Coleta United Methodist Church

First: Heart Giving

> 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[a] 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. (2 Corinthians 9:11-13)

So, did you hear that there was a young guy finally won the over 1 billion Mega Million? Oooh- I didn’t know that until Alexa told me that. She said it with somehow sad voice. She sounded so disappointed. She doesn’t even buy those kinds of stuff, but she sounded so sad. That was funny. We all have that desire that we got a lot of money someday, become a millionaire one night so that we could do whatever we can do with that money! Right? We want the freedom that a million can give us. If we have that much money, we wouldn’t worry about all the debts, hospital bills, the life after retirement. We just long for freedom! Since we are talking about freedom, let me share my happy moment of freedom in my life with you. It was when I was 20 years old, I finally moved out of my parents’ house because my college was too far from my home to commute. So I finally got out of my parents’ house. Freedom! There was no curfew, there was no mom’s nitpicking. Just freedom! I could hang out with friends until the time for the last subway to my new house. It was so good. Do you remember your free moments in your life? Freedom! But you know what God wants us to be free, too! God longs for God’s children including you to be free! God wants to set us free from our sins and want us to have a blessed life. Blessed means happy because the Lord has set you free from sin. We don’t have to worry about anything anymore because when we know Jesus’ salvation for us, there is for us nothing to hide. When we know that God is with us, we don’t have to fear because there is nothing to lose, Amen?

Today is the last day that we study about how to put God first in our lives. How to put God first in every aspect of our lives. God wants to be first in my life and in your life, in every aspect of our lives.

So, Do you know who is the most generous person in the world? To date, according to Forbes, Bill Gates gave $28 billion with a net worth of $66 billion. Warren Buffet gave $17.25 billion with a net worth of $46 billion. George Soros gave $8.5 billion with a net worth of $19 billion. Gordon Moore gave $5 billion with a net worth of $4.8 billion. Carlos Slim Helu gave $4 billion with a net worth of $69 billion. Oh-sounds good, right?

Then who do you think the most generous person that Jesus encountered? The first person that came up into my mind was the woman at the temple. Jesus sat down in the temple right near the treasury and he was people watching. He observed the crowd putting money in the treasury. The Warren Buffets and Bill and Melinda Gates of his day put in large sums of cash. In the world’s eyes, it was impressive. I mean, it is awesome that the rich people put a huge amount of money in the offering place, right? It was kind of thing that people would recognize with big applaud and put their names on the wall, the hall of fame, right? Then there was a poor person, a widow. She was so poor that she couldn’t even give a decent amount of offering to God. She was living in absolute poverty with little or no hope for a major turn back in her economic state. No government program or social ministry would bale her out of her pitiful state. She would probably be on some sort of aid program to live without health insurance or pension, right? Let’s think about it for just a moment. Let’s suppose an elderly woman whose husband died a few years ago, and she says, “I’m down to my last $2. I have no more money. The cupboards are bare. This $2 is all she could give to God. It sounds nothing, but it was all that she got. And this is what Jesus told her. He gave her a commendation: (sd) “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43-44, NIV). Jesus said that she gave all she had to live on. Probably she went hungry that night because of the gift. Jesus saw the heart, not the amount of offering that she gave, right?

When we talk about giving, we talk about the heart of giving, the heart that sincerely loves God, the heart that desires the best for God. As long as we love God, you know what? We are rich because we’ve already got everything we need. Our gifts, talents, and resources that we use for ourselves, for God, and for others! So, we are going to talk about wealth this morning as the last sermon for this sermon series, First. According to the Bible, wealth is not just an abundance of money. The Bible says wealth is the seeds that God has placed in our hands, our talents, gifts and resources. Each of us is accountable to God for using the resources that God has placed in our hands in order to serve God and the world!

So, here is the question that we are going to find answers. Let’s read it together. (sd) What do we do with what we have? What should we do with our wealth? Have you thought about that?

I met a pastor friend who used to be in this area but now moved to another appointment. He told me that in Rockfalls church there was a lady who won the second place of a lottery. Oooh, so that really happens. The first thing she did was run away. The night she realized she won the lottery, she packed, and ran away! I guess it’s because a lot of people will ask her for help. She didn’t want to deal with it, I guess. She didn’t spend her money on others! I don’t know what the actual reasons were because she ran away. Nobody knows the reason, but that’s what people say. That’s not the Biblical way to use our talents, gifts, and resources. Actually the Bible forbidden gambling, as well. We need to spend our wealth for the kingdom of God, not hoarding them for ourselves because it is from God!

