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Summary: Fifth sermon in the summer 2006 Series, “Being God’s People by Serving, Obeying, and Giving.”

It is good to be back with you after another week of vacation and thanks for your prayers for my mom during her surgery this past week. Her doctor expressed satisfaction Friday afternoon with her surgery and recovery so far. Thanks also for your prayers on behalf of my uncle’s family as they give thanks to God for him this day and place his body in the grave tomorrow morning knowing that his soul is with the Lord.

(1) This sermon begins the conclusion of our summer sermon series, ‘Being God’s People by Serving, Obeying, and Giving.’

(2) In June, we looked at the foundational value of obedience to the Lord by staying focused on the Lord and not being concerned with personalities and performance.

(3) In July, we examined the motivational value of service as we focused on serving one another as well as our community in love because God has gifted each of us to serve in a different way and context but as the community of faith.

(4) This month we are going to examine the third value that is important in being God’s people by serving, obeying, and giving. It is the operational value of giving.

Over the next few weeks, we will be hearing from two families with ties to this church. Both families are currently serving the Lord in other countries and will be sharing about their work in those countries as part of our service.

Now I know that for some people missions is not a favorite topic and believe that there is enough to do in this nation to keep us busy. I understand and respect that perspective.

But, Jesus made it clear in the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations. This means that for some of us, God will call us, as he has the Smith’s and the Webb’s, to go to another nation and culture to serve. It also means however, that others of us are senders as we give and support those whom God calls to go.

Another important perspective that we need to keep in mind is that all of us here has a mission field of our own. It is our place of work, our neighborhoods, our schools, our families, and our clubs and community groups. Each of us has a mission field that the Lord has called us to go to and it is right here. But, we need to hear from those who live in other nations to serve God because I believe that God has lessons for us to learn from them about serving, obeying, and giving. I encourage your attendance the next two Sundays.

We will also be having our annual business meeting and Capital Funds Campaign annual celebration in two weeks. Part of that Sunday is the election of important leadership positions.

This reminds me of a story that I recently read about a recently elected church treasurer who agreed to take the position on two conditions, 1. Only if no reports are required for one year. 2. Only if no one asked him any questions for one year. Surprisingly and reluctantly, the church leadership agreed.

A year later the treasurer, who was also the manager of the local grain elevator, gave his report. The debt on the church building had been paid in full. The salaries of all the staff were increased substantially. Several new buses had been purchased and paid for. All missions commitments had been met. There were no outstanding bills, and a surplus of several thousand dollars was on hand.

The shocked and amazed congregation asked, ‘How can this be?’

‘It’s simple,’ the treasurer replied. ‘Most of you bring your grain to my elevator. As you did business with me during the year, I withheld ten percent on your behalf and gave it to the church in your name. You never missed it.’

Now, I do not think that will ever happen here and I think that it runs counter to the Biblical injunction that ‘God loves a cheerful giver.’ However it does make a point about the importance of giving as a key value in being ‘a fully functioning and faithfully following church’ that I believe God has called us to be.

However, not only does God challenge us to give our money, He also calls us to give of our time and abilities to the ministry of the church and needs in the community. Time is as valuable as money these days.

Our main text for this morning was a part of my Bible reading this past week and when I read it, the joy and exuberance of giving to God stood out to me. What can we learn from this passage about the value of giving?

(5) Everything comes from God. He gives first.

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