11/18/2018

Day Twenty-One

They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road…”

Luke 24:32

Two disciples, walking along the road to Emmaus, discussing the many events of the previous weeks; the arrest and trial of Jesus, the crucifixion and burial, and now strange rumors of resurrection. Along the dusty road to Jerusalem they find themselves in the very presence of their Lord and Savior, the resurrected Christ.  Even though He was unrecognized, the disciples reported that their hearts were burning while He was talking to them on the road.

For some this stewardship campaign may have seemed like an endless walk on a long and dusty road. And yet, my hope and prayer for each of you is that at some place on this journey your heart has burned with the recognition that Christ is in our midst, that Christ is walking with us on this dusty road.

And so we conclude this devotional with the simple question. How have you met Christ on this journey?  Has your heart burned with recognition that Christ is in our midst?

Prayer

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of this journey we call a stewardship campaign. Thank You for meeting us on this road.  Thank You for the burning in our hearts that we recognize as You and Your love.  Help us now to continue this walk always mindful that You are walking beside us.  Thank You!  Amen.

11/17/2018

Day Twenty


And when they could not bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him; and after having dug through it, they let down the mat on which the paralytic lay.  When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

Mark 2:4-5


Four friends moved by an overwhelming sense of compassion and love for their friend.  Four friends willing to pick up their corner of the blanket and bring their friend into the healing presence of Jesus Christ.  Four friends determined and unwilling to be stopped by crowds, unwilling to say, “Sorry, we can’t do it, maybe next time.”

As we begin to wind down our devotional journey of faith, some may be thinking, “I can never do what the people in these stories have done.”  And yet the common thread for each story is simply the willingness, the overwhelming desire, to do their share, to pick up their corner of the blanket and bring their church, their community, their friends, the world, into the healing presence of Jesus the Christ.  Each of us has been blessed in different ways and to different levels.  God simply asks us to pick up our corner.

A rather well-to-do woman approached her pastor and asked if her gift of $500 would be sufficient.  The pastor’s wise response was, “Does your gift represent the blessings God has given you?”  The lady took the check back and departed without saying a word.  A week later she returned with a check for $5,000 and asked the same question.  The courageous pastor gave the same reply and once again she took the check back and left.  The pastor wondered if he would ever see her or the check again.  But the scene repeated itself the following week.  This time the check was for $20,000.  In response to her inevitable question, “Is it enough?” the pastor, swallowing the lump in his throat, gave his standard reply.  This time with a smiling face full of joy, she replied, “Yes, pastor, this represents God’s blessings to me.”

She finally was willing to pick up her corner of the blanket.

Questions to consider

  1. Do I believe that my church, through Jesus Christ, has the answer for a hurting world?
  2. Am I willing to go the extra mile and lay aside my excuses so that people will come to know the healing, loving power of Christ?
  3. Does the gift I am considering truly and fully represent how God has blessed me? Am I willing to pick up my corner of the blanket?

Prayer

Oh Lord, thank You for friends who in the past have carried me into Your healing presence.  I name them now…Thank You for all of the blessings You have so richly poured forth on my family and me.  Help me to now give back, give me the courage to do whatever it takes for me to pick up my corner of the blanket.  In the name of Christ, Amen.

11/16/2018

Day Nineteen


Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much." Then Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost."

Luke 19:8-10

The look on her face was a combination of anger and utter amazement, “You expect me to do what?” she nearly shouted. “You want me to stand in front of people and actually tell them what we are going to give?  No way!”  In a slow and measured response I said, “No, I am not expecting or telling you to do anything, I am asking you to pray about the possibility of talking with people about your gift.”

Isn’t it amazing how in most of our churches we will talk about anything and everything except our money and finances? In our scripture today Zacchaeus meets the Christ and his life is changed forever. Because of this encounter, his response is to boldly declare his faith!

The gift, the amount, is really secondary. The primary issue is gratitude for a changed life.  In telling a stewardship story, the first question is always, “How and where have I met Christ in my church?”  How have I been blessed?  How has my life been forever changed?  And, with a heart overflowing with gratitude, I may then, with Zacchaeus, boldly say, “because of what God has done for me, this is what I am willing to do for God.”

