Archive for category #giving
Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of otheFor you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become richAnd in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” [NRSV]
Learning from Past Generosity
How wonderful are Paul’s words of encouragement to the church in Corinth and Rock Spring. We have been blessed with a tremendous opportunity to complete our building fund with a matching gift. The initial response in the first year reflected the creativity, generosity and commitment of the membership to tackle this challenge. It is with gene rose faith this mission was begun and in Generosity it will be completed.
Faith in Finances
We have been faces with opportunities to do many things and it has been hard to put things on hold while we best utilize this matching challenge.
Paul speaks of a balance between the areas that receive our attention. Those of single vision saying feed the poor instead of pay for building overlook the generosity of:
- the home of Lazarus
- Those who provided the upper room
- The boat in the sea
- The well to draw water
- The price of the field with a hidden treasure
- The cost of the pearl
Counter Weights /Waits
- Judus is famous for helping us remember the other voices that eat away at our Generosity
- Those times we look only at the management of monies
- Those ways sees gift and value its price in currency
- Those words we insert that reflect fear, control and. Isplaced power
Listen to Words of faith from Corinth
- Now as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you–so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
- I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.
- For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
- it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something– now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means.
May we revive our first excitement t in showing love in gifts of generosity
For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has–not according to what one does not have.
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” [NRSV]
- Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
Good News to the Poor
Release to Captive
Sight to the Blind
Freedom to the Oppressed
To Proclaim, Now is the Lord’s Moment
- The Rest of Isaiah
Bind up the brokenhearted
Comfort the mourning
Provide for the grieving in Zion
Beauty instead of ashes,
oil of joy instead of mourning
garments of praise instead of despair
These will be called mighty oaks of righteousness
The destroyed will be rebuilt
There will be a reversal where the world serves the holy in the holy places.
- To Follow Jesus is to do these types of things for the glory of God.
- To Follow Jesus is to begin doing these things today
- To Follow Jesus is to transform the world
Why Do These?
Good News, freedom, vision, encourage, comfort, beauty, joy, praise.. all to reveal God’s claim on this day.
United Methodist 3 Rules Applied
Practicing our Piety, Doing Good and Silencing Evil.
- Ministry of Sharing Good News and praise
- Ministry of addressing physical needs
- Ministry of addressing emotional needs
- Ministries of showing beauty and joy
- Start with one and move to the next
God lays upon our hearts, opens doors in our lives, gives us opportunities to serve,
What Jesus did not say:
- Take the weekends off, nope.
- Show up when you feel like it, nope.
- Retire when you are tired, nope.
- Don’t start until you get your act together, nope.
Jesus is talking to family, friends, neighbors and hometown folks.
- This is not a message in the wilderness
- This is not a message in the market place
- This is not a message in meadow by the sea
- This is sitting at the kitchen table conversation…
This is a message for homefolks, us!
- If we are tired, let these words charge us up
- If we are afraid, let these examples give us courage
- If we are weak, let these gifts become our strength
- If we are lost, let these paths be our way back to God
- If we are too busy, let these instructions interrupt us.
Affirming our mission to make Disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Year of the LORD’s Favor, Isaiah 61 [NRSV]
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORDfor the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. 8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and wrongdoing. In my faithfulness I will reward my people and make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed.” 10 I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever. 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; 7 he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town. 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 9 For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons, 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. 12 Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor; they fell down, with no one to help. 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 14 he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder. 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 16 For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron.
17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress; 20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction. 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.
23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. 25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. 26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end. 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; 29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. 30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.
35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. 36 And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;
37 they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. 38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.
39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, 40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; 41 but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. 43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord [NRSV]
One thing that strikes me about this psalm is that describes so many thing we recognize in the life and witness of Jesus. So it is important that we keep in context the words of this hymn for worship as images that Jesus later embodies that those who were familiar with the psalm in the Jewish community could see as fulfillment of God’s presence in Jesus.
If on Father’s Day, a dad wanted to see the good works of his son, the psalmist gives a good list that Jesus reveals in his teaching and witness.
- Water for the woman at the well
- The tearing of the curtain at the temple at the crucifixion
- The woman who avoided death because none could cast the first stone
- The calming of the sea
- The healing of the sick at the gate
- Jesus’ parables of sowing
- Jesus’ parable of loosing saltiness
- Jesus multiplying food for the hungry
- The invitation for the prince to sell and follow
This somewhat obscure psalm tells so many of Jesus’s teachings and stories in one and was written a millennium-plus before hand. It is remarkable inclusive of many ways God’s presence and message is revealed across the testaments.
Verse 42 is the response to the stories of God’s work.
When we see the ways God is reveled in the world, we can response in one of two ways:
a. We see God at work and we are glad, energized and joyful to see God at work.
b. We see God at work and shut our mouths.
The admonition (advice) is to
- be wise,
- give heed and
- consider God’s love at work among us.
2015 Shut our Mouths or Proclaim God’s love?
Conference statistician Darris Baker reported the following 2014 statistics compared to 2013: And are we yet alive?
Conference Membership: 361,329 (Down 2054)
Professions of Faith: 5,398 (Down 204)
Average Worship Attendance: 119,976 (Down 3,121)
Average Sunday School Attendance: 48,888 (Down 296)
The mighty North Georgia conference is no longer the leader and we pray it is not on the same track that Mr Wesley’s beloved Church of England was on. But it begs the question: When we see God’s love present in the world do we give God the praise and witness to God’s presence? Are we considering and looking for God’s revelation in the world? Are we following in the witness of Christ in our actions and bolding in our words or have shut our mouths too long?
Homework: Outline this psalm and see at least 10 ways to practice our piety, to grow our spirit and witness God’s love through Christ in our lives, and then act accordingly. For we live in a world and season when people
- long for God and are thirsty. Give them living water.
- feed hungry,
- encourage the prisoners,
- offer thanksgiving and sacrifice,
- sing songs of joy,
- give peace to those at their wits end,
- go to church to support and be supported.
- be salty and bold in the face of evil.
- water a garden to feed the famished.
- open your mouth and share the joy rather than stay quiet and in your own mind.
Now Get to Work!