Many of you have heard the story about the hen and the pig who came upon a church building and read the advertised sermon on the billboard out front, which read, “What can we do to help the poor?” Immediately the hen suggested they feed them bacon and eggs. The pig thought for a moment and said, “There is one thing wrong with feeding bacon and eggs to the poor. For you it only requires a contribution, but for me it requires total commitment!”
There can definitely be a big distinction between a contribution and a commitment. As we come together in commitment this morning, I don’t want to preach about money, but about the attitude and lifestyle of commitment of which money and resources are obviously part. What we are getting ready to do in building the new building is way bigger than a pledge or contribution. It is about a collaborative “YES.” It is about a corporate obedience to follow God as He is leading. What does it look like for a group of people to come together in commitment?
In these verses we are going to read today, King David was instructing his son, Solomon, about the building of the temple. Though David wanted to build the temple, God had chosen his successor, his son, Solomon, to be the builder. Listen to his words:
1 Chronicles 28:2: 2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it.
1 Chronicles 28:9-10: 9 “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. 10 Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.”
1 Chronicles 28:20-21: 20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. 21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing man skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”
What does it look like for a group of people to come together in commitment to accomplish the Lord’s work? How can we move forward with our plans to build, and how can we make sure we are glorifying Him as we do?
First of all, I would like to point out that
- God-honoring commitment starts in the heart.
What did David say about the building of the temple? 1 Chronicles 28:2: 2 King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it.
What we have in our hearts really defines and shapes how we spend our lives. What we give our hearts to will determine how we spend our time, how we spend our money, and what we are willing to sacrifice. Our heart is where we get invested emotionally. Your heart, you might say, houses your passion and your will. It becomes a springboard, an ignition switch for thoughts and behaviors and ultimately your legacy. What has God put in your hearts this morning?
Matthew 6:21 tells us, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We support, we invest in, we spend time and money on, we commit to seeing that which is in our hearts to be realized. We can look at our checkbooks and credit card statements and know what we value, but treasure isn’t just about money. The biggest commodity, perhaps, that we possess is our time. Where are we spending the bulk of our time outside of the time that has to be committed to earning a living in order for us to take care of our commitments? Wherever those places are, whatever they represent, those things are important to us. We are motivated to get there, to show up, to be present, to be part of what has a piece of our hearts.
Our hearts hold many dreams, and they should. There are many noble and rewarding things to be part of. Time with your family should be precious. Pursuing an education will enrich your life. Learning a new skill or hobby will add quality to your life. Building friendships will enhance your life. Being part of a church family will bless your life in many ways. Coming together to build this building for the Lord and our community is going to bring new opportunities to us as a congregation, and I believe, if we will let God have our hearts in this process, it will draw us closer to Him and to one another.
Being part of the “Come Together” campaign has to be a heart thing. It has to be a work that God does in our hearts. I want everyone to participate somehow, on some level, but I can’t put this dream in your heart. This is a God-thing, and I am trusting God to do the heart work in our congregation as that is really the hard work! Once our hearts are convinced, we can commit to being engaged in the process.
This church started dreaming about this moment long before I came on the scene. Pastoral and board leadership before me had it placed in their hearts to acquire the property down the road to better serve the community. God placed the same dream inside of us as we learned about the church and its vision. Just as David had the dream, but Solomon built the temple, those before me had the dream, and God is allowing us now to see it to fruition during my time here as your pastor. What a beautiful thing that God is not only the Giver, but the Keeper of our dreams. It doesn’t matter how long a dream has been in your heart, if it is from God, don’t give up on it. He will make a way for it to become reality when it is His plan.
What is your dream? What is in your heart for your life as an individual? For your family’s life? Do you know what your children are dreaming of doing or becoming? What is in your heart for this community through the ministry of Teays Valley Church of God? Ask God this morning to give you a heart for His desires in and through this ministry.
Second, I see that:
- God-honoring commitment comes to life with a plan.
What did David say in I Chronicles 28:2? “I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it.” You’ve probably heard it said that “those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” God has given us minds to help us formulate plans so that we have a track to run on. We aren’t just blindly saying, “This seems like a good time to build, so let’s start talking about fundraising and hope for the best.” We have formulated a plan.
