Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďGOD WHO GIVESĒ

James 1.17

 

Some weeks ago, shortly after concluding our summer camp in Wrightwood, I began to preach protracted meetings for another pastor. After several days, a number of our folks began attending the services at the other church, with several who are attending our church hopefully converted. I then began preaching nightly here at our church, with the pastor of the other congregation bringing his people to our auditorium. Over the course of the month of July, I preached thirty-five sermons, with most of the messages focusing on the terrible consequences that await those who pass into eternity without knowing Jesus Christ.

Explain that to me, if you would. We know that eternity awaits every soul after this brief time on earth. We also know that eternity will not be the same for everyone, with Godís children enjoying an eternity of bliss, and those who are not Godís children, those who die in an unsaved condition, those whose sins are never forgiven, those who do not in this lifetime turn from their sins to embrace Jesus Christ, suffering a certain and an endless punishment in the lake of fire. If that be so (and it is so), why are so many who are lost, who know they are not Christians, and who know they are doomed without the salvation that only Jesus provides to those who trust Him, so opposed to becoming Christians?

Certainly one aspect of the explanation for the refusal of the lost to come to Christ is their hatred of God, their animosity toward God, their conviction that despite what the Bible clearly shows, and despite what Christians testify, God is to be avoided, God is to be resisted, God is to be opposed, and every attempt must be made to thwart Godís purpose in their lives. We know from Romans 5.10 that the universal condition of mankind ensures that every sinner is Godís enemy. We know from Psalm 2 that men take counsel together against the LORD, vainly imagining that they can thwart Godís purpose and overthrow Godís rule over them.

The question is why? Why would a woman be so entrenched in her rebellion against God that she will throw a monkey wrench into every attempt to bring her and her children to Christ? Why would a young man be profoundly persuaded that Hell awaits him if he does not turn to Christ, but he is nevertheless filled with dread over the thought of becoming a Christian? To be sure, the overall explanation that lies back of such resistance to the truth is what is called depravity, the fact that every sinner is dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2.1. This morning, however, I want to address a single aspect of manís lost condition, what he thinks of God.

In First Corinthians 2.14, the Apostle Paul writes, ďBut the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.Ē In this verse, the Apostle declares to his readers that lost people are unreceptive to the things of Godís Spirit. They simply cannot know what the Holy Spirit teaches, because they lack spiritual discernment. Thus, while lost people can accumulate certain facts from the Bible, they are incapable of truly comprehending the spiritual lessons that are taught by the Holy Spirit using those facts. And what things are included in the lessons the Holy Spirit teaches? Things about God.

This morning, in what I hope will be a very simple message, I want to dispel a false notion lost people have about God. Turn to James 1.17. When you find our text for today, stand for the reading of Godís Word: ďEvery good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.Ē This verse is very straightforward in declaring that everything that is good and that everything that is perfect comes from God, in describing God as the Father of lights, and in pointing out that with God there is no variableness or shadow of turning (which is to say that His disposition toward us as the Gift Giver is constant).

Is it good? It comes from God. Is it perfect? It comes from God. It comes from God, therefore it is good. It comes from God, therefore it is perfect. He, God, never changes. He, God, always gives. His, Godís, gifts are always good and perfect. Being the Father of lights, His gifts (reflecting His nature) are always illuminating. Why, then, do sinners avoid the things of God, oppose the plan and purpose of God, shun the Son of God, and reject the gospel of God? No matter what is said about God, sinners are nevertheless convinced in their minds and hearts that God is not good and that being Godís child is not better than being a child of the devil.

Therefore, let me address the content of our text in a topical manner, by pointing out to you what God gives you. Make this as personal as you can make it. This is between you and God. What does God give you? God gives you three things:

 

First, GOD GIVES YOU TIME

 

How much time God will end up giving you is known to no man. Only God knows how much time He has allotted to you before you either drop into the flames of Hell or are escorted by holy angels into His presence in heaven. Isaac once said, ďI know not the day of my death.Ē[1] He lived for decades after uttering those words. One of my maternal great-grand fathers began to fret about his impending death when he was forty-five years old. I was present when he died, forty-five years later, twelve days after his ninetieth birthday. Before the great Flood that destroyed all flesh except for Noahís family, men lived for centuries. Adam lived nine hundred thirty years. Seth lived for nine hundred twelve years. We have no idea how old Abel was when he was murdered by his brother Cain. We do know that menís life spans shortened over time, with Noah living nine hundred fifty years, his descendant Terah living two hundred fifty years, but Joseph was a comparatively young one hundred ten years old when he died.

How much time will God give you? All you and I know is how much God has given us. We have no idea how much more time God will give us. However, time is such a precious commodity that we are commanded to redeem it, because once it has passed through your fingers you will never get it back. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians, ďSee then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.Ē[2] To the Colossian congregation he wrote, ďWalk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.Ē[3] Both letters were written from Paulís Roman imprisonment, as his time on earth was coming to an end. Perhaps he was inspired to encourage them to redeem the time because he knew his own time here on earth was rapidly drawing to a close. Soon after writing both letters the Apostle Paul was martyred.

