Chris Hodges - Choose to Be Generous
All right, who's glad to be in church today? Oh, me, too. Thanks for coming, everybody. I know it's a little stormy outside, but welcome to church. A big hello to all of our campuses today. We are one church that meets in 23 locations all across the great state of Alabama and in Columbus, Georgia, and we're broadcasting this right now into more than 20 of Alabama's Department of Corrections facilities. A big hello to you guys there. Yeah, we're so glad you're along for the ride. And I think if there was ever an online campus kind of day, it would be today maybe. So, for those of you that are eating pancakes and staying dry, we're so glad you're with us today, as well, that are watching online. God bless you guys. We are in week number two of a seven-part series called "Seven Choices," and we just came off of a series that was called "Seven Days". And I'll go ahead and get to the question now.
There's not another "Seven" series after this. All right, everybody? Because had this idea to kind of follow this seven days where we looked at the last seven days of Jesus' life on planet Earth. And now to move into "Seven Choices". In fact, I remember the moment that I felt like the Lord led me to this, and I'm not really sure of the circumstances, but I was in prayer thinking about all of us and that we really are people of values and beliefs, but those values and beliefs only go as far as the choices we make. I mean, you could have them. But you know, I have the value of exercise and being thin. Come on, somebody. Where y'all at, right? And as you can see, I've not made all the great choices, right?
So, in fact, I have a value of looking like Brad Pitt, but I look like an avocado pit. But anyway, so you can't just have the value. You've got to make the choice. And that's what this series is all about. I call this a pastoral series. This is where I'm leading you to places that your life can just get better. And the Bible is for you. The Bible has ways, listen very carefully, to embellish your life, to enlarge your life, to make your life what the Bible calls enriched in every way. And God has that desire for you, but you can't just hear it, and you can't just amen it, and you can't just attend it. We have to choose it. Can I get a better amen, everybody? All right, so what we're doing is we actually went through the entire Bible and looked at some of the most important choices, and here's really our theme verse in Proverbs chapter 2. It says, "Wise choices," wise choices, "watch over us".
The way I like to say it is, is the choices I make determine the kind of person I'm gonna become. And so last week, we did the very important choice of Pastor Mark Pettus followed up the Easter service, where a load of people made decisions for Jesus, but we wanted to give you the next step. So, again, great value, great decision. And congratulations on almost 6000 people that have made now heaven their home. To God be the glory for that. Can we one more time celebrate that, everybody? That's just pretty awesome. But there are some next steps. And it's actually to me the most exciting part of Christianity. But listen very carefully. And that is that I'm growing, that I'm not done, that it's not just I made a decision, I'm a Christian, I'm going to heaven, got the fire insurance, that's it.
No, no, no, to me I've been knowing the Lord for more than 40 years, and the most exciting part of Christianity to me is that God is still doing a work on the inside of me, and there's even more for Chris Hodges to do and to grow in. And so listen to me. I would love for all of you to take that step that Pastor Mark talked about last week, and that is grow. Don't settle where you are. Don't stay where you are. God never intended for you to stay where you started. He's always intended for you to continue to grow, and it's fun. You'll enjoy it. You'll enjoy you better, if you're allowing God to work in you. And today, actually, there are some next steps. Today is the first day of the month, and it's the first Sunday of the month, of course, and it's the day that we have.
Actually, some of the first steps, if you're not a member of our church, yet, we would encourage you to come back tonight at every location at 6 o'clock. And I teach, basically, it's our version of a membership class. It's step one of the growth track, but it'll determine whether you should ever even have a step two, right? It's where you can decide if this should be your home church. And you need a home church. We all need a home church. We need a place that we call home. It doesn't have to be here, but it needs to be somewhere, and we would encourage you guys to do that. And then today, also, because it's the first Sunday, it's the opportunity to follow the Lord in water baptism. If you've never been baptized, listen to me, don't think about it. You need to go home with your hair wet.
