Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church. Morning to you.
Thank to Kendra for filling in for Zach today who is leading worship at Trout Lake Camp
Thanks for being here this morning on this historic Sunday.
In some ways, it feels like everything we’ve ever done has led up to today.
It’s certainly not small in its significance.
For 4 Sundays now, we’ve been talking about how God is moving mightily in this church, and how we’re going to run out of space here in the future.
And thus, so we can continue to reach and disciple people for Christ…. we’re going to build a building on our recently purchased land on Lexington & 125th in Blaine.
That building will be a 25,000-square foot building that will cost 5 to 5.5 million dollars.
We need to bring around 1 million dollars in a down payment to start construction, so we are attempting to raise 1.1 million dollars in 3 year pledges…that is…“above and beyond our normal giving”
In other words, we don’t want anyone taking away from their General Fund giving…or we can’t pay the rent here next week…
And…Today is our Commitment Sunday.
Toward the end of this service, we’ll be asking you all to hand in your Commitment Cards
If you haven’t filled yours out already or if you never received one, there is one under your chair if you’d like to take a look at it…or fill it out if you already know what you’re going to do.
As we are all thinking about our financial commitments for Harvest today…I want to talk about that very topic from God’s Word.
We are not a church that talks about money a whole lot.
If anything, we don’t talk about it nearly enough.
But, listen this is where we’re at right now.
We’re making commitments…TODAY…FINANCIAL ones…so I want to teach out of Scripture concerning what’s happening.
It would be a bit silly if I stood up here and gave a message on “relationships” or “how to be a better friend” when 100% of you in the room are thinking about this very topic of “financial commitment”
Last week, we took a look at 2 Corinthians Chapter 8
The Apostle Paul was writing to the Greek Christians in Corinth about taking up a collection for the people in Jerusalem who were suffering through a severe famine.
Today…we’re going to move into chapter 9 as Paul starts talking to the Corinthians about making their commitments to give.
A fitting chapter for us today.
In fact, I want to walk through 3 principles for making…and KEEPING… financial commitments.
And these aren’t principles I made up, but they come straight from God’s Word
I want to talk about this today because commitment is hard work
And I want to give you some principles that will help you stay committed…when this gets hard.
Because Commitment…isn’t just a one-day thing.
In our case, it’s a 3-year thing.
It’ll take more than just pledging today…for God to take us to the next step for the Harvest in Blaine.
If we pledge 1.1 million, but we only actually give $200,000…well, then…that’ll be…challenging.
It’ll take commitment over the next 3 years.
Pledging is the easy part.
The hard part is staying committed when it gets hard over the next 3 years.
PRINCIPLE #1: MAKE PREPARATIONS TO GIVE
So let’s take a look at the 3 principles of “making and keeping commitments”
3 PRINCIPLES OF COMMITMENT
#1: Make Preparations to Give
Let’s take a look at God’s Word for this principle…
The first principle is found in the first 5 verses of 2 Corinthians chapter 9.
(2 Corinthians 9:1-5) – NIV
There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
There’s a lot in this passage for us to unpack.
Look at verse 2 if you have it in front of you.
The people are eager to give.
They know Paul is coming, they are COMMITTED…and excited to give when He comes.
It’s normal to be eager on the front end about what you could do.
Many of you, I suspect, are eager today.
But then in verse 3, Paul says, that he doesn’t want his boasting about what they “essentially pledged to give” to be hollow.
And I don’t want that for you either.
It’s a hard thing to commit to something, and then not be able to come through on it.
And so what do we do to make sure that doesn’t happen?
Verse 5 essentially tells us that Paul is doing everything he can (including sending people to help get them ready) to make preparations so they’ll actually be able to give when the time comes.
The truth is…even though we anticipate, in our eagerness, that we’re going to fulfill our pledges…we don’t know what the next 3 years will bring in our individual lives.
We don’t know if we’ll have the same job…or have a job.
We don’t know if we’ll be healthy…or not healthy.
We don’t know if our finances will be better or worse.
But to the best of our abilities…we want to commit to what we believe will change lives…and change the world.
And one of the obstacles to that for a lot of Americans, is that we’re not sufficiently prepared in our budgeting.
Part of walking out a commitment in faith…is figuring out (financially)…how it’s actually all going to work
Many of you are giving incredibly sacrificially today…and that’s amazing!
But take practical steps to figure out just HOW it’s going to work in your budget.
If other things have to go to make room…what will go?
If other income needs to come in? How?
Answering those questions is part of the logical next steps of the faith-step you’re choosing.
It’s doing, just like Paul was doing with the Corinthians…it’s making preparations to give.
One of the things that jumps out to me from verse 5 is that Paul says that when you actually make preparations, “Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given”
When you make plans for how you’re going to give, you can give cheerfully.
When you just “hope” you’ll find a way, and don’t have a plan for it…it often then becomes something you have to grudgingly squeeze in at the end of the month…and you start to resent it.
So follow the advice of Scripture here…and make preparations to give.
Allow yourself margin…if things get tough
And keep committed…trusting in what God can do.
