I truly thank God for His allowing me to pastor a congregation like you. It is my distinct pleasure to serve you as you serve the Lord.
We are in a small “bedroom” community that serves the two larger cities. A bedroom community is one where people choose to live even though they work someplace else. That is a very good sign for the community. We are a place where people want and choose to live with their families.
Our church is one that truly wants to serve the community and in so doing, we are truly walking our Christian walk. As with any church, most of our membership either works at jobs or have other things going on a daily basis, which cuts down the available time you are able to spend doing things for the church. That is why we need to take advantage of every single opportunity we can to let others know about us.
Our goal is to grow this church! I will let God determine the amount of people in this church, and I will concentrate of growing the ways in which we can serve the community around us. It is our desire to let everyone who sees us, actually see Jesus in us.
There are several ways in which to do this, but there continues to be one way that stands out above all the rest. That one way is to be a church of prayer, but to do that, we must first truly be a people of prayer.
Although this church has a night each week that we devote to prayer, due to having jobs and other legitimate responsibilities, only a few can take advantage of it. But that deals with the gathering together to pray. We can all pray no matter where we are or what we are doing, and God hears all the prayers of the righteous.
There are many people who spend their time going to church but do not have a habit of prayer. That is like getting in your car but choosing to sit in the driveway without going anywhere. Your car is meant to take you to other places.
Likewise, prayer is meant to take us other places. It takes us from our daily grind into the world of God’s desires. It refocuses our minds away from the world and onto His Kingdom. And just like the car, if we do not use it for what it is meant for, we are just wasting our time going through useless motions.
1 THESSALONIANS 5:17 tells us to “pray without stopping!”
LUKE 11:1 also tells us about prayer.
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."
As Christians, we also want to know how to pray effectively and according to God’s will, don’t we?
COLOSSIANS 4:2 instructs us in prayer;
“Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.”
Do we devote a daily time to talk with God? To share our dreams and our disappointments with Him? To seek His help?
PSALM 102:1 resembles our plea to God.
“A prayer of one who is overwhelmed with trouble and who pours out problems before the LORD, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea!”
And finally, prayer is so important that the Bible equates it to food and how our bodies suffer when we do not eat, our hearts suffer when we do not pray!
PSALM 102:4 says,
“My heart is struck down like withered grass because I forget to eat my bread.”
If we ever stop being a church of real prayer, we will stop being a church and end up being nothing more than a social club. And if the membership of this church does not fully utilize prayer, or stop being a people of prayer, the church will never grow beyond its present ability to reach new people for Jesus Christ.
As your pastor, I do not want to know who gives what amounts. That is something between you and God, and it does not involve me. That being said, you need to know that giving to the church is not only needed, it is a requirement in God’s eyes.
How many of you enjoy having people cheat you, or keep something that really belongs to you? In the following passage, God speaks firmly about our giving to Him.
MALACHI 3:8-10 –
“ 8 You have cheated me out of the tithes and offerings due me. 9 You are now under your God’s curse, for you have been cheating me. 10 Bring all your tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple to feed others. If you do, I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!”
God does not like it when His creation become so arrogant and self-centered that all we think about is ourselves. When it comes to money, He says we have been cheating Him because we have not been paying our full tithes. He cautions us to bring our FULL tithes into the storehouse, which is your local church.
Some people say they divide their tithes among several places. I would highly suggest that you give your FULL tithes to the place you call your church home. You may give your love offerings, which is above your tithes, to those other ministries.
What we humans do is consider our needs first, above God’s desires. That allows us to keep most of our money and then give to God what is left over. The problem with that is God doesn’t like leftovers any more than we do! We are to give God our FIRST FRUITS, which means giving to Him before we give to our own selves.
And to show you that you really can trust Him, He invites you to test Him on that. That is the only place in the Bible He allows you to test Him. Give to Him the FULL PORTION of your tithes for just one month, and I guarantee you that you will receive His blessings more than you ever thought you would. That is how our God works.
IN VERSES 11-12, God continues:
“ 11 Your possessions will be abundant, for I will guard them from all bad things. And what you do will be successful. 12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight.”
Many Christians like to talk about how God is a good God and how He protects us, but when it comes to putting that talk into action, sometimes they don’t. But here, God is telling everyone that if they will trust Him fully, He will cover them with His blessings. And He will let that be a testimony in itself for others to see.
God says that your local church needs to have food to feed others. That means we are to be able to afford to do the things that help others come to know Christ. From what I have seen in this church, we have a body of believers who do enjoy worshiping God through their giving of tithes. I am pleased and so is the Lord.
God has something to say about people like you, too.
It is found in MALACHI 3: 16-17:
“ 16 Those who feared the Lord spoke with each other, and the Lord listened to what they said. In His presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared Him and who devoted themselves to the honor of His name.
“ 17 They will be My people, and on the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. 18 Then all will see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who served God and those who did not.”
How does it feel to know that, because of your loving faithfulness to God, He considers you His “special treasure?”
We are Nazarenes, and as such, we have an obligation to keep records as do all other denominations, and we are approaching the end of our fiscal year this month. To make sure we are serving at full capacity for the next year, we are making sure all positions are fully staffed.
We are a representative type of church. In other words, we have you help us in the daily running of this church. We desire your involvement and want you to have as much a say-so as possible in what this church does and how it does it. Therefore, we have yearly elections.
We recently asked you to nominate people to positions you thought they might be helpful in, and we took that information and prepared ballots. Today, you have been given ballots and we ask that all members fill these ballots out and drop them in the ballot box at the back of this sanctuary. The results of this election will be announced next week.
God calls us to “do” things for His Kingdom and not just “talk” about doing them. If we do not try to do our FULLEST PART, then we are not following God’s wishes to the FULLEST DEGREE possible.
I mentioned MALACHI 3:10 and how we are to give God our FULL amounts. We are called to give, but not just our money. We are called to give of everything we are. We are to give God a tenth of our talents, our energies, our love, our attention, and the list goes on and on. We are to give back to Him a small portion of everything He has given us.
This is reiterated in –
JAMES 1:22 –
“Don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.”
We are called to build the Kingdom of God in every possible way. I call upon you to join me in this effort. And if you can think of another way to do this in addition to any I mentioned, please bring it to my attention!
So, I envision a church that is filled with people who are excited about seeing the church expand. I envision a church that is filled with people who are not satisfied with just giving God that portion of themselves that is convenient, ,but that part of themselves which is committed to God.
I thank you for being the type of Christians that you are. Working together, we will see nothing but God’s wonderful blessings continuing to be poured out upon this place and upon you as you continue to try and bless God with all that you are.
CLOSE IN PRAYER