The Donation Dilemma

Sermon by Palmer Robertson on February 29, 2004

Exodus 35:20-22, 36:2-7

The Lord’s Day
February 28, 2004

Exodus 35:20-22 & Exodus 36:2-7
The Donation Dilemma

The Reverend Dr. O Palmer Robertson

Ligon made a brief reference to
the bricks of this place. When I was a little boy, we were members of the
church when it was located just a block down on North State Street from Capitol
Street, and the decision had been made to relocate First Presbyterian Church way
out in the suburbs, which is where we are now. So they set up a little diagram
of the prospective church on an easel, so that whenever you came in and out of
church or Sunday school you could see this little diagram of the proposed church
and you could buy a brick for a dime. So I went home to my mother and I said,
“Mother, I want to sell one of my war-bonds and buy some brick for the new
church.” And my mother said, “Well, if that’s what you want to do, that’s what
we’ll do.” At that time you could pay $18.75 and buy a war-bond that would
mature at $25. And I had a few of those, so we cashed in our war-bonds, and I
bought some bricks that helped build this church. So at least 187 Ѕ of the
bricks of this church have my signature on it.

But more importantly, if at any
time you’re not coming straight from the parking lot and come in the front
door…I notice very few people either go out the front door or in the front door
here …you’ll notice that on the left-hand side as you come in there is a
cornerstone, a foundation-stone of the church, that was laid at the time that
the sanctuary was being built. Several documents of historical significance
were put in that cornerstone that the archeologists of 100 years from now may
find to be interesting, if the Lord doesn’t come before then. But among those
documents was a roll of the membership of the church. So I like to think that
my name is right back there in the cornerstone of the First Presbyterian
Church.

But even more important than the
fact that that physical foundation is still there and continues to stand is the
spiritual foundation of this church. I was taught the Catechism. I can
still remember the sweat on my brow as I tried to remember all of those
questions as I was reciting them to my Sunday School teacher. He was very
gracious and passed me even though I stumbled over quite a few of them.

And it is our privilege to take
those same foundations of commitment to the biblical faith as rediscovered by
the Reformers and summarized in The Westminster Confession of Faith and
build a college in Africa. This is now the third “African Bible College.” The
first in Liberia, 25-years-ago; the second in Malawi, 12-years-ago; and now the
third African Bible College is being built in Uganda, just six miles outside the
capitol city. We have a beautiful 30 acres that the Lord has provided for us
and you’re invited to tea…you’re welcome to come and visit us any time…next time
you’re passing through Uganda on the Ntebi Kampala Road.

When we opened our college in
Malawi, the students came and said, “Well, this is a very fine schedule that you
have.” By the way, we had over 600 applications for the 30 places in the
freshmen class when we started in Malawi, and we expect, though we don’t
presume, but we expect we’ll have this similar kind of response in Uganda.
Every year in Malawi we get four to five hundred applications. We squeeze the
desks together. And these are such wonderful students: so committed to serve
the Lord, so dedicated to serve Him. And, at any rate, the students came and
said, “Well, it’s a wonderful schedule, but you have no tea break. We must have
a tea break in the morning.” They’re of the British character, so I’ve learned
to be civilized by going to Africa and drinking tea every mid-morning at African
Bible College.

The Christians of Uganda are
rather distinctive in that it’s the trail of the martyr’s blood that has built
the church. Missionary Mackay1 was one of the first that came
to Uganda, and he went right into the court of the king who was a very ferocious
king at that time. And the king received the missionary very well, and many of
his pages (young boys…twelve-, fifteen-, sixteen years of age) were converted to
Christianity. But the son of the king despised this new Christian moral ethic
that was being taught. He did not like the resistance that he got from the
pages, these young boys. So he soaked reed mats in water; he wrapped these
young pages in these soaked reed mats, and lowered them into the fire until they
would deny Jesus. Not a one of them denied Christ. The missionary said, “Well,
this is the end of Christianity here. No one would possibly come to Christ
now.” The next morning, a knock at the door; there was one of those little
pages. “You must tell me about Jesus.” “Do you understand what this could
imply?” “If Jesus can uphold my brothers the way He has, I must know about
Jesus.”

