Everyone Gives: Five Snapshots

April 30 2023

Series: Vision

Want to welcome everyone that’s here with us today. Also want to welcome everyone that’s joining us online, which could very well be Eddie and Lepatic Francis. Eddie and Lepatic, we love you if you’re watching today and they are on vacation. Do not call them. Do not text them. That’s where they’re at right now. We love them. We got Carlos and Jeanette holding down their seats today. All right? Thank you. It’s a big role, but I think you guys can do it. And, if you’re listening, they’re just keeping the seats warm for you. They’re yours when you return. Have a great time while you’re away. Of course, as been mentioned already, today is our special missions offering. Today is the culmination, the grand finale. And I just want to say up front, thank you for all that you give. And for many of you, all that you have given over the many, many years. Thank you. If you’re new to our church, we are a worldwide family of churches. All of our churches, I would say, are very different because of our diversity of culture, our people, our leadership. But also at the same time, we’re very much the same in our doctrine, our commitment to one another relationships, and our mission to seek and save the lost.

In the state of Florida, specifically, many of the churches of Christ, we partner together with sister churches overseas, both in South America and in the Caribbean. In some way, shape, or form, our churches here in Florida have helped and had the privilege to be able to plant, encourage, and financially support growing churches, both in South America and on those Caribbean Islands. Now, here’s a breakdown. We can get you more information on this if you would like from our church board. They manage such affairs. But I wanted you to see a breakdown of the money where it’s going over the next year in the Orlando Church of Christ as we give this special missions offering. One thing I did want to point out, you’ll notice with the pandemic, hopefully now in the rear view mirror, God willing, we’re now beginning member missionary trips again. If you’re not aware of what that is, we have groups of members that go to some of our partner churches overseas and we get to spend time with them and serve them and build those relationships. We do have a trip that we’re planning later this year to Kingston, Jamaica to serve in fellowship with that church.

So please keep your eyes and ears open. Details will be coming soon. But bottom line, you know this, if you’ve been around and you’ve been giving to missions for many years, God will not only match what you give, God will multiply what you give. So as we prepare for our special missions offering, here’s the reality for all of us as Christians. This is the reality for everyone in the Kingdom of God. Everyone gives. In the church, giving is a team sport. This is not golf. This is not tennis. Giving is a team sport in the church. Nearly everything in the church is a team sport, especially the opportunity to give.

Please turn with me to Luke 8. Luke 8. You’ll need to let your fingers do the walking today. I’m not going to put the whole text on the screen, so get close to someone who has a Bible. We’re going to read these together. Luke 8. Today, we’re going to examine five snapshots of giving. We were able to share this lesson with the South region last week. We will take a look at some of these same scriptures here today. We’ll prepare our hearts for the special mission’s offering.

Five snapshots of giving to a cause that’s greater than ourselves. For me, the special offering is very personal. 25 years ago, the sacrifice of many disciples in the state of Florida financed the startup or the restart of a new church in Gainesville, Florida. Many of you, if you’ve been around, if you were around during that time, you gave to a special mission’s offering where a portion of that money helped get a church started again in Gainesville. I’m thankful for that personally. Some of you have friends or family members or maybe your team grew up and decided, Hey, I’m going to go to Santa Fe Community College. I’m going to go to the University of Florida and be a part of this mission team. I’m thankful for that because the new church found me. Almost 25 years ago, that new church found me. I was there. I was a grad student at the University of Florida. I was lost. I was without hope. Then I became a Christian, August 2000. You ought to have been there when it saved my soul. You ought to have been there. That’s when it happened for me. That’s when I first met Amy Mitchell, who was on that mission team, became a Christian as a teen in Miami.