Countless hours of prayer, master plans, meetings with PRAY Construction, trips to visit other facilities, meetings with seasoned leaders who have done this kind of project, doing the site prep and paying it off, talking to community leaders, waiting on God’s timing and so on-all of it has been part of God’s strategic plan.
Our plan is to raise 1.75 million in extra giving over and above what you already regularly contribute in tithes and offerings. That is about a third of what we need to be able to build. In addition, we plan to sell our current buildings which will generate about another third of the income needed. The last third of our income will come in through giving that will be over our budgetary needs. Every year since we have been here (almost ten years) this church’s giving has exceeded its budget, and we have been able to increase our budget significantly each year because of your generous giving and because God continues to bring people to the congregation who also want to give. It is our goal to hold the 2017 budget as close to the 2016 budget as possible, not increasing our regular budget, so that everything over and above can go towards the building. That is our plan. That is how we plan to “get there.”
Through pledges, we are asking you to consider how you can also plan to be part of what God is doing. Many of you support Christian radio by giving a certain amount per month. Many of you give to local charities on a monthly or annual basis. Many of you give to missionaries outside of the church on a regular basis. That is a great. We are simply asking you, that as you plan out your family budget, that you consider making this capital campaign part of your personal plans. If you share the dream in your heart to see this new Community and Worship Center be built, how can you plan to be part of it? That is all a pledge is. A pledge is the way you plan to participate.
Maybe your plan will be a monthly or quarterly or annual gift? Maybe your plan will be that you eat out less and give what you would have spent. Maybe you will find a way to generate additional income for your household so that you can participate. Maybe you will sell items of value. I don’t know what plan you might personally come up with, but even as we have a corporate plan, we are asking everyone who holds the dream in their heart to formulate a personal plan, a pledge of some sort.
- God-honoring commitment involves wholehearted devotion.
David said to Solomon in verse 9: “And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.
I like the word, “wholehearted.” When we are seeking something with our whole hearts, we aren’t easily discouraged. When we are pursuing something with our whole heart, there is an intensity and relentlessness about that pursuit. When we are pursuing something with our whole heart, we will be on the lookout for ways to make it happen.
Someone came to me this week and shared with me that due to some special life circumstances they didn’t have a way to be involved in the campaign through any kind of regular financial giving. The person started crying because their heart is so invested in what is happening here and they want to be involved in giving to the campaign. They shared with me that they have a piece of jewelry worth $29,000.00 that they took to a local jeweler to try to sell. The jeweler couldn’t buy it on the spot, but took the information about the jewelry and the person’s name and number because once in a while he gets a call from someone who is looking for a special piece of jewelry.
Now, I am guessing that a piece of jewelry worth $29,000.00 is pretty special to this individual. I don’t know how they acquired it, but there has to be a story. There has to be great sentimental value to them. Notice what David coupled with wholehearted devotion in verse 9. He paired wholehearted devotion with a willing mind. This church member had an open mind, a creative mind, a willing mind, that no matter what the significance of the story was behind this expensive piece of jewelry because of their wholehearted devotion to God which led to a desire to be involved in the campaign, they thought about parting with something that was very special to them. It made me think of the phrase, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
The person went on to tell me that in the conversation the jeweler mentioned he could buy any gold they might have, so this church member was going home to get the gold jewelry they had to take back to sell in order to participate in the campaign.
Thom and I had unexpected financial news this week. We learned we were receiving $1200.00 that we hadn’t counted on. We had asked for an extension in filing our taxes this year, and so we paid an estimated tax last April. Thom told me we would find out this week if we needed to pay more or if we would get money back. Before we knew the outcome, we both agreed if there was a return it would be campaign money. Sure enough, and it might be a first in the nine years we have lived here, we got money back. That $1200.00 will go in the offering plate next week as seed money for our pledge.