What does it mean to redeem the time? ďHere it means, to rescue or recover our time from waste; to improve it for great and important purposes.Ē[4] So, what do you do with your time? Do you fritter it away? Do you waste it on trivialities and silliness? Or do you make good use of this precious gift of time God gives you? Is it not interesting that with the same amount of time given to each of us each day and each week, some have time to read Godís Word and pray and some do not, some have time to attend a number of services in Godís house while others have only time for one service, and still others have no time to attend church at all?

God has given to you the time you have so far lived your life. Does that not show Him to be good? Does that not show Him to be giving? Depending on how long you live, does that not show Him to be very generous? God has given a great deal of time to you. What do you do with the time God gives you? Do you redeem it? Do you make best use of that time? Or do you waste it on nonsense?

 

Next, GOD GIVES YOU TALENT

 

By talent, I refer to opportunity. Opportunity comes in many forms. For some, opportunity comes in the form of superior intelligence. For others, opportunity comes in the form of rugged stamina and the ability to persist with determination. For others, opportunity comes in the form of privilege, with parents who provide advantages that many children are lacking. Of course, the challenge that each of us faces is making the best use of the talent God gives us, the opportunity God brings into our lives.

I remember a New York City gang member who appeared on television many years ago after having written a book about his life growing up in a gang. He was dishonorably discharged from the Marine Corps, after which we went to college and law school, became an attorney, sued to get back into the Marine Corps to serve out his enlistment, and was then honorably discharged, whereupon he began to practice law. What talent/opportunity did God give him? A truly brilliant mind.

I have a cousin, the youngest son of a longtime Baptist preacher. Many would suggest that he was underprivileged due to moving around so much while growing up and not having much. He thought so for many years, until he realized that his life experiences prepared him to very quickly meet and size up new acquaintances, which he now credits for his incredible success in business.

I know a guy who was handled very roughly by his father for not performing well in school, no one realizing that he had a learning disability that made class room learning very difficult for him. However, his fatherís prodding was at least partly responsible for the development of a remarkable and persistent personality that has proven to be a great asset in his line of work.

What is my point? My point is that God has orchestrated each of these various scenarios in peopleís lives. While some people feel sorry for themselves, thinking they have been shortchanged in life, others with the same kinds of circumstances see opportunities to be taken advantage of for their own and for otherís benefits. James tells us that God gives good and perfect gifts to men. So, why would God take away someoneís mobility? I do not know the details of Godís dealings with each person, but perhaps the person without mobility is being challenged by God to be a superior and effective prayer warrior. Fanny Crosbyís sight was taken that she might become the most famous Christian hymn writer of the nineteenth century, though someone elseís sight might be taken for a completely different reason.

Though I am a man of limited understanding, experience, and wisdom, I believe the Bible. I believe God gives good and perfect gifts to everyone. Among His gifts are talents or opportunities. With one it is a brilliant scientific mind. With another it is skill at writing poetry. With another it is a capacity for hard work. With another it is a particularly warm smile and gentle demeanor. God does not give the same talents or opportunities to each individual, though every single talent that a person has, every opportunity that each person has, comes from God. Why do you suppose so little attention is given to the Source of this manís intelligence or that womanís athletic ability, this girlís singing voice or that manís skill at organizing the work activities of a large number of people?

Do you think it might be related to responsibility? Could it be that owning up to where you received your talent from, be it opportunity or intelligence, would reveal an obligation to the One who gave it to you in the first place? Might it be that recognizing where you got it from would be accompanied by a recognition of your duty to show gratitude for receiving that precious gift or gifts of the talents you possess? How do you express gratitude to God for your talents? In what ways do you thank Him, do you worship Him, do you serve Him with your talents, using your God-given opportunities? That, my friends, is a question that deserves a thoughtful answer.

 

Finally, GOD GIVES YOU TREASURE

 

In Deuteronomy 8.18 we read, ďBut thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth. . . .Ē First Samuel 2.7 declares, ďThe LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.Ē He owns the cattle on a thousand hills and the wealth of every mine. He made Abraham and Solomon very wealthy, but the Son of man had not where to lay His head at night. God gives time. God gives talent. God gives treasure.0

What treasure do I speak of? Referring to the now deceased theologian, George Carlin, I am referring to stuff. God has given you stuff in varying amounts. Some of you are entrusted with more, while some have considerably less stuff. No matter how much stuff you have, one way or the other it has come from God. He either gave you the money, or He gave you the job to earn the money, or He gave you the intelligence to get the job to earn the money, all the while also giving you the time you needed to get the stuff. Here is a principle of stuff: The inferior gives to the superior. Though everything you have comes from God, it is a principle that gifts are given by inferiors to superiors. Abraham gave to Melchizedek. Jacob gave to God. Aaron gave tithes to Melchizedek through his father Abraham. The Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. Men give gifts to God. That God gives us stuff is gracious. That we give a portion back to God is right, is a privilege, is worship, is acknowledgment, is ministry, is missions, is evangelism, and I could go on and on.

