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We started a series a few weeks ago called Soar. The theme for our Church this year is on the fly. What this means for us is that we believe God is going to take us up on wings of Eagles.
Isaiah 40:31 ESV but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

The Test of the Generous – Ps Ben Naitoko

He Stooped Down To Make Us Great

Turn with me to the book of Psalms. Psalm 18:35 ESV You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You have stooped to make me great, you stooped down to make me great. Interestingly this was written by King David. I love this, God doesn't just stoop down and stay down with us. He stoops down and lifts us up. It doesn't matter if you feel like your life is in the miry clay. We serve a God who will stoop down to make us great. The Bible says He has a plan and a purpose for our lives.

Kingdom Principles

Being a Christian is more than having a ticket to heaven. God has a plan and purpose for your life right here, right now. When you put your life in His hands he doesn't just nurse you where you are, He wants to elevate you and lift you up to do great things in and through your life. The Bible says he uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. He takes people who the world say are nothing, those who are down and lifts them up. The way He does it through His word, there are sprinkled keys and principles that if we apply them to our lives they will help us to live the life that God has for us. I call them Kingdom Greatness Principles. God says if you do this, God will lift your life to a whole new level, the thing is God's way is different to the world's way. The world says if you want to get ahead you've got to do certain things, but God's Kingdom is completely different.
So far we've looked at a couple of these principles. The first one we looked at was honour, if we honour other people God will actually honour us. We can honour others, but we don't need to honour ourselves. The next week we looked at humility. The Bible says God gives grace to the proud but resists the humble. With humility, we humble ourselves but we don't humble other people.

King David's Generosity

Today I want to talk to you about another topic on this line. It's found in Proverbs 11:24-25.
Proverbs 11:24-25 MSG The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Well, it's evident then, if you're generous your world expands and increases. This is different from what the world says, the world says you're supposed to hoard. But that's not what the word of God says, it's a Kingdom Principle. When you're generous, your world actually advances and gets larger.
Psalm 37:21-22 ESV The wicked borrows but does not pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives; for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land, but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
Reading Psalm 37:21 which was actually written by King David and it all goes together. So the righteous shows mercy and gives for those blessed by Him will inherit the earth. So when you give you're blessed and when you're blessed you inherit the earth. In Acts 18 Jesus says, "It is more blessed to give than to receive".
Acts 20:35 ESV In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

A Generous Lifestyle

David lived that lifestyle, he was an incredibly generous man. The Bible says he saved up the modern-day equivalent of billions of dollars for the next generation, for the building of the temple. He want also generous personally. His mortal enemy was his predecessor King Saul who wanted to kill him, yet King Saul's grandson Mephibosheth lived with David in the palace for the rest of his life rent-free. He took care of his mortal enemy's grandson. I mean think about it. He could have been considered a successor to the throne but he didn't kill him. He looked after him, which is incredible.
Make no mistake David was a generous man. David says that generosity is one of the keys to inheriting the earth, one of the keys to living an advancing life and one of the Kingdom Principles that help us to soar.
So how do you know if you're generous? Isaiah 32:8 is one of the best definitions for generosity, which says this:
Isaiah 32:8 NKJV But a generous man devises generous things, And by generosity he shall stand.
This passage of scripture is one of the best definitions for determining whether you're generous or not. I call it the test of the generous. I want to talk to you about the three qualities of a generous person. Which are all found in Isaiah 32:8.

1. Pattern

The first is Pattern, "a generous man devises generous things". It doesn't say a generous act. It's not a one-time thing. Being generous once to one cause doesn't make you generous. If you have a lifestyle of generosity, then you qualify for being called a generous person. Proverbs 11:25 in the NIV says, "a generous person will prosper, whoever refreshes others will be refreshed". It actually tells you the key to prosperity is actually in your hands. It doesn't say the businessman, the son of a wealthy man, the professional sportsman, it just says the generous man. If you're a generous person you'll prosper, it's not just a one-time event.
This week there has been lots of floods and the most hard-hit is the Northern Rivers of NSW. In 2011 Trish and I were flooded in the Brisbane floods. I had two bad days, the first bad day was the day I found out I was flooded. The second bad day happened later that week. We threw all our things out on the street that week and had the insurance assessor come out, looked at our place and said, who are you with? We told him, and he said - we don't actually think they're covering for the flood. At the time I was in shock, to be honest, I had a good cry for about three hours. I woke up the next day and Trish came in and said now you've had your cry. Now you need to go back to the house and clean it. I remember that night a good mate of mine Pastor Johnno who Pastors a Church down at Kingscliffe. He said anything you need, and I said I think I've got to gut my house tomorrow. He said I'll be there with a few blokes. They came up to Ipswich and helped us gut the house, he was the first to arrive and last to leave. It was incredibly generous of him to do, he's a generous person.
When you're generous beyond what you were planning to do, beyond your convenience, when things come your way that you weren't expecting. That's a sign you're a generous person.
Generosity is not a one-time act. When I was speaking at a Church in Mackay on tithing and giving. There was a man, he messaged me through the week. He said Pastor Ben, tithing doesn't work. I said why is that? He said I tried it this week, and my lawnmower broke down! It doesn't work! I said mate, it's not a one-time act. It's a lifestyle of generosity. The Bible says when you have a lifestyle of generosity, that you'll prosper. It's a pattern, a generous man devises generous things.

