Bulletin Announcements

October 30, 2016

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Revelation 14:6:  “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth.”  During the Reformation this text was used to refer to Luther’s ministry and the Lutheran message: we have an eternal Gospel to proclaim.  Christ has freed us from our sins without any works on our part!  We are saved by grace alone!  And ironically enough, Luther said this should make him the “apostle of works:” because once we are freed by grace, we are truly free to serve God in works that flow from thankfulness and praise.

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, meeting in the basement at 9:15 a.m. continues a DVD based study: “Jesus – Legend or Lord?”  The class features LC-MS Author and Scholar Dr. Paul Maier discussing History and Archaeology and how it all fits with the Holy Scriptures.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  “Saul Becomes King” is the Sunday School lesson for today. Students learn that though God lets us have our own way at times, His is the way of forgiving and saving, which He did for His people of old and for us today.  Consider asking, “How did God care for the children of Israel even though their desires were sinful?  How does God show His care for us even though we are sinful?”

THE ADULT INSTRUCTION CLASS will continue Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room.

NEXT SUNDAY, November 6th, we will have a special order of worship as we celebrate All Saints’ Sunday.  We will remember those members of Good Shepherd who died in the Lord this past year and are blessed in eternity right now.

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS NEXT SUNDAY:  In order to ensure your family arrival for worship please “fall back one hour” when setting your clock before going off to la-la land next Saturday evening.

NOVEMBER ACTIVITIES:  Please note the activity the next two Tuesdays around the building.  This Tuesday, November 1st, Pastor will be hosting the Circuit Pastor’s in the morning.  The following Tuesday, November 8th, Good Shepherd will be a Polling Place for the General Election.

GOOD SHEPHERD’S ANNUAL VOTER’S MEETING is on Sunday, November 13th.  Following the 10:30 Worship Service there will be a Potluck Dinner followed by the Voter’s Meeting.  The church will provide the meat and drink for the Potluck Dinner.  Members please bring Side Dishes/Desserts.  On the table in the narthex are copies of the 2017 Budget for your review before the upcoming Meeting.  Pick up your copy today.

FOOD COLLECTION:  We continue our Collection of Food for Home Sweet Home Mission.  The last few years we have moved up our Collection because we now serve a meal there.  The meal will be this coming Saturday, November 5th.  The time will be from 2-6:00 p.m.  Please have any donations in by Thursday, November 3rd, so they can be packed and ready to go.  If interested in helping please speak with Pastor or a member of the Evangelism/Stewardship Board.  Thank you.

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

FREE TICKETS:  We have free tickets in the church office for the ISU Women’s Volleyball Game next Saturday, November 5th, at 7:00 p.m. against Evansville.

YOU ARE INVITED to Christ Lutheran Church in Normal for their Fall Craft & Bake Sale this coming Saturday, November 5th.  Coffee & Sweets from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; Lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Menu includes: Brats, German Potato Salad, Sauer Kraut, Hot Dogs, Chicken Noodle Soup and Root Beer Floats.  Bring your family and friends to shop, eat and enjoy!  Any questions please call Dorene Boettcher at (309) 662-1259.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Do You Want This Blessing?” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Matthew 5:1-12.  Jesus came to bless you; He takes the initiative to reach out to broken lives with His love and help.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules November 2016

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:00
Elder
10:30
Nov 6Daryle Schempp, Jeff Piper, John Hardy, Nathan KluenderCraig CulpMike Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker
Nov 13Gerald Semelka, Steve ParryJohn HardyBrian Dirks, Greg McNeely, Theron Noth
Nov 20Ben Holland, Craig Culp, Gene Fuller, Richard RossRandy ReinhardtBryan Reichert, Holden Lueck
Nov 23Thanksgiving Eve
7PM
Nathan KluenderJoshua Parry, Mike Field, Paul Gerike
Nov 27Daryle Schempp, Jeff PiperMike FieldBud Kessler, Marvin Huth, Will Dowell
Nov 30Midweek Advent
7PM
Mike Fieldas available

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Nov 6Chloe HitchPastor/Elder
Nov 13Pastor/ElderWilliam McNeely
Nov 20Summer SheleyPastor/Elder
Nov 23Thanksgiving Eve
7PM
Justin McNeely
Nov 27Pastor/ElderChristian Dowell

Stewardship Corner November 2016

“O give thanks to the Lord for He is good.  His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).  The love of the Lord does endure forever because the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, is risen from the dead, lives and reigns for all eternity.  He was crucified for our transgressions, but He is raised and lives forever for our justification. We are acceptable to God in Christ Jesus.

