At the beginning of the year I was in a meeting with the Elders of our church when one of them brought up how God had provided for the needs of our church once again in 2018. Everyone jumped into the conversation and we were talking about all of you. We are so grateful for your generosity. You have been beyond generous in giving to help the ministries of BCC reach out and share the Gospel in so many ways throughout our community.
If you will remember, I sent out an email about one week into December to let everyone know we were $246,073.00 short of meeting our budget for the year. I asked you to pray. I said, “Pray and ask the Lord if He is leading you to give to help us meet our budget.” There was no, “I hope you will give more money so we don’t have our lights shut off by OG&E.” I didn’t invite you to sow a “seed gift” so the Lord would bless you a hundred fold. I didn’t devise a fundraising plan to put the names of those who gave $1,000 on a plaque and those who gave $10,000 valet service and a special seat each Sunday at the front of the church. I just asked you to pray. You did pray and God moved in such a powerful way that we not only met our budget, but He provided $20,000.00 more than was needed. Isn’t God good!? Isn’t He good!
Here is the truly remarkable thing. It seems like each year we find ourselves up against it at the end of the year. Some years we are more behind in meeting our budget than others, but it seems like each year, going into December, we are behind. Each year I send out the same invitation, “Would you pray?” And each year you do pray, God moves, and we celebrate God’s glorious provision. I want to thank each of you for your generosity. You are the most generous, the most giving people I’ve ever been around in my life.
I’ve been thinking about all of this ever since that meeting with the Elders. God has broadened my thoughts beyond the financial support each of you has given. I’ve been thinking about the countless hours of your time that you’ve given to ministering to others. I wish I had some way to calculate all of the hours you’ve given in the past year in ministering to the people of our church and community. The hours and hours you give in serving are amazing. I wish I had an accurate count of the number of meals you prepared last year for families coming home from the hospital, funeral meals you prepared for grieving families, Celebrate Recovery, and special events where food was needed. Time is so valuable and your willingness to give of your time to serve the Lord by serving His people is greatly appreciated. We could have all of the money in the world, but money doesn’t pray for those who are hurting, money doesn’t visit the sick in the hospital and nursing homes, money doesn’t share God’s Word with someone who is wanting to give their life to Christ, money doesn’t comfort a child who is going through a difficult time–people do that. Thank you for giving your time to support God’s work being done through BCC.
I’ve also thought about the way you use the gifts God has given you to serve the Lord and His people. It amazes me that in a little church like this there are so many gifted people, and with such a wide variety of gifts. Some of you make a great living by using your gifts in your profession and businesses and yet you freely give of your expertise in helping those who are in need. And the way you use your gifts in such a wide variety of ways is really amazing. Some of you are allowing God to use you in ways that are totally unrelated to what you do 9-5, you’ve discovered new gifts you never dreamed you had. Isn’t it fun?! It is really amazing!
Thinking about all of this and more during the past few weeks has been overwhelming for me. I feel like David when he prayed,
14 “But 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. (1 Chronicles 29:14 NIVO)
Those are the words of a man who is overwhelmed and humbled by God’s rich generosity. Those are the words of a man who fully recognizes that everything he has, everything every one of his people has, is a gift from God. Those are the words of a man who recognizes that the generosity exhibited by the people was really the grace of God at work. I want to use our time in God’s Word this morning to tell you the whole story.