And, oh, by the way, the young woman at the beginning of our story, after much struggle and prayer, told one of the most beautiful stewardship stories I have ever heard. She spoke about how she met Christ through the people of her church.  And then, with a grateful heart, she told them about the gift she was willing to give.

Questions to Consider

  1. How have I met Christ in my church?
  2. How is my life changed because of meeting Christ?
  3. How is my life different because of Christ and the church?
  4. Can I pray about sharing with others, privately or publicly, about my willingness to give as a grateful response to God’s love?

Prayer

Oh, Giving and Loving God, remind me now of all the wonderful ways You have blessed me, touched me, and changed me. Give me the courage and boldness to share my story with others, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

11/15/2018

Day Eighteen


You will be enriched in every way for your great

generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God

through us; for the rendering of this ministry not only

supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows

with many thanksgivings to God.


2 Corinthians 9:11-12


Generosity and gratitude, gratitude and generosity,

these words somehow are nearly inseparable. Can

one really exist without the other? Stewardship

stories told during campaigns often include the

sharing of what people plan to give but, more

importantly, why they give. In nearly every instance

one of the words that jumps to the fore is gratitude.

A husband and wife standing in front of their church

family, tears streaming down their cheeks as they

speak of the love, support and strength given by God

through their church when they experienced the

tragic loss of their child. Such gratitude inevitably

leads to generosity.

A young man whose entrepreneurial skills have led

to considerable wealth at a relatively young age,

speaks movingly of gratitude to God. He knows that

everything he has and everything he has

accomplished is a gift -- a gift from God. He tells his

church family that their faith in him gave him the

courage and faith to do more than he could have

dared dream. Gratitude and generosity.

In our culture we are continually told to “pull

ourselves up by our bootstraps.” We are told we

have to “make it on our own.” Do any of us really

make it on our own? I think not. God, parents,

friends, teachers, youth leaders, pastors, Sunday


school members, all have a part in our development.

The only true response can be gratitude followed by

generosity.


Questions to consider

1. How has God blessed me?

2. Have I been truly thankful?

3. Have I responded to God’s blessings with

gratitude and generosity?

4. Does my gift adequately reflect the ways God

has blessed me?


Prayer


Forgive me, Lord, for sometimes thinking I am

somehow self-made. Forgive me for not always

being aware of how truly fortunate I have been. Help

me, Lord, to have a heart overflowing with gratitude

and hands reaching out with generosity. Help me

make a gift that reflects all of the blessings that You

have so richly poured out on me. In Christ’s name,

Amen.

Find out more

11/14/2018

Day 17


Be still, and know that I am God!


Psalm 46:10


We blast TV or radio on the morning run. Video

game sounds have become normal background

noise in our daily lives. Many of us are "connected"

all day long in our jobs. Our computers, TVs, iPods,

cell phones are all constantly providing the white

noise of our lives. Moment after moment, day after

day, we are surrounded by a cacophony of sound.

Be still, and know that I am God!

Silence! What, in the name of heaven, is silence

except a long forgotten memory? Yet perhaps the

psalmist knows a secret.

Be still, and know that I am God!

As we strive to be open to God, as we strive to wait

upon God, perhaps we need to be silent and still.

People who are busy, (and who isn’t?) often say,

“but I have no time to be quiet and still.” I promise, if

you want to find an oasis of peace and quiet you will

find it. Perhaps, we could turn off the radio in the car

and drive in silence. Perhaps, we could turn off the

TV while exercising. Go for your jog or walk without

the headphones. Ask God to speak, take the time to

listen and you may just be surprised.

Be still, and know that I am God!

His name is Paul. Paul took the call to wait on God

seriously. His shower time became his prayer time.

As he wrestled with the soap and washcloth he was


wrestling with God and what God wanted for his life.

After Paul went from a capital campaign pledge of

$12,000 to nearly $30,000, his wife threatened to cut

off the hot water. Paul listened and God spoke.