Listen to me. Your hair's gonna be wet today anyway. It's raining outside, okay? So, that's gonna happen. So, just follow the Lord in water baptism and watch what God does in your life. And it won't be good for us. It'll be good for you. Your life will be enriched in every way. By the way, I'll give you a little preview. Next week, part three of "Seven Choices," we're gonna talk about the choices we make around our time because some of you, look at me, some of you are way too tired right now, and you're exhausted, and you're spent, and you're still pushing yourself. And as we honor moms, who are the epitome of living their lives for everybody else, and we're gonna honor moms next week on Mother's Day. We're gonna talk about for all of us how we can replenish better.
And I'm gonna encourage every one of you, I'm gonna teach you next week how to have a vacation that when you actually get back from it, you feel better. Some of you are going on vacation, you're more tired when you get back than when you went 'cause you never learned the art of replenishing yourself and choosing wisely around your time. So, don't miss that choice in part three. But today I'm gonna give you the topic that you cannot get away from in Scripture. So, the topic I'll give you today, there are ten, almost, almost ten times as many mentions of this topic than prayer. I'm gonna give you, it is over three times more mentions of this topic than love. Somebody said, "Well, that's the main thing of the Bible". No, love is not the main thing. You can't just have love; you have to give that love. We're gonna talk about today how to choose to live a life that will make your life so great, if you're generous.
Now let me just relax you a little bit. This is not a money message, and we're not taking a special offering at the end of the service today. This is not about that. This is about in every part of my life, I'm gonna live generously. I'm gonna give my life away. The way I like to say it is the value of life isn't determined by how much I achieve or accumulate, but by how much of my life I am giving away. So, here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna give you actually today my favorite way to teach. It's a little bit more deep into the pool 'cause I love verse by verse. I cut my teeth on just taking the sections of the Bible and just dissecting them and actually looking at every detail of Scripture. I'm gonna do a little bit of that, but let me kind of build the case for God wants you to live this kind of life and to choose it.
So, all of you in this room, you've been a part of Highlands, you're some of the most generous people I know. But I want to light a fresh fire inside of it, inside of you. And for those of you that have yet to experience the joy of living a life where you give your life away, where you're making a difference, this could probably bring more joy to your life than anything else I could teach you because the Bible says the world of the... say it out loud... the world of the... "the generous gets larger and larger, but the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller". The next verse out of the NIV says, "A generous person will prosper". Now, some people are afraid of that word "prosper" or prosperity. It's not what you think.
Now, I'm with you. The part that you think that's the bad version of that, I'm not for that, either, but the word prosper in Hebrew is the word tsalach, and it means literally that God will push you forward. So, every time you do something that God is interested in, God says, "Oh, that's the way you're gonna be? You are only able to get to this point, I will push you for this, that you are able to do even more". "And whoever refreshes others will themselves be refreshed". But look at this verse out of Psalm. "Good will come to the generous person, those who lend freely, those who conduct their affairs with justice". I mean, you go into the New Testament. The Apostle Paul taught a pastor named Timothy. He said, "Tell the people in your congregation, the rich in this world, to quit being so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today, gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God," which is what I'm so desperately trying to do right now.
I mean, I wish y'all could get in my head sometimes. I'm here looking at you. I know what God has for you. I want it for you so bad. And I'm trying to look so calm and peaceful and just under control, and just trying to give it to you in the best kind of way. I'm like that duck on the water. His body's all still on top, but his little legs are going like this underneath. That's the way I am right now. I am trying the best I can to get the part of God, for you to go after God, knowing what he has for you. "...who piles on all the riches we could ever manage". Why does he pile on riches, on us? "...to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous".
And watch what happens. If they do that, all of Birmingham will have food. No, that's not what it says. If they do that, we'll eliminate poverty. No, no, those are the reasons why we do things, but God says, "I've got another motivation for you. If they'll do that, they'll build a treasury..." One translation says, "for themselves that will last". It's talking about heaven. "...gaining life that is truly life". It's like now this is living now. Now you're living. In fact, one more verse just to kind of build the case that this is a major theme of Scripture, more than 2100 verses in the Bible around generosity. Acts chapter 20 says, "The Lord Jesus himself.". Let's end with Jesus himself, who said, "It is more blessed to give than it is to receive". The word "blessed" there makarios in the Greek. It literally means an internal joy regardless of circumstance. So now you've found joy regardless of what's going on in your life.
