FAITH COMMITMENT OFFERING
MT 27:57-60a (Part 2)
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
For October 3, 2004, A.M.

Joseph’s kindness to Jesus in death was worship, a gift gladly given to the Lord. It should be sheer delight to give to Jesus. He deserves to see us smile as we give to Him. The Bible says God loves a cheerful giver. I pray we will give to missions as worship, offering money to God as a fragrant aroma.

Joseph’s deed was serve. It was a precious gift to the disciples, to people unable to provide for their Beloved. We give to missions in order to serve. We seek to relieve the misery of multitudes. By serving the physical needs of others we help them open their hearts spiritually.

Joseph’s kindness was go, he bore a public witness before unbelievers. What Jesus did for us at Calvary should make all of us bolder in talking to unbelievers about Him. Going is the only way actual missions can be done. We give to missions as go, knowing it helps many carry the story of Jesus to unbelievers.

This “worship, serve, go” aspect of giving to missions can be illustrated through the use of an antique water bucket used in fire brigades. I have one with a round bottom. It won’t stand up, ever reminding me, when there’s a fire going on, you don’t put your water bucket down. There’s an everlasting fire going on. To help quench its flames we all need to enlist in God’s water bucket brigade.

We all need to worship in missions. In prayer, draw water from God’s well of anointing and blessing. God’s power for missions is needed. Pray weekly over the Faith Commitment Offering list. Ask for God to energize our efforts.

We all need to serve in missions. This is accomplished through giving our money. We thereby pass water buckets from hand to hand.

We all need to go in missions. We all must go to the end of the water bucket line and throw water on the fire. There aren’t enough missionaries in the world to get the job done. We say we want to be like Jesus. If so, we’ll spend the rest of our lives going on short-term mission trips, as He did. One night Jesus healed everyone in His hometown of Capernaum. This is our example for reaching our city. We must seek to heal every hurt in our town.

Jesus spent the rest of His time on short-term mission trips. The travel is worth the effort and inconvenience. Randy Alcorn asked a Nigerian friend, we Americans took and sold your ancestors as slaves, why do you not hate us? The Nigerian replied, “No matter what else you did, you brought us the Gospel (the good news about Jesus), and that is all that matters.” God forgive us USA Christians for taking the story of Jesus for granted, for becoming numb to its beauty.

Worship, serve, go ( all three have become vital expressions of the missions revival, which exploded among us seven years ago. Since then, nothing has been the same. Everything changed.

God has a master plan, a Master’s plan, for what He wants to accomplish in the world. At special, wonderful, unexpected moments He chooses to drop us into the middle of His eternal purposes, letting us in on what He’s doing.

This happened to us at Second in 1997. God was busy all over the world, with our church only marginally involved in His mission efforts. Then God, for gracious reasons known only to Him, chose to pull us into the center of what He was doing.

We still reel from the revival, desperately trying to set in place mechanisms to consolidate it, to cause its effects to continue long term most effectively. The Faith Commitment Offering is part of this attempt to harness the revival’s afterglow.

The missions revival made Second conscious of the worldwide impact a local church can have. Our horizons expanded. The whole world became our conscious responsibility.

Geography suddenly mattered. Maps started showing up in our prayer folders and on our walls. Unknown nations and cities suddenly became extremely important.

For the first time, we began to fathom the truth, God so loved “the world” (John 3:16). When we give to our Faith Commitment Offering, we send out ripples through the whole worldwide kingdom of God, we have a chance to revolutionize people’s lives everywhere.

Destinies will be changed through this offering. What greater impact could we have than by giving to send out missionaries, to build homes in a village, to bring food to the hungry, to teach a child to read, to bring medicine to the sick, to give a Bible to someone who will clutch it to their breast, to extend a hug and look of love to persecuted believers in Sudan and China?

We can’t help everyone in the world, but we can help many. For sure, we can help everyone God wants to touch through us. God’s people possess God’s provision to accomplish God’s purposes.

We can’t only throw money at problems, but giving is a good starting point. One missiologist has said, for God’s awakening power to sweep the world, only one more revival is yet to happen, the revival of stewardship. Once God’s people open their pocketbooks, influence for Jesus will be felt worldwide.

If Christ returned today, would He be pleased with how much money we gave away to extend His kingdom? I’m saddened to know we in the USA spend more money on pet food and chewing gum than on world missions.

I fear USA believers have a compassion problem. Tennessee Williams, asked the secret to happiness, said, “Insensitivity.” In other words, to be happy, don’t care what happens to people. Many live this way, callous to needs of others.

We believers are to march to the beat of a different drum. Bearing the burdens of others is supposed to be part and parcel of our lives.

When Jesus was anointed with costly perfume by a sinful woman, some rebuked her (Matthew 26:6-13), but Jesus told them to leave her alone. “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a noble thing for me.”

Even today, some would call her act extreme, extravagant, fanatical, unreasonable. Jesus called this anointing of Himself love and beautiful. He was so moved that He promised her story would be forever told, and it has been.

A mathematician by training, I tend to be very calculated and reasonable. We all need to step out of this mode occasionally. From time to time we need to lavish love.

I am married to, and deeply in love with, a lady named Ruth. Thus, I like all things Ruthinian.

In the Old Testament, Boaz loved Ruth. She was gleaning in his fields, seeking to eke out a living by gathering whatever crumbs the gleaners left behind. Boaz told his workers to drop behind them for her handfuls on purpose.

I’d like to look back down the corridor of my life and see that for the Lord and for the poor I dropped handfuls on purpose. It will be sad if I clutched it all, for in the end I can’t take any of it with me. Martin Luther said, “God divided the hand into fingers so that money would slip through.”

Faith Commitment is a pure offering. Every dime you give goes to the Lord’s work, no bureaucracy, no fat, all trim and lean. God wants to work through us. Our Faith Commitment Offering gives Him a pipeline through which to do this.

Our Master said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:33). Why is this the case? Because when we give, three are helped! God, the recipient, and ourselves. In every gift, the blessing is tripled.

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