Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ of Calvary Lutheran Church, Wellington,
Greetings in Christ Jesus! Summer is rapidly coming to a close. School has already started up for many students. Here at Calvary Lutherans we are starting up confirmation catechesis again and holding our rally day on the 13th to kick off a year of growth in the knowledge of God’s word.
The Christian life is a continual growing and pruning. We grow as we come to make the Word more and more part of our daily life and thinking, through devotions, Bible reading, and our weekly worship together. And with that same Word, God prunes away the branches of false belief and confusion, strengthening us through trials and testing of our faith. As Jesus, the Word, and the True Vine, said,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:1-6, ESV)
We finished studying Luther’s Large Catechism in Bible class in August. What a wonderful study that was! As part of our preparation for the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, we will begin watching the “Luther” movie in Bible class. The movie, starring Ralph Fiennes as Martin Luther, and Peter Ustinov as Prince Frederick, his patron and protector, is both exciting and inspiring in the faith. I invite you to come watch and learn about Luther and the Reformation. The first class will start on Sunday, the 20th. I will introduce the movie. We will then watch about a half hour of the movie in the sanctuary before moving to the parish hall for discussion and questions. I will be preaching in Derby on the next Sunday morning, the 27th September, at 8:15, so we will not have Bible class that week. But the week after that we will continue to watch the movie.
The article below is part four of a series of articles on Christian stewardship from Rev. Heath Curtis’ book, Stewardship Under the Cross. I hope that it will help you to understand the Biblical concept of tithing, and to overcome the fears you might have of tithing, and to overcome the fears you might have of tithing.
Overcoming the Fear of Tithing
Your heart will always go where you put God’s money.
Jesus said that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. As the hymn verse has it: We give Thee but Thine own. God is the ultimate giver of our incomes: all these gifts come from Him. To acknowledge these gifts and our dependence on the Lord God calls us to give a portion of our income back to Him in thanks, for the maintenance of His Church. Indeed, the Scriptures are very clear: God calls His people to give at least a tithe of their income (10% of whatever “comes in”) back to Him at their place of worship.
This calls for faith. Do we trust God’s Word? Do we trust that what He says is for our benefit, not our harm? If you have never tithed before, it can be a scary proposition. Give 10% of my income away!? You’ve got to be kidding. But God doesn’t ever kid us in His Word, Instead, He tells us how to live holy and blessed lives full of peace and contentment. Consider these Scriptures:
Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure in, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” say the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” (Malachi 3:8-10)
On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as each one of your may prosper. (1Corinthians 16:2)
But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7)
The point is this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each on must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8).
We do not make God poor when we fail to give money to Him properly, but we do make ourselves poor if we do not give according to the standards He sets for us in His Word, the Bible. God does not need our money, but we need to give the way the Bible tells us to in order to overcome the negative influence money and the things of this world can have on us.
God will never tell us to do something that will be to our harm – He loves us too much for that. Jesus gave His life on the cross for me. He loves me and knows what is best for me – so I can know that what He says about stewardship is meant for my benefit. He wants my heart to be with Him – and my heart will always follow where I put God’s money. Tithing is not easy: it is godly. It will change your life. Stepping out in faith always does. You may have to change your lifestyle to accommodate following God’s Word in this matter. But tithing will change your life in other ways too: it will give you a peace and contentment that can only come from actually putting yourself in the hands of the Lord.
So read through those Scriptures again. And step out in faith this year with giving that is in accord with God’s Word. And just see if you are not blessed by it. From Stewardship Under the Cross.
God makes you fruitful in body and soul through the nourishment of the Vine to whom you are connected, His Son, Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit. He prunes you who are the fruitful branches (tithing being a kind of pruning) so that you may produce more fruit. Trust in Him. He knows what He is doing. He is the master gardener.
Blessings in Christ Jesus, the True Vine,
There will be a short meeting of confirmation class on September 13th, to pass out books and talk about the upcoming year. Regular classes will start this next week at 11:45-1:15p.m., with a Thursday evening make-up day for those who miss Sunday classes
September 13, 2015 Come celebrate with crafts and a piñata during Sunday School from 9:15-10:15a.m. A freewill taco dinner will follow service at 11:30. Make plans to attend!
Portals of Prayer
If you would like to receive Portals of Prayer for 2016, please sign up on the sheet in the Parish Hall. The price for the small size is $4.60 for the yearly subscription, $13.00 a year for the digest size and $14.00 a year for the large print.
On Tuesday, September 1st, Calvary Lutheran Church will host the monthly meeting of Circuit 10 and 11. These circuit meetings are called Winkels. The Winkel will start with a communion service, followed by Bible study, and Circuit business. We will provide refreshments in the morning and lunch around noon. The morning refreshments will be coffee, tea, juice, fruit and pastry. The details of lunch have not been worked out yet. After lunch we will have the initial meeting of a group to promote unity among the churches of the Synod. Thank you to all that donated food and your time to set up and clean up.
Pastor Wingfield will be going to Redeemer Lutheran Church to participate in English as second language courses. That will be on Monday evenings starting in September.
If you would like to learn how to approach others with your faith, please contact Pastor Wingfield. He is going to start a “Pass It On” group in September. Participants will learn how to express their faith to others by practicing first with each other, using a script as a guide. They will be provided with materials and guidance to help them go out and speak about the Lord to our neighbors in Wellington. After training, the participants will meet once a week. They will spend a half hour going over the material, and then they will go out and speak to people in their homes. After an hour they will return to the church to discuss their experiences. The program was highly recommended to Pastor Wingfield by Prof Joel Biermann at Concordia Seminary. Prof. Biermann has participated in such a group for years and believes that it has great value, both as outreach and in training Christians how to express their faith.