So, here's what I did. I spent literally about 8 hours reading slowly over and over and outlining 2 chapters of the Bible. And I need about two hours to give it to you in full detail, everything I kind of discovered 'cause I went and read it in the original language. I'll read it in several translations. I just love studying Scripture. I was taught that. That's how all my Bible college professors taught us how to study the Bible. So, I love dissecting and outlining chapters. I'm gonna give you two, and I'm gonna give you eight hours in about 15 minutes of just the nuggets that are in these two chapters. Let me set it up for you. It's 2 Corinthians chapter 8 and chapter 9. And what Paul is doing, he's writing a letter to a church he planted in a city called Corinth.
And by the way, a lot of your New Testament are simply letters that the Apostle Paul wrote to the churches that he planted. That's what an apostle is, is a church planter. And so he would start the church, raise up leadership, and give it governance, and then teach them things, and then leave to go do it in another city. And he was basically focused on the areas of the world that weren't Jewish. So, a lot of these churches were in what is today modern-day Turkey. And so there's a city there named Ephesus, and Colossae, and Philippi. Well, this one's Corinth. And he was writing this letter, second time, second letter to give them theology, give them doctrine, give them correction, give them encouragement. But in this case, he's actually saying, "Hey, I mentioned this to you while I was there, that I want to take this offering. I want to receive this offering that we're gonna all give to the Jerusalem church to honor the fact that they were the mother ship. They were where it all began. It's where Jesus is from. We're gonna do this".
And Paul is excited about it, and he wanted them to prepare, and he'd already mentioned it to them once, and now he's reminding them again, "Hey, I'm getting ready to come, and we're gonna be a part of this. It's gonna be really exciting. I want you to see this". And he says this. He says that, "Now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about that grace that God has given the Macedonians". So, he starts this, it kind of almost creates a little healthy competition. It says, "Hey, before I talk about you guys, I want you to know there's another church that's doing this in Macedonia". And he called it, watch this, watch the language. "I want you to know about," not the offering, not the amount. He says, "I want you to know about the grace". They had something on them that actually wanted to do it. Said, "And in the midst of a very severe trial, their," watch the language, "their overflowing joy, even though they were extremely poor..."
Did you know that joy and poverty can coexist if you know God? Like, bad things can be happening externally, and you can still have joy on the inside. "...overflowing joy and their extreme poverty", I love the language, "welled up". In other words, they couldn't help themselves. So, Macedonia didn't have a lot of money. Paul said, "Look, I've already received what they're gonna give to Jerusalem, and it's amazing". And it welled up in what he called rich generosity. Now watch this. "For I testify that they gave as much as they were able. In fact, they actually gave more than we thought they were going to". And I will just time out right here and say to you, you're that way. I'm not preaching this 'cause you're not generous. You've already, you give twice the national average. You're one of the most generous churches in the world, which is why we can, they were able to do all of our projects.
Y'all, we're in three building projects right now, and they're all paid for. We're getting ready to open up our brand-new McCalla campus in June. Yeah, all paid for. We're opening up our Woodmont campus in August, and we're almost done with the Grandview project in September, and we're already headed toward Alabaster, and Alabaster, even though we haven't even broke ground, you've already paid for it. Come on, give yourselves a hand, everybody, yeah. That's how I feel. Watch this. And entirely on their own, it's like we didn't even go there and give a sermon or anything. "...they urgently pleaded..." "Don't leave us out, don't leave us out". "...for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord's people". Watch this. "And they exceeded our expectations".