Be still, and know that I am God!


Questions to consider


1. What is it that may prevent me from listening

to God?

2. What specific time could I devote to listening

to God?

3. What do I want from God?

4. Am I willing to listen and obey?


Prayer


Gracious God, forgive me for my failure to take time

to listen and be still. Forgive me for filling my life

with everything but You. Teach me, speak to me,

help me to listen and give me the faith to obey. In

Christ’s name, Amen.

11/13/2018

Day Sixteen

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.

Psalm 130:5

James loves to tell the story of a time when he went bow hunting. He was sitting under a majestic oak tree, and the sun was cresting over the ridge and beginning to warm his chilled body.  As he waited, his eyes became heavy and soon he was sound asleep, the bow on his lap.  Suddenly, he was startled awake to find himself nearly nose to nose with the largest buck he had ever seen.  He’s not sure who was more frightened, himself or the buck.  The buck bounded away while James could only sit and wonder, “What if?  What if I had been awake and alert?”

Yesterday’s devotion spoke of waiting. The truth is we can wait in many different ways.  We can wait with expectation and hope, or we can wait convinced we are waiting in vain with little or no expectation of anything happening.  The result?  We fall asleep, like James, beneath the oak tree and miss the glorious opportunities God has in store for us.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.

As we learn to wait upon God we need to ask ourselves what do we expect? Do we wait with the hope that God will speak to us?  Do we wait with the expectation that God will lead us and guide us, or do we perhaps wait like James asleep under the oak tree?  If we wait with hopeful expectation we will not be disappointed.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope.

Questions to consider

  1. What do I expect as I wait upon God?
  2. Do I believe that God can and will speak to me, lead me and guide me in my decision-making?
  3. What keeps me from waiting upon God with hopeful expectation?

Prayer

Oh God, forgive me for the times I have fallen asleep beneath the oak tree and missed opportunities to serve and love You. Help me to find ways in the midst of my busy life to wait on You. Help me, Oh God, to wait on You with faith, hope, and anticipation, Amen

11/12/2018

Day Fifteen

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Isaiah 40:31

In our family, we all understood that if we went to a restaurant and the line was long and the wait more than a few minutes, we were not going to stay. We might spend an hour driving to different places but we weren't going to wait fifteen minutes just to get a seat at our favorite restaurant.  I wonder how many good meals we missed just because we refused to wait?

In our current day of microwaves, 24-hour news, remote controls and drive-through windows, our ability to wait seems almost non-existent. I want it right now, and if you can't get it for me right now, I'll find someone who can.

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Perhaps the most important task of the stewardship journey is to wait upon the Lord. Waiting upon God can take many different forms.  One man turned his evening walk with his dog into his prayer and waiting time.  Of course, after his potential pledge had more than doubled his wife told him, "Please stop taking the dog for a walk!  I'll walk him from now on."

As we learn to wait upon God and listen for His still small voice, strange things begin to happen. We begin to experience renewal and strength, joy and peace.  Waiting upon God can renew marriages, as couples wait upon God together.  Career paths change as people seriously consider the question, "God, what do You want from me, not just financially but with my entire life?"

Waiting may not be easy. Waiting may require finding a specific time, perhaps in the car with the radio off, perhaps in the shower, perhaps taking an evening walk.  Remember...

But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Questions to consider

  1. Am I willing to wait upon God?
  2. What are some of the barriers in my life that prevent me from waiting on God?
  3. Is there a special time that I can devote to waiting upon God?

Prayer

Dear God, forgive me for always being in such a hurry. Teach me to slow down.  Teach me to wait.  Teach me to listen.  In my waiting and listening, Oh God, bring renewal to my heart, my life, my family and my church, Amen.

11/11/2018

Day Fourteen


…Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches

to enter the kingdom of God.


Mark 10:24


Perhaps the saddest story in Scripture is of the rich

young man who quietly and sadly turns away from

Jesus when asked to sell what he has and give it to

the poor. In his explanation to the disciples of this

difficult teaching, Jesus indicates that the

fundamental question is one of trust. In whom or

what do we place our trust?

