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Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Loving, Living & Sharing Christ

Bible Study “Empowered by Grace to Give” Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your generosity toward us, demonstrated especially by the gift of your Son, Jesus. Grant us loving and thankful hearts so we might give freely to you through our church. Bless this study as we learn what it means to be empowered by grace to give faithfully and generously. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Introduction In the beginning God gave, and he continues to give. God’s character is to give. Out of his love, God gives humanity a beautiful and majestic place to dwell. Our heavenly Father loves us so much that he holds nothing back from us. God gives and keeps on giving. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). To give and to keep on giving is the essential nature of God, who is love. All that we are, have, and hope to be are gifts from God. We give because God first gave to us. The natural response of love is to give. Love is never close-lipped or tight-fisted. Love never asks how little I must give, but how much can I give. When we are filled with God’s love, we give. Acknowledging God’s ownership is a basic principle for Christian giving. King David said, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1). When we give our gifts to God as grateful and faithful stewards, we are merely returning to him what he has already given to us. Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive?” Wholehearted and unconditional giving has its source in God who himself gave unreservedly. Because of the awesome love shown to us at the cross, we give. God, abiding in us, enables us to give, for, through Christ, we have his very nature, a giving nature. We become more Christ-like as his love for us and within us opens our clenched fists and breaks down our natural desire to put ourselves first. Then we can experience the joy of giving and grow in the grace of giving.

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Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Loving, Living & Sharing Christ

Questions for Discussion 1. How has God demonstrated his loving and giving nature? How has Jesus? How has the Holy Spirit? 2. What giving points are made in 1 Corinthians 16:2? 2On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. 3. How does today’s consumerism impede your giving? 4. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7. 1We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints — 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. Why were the Macedonians able to give so much? 5. Share a time when you experienced the joy of giving. What were the circumstances? 6. In what ways does giving indicate the spiritual condition of your heart? 7. What consequences for not giving are spelled out in Proverbs 11:24; 21:13; 28:27? 24

Some give freely, yet grow all the richer; others withhold what is due, and only suffer want. 13If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard. 27Whoever gives to the poor will lack nothing, but one who turns a blind eye will get many a curse.

© Copyright Parish Publishing, LLC  May not be copied without permission.  www.parishpublishing.org

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Loving, Living & Sharing Christ 8. Was the tithe in the Old Testament a voluntary contribution (Leviticus 27:30)? 30All tithes from the land, whether the seed from the ground or the fruit from the tree, are the LORD's; they are holy to the LORD. What about today (Matthew 23:23)? 23Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. 9. Read Genesis 4:1-7. Why was God not pleased with Cain’s offering? Why was he pleased with Abel’s? 1Now the man knew his wife Eve, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, "I have produced a man with the help of the LORD." 2Next she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a tiller of the ground. 3In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, 4and Abel for his part brought of the firstlings of his flock, their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, 5but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. 6The LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your countenance fallen? 7If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is lurking at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it." 10. Read about the Widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17:9-16? 9Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you. 10So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." 11As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." 13Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth." 15She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. What does giving sacrificially mean? What did the widow receive because of her willingness to sacrifice? The widow’s gift to Elijah was an act of faith. Discuss how outrageous giving is an act of faith on the part of the giver. Where does faith come from (Romans 10:17)? 17So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ. 11. How does God test the sincerity of your love (2 Corinthians 8:1-8)? 1We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints — 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so © Copyright Parish Publishing, LLC  May not be copied without permission.  www.parishpublishing.org

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Loving, Living & Sharing Christ that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 8I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 12. Read Proverbs 3:9. What are you directed to do? and with the first fruits of all your produce;

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Honor the LORD with your substance

13. Read 2 Corinthians 8:7. What does it mean to excel in the grace of giving? 7Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. 14. Read Luke 19:1-10. What was necessary for Zacchaeus before he was ready to give? What was Zacchaeus’ attitude toward money before and after his conversion? 1He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today." 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, "He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner." 8 Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." 9Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost." Prayer: Lord, thank you for this study and the encouragement we receive through it to give faithfully and generously. You have given so freely and generously to us. Help us to show our gratitude to you by faithfully using and giving our money as you direct us. Open our eyes and hearts to the opportunities to help those in need and to ways that we can further your kingdom. Thank you for Jesus who suffered and died on the Cross so we can live as forgiven and redeemed people here on earth and forever with you in heaven. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

© Copyright Parish Publishing, LLC  May not be copied without permission.  www.parishpublishing.org