As followers of Jesus, we are people of the Word. We read and quote the words of Scripture, pray with words to express our hearts, sing words of praise to God, hear words of encouragement and conviction. There are a lot of words to what we do in church. Sometimes we can lose sight of the fact that following Jesus is more than just reading, listening, and talking. There is also the whole "doing" thing! It is not enough to just think about or talk about what Jesus wants us to do - we actually need to do it! As Christian author Bob Goff says, "In the end, love doesn't just keep thinking about it or planning for it. Simply put: love does!"
Starting October 8th, we are going to kick off a new worship series: "Come and See!" Over the course of six weeks, we will look at six simple things we are called to do to share our faith with others and invite them into a deeper relationship with God. In conjunction with that, I will be offering a study during Sunday School on Bob Goff's book "Love Does" - a wonderful collection of 31 stories from his life that illustrate how we can live a secretly incredible life in an ordinary world. We will read a story a day - a great addition to your devotional time - and discuss how the seven stories impact how we want to live and share our faith. Please let me know if you are interested in the book and would like us to order you a copy by this Sunday.
Blessings on the journey, Jim
Sunday's Sermon Snippet
A Life-changing Gift: Reap What You Sow (2 Corinthians 9:6-11)
"God loves a cheerful giver." It is a piece of Scripture that we have heard to guilt us into to having a good attitude about doing things we do not want to do. The implication is we need to be cheerful (or at least fake being happy) about what we give in order to earn God's love. That's not what the Apostle Paul was getting at when he first wrote these words to the faithful in Corinth almost 2,000 years ago. Over the last few weeks, we have seen how Paul sees joy as a fundamental part of what it means to give well. In this passage and with these words, he continues to build that case. We are to give, he says, what we have decided in our hearts to give and not out of compulsion - to give out of anything other than our hearts would deny the joy we should have in giving. Being cheerful in giving is not so much a command as it is a description that God takes joy in our cheerfulness. If this is the case, then why we would not want to be cheerful in our giving - an act of worship to God? So how can we grow in our joy in giving? Should we just fake being cheerful? To start with, we need to adjust our thinking about what happens when we give. We are often taught to think of things having to do with money - including giving - as being a zero-sum game. That is, for me to give to someone else means that now they have what I had and I have nothing. The grand total of what we have together cannot change. If I give $100 to someone who has nothing, then now they have $100 and I have nothing. This leads us to think that giving something good to someone else means that we will have less good in our lives. This is not how giving works in God's world. God doesn't add and subtract blessings when we give; God multiplies them! If I give $100 to someone who has nothing, I am not left with nothing myself. I have a joy that even $200 wouldn't be able to buy at the store! The recipient of the gift doesn't just have $100 - they have the joy of receiving a blessing joyfully given, and one day they may pay that joy and gift forward to another. God, who loves a cheerful giver, takes joy in the gift and pours out even more blessings upon both the giver and recipient. It doesn't take long for blessings cheerfully given to multiply beyond our understanding. Once we understand how God multiplies rather than adding and subtracting blessings, we can see how blessings are supposed to flow through our lives. We should not hold on to our blessings but pass them on. They are like a river that is best enjoyed flowing past us. If we dam up the flow of blessings into our lives so we can have them forever, they quickly flood us and start to cause problems. We can let these blessings flow through our lives because we can trust that more are coming our way from God just as a river brings more water. Paul tells us that God will increase our store of seed and the harvest of our righteousness. This is not a prosperity gospel that says God will reward my giving with a bigger gift to me that I can hold on to. Paul is saying that God will give us even greater gifts - both in terms of blessings we have and in opportunities to give. It is the harvest of righteousness - not a harvest of things - that will grow in our lives. God will give us more but will also give us more opportunities to give - what a blessing! But the key is we have to be willing to give and let God's blessings flow through us. As Paul says, we need to give what we have decided in our hearts to give, for God loves a cheerful giver. It is often said, "Give until it hurts." But I think Paul might say, "Give until it brings joy!" If we do not have joy in our giving, it is likely because we are not giving enough and we are missing out on one of God's greatest gifts to us.
Hearing God's Promise Again
A word from Lee, one of our teachers for our Little Fishermen class:
Wednesday night at Port Republic UMC, we talked about how God ALWAYS answers our prayers. He may say yes, no, or maybe. We had the children play a game, where they came up with things they could ask God for. Some kids asked for computers, cellphones, parents to stop fighting. They then drew a piece of paper out of a container that read yes, no, or maybe. After they had their answers, we asked them how it made them feel to get those answers. "I'm so excited I got a yes!" or "No's are never fun." or "Waiting is hard."
So I've said all of this to say: It took a children's lesson to be reminded of one of God's promises. That He will always give us an answer. We may not like the answer He gives us, but He is always right. And waiting is hard. But man, is it worth the wait!
The recovery efforts from the recent hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Puerto Rico as well as the earthquakes in Mexico continue as they will for years to come. Our United Methodist Committee on Relief will be working with local partners to help those affected rebuild their lives. Please pray for our brothers and sisters, and consider continuing your support of these recovery efforts. You can always find updates on what UMCOR is doing to help at umcor.org.
Living in Community
Thank you to everyone who helped us put together our six cleaning buckets in support of the recovery efforts from recent hurricanes! Our district delivered over 400 kits to Richmond to be sent out with others from across our Virginia Conference. Almost 4,000 buckets were shipped out last week on their way to folks in need!
Church office hours will now be held on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 - 11:45 am.
This Week at Port Church
Monday, September 25
9:30 - 11:45 am - John Bible Study at Dianna's
Tuesday, September 26
7:00 - 8:15 pm - John Bible Study at Dianna's
Wednesday, September 26
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
6:00 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Thursday, September 27
9:00 - 11:45 am - Office Hours
Sunday, October 1
9:30 am - Worship with Communion - "A Life-changing Gift: Saying Grace"
11:00 am - Sunday School
6:30 - 8:00 pm - Financial Peace University Class
Chili Cookoff & Silent Auction in support of Youth Missions - October 14th!
Charge Conference - November 29th
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!