From our earliest days most of us are taught to make

it on our own, to depend on no one but ourselves.

We are continually reminded to value our

independence. And yet God appears to call us to a

radical DEPENDENCE on God as the ultimate

source of life and blessing. Who do we trust for our

happiness? For many of us the answer is rather

simple and obvious. We trust in ourselves and our

ability to take care of ourselves.

In God Calling, the authors write: I am your Lord,

your supply. You must rely on Me. Trust to the

uttermost limit. Trust and do not be afraid. You

must depend on Divine Power only. In the midst of

making your decision on giving, you are asked to

prayerfully consider not only the question of sacrifice,

but also the questions of faith and trust. Does the

gift you are considering demonstrate that ultimate

faith and trust rests in God and not in the

accumulation of wealth and possessions?

The Williamsons were already committed to giving to

their church. They were comfortable and felt good


about their tithing. As they prayed and waited on

God, they felt called to increase their tithe, to go up

to the next step of giving. They said yes and made

the commitment. THEN, this couple saw their stocks

crash and they faced the difficult question of what to

do about their commitment. Most of us would be

shaken and afraid to see our commitment through.

But the Williamsons were people who had ultimate

faith and trust in God. They simply said, "Because of

what God has done for us, because of His blessings

we will trust and have faith that we will be able to

keep the commitment He led us to make."

…Children, how hard it is for them that trust in riches

to enter the kingdom of God.


Questions to consider


1. As you look at our life, where do you truly

place trust?

2. If you were the rich young man, how would

you respond to Jesus?

3. Does the gift you are considering represent

faith and trust in God and not in ability to

accumulate wealth and possessions?


Prayer


Lord, I confess that Your question to the rich young

man deeply troubles me. I speak of trust and faith in

You but often find myself living as if I only trust in

myself, my abilities, my wealth and my possessions.

Teach me Lord. Teach me to trust truly in You and

Your love. Show me the gift You would have me

make, a gift of sacrifice and faith, Amen.

11/10/2018

Day Thirteen


So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do

everything to the glory of God. Give no offense to

Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try

to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking

my own advantage, but that of many, so that they

may be saved.


1 Corinthians 10:31-33

In a wonderful devotional classic, God Calling, the

two anonymous authors write on March 16 of the

Christian’s calling to reflect God to the world and to

make God real in the world. Think of those phrases

for a moment. Reflect God, and make God real in

the world. Another way of saying, as Paul does do

everything to the glory of God…not seeking my own

advantage, but that of many, so that they may be

saved. Do I reflect God to the world in all that I do?

Do I make God real in all that I do? Do I work that

others may come to the saving knowledge of Christ

or do I spend most of my time seeking my own

advantage?

If I take the time to ask these questions, if I take the

time to examine my life, I may not be pleased with

the answers. The truth is most of my time is spent in

seeking my own advantage. If I look at my

checkbook or budget, I am confronted with the same

questions. What do my spending patterns reflect?

What do they make real? To whose advantage am I

working? The answer is almost always the same,

my family and me.

One of the benefits of a stewardship campaign is

that it helps us re-prioritize our lives according to

God’s plan and not simply according to our own


wants and desires. A young family had been saving

for years to remodel their home and make it exactly

what they had always wanted. As part of a

stewardship campaign they began praying about

what God wanted and not what they wanted. They

looked at the project, they looked at their church, and

they prayed with an open heart. They wanted to

reflect to the world the love and grace of God. They

wanted to make God’s love real to their community.

They intentionally decided to put their remodeling

money to work for the advantage of others and not

themselves. The process was not easy, the answers

were not always clear, but as they told their story,

their faces radiated joy and peace. Their house had

not been remodeled, but their hearts and lives had

been.


Questions to consider

1. What does my life reflect?

2. Am I willing to honestly and openly seek

God’s will for my life -- even my finances?

3. How can I reprioritize my life in order to better

reflect God and His love?


