Our Wesleyan Legacy

Several years The Wesleyan Advocate had an article regarding our Wesleyan heritage. The Wesleyan Church has a great heritage. As I read the article on Freedom’s Hill Church, it brought to my mind the early church and its fight for freedom. Freedom’s Hill Church was the first Wesleyan Methodist congregation in the south. The original location wasn’t far from here. The Wesleyan Methodist church in the south got its start in Guilford and Forsythe, North Carolina. As we will find out our denomination was formed in the late 1800’s. As we prepare for the season of Lent, I thought it would be good to see just how our denomination got started. Lent is a time of prayer in preparation for the season of Holy Week and Easter. We will be participating in Forty Days of Fasting and Prayer, which begins on March 1, on a day known as Ash Wednesday. We will be participating in a special service as an entire congregation. I encourage everyone to be part of that service. The theme for this year’s Forty Days is “A Place to Stand.” We will be taking a seven week look at The Apostle’s Creed. What are the seven foundations that our Christianity is based? I believe that this is going to be a very meaningful time.

Why am I bringing up the subject of our Wesleyan Heritage? Well, as I read the article in The Wesleyan Advocate, I began to wonder, “Do we have issues like the early Wesleyans did?” Are we going to have to take a stand for our beliefs? I believe the answer is yes. Let’s begin by taking a look at 2 Corinthians 11:16-29

16I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. 21To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
22What anyone else dares to boast about–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. 27I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?

What is Paul trying to get at here? Well, the first thing that we notice is that he is not trying to boast. So many times we as pastors get caught up in this. Well, we had this many in church this last Sunday and boy are we growing. It kind of becomes like the fishermen. Each bragging about the size of the one that got away. There are those who accuse Paul of doing the same thing, but he’s not. Paul is genuinely describing some of the things he’s gone through to encourage the people to keep on keeping on.

I believe that our heritage is important. It’s important that we tell our children. If you asked many people my age today, they would not be able to tell you how the Wesleyan Church came about. Now, just as Paul wasn’t boasting, neither are we. The story of The Wesleyan Church begins with John Wesley. John grew up in a large family and eventually he and his brother Charles came to know the Lord. Together they wrote over 6,000 hymns. John was responsible for much of what we know as Methodism. However, the Methodist church in America was not true in all ways to its founder. Wesley had been one of the first in England to oppose the slave trade. He wrote a book in 1774 entitled Thoughts on Slavery. The book was an early call for the Church and society to rid itself of this great evil. So the Methodist Church, founded by John Wesley without planning to do so, had an anti-slavery legacy and they should have opposed slavery. But you know what happens. The Methodist Church was the largest church in America and didn’t want to rock the boat on this issue. By the way, slavery was the issue of the day. Matter of fact, Congress was dealing with the issue. America was literally, legally, half slave and half free. But the church was strangely silent on the issue. The Methodist church did want to “rock the boat” on this divisive issue. In fact one Methodist bishop even owned slaves.

Now most of you know the name John Wesley, but how many of you have heard the name Orange Scott. If John Wesley was the founder of Methodism, Orange Scott was the founder of Wesleyanism. On November 8, 1842, five ministers (Orange Scott, Jotham Horton, LaRoy Sunderland, Luther Lee, and Lucius Matlack) announce that they we withdrawing from the Methodist Church. They had tried to reform the church from within but during the General Conference of 1836 one conference speaker wished that Scott were in heaven (A nice way of saying “drop dead.”) What were his reasons? There were two: 1.) the evil of slavery and 2.) the oppressive hand of the bishops. So this new denomination would have no slave holders and no bishops, either! To make it perfectly clear where they were coming from, they named their denominational paper The True Wesleyan. This new church grew rapidly. Some were drawn by their passion for social justice in the name of Christ. Scott said, “We are anti-slavery, anti-intemperance, and anti-everything wrong!” They also announced their intention, as a denomination, to disobey the Fugitive Slave Law which required anyone encountering an escaped slave even in the North, to return him to his owner. You’ll remember that Peter once said, “We must obey God rather than men.”

