The Motive by Lee Surtees
…see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:7-9
In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul delivers what we would all recognize as a church fundraising letter. Some of us have received many over the years; some may have experienced it for the first time as a part of our emphasis this month on Investing in the Kingdom. Regardless, we should pay special attention to Paul’s letter and its singular motive for giving – the grace of Jesus Christ.
Christians shouldn’t give because they are rule followers (although some do) or because it frees their life from the idol of wealth (although it does). Christians give because they know that God gave everything, even his own Son Jesus Christ, for them. Grace is the motivation for giving. Giving is a response to God’s gift of sheer grace. Just as we must forgive because we have been forgiven, those who have been given much (grace, eternal life, the love of Christ, the Spirit, peace) give in return.
Say or sing these words from the hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth”:
For each perfect gift of Thine,
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of Heaven.
Lord of all, to Thee we raise,
This our hymn of grateful praise.
When you pray, thank God for sharing his riches with you, asking him to guide you as you complete your pledge card to be turned in this Sunday morning.
Click here to send a prayer request to the Intercessory Prayer Ministry.
Contentment by Lee Surtees
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ Hebrews 13:5
In the midst of encouraging Christians to live according to the gospel, the writer of Hebrews commands contentment. Just as contentment is a result of trusting God, it is also a way to trust God. To be discontent is to fall into thinking that God is not enough.
Sadly, our culture constantly bombards us with ideas that our life is not complete. How many advertisements do you see each day telling you that what you have is not good enough? We need something new, something better, something more fashionable.
But God’s constant presence and everlasting loyalty is enough. The joy, hope and trust in his love allows us to be content.
Paul advises Timothy to stay focused on the lasting joy of contentment. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” 1 Timothy 6:6
Say or sing these words from “All on the Altar”:
Would you walk with the Lord,
In the light of his Word,
And have peace and contentment alway,
You must do his sweet will, to be free from all ill,
On the altar your all you must lay.
Oh, we never can know what the Lord will bestow,
Of the blessings for which we have prayed,
Till our body and soul he doth fully control,
And our all on the altar is laid.
Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?
Your heart, does the Spirit control?
You can only be blest and have peace and sweet rest,
As you yield him your body and soul.
When you pray, give thanks to God for the many gifts you enjoy that cannot be bought with money.
The Love of Money by Lee Surtees
Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 1 Timothy 6:9-10
This famous passage was delivered by Paul to Timothy as a warning about the pitfalls of desiring things rather than God. Paul claims that money is at the bottom of a wide variety of sin and idolatry. While money is not bad in itself, it can add fuel to the fire of sinful desires. Few people lust after mere dollar bills, but instead use them in pursuit of the idols of security, comfort, approval and power. We like money because it gets us what we want.
As Christians, our warning flags should always be up when making financial decisions. We are free to use money, but should use it with caution – understanding its dangerous ability to turn our hearts away from Christ. As Paul encouraged Timothy in 1 Tim. 6:11 and following, “flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness . . . and fight the good fight of faith.”
May God strengthen us to grow in our faith, seeking all things in Christ and pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Say or sing these words:
Seek ye first the kingdom of God
And his righteousness;
And all these things shall be added unto you.
Ask, and it shall be given unto you;
Seek, and you shall find.
Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Man shall not live by bread alone,
But by every word
That proceeds out from the mouth of God.
When you pray, ask for God’s help in using wisely your money and the things money can buy.
God’s Ownership of His People by Lee Surtees
For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:7
Everything good in your life comes from God: your abilities, your upbringing, your educational background. You would not be where you are without countless interventions by God on your behalf. Beyond these blessings, God has given us his greatest gift, his only son. The Corinthian church and many of us today practically ignore the full wonder of that gift.
The Gospel is a gift. Our relationship with Christ is by God’s grace. There is nothing we did to deserve or earn his love. Yet, Christ died for us, bearing our sin and gifting us with his righteousness. When we forget that, we become prideful and selfish.