Prayer


Dear God, I confess that I do not always reflect You

and Your love. I confess that much of my time is

spent in seeking my own advantage. Give me the

courage, Oh God, to seek Your will for my heart, my

life and even my finances. In all that I do and say,

help me to reflect You and Your love. I pray through

Christ my Lord, Amen.

11/09/2018

Day Twelve

For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints—and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and by the will of God to us…

2 Corinthians 8:3-5

It simply makes no sense. The Macedonian Christians, in the midst of their own poverty, in the midst of their own struggles, begging earnestly for the joyous privilege of GIVING.  IT MAKES NO SENSE.  How could this happen?  The answer is amazingly simple.  They gave themselves first to God and then to others.

Her name was Michelle. As she considered her gift to the church campaign, she became increasingly upset.  She desperately wanted to make a significant gift, but because of her life situation she thought it impossible.  She was faced with medical bills for a child, college tuition for another child, and a 35% pay cut for her husband.  Like the Macedonians, Michelle wanted to give.  Her pastor listened to Michelle's frustration and suggested that she be open to what God may want, and in fact, what God may do.  He suggested that she simply pray.  Reluctantly, she agreed.  As she gave herself to God in prayer, something happened.  She became aware of ways she could give and give with generosity.  It wasn’t easy.  It wasn’t magic.  It required prayer, faith, and trust.  When Michelle arrived at the church on Commitment Sunday, her face radiated joy and peace.  She gave herself first to God and then to others.

In every campaign the goal is the same, that each of us would give ourselves first to the Lord and then to others. If we truly give ourselves to God and then to others, we will raise all the money we will ever need.  And far more importantly, lives and hearts -- like Michelle’s -- will be forever changed and transformed.

Questions to consider

  1. Have I truly asked for God’s guidance in giving?
  2. Am I open to what God would have me do?
  3. What might prevent me from being open and obedient to what God wants from me?

Prayer

Oh God, I am frightened to think about coming to You for guidance. I’m not sure I want to hear what You have to say. Forgive me. Help me to lay aside all of the reasons and fears and help me to turn to You in faith and trust. Help me, Oh God, to be open to whatever You would have me do. Fill my heart with the Macedonian spirit of generosity. Through Christ my Lord, Amen.

11/08/2018

Day Eleven

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

2 Corinthians 8:1-2

Artyom is a ten-year-old Russian orphan. When the church group visited Artyom, for some reason, latched onto Scott.  He took Scott by the arm and led him through the orphanage showing off his room and the place he ate meals.  All the while Artyom's eyes were filled with joy and laughter.  In spite of the fact that Scott spoke little Russian and Artyom spoke no English, the two connected.  As the church group prepared to depart, Artyom sat beside Scott, pulled a silver ring from his finger and held it out for Scott to take.  Scott eyes filled with tears and he spoke the only Russian word he knew -- nyet, nyet -- no, no.  This child, who had nothing in the world to call his own except this ring, desperately wanted to give this ring to Scott.  For Artyom, his abundant joy and extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity.  Like the Macedonians, Artyom desperately wanted to give.

What do we want? For many of us who have so much, we want more.  And truth be told, it’s never enough.  What would happen if, by God’s grace, our desire to gain more and have more could be transformed into a heart-felt desire to give more?  What would happen if we spent as much time figuring out ways to give as we spend figuring out how to earn, have and keep?

Questions to consider

  1. Who has taught you about generosity?
  2. Can you recall a time when someone who could least afford it gave you a generous gift? What was it like? How did you respond?  Did it affect you in any way?
  3. Can you recall a time when you were particularly generous? What was it like? What did you learn?  How has it impacted your life?

Prayer

Oh God, thank You for the examples of generosity You have sent into our lives. Forgive us Lord for being more concerned with how much we can earn, have and keep, instead of how much we can give. Open our hearts, Oh God, to the joy of generosity, Amen.

P.S.Yes, Artyom finally convinced Scott to take the ring. He wears it as a vivid and real reminder of what it means to truly give.

11/07/2018

Day Ten

For God so loved the world that He gave…

John 3:16

His name is Andre, Director of the orphanage in Kaigorodok, a small rural village approximately 600 miles northeast of Moscow. In 1996, Andre and his children were desperate with little hope of help for the barest of necessities, even food.

