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Worship Theme: How Does God Preserve Us?
Sermon Theme: God’s Economic Recovery Plan
Over the past year you’ve heard plenty about economic recovery plans in response to the pandemic induced economic crisis, the largest economic crisis since the Great Depression. These plans have been rolled out at all sorts of levels from nationally to locally. They included things like direct payments, child tax credits, unemployment benefits, small business loans and grants like the PPP loan, and so on. The whole point of these economic plans is to rebuild an economy that had crashed and to help people who have been hit hard financially to get back on their feet. Maybe you have benefited from some of these actions.
As I worked through the portion of God’s Word that is before us today from the book of 2 Corinthians, it made me think about these plans to rebuild the economy. Because, you see, God has an economic recovery plan too. His isn’t necessarily to rebuild the global economy, to make the stock market strong again, and give people financial stability. No, the Lord has a much greater economic recovery in mind. He looks to build a spiritual economy and to rescue, restore, and rebuild people who are spiritually poor, lost, fallen, struggling and challenged in their life of faith… to people like you. So today as we look at this theme of how God preserves us, we see that this providing care isn’t just for your physical needs, but for your eternal needs and life.
Imagine that you witnessed ten amazing acts of God, one right after another, from a river turning from water to blood, to massive and destructive infestations of various pests, to three days of utter darkness, and finally, to the death of every firstborn son that caused a national leader to fall to his knees and beg for you, people who were his slaves, begs for you to leave. Don’t you feel like you would never forget just how powerful God is? Yet after a month into their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the people of Israel started to grumble, complaining that they had nothing to eat and would have been better off in Egypt. Really?? Do you know what God did? He graciously provided them with food, bread in the morning and meat in the evening. They never lacked. But this was more than just feeding the people. The Lord told Moses that he provided for them for this reason, “In the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God” (Exodus 16:11).
Fast forward about 1,500 years. Jesus was preaching to a large crowd in a remote place with no Metro Markets or Chick-fil-A anywhere near them. It was late in the day and the people were hungry. The disciples realized this and asked Jesus what to do. They searched out for food and found five small loaves of bread and two fish, a meager meal. Jesus took that food, gave thanks, and the food multiplied to enough to feed thousands. After this, the crowd chased down Jesus when he crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, but for the wrong reason. “Very truly I tell you, [Jesus said], you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (John 6:26–27).
So, you see, these two miracles weren’t so much about just feeding people, but rather through them God showed who he truly was – powerful and gracious and able to provide for them – so that people would know the Lord as God and turn to him in faith and trust.
With those examples in your mind, let’s turn to 2 Corinthians 9. The Apostle Paul wrote to the congregation in Corinth and was encouraging them in this larger section to continue to gather the special offering for the poor and persecuted believers in Jerusalem that they had started and committed themselves to. Here’s the basis of that encouragement. “God is able to bless you abundantly.” This is a truth of God for you. God is able to bless you abundantly. He has proven that. The miracles of feeding the people of Israel as they wandered and the 5,000 gathered to hear Jesus, and the fact that God gives you what you need for daily life proves that God is able to bless.
How good are you at remembering that truth? Too often you can forget that. You can be like the people of Israel who so quickly forget the power of God and ability to provide and so you grumble and complain against God when you don’t feel like you have enough or the same as someone else. When you don’t get the answer to your prayers in that the way you would like. When you are swayed by the world to think you don’t need the Lord. You can be like the crowd who only looks to Jesus as a drive-through at McDonalds, order up with a prayer and get what you want from him in the next moment. There are moments in life when you really are materially poor and there are other times when you just feel like you don’t have enough. In those moments you are tempted to think that God doesn’t provide, doesn’t care, isn’t able to. He doesn’t bless abundantly.
To understand how he blesses you, let me share a translation that captures the original language a bit better. “God is able to make all grace abound to you.” See, God does more than just promise to bless you abundantly, he promises to make his grace abound to you. So know what grace is. Grace is God’s undeserved love. Grace is what you show to someone who was a jerk to you. To someone who doesn’t deserve the time of day. Grace is what God shows to you, the undeserving, unappreciative, disobedient sinner that you are. Grace is God sending his son, Jesus Christ, to be more than a bread-maker, but a life-saver. Grace is Jesus living in your place and dying in your place to pay the price that you can’t afford to stand right with God. Grace is God saying to you that you are forgiven for the sake of Jesus. This is grace. God delights to abundantly pour his grace into your life to make you spiritually rich and alive with the hope of the eternal treasure of heaven.
With this grace of God, you are supplied with all that you need for this life and the life to come. “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” The abundance of God’s grace in your life overflows into what you do and how you live each day. God blesses you so that you can be generous to others.
I once witnessed a young boy who had the closest guess of how many pieces of candy were in a big jar. The prize for the closest guess was the jar of candy itself. This huge jar of candy was like winning the jackpot for the kid. But you know what he did? He opened the jar and offered up its contents to the kids around him. He generously shared his winnings and his joy of winning with the other kids.
When in faith you realize and remember how richly God provides for you, not just physically by being the one who provides for your daily needs, but spiritually with forgiveness and eternal life, it changes your heart. God’s grace just wants to pour out of your life and into the lives of others. God illustrates that idea in this way. “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”
God supplies you with what is needed so that you can be generous and a spiritual blessing to others in all things at all time. I know, you may often feel like you don’t have anything to offer, but that’s just Satan whispering in your ear to create doubts and keep you from blessing others. God promises to supply and increase your faith and spiritual gifts to serve others. Whether you give a lot or a little when it comes to monetary offerings, every bit is used to spread the seeds of the gospel to more lost souls. Perhaps God blesses you with the ability to talk to others making new friends that you are willing to talk about your faith with. Maybe you don’t have lots of words to say, but you are really great at listening. Cheerfully give of your time, your patience, your grace, your forgiveness, your encouragement, your love of Jesus to plant and water and nourish gospel seeds so that through your efforts, God can work to multiply the harvest of righteousness so that more souls can be made eternally rich through faith in Jesus. Your generous use of the blessings that God has given to you will result in much thanksgiving to the Lord! Who will thank God today for his gifts through you?
This past week Milwaukee celebrated a huge victory. Bucks in six! It’s amazing to see how a victory like that could set aside differences for a moment whether racial, political, or economical. People embraced and gathered around a victory. Each one of you are winners in a victory far greater than an NBA championship. You are a victor with and in Christ over sin, which means no more guilt, and over death, which means the certainty of eternal life, and over Satan, which means no fear in the face of temptation. This is a victory that truly unites people. Share that victory in Jesus so that more and more people may join in the celebration parade heading towards heaven.
When it comes to recovery plans, I think that we can all agree that God’s economic recovery plan is far better than any president’s or economists’ suggestions. God’s plan truly works, truly lasts, is truly for all people. May God continue to bless you abundantly in many ways so that you can be generous in every situation. Amen.
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