David was king over Israel. In 1 Chronicles 17 we learn that “David was settled in his palace.” David and the people of Israel had built buildings, David’s own palace being one of the buildings, but the ark of the covenant was still residing in a tent. David was troubled by that and decided to build the temple, but God said David wasn’t the one to do it. Solomon, David’s son, would be the one to build the temple. God wouldn’t allow David to build the temple so David decided he would make preparations for building the temple. He bought the threshing floor of Araunah, the place where the temple would be built. In 1 Chronicles 28, David gave Solomon all of the plans, detailed plans which the Lord had given him, for the building of the temple. Then, in 1 Chronicles 29, we read,
1 Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the LORD God. 2 With all my resources I have provided for the temple of my God– gold for the gold work, silver for the silver, bronze for the bronze, iron for the iron and wood for the wood, as well as onyx for the settings, turquoise, stones of various colors, and all kinds of fine stone and marble– all of these in large quantities. 3 Besides, in my devotion to the temple of my God I now give my personal treasures of gold and silver for the temple of my God, over and above everything I have provided for this holy temple: 4 three thousand talents of gold (gold of Ophir) and seven thousand talents of refined silver, for the overlaying of the walls of the buildings, 5 for the gold work and the silver work, and for all the work to be done by the craftsmen. Now, who is willing to consecrate himself today to the LORD?” 6 Then the leaders of families, the officers of the tribes of Israel, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of the king’s work gave willingly. 7 They gave toward the work on the temple of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze and a hundred thousand talents of iron. 8 Any who had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the temple of the LORD in the custody of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly. 10 David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. 11 Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. 12 Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. 13 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. 14 “But 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. 15 We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. 17 I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things have I given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 18 O LORD, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 19 And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” 20 Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the LORD your God.” So they all praised the LORD, the God of their fathers; they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king. (1 Chronicles 29:1-20 NIVO)
It is an amazing scene isn’t it? David was so moved by the grace of God, the majesty of God, the goodness of God on his life and the lives of his people that he gave his all. I’ve read various estimates on the value of the gold, silver, and other items David gave and it is more than I can comprehend. 1 Chronicles 22:14 tells us David gave 100,000 talents of gold, that’s 3750 tons of gold. Then, in 1 Chronicles 29, we read that he gave another 3,000 talents. Today, a ton of gold will cost you $38,587,201.00! That’s one ton, David gave more than 3750 tons of gold for the building of the temple. And then he invited the people to give. And they gave, and gave, and gave. David was overwhelmed. He was humbled. His heart was full of gratitude. They gave willingly and wholeheartedly…to the LORD.
Let’s talk about that for a minute. I have known people who have said, “I don’t go to church because all they ever talk about is money.” That’s not a criticism you’ll hear about Britton Christian Church. In fact, I’ve been asked, “Why don’t you ever talk about money?” My response is, “I will talk about it when it comes up in the Scripture we’re studying.” I know other people who have said, “I work hard for my money so I think I should be able to do with it what I want.” Notice, the leaders of the people of Israel gave “willingly and wholeheartedly.” Nobody was coercing them, nobody was threatening them, nobody was guilting them into giving…they gave willingly and wholeheartedly. How do you get from “this is my money” to giving willingly and wholeheartedly? That’s an important question. I believe the key is found in David’s prayer. David prayed,
14 “But 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. 15 We are aliens and strangers in your sight, as were all our forefathers. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope. 16 O LORD our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. (1 Chronicles 29:14-16 NIVO)
Did you hear the key to moving from “this is mine” to “giving willingly and wholeheartedly?” David said, “Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.” How you understand what you have, who you are, and what you do will determine how you use your resources, time, and abilities.
Maxey Jarman took his father’s little shoe company with 75 employees and built it into a billion dollar corporation with over 75,000 employees. Maxey was a man after God’s own heart. Along with leading his huge corporation he found time to teach a Sunday school class every Sunday. He gave money to build churches, fund missionaries, and many other Christian ministries around the world. Fred Smith, the founder of FedEx, was a huge fan of Maxey. He has talked often of the many lessons he learned from him during their 40 year friendship. At one time in Maxey’s life his net worth dropped substantially. Fred was deeply impacted by a story he heard about Maxey during the downturn in his finances. Fred was told that a friend asked Maxey, “Do you ever regret the millions you’ve given away over the years?” Maxey told the man, “Not at all. I only lost what I kept for myself.” In God’s economy, what we keep, we lose; what we give to God is ours forever. Now that’s something worth thinking about. What we give we can’t lose. God uses it for His glory and for the blessing of His people.
We will never get to that place, to the place of understanding it is all His, to be used for His purposes, as long as we claim ownership. Maxey knew who had given him the ability to make money and he gave willingly and wholeheartedly to spreading the Good News in a variety of ways. Long before Maxey Jarman was ever born, David knew that everything he had was a gift from God and David was merely a steward and not an owner.
Oh my friends, it is so easy to forget this truth isn’t it? I would imagine that most of us would agree that everything we have, every ability we possess, every moment of our lives is a gift from God, but we forget. We need constant reminders from God’s Word, from the Holy Spirit, and from one another or we will forget. This has been true of God’s people for the longest time. Let me show you what I mean by pointing you to those who were getting ready to enter the Promised Land after 400 years of slavery in Egypt and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Turn with me to Deuteronomy 8. Listen to this and see if it rings a bell.