Then she went and was part of that group. T hat’s where her and I met, my future wife, my lifetime partner now in the Gospel. Without the special offering, I would not have the incredible family I have. My wife, my three kids, this spiritual family. I just don’t think it would have happened. Maybe God’s capable of a lot of things, but the special offering was a major vehicle to bring me into a relationship with Jesus Christ. So I’m very thankful for it. And now, Amy and I are blessed that we can pay it forward. We have the opportunity to pay it forward in many different ways. I’ve shared with you before, by the Grace of God, I now serve on the board of the Caribbean Mission Society, a group that’s just looking out for our brothers and sisters there overseas and thinking how we can strengthen those churches, how we can plant new churches down there. It’s an honor now to be an advocate for the spread of the gospel in the Caribbean. Without the mission to seek and save the lost, as I said before, without the commitment, the long term commitment of the churches in Florida to have a special missions offering, years after year after year after year, I may not be a disciple of Jesus today without it.

So it’s very personal to me. Five snapshots of giving. Here’s five ways today that all of us can pay it forward. I hope one of these snapshots will really inspire you for this season of your life. Maybe it’s a great memory of giving past and it can fill your heart and say, you know what? That was worth it. That was well worth it. It can help you look ahead and maybe open your mind and your heart to different ways to give to make a difference. Because, again, I hope these snapshots inspire you that everyone gives financially to the mission of Jesus. No matter our life stage, no matter how long or short you’ve been a Christian, no matter how rich or poor you think you are, no matter what you’re going through right now in life, everyone gives. Here’s our first snapshot. Luke 8, Women Who Give and go. Luke 8, verse 1. After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. The 12 were with him. Also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and diseases. Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had come out.

Joanna, the wife of Cusa, the manager of Herod’s household. Susanna and many others. These women were helping to support Jesus and the 12 out of their own means. That’s a snapshot of women who not only give, but these women go. I love this. This is a behind the scenes look at how Jesus and the 12 had the resources to preach. You had these faithful, gutsy mission minded women. They were the ones floating the money to finance the mission of Jesus. But not only that, they travel with Jesus and we see them in different portions of his ministry. They’re on the mission team with him. They’re not always on center stage, but they meet the needs as they go. We can see from this list and Luke goes to great pains to really describe the different stages of life some of these women are from. And you get just a small snapshot, a small picture here. Some of these women are probably single. Some of them could have been single mothers. Some, like Mary Magdalene, are dealing with some serious baggage and scars from her past. But she’s still right there. Other women like Joanna, she comes from the high end of society.

She serves on the court of King Herod, probably lots of wealth around, lots of wealth, lots of influence. We don’t know. We don’t hear anything about Joanna’s husband. He may not be a follower of Jesus. If she was married, he may not be a follower of Jesus like her. And you better believe that was complicated. And yet here she is. No matter their place in society, no matter their age, no matter their personal story or what they’re going through, no excuses these women are giving and they’re making a difference. And this is significant. Think about it. Jesus is God. Jesus is the creator. Certainly Jesus could have created the food he needed for his mission, the lodging, any other resources needed for this three year mission. Jesus could have come up with that. But instead, this is how God works. This is how Jesus always works. He wants to partner with us. Jesus wanted to partner with these women. He wanted to create an opportunity for these women to participate in an investment of their faith. The gift of giving to something greater than themselves, to give and to go.

I tell you what, you fast forward here. These women may not have walked on water or performed any miracles or even preached the first sermon at Pentecost. Only one person could do that. But because of their eagerness to give and go, God chose these women. Jesus chose these women to be some of the first witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. After seeing the resurrected Jesus, do you think these women at all regretted for one minute all the sacrifices they made behind the scenes? It’s the same with us. No matter who you are, sacrifice from the heart leaves no regret. I want you to hear that. Past, present, future. Sacrifice from the heart leaves no regret. Jesus is looking, in this snapshot and carrying it on today, Jesus is looking for women who are ready to give and ready to go. He’s going to show you some amazing things.