And so this little denomination got its start. Now if it was difficult to be a Wesleyan north of the Mason-Dixon line it was even more difficult to the South. However, believe it or not there were those south of the border who did not believe in slavery. Matter of fact, forty Methodist withdrew from their church and began looking for a Wesleyan pastor. The Wesleyans did not feel they could appoint a pastor. It would have to be a volunteer. Adam Crooks was the man of the hour. He said, “I will go, sustained by your prayers, and in the name of my Savior, I will go to North Carolina.” Adam Crooks was labeled an outside agitator, a dangerous radical, and a traitor to the white race. He was also labeled a “disturber,” and that charge was true. He was tarred and feathered in effigy. He was prohibited from speaking on the courthouse grounds in Forsythe and Guilford counties, despite the First Amendment right of free speech. North Carolina judges ruled that the constitutional guarantee did not apply to “True Wesleyans.” Crooks was dragged from the pulpit and beaten numerous times. Twice he was poisoned and he survived an assassination attempt. Though all of this, the question that challenged him was: “Can you give your life for the Cause.”

Let me ask you, “Can you live your life for the Cause?” Most of us live very comfortable lives. I never even realized what some of our founders went through. There were many other names in the “Wesleyan Hall of Fame.” Laura Smith Haviland, a Wesleyan Methodist from Michigan, who worked closely with Levi Coffin, the “Father of the Underground Railroad.” It was dangerous and illegal, yet they did what was right. Another name was Micajah McPherson. Our good friend Adam Crooks was forced from North Carolina in 1851. He had been arrested and convicted on the charge of distributing a tract on the Ten Commandments! McPherson was a layperson who took up the mantle in North Carolina. He understood what Jesus meant by the cost of discipleship. He was caught by a lynch mob and hanged from a dogwood tree on his own property, because of his Wesleyan principles. The mob returned to cut him down later, because they said they needed rope to hang another Wesleyan. What they didn’t realize was that he was still alive. His wife nursed him back to health, and he survived to age 85!

There are many other stories of our Wesleyan heritage. One of the other issues that we were on the front lines was the matter of women’s rights. The first convention held in the United States, for the rights of women, was held in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Seneca Falls, NY. In 1848, “women’s rights” was not the radical feminism of today. What were the issues? They were basic human rights for women, including the right to vote and in some states, to hold property in their own names. It also involved the right to ministry. The first woman ordained to the Christian ministry in the United States was named Antionette Brown. Her ordination sermon was preached by a Wesleyan – Luther Lee.

Wesleyan Methodists were also the first denomination in America to give an equal vote to the laity in church conferences. It was the consistent application of a principle – the rights of slaves, the rights of women, the rights of the laity.

Let’s go back to Adam Crooks. After he was forced out of North Carolina, he went on to serve his Church. He was denominational Editor and President of the General Conference (General Superintendent). Perhaps his greatest contribution came in the days of the Union Movement, when many Wesleyan leaders returned to Methodism because the battle against slavery had ended with the close of the Civil War. They saw no reason for the continued existence of the denomination.

Adam Crooks did. He saw it as a platform for the preaching of biblical holiness. After all, Wesleyan Methodists were the first denomination to have a separate article of religion specifically on entire sanctification.

And so I ask you again, “Can you give your life for the Cause?” This is a serious question. We have issues on the table in America that are just as great as slavery was in the 1800’s. One that comes to my mind is abortion. What are we as a church doing about it? Then there are the battle of tolerance and relativism. Christian again are facing free speech issues just as Adam Crooks faced. Now many of you personally won’t have to face these battles. I may be a little older, but I know my children will face these battles. Your children and your grandchildren will face these battles. It’s up to us to prepare them for the Cause. We need to live for the King.