I will just disclose that my mind is already decided that in addition to what we can give of our own resources, whatever extra money I might receive during the next three years is money I will contribute to the campaign. If the book deal I was approached about last May does in fact go through, all proceeds of the book sale will be given to the campaign. I’m speaking Tuesday in Akron, OH to a group of ministers in Northeast OH. They will be giving me an honorarium. That money will also be given next week. Because my heart has caught the vision and dream, and because my heart is devoted and my mind is willing, I don’t want to use that money for something else because I have already committed in my heart that it will be given for the campaign.
That is one thing God has led me to do. I’m not saying that you aren’t wholly devoted to God or willing in your mind to do His will if you don’t take your jewelry and sell it or give your tax return and extra money to the campaign. I’m saying that those ideas, those desires for the church member I referenced and for myself have been born out of the wholehearted desire they have and that I have to be part of what God is doing. That is how God has worked with me and my personal commitment to Him. He may work with you entirely differently.
- God-honoring commitment acknowledges a Divine opportunity.
Look again at verse 10: 10 Consider now, for the LORD has chosen you to build a temple as a sanctuary. Be strong and do the work.” Solomon had been the one chosen to build the temple. This was a destiny moment for Solomon.
I was in ministry for 15 years before I came to this place, but my experience here has been unique and special beyond what I experienced during those 15 previous years. I’m not minimizing any of the opportunities I had during those early years. They were wonderful. God helped me, and grew me, and used me, and I was so grateful to be in His service. There is a sense with all of us that we are to be faithful where we are, every day, to honor and glorify Him, for sure.
But there are also life moments, defining moments, special opportunities that come with a sense of significance and destiny and Divine help, for me at least, that I know this is why God has placed me on earth. This is why I am part of this particular body of believers at this particular time. This is why God relocated our family from Cincinnati to Scott Depot. I have this sense that God has chosen Teays Valley Church of God for this task and has blessed us with people and resources to help us to accomplish it not only to minister to our community, but also to be an encouragement to other pastors and other churches both inside and outside the church of God with this message: God isn’t finished with His church!
It is humbling and thrilling and exciting to think that God has chosen us for this special assignment. For whatever reason, we get to do this! It’s not a burden to be used of God. It is a blessing and Divine privilege; one that ought to cause us to have greater reverence for our Lord, one that should humble us to walk even closer with Him.
To whom much is given, much is required. Luke 12:48
Land in Putnam County isn’t cheap. While it was a sacrifice at the time the land was purchased, it was practically given to us when you compare it to what land was and is going for. We couldn’t have built this building with the 90 people who called TVCOG their home ten years ago, but ten years later, because of God’s blessing and the way HE has led people to come here, we can do it. This is all part of a Divine blessing, a Divine opportunity, a destiny moment that we must acknowledge, that we dare not take for granted and that we consider a sacred privilege.
- God-honoring commitment takes courage and endurance.
Revisit verse 20:20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.
This morning we aren’t just making a financial commitment or a prayer commitment or whatever commitment God leads you to make, but we are making a commitment to see this through. We aren’t just intending to start something, but we are intending to complete something. There will be unforeseen challenges. There will be decisions to make that catch us by surprise. There will be extra meetings. There will be lots of research to do. But we will complete this task.
Our campaign will be a three-year process, but paying off the building will certainly take us longer than three years. Once that building is paid for, a traditional sanctuary/auditorium will be built. There are soccer and softball fields to develop. There is basketball and tennis to provide for the community. There is a master plan that will take us beyond this step, but we will walk obediently toward the whole dream.
- God-honoring commitment involves the corporate Body of Christ.
21 The divisions of the priests and Levites are ready for all the work on the temple of God, and every willing man skilled in any craft will help you in all the work. The officials and all the people will obey your every command.”
“Come Together” is about just that; all of us coming together to participate in the work. Verse 21 says the priests and the Levites were ready for the work. Listen, your leadership is ready, but it will take more than the leadership. Look at the middle of verse 21. It will take every willing person to help us. I love that this won’t happen because of any one person’s effort. This will happen because the corporate Body of Christ will come together to see it come to pass. Are we ready? Are you ready? Let’s “Come Together” under the Lord’s direction and make it happen! What has God put in your heart? Commit your personal plan to Him, and He will use you to accomplish this Divinely-inspired, God-ordained work for His glory.