Text 1 Timothy 6:17-19
Prayer: O Lord, help us to hear these words of life and let them speak to us as we need to hear. May we welcome your Spirit’s touch upon our lives and receive it with joy. Amen.
Have you all heard about the Preacher who stood up one morning and told his congregation. “This morning we’ll have an interactive service. I’ve prepared 3 different sermons for today. First I’ve prepared a fifty dollar fire and brimstone sermon which is about two hours long.”
“Second I’ve prepared a hundred dollar sermon on the evils of sin that should take about an hour to deliver. And finally I have a five hundred and fifty dollar sermon on love and generosity, it will only take about 10 or fifteen minutes. We’ll take the offering and afterwards, I will let you know which message I’m going to be preaching this morning.”
But seriously, I want to talk about making a difference in world. How we make a difference in our heart giving.
What we do with what we have makes all the difference in the world. In fact, what we do with what we have has the power to change the world. True worship and the forsaking of false, shiny gods calls us to offer our talents, gifts, and resources to God for use beyond our wildest dreams.
As Mike Slaughter says, when I A…talk about wealth – God’s perspective on wealth and our responsibility with wealth … when I say the word wealth, you may think, AI don’t have to worry about wealth; I don’t have it. But, according to the Bible, wealth is not just an abundance of money. It has to do with the seeds that God has placed in your hand — your talents, gifts, and resources.
As we learned in 2 Corinthians 9, God doesn’t print money; God supplies seeds. God has provided us with seeds for sowing and multiplying a crop of righteousness.
Each of us is accountable to God for using the resources God has placed in our hands, in order to service God’s redemptive in the world.
And one of the first and foremost purposes of wealth as just defined is to serve as God’s means of provision in our own lives.
Take a look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 7: 7-12.
7 “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door is opened. 9 Who among you will give your children a stone when they ask for bread? 10 Or give them a snake when they ask for fish? 11 If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him. 12 Therefore, you should treat people in the same way that you want people to treat you; this is the Law and the Prophets.”
Notice that his promise is all-inclusive; it applies to everyone. And when Jesus speaks of earthly parents as being evil, he is saying that the infinite love of God is so incredible that, by comparison, our goodness seems like evil. My sacrifices for my kids, my church, or people that I know and love absolutely pales in comparison to what God is willing to do for you and me as God’s children.
In Matthew 6, Jesus also tells us not to worry about what we’re going to eat or wear; don’t worry about “stuff.” Our Father knows we need it What are we to do instead? See Matthew 6:33; “Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness , and all these things will be given to you as well.” Our righteousness can never be separated from right action toward God an then God’s intended right action toward people through us.
You see, God holds us accountable, through our wealth, to be God’s means of provision. Do you know what God will hold us accountable for on the Day of Judgement? I do; I am over sixty now, so this is coming up much more quickly for me. Based on what is often taught in the church, you may have been led to believe that the first question God will ask is whether we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. However, if you read the Gospels, you will see that Jesus doesn’t mention that question when he talks about the Day of Judgement. Yes, it is important to accept Christ as our Lord and Savior but here is what we lean in Matthew 25: 35-36. On the Day of judgement, God will place the goats on the left and the sheep on the right. To the sheep, Jesus will say:
“I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me cloths to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.”
Now go to Matthew 25:40: “I assure you that when you have done it for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.” This is what God will hold us accountable for on the Day of Judgement! You see, we will be judged on did our lives make a difference in these practical, loving ways in this world.
I love that question that we were left with in the video clip earlier. “If your church community closed it’s doors, would anyone notice?” Why do we exist as a church? For one reason. The church isn’t a community designed just for us to make ourselves better, the Holy Spirit will make us better as we submit to the Lordship of Jesus. We exist to be the hands and feet of Jesus in order to accomplish God’s purpose on earth. Our fiscal responsibility is truly the act of worship that God desires?
When people talk about the church today, what do they tend to say? “I’m going to church.” In other words, we define the church by what happens within the institutional walls, or worship. No, we don’t “go to church;” we are the church!
The church is the community of God’s people. In Greek, the word for church is ecclesia, which literally means ‘the called-out ones.’ We are called out to service, to be the channel through which God meets the needs of the world.
