Announcements were many this morning.
Kurt shared that on Dec 12 & 19 parents and youth should all come and meet together.
Wednesday night Kids Club is suspended till after Christmas
Building update: Electricians and plumbers need to get the building heated before the next phase involving volunteers can begin, which will be hanging drywall.
Beginning next Sunday, kids of all ages will be practicing for the Christmas program during Sunday school hour.
Saturday the 29th we will be decorating the sanctuary and Christmas tree for the holidays.
Ruth Anne shared that we're looking for volunteers to bake Christmas cookies for inmates at the St. Louis County Jail. No nuts or coconuts. Sign up sheets in the narthex.
Last Thursday we had our wash day at the Washbucket. The church volunteers washed close to 500 loads of laundry. Washing often falls to the bottom of peoples’ priority lists and it is truly a gift for many needy people.
Our Covenant World Relief giving is this coming weekend. Bring your soup cans. Cheryl Borndal shared how moved she is by all the various ways our church is involved in giving.
We also blessed the Operation Christmas Boxes that were assembled last Wednesday night.
Verse for the Day
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your resources and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for great generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” ~II Cor. 9:10,11
An offering was taken followed by a time of prayer before the sermon.
Our things have a way of getting ahold of us. Even though they are inanimate they seem to have power.
One of the first words infants learn is “mine”… and it only grows from there. When we grow up we get a house that we fill with things. Then we need a bigger house to we can still more things. It’s almost as if we need a “things exorcism.”
Families fight over things more than nearly anything else. Prisons are full of people who committed crimes over things. Too often we tie our identity, success and who we are to our things.
Brad's passage today was the first half of I Chronicles 29. David is king of Israel at this time. At one time he had been just a shepherd. Now he is advanced in years, having accumulated many things, and much experience of God's mercy and goodness. One day he is in his palace and he realizes there is no house for God. At this point in time there is still only the Tabernacle, a tent of animal skins housing the Ark of the Covenant.
Within the Ark is the manna, signifying God's perpetual provision, as well as the Ten Commandments and Aaron's rod that budded.
David believed God should have a beautiful building to house God and honor Him, so he prays and asks God for permission to do this. But God says no, that David has been a man of war and his son Solomon should be the chosen one to build His house... ultimately the Temple of Israel. David accepts this and instead chooses to use all his resources to help build God’s house, even if he cannot do it himself
So I have provided for the house of my God, so far as I was able, the gold for the things of gold, the silver for the things of silver, and the bronze for the things of bronze, the iron for the things of iron, and wood for the things of wood, besides great quantities of onyx and stones for setting, antimony, colored stones, all sorts of precious stones, and marble. Moreover, in addition to all that I have provided for the holy house, I have a treasure of my own of gold and silver, and because of my devotion to the house of my God I give it to the house of my God...: (I Chronicles 29:2-3)
He has asked himself, “How can I maximize my abilities to make this happen.” And then he turns to the people and issues a challenge: Who will willingly concentrate themselves to the Lord?
Notice the key word here: willingly. David did not force people to build it, as pharaohs had forced the masses to build the pyramids. David understood that things only mean something if they are given with a joyful heart. Meaningful giving is not coerced. The result here is an explosion of generosity. They gave willingly, and David also rejoiced greatly.
As an aside Brad noted that the heart of tithing is not about figuring out how little to give without making God mad. "Do I tithe on the gross or on the net?"
God's desire for us is to be joyful givers. I am so grateful for this community. I am so grateful that you want to give.
Here’s the core of the message.
People understood the difference between ownership and stewardship. And David praised the Lord thus: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the … For everything in heaven and on earth is Yours.” That is the spirit of Thanksgiving.
Things are deceptive. Someone had them before me and someone will have them after me. I am just a steward, I am not the owner.
In verse 14 David exclaims, "But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly?" David had killed a man to have his wife, had made many mistakes. But God had gotten hold of his heart.
On another level, many of us tend to take credit for our achievements, that we have earned what we have. David could have said he deserved these things… he fought Goliath, led armies… But he knows that all he has is because of God. There’s no such thing as a self-made person. Things deceive into thinking we deserve what we have because we earned it. In reality all kinds of people and experiences have contributed to who we are and what we have gained.
David knew that the only reason he was living in a palace was because of God. In return he said, "I want to use my things to build YOUR kingdom, God, not my kingdom. How can I make sure that what I have is being used to make a difference in this world." And this was Brad's challenge to each of us.
After reminding us that the church is not just another organization, he moved to verse 18: "O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep for ever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of thy people, and direct their hearts toward Thee."
It’s not something we can do ourselves, but Jesus can change our hearts.