Paul's just bragging on this message in church. And I want you, again, notice the language. We'll come back to it. "They gave," not just money. They didn't just write a check. "They gave themselves, first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God to all these people, too". "So, hey, Corinthian church, you're amazing, too. You excel in everything. You excel in faith. Like, you're the best church I ever planted with faith, speech, knowledge, complete earnestness, love, kindness, all these things. See to it that you also excel in the," not the amount of giving but "in the grace of giving. I want you to enjoy it like Macedonia does. And I'm not commanding you". I love the language. So, you don't have to. And by the way, you don't. "But I wish to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ".
And notice he brings it back to the first battle wasn't even Macedonia. It was Jesus himself, that though he was sitting in heaven, living in sheer luxury, gold streets, pearl gates, "yet for your sake humbled himself, came to earth, became a poor person, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here's my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year, you were the first, not only to give but also to have the desire". Notice all the motivations. None of it was around obligation. It was all around motivation. He said, "So now finish the work, so that your," and here's the language again, "eager willingness to do it may be matched by the completion of it, according to your means". Last verse, "For if the willingness is there..." Like, if you'll find the sheer fun in it, the joy in it, the desire in it, "if the willingness is there, that's what makes that gift acceptable to God, not according to what one does not have, but to what he has".
And he says he noticed that all these things are about the internal motivation. If you're new to our church, you couldn't have come on a better Sunday; because one of the core messages of Church of the Highlands is that there are commands of God, and none of us are following it because of the command itself, that you can follow God, because he said to, or because you want to. If the Old Testament has a message, it's that God puts laws, and he writes them on stone tablets. And he says, "You do this or else". And then Jesus comes along in the New Testament and says, "Love the values". We're not gonna change any of those principles, but we're not writing them externally. We're writing them now internally. They're no longer on a tablet. I write them on the tablet of your heart, so over here you have to do it, but over here you want to do it.
Honestly, if there's a message, so you'll never hear like, "You need to read your Bible more". No, we'll show you how much fun reading the Bible is. You'll never hear, "Y'all stop praying enough". We'll show you the joy of having communion with God and the conversation with the one who can change your life. It's the motivation, the motivation, the motivation. And that's what this message today is all about. It's about the motivation of generosity. If anything that I say today makes you feel guilty to have to do it, you heard it wrong. My job's to get the guilt off of you, not put it on you. But the desire to give, the motivation to give, the attitude, and then choose it all day long. And here's what's gonna happen. You're gonna love that version of yourself. You're gonna love the version of yourself that learns to choose generosity all week long, every day in every way that you can.
So, let me pull out five words that I saw in this text, and we'll even show you a few more verses that are found in chapter 9 that I didn't even have time to read you, yet. And the verse is that to choose to give joyfully. Like, if you haven't found the fun in it, you haven't really discovered what real generosity is, because it's extremely fun. Several times he said, "their overflowing joy". They had learned the joy of it. If you've been around any length of time, we know that we have these little cards, business size cards. And they're actually available in the foyer at every campus, every Sunday. And today, I'm going to highlight it. We highlight it every year around Christmastime, because 'tis the season, right, just to be generous. But I want to highlight it right here as we head into the summer months, that you grab a fistful of these and put them in your purse, your pocket. Put it somewhere.
And as the Holy Spirit prompts you, it says on the card, "Something extra to show God loves you". And we have even on our website a little page that you can go there. It just says, "Acts of Kindness," and it'll give you a bunch of different ways that these cards can be used. Like, show up at work tomorrow with a box of hot Krispy Kreme donuts. Come on, somebody. I just felt the presence of God there. And so, and then leave these cards there. Just bless your office. Maybe go through a Starbucks line and say, "Hey, what's the order of the person behind me. I'd like to pay it". And then give the clerk the card and say, "Tell them it's already been paid for, and hand them this card". Just find ways.