To Live for the King(Livgren)© 1980 Kerygmatic Music

The rising of the sun is seen by everyone
And no one can deny that it’s real
And when you hear the call come crashing through the wall
You just can’t doubt the things that you feel
So lift me up the time has come to sing
And give up everything
To live for the King

Though we fight against the rule the genius and the fool
Are born to labor under the law
Before each man’s a choice
Reject it or rejoice the vision that the prophets saw
(So lift me up the time has come we’ll sing
And give up everything
To live for the King)

The Wesleyan Church has a great legacy. Preston Wesleyan Church has a great legacy. Our challenge today is to leave a great legacy behind us. We have no idea what we will be counted on to do. We may face challenges that we though we could never overcome. John the Revelator tells us that, “The Lamb has overcome.” We will overcome if we stay true to our mission.

For more information about Freedom’s Hill Church, please visit http://www.swu.edu/religion/freedom.htm. There are additional pictures and resources regarding this historic church.

Additional Links:
http://ftp.rootsweb.com/pub/usgenweb/nc/alamance/church/frdmhlch.txt

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

As many of you know, we celebrate Valentine’s Day this week. Not only do we celebrate Valentine’s Day but several in our congregation also celebrate anniversaries, including your pastor and his wife. I don’t know what possesses people to get married on Valentine’s Day, but for some reason we do. It’s a little madness really. Flowers are more expensive and the restaurants are always full. If you are around us long enough, you will know that Pam and I typically don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day. This became a tradition even before we were married. Let me tell you how that happened. Pam attended United Wesleyan College in Allentown. Her dad was the men’s basketball coach at the time and the coach’s daughter kept the statistics. Well, about the time Valentine’s Day came, the basketball team had an away game way out of town. So we celebrated with dinner the day after and thus a tradition was born. We usually go out for dinner on the 15th of February.

Give me a point of personal privilege this morning. I love my wife and I love my children. We don’t always understand each other, but we love each other and sometimes we put up with stuff because we love them. Let me also say that I love you. I love each and every member of this congregation. We always won’t see eye to eye, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about you. Thank you for your love and kindness back to my family and me. The fact that you encourage and affirm my children warms my heart.

Many years ago, longer than I care to admit, Tina Turner sang the song, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” Many would ask the same question. This morning we want to take a look at the subject of love.

What is Love?

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, “What does love mean?” The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

  • Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way. Charlie – age 5
  • When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love. Rebecca – age 8
  • Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other. Karl – age 5
  • Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs. Chrissy – age 6
  • Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired. Terri – age 4
  • Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK. Danny – age 7
  • Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss. Emily – age 8
  • Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. Bobby – age 5
  • If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate. Nikka – age 6
  • There are two kinds of love. Our love. God’s love. But God makes both kinds of them. Jenny – age 4
  • Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday. Noelle – age 7
  • My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night. Clare – age 5
  • Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken. Elaine – ­age 5
  • Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford. Chris – age 8
  • I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones. Lauren – age 4
  • I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her. Bethany – age 4
  • Love cards like Valentine’s cards say stuff on them that we’d like to say ourselves, but we wouldn’t be caught dead saying. Mike – age 8
  • When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you. Karen – age 7
  • You really shouldn’t say “I love you” unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot; people forget. Jessica – age 8

Like I said, there are some profound statements made by these young people. I’m saving one more for the end of the sermon.

I ask you the question again, “What’s love got to do with it?” I’m here to declare that love has everything to do with it. Let’s look at the scriptures this morning. We’re going to turn to a very familiar verse. Most of you can recite it by heart. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” As we have been taking a look at the gospel of John on Wednesday evenings, we have discovered that John has written this book for a specific purpose; that many might believe in Jesus and put their faith in him. Let’s go back to John 1:1-14

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.

3Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood[a] it.

6There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.[b]

10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent,[c] nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[d] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In the beginning it was God. John makes it very clear. He states in John 3:16, “For God…” It all begins and ends with God. God is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end. He is eternal. He is the I AM. “For God so loved so loved the world, that He gave his one and only Son…”

God loves us. He 100% loves us. How do we know? Because He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for us. When we love, we love on a convenience level. Think about if we were God. Look at the scriptures that we have read over the last six weeks. If we were God, we would probably have little tolerance for “our chosen people.” How would we have responded to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and the children of Israel? We have little tolerance for people making mistakes. God was upset several times, but he never gave up. Our loving stops when it becomes inconvenient; just look at Hollywood. God’s love is not like that. Romans 5:8 reminds us that “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were yet sinners.”