Let’s see another snapshot of giving. Check out Matthew 27. We’re going to look at Matthew 27, verse 57. This is the rich giver. This is Joseph of Arimathea. Now, we don’t know much about Joseph of Aramathea, but all four gospel writers include his bold act of giving. And what I’m going to do here is I’m going to read the account in Matthew 27, but I’m going to add some extra details that we find in Mark 15. So I’ll combine those two accounts. Matthew 27, verse 57, the context here, Jesus has just died on the cross earlier that day. Matthew 27, verse 57, the rich giver. As evening approached, there came a rich man from Aramathea named Joseph who had become a disciple of Jesus and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God. Now at that time, Joseph was a famous political and religious leader of the Jews. Verse 58, Going to the Roman governor, Pilot, he asked for Jesus’s body, and Pilot ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth that he bought with his own money, verse 60, and it placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. So it’s Matthew 27 combined with Mark 15, the rich giver.

So after Jesus died, here comes a rich man with lots of money and lots of influence. It’s Joseph of Aramathea. He’s rich and we read that he’s waiting for the Kingdom of God. He’s waiting for something big to happen. He knows it’s going to happen. And here’s what he gives. Joseph uses his power. He uses his access to the Roman governor to take the body of Jesus.

Now, we may read this really quickly and shuffle right past it. Certainly, Jesus is the prime focus here in all these narratives that we find about the cross and the resurrection. But these are some important parts here. We look at Joseph. He actually had the power and the influence as a Jew to go to the Roman governor, get access to him, get an audience with him. I was like, I want this body. And Pilot gave it to him. That’s impressive. So Joseph also risks his reputation among his colleagues. I’m going to give Jesus a proper burial. We’re going to do this right. Joseph utilizes his wealth to get Jesus clean clothes. And he actually has… This is the only thing first class about the whole thing with Jesus was his tomb. It’s the only thing. Everything else was a complete humiliation. But because of Joseph, Jesus has this… And we see the pictures later now when we talk about Easter Sunday. Okay, that first class tomb that Jesus got is because of Joseph, a first class walk in tomb, thanks to Joseph of Arimathea. But here’s what’s significant about this. Even though all things seem lost and Jesus is dead, Joseph steps up.

He’s courageous. He decides to give at that moment. Even during the darkest time, Joseph honors Jesus and pays for him to have a dignified burial. All the disciples at this point had fled, but this rich man walks through the eye of the needle. Anything is possible with God. And what I love about this, Joseph of Aramathea was used by God. He fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy from 500 years before. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 53, verse 9, he prophesied, long before this, he says, his grave, speaking of Jesus, his grave was assigned with wicked men, yet he was with a rich man in his death. That’s the snapshot of the rich giver. I think the challenge for us here is in the West when we read about Joseph of Aramathea, when we hear about a rich man, wealth is relative. Many of us immediately think, Well, I don’t know if I can relate to this guy. What’s this have to do with me? But I do think I can be out of touch. We can be out of touch. Look what we’re meeting today. This building is paid for. We have lights, we have air conditioning, we have chairs.

They’re not just the metal ones, we have some cushy chairs. We have electronic gadgets. Many of us have eaten something today. We have clothes. Many of them are name brand clothes. I’d say nearly all of us could give a proper burial and a proper funeral to a family member. If we didn’t have the money, we could find the money. We could get a hold of the money. It wouldn’t be that desperate. My point is, by comparison to 90 % of the world, we’re wealthy. I know we’ve heard this all before, but I think even thinking back, many of you are here about a month ago where we showed the Good News video from the couple that leads the Church in Haiti. That should put things in perspective for us. I’m not saying this to minimize our own issues and problems. We all have trials and suffering and we all have financial issues that will go through through different times. But when we see a bigger picture, it helps us put things in perspective that we are a blessed people. Be praying for Haiti as well. I received an email a week ago. And this goes back to what I share with you right now because of their political situation and the chaos there.