So now we have not just a few
pages confessing Christ; we have an evangelical church of 8.3 million in Uganda
and growing everyday, growing so rapidly that one Presbyterian pastor told me,
“We can plant a church every week in Uganda.” Would you believe it? It
happens. They were planting a church every week. “But,” he said, “We have no
pastors, so we’ve stopped planting churches.” So, pray for us as we look
forward to this great, open door of opportunity that is ours to establish a
Bible college, a four-year liberal arts school in which every student will major
in Biblical Studies, but they will also be trained in history, church history,
African church history, English literature, African literature, education
courses so they can become certified teachers in the public schools, and
communication so they can run Christian radio stations. Pray for us as we see
the Lord doing wondrous things in Africa today.

Now the Scripture this morning is
taken from Exodus chapter 35, Exodus 35, beginning to read at verse 20.

Exodus 35:20-22:

20 Then the whole
Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, 21 and everyone who
was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD
for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred
garments. 22 All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought
gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all
presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD.”

Now chapter 36, verse 2. This is the process of the
building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness:

Exodus 36:2-7:

2 Then Moses summoned
Bezalel and Oholiab and every skilled person to whom the LORD had given ability
and who was willing to come and do the work. 3 They received from Moses
all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of
constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings
morning after morning. 4 So all the skilled craftsmen who were doing all
the work on the sanctuary left their work 5 and said to Moses, “The
people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the LORD commanded to be
done.” 6 Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the
camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the
sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, 7
because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

May God bless to our hearts the reading and the hearing of
this portion of His holy, inspired, infallible, and inerrant word.

Let us pray. God our Father, we are Yours. You have
bought us with a price, and what a price! We honor You, Lord Christ, for the
price paid in Your precious blood on the cross, the Christ in all His passion.
And we thank You and honor You, O gracious Christ, for the redemption that You
have accomplished for us, that we are delivered once and for all from Hell and
all its awesome judgments, righteous though they might be. And we praise You
for the freedom, the liberty, that You have given us as Your servants. And what
blessings You have poured out upon us, O God! We dedicate now not just what we
have, but what we are…all we are to Your glory, and all that we might be
in the future, for Christ’s sake. Amen.

The Donation Dilemma

Once, many years ago, I received
a very unusual letter from a missionary. Have you ever received a letter like
this? This missionary was from Northeast Southwest Africa.2
Did you get that? Northeast Southwest Africa is now known as Namibia, but then
it was Southwest Africa, and he was working in Northeast Southwest Africa. The
letter read something like this: ‘Please, do not send any more money. We have
more money than we know what to do with. Please, do not send any more money.’
Have you ever received a letter from a missionary like that? Is that what
you’ve heard during the Missionary Conference to this point? “ Please, don’t
give us any more money”?

The Church today, the universal
Church of Jesus Christ in all its works, has taken the place of a tabernacle in
the old covenant. And that was the problem that Moses had: the people were
bringing too much money. They were melting all their gold down, all their
savings, and presenting them to the Lord. And finally the workers said, ‘We
can’t do our work because they keep bringing us all this money. Please,
tell them to stop bringing us so much money.’

Wouldn’t it be nice if we would
have the donation dilemma here in the 21st Century? But you might
say, “Oh, no, that’s…that’s impossible. They were just building a little
Tabernacle in the wilderness; we’re talking about global concepts.” Well, no,
it is possible that the donation dilemma could be repeated even today. Consider
these principles from the word of God that might resurrect the donation dilemma,
and let the Lord speak to your heart. If anything that is said here…any of
these points do not correspond with Scripture, then you can catch me at the door
and I’ll start giving those bricks…more bricks back to building the church
here.

I. Giving should be of the first
fruits, not of the leftovers.
First of all, giving
should be of the first fruits, not of the leftovers.
It’s a biblical principle. Exodus 23:19, “Bring the best of the first
fruits…to the house of the LORD your God.” Now just imagine yourself in
an agricultural situation. It’s almost the time for harvest, and that means all
your fresh fruit is gone; that means your stores of grain are diminished,
depleted to where there’s hardly anything but the scrapings left. And out on
your trees the peaches are ripening. You can smell them. And the grain is
golden in the rays of the sun. It’s time for harvest. So you go out and you
pick those first fruits of the peaches, and you reap
the grain, and you bake that first loaf of bread, and you can smell that
delicious aroma…and you bring it and you present it as an offering to the Lord.
Your first fruits, the best that you have: that’s
what belongs to the Lord
. That’s a sign of recognizing that every gift
you have comes from Him
. When you make a family or personal budget, put at
the top of the column of your figuring the amount you intend to give to the
Lord. Make the first check you write each month, whatever you in your heart
have determined to give, let that first check be your gift to the Lord. Don’t
wait until the end of the month and be sure you’ve got enough left over to make
your contribution to the church. No. The first
fruits, they are the Lord’s.