Let’s do a reality check right now.
As a community of faith, what are some of the things we have done to make a difference?
Internationally we are involved in
- Jamaa Letu — providing for boys and girls who otherwise may not have a life — we give them opportunities for a future
- When recent hurricanes ravaged Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, Virgin Island, and surrounding Carribean areas — we gave over 6,000 dollars for hurricane relief efforts. UMCOR is our agency, our hands and feet and voice when disasters happen.
- Regionally we are supporting the Interfaith Family Shelter in Everett putting together supplies these families need when they first enter the shelter and when they transition out.
- This Summer we had a series of Solidarity Potlucks to reach out to immigrants in our midst with friendship, support, and social and legal resources. This is an important connection to people living right here in our community.
We are beginning to find our voice for immigration reform.
- And remember the smell of hot apple pies last year? 100 apple pies for the Food Bank to distribute at Christmas time. So many people pitched in, peeling, cutting, freezing, baking! A real hands on mission project. We support the local Food Bank through donations, we make at various times throughout the year.
- Another hands on mission project happens every Thursday morning as the card makers gather to create the wonderful cards that are offered for all occasions and every bit of the proceeds go to help fund mission projects through the UMW.
- And every first Friday of the month the hands are busy in he Anderson room as quilts are made for the Linius project, our graduating seniors and others. And you know what, these prayer shawls just keep appearing at the church office out of the blue! I keep giving them away and more keep coming in! That’s kind of how God’s blessing are given too. The more we give away, the more we are given.
- In our Neighborhood we have a Title 1 elementary school too. About 4 years ago we started collecting school supplies for the kids there that don’t have the supplies they need to learn. Education is so important and we are doing a part to help that happen. We have so much collected through the generosity of this congregation.
- We take care of our own too in times of need. Remember the Ramp? I came back from visiting Robin Southward and mentioned in both worship services, she really needs a ramp to get in and out of her place. And parishioners immediately took that on and got it done!
- Our Care Ministries have expanded to help us show compassion and care for each other. In Acts chapter 2, one of the witnesses of the early church was that people on the outside said, “See how they love one another….and the Lord added to their numbers daily.” And we do care by providing transportation to medical appointment, developing connections through activities and groups and events.
- We love our Neighborhood BBQ and annual Christmas Party, when we can reach out to the neighborhood and share the abundance of God with our neighborhood.
- And the activities of the UMM and all the wonderful mission projects of the UMW?
- Youth of the past C confirmation class when we witnessed the four teens take on for themselves the membership vows.
- Speaking of Youth C concern about transforming the upstairs space, but it hasn’t been used for youth ministry even the last three years we had a viable program. They used Wesley Hall. What might youth ministry for us look like in the present?
- The Spot C we have teens who no other church is ministering to, are a part of no other youth group, and they are right down the road from us 4 blocks. The Spot is staffed by our own Joe Wiederhold. What might our outreach look like when we think outside the box or at least outside the upstairs space? We support our Seniors in the community by helping to pay for their safe graduation night activities and we can certainly help with supporting The Spot.
Are we making a difference? Yes, those who have been here as long as our Golden 50 Year Members can attest to the changed lives and spiritual growth of our community of faith through the years. We are and we can continue to make a difference in these and the many ways that God will lead us into.
I believe the greatest need you and I have as humans beings is to make a contribution. God created that desire in our hearts. Even if you are only twenty-three years old, you are almost dead. I am over sixty and already have one foot position closer to the grace. I don’t find that frightening: I find it motivating.
I want to know at the end of my life that I did something more than eat the food, breath the air, and have a pretty good life. I want to know that I left it all on the field, sowed all that I was given, and reaped a harvest that will continue to have an impact on lives for the Kingdom long after I have physical left this place. What about you? Join me. Let’s lose our lives, only to find them in God’s love. Amen.
Prayer: Loving God, let our hearts beat in rhythm with yours so our hands can be the means to rebuild the places long devastated. Help us not to cling to our shiny gods but rather to take the good news to the poor. May our financial resources be the means to accomplish your redemptive work in your world. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.