Series: Live Rich April 14: Make MONEY: WORK the RHYTHMS Gen. 8:22, 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 Intro: The FARMER’S ALMANAC (slide) is famous for its long range weather predictions. Its core values are conservation, sustainable living, and simplicity. The Almanac, published since 1818 in these United States, claims an 80 percent accuracy rate on its weather predictions for North America. They say this rate has been verified by independent studies. The weather predictions are made, they say, through a "top secret mathematical and astronomical formula, that relies on sunspot activity, tidal action, planetary position and many other factors." The Almanac has been used by farmers and gardeners for generations to decide when to plant the seed in the ground and what kinds of crops to plant. I can make some predictions about temperatures and rainfalls on a seasonal and annual basis myself by simple observation. Although the Almanac accuracy is perpetually in dispute, its existence establishes one settled truth: the earth is on a rotating cycle. God has established a CYCLE OF SUFFICIENCY in his world. It began at Creation, and it will continue as long as Planet Earth is here. Generosity reflects the character of God in the establishment of earth’s natural economy. This is God’s cycle of sufficiency applied to the making of money. I. God Put a Rhythm in the Earth: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly (2 Cor. 9:6). A. Sowing and Reaping: the Creation Story of Genesis 1 1. God created Time: Day and Night (PIC #1). God called the light “day” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day (Genesis 1:3-5). 2. God Created Seasons: Sun and Moon (Pic #2). And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years (Genesis 1:14). 3. God Created sub-cycles in the land, atmosphere and seas (PIC #3) to produce plants and animals. “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds…” (Genesis 1:24). These sub-cycles involve everything there is from the rotation of the stars in space to the rotation of our galaxy to the rhythm of our solar system to the currents in the air and oceans that act like highways. 4. Even the cycles of modern economies, of governments and banking and stock markets, are reflections of these natural orders that keep our world working. B. You can count on this rhythm. As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease (Genesis 8:22). It produces STABILITY and DEPENDABILITY. 1. You can have a family based on this promise. This is the promise God made to Noah after the Great Flood. In order that those who survived the great deluge would continue their work on the earth, he promised humans that the cycles of the earth would continue. ***After giving Noah this promise God instructed him with the same words that he gave to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:1). He was encouraging Noah to TRUST the CYCLE of SUFFICIENCY that is part of the natural order and to have children and bring them into the world. 2. You can ORDER YOUR LIFE based on it (PIC #5). Get up and go to work in the morning, and sleep at night. Night will follow the day in a predictable and dependable cycle. Plant in the spring and you will have a crop in the fall. 3. The seeds and animals will produce IN THEIR KIND. The Dorper ewes on our farm will have produce Dorper lambs, strong and heavy and good for eating. A farmer or shepherd knows this cycle of God’s nature will generally produce a crop and a herd. C. This Rhythm of the Earth is VERY GOOD: God saw all that he had made, and it was very good (Genesis 1:31). II. MAXIMIZE PRODUCTION by WORKING the RHYTHM (PIC #6 and #7): Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Cor 9:6). A. GENEROSITY: You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion (2 Cor. 9:11). The Apostle Paul focuses here on ONE QUALITY of CHARACTER: Generosity. Generosity is part of God’s cycle of sufficiency. Let me show you how.
B. Good Character Brings Good Results : God designed things so that your character is reflected in how you treat the earth and how it treats you back. See these qualities as essential: 1. FAITH. God has trusted you with this planet. You must now trust the rhythm of the earth to bless you, just as God said it would. It is an ACT OF FAITH TO PLANT in the spring. If you do not trust, if you are paralyzed by FEAR, you will not plant, and you will have no harvest. Ultimately, we are trusting God as we trust the rhythm of the earth. Eccl. 11:4: One who watches the wind will not sow, and the one who looks at the clouds will not reap. (PIC #8) Generosity is an expression of faith. To give what you have to those in need is to trust God to be your supplier. 2. DISCIPLINE. God has built into the earth a natural discipline governed by natural laws. You must respond with discipline. Hard work, frugality, punctuality, diligence and patience are required if you are to maximize the cycle of sufficiency that God has set in motion. a. You will accumulate seed for planting season by season. You will have more later as you invest more now in the productive cycle of the earth. b. Generosity is an expression of discipline. If you are frugal, you will have money in your pocket to give to those in need 3. LOVE: the greatest of these is love (1 Cor. 13:13). a. You will need the sustaining relationships of friends and families to truly maximize your experience on this planet. b. You will need the cooperating relationships of others as you seek to build your harvest and your wealth. You will maximize your own productivity only as you cooperate with others and help them maximize their productivity as well. Mutual caring for one another is a quality rewarded in God’s cycle of sufficiency. c. Generosity is an expression of love. C. Poor character will undermine your PRODUCTIVITY. (PIC #8B) Jesus warned, Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on your unexpectedly like a trap (Luke 21:34). 1. FEAR is the opposite of FAITH. The anxieties of life can do you in (PIC #9-Fetal Position). You can be too fearful to plant your seed, afraid that you will lose it in a hailstorm or flood or drought. ***If you do not trust the cycle, YOU MAY EAT THE SEED CORN. You cannot take advantage of God’s cycle of sufficiency if you have no seed to plant. (PIC #10—Paralyzed by Fear) 2. SLOTH (laziness) is the opposite of DISCIPLINE (PIC #11—Couch Potato). If you are slothful, you will fail to work while the sun shines. You will miss the planting cycle. Time will inevitably run out on you. You cannot plant your corn in the winter if you miss the spring. You cannot lay up food for the famine if you do not work while the good years bring you plenty. 3. LOVELESSNESS. You can be successful in accumulating material goods without love. But you cannot be said to have lived successfully without love. If you fail to care for others you will find little comfort in the cold cash that is your only companion. III. Generosity is part of God’s Cycle of Sufficiency: Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion (2 Cor 9:10-11). A. The moral character to make money must be coupled with the moral quality of generosity to maximize living. B. Generosity mimics the heart of God. 1. God supplies the seed (PIC #12, Seed). You cannot make the seed. You will only use what is a gift from God to make your money. You begin every cycle of productivity with the gift of God. 2. God supplies bread (PIC #13, Bread). The end product of your work must also be seen as a gift of God. You cannot say that you make seed. You may want to say that you make bread. And in a way, you do. But at an even deeper level, God supplies the bread as well. You must bracket every slice of bread with a petition for God to supply it, “Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11),” and a word of thanksgiving when he does, “He took the bread and gave thanks” (1 Corinthians 11:24).
Conclusion: Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son (PIC #14, Prodigal). He wasted his entire inheritance from his father: dissipation and drunkenness. The story teaches that it’s never too late to repent of a life of dissipation and turn to a life of obedience.