Which brings us to the next section of our passage and our second principle
PRINCIPLE #2: TRUST THAT GOD WILL PROVIDE
Here’s the 2nd principle of “making and keeping commitments”
3 PRINCIPLES OF COMMITMENT
#1: Make Preparations to Give
#2: Trust that God will Provide
It comes from verses 6 through 10
(2 Corinthians 9:6-10) – NIV
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
Do you see the principle in there?
If you trust God in your giving, He WILL provide.
If you sow generosity…you will reap generosity.
Look at verse 8 again.
If you generously give, God will give you everything you need.
It’s hard to trust in that though, isn’t it?
If I’m a farmer with a bag of seeds…I feel like my seed is limited…I can only give out so many to other people…and I’ll be out. How could I ever get more?
But who supplies the seed?
Verse 10 says: God supplies the seed.
And how many seeds does God have?
An unlimited amount!
There’s an old Christian saying that says: “I shovel it out and God shovels it in. And God’s got a bigger shovel than I do”
Now, before you misunderstand me, this is not the Prosperity Gospel.
This is not a scheme to get rich.
I’m not saying, “If you give $100, God will give you $200 back! What a way to get rich!”
Not at all.
In actuality, it’s probably more like the story where the guy mistakenly dropped a 20 dollar bill into the offering can when he actually intended to only give a 5 dollar bill.
After the service, when he noticed that the twenty was gone from his wallet, he said to his wife, “At least I get credit for giving twenty dollars. “
She said, “Nope, the Lord knows your heart.
“You only get credit for giving five dollars”
God loves a cheerful giver…He’s not a fan of Christians trying to play the heavenly stock market.
But these verses are in the Bible!
Sure, they’ve been abused…but they are in there!
Let’s redeem them…not avoid them.
So, what do they mean?
It says in verse 8 that that we’ll “have all that we need”
I read that as very different than “I’ll have all that society tells me I must have”
I think that means something more like:
God will provide me with “enough” financial resources
Or…the wisdom to manage limited resources
Or…the spirit of contentment even.
I read it as: “If I give…with a trusting, joyous heart…I’m gonna be okay.
This is after all, a major promise throughout Scripture for you:
(Matthew 6:33) – NIV
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
(Philippians 4:19) – NIV
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
(Psalm 23:1) – NIV
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
See, this is all much, much BIGGER than just giving of your finances.
These are the principles for how you live life as a Christian.
What you’re doing today…with your giving…is the same as you do 20 other times a day in your relationship with God…
You’re saying, “God, despite my fears, my flesh, my own ideas, my wants…I’M GOING TO TRUST IN YOU!”
That your way is best…that your way is right!
Do you see how big this is?
Some of you are actually taking a pretty big step forward in spiritual maturity today…
And I want you that God is growing your faith…right in front of your eyes!
And if you’re still unsure about all this.
No one in here wants you to just be excited about this…we want you to be a part of it.
Every single person in this room, even if you feel you can only give a small amount.
Pick up an oar.
Trust in God.
I think one of the things that holds people back when they feel like they can’t give…is the fact that they look at their finances and say, “It’s just not possible. I have too many other commitments”
But it’s all sort of relative.
I know people who make $100,000 a year…who say… “It’s just not possible to give…I have too many financial commitments.”
And most of us go, “Really? Seriously? If I had $100,000…I would give a ton!”
But also realize, that my Christian friends in Haiti can only dream about if they made $20,000 a year!
And most of them would say, “If I made $20,000 a year, I would be SO generous with that much money!”
The truth is…the best time to start being generous is right now.
It will never get any easier.
We all like to think that the more money we make, the easier it will be to give.
But studies show that actually the opposite is true.
The more money people make, the less likely they are to be generous with it.
There is no better time to start TRUSTING in God…than right now.
Find a way to be generous…
This passage mentions the word generous…as in generous giving…not once, not twice, but SEVEN times!
Are you living out God’s word here? Are you generous in your giving?
And…As they say, “It’s always easier to be generous with someone else’s money”
And good news, your money and your possessions aren’t yours
Think of it this way:
Suppose you have an important package to send to someone who needs it.
You take it to an overnight delivery service.
What would you think if, instead of delivering the package, the driver took it home?
Then, when you confront him, he says, "If you didn't want me to keep it, why'd you give it to me in the first place?"
You'd say, "The package doesn't belong to you.
Your job is to deliver it to the person who needs it."
Just because God puts his money in our hands doesn't mean he intends for us to keep it.
We are to be rivers of grace.
KNOW THAT YOUR GENEROSITY RESULTS IN PRAISE TO GOD
And when we entrust our finances to Him…He is praised.
That’s the 3rd principle of “making and keeping commitments”
3 PRINCIPLES OF COMMITMENT
#1: Make Preparations to Give
#2: Trust that God will Provide
#3: Know that Your Generosity Results in Praise to God
We see this in verses 11-15
(2 Corinthians 9:11-15) – NIV
11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
There is a lot of good stuff in this section.
God has blessed us…to bless…to be generous.
And that Generosity, verse 12 tells us, ends up overflowing in praise to God.
