[An elder presents information and thanks to the congregation for responding to our financial challenges for 2002.]

[David Cogswell presents significant financial needs and opportunities for 2002.]

[David Chadwell begins his segment with prayer.]

2 Corinthians 8:1-12 Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well. But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. 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. I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.

  1. Jewish Christians in the city of Jerusalem faced some very harsh, life threatening realities.
    1. Acts 11:27-30 speaks of a world wide famine, and it speaks of Barnabas and Paul bringing a contribution from Antioch to the Jerusalem elders to provide relief to Jerusalem Christians.
      1. Acts 11 occured too early to be the gift of 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8.
      2. Acts 20:4 spoke of a time when Paul was accompanied on a trip to Jerusalem by men from the areas that gave the gift of 2 Corinthians 8 to be taken to Jerusalem.
      3. We cannot know for certain when Paul brought the gift of 2 Corinthians 8 to Jerusalem.
    2. This is what happened.
      1. Paul in an earlier letter to the Corinthian Christians (1 Corinthians 16:1-4) urged those Christians to prepare a contribution and have it ready to take to Jerusalem.
      2. He wanted this gift to be ready when he retutned.
    3. When Paul wrote the letter we call 2 Corinthians, those Christians still did not have their gift ready.
      1. Paul devoted a significant part of this letter urging them to keep their promise.
      2. Paul was concerned, and his concern went deeper than the need.
        1. As Paul visited other congregations in the area, he used Corinth's generosity as an example to encourage their generosity.
        2. He did not want to bring representatives from other congregations to Corinth and discover Corinth had not prepared to keep their promise.
      3. So Paul used two examples to urge Christians at Corinth to keep their promise.
        1. First, he used the poverty among Christians in Macedonia.
          1. These Christians were so poor that Paul hesitated to take any gift from them.
          2. Though they were deeply poor, in that poverty they were extremely generous.
          3. When Paul hesitated to take their gift because of their poverty, they insisted.
        2. Second, he used the Lord Jesus Christ.
          1. Though Jesus was rich, for our sakes he became poor.
          2. His poverty made us rich--we owe our salvation to him.
    4. So Paul urged them to complete their promise.
      1. He asked them to do what they were able to do.
      2. He said God only looks at what you can do, how you use what you have.

  2. Jack Exum was with us last weekend, and many of us here were blessed by his visit.
    1. He challenged us to think, and we thought.
    2. He challenged all who chose to do so to make a promise to God, and many of us did.
    3. May we keep our promise.

  3. But I have a challenge for each of us that goes beyond merely giving more money.
    1. Paul said there was a reason the poor Christians in Macedonia were so generous toward Christians they never met.
      1. They did something that surpassed Paul's expectations.
      2. What they did was the literal foundation of their generosity.
      3. First, they gave themselves to the Lord.
    2. That is my challenge to each of us.
      1. Give yourselves to the Lord who gave Himself for you.
      2. Every Monday morning, first thing: give yourself to the Lord for the entire day.
      3. Every Tuesday morning, first thing: give yourself to the Lord for the entire day.
      4. Every Wednesday morning, first thing: give yourself to the Lord for the entire day.
      5. Every Thursday morning, first thing: give yourself to the Lord for the entire day.
      6. Every Friday morning, first thing: give yourself to the Lord for the entire day.
      7. Every Saturday morning, first thing: give yourself to the Lord for the entire day.
      8. If we do that for six days, I have no concern about what we give or what we do on Sunday.
        1. If it is our choice and behavior to give ourselves to the Lord for the entire day Monday through Saturday,
        2. We will give ourselves to the Lord the entire day on Sunday.

[Contribution will be collected.]

[Invitation will follow.]

Have you ever given yourself to the Lord? When? If you did, does the Lord still have you? How does He know it?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 17 February 2002

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