Coleta United Methodist Church

First: My Commitment to God!

> 6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor.     Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” 10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem[d] will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. 13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift[e] too wonderful for words!

So this sermon series that you are on now is about putting God first. And the video that we just watched says that we have to desire God first to make a commitment to God. If we don’t desire God, we don’t commit ourselves to God. That means if we love God, we commit ourselves to God. Being fully committed to God means that we give every aspect of our lives to God. Let God first in our lives.

I did some research this week and I found an interesting article about how the average American uses their time over the lifetime. So let me share what I found with you. (sd) This graph shows twenty-five to sixty-four olds use their time who are employed. They sleep 7.7 hours and work 8.7 hours. There’s nothing new here. And over the lifetime, the average Americans use their time like this. (sd) 1. You spend 25 years sleeping. (sd) 2. You work for 10.3 years. The average Americans work 40 hours a week from 20-65. (sd) You watch TV for 9.1 years, 2.8 hours a day, and then people tell us they don’t have time to pray or come to church. All right! (sd) 4. You spend 3.66 years eating, about 67 minutes a day. The total amount of food you consume in a lifetime is close to 35 tons. (sd) 5. You drive your car for 4.3 years. In that time you’ll cover enough distance to go to the moon and back 3 times. (sd) 6. You spend 3 months of your life in traffic, about 38 hours a year. (sd) 7. You laugh out loud 290,000 times in your life. About 10 times per day. So the more you laugh, the healthier you are, by the way. (sd) 8. You drink 12,000 cups of coffee. That’s about 1.6 cups per day. I can get that. I think I am above the average, but anyway. And here’s a good one. (sd) 9. Women spend nearly 1 year deciding what to wear. (sd) okay, the equal opportunity offender the average man will spend 1 year staring at women.

This research did how people spend their time. And here’s one more question that I’d like to ask you. How much do you use your time for God in the midst of everything eating, driving, working, wearing, staring at others? How much time do you spend for God? Isn’t it something that we need to think about?

In this sermon series, First, we are not only talking about money, but we are talking about putting God first in every aspect of our lives. And time is another good one to kind of measure where I stand in terms of a relationship with God, I think.

So today, let’s go back to our series. Time is a good way to measure how much we put God first in our lives and money is as well. In fact, money and our finance is, I think, the hardest part for us to give to God, right? I mean it’s hard to trust God in this complex world where everything is so uncertain.

Last Sunday we talked about how we can trust God and make God happy in our financial life. We can trust work is a means of God’s provision, and we need to trust God in our giving.

Today I want to talk about how to save and give. I mean, it is really important, right? John Wesley, the founder of Methodist Church, talked about it in a very Scriptural and simple way. I really like this. Let’s examine the Scriptural way of saving and giving through John Wesley’s words. Let’s read number 1. (sd) 1. Earn all you can! Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:10 together. (sd) For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. ((2 Corinthians 9:10, NLT)

The Bible says, “God supplies seeds.” God supplies seeds for farmers to produce plants. God doesn’t just give plants for people to eat. And the Bible continues to say that, “In the same way, God provides resources to result in the great harvest of generosity in you.” God doesn’t just give the great harvest to us. God just gives resources that we can work with to produce the great harvest, right? So what’re our resources? What are the seeds that God provides? They are the talents, gifts, our time and resources that we already possess. Then some of you might think, “Well, I don’t have any gifts or talents!” No, that’s not true. God has made us so wonderfully and perfectly! Each and every one of us has the unique gifts that God has given only to you. You are a very special gift to God! Then we should we do with our seeds? We need to plant them to receive greatly in the harvest. Remember the more you work with your talents, gifts and resources, the greater return you will receive on the harvest. Use your gifts, time, energy to earn all you can. It is not just for earning money. It’s about planting seeds for God’s harvest. We are to earn all we can. But the reason we work is not first and foremost for our income. We are primarily meant to work for God’s outcome. About a week ago, Alexa told me a news about a banker in Italy. This guy is recently arrested for pocketing money from his bank for years. It was almost thousand and thousands dollars that he pocketed. But actually, the reason that this banker took the money out of the bank was to help the poor. He stole money from the rich VIP’s account and put the money into the poor people’s accounts. He did that for years. In fact, I kind of liked him. He could be the righteous outlaw Robin Hood of the day, right? But according to Jesus and John Wesley, this is not a right thing even though the reason was kind of righteous because he did this in an unrighteous, dishonest way. John Wesley says, (sd) “Earn all you can by honest industry, using all possible diligence in your calling.” We need to earn with honesty. The way we earn money should be clean and righteous in the eyes of God.

