Greetings all !
Thanks for your prayerful support of one another and for the many ways you have supported Jeff and me as your pastors.
I’m excited about the upcoming fall ministry season and our theme of “connections.” Would you commit to praying about how we can build on connections God has given us with many people in Hermann ?
Please don’t forget these important upcoming dates, among others :
Staff Meeting, this Wednesday, August 13, 6:00 pm at the church. While an important part of this meeting is putting together a Fall 2014 calendar for Emmanuel, calendar-building is not the only purpose of the meeting. Team-building is the other big part of the meeting, as we join with each other to form a single Emmanuel “team” – having a sense of responsibility for, and accountability to, other members of our great Emmanuel team ! We need you to be there if you are a ministry team leader. Thank you !
Fall Kick-Off Sunday, September 7. New adult class offerings at 9:00 ; worship at 10:15 ; carry-in dinner at noon. We’ll have some “family” time toward the end of the meal to bring everyone up-to-speed on what’s going on at Emmanuel this fall, how you can be involved, what we anticipate God may be doing as we go forward into this important part of the year.
In A Nutshell …
Here’s a thumbnail sketch of last Sunday’s sermon, “Offerings in a Nutshell,” for those of you who missed it … or as a refresher to you if you were part of the worship service last Sunday.
We asked the question, “Why do we offer things to God ? What does God want out of this act, and why ?”
We saw that the Hebrew word for “offering” means “brought near.” The various offerings described in the Bible are a beautiful picture of our being brought near to God in a loving and healthy relationship. The importance of offerings in the Bible is underscored in the stories of Moses and the Israelites at Mt. Sinai where God said two times that no one was to appear before Him empty-handed. Worship and offerings are linked throughout the Bible.
We spoke about three types of offerings :
The Israelites offered various kinds of offerings on specific occasions and at their yearly festivals. Many of these are outlined in the books of Moses, specifically Leviticus chapters 1-7 : whole burnt animal offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and guilt offerings.
The Israelites were instructed to “tithe” (10%) the first part of all they received from the Lord – crops, livestock … what we would today call our “income”. But, as we saw Sunday, the tithe in Israel was apparently more than 10%. A first tithe was to be given to support the ministry of the priests and their assistants, the Levites ; a second tithe was to be used in the celebration of the aforementioned festivals ; a third tithe was given at least every third year to support the needy in their towns. It looks to me very much like God’s people were, at least at times, giving 30% of their income back to the Lord … for the purposes of :
… supporting ministry,
… being brought near to God and enjoying their relationship with Him,
… maintaining a safeguard against greed and materialism. (“… so you shall learn to fear the Lord your God always” Deut 14:22).
Material offerings to the Lord accomplish the same things today. Your generous giving to the Lord will do the following :
1. It will strengthen the ministry of your church.
2. It will provide the means to keep your pastors, missionaries, and future ministry staff in full-time service.
3. It will serve as a regular reminder that everything you possess comes from, and belongs to, God.
4. It will help you reverence, love, and trust God more.
5. It will bring God’s wisdom and order into the management of your finances.
6. It will earn you God’s trust for more important spiritual matters in life and in the Church.
7. It will help bring the Gospel and eternal life to someone.
8. It will help meet needs. (Read Acts 9:36.)
9. (not mentioned Sunday, but just dawned on me) : It will bring peace.
While tithing was required of the Israelites by law (and, as Christians we are no longer “under the law”), is it possible that we today who have received more of God’s revelation and more of His Spirit than did the Israelites would give less than the Israelites gave ? The New Testament teaches that people in the Church are to strive for excellence in giving (2 Corinthians 8:7). Tithing (10 % ? 20 % ? more ?) would seem to be, not a ceiling for giving, but a floor … a starting point ! Presently at Emmanuel, we are running a $20,000 deficit between our income and expenses for 2014. That’s not entirely out of the ordinary for this church at this point in the year, but it is a significant problem and perhaps, more importantly, points to carelessness on our part in giving to the Lord first. Imagine what kinds of missions outreach and connections we could build with a $20,000 surplus instead of a $20,000 deficit !
We referenced Psalm 51:17, Psalm 50:14, and Romans 12:1-2 as indicators of God’s great desire to receive from us, first of all, the offering of our lives. The giving to God of broken, repentant, trusting hearts is our daily calling. A poem by hymnwriter Thomas Ken (1637-1710) expresses this in a beautiful way. Imagine starting out each day with these thoughts :
Lord, I my vows to Thee renew ;
Disperse my sins as morning dew ;
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.
Giving to God of the first of all we have can include giving Him the first of our day, the first of our thoughts, the first of our words, … all of who we are. Without spiritual offering, material offerings have little or no true meaning.
God’s Offering to Us
God gave something to us ! Not as an act of worship, but a gift from the One who loves you and me. In a nutshell, we see this development of things through the Bible :
— an emphasis in the Old Testament on people bringing offerings and sacrifices to God ;
— later, with the prophets and the destruction of the Temple where offerings were made, the understanding that what God wanted all along was a broken, repentant heart offering from people ;
— finally, in the New Testament, the realization that the most important offering is not the one we make to God but the one received from God, the gift of Jesus Christ, offered up on the cross in your place and mine.
I recently heard the statement made, “When He was on the cross, I was on His mind.” Amazing !
Have you received God’s gift of a Savior, and with Him, a new relationship with God for all eternity ? “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Three More Nutshells to Crack …
This Sunday : “Preaching in a Nutshell.” What’s preaching all about ? Why do we do it ? What’s in it for you ? I heard someone talk once about “longhorn preaching” – a point here, a point there, and lots of bull in between ! I hope that’s not what you feel like you’re receiving from preaching at Emmanuel !
August 17 : “Depression in a Nutshell.”
August 24 : “The Bible in a Nutshell.”
See you Sunday !