Through the generosity of God’s people in the church, Andre was able to provide for the children's basic needs and see them through the cold Russian winter. The following year, members of the church that provided financial support visited Andre and his children -- finding them better fed, healthier, and happier.  Andre was smiling from ear to ear.  The children performed skits, sang songs and treated them to a wonderful feast:  the reason, gratitude.  Andre and the children were genuinely thankful and out of gratitude they wanted to, perhaps even had to, give.

After working in rural Tennessee with his youth group, a 16-year-old boy experienced this same type of response from an elderly woman for whom his group had been working. Even though she could afford very little, she had been deeply touched by the work that had been done for her and wanted to give something in return.  The woman went to the dollar store and purchased socks for each of the kids.  Normally the 16-year-old would have scoffed at such a gift, but he knew this gift was given with profound gratitude and was a real sacrifice.

For God so loved the world that He gave…

Generous and sacrificial giving begins with gratitude; gratitude for what God has done through the gift of His son Jesus Christ; gratitude for what God has done for us through the family of God we know as our church. For those who make incredible, truly sacrificial gifts, it is an expression of their deep gratitude for what God has done for them through their local church -- the family of God.

Questions to consider

  1. Do I recognize the blessings that God has poured forth on my family and me?
  2. How has God blessed me through the people in my local church?
  3. Does my gift recognize the extent of God’s blessings in my life; is it generous and sacrificial?
  4. Is my gift grounded in gratitude?  
  5. Prayer

Oh God, I have so much for which to be thankful. You have blessed me in ways that are too numerous to even count. Forgive me for not being always grateful. Forgive me for focusing on what I don’t have instead of all You have given me. Fill my heart with gratitude and show me how I can give with generosity and sacrifice. In the name of Christ, Amen.

11/06/2018

Day Nine

For God so loved the world that He gave…

John 3:16

The candles cast a beautiful glow about the sanctuary; the choir raised their voices in a magnificent song of praise to honor the birth of the Savior. Yet, in the midst of such beauty and pageantry, tears slowly rolled down his cheeks.  David had just returned from his third mission trip to Russia and all he could imagine was the children he had visited in the orphanages; children who would not hear the story of the babe lying in a manger, children who would receive no gifts, no candy, and no Christmas meal.

For God so loved the world that He gave…

The greatest gift the world has ever received was given for one reason and one reason alone -- love. It was a love so strong and powerful that He gave His only son. Our stewardship emphasis is not about bricks, buildings or budgets.  Ultimately, we are about love; a love that desires to reach out and bring people into the family of God.  A love so strong, so powerful that we want to give and give and give some more; not from obligation or guilt but from heartfelt desire that people would come to know the wonderful and saving love of God through Christ.

For God so loved the world that He gave…

We don’t need to travel to rural Russia to find those in need. How many children and young people in your own community will not hear the Good News, will never grow up knowing the joy that comes from being a part of God’s family?  How many families in your own congregation desperately need to hear the good news of God’s love in the midst of divorce, death, sickness or unemployment?  How many elderly people need to know God still loves them?  Think for a moment of co-workers, family members and friends who desperately need what the church has to offer -- love.

For God so loved the world that He gave…Will you?

Questions to consider

  1. Why do I give?
  2. Does my gift adequately reflect God’s love for me and others?
  3. Who do I personally know who needs to know the love of God through Christ?

Prayer

Loving and Giving God, thank You for loving the world so much that You gave up Your only son that I might live. Help me, Oh God, to give like You. Help me to give with a generous and loving heart. Open my eyes to a world that stands in desperate need of Your wondrous love in Christ. I pray in His name, Amen.

11/05/2018

Day Eight


I pray that according to the riches of His glory, He

may grant that you may be strengthened in your

inner being with power through His spirit, and that

Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you

are being rooted and grounded in love.


