Yesterday, one of our elders, Rick Cease got up to tell the congregation that currently our giving is not meeting the expenses of the church. He noted that the ministries have been on a spending freeze the past couple of months but the after seeing the amount of income we received in January they felt it best to let the overall congregation know the situation.
In January our income was a little over $11,000 and the essential expenses of the church (salaries, rent, insurance, license fees, missionaries, and the like) are around $13,000 a month. This is not the budgeted amount. The budget need for each month is $16,000 a month.
While a financial issue like this can look very black and white and very human I want to, as your minister, point out as strongly as I can; this is not a money issue, this is a spiritual issue.
To make it a spiritual issue all you need to ask one question, “Why is God allowing us to experience this shortfall?” As I noted in a recent sermon God owns everything and he allocates his resources as He wills. This question puts our situation is the right perspective.
There can be many answers to that question and honestly I do not know the “why” part of the answer, but I do know the “what” part of the answer. It’s God calling us to one action for two reasons.
He is calling on us to repent, humble ourselves before Him, and call out on his name. Often, I have found in my study of scripture, that just before God blesses the socks off His people he will create a situation designed to call them into humility and repentance. I believe this is one of those times in the life of our church.
God has revealed a great vision for our church family- part of it building a new home; part of it is establishing small campuses across the communities of Suffolk and beyond; part of it is seeing people come to Christ and being baptized into his name; part of it is seeing people come together and make a difference in their community.
Don’t you dare think this is going to keep us from reaching God’s dream. This is part of the process of God birthing the dream in us. It’s painful, but every birth has some pain.
In the Old Testament when the Israelite nation ran into problems like this everyone would come together and fast and pray and profess their faith and allegiance to God- and God was honored by that and as a result would bless the nation. I believe it is no different for us.
The two reasons we need to repent and humble ourselves is to turn away from sin and distraction. God often withholds his blessing when sin is present in his people. In the Battle of Ai (Joshua 7) God withheld his blessing in that battle because Achan stole some of the booty that belonged to God. In the book of Acts Ananias and Sapphira held the progress of the church when they kept some funds they had dedicated to God but decided to keep instead. This sin doesn’t have to be financial, it can be sexual sin, sins of omittance, an improper attitude in worship, could be among the culprits.
The other reason to come together and humble ourselves and pray is spiritual warfare. Ephesians 6 plainly tells us that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Satan does not want us to be victorious and achieve God’s vision for our church family. He will distract us. He will bring financial pressure on you and make you doubt your giving. He will tempt you to not believe in the church God created. Satan is crafty and devious and will seek to destroy the good will you have toward God and his church. This is why prayer and humility are important.
I know there is a segment of thought that says you can get all spiritual you want but the bottom line is people have to give. I secede on that point to a point ;), but the truth behind that thought is this is God’s church and if we humble ourselves and believe in him and obey him, he will bless us more than we give ourselves.
Lord willing, we will break ground on our new home in Chuckatuck in the spring of 2015. I believe with faith, prayer, and work we can get this done for God’s glory. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together and step up. My prayer is we will do so and follow God with all of our heart, soul, and mind.