Texts: Micah 6:6 - 8 -- (What God requires: to do justice, love kindness, walk humbly w/ God)
II Corinth 9: 6-11: (God loves a cheerful giver)
Matthew 6: 19-21 ( Where your treasure is, your heart will follow)
A pastor is visiting a farmer.
The pastor asks, "If you had a horse, would you give it to the Lord?"
The farmer replies, "Of course!"
The pastor continues, "If you had a cow, would you give it to the Lord?"
The farmer replies again, "Yes, of course!"
"If you had a pig, would you give it to the Lord?"
The farmer chides, "Now pastor, you know that's not fair. You know I've got a pig!"
A young pastor was sitting in a restaurant eating lunch. He opened a letter from his mother he just got that morning. As he opened it a $20 bill fell out. He thought: "Thanks, mom, I could use that right about now." As he finished his meal he noticed a beggar outside on the sidewalk leaning against the light post. He thought: "That fella could probably use the $20 more than I."
So he took envelope & put in the $20 ,
wrote across the top in large letters. "PERSEVERE!"
To be discrete, pastor simply dropped it
as he walked past the man.
The man picked it up, read the message & smiled.
Next day, while the pastor was eating his lunch,
the same man tapped him on the shoulder ,
handed him a big wad of bills.
Surprised, young pastor asked him what that was for. Man: this is your half of the winnings. "PERSEVERE" came in first in the fourth race at the track yesterday, and he paid 30 to 1.
The strongman at a circus squeezed the juice from a lemon between his hands. He then said to the audience, "I will offer $200 to anyone in the audience who can squeeze another drop from this lemon.” A thin scholarly looking came forward, picked up the lemon, strained hard &managed to get a drop. The strongman was amazed. He paid the and asked, "What is the secret of your strength?" "Practice," the answered. "I was the treasurer of a Lutheran Church for 32 yrs
Well, Paul said that the Lord loves a cheerful giver
time to take offering now??
When I = little, 1 reasons my father gave
for not wanting to go to church
was that every time he went,
it seemed as if the preacher would eventually
get around to asking for more $$.
Dad = the guy who would say,
its that time of year again—
time for the sermon on the amount!
I => dad: God loves a cheerful giver,
but he also accepts from a grouch!
It is probably true in many cases:
Right around stewardship time,
People get in mode of thinking—
Well, today, we aren’t going to hear about
spiritual stuff in church
—we’re just going to hear about $$ stuff.
If I am able to leave you with one thought today:
Money $$ matters ARE spiritual matters—
Jesus talks about $ >than wash or Prayer
W: believe – in bible: 273 x’s
$$ is impt. stuff—
People’s lives lived & lost for it
♥has been surrendered to it
Empires rise and fall on it.
But ultimately, $ = merely symbol!
Translation tool: hours of work translated
into things like food, shelter, clothing, power, respect.
Why so many words re: $$ ?
so much energy? Even blood? Re: $ symbol
Because, as we know from our L’n understanding
Symbol = beyond itself,
Includes the reality it symbolizes:
Font = water + presence & promise, Spirit of God
Bread & wine carry very real presence of
Body & blood of the savior & His 4-giveness
$$ becomes more than symbol of needs met
But the need itself.
The more $$, the less need.
So, what does response to Θ’s♥ have to do with our $ ?
• 1st off—recognition: ≠ OUR $. All we have = what Θ has given us in 1st place.
• 2nd—if we can’t let go of it,
If $ has such a tight grip on us:
Then the symbol = idol: object of our worship:
Example: which open more: checkbook or Bible?
Must ask ourselves:
Is $ our purpose for living?
Or are we called to something deeper & better?
In X, we are called to something deeper & better:
Just as X gave all,
So that we might have everything of real worth,
We are invited into a journey of living and giving
So that others might share in Θ’s abundance
Right answer, but not easy!
Journey which takes a lifetime
Which is why today: moving towards in-gathering,
Invited once more to renew our desire
To move from fundraising towards spiritual growth
The goal of secular fundraising = raise $$’s for
Goal/ Invite of Xn Stewardship is the faithful mngmnt
Of all that Θgives: life, health, time, talent & yes: $
SO THAT Θ can use the gifts to Xform Us spiritually
& to reach out to others with X’s Xforming ♥.
Stwshp: Invitation to participate in pointing to KG:
& allow Θ to love others thru us
When we give thru the church,
we enable the church to:
Share the good news of forgiveness thru Jesus;
And to care for those whom Jesus cared:
Children, poor, hungry, disenfranchised.
These ministries point to the kingdom,
Bear witness to Jesus’ ♥
& offer a glimpse of the promise to come
In perfection upon Jesus’ return.
Eg: $$ thru Church: Martha & budget hearings in Seattle –
Another speaker’s cause “Chicken Soup Brigade
– grant from Lutheran Volunteer Corp…
Xn stwdshp: invitation to be shaped by HS
Jesus says that our ♥s follows our treasure :
we tend to value/ love best the things that cost us most.
Practical eg.:nice young man next door:
Wash, polish car – extraordinary care!
Could be: playing sport, watching movie, mowing lawn.
But he prob. pays signfcnt $$ for car:
Energy, ♥ has followed….
Europe: most churches state funded
– low attendance.
– Members who give towards church& their ministries, tend to make attendance, participation a priority.
Xn stwd’p: invitation to recognize giving to God= privilege
Two wealthy Xns joined a party going around the world.
In Korea one day,
they saw in the field by the side of the road
a boy pulling a crude plow,
while an old man held the handles and directed it.
