Practicing Extravagant Generosity (10/15 thru 11/11 2017)

Posted by on Oct 12, 2017 in Godprints, Worship & Prayer | 2 comments

Unity.  Pulling together to be of one heart and one purpose.  In our church, that purpose is to glorify our Creator-God and to help Him build His Kingdom.  Our goal is to become more like Christ in every facet of our lives.

One of the attributes of God is that He is generous… REALLY generous.  Imagine the Son of God somehow squeezing Himself into a human body, living on this earth, and then dying on a Roman cross?  Think about the God who has provided all of your needs throughout your lifetime.  Even if you wanted more (wealth, health, prestige), God has always given you what you needed.

To become like Christ, we must allow the Holy Spirit to develop a spirit of generosity in our own hearts.

 

Practicing Extravagant Generosity

How does our “stuff” (money and possessions) affect our relationship to God?  Or, how does our relationship to God affect our use of our “stuff”?

Bishop Robert Schnase (the Bishop of the Missouri Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church), wrote a devotional entitled “Practicing Extravagant Generosity.”  It’s intended to answer those questions.

Below is a video of Bishop Schnase preaching a sermon which breaches the difficult topic of money and how we decide to spend it.

In the above message, Bishop Schnase tells us that we give because:

  1. God commanded us to be generous (think of the Good Samaritan)
  2. Because we love our church- we want it to thrive
  3. Because it fundamentally changes our relationship to the material world… it changes us
  4. It gives us a chance to align our action to our beliefs (to put our money where our mouth is).
  5. God uses our generosity to reconfigure our interior lives. 

 

Join Together

On Sunday 10/8/17 we distributed copies of the devotional “Practicing Extravagant Generosity: Daily Readings on the Grace of Giving” to every member of our congregation.  This is intended to be more than just reading a book; our prayer is that this will be an exercise in unity.  As we each read the same daily devotions, meditate on the same Scriptures, and ponder the same questions, this book will serve as a tool of unity.  Each of us will be able to pray daily for our church and to reflect on our own personal relationship to our “stuff” (time, energy, and money).

 

If you weren’t in church on Sunday 10/8 and would like to join in this experience, contact  church office to obtain a copy of the book.

There is no cost. The books are provided by the generosity of PUMC.

If you’re not in our area (or if you’re reading this years later), here’s some info on ordering your own copy:  Google Books.  The link also includes a preview.

 

A Daily Experience

The book “Practicing Extravagant Generosity” is intended to be a daily devotional guide: a chance to consider our relationship to our possessions and to reflect on how they can be used to improve our relationship to God (or on how they may be impeding our relationship to God).

The book contains four weeks of daily devotions.  We will begin reading these devotions together on Monday October 16.  We won’t be in the same location when we experience these devotions, but we will be will be together in Spirit.

If you happen to get behind, feel free to catch up using whatever schedule works best for you.

Here’s the schedule we’re aiming for.  Each “week” begins on Monday and ends on Sunday):

Week 1 (pages 11-26):   October 16 thru October 22

Week 2 (pages 31-45):  October 23 thru October 29

Week 3 (pages 51-65):  October 30 thru November 5

Week 4 (pages 71-88):  November 6 thru November 12 (Generosity Sunday)

Open the following “drop downs” each week to see where we are in the book.  Each day also poses questions to think about, and it also suggests prayer concerns (click on the links to learn more about the ministry that’s to be lifted up).

Let’s begin our adventure in Practicing God’s Grace of Giving!

 

WEEK 1: 10/16 - 10/22

From Stewardship to Generosity (p11)

Question:  What do you think of when you hear the word “Stewardship”?

Prayer Concern: The ministries of our church

Building Nests (p14)

Question: Why support the ministries of PUMC?

Prayer Concern: Tonight’s Smile Today (NA) meeting.

Seeds with Wings (p17)

Question: Where have you planted seeds?

Prayer Concern: The example you set for the children and youth of our church (or for adults if you are a youth). 

Partnering with God (p20)

Question:  Have you ever gone beyond your normal giving?  Any regrets?  How did it feel?

Prayer Concern:  The Not Ready for Prime Time Singers as they visit our shut ins this Saturday.

Muscle Memory (p22) 

Question:  How does PUMC giving affect your other spending habits?  How do your other spending habits affect your PUMC giving?

Prayer Concern:  People shopping for food and preparing meals in our homes. 

Pocket Change (p24)

Question:  What are some little (possibility unnoticed) things that PUMC does to help our community?

Prayer Concern: Our sextons and those who maintain our building.

The Grace of Giving (p26)

Question:  How do you feel when you hear someone speak about money from the pulpit?

Prayer Concern: Our Finance Committee

WEEK 2: 10/23 - 10/29

As if for the Very First Time (p31)

Question:  Can you remember a time when you went out of your way to help someone?  How did it feel?

Prayer Concern: Pastor Jim and hospital visitations.