If your next door neighbor received a bill of yours in the mail and instead of putting it in your mailbox, paid it himself - what would your reaction be? What if the bill was only $5; what if he paid your mortgage payment that month; what if he paid off the entire loan? Would that change the way you thought about your neighbor?
In love, Jesus paid our bill because we cannot. We all know what our reaction should be to that reality – full commitment to him.
Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Psalm 100:3
Say or sing these words from “To God Be the Glory”:
To God be the glory, great things he hath done,
So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
Who yielded his life our redemption to win,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear his voice;
Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give him the glory; great things he hath done.
When you pray, thank God for creating all things for you!
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on… Matthew 6:24, 25
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says clearly that devoting oneself to money is equal to worshipping a false God, an idol. He lays down an all or nothing claim – if you worship wealth, you won’t worship God. Our heart does not have room for two masters.
Worry can often be an indicator of worship. What you worry about is what you don’t want to lose. Jesus says “Therefore” worrying about money and your future is an indicator of a lack of trust in God. Worse, it could show your hope is based on the security of wealth. Jesus’ words are so uncomfortable to many of us that we try to find ways around them.
Research has shown that many people do not give because they are afraid. The only way to ever stop worrying about money is to break its stranglehold on your heart by becoming generous. When you joyfully submit to the Lordship of God, you can give money away and stop worshipping it.
May we each seek a renewed heart that worships Christ alone and desires to use money as an act of worship.
Say or sing these words from the hymn “Long Ago You Taught Your People”:
In the lifestyle of the Spirit
Giving has a central part;
Teach us, Lord, this grace of sharing
With a cheerful, loving heart.
Not a tiresome obligation,
Not a barren legal due,
But an overflow of worship:
All we have belongs to You!
When you pray, ask God to help you worship this week through giving.
“On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income...” 1 Corinthians 16:2
Just following a lengthy discussion of the glories of resurrection in Christ, Paul places an important “therefore” in 1 Corinthians 15:58. Because we know for sure that death is defeated at the cross, we can fearlessly stand firm in faith and move out in ministry to the world.
When we worship, we respond to the hope of the gospel by committing our lives to the wonderful God in whom we believe. Worship is giving. To worship is to give him not only our praise, our attention, our sins, our fears, our burdens, and our hearts, but also our money.
So Paul advised the Corinthians to offer their gifts as an act of regular worship “On the first day of the week,” (Sunday). The regularity of the offering helps the Christian give in proportion and, as Paul teaches, is a joyful and praise-filled response to grace.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,
All your money, talent, time and love;
Consecrate them all upon the altar;
While your Savior from above speaks sweetly,
Trust Me, try Me, prove Me,
Saith the Lord of Hosts and see
If a blessing, unmeasured blessing,
I will not pour out on thee.
When you pray, talk to God about how much you should give back to Him.
Click here to send a prayer request to the Intercessory Prayer Ministry.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2: 44, 47
These verses describe the very beginnings of the church. It is interesting that one of the first recorded acts of this new group of Christians was the care of their new community through personal generosity. They instinctively knew that their possessions needed to be shared with their brothers and sisters in Christ. Why? They had seen Jesus live the same way.
I’m sure that their radical unselfishness looked as out of place then as it would in our culture today. But look at the effect it had in their community. Such an astounding demonstration of generosity and mutual care, mixed with the wonders of the Holy Spirit, melted the hearts of those who came in contact with them.
Giving changes the world! There is no more powerful evidence of the transformation of the Gospel than radical generosity.
Say or sing these words from “Because I Have Been Given Much”:
Because I have been given much, I, too must give;
Because of Thy great bounty, Lord, each day I live,
I shall divide my gifts from Thee with every person that I see
Who has the need of help from me.
When you pray, ask God to help you know how to help others by giving generously.
Remember this: Whosoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whosoever sows generously will also reap generously. 2 Corinthians 9:6
God promises that he will pour abundant grace into our lives to the degree that we commit to Him. But this does not mean that God promises to pay us back. If we give God $100 he probably won’t give us back $1,000. But in every instance he gives us (individually and as the church) something even more precious, himself. Giving builds your relationship with God because, as we’ve seen already, it builds hope, trust, belief and commitment to him. The real gain is a closer walk with Jesus Christ, a stronger bond between our life and his.
