Asking for a Vision
It's one of those things that annoys those of us who preach the most. Far too often for my taste, God takes the message given to me to share with you on Sunday and shows me that it really has something that I myself need to hear. So many weeks, I am convicted by the very words I share with you of how far I still have to go in faith and how much work I have to do for God. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad except that it's really hard to pretend that you don't know what the sermon is speaking to you when you are the one speaking those words. Oh well, I suppose it's a small price to pay for the overwhelming, humbling privilege of being called to share the good news with you, God's people.
This past week, I had an experience of just this - God using my own message against me to convict me to do more in faith. You may remember that a couple of Sundays ago I preached on Paul's encouragement for us to be like the Macedonian churches, who asked - even begged - for the grace to be able to give a work worth doing in taking a collection for the poor in Jerusalem. It is my claim that when we ask for such, God gives us a vision large enough to stretch us, help us grow, and ultimately bring us joy in our giving. Fast forward a few days, and Courtney and I were starting our yearly discussion on our budget for the upcoming year. Each year, we take a few opportunities over the course of a month or two to talk and discern how we will spend, give, and save our money for the next year. As we talked about what new goals we feel is important for us to include in our plans, Courtney asked me a question: "Do you think maybe we need to ask God for a vision large enough for where we are as a family now?" Oh, have mercy on us! What can I say to that after preaching the sermon I had? Of course, in my sermon I had not really thought about the vision we have for our families, but here it was plain and simple. Of course, we need to ask for a large enough vision - but I am little bit afraid of asking, because we might just get what we ask for. Do I really want a larger vision for our family, one that will stretch us and challenge me? I know that it will be awesome and full of joy if God shows us a larger vision, but I kind of like how comfortable things are now. How I wish I could pretend I never preached that sermon, but you and God know better! Here we go, God! What do you have in store for us as a family?
I want to invite you and your families to consider joining ours in asking God for a larger vision for your family for 2016 - a vision worthy of your best time, energy, money, and very selves! May the Spirit gives us all the courage we need to beg for a family vision and to say, "Here we are, Lord! Send us!"
Peace on the journey, Jim
In our latest worship series on stewardship - "Free Checking: The Rewards of Learning How to Give Well!" - we are learning how to give well so that our giving to God through the church can be the joy that God intends it to be in our lives. These lessons will come to us from 2 Corinthians 8-9 in which Paul writes to the church in Corinth about how they should take up the collection to support the poor in Jerusalem.
Sermon Snippet: A Passion Greater than Our Commitment (2 Cor. 8:7-15)
Paul recognizes that, although they are folks who excel in so much of what they do, the Corinthians have not excelled in the same way in their commitment to collecting an offering for the poor in Jerusalem. And who among us can blame them? Continuing to give and serve over a long period of time is difficult but it is the norm for those who follow Jesus. It is exciting to start something new and there is satisfaction in finally completing a task, but so much of what we do in following Jesus has no end or new beginning. We simply continue to serve and give day after day, week after week, season after season, year after year, and continuing to do our best is incredibly hard. Eventually, our commitment falters, and we either go in search something new and exciting to do or simply fall into the lifeless habit of doing what we've done. Either way, we lose the joy of serving and giving to God. Paul reminds the Corinthians who they are to Jesus - people who excel in following him - and who Jesus is to them - the one who gave everything that they may have eternal life. By focusing on who Jesus is to them and who they are to Jesus, they can gain the reward of a passion for giving and serving that surpasses their level of commitment - something to carry them through when their commitment falters. By keeping our focus on who Jesus is to us and who we are to him, we can continue in our ongoing ministry in a way that brings joy rather than boredom or apathy.
This Week's Challenge
Who is Jesus to you? Who are you to Jesus? Where do you see Jesus in your service and your giving? Pray for God to show you where Jesus is working in your life and inviting you to join him.
So Paul thinks that we experience joy in giving if ask for a vision worth giving to and keep our focus on Jesus. But how can I find joy in giving when I don't have enough to spare anything to begin with? Where is the joy in giving when I am worried about paying the bills, buying groceries, and hopefully saving a little for a rainy day? Join us this week as we hear how we can experience "A Joy Deeper than Our Giving!"
October 18 - A Joy Deeper than Our Giving - 2 Corinthians 9:1-9
October 25 - A Harvest Bigger than Our Sowing - 2 Corinthians 9:9-15
Fill the Field
What do boxes, tents, teenagers, and a field in Port Republic have in common? Drive through Port Repbulic Village November 7th and you will see! The Harrisonburg District Youth are going to bring their own box to sleep in overnight to "Fill the Field for Hunger & Homeless Awareness". There will be speakers from Our Community Place, Rockingham County Fire & Rescue, Salvation Army and more! The teenagers will engage in activities to bring awareness to this sad but true situation, and a collection box will be by Port Republic Road for all who want to donate to Blue Ridge Food Bank. Sunday morning, November 8, the District Youth have been invited to worship at Grottoes or Port Republic UMC.
Living in Community
This Week at Port Church
Tuesday, October 13
7 pm - Administrative Council Meeting
Wednesday, October 14
9:30 am - 2 pm - Office Hours
6 pm - Wednesday at the Port
Thursday, October 15
9:30 am - 12 pm - Office Hours
10 am - Sunshine Seniors
10:30 am - Prayer Time
Sunday, October 18
Charge Conference Reports Due
9:30 am - Worship
"Free Checking: A Joy Deeper than Our Generosity"
11 am - Sunday School
News and Updates
Find out what is going on at Port Republic UMC this week and in weeks to come!