Port au Prince is controlled by… 50 % at least of Port au Prince is controlled by gangs right now. They don’t have an elected government. It’s crazy. And no one is safe. Our Hope village, our Hope Orphanage near Port au Prince, this is the email received. Gangs went in there about a week ago and stole a whole bunch of their resources, said, We’re coming back. They had to get the kids out of there. Everyone’s safe. But that’s what we’re dealing with. Even an orphanage. So by comparison, I don’t say this to shame any of us. It’s just it’s reality. To open our eyes to, man, we have more than we think we do. And we can find the money that we need for different things. So the question then becomes, like Joseph, will we use our resources? Will we use our riches, whatever they may be? Will you use those for the Kingdom of God? And I know many of you, that’s what you do. And I’d even clarify that it’s not what you do, it’s who you are. It makes an eternal difference. And I hope your soul is encouraged by that today and inspired by that today.

The rich giver. Let’s transition now to snapshot number three, the poor giver. Please turn to 2 Corinthians 8. The poor giver. 2 Corinthians 8. We are taking a break, from our study of 1 Corinthians, but as you would imagine, with the Corinthian Church, they make their way into a lot of different lessons, somehow, some way. They’re in this one as well because Paul had a lot to say to his friends in Corinth, his dear brothers and sisters. So our next shot here is the poor giver, and it’s not so much the Church in Corinth, but it’s the Macedonian churches. Now, the Apostle Paul, he writes to the church here in Corinth. And as we’ve been studying, it’s a church with tons of talent, lots of impact, but they are in need of spiritual rehab. And Paul does not hesitate in speaking with the Corinthians to address the issue of money. And he does this in a awkward way, perhaps even I would say offensive. I don’t think I would ever have the guts to do this. But Paul was led clearly by the Holy Spirit in his approach to dealing with money with the church in Corinth.

But what he does here to challenge what’s happening with Corinth, because they’re not giving like they should, he compares their church to the outstanding generosity of the Macedonian churches. He compares two churches. Let’s read what happens here. I’m not going to focus so much on Corinth, but more on how much Paul is lifting up the Macedonian churches. 2 Corinthians 8, verse 1, he says, And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty, weld up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability, entirely on their own. Check this out. They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. They did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. Then Paul goes on to tell the Corinthians, I want you to do the same thing. That’s the example for you. Then he says in verse 8, I’m not commanding you, Corinthians, about your giving, but I do want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.

Ouch. Then he sums it up here. Here’s the motivation, verse 9, for you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor so that you, through his poverty, might become rich. The context here is there’s a famine in Judea at that time. Times were tough if you lived in that region near the Jerusalem Church. The leaders of the Christian churches at that time decided to initiate a one time special offering from all the churches around the Roman Empire. This would support the work of the church in Jerusalem because they were going through a hard time. Food was scarce. So their brothers, a predominantly Jewish church, ends up needing a lot of help from these radically different, in terms of culture, churches from around the empire. This is not a weekly offering. This is not a tithe. This is a one time gift. It’s an organized corporate offering by a family of churches. I’d say in this way, it’s very similar to this special offering we do for missions, that we all are doing this together. It’s a group of churches giving to a common cause.

What’s happening here, the Corinthian Church, just previously, they had agreed to this offering that everyone was doing. But then after some falling out with Paul and some trust issues, they hesitated to give. That makes sense, right? When our heart is weird relationally or things are going on, it’s hard to give, isn’t it? We can hold back sometimes. But the focus here is on the Macedonian churches. They give us the snapshot of giving, even if you’re poor. Now, the word grace occurs eight times in chapters eight and nine of Corinthians. It’s not in relation to being forgiven of something so much. The word grace keeps coming up in the context of giving. Study that out. Check that out. See what all of that is. We’re only looking at a little bit of it today. But in summary, God pours out his grace to us through Jesus Christ. Then in turn, we pour out what we’ve been given to others. We pay it forward. It’s a grace of giving. We experience grace by giving. We see evidence of the grace in the Church in Macedonia, as Paul mentioned. Verse 2, keep in mind, these Christians are dirt poor, and yet they give.