This is indeed something for which we give thanks.  We give thanks in our prayers. We give thanks in the hymns we sing in church.  We give thanks by talking about it with our friends and neighbors and teaching it to our children and grandchildren. And we give thanks by giving to the church a generous, first-fruits portion of the income He provides us.

Giving is giving thanks.  It is one of the concrete ways in which we thank God for all He has done for us.  This includes not just what He has done for us here in time, but what He does for us for all eternity.  He provides for all that we need in both body and soul.  He is more ready to give than we are able either to receive or even ask.  That is who He is.  That is His character.  He is good and His love endures forever.

Let us then give thanks in all these ways, not in one way or the other.  But rather in all things, everything that we do and say, whether it be in word or deed, in prayer and praise, in teaching and giving, let us give thanks to God for He is good.

Celebrating November 2016

Birthdays

11/2 Caleb Evans
11/2 Ryan Kleiboeker
11/4 Sheri Piper
11/4 Shirley Potter
11/6 Jeanette McNeely
11/7 Phoenix Kleiboeker
11/9 Holden Lueck
11/15 Curtis Kessler, Sr
11/17 Cannon Kleiboeker
11/19 Theron Noth
11/23 Joshua Parry
11/24 Gordon Schroeder

Baptismal Birthdays

11/1 Jacquelyn Semelka
11/5 Stacia Dowell
11/7 Janet Evans
11/14 Cheryl Reichert
11/16 Tammy Brewer
11/19 Ryan Kleiboeker
11/20 Thomas Anderson
11/26 Penny Culp
11/28 Holden Lueck
11/28 Joshua Parry

Pastor’s Notes November 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Have you ever had one of those days where what you had scheduled gets changed but the Lord still uses the day for His purposes?

A month or so ago I had worked ahead and gotten my work done for the week because I knew I would be going to a surgery at the end of that week. I like to have a prayer with the patient and family and many times, if time permits, I sit with a loved one during the surgery. This particular morning I got a phone call that the surgery had been postponed. What to do now? Well, I had recently received some money for my birthday and I thought that I would go to the mall over the lunch hour and do some shopping. One of the few times that I ever do this.

I made a stop or two at a few stores and as I am walking the mall I pass a small store and it looks like it is someone I know. It is! I stop and have a nice chat and catch up on what they had been doing. Now this particular person was someone who had attended our church, had a death in the family, and then I had lost sight of them. I had written them a letter after phone calls were not returned and I was praying that they were all right. I was looking for an opportunity to invite them back to church.

That day the Holy Spirit provided it. In my original plans I was not suppose to be at the mall that day. Circumstances and God’s leading put this person and me in the same place at the same time. I recognized such as I walked away from the conversation. I chuckled to myself about how the Lord had done it again. He knew that encounter was going to happen even though, when I got up that morning, it is not something I would have been expecting.

Do you notice these same God-induced instances in your life? What encounter are you praying for with a person that maybe hasn’t come to be yet? Be ready because, like me, it may come when you least expect it. The Lord has a way of doing that, doesn’t He? Take advantage of the opportunity given knowing that our Savior will provide the words and thoughts.

By the way, nothing was bought that day at the mall. Something of greater value was received.

In Christ,
Pastor

Bulletin Announcements

October 23, 2016

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  2 Timothy 4:6:  “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering. . .”  As St. Paul nears the end of his life he continues to view it as something to be spent in sacrifice toward God – just as he had told the Romans (12:1)  to be “living sacrifices.”  And why does St. Paul do this?  Because he knows that His Lord has already won for him the crown of life.  Jesus’ sacrifice that purchased our salvation leads us to imitate His sacrifice in our living for Him.

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, meeting in the basement at 9:15 a.m. continues a DVD based study: “Jesus – Legend or Lord?”  The class features LC-MS Author and Scholar Dr. Paul Maier discussing History and Archaeology and how it all fits with the Holy Scriptures.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL students study the life of Samuel today.  They learn how God calls His people to repentance through preachers such as Samuel; that He might forgive us for the sake of Christ.  Parents might ask, “How did God use Samuel to speak to His people?  How does God use our pastor to speak His Word today?”

THE ADULT INSTRUCTION CLASS will continue Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room.

TODAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

NEXT SUNDAY, October 30th, we will celebrate Reformation Sunday and will have Holy Communion in both worship services.