2. Priority

The second thing is this, priority. A generous man devises things. So a generous person looks for opportunities to be generous. It's not, someone's passing a tin and I'll just chuck something in because it's convenient. It's more than that. A generous person is someone who looks for opportunities to be generous. Proverbs 22:9 says this:
Proverbs 22:9 NKJV He who has a generous eye will be blessed, For he gives of his bread to the poor.
He who has a generous eye will be blessed. So I'm not looking down trying to avoid any opportunity to avoid generosity. But I'm actually looking, scanning having a generous eye. A generous man devises, he looks for ways to be generous. That's a sign and one of the criteria of a generous person.
It's God's desire that we would be generous on every occasion. God doesn't want to just meet our needs, He wants us to live in an overflow so we can be generous whenever the opportunity arises. 2 Corinthians 9:10-11 says this:
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 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.

Don't Consume Everything You Earn

Notice this, God supplies seed to the sower and bread for food. That doesn't mean God doesn't desire for us to consume everything that we own. God desires for us to actually use it to be a blessing for others. That's why it's called seed you don't consume your seed. You've heard it before, my disgust with people who eat entire applies. I'm sure there are health properties in it and that sort of thing, but God made the core yucky for a reason? Because he doesn't want us to eat it! Why because it stores the seed. You don't eat your seed. If everyone ate the seeds of the applies, eventually there would be no apples left. Because we're not supposed to consume everything that we earn. Notice this, you'll be enriched in every way so that you can be generous of every occasion. And through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
Paul is writing to the Corinthians about a project they personally can't go to, and he's telling them to give us the money and we'll make sure it will be used for the glory of God. You may physically not be able to go. It's God's desire that we be generous of every occasion. A generous person looks for opportunities to be generous. Generosity is a priority for the generous.

3. Persistence

Isaiah 32:8 says "But a generous man devises generous things, And by generosity, he shall stand." He'll stand by generosity, he won't move, no matter what comes along. They will stand by their commitment to be generous. A generous person will be generous even in moments when they're experiencing hardship themselves. They'll fulfil their commitments to do that. I know myself there's been plenty of times where I've made a commitment to be generous to someone and so often this happens where something comes up. Have you ever had that happen? You're planning on being generous to something and then out of nowhere a bill comes up. How common that happens? And now all of a sudden it's like, oh, I can't do what I was planning on doing because this has come up.
But actually, by generosity a generous person will stand. I remember one particular time, the Church I was in, they were receiving a firstfruits offering and at the time, Trish and I were praying about what to give and we had a figure in our in mind and I was a Travelling Preacher at the time and after that, I actually got quite sick.
Now, when you're an Itinerant Speaker, there's no sick pay. If you don't turn up, you don't preach, you don't eat. There were plenty of times I would preach. We're not feeling well and that sort of thing and but I was so sick that I couldn't preach for a few weeks because I got that unwell. Right at this time when we made that commitment. The money that we lost in that time would have been what we needed to fulfil our obligation. At the time I was so tempted. I thought you know what? I'm not going to do it. I'll just leave it.
You know I didn't realise I was going to be like this. Our income's not the same as I thought it was. But I just felt at the time it was probably a faith challenge for me. To stand by my decision to actually be generous. Praise God. We decided to actually fulfil our obligation and I can't remember what's happened since then but I do know I'm still here! Not dead! Not living the streets, didn't have to sell a body part or a child still made it through somehow.

God Will Provide Seed To The Sower

At the time, I thought I wouldn't be able to make it through but I just found that if you stand by that decision to be generous, as the Bible says, the generous man will prosper, amen? There's something that happens to all of us, I believe. It's like a faith test that we all face sometimes. That God moves our heart to be generous in a particular area and then all of a sudden, something will come in the way. Sometimes, God will ask us to be generous when we feel like we just don't have the means to do it. Remember another time, I was at Bible College at the time and I went to my old home Church and they were receiving an offering for a friend of mine.
He was the youth pastor at the church, which didn't have any money to put on a Youth Pastor and so, they were asking people to make a pledge. I really had it on my heart to give $20 a week and I just did not have that twenty dollars. I was a Bible College student. Very much hand to mouth but I really felt to pledge $20 a week. And I remember when I went back to Bible College in Sydney, I figured, what have I done? I need to ring them up and say, I can't do this. You know, because I've made this commitment and there's no way I can fulfil it and then later on that week, I received a letter in the mail and inside was a check from a friend of mine in Melbourne and she said I felt God put on my heart to support your ministry this year. So I'm sending you this check each month. When I received the cheque it was eighty dollars. The $20 a week I had committed God had supplied right then. Amen? Because God supplies seed to the sower. I've learnt over the years that there are times when you're tempted not to stick by that commitment to be generous. There are times when things come in and try to buffet you. The Scripture tells us that a generous man someone who's got a pattern of life devises generous things, makes it a priority, and by generosity, they will stand.

The World of the Generous Gets Larger and Larger

They will persist in their commitment to do it. And the promise of the Lord then, if you live that lifestyle like I know many of you do, the promise of the Lord is this, that the world of the generous gets larger and larger. You will soar, you will rise, you will increase, you will advance, as you make that commitment to be generous. Notice this in Proverbs 11:24-25 in the message it says, the world of the generous gets larger and larger. The world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed. Those who help others are helped. So, notice this, those who bless others will be blessed. Those who are in need, when we help them, we qualify for being generous as well.

How Can You Devise To Be Generous Today?

Ps Ben Naitoko

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