God’s invitation

Published 9:34 am Thursday, August 27, 2015

(Conclusion) —

Last week we learned that God provides opportunities for us to be the church in a big way. Our response should be to say “yes” to the invitation with faith knowing that serving God is more important than our occupation, our family or even our very lives.

Here are three things you can do: don’t get discouraged and quit; pray for guidance and wisdom; find something you can do and do it — God wants you to think bigger.

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Can it be that simple? Years ago, I would struggle to give a good answer. Our church was growing in the community, but we were not mission oriented. Then several members traveled to Jamaica to give medical and construction aid. Our church became eager to help.

We stepped out in faith to share our church with Lawyers Road Missionary Baptist Church after a tornado destroyed their building. Member Jim Adams led a community effort to help them rebuild. Today their new church stands as a testimony to what one individual, one church and one community can do.

Paul wrote about one church helping another: “For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing.” (2 Corinthians 8:3-4)

As followers of God we are judged not by church attendance, Bible study or the size of our offering. These aspects help us become better Christians, but what really sets us apart is how we practice “the gracious privilege of sharing” and generously respond to the needy.

Giving is about so much more than money: sharing is a lifestyle and a ministry that radically involves your time, skills and enthusiasm. Paul goes on to write: “Since you excel in so many ways-you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us, now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving.” (2 Cor. 8:7)

There it is again: “I want you to excel in this gracious ministry of giving.”

Several of us visited “Gleaning for the World,” an agency specializing in getting equipment and supplies to the poorest countries in the world. Our first project involved sorting large bales of used hospital linens to be shipped to third-world countries. Within a matter of days, a large truck unloaded huge tightly packed bales of linens, that when unpacked literally filled our gymnasium. Hundreds of volunteers from 3 years old to the elderly converged on our church, and for the next few days we sorted, folded and boxed literally thousands of hospital gowns and sheets.

God kept challenging our church to think bigger and miracles happened.

Can we say “yes” with faith to God’s invitation knowing that serving our Lord is more important than our occupation, our family and even our very lives? Of course we can. We say “yes” trusting God for answers, resources and courage to enable us to do far more than we ever imagined.

God is sending you an invitation: How will you respond?

The Rev. Larry E. Davies, Lynchburg United Methodist Church, can be reached at larrydavies@sowingseedsoffaith.com.