Waynedale United Methodist Church
Wednesday, November 21, 2018
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November 19, 2017 Sermon

Give Thanks With Your Whole Heart!”

2 Corinthians 9:6 - 15

Ted Jansen November 19, 2017 Waynedale UMC

 

1.) There were men and women who lived out their faith in the city of Corinth long ago through giving money to others. Paul encouraged them to give joyfully and generously to the disciples who had a need in Macedonia. These men and women had given before and were planning to give to those in Macedonia again. Paul encouraged these men and women to give in joy and be generous in spirit. As he considers these men and women who were giving he is blessed by their example. Paul writes these words. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15) Paul expresses thanks to God. They made a difference by their giving.

When you see joyful and generous giving it blesses you and touches your heart in ways you cannot describe.

2.) There was a man in Fort Wayne who was blessed and found it hard to describe the gift he had been given. Ashley Sloboda wrote this for the Journal Gazette on October 16, 2017.

The anticipation was palpable Sunday as hundreds gathered inside One Off Custom Designs, waiting to reveal a secret they somehow kept for more than eight months. The standing-room-only crowd represented an effort largely orchestrated through Facebook to build a custom motorcycle for Rich Tenney, whose 13-year-old son died last October.

It all started Jan. 31, when Nick Easterday – who knew Tenney through Broadway Christian Church and grew up with his wife – opened Facebook as he waited at his welding table for another project to cool. Tenney's post – a link to the song “Let There Be Light” and a note that began, “His life was a gift” – caught his eye.

What could I possibly do?” Easterday recalled thinking. The answer came to him: Build Tenney a custom motorcycle, something they had previously discussed but a dream Tenney didn't envision happening until years later. A bike, Easterday said in a video shown Sunday, would give the grieving father some of the relaxation and freedom his heart needed as well as camaraderie from the biker community.

Leslie Stapleton, Tenney's sister, wondered how enough money would be raised, but donations soon came pouring into the crowd funded effort. Collections hit $5,000 by mid-March, $10,000 by June 1 and $17,000 by July 22. The total eventually surpassed $20,000 and paid for the title and first year of insurance and registration, Easterday said.

Tenney wouldn't have approved had he known about the project, his wife said. “He's such a humble guy,” Shannon Tenney said, adding family comes first for him.

By Sunday, more than 900 people belonged to the secret Facebook group dedicated to the bike build. More than the anticipated 200 attendees – many from Broadway Christian – arrived at Easterday's shop for the big reveal.

Doors were quickly closed and conversations quickly hushed with word that the Tenneys were minutes from walking in. After a couple false alarms, the couple opened the door to hear a booming, “Surprise!”

Confused, Rich Tenney thought he walked into a surprise birthday party for his wife but realized everyone was looking at him, he said. An 18-minute video soon explained all and included time-lapse footage of the motorcycle taking shape. Shannon Tenney watched with her arms around her husband and her head on his shoulder. Around them, men and women dabbed at their eyes.

After the video ended, a loud motorcycle roared, prompting many to stand, clap and cheer as Easterday drove the bike to Rich Tenney, parked it and gave him a long hug.

This is yours,” Easterday said.

Minutes later, Rich Tenney still appeared to be in disbelief. He was, as he said, “trying to figure out why I deserve this.”

Easterday, who spent 340 hours on the build, didn't expect it would come together as smoothly as it did, he said. In addition to monetary donations, people also donated parts, materials and labor.

I'm just overwhelmed with the support and love we were shown,” Shannon Tenney said, calling it a “huge, huge blessing.” Friends are even offering to help them with a new problem the motorcycle brings – a storage place. “We don't even have a garage,” she said.”

These friends gave with joy and the blessing was indescribable.

 

3.) Paul knows that the disciples in Corinth were generous. But he also knows that they need to remember the principles of giving and living. Paul writes, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will reap generously.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

A farmer understands this idea each year as she plants the seeds into the ground. They wonder how the seed will grow this year. They have faith each year that something will grow or they will lose all the money they have invested. They hope and pray that the conditions will be right to gain a wonderful harvest. The farmer sows with expectation.

When we give to the Lord our money we are sowing for the Kingdom of God. We don’t know what will happen to our gifts, like seeds in the ground, but we expect something to grow.

 

4.) Paul teaches that to keep “cheer” foremost in the heart when you give. Your attitude is important. “Each man should give what he has decided to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)

The Greek word for cheerful is hilaros. We are to be hilaros, or with a spirit of hilarity when we give. We are not to be reluctant, sad, or under pressure.

Have you ever been pressured into giving some money? It doesn’t feel joyful when you give that way. Have you ever given reluctantly or out of guilt? You don’t experience joy that way. God loves a cheerful giver!

 

5.) I thank God for your generous giving. When you give money you bless people.

Your regular and faithful giving makes a difference in a child who is in cub scouts, in Sunday School, in our Pre-School, in our tutoring program. Your regular and faithful giving touch a teen’s life through Scouting. Your regular and faithful giving feeds the hungry in our community, and in communities in Costa Rica, Kentucky, and around the world. Your regular and faithful giving helps men and women stay sober amidst their alcohol temptations. Your regular and faithful giving offers hope to a single parent struggling day to day. Your regular and faithful giving encourages adults to grow their faith. You are making a difference through your giving at Waynedale UMC.

May God increase your joy as you give. God loves a cheerful giver.

 

6.) “There was once a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won first prize. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned the farmer’s strategy for growing winning corn. What was it? Simply this: the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors.

“How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“Why” said the farmer, “don’t you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn.” (James Bender How to Talk Well (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1994)

 

7.) When we give with a joyful spirit we bless others with our joy and our attitude. Our world is better when we give and we have joy. We are thankful we can give and bless others.

Jesus understood the importance of having the right attitude when it comes to our money, resources and wealth. We read in Luke 12:16 – 21 a story that Jesus told one day about a man who did not give with joy.

 

8.)  And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.  He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

 Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.  And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

 

9.) We have a choice to make. Do we want to please God by being a cheerful giver? Do we want an abundant harvest? As we consider our choice I invite us to prepare to come forward and lay on the altar our tithes, offerings and pledges. As we place them on the altar I pray that there is joy in your heart. Then after we have placed our gift on the altar we will join with one another to encourage our spirits. Together we seek to be generous givers who have joy!