This principle applies to church-budgeting as
well. The top line item should be your benevolences. It’s an act of faith,
just like the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the first day of the week, and you
students, you don’t study on Sunday’s, do you? You work until Saturday night
(maybe Saturday night late) and then you quit because you’re confident that God
is going to give you all you need in six days of labor. I was visiting with a
medical student recently, and he said he looks forward to the Sabbath day so
much because he knows he’s not going to have to keep that rigid schedule of
study on that particular day, because he’s going to rest on that day. It’s an
act of faith when you rest on the first day of the week, trusting that the Lord
will provide all that you need.

II. Giving to the Lord should be
done joyfully, not begrudgingly or out of necessity.
Secondly, giving to the
Lord should be done joyfully, not begrudgingly or out of necessity. 2
Corinthians 9:7: “Do not give grudgingly or of necessity, but let every man give
according as he purposes in his own heart, for God loves the cheerful giver.”
And the word there is actually the hilarious giver. Is that the way you
feel when you reach for your wallet in the middle of a church service? “This is
so much fun! It’s such a great thing!” One child, and this you’ve witnessed
over and over again as have I…one child is playing with the red dump truck, and
naturally the only other toy in the world for the other child in the family is
that same red dump truck. This time the parent wants to teach a little lesson
in sharing. “Let your brother have his turn with the little, red dump truck.
You can have it back later on.” “No, I had it first. It’s my truck. Oh, okay,
I’ll let him.” That’s no way to share. So in giving to God, don’t give with a
scowl or a frown. What’s the book of joy in the New Testament? You know it
very well. The book of Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always”…even when
you’re in prison, as was Paul…“Again I say: Rejoice!” What’s the book of joy in
the Old Testament, not counting the book of Psalms? Surprise. It’s the book of
Deuteronomy. It’s the law book that talks more about joy than any other book in
the Old Testament. Look, if you will, at a couple of references that point out
that you should bring your offerings to the Lord with joy. Deuteronomy 12:4 and
following:

4 You must not worship the
LORD your God in their way. 5 But you are to seek the place the LORD your
God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for His
dwelling. To that place you must go; 6 there bring your burnt offerings
and sacrifices, your tithes and special gifts, what you have vowed to give and
your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 7
There, in the presence of the LORD your God, you and your families shall eat and
shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the LORD your God
has blessed you.

How is it that you’re able to
bring offering to the Lord? Well, it’s because the Lord has blessed you. And,
therefore, you should rejoice as you bring your offerings to the Lord, because
it’s a sealing of the fact that He has blessed you. But look a little further
in Deuteronomy 28. This is something of an awesome passage to read.
Deuteronomy 28 speaks of the curses and the blessings of the covenant. Verse
47, “47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly
in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in
nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against
you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.” It’s an
awesome thing. Come before the Lord not in a self-centered, selfish way, but
out of joy that the Lord has given you something to give to Him.

And this again applies to church
budgeting as well as personal budgeting. Don’t resent the offerings that are
given to the world mission of the church, but rejoice that you’re able to make
these offerings. Now a small church received a benevolence gift in a will of a
quarter of a million dollars. Their building was paid for; their manse was paid
for; they had plenty of offerings to keep up with the salary of the minister.
What were they to do with that quarter of a million dollars? Well, they had a
meeting and someone came up with the suggestion, “Let’s take 20% of that and
give it to world missions.” “You’re not going to spend our money that way,”
some said. “Well, what are we going to do with it?” Others said, “We’ll put it
in a bank and be sure that there will be a church for our children someday.” Is
that the way we are to treat the bounties that the Lord has given us? There’s
something wrong about the reasoning. “Is it not our money?” No. It’s not
our
money; it’s the Lord’s money, and it’s to be devoted and dedicated
joyfully to Him
. Be openhanded and openhearted for God loves…God loves
the cheerful giver
.

