Seven Billion Reasons - Because faith is what pleases God!
Generous churches are blessed for a reason
There are all kinds of examples in this world. Some good. Some bad. Some funny. Some sad. An example can be a sample like cheese & crackers at Cosco or a model to be followed or avoided. Here’s an example of cuteness. My nephew – Greyson David! Here’s an example of a cat who thinks he’s a superhero! Here’s an example of a cruel Mom. Here are examples of devastation by Superstorm Sandy.[i] A destroyed amusement park in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. An isolated house floats in the bay after it was washed from its foundation. The storm tore away part of the Mantoloking Bridge. The devastation wasn’t limited to property or possessions - at least 92 people have died in the US alone. (www.ides.org) Here’s an example of a bad decision. 32 year old Ed Archbold entered a cockroach eating contest at the Ben Siegel Reptiles in Deerfield Beach, Florida on October 5. The goal? Consume the most and win a python valued at $850. Archbold won only to lose. Minutes after the contest he became ill. A friend called for medical help. An ambulance took him to North Broward Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.[ii] Here’s an example of creativity. The Robinson Funeral Home in Easley, SC is planning to open what it calls a "Coffee Corner." It will be stocked with Starbucks coffee and offer WiFi as well as a fireplace and a television. The funeral home's owner says that he hopes it will help mourners "get their minds off what's going on.'' A news magazine called The Week welcomed people to submit a name for this novel café. Honorable Mention awards included: The Grim Roaster - De-Coffinated! - Perkatory - See Ya Latte! Here’s the winner: Time to Meet Your Mocha![iii]
Allow one more example. Give me an example of faith. Someone who’s faithful to God? The Apostle Paul nails this! Open up your Bibles to Galatians 3:9! Do you need a Bible?
Let me give you an example of generosity! This church! I received THIS letter from Scott Marier, The Executive Director of WARM. Scott said that this WCC family gave 804lbs of food which will supply 7,255 meals to those in need. That does not count the 143 boxes of instant mashed potatoes, 123 bags of egg noodles, 96 cans of coffee and 79 boxes of Ritz crackers we just gave. The Gift Shop Table was so full we had to move all the gifts to another location. Please keep being generous. Next week bring in sporting goods, trikes or bikes. The Gift Shop opens its doors on November 30! Why? Because people are in need. A teacher in Westerville took her students to WARM so they could learn about WARM as a community resource. She asked for donations and her whole class brought in food. One little girl gave the only thing she could give, her granola bar, so that in her own words, “poor people would have a little to eat!” Hunger is real right in our backyard! Please keep giving food and gifts!
Paul gives us an example. His example of faith! Find Galatians 3:9! I would agree. Abraham was a man of faith! There are others too. If Paul’s big three of the NT is James, Peter and John. The big three of the Old Testament has to be Abraham, Moses and Elijah! OR could it be Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Which name spans both lists? Abraham. I’m curious why Paul refers to Abraham in the first place? He’s miffed again! Drop down to verse 1 in Galatians 3! Who has hexed you! Who has hypnotized you? Have you ever given someone the evil eye? My Dad would lift one eyebrow! He didn’t have to say a word. I knew he meant business. Why was he giving me the “evil eye?” I know you’ll be shocked by this, but I was probably doing something I wasn’t supposed to be doing! I remember playing with matches in the garage one time and my Dad caught me. Not a good day! Have you ever heard the phrase “going postal?” It means to “fly into a violent rage, when provoked by workplace stress.”[iv] I think Paul goes “parental” on these Galatian Christ followers. He cares about them. Let’s read verse 1 again but this time from the Message. 1 You crazy Galatians! Did someone put a hex on you? Have you taken leave of your senses? Something crazy has happened, for it's obvious that you no longer have the crucified Jesus in clear focus in your lives. His sacrifice on the Cross was certainly set before you clearly enough.
