God of Generosity: Supply and Multiply

Sunday, June 13, 2021
Pastor Mark Aune

2 Corinthians 9:10-15

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen

This is week two of my sermon series about the God I know.

The God I know is a God of generosity. In so many ways and on so many levels. Generosity is one of the identifying characteristics of a heart full of love, a heart that is free and it is one of the descriptors of the heart of God.

My own understanding of this God of generosity began when I was on my internship from Luther Seminary.

I served my internship in 1984 and 85. I was assigned to a church in Saginaw, MI. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

One of the best things that happened to me on my internship was being sent to a Stewardship of Life workshop which was put on by an organization called the Lutheran Laymen’s League. How is that for a dated name of an organization.

It was a great organization, and the name of the workshop should tell you what they were all about. Stewardship of life means that stewardship is much more than how we deal with money matters on a spiritual level. Stewardship of life is everything we do, how we manage our lives and every aspect of our lives after we say we believe.

Janis and I went together because the workshop was about training pastors and spouses on a whole life approach to stewardship leadership and giving. We learned a lot and the ripple effect of that weekend has been moving in and through our lives for 36 years.

On the last night of the retreat there was a closing worship service, and there was an offering as part of the service. I remember like it was yesterday, Janis and I had a 20-dollar bill and my stipend on internship was 500 dollars a month and 20 dollars seemed like a huge amount of money back then because it was for us.

As the plates were being passed, we looked at each other and said, if we are going to live the life of a steward, then let’s do it. And we put the 20 in the offering plate and it felt good. It felt right.

Fast forward to August of 1986 where I began my ministry at United Lutheran Church in Gilbert, MN. The recession of the 80’s hit the Iron Range hard, and times were tough up there. At my second interview for the call, the chairperson of the call committee told me the salary was $15,000 a year and the very next words out of his mouth were, “but we don’t know if we can pay you.”

I took the call anyway and in August I began as the solo pastor at United Lutheran Church in Gilbert. It was now time to put into practice what we had learned at the stewardship of life retreat. It was real. What would we do? Were we ready to model God’s generosity in our lives, our marriage?

It was in that little, financially strapped congregation in August of 1986 that we made the decision to start tithing. I can still remember the financial secretary of the church dropping off my handwritten paycheck twice a month at the parsonage. Her name was Diane, and she was a banker. 800 dollars twice a month and the first check Janis and I wrote every time we got paid was a check for 80 dollars to United Lutheran Church. It felt good. It felt right.

I did not know it at the time, but we had started to live out the ripple effect of faith. That decision to begin tithing was the first stewardship stone we would throw into the water of God’s kingdom. And it changed our lives.

The reading for today is the conclusion of the appeal the Apostle Paul is making to the Church in Corinth to participate in an offering for the church in Jerusalem.

Paul is reminding his readers, which by the way includes you and me, what happens when we sow seeds of generosity. He is reminding his readers of how God does something when generosity is lived out, how it creates ripples that meet the needs of both the one who does the sowing and the one who reaps the harvest.

God is the great supplier. God gives generously.

God is also the great multiplier and God always multiplies what is given.

This is what the Apostle Paul says, He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Supply, multiply and increase. A harvest of righteousness with righteousness meaning alignment with God, relationship with God, loving and serving God.

That is the equation and that is how the math works when we are generous. God supplies the seeds and as we sow them, they are multiplied. Ripples of faith are created and spread out in all directions. It is an amazing way to live a life of faith.

This is giving at it’s best and this is stewardship of life.

And the result is this; You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God.

Do you hear the language used here? Overflowing. Generosity. Thanksgiving.

Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

As a rule, I am usually hesitant to share too much personal information in my preaching. But I wanted to share our story with you this morning because what we learned on internship and what we put into practice in Gilbert is one of the reasons God called me to Augustana.

I see that now 32 years later. When I arrived here in 1989 you were already a congregation that was practicing ridiculous generosity. The stewardship leadership in this church and the culture of generosity that was present was a perfect match for me and how I understood what it means to be a Jesus follower.

Many of you share the same understanding and you put your faith into action by the way you demonstrate generosity in your own lives.

Augustana is known for many things but one of the main things it is known for is that we are a generosity church.

Every church has a focus and healthy churches are clear about what their focus needs to be, based on the community and the sense of what God is calling them to be and to do.

We are a generosity church, and it is deeply embedded into the DNA of this congregation, and it would be my hope and prayer that it will continue to be lived out as Augustana moves into a new period of leadership, ministry, and mission.

  • The key in all of this is obedience.
  • Doing what God wants us to do.
  • Living it out in joy and thanksgiving.

It is obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing.

When this happens, God keeps supplying and God keeps multiplying whatever is given, wherever it is shared. This is the promise. It is the way God does math and it works.

This is the secret sauce.

It is what I have tried to model in my ministry in and amongst you.

It is what sets Augustana.

And I am quite confident that the He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

And I know, deep in my heart that you, you Augustana, you will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God.

For the power in that promise and the hope it beings we say thanks be to God. Amen

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