Waynedale United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

Oct 16, 2016 Sermon

“Waving the Seed”
Leviticus 23:9 – 14
Ted Jansen October 16, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 

1.)        God wants us to celebrate!  Our faith is to be a faith with joy.  We know this in part because as we read in the book of Leviticus God is giving instructions for festivals, or celebrations.  This is what God spoke to the Israelites when they enter the Promised Land.  They were to celebrate with eight different festivals or feasts.  (The eight festivals mentioned in Leviticus 23 are Sabbath, Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Weeks-Pentecost, Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles.  Each had a different purpose in teaching them of God’s presence and their faith.    

We realize that at the time God spoke these words the Israelite people were in the wilderness and eating manna when God spoke.  God is telling them to prepare to celebrate in different ways.  They were to celebrate as they affirmed that the Lord, God Almighty is with them. 

 

2.)        The Festival of the First Fruits, found in Leviticus 23: 9 – 14, was a festival to remind them of God’s provision for them.  It was a joyful thing to celebrate God’s care for them. 

The requirement of First Fruits was that each family was to bring to the priest a sheaf (a small portion) of wheat.  This was the first grain from the fields.  The priest was then to wave this before the Lord in the Tabernacle and include with it some other sacrifices. 

            The wave offering of this first portion of the grain was a way of giving this grain to God.  It also symbolized the people giving their hearts in worship to God.  

           

3.)        As the grain was being waved I lift before you these four things that were being expressed from the hearts of the people.  They were celebrating these truths. 

            This is yours, Lord.  (This first portion we bring before you was yours as a seed, yours as a plant, and now yours as the fruit of this crop.)

            You made the crop to grow.  (You alone can make things grow and provide for the soil, the rain, the sun and the air.  You are the Lord of creation.)

            We thank you for your provision.  (This food will sustain us and provide the energy and resources that we need to live on.  Our bodies will gain energy from this food.  We thank you that you want us to live.  May we give you thanks each day we eat.)

            We obey and honor you.  (This offering is done in public and gives strength to our lives as we all together honor you.  We desire to obey your commands to us.  We honor you.)

 

4.)        As the grain offering was being waved the Lord was thankful for the people and their obedience.  The Lord also desired to see the rest of the harvest go well for the people.    

            This First Fruit offering was to be celebrated every year by the waving of the grain before the Lord.  Each year the grain grew they were to come before the Lord.    

            I would guess that there were times when the Israelites forgot to do the wave offering with their crops.  Perhaps different generations didn’t participate in the festivals to celebrate their faith.    

 

5.)        How many of you have farmed full time?  How many have parents or grandparents who farmed full time?  I believe that there are fewer and fewer people who make a living as farmers.  We don’t have a sense of what it means to harvest the first crop.      

In 2012 there were 3.2 million farmers on 2.1 million acres of land. In 2012 there were over 314 million people living in the US.  That means that 1% of the people in 2012 were farmers.  The harvest and the celebration of crops growing is missed out on by 99% of the people.  A few people would understand the idea of waving the first crops to the Lord.    

So, for most of us, who do not farm, perhaps we need to lift before the Lord our paychecks, our financial resources. 

 

6.)        Instead of each of us bringing in the first portion of our crops, we bring in the first portion of our checks, our money, our banks accounts.  We do so with a spirit of celebration and proclaim as we wave before the Lord, “This is yours, Lord!”  “You made the crop to grow!” “We thank you for your provision.”  “We obey you and honor you.” 

            In celebrating and waving the resources that are in our hands we strengthen our faith and our congregation and the Kingdom of God.  When we wave our offering to the Lord I believe that God will do great things with our heart and the money we get to see grow.     

 

7.)        Here is a neat story of a man who “waved” his offering to the Lord.        

“When I was in Bible College, a tractor trailer load of Tropicana Orange Juice was dropped off at the cafeteria every week. I wondered how a low-cost Bible College could afford so much expensive orange juice.

One morning in chapel, I found out how as an older Italian man, in broken English, gave his testimony. He said he had come to the US from Italy in the 20’s as a young teenager, with nothing but the clothes on his back. A Christian couple befriended him and through their love he came to know Christ as his Savior and Lord.

One Sunday in church, he prayed: "Lord, if you give me an idea for a business, I will be faithful to give a portion of everything I make back to Your work." That very morning, the idea of "Fresh squeezed orange juice" popped into his head - and the rest is history: Anthony Rossi founded the "Tropicana Co" and has been faithful to give God - not 10% of his income, as many faithful believers do, but 50% of his income, for the past 60 years! He also gave truckloads of FREE O.J. to Christian colleges throughout the country!”

We can wave our resources before the Lord and watch what happens.  Anthony Rossi not only gave the first fruits of his money but 50% of his blessings to God! 

We all have a chance to wave before the Lord the resources God has provided.  May we celebrate as we give to the Lord.  Let us not be stingy and lose our joy as this next story reveals.          

