Giving

“Need a Motive to Give?” II Corinthians 8:1-15

Children often teach adults valuable lessons.  A story is told about a grandfather learning from his grandson.  It seems that a grandfather took the boy out to breakfast before church one Sunday morning.  Afterward, in the car on the way to church, five- year-old Johnny asked, “Grandpa, why did you leave those six dollar bills on the table in the restaurant?”

“The Privilege of Choosing” Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5

I love standing on the sands of New Smyrna Beach and watching the waves come in.  I enjoy watching and hearing the crashing big waves of high tide and delight in body-surfing until my lungs run out of air.  My favorite time at the beach is when low tide is in the late afternoon, and I can sit on my beach chair with the smaller waves lapping over my feet.  At low tide, from my chair, I gaze eastward and wonder what is between me and the next spot of dry land.  And I think about how the earth is two-thirds water, and yet God moved the water around to create dry land, and I happen to be living on one of those continents.

I love seeing the stars at night.  On our Haiti mission trip, I was disappointed that it was a full moon, because the brightness kept me from seeing the canopy of stars, about which I had heard so much.  The lights of town keep us from seeing all that is up there; when we lived in Hampton, VA, we could hardly ever see the stars.  But when I gaze into the heavens and see the stars, I am reminded of just how big our God really is, that our God created everything.

“Give Your Life Away on Purpose” Matthew 6:19-24

 

The purpose of life is to give our lives away. Give your life away on purpose. If the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second is like the first, to love our neighbor as ourself, then to express our love for God, we have to love people, and the way we love people is by giving. Giving our time to someone who is lonely. Giving our ear to someone who is hurting. Giving our resources to help somebody.
Did you know that in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, one out of every six verses deals with money? Of the 29 parables Christ told, 16 deal with a person and money; more than half of Jesus’ parables reference our possessions. About our New Testament Lesson, Augustine said, “Where your pleasure is, there is your treasure; where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.”
Self-absorption, self-seeking, and self-serving ambitions are all contradictory to the Christian life. Why is the self-help book section at Barnes and Nobles so crowded? Because people continue to seek ways to help themselves; self-reliance is overrated.

“Partaking of Our Daily Bread” John 6:35, 41-51

John 6:35, 41-51                                                                        Madison Baptist

August 9, 2015                                                                           Charles R. Smith

Before we read the text for this morning, I am going to ask you to do something a little different. I want you to listen to the reading not with a heart of faith, but with a skeptical mind. We have the luxury of reading the Scripture knowing the outcome; we know that Jesus lived, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, the third day he arose from the dead,” to quote the Apostle’s Creed. We know how the story ends. But those who listened to Jesus as he spoke these words had no clue as to how his story would end. They had no idea what would transpire later in his ministry. As I read the text, if it helps, imagine that you do not know that Jesus is anything else but a teacher, for that is how the crowd identified him. Imagine that you are in the crowd when Jesus is talking. You have no clue about how his life will unfold. You don’t know what the future holds. You are a first century person who has just been introduced to him. And while you are in the crowd, Jesus says,          [Read John 6:35, 41-51]

Pretty incredible isn’t it for someone to make such claims as being the Bread of Life that has come down directly from heaven. What if later today, you were introduced to someone, and that someone said, “Hi, I am the bread of life. I am the bread that has come down from heaven.” You would look at your friend who just introduced you to this person and you would say, “I’m sorry, what did he just say?” Anyone who seriously made such claims would easily be labeled a kook, a nut, certifiable.