Ephesians 3:16-17


Evelyn Underhill in The Spiritual Life puts it this way:

“For a spiritual life is simply a life in which all we do

comes from the center, where we are anchored in

God…”

Consider the power and awe inspired by watching

the mighty Mississippi River. The sound and flow of

the river fills us with a sense of peace and joy.

Amidst the peace and joy, however, exists a

powerful current that must be taken seriously.

Imagine being on the river and losing an oar -- and

then having an engine that won't start! Looking

around, you discover you are without an anchor --

drifting rapidly downstream with the current.

In Ephesians 3, Paul speaks of being rooted and

grounded; Evelyn Underhill speaks of being

anchored in God. True stewardship begins with the

realization that we are called to live our lives being

rooted, grounded and anchored in the love of God.

How many of us spend most of our lives being swept

away by the currents of life, the demands of our jobs,

family, education and even church responsibilities?

We search in vain for a rope and anchor. We think if

only: if only I could make more money, if only I could

save more money, if only we had a bigger home, a

better car or a faster computer. And still we find

ourselves swept downstream. True stewardship


begins with a life that is rooted, grounded and

anchored in God’s love.


Questions to consider

1. Do I have an anchor in my life?

2. Do I find myself being swept away by the

demands of society and culture?

3. What are some practical ways I can begin to

be grounded, rooted and anchored in Christ?


Prayer


Oh Lord, I confess that I often find myself being

swept along by the currents of life. I put my faith and

hope in power, people, and possessions. Forgive

me. Help me to turn to You during this campaign

that my life would be rooted, grounded and anchored

in You and Your wonderful love. In the name of

Christ, Amen.

11/04/2018

Day Seven


Now to Him who by the power at work within us is

able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we

can ask or imagine, to Him be glory in the church

and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and

ever, Amen.


Ephesians 3:20


How many times do we limit God? How often do we

fail to recognize the wonderful power that God gives

us through Jesus Christ. Look again at the words

used by Paul, “abundantly far more than all we

can ask or imagine.” Often we find ourselves

saying “yes, but…” There are always reasons why

something can’t happen. We’re too small; we could

never do that. We’re too poor; we could never afford

that.

During the course of a stewardship campaign,

churches often do more than they ever imagined.

Individuals, by God’s grace, end up being able to

give more and do more than they had ever dared

dream. Her name was Sally. She was devoted to

her church, to their project and to their campaign.

There was only one problem; her husband. He

controlled the finances, never attended church and

seemed not to care at all about the church’s need.

Sally worried and worried about her pledge,

convinced she would be forced to give a token

pledge at best. Sally was encouraged to pray.

Finally, the night arrived when the leadership would

fill out their pledges. Lo and behold, Sally’s husband

came with her. As the time arrived to fill out the

cards and return them, Sally and her husband were

the last ones to turn in their card. As they came

forward Sally was smiling from ear to ear even as tears coursed down her cheek. Her husband had

filled out the card and had placed an amount higher

than even Sally had dared hope or pray for. Now to

Him who by the power at work within us is able to

accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask

or imagine, to Him be glory in the church and in

Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever,Amen.

Questions to consider


1. Are there ways in which I am limiting God's

impact in my life?

2. Are there ways in which we are limiting God's

impact in our church?

3. Am I limiting God as I consider my gift?


Prayer


Abundant God, forgive me for the times that my lack

of faith has limited what You can do. Help me to

believe that together we can truly accomplish far

more than we can ask or imagine. Help me to dream

with faith and trust. In the name of Christ, Amen.

11/03/2018

Day Six


Thus says the Lord to you: “Do not fear or be

dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not

yours but God’s... This battle is not for you to fight;

take your position, stand still and see the victory of

the Lord...


2 Chronicles 20:15, 17


Come on, Lord, get serious: Surrounded by

enemies, threatened with destruction and you want

us to stand still. Let’s be honest, there is something

about this story that just doesn’t feel comfortable.

Many of us would really prefer to “take the bull by the

horns.” More often than not we are encouraged to

be a people of action. Yet this story from 2

Chronicles stands as a powerful reminder that there

are occasions when the best thing we can do is

stand still and wait upon God.