THANK YOU for the wonderful Sunday two weeks ago for Pastor Appreciation.  The cards, gifts, and your uplifting words are such a blessing.  As we approach the end of our 17th year together, we give praise and glory to our Lord for your love and support as we work together to further God’s Kingdom.  In Christ’s love, Pastor, Toni, Karson and Holden

WORSHIP SCHEDULE:  A gentle reminder as you make plans for Christmas (it falls on a Sunday this year) the Board of Elders made the decision to hold one service at 9:00 a.m. that day with no Sunday School or Adult Bible Class.  Thank you.

FOOD COLLECTION:  We continue our Collection of Food for Home Sweet Home Mission.  The last few years we have moved up our Collection because we now serve a meal there.  The meal will be on Saturday, November 5th.  The time will be from 2-6:00 p.m.  Please have any donations in by Thursday, November 3rd, so they can be packed and ready to go.  If interested in helping please speak with Pastor or a member of the Evangelism/Stewardship Board.  Thank you.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The October – December 2016 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack located in the narthex.  Pick up your free copy today!

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

FROM THE OFFICE:  There is a young ladies yellow dress with rose colored flowers in a “Banana Republic” shopping bag located on the coat rack in the narthex. If it is yours or you know who it may belong to please pick up and take it home with you.  Thank you.

YOU ARE INVITED to Christ Lutheran Church in Normal for their Fall Craft & Bake Sale on Saturday, November 5th.  Coffee & Sweets from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; Lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Menu includes: Brats, German Potato Salad, Sauer Kraut, Hot Dogs, Chicken Noodle Soup and Root Beer Floats.  Bring your family and friends to shop, eat and enjoy!  Any questions please call Dorene Boettcher at (309) 662-1259.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “The Best Bequest” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from Luke 12:19-21.  A legacy of faith is the best bequest, giving the gift of Jesus to those who come after you.  Reverend Dr. Ken Klaus is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Bulletin Announcements

October 16, 2016

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Genesis 32:26:  But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  The great Lutheran musician J.S. Bach composed a beautiful motet using this verse: it is the cry of true faith, much the same as Peter’s words, “Lord to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.” True faith clings to the Lord no matter the struggle, no matter the “hard sayings” that the Lord speaks.  True faith knows that God means to bless us always.

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, meeting in the basement at 9:15 a.m. continues a DVD based study: “Jesus – Legend or Lord?”  The class features LC-MS Author and Scholar Dr. Paul Maier discussing History and Archaeology and how it all fits with the Holy Scriptures.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL students learn how God used Ruth to accomplish His purposes for our salvation.  Through her family God brought forth His Son, the Savior of all people including Jews and Gentiles, men and women.  Parents could ask, “How did Ruth demonstrate her trust in God?  How does God help us to trust in Him?”

THE ADULT INSTRUCTION CLASS will continue Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room.

NEXT SUNDAY is the deadline for items to be submitted for the NOVEMBER NEWSLETTER.  Mandy Kluender is our Editor for the church newsletter and any announcements you want to be published in the Newsletter should be submitted to her at mgkluender@hotmail.com or you may call her at (309) 838-9868.

THANK YOU for the wonderful Sunday last week for Pastor Appreciation.  The cards, gifts, and your uplifting words are such a blessing.  As we approach the end of our 17th year together, we give praise and glory to our Lord for your love and support as we work together to further God’s Kingdom.   In Christ’s love, Pastor, Toni, Karson and Holden

WORSHIP SCHEDULE:  A gentle reminder as you make plans for Christmas (it falls on a Sunday this year) the Board of Elders made the decision to hold one service at 9:00 a.m. that day with no Sunday School or Adult Bible Class.  Thank you.

FOOD COLLECTION:  We continue our Collection of Food for Home Sweet Home Mission.  The last few years we have moved up our Collection because we now serve a meal there.  The meal will be on Saturday, November 5th.  The time will be from 2-6:00 p.m.  Please have any donations in by Thursday, November 3rd, so they can be packed and ready to go.  If interested in helping please speak with Pastor or a member of the Evangelism/Stewardship Board.  Thank you.

