Monday, March 3, 2014

A Congregation of Givers - Lesson 2

In our last post we asked the question "Should the church borrow money?" We concluded from the examples of scripture that personally we should not borrow, we should not pledge our resources to the debt of another and by implication the Church should not borrow either.

So if God says don't borrow and don't pledge, what are we to do to aggressively pursue the work of God's kingdom. Doing ministry in our local community, missions, building a church or renovating a property all take money and sometimes a significant amount more than can be normally budgeted in a single calendar year.

So where do we look for the example?

I looked for scripture to see what God says about the topic.

One of the most interesting and challenging scripture on the subject was in Exodus chapters 35 and 36. Let me give you a little back ground on this:
  1. These chapters describe the nation of Israel approximately one year after they left 430 years of slavery in Egypt.
  2. These people were all blue collar workers, farmer and herders.
  3. No one was rich or wealthy, everyone was pretty much the same.
  4. God had provided for them and they had been on a journey in the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.
Exodus 35:21 "And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the Lord's contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for its service, and for the holy garments."

Exodus 36: 3-7 "They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left their work and said to Moses. The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work that the Lord has commanded us to do: "No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary." And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work."

Here are the principles I see in this scripture:

1) Through God's redemptive plan they were rescued from slavery (bondage).
2) The believers couldn't be generous until they were free.
3) God provided the resources.
4) Their leader (Moses) asked them to give and the builders were accountable to be good stewards of what was given
5) The Holy Spirit convicted them and moved in their hearts.
6) They gave day, after day, after day (it was a process, we don't know how long it could have been weeks, months or years)
7) The leaders waited until the Holy Spirit moved and the people gave to move ahead with the work.
8) The believers freely gave so much that they had to be asked to stop. Wow when was the last time that happened at your church.

Some of us are thinking that if the church leaders asked our congregations for $2 million, or $5 million, or $10 million to build a building, buy some land or renovate some existing facilities to better serve their people, minister to their community, and reach out to their world. There is no way that this could happen.

But just hold your horses (or should I say chariots), please don't skip any steps here. Exodus said the people had to be "free" first. They had to be free from Egypt, free from sin and free from debt. The people couldn't be generous until they were free from bondage. In our day, one of the biggest areas of financial bondage is debt that takes the form of student loans, credit cards, car loans, consumer loans and mortgages.  Our greatest source of giving is the skills that God has given us, when we use those skills as He intended that provides an income (in our modern terminology we call this a pay check).  Many of our pay checks are totally committed to debt. Financially many of us are still in Egypt.

Scripture says to be a "congregation of givers", believers needed to get out of bondage, in this case the bondage is debt. How do we do this?

That is the subject of our next post.


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