When I say poor, again, it’s relative. This is not, I’m so poor, I can’t go out to eat with you guys today after Church. I’m so poor, I can’t have the fastest WiFi or the newest iPhone. Now, I have the iPhone 7. I’m so poor. That’s not what this is. No, they’re giving and they’re dirt poor. They’re giving out of their poverty. In verse 2, also, it’s not just they’re financially poor, they’re being crushed by life. We don’t know what all the trials are, but they’re having a hard time in life and yet they still give. Then verses 3 and 4, and this is what blows me away, not only do these churches in Macedonia give, they insisted on it. They surprised Paul. Paul’s like, Whoa, I really didn’t expect this much from you guys. This is wild. They would not be denied. They’re like, I will give. It wasn’t like the church leader was begging them to give. They were begging him. When can we give? It’s amazing. It’s such a challenge. A pun intended, this begs the question, when’s the last time you begged to give to missionary work? I love this. This is a challenge for me.

It’s just not a date on the calendar once a year, but it’s a mindset. It’s a heart like, man, I will not be denied this grace. I will not be denied this opportunity to experience Jesus. I know this is the lie for many of you. We have people who’ve been in this church for decades. I know some of you, man, I’m sure some of you here, you’ve sold luxury items and things that are very important to you in the past in order to pay it forward for the mission of Jesus. Again, our giving is not dictated by what we don’t have. It’s dictated by our willingness to do it. That’s why we would do something crazy like sell something that’s very important to us so we could just give it away. I know Amy’s mom, many years ago, sold her diamond ring. She did talk to her husband about it first. They talked this over. But she wanted something to give that would be a sacrifice that would have value outside of this world and beyond, eternal value. I’ll speak to the college students as well. When I first came into the church, I was a grad student and I started hearing about this special offering.

I asked some questions like, What is this? This is new. It was overwhelming. I just figured out that I was going to give weekly. Now it’s like, Oh, the special missions was like the next month or so. What is this? But then it was explained to me and I got inspired. I didn’t want to miss out. Again, I was like, Man, I’m all in. This is a team sport. I got to participate. But I’m a college student. I don’t have a ton of money. I had to get creative. There are ways to get a hold of money to give. It’s there. We can make it happen. At that time, I still, and it’s a hard sacrifice. I think about it and I grit my teeth, I was like, Oh, I wish I still had that. But I did sell some of my signed sports memorabilia, which to me you’re like, Yeah, you should have done that. It’s ridiculous. But for me, I was like, Oh. So I had something. I sold it on eBay and I had something to give. I just didn’t want to miss out on the grace. So the key here is in verse 9, and I mentioned it earlier, this is the Genesis of the grace of giving.

Jesus emptied himself of his own riches. He let go of that. He became one of us. And he died a humiliating death on the cross so that through his poverty, we might become rich. That’s the motivation. Jesus, from the beginning to end, giving is a matter of grace. Number 4, snapshot, the person of peace. Luke 10. Let’s turn there. Luke 10. And as you go there to Luke 10, many of us know about the 12 Apostles. What we’re about to read about is a ministry internship that Jesus started with 72 others. Jesus had 72 interns. We don’t know their names, but we do read about them in Luke 10. Let’s read here in Luke 10, verse 1. After this, the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them two by two ahead of him into every town and place where he was about to go. He told them, The harvest is plentiful, guys, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field. Go, I’m sending you out like lambs among Wolves. Don’t take a purse or a bag or sandals. Do not greet anyone on the road.

When you enter a house, first say peace to this house. If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him. If not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you for a worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them the Kingdom of God is near you. So Jesus sends out his interns two by two on a training mission. He warns them in advance. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to be sheep among wolves. But the harvest is indeed plentiful. He then gives them some instructions to focus. If you’re worrying about that, he’s like, Don’t take an extra pair of shoes. One pair of Nikes will do. No small talk on Instagram. We really don’t have time to greet people on the road here. You need to get in those villages. We have a limited amount of time to do this mission. Let’s get after it. Let’s get to work spreading the good news of heaven.