So, one of my favorite stories, several years ago, a person was at the CVS in Helena, Alabama. Shout out Alabaster campus, all right? And this person was at the CVS, and the person who was with the pharmacist getting their prescriptions, when they were told how much it was, the person, they saw the person shocked at the amount. They thought the insurance was gonna cover more, and it was just way too much, and the person who was at the counter said, "Please excuse me for a second. I need to go call my wife". And so this Highlands person's watching this whole thing, and they walk over to the side, and they could hear the conversation of the wife. "Hey, honey, we're not gonna be able to get both. Like, which one of the two is more important to you? 'Cause it's a lot, it's a lot. We're not gonna be able to afford them both".
And so the Highlands person scooted up to the line, you know, and said, "How much is it"? while they were on the phone. Now, they don't know this is going on. He said, "How much is it"? And the pharmacist said, "It's $150". He goes, "I'll pay it". And he paid it really quick, and he walked off to the side, and the person came back and said, "Okay, we'll choose this one". And the pharmacist said, "Oh, while you were away, it has been paid for completely, both of them, and they asked me to give you this". Well, I only know this story because the person who received that generous blessing happens to live next door to a Highlands member. So, they go next door and say, "You'll never believe what one of your people did for me today".
And so that person, the member who didn't do it, the member who lived next door to the person who received it, called us and said, "Would you please tell somebody in Helena, Alabama, you just saved somebody's life". All right? Yeah, I have to make up the rest of the story 'cause I don't know, but I know the person doesn't know the person who did it, and I can imagine they were over there behind the toothpaste and mouthwash going, "Oh, oh. Yes, yes". You just know that's happening. You just know that's happening. And that's what I want for you. I want you to find, everybody say the joy. Just fun. I just want you to go live your life that way with whatever you have. I'll show you how in a second.
And it says in 2 Corinthians chapter 9, we haven't even read chapter 9 yet, that God loves, say it out loud, love a... Cheerful. Do you know what that word in the Greek is? Hilarious. That means you're laughing and joy while you're doing this. Now, this confuses people. This confuses some people's minds, because they don't understand why? Why would you do this? In fact, there was an article written because they didn't understand generosity. It's called, "Hardwired for Giving". The Wall Street Journal put it out. You can go read the article. It's very fascinating, because they were asking the question, "Why do people do this"? Because Darwin's evolution theory was survival of the fittest, that because of evolution, the strongest will survive, so it's built into the heart of a man to take care of themselves. And even if that means you lose, I'll be the strongest. It's, you know, natural selection.
That's why we evolved, because those who have keep what they have. And so they couldn't understand. Well, then, if that's true, then why do people give? And in the article they talk about that there's this place in your brain that will release hormones and endorphins that give you the sense of pleasure when you're generous, and they don't understand how it was created, why it's there, 'cause it goes against all their other theories. Come on, somebody. That's because evolution didn't put it there. God did. God's the one who allows you to enjoy it. So, everybody choose to go live a life of generosity and enjoy the ride. You enjoy your life, everybody.
Second thing I saw in the text is to choose to give selflessly. Remember it says they gave themselves. They didn't give money. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to the others. I love this quote by John Bonnell. It says, "If one first gives himself to the Lord, all other giving is easy". I'm not just giving money; I'm giving you me. I think that's what I love personally about giving, and it's like a piece of me, like, my sweat is in that, my life, my effort, my time. When you go to a First Saturday serve, like, you have to be there. You can't, you're giving yourself in those situations. I brought you something to see from my house. These are the potholders in my house. I know they're ugly. I know that, okay, but they're only ugly to you, because my grandmother who is now with the Lord. These were our Christmas gifts every year, and she started in January with a couple of things of yarn, and she crocheted these one at a time with her little arthritis hands, and she didn't have a lot of money. She lived on less than $1,000 a month on her welfare check, and just, and so these were her Christmas gifts.
