He then goes on to explain how each of the things he identifies might translate into realities for the average churchgoer. But understanding the economy is only part of the issue. In the final section of his book, Tennant grapples with how to fit together modern economies and the ancient biblical teachings about money. He offers several of his own sermons to illustrate how to present a gospel of subversive sacrifice to a culture obsessed with prosperity and wealth.
He is adamant that preachers think about how what they might say from the pulpit could affect the people sitting in the pews. Celebrating a record stock market rally, for example, automatically leaves out those who lack the capital to invest in the markets to begin with. In every situation, Tennant insists that a preacher must put himself in the place of those who will hear the sermon before making a hurtful comment.
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His laudable compassion and extensive knowledge of his subject are not quite enough to offset the flaws within Preaching in Plenty and in Want, however. Tennant, for example, spends quite a bit of time early on defending the notion that preaching should be culturally relevant. The main thing we must discern is if God has called us to go.
As we look at this text, we learn principles about what a right perspective is on supporting missions. Big Question: What principles can we learn about giving to missions in Philippians ? While Paul was in Rome under house arrest, the Philippians sent Epaphroditus who supplied Paul with basic living subsistence, as the prison system did not provide food, clothing, or money. Maybe it was because of the extreme poverty they were suffering cf. Either way, they had ceased to support him in the work of ministry for some amount of time, and they had just renewed it.
For this reason, Paul greatly rejoiced.
How to Live a Sermon Before You Preach It
Similar to the Philippians, our giving should continually be renewed like a flower in blossom as well. For many Christians, they give their monthly tithe and feel no need to blossom, no need to excel in the work of giving. However, this is a wrong understanding of giving. In fact, the New Testament never commands the tithe and continually states how we are no longer under the law cf. Gal , Rom Paul actually teaches in 1 Corinthians about how to give weekly. There he says it should be given in keeping with our income or as God prospers us v.
Look at what he said:. Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.
In contrast to simply giving our tithe every week, New Testament giving must continually be renewed. In fact, we are commanded to excel in it. Paul says we must seek to excel in giving in the same way we seek to excel in faith, speech, knowledge of God and Scripture , and love. Our giving must continually be renewed before the Lord, especially as the Lord prospers us or we encounter the needs of others. We serve a God that gave all he had. He gave his only begotten Son, and his Son, Jesus Christ, gave his life for the sins of the world.
If we are growing more into his image, then there will be great feats of sacrificial giving happening in our lives as well. Paul rejoiced at their renewal of giving. Application Question: What is the difference between the concept of the tithe and New Testament grace giving cf. Do you believe Christians are still under the tithe?
Why or why not? In what ways has God been challenging you to grow in being a giver?
What makes giving difficult? Now some might say his joy makes perfect sense. Of course he is joyful; the Philippians are helping him out. However, in the next verse he makes it clear that he is not joyful because they met his need. Paul was not rejoicing because they provided for him, but he rejoiced at the grace that God would give them because of their support and how it honored God. He later says this:. The gifts they gave were an offering to God that would be rewarded.
Similarly, this should be our mindset as well in the ministry of giving. It is something that we should rejoice greatly in as well, not only because it helps people, but because it brings glory to God. In fact, Paul taught this about giving: he said it must always be accompanied with joy in order for it even to be acceptable to God. Giving to the ministry of the Lord is something that we should rejoice greatly in as Paul did.
When something is truly a joy, you typically have to practice some amount of wise restraint. However, we can never out give God Mal We must have great joy in our giving to the work of missions.
Joyful giving is the only type of giving that is acceptable to God. Do you consistently experience great joy in your giving? Paul did not want the Philippians to think that he was rejoicing greatly at their gift because they met his need. No, he wanted them to know that he had learned contentment in every circumstance whether in plenty or in want. No doubt, on some of his missionary journeys the churches would support him and take good care of him.
Some churches were wealthy as seen with Laodicea Rev While with other churches, he lived in extreme poverty and under severe persecution. Some might think being content in poverty would be the hardest task; however, being content in wealth is even greater. It is often the extremely wealthy who are the most discontent in life and also tend to commit suicide the most. Even though contentment is commanded of Christians, very few learn this discipline.
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. In ancient Greek the word was used of a city that provided for all its goods without any need for imports. Even though Scripture continually commands contentment, most Christians never learn this discipline.
The media and the culture seek to bring discontentment in every way. We must look like this, dress like that, have this type of job, have that type of phone, this type of computer, etc. Most Christians run around like the world after every new gadget, every new thing that comes on the market. Because they are discontent, they, like everybody else, complain about their family, their in-laws, their job, their home, their car, their clothes, their church, etc.
Most know nothing about contentment. How do we learn contentment? He said the secret was that he could do all things through him who gives him strength v. Their offering was needed but not necessary because of the grace of God. Phil , the one he was pressing to know and be like in every way Phil , he found sufficiency for every task, difficulty, and need. We see these promises throughout the Scripture. He knew that his relationship with the Lord was sufficient for the tasks God called him to accomplish.
He had no need to beg or become anxious. God knew his needs and would provide for them in one way or another. Therefore, he could be content in his all-sufficient Lord. We should be content because we know the faithfulness of our Father. He will always meet our needs. It was sufficient for him to persevere through severe trial or weakness. Paul learned this through experience, and this made him content. God would meet his needs by providing strength or material resources.
Now, this brings us back to our main point. God is winning the world to himself through the work of missions, and he will always provide for his ministers. He will meet their needs. Will we be one of the hands used as part of his provision? Paul knew that if the Philippians did not help, God was very capable of sending manna from heaven or ravens with meat every day. He could command a widow or Caesar himself to meet his needs. Or God could simply empower him to persevere.
Remember what Mordecai said to Queen Esther in challenging her to help the Jews who were about to be exterminated by their enemies in Persia? He said this:. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?
Are you willing to be part of the process of God helping and delivering his ministers? Because Esther helped she was blessed.
God honored them for their faithfulness. Our help is needed but not necessary. God will provide for his ministers. This should be a great comfort to each believer who is seeking first the kingdom of God—God will meet their needs. They should also learn to be content as they wait on the Lord. God will honor those who do. Application Question: In what ways do you struggle with contentment? How is God calling you to learn sufficiency in him?
Preaching to Condemn: The Missed Opportunity
The Philippians continually met the needs of Paul. The circumstances and needs of Paul fueled and directed their giving. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.
John said that helping the needs of our brothers is an act that proves the love of God dwells in us—that we are truly saved cf. God saw the needs of the world, and he responded.
Does God Want You to Be Richor Poor?
The love of God swelled up in generosity as God offered his Son. If God lives in us, we similarly should be drawn to meet the needs of others as well. Certainly, we still have our regular giving to the church cf. When a need arises in the church or on the mission field, many Christians have nothing to give. Paul told the Ephesians to intentionally prepare to give to those who had needs.
This seems to be beyond the regular support given to the church. Are you preparing to give to those who are in need? What needs has God already placed around you that he is calling you to meet? With that said, we also should diligently make sure that this ministry, organization, or person truly has a legitimate need.
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