III. Never let the offering
plate pass you without giving something.
Thirdly, now this is
something that you can ponder and you can debate with me if you like, but, third
principle, never let the offering plate pass you without giving something–even
if it’s just a dollar. Have you ever been on the end of a pew and the offering
plate when it gets to you, it’s totally empty, and you’re a little embarrassed
to put your little bit in because you know everybody will know what it is that
you put in at that particular point, so you just pass it on empty as well? But,
there’s a biblical principle here, “Give to the Lord the glory due to His name.
Bring an offering and come into His courts.” If you say, “Well, I write my
check once a month. I don’t need to bring my offerings to the Lord. And I give
an offering in the morning service. Why should I also give an offering in the
evening service?” Well, because God says, “Give to the Lord the glory due His
name.” And the word glory in the Old Testament often refers to “gold and
silver.” “Give to the Lord the glory due to His name. Bring an offering and
come into His courts.” Bringing your offering is a concrete way by which you
express your submission to the sovereign Lord of all creation
.

If you went to McDonald’s for
breakfast in the morning and paid for your breakfast, and then came back for
lunch as well…I doubt that you would do that, but if you did…would you say to
the person on the other side of the counter, “I paid this morning. I don’t have
to pay you again. Just give me my lunch”? No. You wouldn’t do it quite that
way. Well, what’s the difference? There is a difference between McDonald’s and
church, right? Ya, there’s a big difference. The big difference is in the case
at McDonald’s you owe little for a little, but in the case of the worship for
the Lord, you owe all for all. Giving is a vital part of the homage that you
bring
.

You wouldn’t fail to enter into
the prayers of the evening service just because you prayed in the morning, would
you? You wouldn’t fail to listen to the evening sermon in church just because
you’d listened to the sermon in the morning, would you? You wouldn’t fail to
sing in the evening just because you’d sung in the morning. And just because
you brought an offering in the morning that doesn’t exempt you from giving to
the Lord the glory due to His name by bringing offering and coming into His
courts.

It would make a large difference
if every member of the church gave something every time the plate was passed.
First, it would make a huge difference in the attitude toward worship. Think of
it: Our joyful assembly united and concretely offering their offerings to God.
Have you ever been in a church that really sings? …not implying that this church
does not really sing. I had an unbelieving aunt who visited me in a little
church one time, and for years after that she said, “That little church, they
really sing.” Don’t you think it would make an impact on people if they came
and visited this church and saw every, single person bringing an offering and
presenting it to the Lord every time the offering plate was passed? That affect
would be multiplied if every saint worshipped God with an offering every worship
service. Try it. You’ll like it. And it will change the spirit of your
church. And, secondly, even that little bitty offering will affect your budget
significantly. If 800 people would give just a dollar a week more in the second
offering that went by, well, I’m not too good at math, but…4 x 8 = 32; that’s
$3200. And you get an extra Sunday every quarter…that brings you up to about
$3500, and you multiply that by 10 months…that’s $35,000. And a couple of more
months and you’ve got enough money to build a missionary house in Uganda, just
from a dollar a week more.

IV. Regard the tithe as a
minimum starting point for your offerings to the Lord.
Fourthly, regard the
tithe as a minimum starting point for your offerings to the Lord. Yes, there’s
quibbling about whether the tithe is the law for the Christian. There’s
quibbling as to whether it should be before taxes or after taxes. You can
resolve that in your own heart. Personally I believe the tithe is a law
for the Christian. The particulars of the Mosaic Law have passed, but not
the principles
of the Mosaic Law. 500 years before the Mosaic Law, the
Bible said, “Bring the tithes,” and Jacob pledged a tithe to the Lord. Where
did he get that idea? Well, it’s a natural principle of God’s order.
1,000 years after the Mosaic Law was given, the prophet Malachi says, ‘You’ve
been robbing God.’ “How have we robbed God?” “In tithes and offerings. Bring
you all the tithes into the storehouse,” into the church…not to your favorite TV
evangelist.

And why the tithe as a minimum?
Why as a beginning? First of all, because it’s so easy to figure. Any child
can figure the tithe of $10 is a dollar, and the tithe of $100 is $10, and the
tithe of $10,000 is $1,000; and the tithe of $100,000 is $10,000–it’s very easy
to figure. And, secondly, because if the people under the law in the Old
Testament were required to give a tithe in the relatively darker age of the old
covenant Scriptures, how much more should we who understand the glories and the
grace of God give at least what the old covenant people gave? For you know the
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in a way in which they did not know it. That,
“Though He was rich, yet for your sake’s He became poor; that you through His
poverty might be rich.”