Then check out what he tells them in verses five and six. Jesus instructs his interns to do this, to find people who will take care of their needs. How humbling is that? How trusting do you have to be for that? I’m going to send you out with limited resources, and I’m going to trust there’s some good people out there who are going to take care of you. So Jesus says, find a person of peace who will welcome you into their home, will feed you, provide for your needs so they can do the ministry I give to you. T here’s a direct quote from Jesus here. This goes back to the Old Testament times with the Levitical priests, The laborer deserves his wages. In other words, and the principle for us, and it was the same back then, if at all possible, guys, let’s find ways to financially support men and women who full time want to preach the gospel. Whether it’s for a season of their life or if they plan to do it their entire lives. It’s a principle throughout the scriptures and Jesus emphasized it. We need men and women for a season of their lives or for their entire lives to be able to be free to completely focus on preaching the gospel.

While they do that, they’re going to need resources, food, a place to live, and some money. The laborer deserves his wages. That means local paid ministers. I think even during this time now, I show the picture of the Caribbean church leaders here, we need more paid ministers out there to plant churches, to strengthen churches in the Caribbean and South America. Your giving has helped do that and will continue to do that. Many in this picture here are tent makers like Paul was in Corinth. They preached the gospel in their spare time. They don’t work for the church in terms of getting a salary. Some of them do that by choice, but many of them would love to preach full time. It’s just something to think about. It means providing a house, a room, food for our preachers, especially the young ones. Feed them and they will go. Feed them and they will preach. Give them a bed to sleep in when they pass out after working all day. Let’s take care of them. Brothers and sisters, are you a person of peace? I think one idea that you can do, we think about Joseph of Aramathea.

The thing I liked about him is even though it was the darkest at times, the Scripture says he was waiting for the Kingdom of God. When Jesus is dead, I’m still waiting for the Kingdom of God. Something great is going to happen. It’s dark right now. It’s terrible right now, but I’m still waiting for the Kingdom of God. It’s that mindset. You can do that here as well. Take that same mindset. Set aside money each month outside of the special offering. Set aside money each month. Put it aside. Of course, retirement is important. Entertainment is important. All those things. But set aside money each month to provide one day down the road, God will reveal to you, Hey, I’m breaking in with my kingdom here. We need some money for a young man or woman to preach the good news of Jesus. You’re like, Hey, I’ve been saving money. I’ve got a place. I got a room. I can help. It’s just something to think about, a bigger picture, a greater investment where moth and rust do not destroy. Jesus said in verse 5, When you give your money and your resources to help men and women devote all of their time to preaching the gospel, peace will then come to your house. It’s reciprocal.

Last but not least, snapshot number five, children who give. John 6. Let’s turn to John 6. Again, the snapshot here is the children give and God multiplies that giving. This is a very famous story, very famous narrative, famous miracle in the life of Jesus, the feeding of the 5,000. I will point out the 5,000 are the men. So if you include women and children, this could have been upwards to 20,000 hungry souls. It’s a very large group to try to feed. It’s hard enough feeding my family. What’s for dinner? Okay, so it can be difficult. My wife just got PTSD. I’m sorry. What’s for dinner? John 6, verse 5. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat? Okay, he sees 20,000 people, all these families. Hey, Phil, how are you going to feed these people? Verse 6, Jesus asked this only to test him, for Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to even have a bite.

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, Well, here’s a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will that go among so many? Jesus said, Have the people sit down. There was plenty of grass in that place. It goes on. He fed them all. And then at the end, in verse 13, they had leftovers, 12 baskets full of the barley loaves left over. Everyone’s full and they had leftovers from a kid’s lunch. So we know this miracle really well. But think about it similar to the women who give and go. Jesus is the creator and he could have created food. He could have done this miracle in a hundred different ways. It looks in some ways a little silly. Let’s bring this boy. Mom packed him a lunch. He has a little lunchable here, a few crackers and some sardines or something. Just bring the boy over here with this minuscule food. He could have performed this miracle without the kid. But the heart of God, don’t forget the heart of Jesus, he wants the little boy to participate in the sacrifice. He wants an investment. He wants a partnership with us.