Great love is demonstrated by great sacrifice and Jesus, God’s son demonstrated that to us. Jesus says, “the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends.” We often say I’ll love you, if… I’ll love you, when… I’ll love you, until… But when Jesus laid down his live willingly on the cross, He said, “I love you…period.” His love for us covers all our sins. There are no conditions; no strings attached.

Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled two purposes. First, we’ve already mentioned love. We don’t have a problem with that, after all, God is love, but God is also a God of justice. Romans 6:23, tells us that “the wages of sins is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Paul tells us that through Adam sin came into the world, but that through Jesus Christ comes salvation for the whole world. God’s sense of justice requires the price for sin to be paid, just as our justice system requires penalties to be paid for wrongs done.

Sin is a violation of God’s law…Somebody has got to pay for it. There’s a terrible price to be paid for sin and Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sin. His blood was the payment for our sin. Jesus said payment is made and we have be declared not guilty.

Jesus paid the debt when he gave His life on the cross. “He paid a debt he did owe, I owe a debt I could not pay.” He paid the debt and made the declaration: Not guilty!

Listen to the third verse of “It Is Well With My Soul:”

My sin, o the bliss of this glorious thought,

My sin, not in part but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, o my soul!

Have you heard of redemption math? One cross plus three nails equals four-given. The cross of Christ is the only place it’s going to add up right.

It all begins with God and He loves us to the last and he calls us to believe. “…Whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God calls us to believe. The promise waits for anyone. Is God calling you this morning? It is important to believe. It’s more important to believe in Jesus Christ. Our culture says it’s ok for you to have your belief and I can have my belief. Jesus reminds us in John 14:6 that, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

To our culture this may sound narrow-minded, but this is the truth of the gospel. That God loved and loves us so much that He would send his son and Jesus as God’s son would come willingly. Remember the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane? Jesus came from heaven to earth…He went to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins…he died…was put in a borrowed tomb…and three days later rose from the grave. No other spiritual figure can make the same claim. From the grave he went back to heaven to prepare a place for those who believe in him. Let me share that last kid’s perspective on love.

  • God could have said magic words to make the nails fall off the cross, but He didn’t, that’s love. Max – age 5

This morning we are giving you the opportunity to receive Christ. He is calling, do you here him and will you obey?

Lasting Returns

Faithful. The idea of faithfulness has suffered in our generation. We more often hear stories of betrayal or unfaithfulness than stories about those who are faithful, especially when it comes to marital faithfulness.

According to a Gallup Poll, 73 percent of Americans under the age of 45 believe life spent with the same partner is both unusual and unnecessary.

In another Gallup Poll, 89 percent currently going through divorce cited a family history of divorce as a contributing factor to the demise of their own marriages. From this, we can deduce that when we model unfaithfulness, others are affected by our actions.

The opposite is also true. When we model faithfulness, we influence others to be faithful! When we observe someone who is faithful, whether in marriage or in their walk with God, we are encouraged to be faithful too.

We have some wonderful biblical examples of persons who were faithful. God has graciously given us these accounts to challenge and spur us to follow in their footsteps. Today, we’ll look at the life of one of the best examples—Joseph, the son of Jacob.

The first thing that we want to discover is that faithfulness is a choice. The story of Joseph begins in chapter 37 of Genesis. We are told that he is seventeen and the son of Jacob. Joseph and his brother Benjamin were born to their father at an old age from Jacob’s beloved Rachel. (You’ll remember that story from two weeks ago.) Joseph was tending his flock with his brothers and brought to Jacob a bad report about them. Joseph was the favored son of Jacob partially because he was the first born son of Rachel. Joseph was given a beautiful coat. (We call it a coat of many colors.) It made him stand out as the favorite. This did not go well with Joseph’s brothers. They did not like in fact they hated Joseph.