OCTOBER’S FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE is this coming Friday, October 21ST at 6:30 p.m.  Catch the movie that flew over the fence and into the hearts of millions of cheering fans!  It’s Disney’s “ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD”, the feel-good film about a young boy praying for a father – and a struggling baseball team praying for a pennant.  Danny Glover plays George Knox, the frustrated coach of the California Angels, a ragtag team of major-league misfits who are down on their luck.  But things begin to look up when 11-year-old Roger, their biggest fan, starts giving Knox some winning tips from a real live angel named Al (Christopher Lloyd).  The team miraculously climbs back into the pennant race…all the while learning to believe in themselves.  Join us for a great family movie, good food and fellowship.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The October – December 2016 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack located in the narthex.  Pick up your free copy today!

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

FROM THE OFFICE:  There is a young ladies yellow dress with rose colored flowers in a “Banana Republic” shopping bag located on the coat rack in the narthex. If it is yours or you know who it may belong to, please pick up and take it home with you.  Thank you.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Running the Race of Faith” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from 2 Timothy 4:6-8.  Because Christ has already won the victory for us, our race of faith is worth the struggle of the run.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Bulletin Announcements

October 9, 2016

THOUGHTS ON STEWARDSHIP:  Luke 17:19:  And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”  Only one of the ten lepers cleansed returns to give thanks to Jesus.  Why is that?  Surely the rest were indeed thankful to be freed from such a terrible disease.  But only the Samaritan leper had faith: and his faith turned into action, as all true faith does.  Our generosity to God’s work in the Church is likewise our faith in action.

THE ADULT BIBLE CLASS, meeting in the basement at 9:15 a.m. continues a DVD based study: “Jesus – Legend of Lord?”  The class features LC-MS Author and Scholar Dr. Paul Maier discussing History and Archaeology and how it all fits with the Holy Scriptures.

TODAY IN SUNDAY SCHOOL:  Samson is the subject of this week’s Sunday School lesson. Students learn that Jesus repeats and completes Samson’s deeds of deliverance for us and for our salvation.  When we are weak, He is strong!  Consider asking, “What was the true source of Samson’s strength?  Who is the source of our strength?”

TODAY is our monthly door Offering for our Seminary Student Jeremy Hercamp.  The Hercamps sent a recent letter and it is posted on the bulletin board outside the church office.

PASTOR APPRECIATION SUNDAY:  Today we will celebrate Pastor Appreciation Sunday.  This year is the 25th Anniversary of Pastor Lueck’s Ordination.  A potluck dinner is scheduled following the 10:30 worship service.  There are sign-up sheets on the table in the narthex. Please put your name, how many will be attending and what you will be bringing to share.

FOOD COLLECTION:  Beginning today we will begin our Collection of Food for Home Sweet Home Mission.  The last few years we have moved up our Collection because we now serve a meal there.  The meal will be on Saturday, November 5th.  The time will be from 2-6:00 p.m.  Please have any donations in by Thursday, November 3rd, so they can be packed and ready to go.  If interested in helping please speak with Pastor or a member of the Evangelism/Stewardship Board.  Thank you.

THE ADULT INSTRUCTION CLASS will resume Monday evening at 7:00 p.m. in the Conference Room.

OCTOBER’S FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE will be on Friday, October 21ST at 6:30 p.m.  Catch the movie that flew over the fence and into the hearts of millions of cheering fans!  It’s Disney’s “ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD”, the feel-good film about a young boy praying for a father – and a struggling baseball team praying for a pennant.  Danny Glover plays George Knox, the frustrated coach of the California Angels, a ragtag team of major-league misfits who are down on their luck.  But things begin to look up when 11-year-old Roger, their biggest fan, starts giving Knox some winning tips from a real live angel named Al (Christopher Lloyd).  The team miraculously climbs back into the pennant race…all the while learning to believe in themselves.  Join us for a great family movie, good food and fellowship.

PORTALS OF PRAYER:  The October – December 2016 Portals of Prayer are available on the book rack located in the narthex.  Pick up your free copy today!

FELLOWSHIP HOSTS:  The sign-up for help with coffee/doughnuts is posted on the wall by the north stairwell.  We need an individual/family to sign-up each week to pick up the donuts and make the coffee.  If no one is signed up by Friday of each week, the order will be cancelled.  We thank everybody who continues to help with this part of our church fellowship.

FROM THE OFFICE:  There is a young ladies yellow dress with rose colored flowers in a “Banana Republic” shopping bag located on the coat rack in the narthex. If it is yours or you know who it may belong to please pick up and take it home with you.  Thank you.