And we don't have any other potholders in our house. We don't have prettier ones than this. We have these to remind ourselves Mama Hodges one stitch at a time, didn't just give us a gift. She gave us a piece of herself. And so we take, I won't let Tammy get rid of them. These are my Mama's, y'all, everybody, right? This, and we think about it every time. We do, and every person in the Hodges tribe has a couple, two or three of these from Mama Hodges. And it's meaningful because she just didn't give, she didn't go order something on Amazon. She gave a piece of herself. And that's what Paul said. Paul's saying, "Look, what made this gift so special, it was a part of them". By the way, that's what makes Jesus so special, too. Jesus saw a sin problem, and he didn't write a check. Jesus saw a sin problem. He didn't send somebody else. No, he sent himself. "I'll go pay for it". He didn't just give. He gave himself, his life.
And that's why 2 Corinthians chapter 9, so the whole text, I wish I had time to teach you the whole thing. The whole text ends with this line in chapter 9. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift! I can't even describe it. But that's what makes it so meaningful. And that's why when people are out there in the rain today, parking your cars, they're not just Dream Teamers. They're giving themselves. By the way, be nice to a parking lot attendant today. You know what I'm saying? Thank your Children's Church worker today, because they're not just giving, they're not writing checks. They're giving themselves selflessly.
The third thing that you see over and over is that you choose to give willingly. And I love this. That means you're not doing it because you have to. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable. So, this is in contrast to people who think, when we say, "Hey, let's give all, let's all give our tithes and offerings," because of the churches they were raised in, they're hearing, "Oh, so you're putting that on me now". And I'll hear from time to time, "Hey," they'll come up to me and challenge me, "Hey, stop mentioning the tithe. The tithe, isn't the tithe an Old Testament law"? And I always say, "Of course it is. It's a law, and you do not have to do it. You are not under the law. You are now under grace, and you absolutely can ignore that law". But that does not make the principle go away. It changes the motivation of why you do it. So now we don't have to do it. We get to do it. Jesus himself said, "Do not think that I've come to abolish the things in the Old Testament. I've come not to abolish them. I came to fulfill them. I came to change the motivation behind it so that you want to do it".
And that's what we tell people here. When you give, give because it is in your heart to give, you're looking at buildings and places of people who have not done this under compulsion. Thanks be to God, there's never been a box of envelopes mailed. There's never been a campaign. There's never been a fundraiser. I have my own mentors tell me, "You can't lead a church like that. You're gonna have to do some kind of program to urge them to do it". And I was convinced that if we'll lead you to life, you would find the joy in it. And look what the Lord has done. These 21 years. Not me. And I'm just gonna tell you my story. I'm not saying this for any other reason, just to tell you my story. But for Tammy and me, it's meaningful. Today is the 1st, and on every time it's the 1st of the month, Tammy and I get together in my office down in the basement, and I do the bookkeeping for us, and I'm meticulous with it. I mean, I balance everything to the penny, and I use Quicken, and it celebrates and puts up balloons when I do it right.
I just love it, you know. It's very important to me. And we reconcile every receipt, everything, and I find it fun. I just love all the details of that. But on the 1st, we come together and literally most of the times with tears in our eyes. We thank God for the people at Church of the Highlands who give us, we don't even see it as a salary. It's a love gift, a monthly love gift to say thank you 'cause we were doing it for free before anybody ever paid us. You can't pay us. We would do this, we love doing this. And so we say, "Look what, oh, isn't this wonderful"? And then we have our moment where we give, you know. And we used to write a check, but now we give, we do the online thing just because it's a lot easier. And we have a moment where we just pray. We pray for you. We thank God. It's meaningful. Don't ever, ever, ever, ever, ever get involved in the, "Ah, ah". No, enjoy giving. Find the willing, come on, everybody, the willingness. The willingness is there, the gift is acceptable.
Here's the fourth thing that I see over and over in this is that choose to give intentionally. In other words, you have to plan on it. So, Paul comes along to a very pretty cool church, and y'all excel in everything. But I'd like for you to get a little bit better here. And he challenges them to excel in giving and be intentional about it. And I haven't had a chance to read you all of chapter 9, but check out this verse. So that, "You must each decide in your heart how much to give". So, don't let anybody ever tell you how much. And don't give reluctantly. So, don't be a scrooge, but also don't give in response to a cool video where they made you cry a lot. 'Cause the Bible says, "Don't be manipulated, and don't let them put something on you".