Let’s read the number 1. (sd) 1. Wealth is to serve as God’s means of provision in our own lives. It was when Alexa was only 14 years old, it was one of her dark days, I think. So I think she might not like me talking about this, but it is such a perfect example of it. So don’t blame me, okay? One day, Alexa got home and proclaimed that she will make money by delivering newspapers to the neighborhood. By the time there was no regulation about kids working, so she was hired by a local newsletter company for the delivery job. Of course, mom and dad didn’t like that idea at all and I thought that was stupid. I think our parents just let her try that because it could be a good opportunity for her to learn a good work ethic and money. Anyway, she bravely started working on that job. It was the late Fall, and she got up in the real early morning, like 4, because newspapers need to be delivered before people go to work. And then she goes to school. And after 4 days of delivering the newspaper, she gave up. She said, “I am not going to do this! Kill me!” I knew it was coming. But the problem was that she was hired for that month, so if she doesn’t do that job, she could end up paying a penalty fee for not conducting the contract that she made when starting the work. So you know what? My father carried the burden for Alexa instead of her. He was working in a different city that he needed to drive 2 hours in one way. But he got up in the super early morning, delivered all the newspapers and went to work. He did that for that month so Alexa can be free from the obligation of delivering the newspaper. I guess dad loved Alexa even though she was the troublemaker of the family. God is like this. Our heavenly father and our heavenly mother, God loves us like this so God carries our sins on God’s own shoulder, walking to the Gethsemane, and hung on the cross for our sins! God doesn’t want us to be stuck in the burden, God wants us to be free! God loves us. Even when our biological father and mother’s love fails us, God doesn’t fail us at all! Let’s read Philippians 4:19 out loud. (sd) “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NLT) Amen! God will supply all your needs from God’s glorious riches that has already been given to us through Jesus Christ. What an amazing blessing! We got everything we need! Everything means everything! God did not want us to assume the debt of our brokenness, so God took it upon Godself. God demonstrated God’s selfless love for us through tremendous sacrifice. Pastor Mike slaughter says we will experience freedom when we understand that the purpose of our work is not really to make an income although income is good because of God’s promise to provide. Rather we work because God’s outcome will come into our lives and beyond, into the lives of others.

Let’s read number 2. (sd) “2. Wealth is God’s means of provision in the lives of those around us.” One Sunday morning, a Sunday school teacher was talking about the Ten Commandments with her five-year and six-year-old kids. After explaining the commandment that we should honor your Father and Mother, she asked, “Okay, now I have a question for you. Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?” And without missing a beat one little boy who has two younger sisters answered, “Thou shall not kill.” That young boy is smart, isn’t he? You shall not kill our brothers and sisters, right? We are called to love others, not hate people around us. And when we are talking about loving others, it means that we love others with all means, with all the gifts that I have, all the resources that I have, and all the talents that I have. Let’s read Leviticus 19:9-10 out loud. It’s not in the Soul Feast. It’s on the screen. (sd) 9 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.” Yes, this is our God who always takes care of the weak who cannot take care of themselves, and that God is asking us to join the holy work today! God set us free from all the debts and bondage of sins and now is inviting us to set others free from their bondage and debts of life. How wonderful! How marvelous! We are God’s means to provide those in need. Amen? We have PADs, Food Pantry, MMDC, Good Sam Funds, and many other ministries! We can help others.

Even though I was always a good girl and my sister was the troublemaker of our family, I don’t think mom and dad never loved Alexa less than me. I honestly think they loved her sometimes more than me, not because she was a better person than me, but because, I think, she was the troublemaker. In their eyes, Alexa was too naive, too young, and too cute and I was mature, old, big sister of Alexa. We are only 21 months apart!

Recently I read a news article that South Korea recently allowed some Syria refugees’ entry. It was really a small number. Like 70? Except for the refugees from North Korea, as far as I know, it was their first time allowing refugees’ entry to their land. And I was shocked that they are so many people who are really upset about their entry to Korea. People didn’t like that idea at all. They think all the refugees are criminals, and they are stealing jobs from Korean people. It might be true to some extent, but we need to remember that Jesus was also once a refugee. He had to flee to Egypt to escape King Herod’s massacre when he was just born. The people of Israel were also refugees in Egypt for many many years. God loves everyone. And everyone means everyone. If we are Christians, we have to believe that God loves everyone, and also remember we are God’s means of provision for others who cannot take care of themselves.

Let’s read number 3. (sd) 3. We are God’s means! On Sunday morning, it was time for offering, and the usher noticed that an old lady was fumbling in her purse for her offering and a large television remote fell out and clattered into the aisle. The usher picked up the remote control and gave it to her asking, “Do you always carry your TV remote with you?” And the lady said, “No, but my husband refused to come with me this morning, and I figured this was the evilest thing I could do to him legally.” It’s funny, isn’t it?

We are the only hands that God has to feed the hungry. We are the only feet that God has to walk with the forgotten, alienated, inflicted people. We are the only voice that God has to speak the truth to the world to transform the world. Do not use it for evil thing. Use it for the glory of God! Don’t steal your husband’s TV remote. Do good things for others. People will see God in your deeds!

Let’s read 2 Corinthians 9:11-13 together. (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. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. 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.” (2 Corinthians 9:11-13) As a result of YOUR ministry, people will give glory to God. For YOUR generosity to others and to all believers will prove that YOU are obedient to the Good News of Christ. It is YOU that God uses to transform the world. It is YOU that draws the kingdom of God near us. It is YOU that glorifies God and reveals the living God in the world. Without you, God cannot save us. God is almighty, but God needs you.

Put God first in your life. God wants to be your most intimate friend who knows everything about you. God wants to be the top priority of your life that you love so much so you gladly give your life. God doesn’t see the exterior of you. God sees what’s inside of you. God doesn’t care how much you give to God, but God cares where your heart is. Thanks be to God! Amen.