As well, consider that not everything God gives to you is yours. God gives more to you than is yours to keep. One tenth, the tithe, is His, to be turned back to Him. When you tithe you are not giving to God, since returning what belongs to someone is not a gift. You give to God only after you have already returned His tithe. So, what if you do not return Godís tithe? You are a thief, which is another sermon.

In two weeks we take up our annual PayCheck Sunday offering. Notice on the back of the bulletin the totals for the years since we began back in 2002. Why so much fluctuation in the totals? What can I say? It is a gift. It varies. It is Godís people worshiping Him through giving above and beyond the tithe. Where does it go? It always goes into the general fund and is spent to defray the normal and routine expenses of the church. Should more people tithe as they ought to, there may come a day when we can put our PayCheck offering into a building fund to prepare for future expansion or perhaps even relocation. Would it not be great to be able to put the PayCheck offering in a building fund next year? That is something to pray for.

Just be mindful that God gives to each of us from His treasury. All the stuff we have or have ever had came from the hand of God. Not directly, since Godís program involves men giving to men by means of earning wages and receiving gifts. Ultimately, however, treasure comes from one source, and that source is God. Never forget where each and every penny in your pocket came from.

I would be negligent if I did not conclude this message by bringing your attention to the greatest of Godís treasures, given as His most wonderful gift. I speak, of course, of the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the lily of the valley, the bright and morning star. He is the fairest of ten thousand to my soul. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the holy One of Israel. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of my soul, our great High Priest and Advocate, the satisfaction to my heavenly Father for my sins. God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever beleiveth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. We learn this in John 3.16, the most quoted verse in all of Godís Word. Second only to John 3.16 in setting forth Godís nature as one who gives is Romans 8.32: ďHe that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?Ē If God has given His Son, what will He withhold from us? If a millionaire gives you a million dollars, will he begrudge you a quarter for a parking meter?

Consider that God gives time, that God gives talent, and that God gives treasure, most particularly His beloved Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ left heavenís glory to be born of a virgin and live among us as a man, a sinless man, to die in our place and shed His blood to pay the penalty for our sins, and to rise from the dead for our justification. Godís greatest treasure, His own Son, now sits at the Fatherís right hand on high, and bids you come to Him for forgiveness, for cleansing, for life, and for an eternity in communion with God.

 

Man is an interesting creature. He flatters himself that he is noble and that he aspires to better things, all the while refusing opportunities to be reconciled to God through faith in His Son Jesus.

God gives time, yet rather than value the time God gives, so many fritter time away playing silly games, wasting the precious and irreplaceable commodity of time, and in so many other ways pretending that the time God gives is not so very valuable because of its limited supply before death and eternity comes. While we each have the same hours in each week, so many behave as though they have no time to read Godís Word, no time to pray, no time to attend church, no time to serve, no time to evangelize. In short, many do not redeem the time given to them.

God gives talent. Godís talent comes in many forms. For some it is brilliance. For others it is athletic ability or some notable skill. For others talent comes in the form of educational or business opportunities that are not open to others. Despite receiving talent from God, so many complain and gripe about what they have received from God and express no gratitude toward Him in this respect. Though others may not gripe or express dissatisfaction, they never seem to think of using their God-given talent, their divinely appointed opportunities for noble ends, to worship God and to bring the lost to Christ.

God gives treasure. How many use their treasure to lay up treasures in heaven? How many use their treasure to make sure everyone is given the opportunity provided by heavenís greatest Treasure, the Lord Jesus Christ? Most people cling to their treasure as if it did not come from God. Most people do not return a portion of what they have as tithes to Him, denying that God places into our hands more than is actually given to us. And so many people lose sight of the fact that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Think of it. God is so giving that He gives to each of us the opportunity to do some things that apart from His grace only He can do. He gives to us so that we can, in turn, give. And how thrilling is it to give? We live in the most generous nation on earth, with millions of people who give their time, their talents, and their treasures in a variety of ways. Why do they give so? Because it makes them feel good, and because it is ennobling to give.

So you see, you have been greatly influenced by God and by Godís Word even if you are not a Christian. Does it then make sense to avoid becoming a Christian because you want nothing to do with a God such as this? God gives. You are blessed by Godís gifts. When you give you enjoy giving, or that is the pattern we see so often in our country. Yet you avoid Godís greatest gift, the gift of His Son. How sad and how tragic.



[1] Genesis 27.2

[2] Ephesians 5.15-16

[3] Colossians 4.5

[4] Albert Barnes, Albert Barnesí NT Commentary, (Bronson, MI: Online Publishing, Inc., 2002), bible@mail.com



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pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org