One of the Xns thought it was a quaint scene
& snapped a picture.
"That’s a curious picture!
I suppose they are very poor," he said to the missionary who was the interpreter and guide.
"Yes," was the reply, "that is the family of Chi Noui. When the church was being built they were eager to give something to it, but they had no $$.. They sold their only ox and gave the $$ to the church. This spring they are pulling the plow themselves."
The 2 rich Xns were quiet for several moments.
Then one said, "That must have been a real sacrifice." But the missionary said, "They did not call it that.
They thought it was fortunate they had an ox to sell."
Giving to God = invitation deeper than duty
More godly than guilt
Took Dave & I 25 years to work up to tithing. (quicken: 9.8 %)
Can honestly say that over the years
I haven't missed a single penny or the hrs of volunteer time
gone to church, WV, cancer research, scouting, kid’s classes,
Mt. Cross, Rancho Santa Marta in Mexico, Habitat,
Heifer project, or even public radio.
Have regretted $ for shirt I seldom wear,
Shoes that aren’t comfortable
Gadgets that fall apart, don't live up to expectations;
Really bad movies
But, when called by Θ to give,-- never had “buyers’ remorse”.
Θ doesn't invite us to give resentfully, grudgingly out of
Habit, guilt, fear of judgment, peer pressure.
[point of Ps. 50]
Rather, we are allowed to give out of gratitude,
To exercise our trust in Θ’s provision
Because we feel privileged to serve.
Biblical perspectives about giving
Different than budget balancing perspective:
Not so much about church paying bills
As seeking to provide for ministries church called to offer
It is recognizing: We ≠ give to EARN Θ’s ♥,
But because we know we are immersed
In that ♥ already
Θ ≠ stingy – we need not be stingy either.
We must ≠, hide, refuse to use
What ≠ ours in 1st place.
We have Ø to loose by sharing,
Everything to loose by withholding it.
Another preacher used this illustration:
“People whose goal is to trim expenses
& cut costs, will find their ultimate
satisfaction in a piece of granite,
like that used as a grave marker.
However, those who receive life as a blessing
from Θ take satisfaction in meeting
the unending costs of a happy home
or church w/ children & family & activity.
Homes and churches filled with life
always take more “upkeep” than a granite gravestone.
Jesus gave his life so others could live,
&he threw the gravestone away.”
Someone once said:
“to employ one’s talents is to be fully alive.”
Do you remember when you first fell in ♥?
How anything you did to please the beloved
≠sacrifice, but pure delight?
If we are in ♥ w/ Θ, giving back is NOT sacrifice, but delight.
Willingness & delight in surrendering
Not just $$, but entire LIFE to
Our creator & savior
I ≠ going to tell you if you increase your giving in the coming yr,
All the church's difficulties will be solved,
Or that your personal finances will improve;
≠ going to tell you that you’ll get a star in
Your crown in heaven, or even that Θ will ♥ you more.
WILL tell you: When we trust & Obey Θ
the biggest miracle of all will be in our ♥s:
Θ will give us the desire of our ♥ by changing our ♥s
to lean towards him, & on him. (rather than what $$ buys)
We will discover that when we allow Θ
to shape our spirits in this way,
Our faith will inform our living.
Our faith will inform our giving.
We will learn to ask diff. ? ?’s:
≠ why should I give to church, what has it done for me?
what ministries is church able to do when I give?
≠ can we afford to do that ? but, what is Θ calling us to do?
≠ how much of my $ = for Θ ? but, how much of Θs $ do I need??
≠ can church “survive?” but how can church do it’s job on earth ?
So, how do we decide about our giving?
Bible offers guidance:
1st: Ask Θ to make our ♥s right,
So that whatever we offer is acceptable.
Ask Θ to remove our fear, our guilt, our resentment,
And then Ask Θ how much he wishes us to give.
“What you have decided” --suggests intentional, budget!
Choose an amount, as Paul says in Corinthians;
then be disciplined, faithful about it –
not particularly because Θ needs it,
but because it is good practice.
Paul says also: Cheerfully (hysterically!)
With JOY, delight, from a ♥ secure in Θ’s abundant ♥:
[ people in Lesoutho dancing up to altar @ end of service to place their "widow's mites." Was a joyful & impt. part of the worship]
¿ ourselves, in terms of WHERE we give:
-- Does our giving, following Micah’s call:
Do justice – do we support organizations
Which speak for those who have Ø voice;
Which work for peace
Which work against both social & economic oppression
-- Does our giving Love kindness?
Are widows & orphans cared for?
Are someone’s hunger or health needs being addressed?
Might our gift help put a roof over someone’s head?
-- Does our giving: Walk humbly with Θ?
* Does my gift point only to me & my own grand gestures?
Is there a plaque on a building w/ my name in lights?
Or does the plaque say instead: To Θ be the Glory??
* Do I want people to see me give and say, look how good Mary is?”
Or is my desire that ,if people notice my giving at all,
they say: look how Good Θ is??
And after we have given?
Note Paul’s W’s from 2 Cor: verses 10 &11
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower & bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion. Through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to Θ.
Paul = saying a couple of things:
1) we might ≠ get more $ or “stuff” but will learn we ≠ need as much of either $ or “stuff” as we thought, so we can share.
2) When we= bold enough to give thanks w/ all of who we =, others will be emboldened to do the same.
If we accept Θ’s invitation to practice Xn Stwdshp
w/ living & giving: when we aren’t even looking,
we just may find, Θ has increased our faith even more
& our ♥s will follow our $$ treasure,
Even to the throne of the king. Amen
gardeners know all the best dirt!