Things didn’t get any better when he bragged to his brothers about a dream he had. The dream symbolized his brothers bowing down to him. Talk about adding fuel to the fire. Then Joseph had another dream. In this dream, not only did his brothers bow to him, but so did his father and mother. This incensed his brothers and caught Jacob off guard, but Jacob kept it in the back of his mind.

Some time later the other brothers took the flocks to graze and Jacob said to Joseph, “Go check on your brothers. Tell me how everything is going.” So Joseph went. When he arrived his brothers decided to get rid of him. The initial plot was to kill him, but Reuben, said, “No!” Reuben had planned to rescue him and send him back to Jacob. The brothers took Joseph’s fine robe and placed him in a dry well. In the process, some traders came along. The brothers said, “Let’s sell him.” They sold their brother for 20 pieces of silver. Reuben somehow had not been in the loop and returns and finds his brother gone. That’s when they devised the plan to tear up the coat and spread it with blood and return it to Jacob. This upset Jacob immensely. While all this was going on the Midianite traders sold Joseph to Potiphar. Let’s pick up the story in chapter 39.

Genesis 39

1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. 6 So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.
Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!”

8 But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. 9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.

11 One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. 12 She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house.

13 When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, 14 she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. 15 When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

16 She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. 17 Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. 18 But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.”

19 When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. 20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

Joseph made a choice to be faithful. It seemed that no matter what Joseph went through he made the right choice. He is one of those characters in the Bible who seems to have his act together. In fact, except for some of his boyhood boastfulness, Joseph becomes a real man of God. We see how Joseph became a faithful servant in Potiphar’s household. He moves all the way up to master servant. He makes a choice to be faithful. How many of us would be able to make mature choices the way Joseph did? His choices lead to trouble for himself. He gets thrown into prison, where once again he is faithful and gets promoted to head of the class, so to speak. He ends up interpreting some dreams for other prisoners and through a long process eventually interprets dream for Pharaoh. Through this Joseph is promoted to second in command of Egypt. Joseph made a choice to be faithful and through his faithfulness to God, God gave him lasting returns. Joseph was able to save the entire region of Egypt and Canaan from starvation. He was a wise and shrew manager of what Pharaoh gave him to take care of.

God gives us gifts and talents for a reason. Let me illustrate.

Once there was a talent show at a local hall. The first contestant played a saxophone solo. It was so brilliant the audience cheered wildly and gave him a standing ovation. Shortly after he walked off the stage, a prominent individual in the music industry offered the player a recording contract and a chance to play with some of the young man’s jazz heroes.

The second contestant read a poem she wrote. The words and the way she read those words moved some people to tears. When she was done, the audience cheered enthusiastically. Shortly after she walked off the stage, she was offered a position writing poetry for the local newspaper and an opportunity to publish her work.

The third contestant walked out to the stage carrying a guitar. “Well,” he stammered, “I had thought I would play this guitar my father gave me. But since there are other players so much better than me, I didn’t put anything together.”

The crowd fell silent. Shortly after he walked off the stage, his father seized the guitar and gave it to the saxophone player saying, “Take this and use it so others may hear the music this instrument makes.”

Waldo Weaning talked about three levels of giving:

1. You have to (Law). This level of giving takes care of the regular expenses of the local church.

2. You ought to (Obligation). This level of giving takes care of special projects beyond the scope of the yearly budget, such as building fund and improvements and our current hymnal replacement project.

3. You want to (Grace). This level of giving is above and beyond the call, but goes to important causes such as Global Partners, World Hope International, Gideon’s International, Heart of Ministry Offering, North American Missions Offering and others.

How many times do we do that with what God gives us? God has given us time, talent, treasure, and touch. As a way of committing yourself to faithful service in the Kingdom, will you offer your time, talent, treasure, and touch to God? Will you be like Joseph and be faithful to God wherever you are? Will you be faithful regardless of your status? Will you be faithful even when you don’t feel like it? Will you gladly give God yourself and your gifts in faithful devotion and service?

The benefits of your faithfulness may come to you in this life, or you may not receive them here. You will have great reward in heaven when you hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into your Master’s rest.” But, you’ll only hear those words and receive lasting rewards if you’ve been faithful to keep God first in your life.