Over the course of the next month there will be

considerable action in and around the church. Many

will be feverishly working to accomplish all of the

tasks for this stewardship campaign. And in the

midst of all of your hard work there will actually be

those who will complain about the campaign, about

the process, about the project itself and who knows

what else. You may be tempted, at times, to leap

into battle, to answer all of the complaints, to convert

the unconverted.

Remember, this is ultimately God’s project, God’s

campaign, and God’s battle. No matter what we do

or how we do it, there will be opposition. We will do

everything we can to answer questions and deal with

criticism, but in the end it is God who will make us

successful. In the midst of all the business and


activities of the next few months, remember to take

the time to stand still.


Questions to consider

1. How do I respond to criticism and

complaints?

2. Do I feel a pressing need to make everything

right?

3. What might be some ways that I can stand

still and trust God?


Prayer


Teach me, Oh Lord, to stand still and wait for You.

Help me to pause and remember that ultimately our

success is in Your hands. Teach me to trust, Amen.

11/02/2018

Day Five

Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

Joshua 3:5

Finally, they were nearly there. After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, after being so close and then being told they weren’t ready, after so many false starts, and so many disappointments, they were on the verge of their heart’s desire -- the Promised Land.  And yet, even as they stood on the banks of the Jordan, gazing into the Promised Land, their hearts were undoubtedly filled with a mixture of joy, fear, excitement and anxiety.  After all, the leader who had led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness; the leader who brought them God’s word, the leader who time after time interceded with God on their behalf, their leader, Moses, was now dead.  How could they do it?  How would they manage?  “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

Perhaps some of the initial excitement of being a part of the campaign has evaporated. Perhaps, like the people of Israel, we wonder, “How can we do it? How will we manage?”  Or perhaps the question is more personal, “How can I do my task? How can I give a generous and sacrificial gift?”  God’s response is the same.  “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders.”  To sanctify simply means to set apart for a holy purpose.  We are called to set our lives, our church, this campaign and ourselves apart for God’s use and God’s purpose.  Can we begin to set apart: our lives, our homes, our families, and our income, to be used by God and for God?  If we can, then truly, “tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

Questions to consider

  1. Am I beginning to experience any doubts or questions about our church, our campaign or my involvement?
  2. Are there parts of my life that I am holding back from giving to God?
  3. How can I intentionally set my life apart to be used by God?

Prayer

Oh Lord, give me the courage and the faith to give my life and all I have, to be used by You. Show me ways, Oh Lord, that I can set myself and my life apart for You, Amen.

11/01/2018

Day Four

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” . . . And Abram said, “O Lord God what will you give me, for I continue childless. . .” He (God) brought him (Abram) outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” And he believed the Lord…

Genesis 15:1, 3, 5, 6

As golden sunlight slowly fades into the grayness of twilight, so the promise made years ago seems faded and distant. Abram had believed, had given up his home and traveled to a distant, unknown land all because of a promise.  Excitement and enthusiasm have been replaced by questions and doubt.

On this journey of faith there will be times when excitement and enthusiasm are long forgotten; times when faith seems overwhelmed by questions and doubt. How does God respond?  What does He ask?  “Go outside Abram, count the stars, remember the vision, remember the promise.”  Just as we affirmed yesterday that this campaign is God’s campaign, so too, we affirm that the vision comes not as the result of a board vote but instead is rooted and grounded in the promise of God.  In the midst of our doubts, in the midst of wondering, "Will this really happen?", God invites us to count the stars, to remember the faces of the children, young people, families and elderly that will be touched because of what we are doing.  Remember what this campaign is about; not buildings or bricks, dollars and cents; we are fulfilling God’s promise and vision for ministry and mission.  Remember, count the stars!

Questions to consider

  1. Have I lost any of my original enthusiasm?
  2. Do I believe in the vision?
  3. What does God truly want from my church, this campaign and my life?

Prayer

Dear God, I admit that sometimes I forget. Sometimes I get so caught up in the work that I forget the promise and the vision. Help me, Lord, to take the time to remember and like Abram to once again believe. In the name of Christ, Amen.