Message: "First Things First"
Year of the Book Discussion Questions
From The Challenge of the Disciplined Life by Richard Foster: "Giving frees us from the tyranny of money. But we do not just give money; we give the things money has purchased. In Acts the early Christian community gave houses and land to provide funds for those in need (Acts 4:32-37). Have you ever considered selling a car or a stamp collection to help finance someone’s education? Money has also given us the time and leisure to acquire skills. What about giving those skills away? Doctors, dentists, lawyers, computer experts, and many others can give their skills for the good of the community.
Giving frees us to care. It produces an air of expectancy as we anticipate what God will lead us to give. It makes life with God an adventure of discovery. We are being used to help make a difference in the world, and that is worth living for and giving for."
On Matthew 6:1-4, from The Christbook: Matthew 1-12 by F. Dale Bruner: "Of the many illustrations Jesus could have selected for relations with others, He chooses charity. (The words 'giving alms,'...mean any good deeds intended to serve others...'almsgiving' is an old word that could be translated in many different ways; doing charity, social-justice work, giving money, helping the poor.)" (p. 284)
- What is the most valuable (monetary or sentimental) item you have ever given away? How difficult was it to let it go and give that item to someone else?
GOD: WHAT IS GOD SAYING/DOING?
- The concept of "first fruits" may sound foreign to us today, depending on where we live and whether or not we live in an agricultural-based economy. Nevertheless, the expectation that we offer our first and best to God is clear. Why do you think God requires our first fruits?
- In the same way that obedience and worship are intertwined in the story of Abraham and Isaac (please see week 2), the giving of our first fruits is also intertwined with worship. What is the connection between giving and worship?
GATHER: WHAT IS THE COVENANTAL COMMUNITY DOING AND WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR US?
- Last week, we examined the Ten Commandments and even explored Jesus' summation of the commandments (Matt. 22:36-40) in that we are to love God and love neighbors. Do you see a connection between the Ten Commandments and this command on first fruits? How can giving God our first fruits help us to better love Him and neighbors?
- Not only is giving an act of worship, but it is also a way through which we help our community. Giving to those in need is assumed by Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount in Matt. 6:1-4. Why do you think Christians should join together in their giving efforts to those in need?
GO: HOW CAN THIS SCRIPTURE SHAPE YOUR INTERACTIONS WITH NEIGHBORS?
- What kind of impact should our larger congregation have in helping the greater Orlando community?
- When it comes to your own giving, what is one action you can take this week to better foster a spirit of generosity?
Learn more about Year of the Book, our church-wide initiative to read the Bible together in 2018.