Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Vision Planting Sunday

Click on title to be taken to the internet archive, where you can download the podcast--or just listen here!

Here are the sermon notes, and you might also appreciate a photo of the altar setting. The scriptures are 2 Corinthians 9: 5-15 and Psalm 1

1 cor. 9
Story about coming across two people chiseling marble: I’m carving stone, second says “I’m building a cathedral.”
This day is about holding that second perspective up, trying to take it on if we don’t naturally think that way.

We are building a cathedral—our lives are a testament toward God—that should be the aim and focus ever before us. When we plod through life, that should be our theme—we are doing what we’re doing today because our lives matter to God.

To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; credible we must be truthful.
Edward R. Murrow

We must be persuasive. We have a life changing message of hope, and it must be shared. At the root of our persuasiveness will be our truth—and our truthfulness must be accountable.

Explain visual significance. Place our pledges as we would be planted by the water. We yield our fruit in season—we will prosper.

Giving of ourselves roots us in the promise of God’s goodness. We are like vessels for God’s grace.

Experience of being “poured through.”

Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly, whosoever sows generously reaps generously. If you are having a lackluster experience as a Christian, if you’re wondering “well, is this all there is to it?” If you feel like a “social club Christian” then ask yourself—“what have I sown? What am I giving?”

This is why Wesley invented a methodology to discipleship, why he emphasized disciplines and accountability. He knew that we work better when we have a routine. But he knew that this routine, forming people in this way, could be detrimental to the Methodists in the end. He said….

"I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches."

The more you free your mind and heart from the grip of Money, the more you will exalt in the riches of God.

In a shaky economy, this is one thing you are guaranteed. This is the economy of God. The more we loosen ourselves from the grip of the worldly powers of money, the more we taste and see the goodness and richness of God.

Giving nothing, giving a token amount, giving less than we should, is planting ourselves in barren soil, giving abundantly comes through being planted by the water. You will be fed and nourished by God’s grace. You will have more than you need—you will bear fruit for others. You will never thirst.

I want to assure you that the failure to give is a failure to trust. A failure to trust is a failure to receive what God is overflowing for us.

If you are unhappy with your level of giving—if this exercise of planning for 2009 has caused you to face an unspectacular record thus far—then set a percentage that you will give, and ask God to grow you toward the tithe.

Set some goals for your own discipleship, and let us as a community be in a covenant relationship with God and with one another so that we may become more and more worth to bear the name of the Redeemer.

Ask God to pull you up by the roots and move you close to his heart, so that you may discover the joy of yielding fruit in more and more abundance.

All the gifts that we possess aren’t ours. All of those skills and abilities and finances. They are on loan. We are asked to employ our gifts for the living God—Employing those gifts for God’s glory is a way of bearing witness to the Living God.

As Christians, we are called to give to God "what is right, not what is left," as the popular quote from a church marquee states. God calls us to offer our "first fruits," not the "leftovers."

First fruits giving requires the theological premise that our possessions and assets ultimately belong to God. All that we have in life is a gift from God! Faith-filled, first fruits giving is our opportunity to return to God a small portion of God's abundant blessing in our lives.

Moreover, these blessings are not limited to financial assets or possessions. Most of us can examine our own lives and find numerous blessings, perhaps even some astounding miracles.

Today all Christians in the world who participate are celebrating communion. Remembrance of Christ giving everything so that we might have life.

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