And I should stir you. I'm trying to stir you, but to hear from God. I'm just trying to show you the joy in it, not for us. We're, honestly, God's blessed our church, and I'm grateful, and we have a lot of things we still want to do. We'll do them one day. I'm in no hurry, honestly. We'll get to them. I want this for you. But you have to have this moment where you say, "God, am I supposed to do this"? You should be having that conversation with the Lord all the time. And here's what God promises he'll do. Watch the next verse, in verse 11. He'll make you rich, but not just with money. He'll make you rich in every way. So, he'll make you rich with ideas. Hell make you rich with joy. You know what rich is? More than you need. So, I have more joy than I need. So, I give some to you every Sunday. You take what the Lord's given you and say, "God, I'm gonna give this away. You made me rich in every way, so I can be generous on every occasion".
And that generosity results in people getting saved. Now, they're thanking God. How do you do this? Not just with your money. You can intentionally give your time. That's what Dream Teamers were doing today. Again, I applaud the Dream Teamers. 'Cause they say, "I'll worship one and I'll serve one". That's all they say. And you go ask them yourself. Don't take my word for it. Ask them, "Do you really enjoy this"? And they'll tell you they probably enjoy it when they serve more than when they sit here and listen to me. Because that's worship to God, too. Why? I'm gonna go to a worship service next. No, no, no. When you're cleaning up that coffee spill out in the foyer, that's worship to God, too. When you go help mow the lawn of a widow, that's worship, too.
These are the sacrifices of God, Hebrews says. I give my time. I intentionally give my talents. Now listen to me. You're talented. You're thinking, "No, I'm not". Yes, you are. The Bible says to each one, that includes you, okay? Each one of you, grace has been given. That's a divine enablement that when you do it you're good at it and it makes a difference. And for some of you, that's kids. You're just good with kids. Some of you are good with organization. Some of you are good with just helping. Some of you are good with speaking. But you have something that you're talented in, and you intentionally give it. By the way, that's what step one of the growth track today is all about. You give me three Sundays. Start today. I just need three, not 30, not 300, not 3 years, 3. I'll help you discover what it is. I'll help you discover what it is. I intentionally also give my touch. So, this one's free.
So, like, right now you can get your phone out and find somebody that you know could use a little encouragement and just say, "Hey, I'm thinking about you right now, and I'm praying for you right now. Let me know if there's anything I can do for you". That's generosity. That's taking your hugs, your smiles. Hey, everybody, give your smile away, especially when you leave our parking lots today. Okay, give your smile away. It doesn't have to be expensive. It can be actually very inexpensive. And then intentionally, of course, give the things that you do have that are your treasure. Take your life, take your tithe, your offerings, your money, all that you have, use it to the glory of God. And here's what God does.
Now don't miss this, this is huge. I need longer than I have to teach you this, watch this. "Now, he," and he is God, "who supplies seed to the sower..." And time out right there. Who does God give stuff to? Everybody? No. God has a lot, and he doesn't give it to everybody. God supplies seeds to sowers and bread for food, and he will supply and increase your store of seed. So, in other words, God, who has it all, is not giving it all to everybody. He's looking at, "Oh, I didn't know you were gonna do that with that. So, here's some more". He's looking for people, Jesus said it this way: "Whoever is a steward over little be entrusted with much. He'll enlarge the harvest of your righteousness". It goes on to say, "You will be enriched in every way, so that you can be generous on every occasion. And through us, your generosity results, again, to people thanking God".
So, what do we do? Just be intentional with it, like today. Like, when you go out to eat, I'm not asking you to leave a large tip. I'm asking you to ask God whether you should. And if he does, knock their socks off. And then right before you take your nap this afternoon, and I sure hope you're getting one, text somebody. Check on your kids. Check on your mom. Check on your next-door neighbor, who's really going through a tough time. That's generosity. It's being intentional. And here's the last one. Choose to give thankfully. 'Cause remember, he said we do it because of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who did it first. He became poor, so that we might be rich.