V. Give proportionately
according to global considerations.
Principle five: Give
proportionately according to global considerations. Give proportionately
according to global considerations. It’s “the manna principle” of the
Scriptures. Look at 2nd Corinthians chapter 8. It’s a context in
which the church at Jerusalem was starving because of a famine that had struck
Palestine, and the Macedonian Christians, who were by no means wealthy, as
chapter 8, verse 2 says, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy
and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” Even though the
Macedonians were very poor, they recognized a need of the Christians in
Jerusalem, and so they were making wealthy gifts to the Lord.

But now look at verse 13. This
is not communism in disguise here, but Paul says, “13 Our desire is not
that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might
be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they
need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be
equality, 15 as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too
much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’” That quotation is
from Exodus 16 concerning the manna. In “the principle of the manna,” as you
know, some people went out there with arthritis and some people stumbled along.
And others were young and vigorous and they could gather a lot of manna, while
some could gather only a meager amount. And you know the manna only lasted for
a day, so it would rot. So what did they do? Well, they shared, so that “he
who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have
too little.”

But you’re saying, “But mine is
not like the manna. I’ve worked for mine. They just went out and gathered what
God gave them.” Well, they had to work too. They had to rise early before the
sun melted the manna. They had to get under the hot desert sun. They had to
beat it, pound it, stew it, fry it, and put it in a casserole. They had to work
to use that manna. But it all comes as a gift from the Lord. It all comes
as a gift from the Lord
.

You, we in the USA are by far the
richest people that have ever lived in the history of the world. You eat every
day better than the greatest monarchs of the greatest empires of the Far East
could’ve ever eaten. Proportionately we have so much more than the rest of the
world it is unbelievable. By February, now, some of the children in Malawi are
going back and gnawing on the cobs of the corn just to keep their stomachs from
being in so much pain. One student says that a grandmother whose children had
died, and she had the little grandbaby because the parents had died of AIDS,
came with this little infant, and she said, “It’s very sick. What should I
do?” “Well, what have you been feeding him?” “Black tea.” That is, tea
without milk, tea without sugar because she had neither resources for sugar or
milk. “I’ve been feeding the baby black tea.” The baby died, and the student
was moved to do something for the orphans of his community.

There’s an educational crisis in
Malawi. They have no chalk. Here’s a teacher with 170 students in the first
grade; she’s teaching them to read and write. Why is it such a crisis to have
no chalk? Well, because they have no textbooks. They’re sitting out under a
tree, and she needs something to write with so she can communicate with them.
In Malawi, one pastor has a basic church, what they call “a mission church,” of
maybe two or three thousand. And then he has 10 to 20 other churches so that
his total responsibility is 9,000 people, and he might have a bicycle for
getting from one to the other. No TV, no VCR, no DVD, no car, no running
water…they still beat their clothes in the stream on the stones…few clothes, no
drugs, no medication, life expectancy: age 38, no retirement, no social
security, and no Medicare.

The Bible is not a subtle form of
communism. What you have is yours, though God will require an accounting
of all your stewardship. But consider the principle of the manna and how it
applies to the global village. “He that has much shall not have too much, and
he that has little shall not have too little.” On the Day of Judgment Jesus
will say to those on His right hand, ‘Enter into the blessings of your Father,
because I was hungry and thirsty (both physically and spiritually); I was naked;
I was imprisoned and I was sick; and you visited Me.’ “When did we do that,
Lord?” “In as much as you did it unto one of the least of these my brothers,
you did it to Me
.” And today you can reach the heart of Africa more
quickly, instantaneously, with your resources…much faster than the Macedonian
Christians could reach Jerusalem.

VI. Consider giving really large
amounts.
Sixth, consider giving
really large amounts. Remember the rich fool? He says, ‘Soul, you have much
goods laid up for many days. What am I going to do with all this prosperity?
I’m going to tear down my old barns and build bigger and larger barns to hold
all that I have, and then I’ll say, “Eat, drink, and be merry”!’ And the Lord
says to him, ‘Fool, why do you think I gave you all those resources? To store
it up? Fool, tonight your soul will be required.’ That is, you will be called
before the judgment seat of God. Remember that church that had a quarter of a
million dollars? That wasn’t their money was it? But you think your money is
yours? No, your money is not yours; your money is the Lord’s. And
you’re His steward with every dollar that you have, and you will give account,
as I will give account, for everything that we present before the Lord
.