11 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful desert, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18 NIVO)
Those words, spoken by Moses to the people of God, are as relevant this morning as they were the moment they fell from his lips. He begins by saying, “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God…” and he ends with “But remember the LORD your God for it is he who gives you the ability…” And this remains some of the most needed counsel for God’s people today.
There is something else about David’s generosity which has blessed me in an incredible way these past few weeks. David was an old man. He could have easily moved to Sarasota and lived out his days playing golf and sipping on fruit drinks, but he gave himself, all of himself, everything about himself, to the cause of God’s Kingdom and for those who would come after him.
As we sit in this sanctuary this morning, most of you are unaware of the men and women who use to sit in your seat. This coming summer, in July, this church will be 110 years old. That’s amazing isn’t it?! God has used men and women throughout those 110 years to share Jesus’ love in a variety of ways with those in our community. We are the recipients and beneficiaries of their tireless work and prayers.They were men and women who were used by God to faithfully serve the Lord, they made great sacrifices so this church could be built, and they looked to the future ministry of Britton Christian Church in this community. We sit in this sanctuary this morning because of men and women who had a vision to pass on the faith to the next generation.
Now the baton has been placed in our hands. We have been given the responsibility and blessing of being faithful to God’s call on Britton Christian Church so that when we die the next generation will have a place of worship and service to continue to let His light shine.
Now, I know full well that’s not the way most of the followers of Jesus think today. People get involved in a church simply because they like it, it meets their needs, but that’s not biblical at all. We are here to worship the Lord and make Him known to the next generation in our community. We don’t own this church. We are stewards of the Lord’s ministry in this place.
I was reading this past week about Patek Philippe watches. They are said to be the most prestigious watches in the world. In 2016, they sold the most expensive watch ever. It was auctioned off for $11,137,000.00 They have cheaper models, although I need to tell you, “cheap” is a relative term. They start at $8,000 and go up to seven figures. It wasn’t the price that caught my attention, it was their advertising model. For more than two decades Patek Philippe has used images of fathers with their sons or mothers with their daughters and the tagline: “You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” Now, they are really nice watches, super expensive watches, but if I am going to invest in something for my kids and grandkids a watch wouldn’t make my Top 40 list. I did a little more digging and found an ad from Patek Philippe from 1949, long before they began to use their current tagline. Here’s their ad from 1949.
Your great grandson may wear this watch–and he will treasure it above anything else–because you and his grandfather and his father wore it before him. Many Patek Philippe watches acquired during the past century are being worn today by the fourth generation of the same family. What could be a finer investment? (Patek Philippe watch ad 1949)
I have an answer to that last question: Give yourself, all of yourself to seeking God with your whole heart, to sharing His love in every way imaginable, and to pouring out your life in service to Him by serving His people. That’s the legacy that will endure much longer than a Patek Philippe watch, trust fund, or any other legacy you might want to leave for your kids, family, and friends. A legacy of faithful service, a legacy of humble obedience, a legacy of unashamed devotion, a legacy of consistently giving of your time, finances, and using the gifts God has given you to making Him known to others.
As I look back over my life I can vividly remember those who made an investment in my life. There was Virgil Trout, an old man who lived down the street from me who gave all of the kids in our neighborhood popsicles in the summer while he talked to us about God’s Word. There was John Doerner who led me to Christ and has been a lifelong friend. There was James Smith, a pastor who gave me my first job working in a church. There was a Sunday school class of little gray haired ladies who mailed Connie and me a check every month while we were in seminary to help us make ends meet. Dr. David Darnell who loved me and taught me God’s Word like nobody I’ve ever known. There was Harry Myers, Lewis Johnson, Margaret Basey, Ruth Ross, and others. I could go and on and on. They were all different people, with different stories, but the one thing they had in common was a deep love for the Lord which translated into a deep love for me. And do you know where it all began for each of them? It all started with their decision to give their life to Christ. How about you? Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Have you handed the reins of your life, surrendered your heart to Jesus? If not, then don’t let this morning pass you by. Come forward and let me know today is the day you’ll say to Him, “I’m yours.”
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
February 3, 2019
1 Chronicles 29:1-20