Inspiring Each Other to Give Our best to God!
BELIEVE Week 19 Inspiring Each Other to Give Our Best to God!
Focusing on our Beliefs. What do you Believe? Why do you Believe It? How are your Beliefs – Guiding and Empowering Your Life? This morning – invite you to ask yourself What do I believe about giving? Is giving important? How does giving change my life and change the world?
Started journey of Lent on Wednesday. Lent focuses on what Jesus was willing to give to save you, me, and every person on our planet. Jesus was willing to give 40 days in the wilderness – not eating to be prepared for battles with the devil. Jesus was willing to give everything on the Cross – to pay the penalty for our sins and to conquer death – so that we could receive the ultimate gift of eternal life in heaven.
This morning as we think about what we believe about Giving – we should take a moment to look at how we were confronted in a very painful reality this past week that some people are givers and some people are takers. Nikolas Cruz, the shooter at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL decided he was going to be a Taker. It appears that Mr. Cruz thought for a long time about how he could make a name for himself by taking other people’s lives. His decision that he didn’t care about others and only wanted to take whatever he could – resulted in the deaths of 17 innocent students and faculty.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School revealed very quickly and very powerfully the difference between Takers and Givers. Nikolas Cruz is a horrible taker. Assistant Football Coach – Aaron Feis – showed the world just as quickly that he was a giver – when he gave himself to protect other students. Nikolas Cruz thought for months about how he was going to be a Taker. Aaron Feis had less than a second to decide if he was going to be a Giver.
The horrible shooting in Florida – challenges all of us to ask – What about me? What am I? Am I a Giver or a Taker? As a Church Family – our focus is on helping you to grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The key to anyone growing as a disciple of Jesus is helping them to grow as a Giver. Every time someone joins our church – we ask them to commit to the Membership vows that they are going to give their best to God – and we join with them in renewing our commitment to give our best to God through the same vows.
Membership Vows: As members of this congregation, will You faithfully participate in its ministries by *Your PRAYERS, *Your PRESENCE, *Your GIFTS, *Your SERVICE, and *Your WITNESS?
Jesus makes it clear that your decision to be a Giver or a Taker – determines what kind of a harvest you are going to produce with your life. God wants to help you to produce a great harvest from your life. Remember Fruit of the Spirit – Love, Joy, Peace… Come Wednesday night to learn more. How much Fruit of the Holy Spirit would you like? God wants to help you produce a bountiful harvest.
John 15:8 (TLB) Jesus said, My true disciples produce bountiful harvests of good fruit with their lives. This brings great glory to My Father!
So how do you produce a bountiful harvest? Have to admit I’m not a farmer or a gardener. I know that our Organist, Edie, is a Master Gardener. I do know one little thing about Gardening. Any gardener who gets a good harvest – always plans ahead and prepares for the harvest. They always make up their mind ahead of time to give their best.
Read with me: 2 Corinthians 9:6 (NLT) Remember this: The person who plants just a few seeds will get a small crop. But the person who plants generously will get a generous crop!
So what about you? What kind of harvest would you like from your life? I believe that we all want a great harvest from our lives. That’s why we’re taking time this morning – to help each other to think about ways to increase the harvest, and build our courage to plant the seeds of faith. Let’s dig in to the key ways we can help each other grow as Givers. We’ll start by looking at our commitment to pray for each other.
Praying for each other is simple and powerful. Every week during our worship services and Growth Group classes – we take time to ask what the needs are of our church family are and how we can best pray for each other. Our challenge is that it is so routine – that we sometimes don’t think about what a great opportunity we have.
Tom Johnston and I get a fresh reminder of what a great privilege and opportunity it is to pray for each other – at our classes at the Jail. At the end of each class – Tom asks each one of the prisoners if they have any prayer requests they would like to share. Several times the prisoners have asked us – So what do you do with that prayer request list? When Tom tells them that we share it with members of our church who continue to pray for them – there is always a look of silent amazement. Really? I’ve never had a church family praying for me.
James 5:16 (NLT) Pray for each other so that you can receive God’s healing and wholeness. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
Praying isn’t expensive – but it is powerful. God is asking all of us this morning – What are you giving to pray for each other – to release God’s healing and restoring power?
God is eager to help all of us to grow as Givers – by showing us how important it is to give our prayers for each other and our Presence in Worship for each other.
The Bible shows us that worship is a great privilege. A time to come into God’s presence and plug in to God’s power.
Psalm 100:2-5 (NLT) Worship the LORD with gladness. Come before Him, singing with joy. …Give thanks to God and praise His name. For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation!
Worship is supposed to be a great time to recharge our spiritual batteries and encourage each other. But that’s not what is happening in Christian churches across the USA. What is happening is that Christians across our country are giving less and less of their time and attention to worship. Experts estimate at best that the percentage of worship attendance for people who consider themselves to be Christians – is 20% and that realistically it is probably less than 10%.