Let’s read the second one. (sd) 2. Save all you can! The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get. (Proverbs 21:20, NLT) In an agricultural society, you can’t eat your whole harvest. You need to leave some seeds for the next year. The Ginghamsburg Church that Pastor Mike Slaughter pastors, now he’s retired, has an agricultural program in Sudan, Africa. The church has a mission center in Sudan and they give a bag of seed and the farmer has to return two bags after their successful harvest. One of the two bags goes back to the farmer to plant for the next season. And the second bag is passed on to another family that needs to go back into the farming business to support themselves. Some of the farmers didn’t give them back two bags; they returned four. That meant that the next year they received three bags for planting. One man who did that was able to buy a donkey and a plow and 3 years later he was no longer plowing by hand and had extended his acreage about tenfold. Ten-fold! The more he saved to invest, the greater the return he experienced on that investment. Even though it is about a story of a man living in Africa, I think it still tells us the principal of God about money. And here’s a shocking fact about the United States. Many households where the money going out the door every month exceeds the amount coming in. Let’s read Proverbs 2:20 out loud. (sd) The wise have wealth and luxury, but fools spend whatever they get.” (Proverbs 21:20, NLT) As I was reading this Scripture, I thought to myself, “It is me, fool!” God tells us that in the Bible that we can never assume future income. There will be times of feast and times of famine. During times of feast, we should prepare for times of famine. In the Book of Genesis, Joseph stored every plan and grain as much as possible, so Egypt was able to lend to many nations, but borrow from none. so, Earn all you can, and save all you can!

Let’s read the last one. (sd) 3. Give all you can! Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:11 in one voice. (sd) Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. (2 Corinthians 9:11, NLT)

So we should ask, “Why should we give?” It’s because giving is the nature of God! Even God gave God’s only son to us. Because God gave the only Son to save us, we won’t perish but have eternal life. That’s why we should give to others! We need to pay forward! Generosity is evidence of the Spirit’s work in a person’s life. Like we saw at the beginning of this message, we can see where our hearts are by checking on how much time we give to God, and how much resources we give to God and others in need.

I try to walk at least 3-4 times a week and also do a few weights to maintain muscle. It was a couple of years ago, one day Alexa and I went to Sterling for a walk. There is a part right by the river and we just love to be in the park. It’s a gorgeous place. While walking, I found there are some rocks that look just right high for me to jump off them. (sd) This is my friend who uploaded this picture on her Facebook and this is the one that I exactly wanted to take, you know as if I were floating in the air. So I asked Alexa to take a picture of me jumping off the rock. Cut to the chase, I failed to take that picture. This is the picture Alexa took instead. (sd) I was really shocked. My legs didn’t have the power to support me! The muscle of my legs was so weak to support me. I am getting old! Ever since then I do squats, lifting dumbbells, yes, those kinds of things to build muscle. It is boring. This is boring! But I try to do these things regularly because I know I need them for myself. Giving is the same way. It provides spiritual exercise, allowing me to be flexible to the work and directive of the Spirit in my life so that I can give myself over to God’s direction, right? A number of researches say that people who give of both their time and their finances are healthier, regardless of their age or economic status. Jesus said it’s more blessed to give than to receive. We really need to build muscles in our giving. Remember that we are the only hands that Jesus has to feed those who are hungry. We are the only feet that Jesus has to take water to those who are thirsty. We are the only voice to take God’s word to those who need to hear it.

So how can we make money, save them and give them? Here’s a useful tip for all of us to use. (sd) It’s called the 10-10-80. Rockefeller, the richest guy in his time like Bill Gates of today. He was a Christian rich guy and this 10-10-80 principle was famously known because he used it for his finances. The first ten percent of everything that comes into your hands, you give to God as an expression of faith and gratitude. You know what? Even though I pursued to be a pastor serving in the church for my life, it took me a long time to give my full tithes to God. So I really know the struggle. But it also feels so good when we give full tithes to God with no excuse. Whatever excuse we have we can give God the full tithes. Believe it, it feels really good. And Mike Slaughter says this; We can’t outgive to God. Whatever we give to God, God outgives back to us. Try it out.

And the next 10 percent you pay to yourself, in the form of saving for the future. And the remaining 80 percent is what you live on. This method is famous because of Rockefeller, but actually, it’s been with us for centuries. All the Christians before us lived on this principle.

John Wesley’s simple rule still is powerful even today. Please remember this. Earn all you can, save all you can, and give all you can! Thanks be to God, Amen!