He wants his disciples to learn about faith, the faith that’s associated with giving. So check out verse 6. Jesus is testing Philip in the 12. It says he already had in mind what he was going to do. He knew what he was going to do with this opportunity to give. Jesus already had in mind what he was going to do with this kid’s lunch. And in the same way, Jesus already has in mind what he’s going to do with what each one of you gives. I hope that inspires you. Personally, Jesus knows what you’re going to give and he already has a plan for it. He already has in mind what he’s going to do. Jesus has a plan for your giving that cannot be measured by an Excel spreadsheet or a calculator. But that’s only if you’re able to give or plan to give of what you have, even if it seems very little. Something that we would do quite often when we were down the Broward Church, and maybe we should do this next year again here, just have the big baskets on special offering day and the whole family comes up. Have you guys, some of you done that before?

We come up as families together and we give and this way the children participate. We have some family devotionals in advance so the children can see the countries and learn about the countries that we’re giving to so we can build this connection, this heart connection where our children are involved as well. It’s very cute, but at the same way, it’s good for the heart. It’s good for all of us. I shared this story last week, and Nate has kindly allowed me to share this story. Nate is a five year old. I think either through a family devotional, his own reading of his children’s Bible, or Sunday school. I don’t know. But he found out that God’s real name, he found out he’s a five year old. God’s real name is Yahweh. God has lots of names, but it’s Yahweh. This top secret information was very important. When we made our envelopes and the kids put the money in there to give, and they all decorated their envelopes to put in the big basket. Nate made sure that he put on his envelope, Yahweh. So we want to make sure he gets to the right person.

There’s no confusion here. But I love that. It’s so much more than cute. It’s an investment in the hearts of our kids and their faith long term and that they better understand why we do what we do. It’s a reminder to help us to know why we do what we do. We’re building a heart. But the miraculous math of Jesus, consider what we see here in John 6, one kid’s lunch becomes food for thousands. That’s how God works. So let’s make sure we get our children involved. It’s not too late. I mean, today’s the culmination and so much of our giving now is online. It’s electronic. But if you have families, take the time with the little ones to explain and print out some of the Caribbean Islands and let’s look at each one of them and say, We got a church there. I got a church there. I don’t know if we have a church there, but we need to pray about getting a church there. Let’s look at South America. Look at the different cultures and say, We have friends, brothers and sisters there. That’s why we’re giving. We want to be connected to them.

And you’ll see them one day in heaven. We love them. We love the same God. We love the same Jesus. This boy gave what little he had, and it made all the difference. If we offer nothing to God, God will have nothing to use and he can’t partner with us. But God can take what little we have and what little we give and he can turn it into something great. God can take what we give and multiply it to impact beyond our wildest dreams. The moral of the story, never come to the offering empty handed. Giving is a team sport. If you haven’t given yet, there’s still time. But I just want to make sure your heart is there. That’s why we’re looking at this today. I said this last week, teens are not off the hook in this. Campus students, not off the hook in this. If you’re a Christian, you give. That’s what you signed up for. If you’re adult enough to make Jesus the Lord of your life, you’re adult enough to give a financial offering. Same scriptures for everybody. Everyone gives. No one is second class when it comes to giving.

When it comes to giving beyond our ability, I know it’s easy to make excuses. It’s easy to procrastinate. But I tell you what, I think I’m preaching to the choir, not this church, not this year. We are a generous church. I can’t wait to celebrate with you next week. It’s a once in a year lifetime. Our special mission’s offering, we get to experience God’s joy, God’s grace. It’s an opportunity to give to something much bigger and better than ourselves. This is God’s vision for us. This is an honor. Let’s be like the Macedonians. Yes, this is what we want to do. Never come to the offering empty handed. Giving is a team sport. Man, woman, rich, poor, suffering, good times, bad times, young or old in the Church of Christ, everyone gives. Our best days as Christians are right in front of us.

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