Is there an impact on the harvest of our lives and our nation – when people give less time and attention to worship? How does giving less to worship impact – Marriages, Families, Society? A lot of Christians in the USA – like to think that they can get by with taking short-cuts. I can still have a strong faith without going to church. It’s kind of like the large number of people in our country who think I can have a healthy body without exercising. There are no short-cuts. If you want good results in your life – you have to be willing to give your best, not the least you can get by with.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NLT) Let us think of ways to encourage one another to acts of love and doing good. Let us not neglect worshipping together, as some people do, but continue to encourage one another!
God wants to help you to produce a great harvest in your life – by growing in giving your best in Praying, Worshipping, and Sharing Your Financial Resources.
Talking about giving the best of our financial resources is always the most unpopular subject in the church. Surprisingly, it’s the one subject that Jesus talked the most about. You may not realize it – but Jesus talked more about being generous with the financial resources that God has given us than He did about heaven and hell combined.
Why do you think Jesus talked so much about money? Probably because Jesus knew that money is the biggest competitor with God in our lives. Money is powerful and immediate. I don’t think God needs my money – but I would sure like a new TV, Car, fill in the blank.
God says – you’re right. I don’t need your money. And if you would prefer to live a selfish life – go right ahead. But if you want to live a happy life – you’ll get a lot farther when you learn how to give generously.
2 Corinthians 9:8 God loves the person who gives happily! And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.
When Penny and I got married almost 34 years ago – we made a decision that we would tithe to God. I am thankful to be able to share with you that God has proven to be trustworthy. God has more than met our needs. God has blessed us and our family tremendously. We have had a lot of joy in helping to build strong churches – and we’ve had the added bonus of helping two children in Rwanda to get an education through the ministry of Compassion International.
God says that it is up to you. Do you want a selfish life or a generous life? God wants to help you to choose the happiness of being generous with your finances and your willingness to help other people.
One of the big debates in church history is the debate between Works righteousness – vs. being saved by Faith alone. The Bible shows us that it’s not a question of either or. The Bible teaches us that the answer is really simple – we are saved by faith in order to do good works for God. Jesus makes it crystal clear that your decision to share your gifts or not – reveals whether your faith is real or not.
Matthew 7:19-21 (NLT) Jesus said, Every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter.”
As a church family – we put a lot of time and effort into developing ministries where you can serve. We have something for everyone
Educators Musicians Builders Finance/Business Leaders Care Givers
There is a place for everyone to serve. We put in the time and effort to develop ministries where you can serve – because we know that unless you are growing in sharing your faith and helping others – your faith will decline and end up dead and useless.
James 2:17 (NLT) Faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
The last area we are going to look at growing in your giving – is one of the hardest ones for us to talk about as a church – being a witness for Jesus.
Who is responsible for sharing the Good News of Jesus? The Bible makes it clear that it’s you and me – every Christian is called to be an Ambassador for Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:20 (TLB) We are Christ’s ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you. We speak for Christ, as though Christ Himself were here pleading with you: Come back to God — receive the love He wants to give you!
Being an Ambassador for Christ – has a nice sound to it – until we think about what does that really mean? Let me make it simple for you – can you remember the last time you had a conversation with someone and shared how Jesus has made a difference in your life?
A lot of times we’re nervous to talk to anyone else about Jesus – because we think we have to have all of the answers. I’ll help you to see that you can let go of that fear. Think for a moment about the person in your life – who had the biggest impact on you learning about Jesus and deciding to become a disciple of Jesus. I can almost guarantee you that it wasn’t a Theologian with a PhD from Harvard or Oxford.
Who was the witness for Jesus who had the biggest impact on your decision to become a disciple of Jesus? I can tell you that the person who had the biggest impact on my decision to follow Jesus – was my grandmother who never had more than a High School education. She may not have graduated from college – but I can tell you that she had earned a PhD in sharing Jesus’ love.
We usually make sharing our faith a whole lot more complicated than it needs to be. A famous Methodist Pastor in India, DT Niles showed how simple it is to share our faith. He said that being a witness for Jesus is very simple. All it is – is one beggar telling another beggar where he found bread.
You don’t need a 30 page treatise on Theodicy – to explain how God can allow evil; or on the dialectical challenge of faith and works. All you need is a simple sharing of how Jesus has helped you to know that God loves you, is helping you to grow, and gives you the assurance that after you die you will be raised up to heaven. God wants you to see how easy it is for you to be a giver when it comes to sharing your faith.
Read with me: 1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT) If someone asks you why you trust in Jesus, always be ready to explain your faith. But do it in a gentle and respectful way!
This morning – God is asking you to decide. Do I want to be a Giver? Or am I going to settle for being a Taker? Nikolas Cruz made his decision to be a Taker. Aaron Feis made his decision to be a Giver. How about you – what will you decide?
We all want to produce a good harvest with our lives. God wants you to know that He is on your side. Givers produce harvests. Takers destroy harvests. God has given us the great gift of the church – so that we can help each other to grow as Givers through our
PRAYERS PRESENCE GIFTS SERVICE WITNESS