Vertrau Auf Gott!

     Trust in God!


Sunday Worship ~ 9:00 a.m.

Sunday School ~ 10:15 a.m.
(Sept-May)

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10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. (Malachi. 3:10)

 

              I remember the above verse from my childhood.  It was imprinted along the bottom of every offering envelope. It was reminder that God does expect his people to offer back to him the first fruits of all the blessings we have received from him.  We were expected to be faithful givers.  It didn’t matter if we were on vacation or missed a Sunday-we were expected to make up the difference when we returned. The pastor reminded us that if expect the church to still be here when we returned from being away then we needed to be sure to be faithful givers.  We make take vacation but Jesus and the gospel never does.

              It was a changing time in our corner of the Bronx. Most people were moving out of the community to the suburbs of Westchester County or New Jersey.  We had to decide if the church building should close and we all trek up to the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx or do we remain a viable congregation in the changing Highbridge section.  Those were the days when there was only one car per family if the family was lucky enough to be able to afford one.  Travel was mostly by public transportation and to make that trek would take at least an hour.  Many might then stop attending church.

              The chief decision to be made was not whether we would be inconvenienced by the closing but we had to determine if Jesus was important enough to us.  Was Jesus important enough for us to remain in a community that was changing and the new residents would need to hear the gospel? Were we willing to be disciples of Christ, remain here and make sure the gospel would be available to any who would come through our doors?  How much of our time, talent and offerings were we willing to dedicate to Christ and his ministry?  The answer: The church still stands today.

              In the Apocryphal Book of Tobit chapter 4: 4-11, we read the following instruction:

 

5 "Revere the Lord all your days, my son, and refuse to sin or to transgress his commandments. Live uprightly all the days of your life, and do not walk in the ways of wrongdoing; 6 for those who act in accordance with truth will prosper in all their activities. To all those who practice righteousness 7 give alms from your possessions, and do not let your eye begrudge the gift when you make it. Do not turn your face away from anyone who is poor, and the face of God will not be turned away from you. 8 If you have many possessions, make your gift from them in proportion; if few, do not be afraid to give according to the little you have. 9 So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity. 10 For almsgiving delivers from death and keeps you from going into the Darkness. 11 Indeed, almsgiving, for all who practice it, is an excellent offering in the presence of the Most High.

 

              The key phrases here are verse 7- “do not let your eyes begrudge the gift when you make it.” And in verse 8-“give according to what you have received from God”.  In giving freely and joyfully we accept what we have been given freely from God-the Cross of Christ for our salvation. God offered to us the first fruits of all creation when he sent Jesus to walk among us and offer his life for us on the cross.  In this God showed us he is willing to give the ultimate for our salvation -the life of his Son and God did so gladly and Jesus did not go begrudgingly to the cross but willingly so we would all be spared of God’s displeasure on the Day of Judgment.  Jesus gave us everything-his life for our eternal life.

              Now I have been asked in the past what is the difference between “tithes” and “offerings”.  Tithes are the percentage of income we offer to the church in thanksgiving from our God given blessings that is used for the maintaining of the church property, staff and all ministries of the church including Sunday School, worship supplies, sacristy supplies, etc.  Offerings (alms in scripture) is that which we give to be sure there is extra for things such as food pantries, when someone is unemployed and needs help with expenses, for as we have seen lately to send for disaster relief efforts and anything for which the church would contribute to the community so God’s will can be done to help anyone or cause that is in need and contributes to the preservation of God’s creation for which man himself was created to be stewards.

              Jesus looks at how we respond to the grace-filled gift of salvation.  Do we do so by offering time to do tasks about the church?  Is there a talent we could offer but may be hesitant to say because we are not sure it would be welcomed?  Stewardship is not just about tithes and offerings but the time and talent we give from all the blessings in our lives. To offer time and talents (such as choir, acolyte, crucifer, lector, usher, etc.) is performing stewardship of service in God’s house. To serve the Lord with gladness in our hearts is the hallmark of Christian faith, love and thanksgiving to God and his Christ.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in all your stewardship practices both inside and outside our church walls and see if God will not open heaven’s blessing window.

17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands-- O prosper the work of our hands! (Psalm 90:17)

 

Offer to God your first fruits with joy,

Pastor Flavia

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