Now, I thought about this Psalm. Put it in your notes. This is a good refrigerator Psalm right here. "How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me"? Let me answer the question. You can't. Just can't. So, what do you do? You just give him your best. You do everything you can. So, there's a story I'll close with. It's a cool story. So, in the Old Testament, in the book of Exodus, they have their very first Passover. And I don't know if you know what Passover is, but it's where they celebrate the fact that God spared them from Egypt. So, the death angel, and you've seen the movie, right? And so but God said to celebrate. Now watch this. "I want you to go to your flocks and go find your best lamb, like your first, the first one and the best one, and I want you to sacrifice it to me". And the Bible says that when you do this, it's gonna be confusing to your kids.
They're going like, "Dad, we already have enough already. Why are you killing not only one of our best, but our first". And it says this. "In the days to come, when your son says, 'Dad, why are you doing that? Why in the world did you get up at 4 o'clock and go set up stuff in that campus at Church of the Highlands? I mean, we got up later. And why were you there? Why do you make us go to Serve Day, Dad? Why are we, '" When your son asks you why you're so generous, 'cause it's confusing. "Why would you give? I don't understand it. Dad, why'd you leave that big old tip to that server? Why'd you do that"? When you say that, say to them, "With a mighty hand, the Lord brought me out of Egypt and out of the land of slavery".
In other words, pull your shirt back and show them the stripes and say, "I used to live like this, but I don't anymore. I live like this because God, with an outstretched arm, saved me and rescued me, and it's the least I can do". That's why, that's why. That's why I make this sacrifice. That's why we do it. And I got my own children here on the front row. I've tried to do the same. When they say, "Dad, why are we doing this"? Because you don't know this, but when God found me at 15 years old, I was a mess. I was bullied, intimidated, fearful. I was acting out, but inside I'm dying. I felt rejected. I felt ashamed. I felt guilty.
And then God found this punk of a kid who really had no hope, no future. And with an outstretched arm, he pulled me out of the clay and the mess of my 15-year-old life, and made me somebody, put a call on my life, gave me things that Chris Hodges never deserves, and it's just I owe him now my life. I don't do this because I have to. I do this because I am so grateful that God has rescued me out of the hand of the devil. And that's why we live generous lives. And so I'm asking you to choose it, not just today, not just this week, for the rest of your life, and you will love the life that it gives you in every way, and it'll make a difference for eternity. Let's bow for prayer.
Father, I thank you for this amazingly generous church. But God, I'm asking you to stir us to radical generosity. God, I pray, God, even as we use Acts of Kindness cards, and as we just show love and generosity in both tangible and just meaningful ways, God, and through text or through giving, whatever we do, Lord, we do it for the glory of God. We do it because you rescued us. I do it thankfully. I am giving 'cause I'm grateful. You gave me a life I never could've gotten on my own. And God, I owe you my life, every part of me, in every way.
Heads bowed, eyes closed. Campus pastors, y'all can come to the stage. Before I give it back to the campuses today, if you feel drawn, I don't know how else to say it, but there's like a tug of heaven on your heart. The Bible says that no man can come to God unless the Holy Spirit draws them. If you're drawn, that's not my preaching. That's God, God pulling you into a life that is given to God. If you're here today, and your life with God is not where it should be, so maybe you're a Christian, but you haven't gone all in with God, or maybe you once served God, but you backslid, or maybe you've never become a Christian, but you sense the drawing. Something's pulling you right now. Listen to me, respond. Give Jesus your life. And if that's you, let me pray for you right there where you are. In fact, if that's you, whisper these words. Say:
Jesus, I'm responding today to the drawing of God on my heart. So, I surrender my life, and I repent, and I give you my all, and I give you my best. Thank you for saving me. Be the Lord of my life. Forgive me. Make me the person you want me to be. With all my heart, I'm gonna live for you. In your name, I pray, amen and amen.