In other words, people are praising God because of your generosity.
And that’s a big deal!
A few years from now…people are going to come into our building and meet Jesus.
And they are going to PRAISE God for the ministry of Renovation Church at that building.
And they’re now praising God…HOW?
Because of your generosity…of your sacrifice!
There will be real people who are going to be so grateful…that they met Jesus…because of you!
Just like the people we saw last week on stage who came to Christ are thankful for the families who helped start this church…even funded it…so the church could be there on the day they met Jesus.
Generosity creates life change, which brings praise to God (that’s what Paul is saying).
And I’m telling you, there is no better way to invest what God has blessed you with.
I believe that myself…it’s how Lindsey and I prioritize our finances.
What could possibly be a better investment than helping people meet Jesus and go to heaven for all of eternity instead of hell?
No seriously? What could be better than that?
When you get to heaven someday, and God asks you how good of a steward you were with what He blessed you with, what will you say?
Too many American Christians will say: “Um, not sure Lord. But I made my car payments…made my house payments (on my house that was bigger than 95% of the world…took a vacation every year…even though most people in the world have never take one…”
What are we going to say?
If you’re a finance person, think of this, literally, from an investment standpoint.
Your house, as an investment…a few hundred years from now…will be flattened…or have trees growing through it.
That 4K TV, a relic of history’s past
Your car…in a landfill.
But that person that you had a part in helping know Jesus?
They’ll be standing right next to you!
In heaven instead of in hell.
THAT is why the Bible talks so much about finances.
God wants us to have an eternal perspective on what we invest in!
And the time for us to make an impact, is now!
Look at the words of Jesus:
(John 4:35-36) – NIV
Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
In farming, there is a small window…of when the grain is ripe
In fact, in the last stages of ripeness, the grain starts to turn a pale white if you look closely
(Show WhiteFortheHarvest3.jpg) - Keep up until next slide
You can often see it in the sunlight.
In fact, the NIV translation tried to get a bit cute here by writing “ripe for the Harvest”
The greek, and it’s reflected in most other translations, is actually “White for the Harvest”
Because shortly after the grain turns white, it falls to the ground.
So in John 4, when Jesus tells us that the Harvest is white…he’s not only telling us that it’s RIPE…but soon…the time to Harvest will pass us by.
And that’s true in two senses right now:
The people in our city…in the north metro…are mostly open to the Gospel right now.
It won’t necessarily be that way forever.
The time to move…to sacrifice…is now.
And the people in our city…are dying.
We don’t have forever.
We need to reach them NOW.
And we’re going to…together.
BRINGING PLEDGES FORWARD
At this point, if you haven’t picked up your commitment card from under your chair, please do so.
If you haven’t yet...you’ll want to start to fill it out because in just a few minutes, we are going to have you turn it in.
(put up Commitment Card slide)
Let me mention a few details on it:
What you are doing here is essentially making a pledge of what you intend to give over the next 3 years.
You’re not actually giving right now…and there’s no need to write checks or anything of that sort.
And this is a declaration of your intentions.
It’s not a legal contract…
It’s a pledge.
We do ask that you mark on here how often you intend to give (whether you prefer weekly, monthly, etc.)
If you have a calculator/smartphone, simply pick ONE of those four lines, figure out what it would be to give weekly or monthly (whatever you prefer), and then put your total 3-year pledge on the far right of the line you choose
You just need to fill out ONE of those lines on the right.
If you don’t have a calculator or math is scary to you…at minimum just fill out one of the far right lines with your total pledge…that’s okay.
I know that many of you will want to know what the total number is today.
However, we know that many of our people who weren’t able to make it here today are still mailing their card in or pledging online or through or app.
So, we will be announcing the total on December 3rd, which we are calling “Celebration Sunday”
(Put up Celebration Sunday Slide)
We want to give people some time, especially with Thanksgiving in there, to get their pledges in
At this point, I’m going to call the band back on stage to lead us in worship.
And we’re actually going to do something we don’t do a whole lot, but I think it’s important we do this.
What you’re doing this morning…is not just making a pledge.
This is an important act of worship.
So what we would like you to do is this:
Anytime during this next song, I want you to get up, and take your commitment card and bring it to the front.
You can then place it in the basket on one of the stools.
This isn’t just a pledge.
You’re offering this to God.
Saying, “God, I’m going to sacrifice for you…for your people…for the lost”
I know SO many of you in this room are making amazing sacrifices for this.
And I want you to know that this is a powerful act of worship.
This is, as the Bible sometimes says of Old Testament sacrifices, a fragrant and pleasing offering to God.
So at any time during this next song, get up and bring your commitment card to the front.
If you’re married, or your family is in here…do it together as a family.
If you’d like, or you want, you can even pray together first before you bring it up.
And let me just say, as the leader of this church, on behalf of all our leaders…we are so thankful for you.
We are nothing without you.
Together, we are Renovation Church.
And someday…(even if it’s not until you’re in heaven) someday…someone will put their arms around you…and thank you for what you did for them.
Let me pray…and then let’s worship.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.