THE LUTHERAN HOUR:  “Know This Word – Your Life Depends On It” is the topic for next Sunday.  The sermon text will be from 2 Timothy 3:16.  The Bible provides a strategy for survival in an uncertain world.  It can break hearts of stone and replace them with living hearts open to God’s truth.  Reverend Dr. Gregory Seltz is the speaker.  Hear this Sunday’s message on the Lutheran Hour on WGN (720) at 6:00 a.m.; WJWR (104.7 FM) and WJWR (90.3 FM) both on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.  Also, if you can receive Lincoln, IL radio station WLLM (1370 AM) the program is broadcast two times on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.  Tune in!  You can also listen to The Lutheran Hour on your personal computer at RealAudio, www.lhm.org.

PRAYER CHAIN:  If you have a prayer request please submit them by email to Mary Anne Kirchner at makirchner@yahoo.com or you may phone a Prayer Request to Mary Anne; her home # is (309) 661-6522; her cell phone# is (309) 532-2582.  The Prayer Request box is on the table in the narthex for any written requests.

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Elder, Usher, and Acolyte Schedules for October 2016

Elder and Usher Schedule

Date
8:00
Elder
10:30
Oct 2Ben Holland, Joshua Parry, Mike Field, Paul GerikeNathan KluenderGreg McNeely, Holden Lueck
Oct 9Daryle Schempp,
Nathan Kluender
Curt KesslerMike Huth, Ryan Kleiboeker, Theron Noth
Oct 16Craig Culp, Gerald Semelka, Jeff Piper, Steve ParryBarry HamlinBryan Reichert, Brian Dirks
Oct 23Gene Fuller, Richard RossPaul GerikeGreg McNeely, Holden Lueck, Will Dowell
Oct 30Ben Holland, Joshua Parry, Mike Field, Paul GerikeCurt KesslerBud Kessler, Marvin Huth

Acolyte Schedule

Date
8:00 AM
10:30 AM
Oct 2Lucas PiperPastor/Elder
Oct 9Pastor/ElderJustin McNeely
Oct 16Garett SheleyPastor/Elder
Oct 23Pastor/ElderChristian Dowell
Oct 30J.T. PiperWilliam McNeely

Stewardship Corner October 2016

Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.  If you believe this gospel, if you stand upon it, cling to it, you are saved.  Trust in this is the dividing line.  It defines, either positively or negatively, all men.  It separates and divides Cain from Abel, Job from his so-called friends, Abraham from Abimelech, Isaac from Ishmael, Jacob from Esau, David from Saul, Daniel from Belshazzar, Joseph from Herod, Lazarus from the rich man, and the tax collector from the Pharisee.  What defines men is not whether they are good or bad, but whether or not they believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

The problem with man is his heart.  Our hearts are fallen and predisposed to think that we can impress God.  We think that if we do all the right things God will reward us, and we will escape evil.  We think that God will be impressed with our gifts, that our prosperity and goodness is evidence that God loves us or that it should motivate God to love us.

But we know better because God has blessed us with the faith of Abel, Job, and Abraham.  We know that God’s grace in Christ saves us, not our works.

We know that God is not impressed with our giving.  He is not impressed when we give him that which is already his.  God doesn’t benefit from our giving and He doesn’t need it.  But our neighbor does need it.  And God delights in us growing more and more like Him.  He blesses us, and He invites us to bless one another with our giving: so that the Gospel may be proclaimed, so that the poor may be fed, so that all God’s work through the Church may be done.

So consider God’s priorities in comparison to your own.  And be honest.  Reevaluate where you are and where God has called you to be.  Look into your own bank statement.  Would any accountant think that the Church was your priority?  He would see a spreadsheet filled with where your money actually goes:  into house and clothing and cars, into eating out and beauty supplies and entertainment.  Indeed, much of it wasted on frivolous things.  But would he find great percentages going to the church?  Figure up the percentage.  Put it in relation to the proportion of your income.  What percentage of your income do you give for the mission of the church:  the preaching and teaching, the baptizing and communing, the help for the weak and poor brothers of Christ?  Is it even enough for a deduction when you file your income taxes?  The widow gave all she had and thought nothing of it.  She was glad to do it.  The rich man gave what to him was a meaningless, trifle amount and desired a plaque in his honor.  Why is it that the less we give the prouder we are and the more credit we expect?

All your works, even your monetary gifts, done in faith please God now for Christ’s sake.  No matter how great or small, frequent or infrequent.  They are all washed and cleansed by grace through faith on account of Christ.  Whatever you do from faith in God pleases Him for the sake of the Son.  So reevaluate your generosity in the light of the grace of Christ.  Freely  you have received, freely give.