This week’s message centered on the topic of simplifying our life/lifestyle and living below our means, both of which are affirmed again and again in scripture. Jesus told his disciples “Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” He went on to tell a story about a rich man who had such a good crop that he went out and built a bunch of new barns to hold it. He was very happy – until he discovered that his life would end the very day the last one was completed. The moral of the story, according to Jesus, is that what matters is the treasure we store up in heaven, not the goodies we pile up here.
In fact, the treasures we accumulate on earth can become a significant hindrance to our spiritual lives. We can easily become obsessed with having more and better things and our compulsion to shop can take up time and energy that should go toward scripture reading and prayer and worship – toward deepening our relationship with God who loves us. This is the work of the tempter among us – tempting us away from the things that matter most to things that have no eternal value.
Our work in resisting this temptation is to cultivate contentment with what we already have – learning to be content no matter what life has brought to us, rejoicing in all circumstances, giving thanks no matter what has happened. Paul learned to be content. We can learn to be content. We can learn to make choices that cost less money and use less energy and resources; choices that result in having less and keeping it longer; choices that free our dollars to be used for things that matter most.
If you were in worship you received from our stewardship team a key tag with the word “Contentment” on one side and a prayer on the other. Please put it on the key ring you use most often, and as you open your door or start your car remind yourself to give thanks for a place to live and a car to drive. Begin the journey toward being content. Live more wisely and faithfully
This week, if you are a “friend” of First UMC, you will receive from us a letter containing an estimate of giving card for 2014. These cards are not promissory notes, merely indicators for our finance team of what we can anticipate as income in the coming year. They can be revised at any time as circumstances change. The only person that sees them is our finance secretary, who will add them up and give a summary to our finance team to use as we plan expenses for ministry and mission in 2014. That is the practical side of the issue.
The spiritual side of the issue, which is far more important, is this: set aside some time this week to pray and ask God what God would have you give to the mission and ministry of this church for 2014. The biblical standard is the tithe, or 10% of all income you anticipate receiving. If you struggle to reach that level, start with SOME percentage, with a plan to move up each year until you can reach the tithe. Don’t make the decision purely on a practical level. Consult with the One who made you. Let Him know you want to please Him, and listen to His response, before you fill out your card.
See you in the place of thanksgiving and praise next Sunday at 8, 9:30, or 11:00.
Remember to try out our “new” contemporary service sometime in the next month.
Blessings and Peace