We talked last Sunday about sacrificial giving, Christ-like giving, when it comes to Legacy Missions Sunday on March 29. We also encouraged our church to give above and beyond what they’ve already planned and purposed in their hearts to give to the Lord every Sunday. Please don’t split up your regular weekly offering and put a portion of that towards missions. A lot of people did that last year and, frankly, it’s gotten us in a little bit of trouble. What we’re asking is that we add to what we’re already giving. Don’t split up the pie. Bake a brand new pie. Be sacrificial. Be creative. Give something up.
I told the church about my family’s plans to do what we did last year: give up going out to eat for the entire month of March and give all that money to missions on the 29th. No eating out. None. Not as a family, not individually. The whole month of March. You won’t see us at Dickie’s on Sunday afternoons, we won’t be at Rosa’s on Tuesday nights, we won’t find us at Pizza Garden on Saturdays. And I won’t go to Whataburger for lunches on Mondays and Thursdays. And every dime we would normally spend on eating out this month goes to Missions Sunday.
Last year we were shocked at how it all added up. We wound up putting aside and giving almost twice what we anticipated.
Of course, it killed the kids. They thought it was torture. “Why are we doing this?” “Why can’t we go out?”
What a great teaching opportunity. What great learning experiences, around the dinner table, together as a family, participating together in some family sacrifice (especially if I’m cooking) for a cause much bigger and greater than us.
What are you giving up? One lady told me immediately after the service Sunday she’s going to paint her own toenails this month and give the money to missions. What are you giving up? How are you going to sacrifice to give to missions? I’d love to share a few of these from the pulpit Sunday. Why don’t you hit the comments link at the top and tell us what you’re doing, individually or as a family, to contribute to Legacy’s missions efforts. Your plans may strike a creative spark in someone else who’s reading this. Your idea may inspire someone else to participate in a similar way. Let me know what you’re doing in the comments.
Sunday night I read a short passage from an old Charles Spurgeon sermon to illustrate some points about God’s sufficient grace. (Quoting Spurgeon makes any sermon a whole lot better.) A couple of you have asked that I re-print it here. So here it is. This is from a Spurgeon sermon on 2 Corinthians 12:9 he delivered on April 2, 1876. The title of the sermon is Strengthening Words from the Savior’s Lips.
“God’s sufficiency is declared without any limiting words, and therefore I understand the passage to mean that the grace of our Lord Jesus is sufficient to uphold thee, sufficient to strengthen thee, sufficient to comfort thee, sufficient to make thy trouble useful to thee, sufficient to enable thee to triumph over it, sufficient to bring thee out of it, sufficient to bring thee out of ten thousand like it, sufficient to bring thee home to heaven. Whatever would be good for thee, Christ’s grace is sufficient to bestow; whatever would harm thee, his grace is sufficient to avert; whatever thou desirest, his grace is sufficient to give thee if it be good for thee; whatever thou wouldst avoid, his grace can shield thee from it if so his wisdom shall dictate…Now let me press upon you the pleasing duty of taking home the promise personally at this moment, for no believer in this house need be under any fear, since for him also, at this very instant, the grace of our Lord Jesus is sufficient.”
They were talking to the kids about this in Bible hour on Sunday night and our Grace says, “My mom is giving up all of her Sonic food and drinks and me, I’m giving up buying high heels.” HUH? High heels?? I just thought it was funny to hear out loud from a 7 year old….:)
Another good thing is to look at your tax returns. We just did our taxes this past week and decided to give a portion of our “play money/returns” back to missions. Might be something you haven’t thought about AND it might get you to do your taxes on time!!
Man, if we all gave ten percent of our tax returns back to the Lord…
Ok, maybe this is a novel idea and a bit different — but rather than giving up anything, I’ve simply been planning THIS year’s mission giving since LAST year’s mission giving. Since it was to become an annual thing, it just made sense to expect to give again THIS year, and plan accordingly. Granted, “giving up” something in order to give a little “extra” is certainly worth doing too. But really…shouldn’t we have been planning all along? Does anyone else see this point?
Please, absolutely NOT a criticism of the sacrificial effort to give…”sacrificial” is key in that regard…but shouldn’t missions giving be a given?? What if we not only “tithed” personally (imagine the funds that would be provided)…but if we tithed as a congregation. What if a MINIMUM of 10% of our budget was devoted to missions each and every year? If the math is right, I think we’re close to that with the goal for this year. But also, what if we “tithed” a minimum of 10% of the CONGREGATION to missions involvement? What if we had at least 10% of the congregation participate on a mission trip each and every year? Or participate in some other direct way, like special prayer teams, advance teams, planning teams, procurement teams, or something like that. 10% of 1000 people. 100 people EVERY year, DIRECTLY involved in missions. Imagine it. I would very nearly expect that if we did that one year, that the number involved would easily double the following year. It’s a contagion!
Now about the “giving up” of something…great idea in itself, out of pure sacrifice and and a great reminder of whatever it is between me and God that needs some work. Ok…more me toward God that needs the work…God’s got His job down pat. I digress.
Anyway, I decided to try practicing Lent this year (unrelated to your missions encouragement). First time ever. A VERY Spiritually interesting experience thus far (one week into it), and must say…have already learned a lot that is wrong with ME. Wow! Talk about opening one’s eyes, ears, and heart! And it ain’t pretty, though it sure shines a spotlight on the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice. While I believe Lent fails as a mandated and institutionalized tradition that’s “always been done”, the CONCEPT of a sinner heart reaching out to God in this way is quite beautiful, much like fasting. The private time with God that results from the reminder of having given up certain things…priceless time indeed. Again…Wow!
So, to anyone looking to give up something in order to help fund missions: GO FOR IT!!! At those precise times of sacrifice (dinner at home instead of out; painting your own toenails; putting that extra item you don’t really need back on the shelf; hanging up the phone on QVC), take a moment to contemplate your sacrifice in light of Christ’s sacrifice. You WILL be blessed in many more ways that you can imagine.
Ok, one last thing, and a total tangent: I’m out of town in Corpus Christi visiting my folks this week, and went to a non-denominational church here for “1st Wednesday” worship and baptisms (forgive me, not many Wednesday choices down here, even among our own). It was a full worship service, much like I figure a Sunday morning would go, and there were probably about 1300 people, maybe 1500. And they took an offering. Get a load of this: when the preacher got up and announced it was time to take up the offering (he talked a little about “God is good…” etc. etc.) …the congregation applauded! APPLAUDED!!! The OFFERING! I’d venture to say not many folks have ever witnessed applause at the prospect of giving to church. Talk about perspective!
I love your idea about 10% participating in missions. With Fortress, Walker Creek, CF Thomas so close this should be a totally attainable goal. Great challenge!