Whitewater World! (p34)

Question: Think of a rough time you’ve been through.  Did your faith get stronger or did it get weaker?

Prayer Concern: Our Stephen Ministry program (caregivers and care receivers).

What Happens to God’s Love? (p37)

Question: Have you ever received a surprisingly expensive gift? How did that make you feel?

Prayer Concern: For the people who visit our Fellowship Hall today to receive a flu shot

Ownership (p39)

Question:  How do you view your “stuff”?  Is it your right to do with it however you please?

Prayer Concern:  Our Trustees.

Robust Ministries (p41)

Question:  How would you feel if you were given a prayer shawl and told that you church family had prayed over it?

Prayer Concern:  The church in La Palmilla Mexico, the children we’re sponsoring, and this weekend’s Breakfast and yard sale. 

All the Good You Can (p43)

Question:  How does the call to generosity affect your view on whether or not your income is high enough?

Prayer Concern: The families who attend tonight’s Trunk or Treat.

First Things First (p45)

Question:  What makes you truly happy? 

Prayer Concern: Today’s worship service and anniversary celebration.

WEEK 3: 10/30 - 11/5

The Joy of Giving (p51)

Question:  Do you feel the joy of being “blessed to be a blessing”, or are you just feeling guilty for not giving enough?

Prayer Concern: Hooks ‘n Needles, Scrappy Quilters, and those who receive their prayer shawls, blankets, and cancer hats.

Aligned with God’s Purposes (p53)

Question: What’s the largest gift you have ever given? How did it make you feel?

Prayer Concern: Tonight’s Bible Studies and Small group meetings.

How Much do We Need? (p55)

Question: Are your possessions or fears about being in need setting your priorities?

Prayer Concern: The Our Father’s House Book Fair.

I Have Learned to be Content (p58)

Question:  What causes you to feel content?

Prayer Concern:  The Adult Sunday School class (called “Potter’s Hand”).

The God-Related Life (p61)

Question:  How does your generosity (or lack thereof) affect your relationship to God?

Prayer Concern:  The ministries of the United Methodist Women and Men’s Fellowship groups. 

Tithing is a Life Choice (p63)

Question:  Have you tried the practice of giving 10% of your income to God?  If not,why not?

Prayer Concern: For the overseas missionaries that we support (such as John & Diasa Abromovich,   Joy Phillips, and  Jim & Alice Verderhoof

Practicing Generosity (p65)

Question:  What obstacles prevent you from “giving extravagantly” to God?

Prayer Concern: For all of the Scouting Groups who meet in our church.  For the leaders who volunteer so much of their time.

WEEK 4: 11/6 - 11/12

There is Always a Way (p71)

Question:  Where do you want to be in your relationship with God?  What practices are you developing NOW that will get you there?

Prayer Concern: For Parents Anonymous, NAMI, and other support groups that meet in our church’s chapel.

Teaching the Tithe (p74)

Question: What comes to mind when you hear the word “Tithe”?  Do those thoughts improve or hinder your spiritual growth?

Prayer Concern: For the people who will visit our Fellowship Hall to vote in today’s election.

Through God’s Eyes (p77)

Question: How does your current perspective of “owning stuff” affect your perspective of who God is?

Prayer Concern: BLAST (our Youth Fellowship). 

The Old Life and the New Life (p80)

Question:  When you drop your envelope into the plate on Sunday, how much planning and praying was behind your decision on how much to give?

Prayer Concern:  The choirs and their preparations for the upcoming Christmas Cantata: “The Messiah”.

One of My Own (p83)

Question:  Do you remember any generous acts of others?  How might their actions affect your own giving?  How might your giving influence your own children and the youth of our church?

Prayer Concern:  Our Sunday School; the teachers and the kids. 

Generous Congregations (p85)

Question:  In what ways does PUMC  demonstrate generosity?  Are you part of that demonstration?

Prayer Concern: The Pitman Food Pantry.

Delight (p88)

Question:  How does giving make you feel? Do these feelings want you to become more generous or less generous?

Prayer Concern: The people of Pitman and beyond who are affected by the ministries of Pitman United Methodist Church. For the Holy Spirit’s continued guidance on how we implement and support these ministries.

 

 

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What do YOU think?  As you read this devotional (or if you only follow the above questions and prayer prompts without reading the book), what’s your reaction to today’s reading? 

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2 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Chuck

    MONDAY 10/16:
    “Stewardship” always had a negative connotation to me; something you HAD to do. I never fully appreciated the connection between giving and drawing closer to Christ.

  2. Larry

    MONDAY 10/16
    My Bible reading plan this morning took me to Jeremiah 2. It struck me that verse 13 describes the difference between “Stewardship” and “Generosity”…

    “My people have committed two sins:
    They have forsaken me, the spring of living water,
    and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
    – Jer 2:13, NIV

    If “Stewardship” is all about hanging on to what you already have, it’s like the “broken cistern.” If “Generosity” is based on hope and faith, it’s like the “Spring of Living Water.”

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