 

8.)        Ann Landers had an interesting letter in her column. It was from a girl who was writing about her uncle and aunt. She said, "My uncle was the tightest man I’ve ever known. All his life, every time he got paid he took $20 out of his paycheck and put it under his mattress.  Then he got sick and was about to die. As he was dying, he said to his wife, "I want you to promise me one thing." "Promise what?" she asked. "I want you to promise me that when I’m dead you’ll take my money from under the mattress and put it in my casket so that I can take it all with me." 

The girl’s letter went on with the story. "He died, and his wife kept her promise. She went in and got all that money the day he died and went to the bank and deposited it.  Then she wrote out a check and put it in his casket!" 

            We all know we can’t take our money with us so let us have the joy while still alive!  

 

9.)        Many years ago a lad of sixteen years left home to seek his fortune. All his worldly possessions were tied in a bundle, which he carried in his hand. As he trudged along he met an old neighbor, the captain of a canal boat, and the following conversation took place, which changed the whole current of the boy's life:  "Well, William, where are you going?"

"I don't know," he answered, "Father is too poor to keep me at home any longer and says I must now make a living for myself."

"There's no trouble about that," said the captain. "Be sure you start right, and you'll get along finely."

William told his friend that the only trade he knew anything about was soap and candle making, at which he had helped his father while at home.

"Well," said the old man, "let me pray with you once more, and give you a little advice, and then I will let you go."

They both knelt down upon the towpath; the dear old man prayed earnestly for William and then gave this advice: "Someone soon will be the leading soapmaker in New York. It can be you as well as anyone. I hope it may. Be a good man; give your heart to Christ; pay the Lord all that belongs to Him of every dollar you earn; make an honest soap; give a full pound, and I am certain that you will be a prosperous and rich man."

When the boy arrived in the city, he found it hard to get work. Lonesome and far from home, he remembered his mother's words and the last words of the canal boat captain. He was then led to "seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness," and united with the church.

He remembered his promise to the old captain, and the first dollar he earned brought up the question of the Lord's part. In the Bible he found that the Jews were commanded to give one-tenth; so he said, "If the Lord will take one-tenth, I will give that."

Having regular employment, he soon became a partner. After a few year; his partner died, and William became the sole owner of the business.

He now resolved to keep his promise to the old captain; he made an honest soap gave a full pound, and instructed his bookkeeper to open an account with the Lord, and carry one-tenth of all his income to that account. He prospered; his business grew; his family was blessed; his soap sold, and he grew rich faster than he had ever hoped. He then gave two-tenths; prospered more than ever; then he gave three-tenths; then four-tenths; then five-tenths.

He educated his family; settled all his plans for life; and gave all his income to the Lord's work. He prospered more than ever. This is the story of William Colgate, who has given millions of dollars to the Lord's cause, and left a name that will never die.  William Colgate’s business is still active today, as well as Colgate University, which William bought.  (Wayne Wiman, in Cumberland Presbyterian.)

 

10.)      We will come and bring the Lord our tithes, and pledges.  I invite each person to hold them up to the Lord as we participate in a wave offering.  May we celebrate God’s provision. 

If you have already given online, or forgot your gift, or gave another time, I ask all to come forward with your hand waving as your expression of your wave offering to the Lord. 

 

11.)      Tony Campolo tells of being invited to speak at a ladies meeting. There were 300 women there. Before he spoke the president of the organization read a letter from a missionary. It was a very moving letter.  In the letter the missionary expressed a need for $4,000 to take care of an emergency that had cropped up. So the president of the organization said, "We need to pray that God will provide the resources to meet the need of this missionary. Bro. Campolo will you please pray for us?" 

Tony Campolo, who is very outspoken said, "No." Startled, she said, "I beg your pardon."  He said, "No, I won’t pray for that." He said, "I believe that God has already provided the resources and that all we need to do is give. Tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to step up to this table and give every bit of cash I have in my pocket. And if all of you will do the same thing, I think God has already provided the resources."  The president of the organization chuckled a little bit & said, "Well, I guess we get the point. He is trying to teach us that we all need to give sacrificially." 

He said, "No, that is not what I am trying to teach you. I’m trying to teach you that God has already provided for this missionary. All we need to do is give it. Here, I’m going to put down all of my money I have with me."  He wrote, "I only had $15 in my pocket so I wasn’t too worried about that." So he put down his $15 and then looked at the president of the organization. Reluctantly, she opened her purse and took out all of her money, which was about $40, and put it on the table. One by one the rest of the ladies filed by and put their money on the table, too. When the money was counted they had collected more than $4,000." 

Tony Campolo said, "Now, here’s the lesson. God always supplies for our needs, and he supplied for this missionary, too. The only problem was we were keeping it for ourselves. Now let’s pray and thank God for His provision."