Word

Pausing to celebrate and look back at how far we’ve come is biblical. God commands it. He doesn’t want us to just fly through life without recognizing what He has done for us.

This weekend we paused to reflect on where we’ve been and look at what our next step of spiritual growth may be. We were reminded of what happens, specifically when we take the step of baptism. It shows we are a follower of Jesus, we are beginning a new life in Christ, and you are part of a new family.

“So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:16-17 NIV

Application

  1. What stood out to you in this message? What did you hear?
  2. Describe your baptism. When was it? What did your life look like then?
  3. What did you need to be reminded of most in this message? What do you need to pause and celebrate in your life?
  4. Baptism is the first step in following Jesus. If you have been baptized, what do you think your next step in following him is?

Tell Someone Else

Faith in Christ is not a private thing. Baptism is a public expression of our faith in Christ. Have you been baptized? If not, you can sign up HERE. If you have been baptized, who can you share your faith with now?

Christmas is a great time to share your faith with your friends. Who could you bring with you to a service in December? Who could you invite to one of our Christmas services December 21-22 or Christmas Eve at 1:30, 3:00 or 4:30?

 

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