Have you noticed the latest
architectural monuments in the American scene? It’s in the suburbs of every
major city and even among some small cities as well. Low, flat, gray-roofed
buildings divided into endless rows and chambers…Know what it is? The
mini-storage depot. We have houses bigger than we’ve ever built in the past,
but we don’t have enough room for all that stuff. So what do we do? We pay
good money to store our stuff until we forget what is in there. So what should
you do with it? Sell it, and give the proceeds to the advancement of the
kingdom of Christ. And as you’re doing so, remember the parable of the rich
fool told by Jesus. Give some really large donations: $10,000, $20,000,
$50,000, $100,000 at a time. Why dribble it out in little portions? You don’t
need it all. David gave account to Israel as the king of Israel. And I’m in no
way compared to David, but I will share without any boasting whatsoever, that
God moved me to give just about 50% of my income this past year. Try it.
You’ll like it. Determine on a year, “I’m going to give 50% of my income, more
or less, to the work of the Lord.” Give some large amounts. Show trust in the
Lord. You don’t want to spoil your children and your grandchildren. They won’t
know how to handle that money if you’re giving so much and they don’t have to
figure out the value of a dollar by earning a little bit themselves.

VII. Give as Christ gave.
And, seventh and
finally, give as Christ gave. Give as Christ gave, which is sacrificially.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet
for your sake’s He became poor, that you through His poverty might be rich.” Do
you remember the words of David the King, when Aruna the Jebusite offered to
provide the material for sacrifice for him to stop the plague on Jerusalem?
David says, ‘Absolutely not!’ “Shall I give to the Lord something that costs me
nothing?” Sometimes that’s as far as we get in our offering: giving to the Lord
something that costs us nothing. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ…He was rich, yet for your sake’s He became poor, that you through His
poverty might be rich.”

So, the seven steps for the
recreation of the donation dilemma: Give the first
fruits; don’t wait until the last of the month to write that check. Give
joyfully unto the Lord and ask Him to give you the grace of joy if you don’t
have it. Thirdly, never let the offering plate pass you, but give something.
Bring to the Lord an offering and give glory to His name. Fourthly, regard the
tithe, easy to figure, as a minimum, as a starting point. Fifthly, give
proportionately from a global perspective. Remember the manna principle.
Sixthly, go ahead; give some large amounts. And, seventhly, give sacrificially,
something that cost you something, even as it cost Christ His death on the cross
for us. We have among our missionaries here one who’s working among young
people who are on heroine here in Jackson, Mississippi. Can you believe it? I
couldn’t believe it when he told me that there are many young people that are on
drugs right in the middle of Jackson, Mississippi, but he doesn’t have enough
money to establish his program the way he would like. He’s looking forward to
the day that he can write a letter to First Presbyterian Church and say,
“Please, don’t send any more money.” Let us pray.

Lord, You own the cattle on a thousand
hills, the wealth in every mine. What we have You do not need. Would the Lord
be pleased with offerings that we should bring if we don’t have our hearts in
it? You have no need, O gracious Lord. You can take the five loaves and two
fish of a little lad and multiply it to feed 5,000. But move us, O gracious
Father, to find the joy of acknowledging You to be God, the Creator, Sustainer,
the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and give to us the joy of sharing in
Your grace, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

As the ushers come forward to
take their stations, we will now have an opportunity to commit ourselves in
praying, in going, and in giving to the work of missions in the year to come.
You’ve already heard the faith-promise challenge in the message this morning.
We so often sing, as we sing the words of “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed,” that
“Here, Lord, I give myself away; ‘tis all that I can do.” Let’s bear that in
mind as we commit ourselves now to the work of missions. While we do that, let
me ask you to take your hymnals in hand and we’ll remain seated as we sing the
words of #444, “O Zion, Haste, Your Mission High Fulfilling.” Contemplate these
words as we commit ourselves to this work, and to generosity and to sacrifice in
supporting it in this year to come.

The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face
shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon
you and give you peace, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

*********************

  1. Alexander Murdoch Mackay (1849-1890), pioneer
    missionary-engineer to Uganda.
  2. Namibia is the territory formerly known as German
    Southwest Africa.

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