Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How Much Oh, Lord?

   How many of you are like me? We’ve had it on our minds for some time to review our giving to the work of God, we do not quite got round to it.
   Here are two very different situations in our scriptures today. In the first, King David, right at the end of his earthly life, is passing on the responsibility for building the temple to Solomon, and he is holding a fund-raising event.
   In the second, the Apostle Paul, concerned about the relief of famine that had afflicted Jewish Christians in Judea, is encouraging his readers in Corinth to follow the example of the believers in Macedonia who had made a wonderful contribution towards this Project of Need.
   What we are concerned with today is what are the characteristics of consecrated or holy giving that emerges from these two passages? How can we become better givers.  Back in March, during our Chapel meeting, I was asked to give some teaching on giving.  In the talks being done this month, we will be doing just that. To start with, let me invite you to look at these verses found in the Old Testament book of 1 Chronicles 29. 
   First a background.  David, the king is old and dying. He had wanted to build a Temple for God but the Lord told him he had blood on his hands. His son, Solomon would be the one to do it. David realizes that his son was too young to really know what to do so he digs deeply into his own money and comes up with a HUGE sum.  The leaders see his open and generous heart and THEY give freely.  The people see that their leaders are giving ever so freely, so seeing that example, they too give very generously.  The Temple is funded out of free will offerings and there is an overflow of gold, silver and such that is well beyond what was needed.  God was very well blessed and very happy with His People.
   From the New Testament, we see Paul writing to the church in Corinth with instructions as to how they were to give—using for an example, the giving methods of fellow Believers near them. (2 Cor 8:1-15Here are seven ways they gave and with them, seven questions.

1. They gave generously. 気も無く与えた See vv2-5. David gives beyond his obligations. So do the others. Over and beyond what was expected—because of his love of the Father. over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple:  113 tons of gold … and 214 tons of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings” The amount David and the others gave was very generous---almost beyond being lavish. 
   2 Cor 8:2f, ‘Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity… that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.’ We can see from Paul’s writing, this group of Believers had the right understanding.  It was not a question of how much do we have to give but how much more can we give.
   For the past year, the giving here at ICCS has been going down. Even after the meeting in March, when a number of you asked me to preach on giving, the weekly offerings have been steadily declining.  We need to ask ourselves a Question: am I giving as little as I can get away with, or as much as I am able? 最善を尽くして捧げていますか、それとも必要最小限だけ捧げていますか  In light of that, more questions come up…

2. They gave devotedly, 献身的与えたv3 – ‘in my devotion to the temple of my God.’ Ps 26:8‘I love the house where You live, O LORD, the place where Your glory dwells.’• 詩編 26:8 主よ、あなたのいます家/あなたの栄光の宿るところをわたしは慕います. There is no special Holy Place here as in the time of David. This worship hall is just a room that we have dedicated to the use for worship. But, the Hebrew people saw a real need to be aware of the Holiness of the place of worship. Their giving to the Temple was in direct proportion to their love of the Place of worship and to the love they had for God.  Their devotion was seen in how they gave.
   As for Paul’s situation, he saw that their giving was in line with how their devotion was toward the Lord.  They had it in the right sequence-the right order. 2 Cor 8:5, ‘They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.’ or 2 Cor 6:12, ‘We are the temple of the living God.’ One of you recently shared with me this: I quote: “I really hope that the members of ICCS will come to realize how abundantly God has been blessing us in many ways and out of our gratitude, we will be bringing our thanksgiving tithe and offerings in multiple and various forms; giving ourselves as living sacrifices, (our) time, talent, volunteering, money, etc.”   Question: is my giving motivated by devotion to God, His people and His work? 神様、神様の民、そして神様の仕事に尽くそうと思って捧げていますか。

3. They gave willingly, 進んで与えたv6. Also verse 17 – ‘All these things have I given willingly.’ What more needs to be said on this point? It was not out of any pressure from the King nor from the leaders…it came from the heart of people who were blessed.
   2 Cor 8:3f– ‘Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.’ Question: is my giving reluctant, or is it willing? ためらって捧げていますか、または意思を固めて捧げていますか。

4. They gave gratefully, 感謝をもって与えた v14 – ‘Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from You, and we have given You only what comes from Your hand.’ Out of a very thankful heart.
   2 Cor 8:9,– ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.’ All that I have, and am, is from God. Therefore, it is no pain to give it back. Unless, we are indeed ungrateful. Question: am I mindful, when I give, that I am merely giving back what God has so bounteously given to me? 捧げるときには、神様が恵み豊かに下さったものをお返ししているということに

5. They gave joyfully, 喜んで与えたv9, ‘the people rejoiced’. V20 – ‘Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So the people praised the Lord.” It was in THIS joyful attitude that they gave!
   2 Cor 8:2‘Their overflowing joy…welled up in rich generosity’. It became a mark of ownership with that Body of Believers.  Question: Am I a cheerful giver? (2 Cor 9:7) 喜んで捧げていますか

6. They gave contagiously. つられるように与えた  David gives, v1, he encourages the leaders, v6, who encourages the people, v10. The Chronicler now encourages a new generation. A generation that builds together…who gives together—a sign of real unity.
   2 Cor 8:7, ‘See that you also excel in this grace of giving.’ Question: in what ways are we encouraging one another in our giving? 捧げるときにお互いにどのように励ましあっていますか Not trying to out-give each other as in a contest, but looking for ways to support the work.

7. They gave graciously. 恵み深く与えた This comes from the closing days of David’s life. It was not for David the bitter despair of old age. The Lord had formed in David in godly character: he was a man after God’s own heart.
   2 Cor 8:2 ‘the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches’. Also v8. Grace upon grace. Undeserved favor from God poured out on us!

   The LAST Question: have we received the Grace of God that alone will create in us a generous, devoted, willing, grateful, joyful heart, one that flows over in contagious giving? 神様の恵みを賜り、他の人に広がるような捧げ方をしていますか  Or does it die here?!

   Lord, I want, by Your grace, to ascend (climb) the ladder of consecrated, sanctified giving: out of a Godly duty, with a devoted necessity, a deepening understanding of our privilege to give, and with greater joy.