Paul also states the opposite thought. Whenever Christians (individually or together) hold back, they damage their relationship with Christ. They act without trust, they deny His goodness.
May we have lives and a church that sows generously so that we can harvest the fullness of what Christ offers.
Say or sing these words from "Come Ye Thankful People Come":
All the world is God's own field, fruit as praise to God we yield;
Wheat and tares together sewn are to joy or sorrow grown;
First the blade and then the ear, then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we wholesome grain and pure may be.
When you pray, ask God to help you become closer to Him through your giving.
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse… test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it." Malachi 3:10
God dares you to trust him about giving. He doesn’t simply command obedience. He shows us how wildly generous he is and how quick he is to give out his favor. Then He says, if you belong to me, follow my example. Giving is an adventure that is rewarding beyond your wildest dreams. The joy of trust flows into every area of our life: from finances, to career, to the future, to relationships, to hard times.
When we live according to a solid grasp of God’s goodness our whole lives are more free and secure. We gain a courage that can withstand trials when we believe that Jesus Christ is committed to fulfilling His plan of redemption in us. The late missionary Jim Elliot said it this way, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.” We can never outgive God.
May we be a renewed church that hungers to give and experiences the greatness of God’s blessings.
Say or sing the words of the refrain from “He Giveth More Grace”:
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men,
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
When you pray, thank God that His gifts to us are endless.
Click here to send a prayer request to the Intercessory Prayer Ministry.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21
This verse sits in the middle of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and is one of the most important lessons about money. When we evaluate what we treasure in our lives, what we value and set our lives to attain, what do we learn? It shows what our faith means to us. It shows that to which we have devoted our hearts. It is both a warning and a roadmap. To the extent we believe the truthfulness of this scripture, the teaching is clear: to desire God and to give our lives to him is to invest in the kingdom of God.
In our society, the value put on the attainment and achievement of material treasure is immense. The allure of wealth is constantly telling us to act and believe contrary to what we know is the desire of God for our lives. The battle goes on every day - we say that we live for heaven but our actions say something else. God calls us to examine our hearts and truly understand what it is in life that we treasure. Will our lives be spent in worldly pursuits that die and fade away, or will we make heavenly deposits serving as eternal investments in the kingdom of God?
Say or sing the words to “God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending”:
Treasure, too, you have entrusted,
gain through powers Your grace conferred;
ours to use for home and kindred,
and to spread the Gospel Word.
Open wide our hands in sharing,
as we heed Christ's ageless call,
healing, teaching, and reclaiming,
serving You by loving all.
When you pray, ask God to guide you to the true treasures abiding in his kingdom.
The kingdom of God is like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” The man with two bags of gold also came. “Master,” he said, “you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.” His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. “Master,” he said, “I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” His master replied, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt. 25:14-30
Investing: we all know about investing. As it concerns our money, we all know we should be investing; some of us actually are investing; some are too afraid; others procrastinate. But, we all know that we should be investing. This must be said about our commitments of faith as well. We should be investing in God’s kingdom. Through faith, we all need to invest our skills, our energies and our resources into the kingdom of God.
Are we, like the servant in this parable, afraid of what might happen if we let go of our talent? God wants us to be like the two servants who believed and used their talents to gain more. They invested, according to their ability, trusting God to multiply their gift. If you have a talent or ability that you are not using, perhaps this is the time for you to invest that talent in the service of God’s church. You may be able to serve through your Sunday School Ministry Team, on a church committee, or as a volunteer at the Family Life Center. You may have some other gift or talent that you want to share.
There is a form on this website (under the link “spiritual gifts”) that allows you to indicate your interests and abilities. Your church staff will process these forms and use them to actually put God’s willing people to work at Shades Crest and beyond. Are you willing to invest in the kingdom of God?
When you pray, ask God to help you give freely and sacrificially.