They had their ticket! Their cross ticket! How did they get it? By accepting Jesus as their Savior and now they are being taught that Gentiles must follow the law to be declared righteous! Now Paul becomes a debater. A trial lawyer and presents seven arguments or reasons from Galatians 3 & 4 as to why this is not possible. Seven is too many so let’s focus on Paul’s example from Galatians 3:9! Find verse 6! Does your Bible have a footnote? Mine does and it says go to Genesis 15:6! Let’s do that! Turn to Genesis 15:6! The real life story of Abraham begins in Genesis 12. Abraham trusted God but even he has his doubts. Read 1-6.
Believing is easy, right? No, seeing is easy. Believing is hard! God tells Abraham he will have a son! But here’s what he doesn’t tell him. WHEN! Look at this Biblical time line. Genesis 12:4 tells us Abraham is 75 when he leaves Haran for Canaan. Genesis 16:16 tells us he’s 86 when Ishmael is born. Genesis 21:5 tells us Abraham is 100 when Isaac is born!
God tells Abraham it’s going to happen but it doesn’t happen for another 14 years! That’s called faith! One year passes by then 2, then 5 then 10 then 14. I can hear Abraham now. God said it’s going to happen. I will be the father of many nations. Sarah will one day give birth to my son! That’s what God said. What is faith? Taking God at his word! Faith implies commitment and trust! I did a poll here not long ago asking the question, “I need to take God at His word when it comes to… I received 91 responses. I placed those 91 responses in 16 categories. Here’s the breakdown: Heaven: 3, Salvation: 7, Overcoming Death: 2 I have to take God at His Word that heaven is a real place! (Mark Koerner), Forgiveness: 8 Forgive someone who defamed, disappointed and scared me with vitriol, lies and uncontrolled behavior, Marriage: 5, Overcoming Fear: 2, Worry: 2, Sexuality: 1, Health: 2, Parenting: 8 The promise that if I raised my children to know and love God, they will return to Him. Raising children is terrifying!!!, Being in Control: 4, Self Esteem: 2, Service: 1, and Daily Life Temptations: 13. The top two categories were Finances at 16 and Trust/Future at 15! Trusting Him that He is faithful in every promise. Sometimes I doubt or am scared that I am as strong (in Him) as He knows as expressed by current and future journey as single mom. How he will use me, how he will use my talents. Waiting for His answer. Where I’m meant to work. Knowing when to get married. The future and the future of my kids.
What pleases God? Hebrews tells us its faith: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. There are Seven Billion Reasons to be generous. Here is reason #5. Faith is what pleases God!
Generous churches are blessed for a reason. They choose to walk by faith! Abraham was a man of faith! What’s it take to be a man or woman of faith today? Let me provide one obvious example. If you were here last week I asked, “What’s scary to you?” Some of you on You Version responded, “The election is scary!” The election is Tuesday - just days away. I was at a meeting last Thursday in Worthington and was told that 58,000 Presidential ads have been shown in Ohio from late September through October. It would take 80 days to watch them from start to finish! $130 million dollars has been spent on Presidential Election in Ohio alone! Why? Because Ohio is undecided and will play a major role in determining our next President! I get to vote! What a privilege and responsibility. Shouldn’t my faith in God lead in the direction I should vote? Often it’s not who you vote for but what you vote for! John Wesley said years ago that when you vote take these three actions: 1) Do your homework. 2) Never speak poorly about the opposing candidate. 3) Don’t let your heart become hard to someone who votes opposite of you! In heaven there will be no political parties. On this earth, in this church – we are to be unified. What does that? Actually it’s who! I’ve chosen to put my faith in the son of the living God! Have you? Will you? I have to go back to our poll! “I need to take God at His word when it comes to… one person wrote. I have to take God at His Word that my sins are forgiven! How do we do that? Watch this commercial! (Humans-Liberty Mutual) It isn’t by perfection! When we are at our worst, God was at his best! Let me summarize the Bible. God prepares for salvation – that’s Genesis to Malachi. God sends salvation. That’s the four Gospels. God offers salvation. That’s Acts through Revelation!
It’s an offer. An invitation! Look at this ad for the movie Lawless. I’m a Bondurant –We don’t lay down for nobody! Well, I am a Bondurant and even if I did, it would not matter. I’m not the right type of sacrifice. You need one that’s perfect! Thank God that one is Jesus. Put your faith in HIM!