GIVE IN...... (added September 2009)
Preached Sunday, Sept 20, 2009 – SCCA Homestead
I was debating on what to preach on this weekend. It has been a while since our last SCCA race, and I found myself to be struggling a little bit trying to decide what to speak to you about.
We don’t get too many opportunities throughout the year to worship the Lord together so when we do I like to focus on some of the key principles in the Bible, sometimes teaching about things that your home church pastor may not preach about. The last time we were together I spoke about the end times prophecies, the books of Ezekiel, Revelations, etc....signs of end times, when will it happen, what are we supposed to be doing in the meantime....all exciting stuff…..if you missed it, you can always log on to www.SERRMON.com for a look at the notes I used to preach from.
This weekend is a bit different, I am going back to the basics. To something that many preachers have spoken about. As I was praying on this weekend, seeking guidance, it was impressed upon me to speak about the importance of giving. Giving of your self over to God, giving of yourself to others. Giving of your time, giving of your love, giving of those things that are important to you. This won’t be a sermon on giving of finances, or tithing, I will leave that up to your home church pastor...so everyone can just sit back, take a deep breath, and relax :o).
It came to me 3 ways, confirming that I was on the right track. Anyone else ever notice that…when God puts you on a path He will always send confirmation.
The first signal that I was on the right track starts with this weekend’s significance in the Jewish calendar. After all, the Jewish people are God’s chosen people, and although by most peoples standards I am considered to be more of a New Testament preacher, you can’t have a New without and Old. I find the interaction between the Jewish faith, Old Testament, New Testament, all to be incredibly fascinating, both from a spiritual perspective and from a historical one.
This weekend – Fri and Sat to be more specific is Rosh Hashanah, or the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is an exciting time in the Jewish faith, one of celebration ,but also one of judgment. It is a day when God judges each person according to their deeds for the previous year and makes a decree for the following year. Another way to say it is God looks at what they gave of themselves the previous year and gives them their rewards for their efforts the following year.
This obviously differs from Christianity, where we know that God gave us His son, so that we are now saved by His grace through our faith in Jesus Christ and not by our works......however the Bible does tell us that we will be rewarded according to our works.
Rosh Hashanah is also believed to be a day commemorating the creation of man….the day when God gave us the gift of life….the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve.
The entire month leading up to this point is called Elul, also known as the month of “divine mercy and forgiveness”. It is traditionally a time of introspection, a time to review one’s deeds and spiritual progress over the past year. A time to look at how much one gave of themselves to God, to their fellow man.
The new year begins with the day of judgement, followed by ten days of repentance, ending with Yom Kippur - the day of forgiveness of sins and receiving of blessings for the coming year.
The next week is a time that it is believed when God comes closest to His people. It is a time of judgment so it is therefore taken very seriously, but it is also a time of celebration as they celebrate the closeness of their personal relationship with God.
It struck me when reading about the Jewish holiday, that it is a time of giving….of giving one self over to the Lord. A time of looking back on the previous year on how much one gave of themselves. It’s also a time where God gives forgiveness and blessings for the next year.
The second indication I was on the right track to speak about giving came from what may seem like an odd place….the deaths of 2 friends. I have been blessed in my life that I haven’t attended very many funerals….they are a long way from my list of favorite things to do with my time. However, when I do attend one, it is always a time of reflection...both on the one that passed away, as well as a reflection internally, looking at myself, wondering how I might be remembered when my turn comes around.
Last Sunday we lost Pastor Dick Shank who went to be with the Lord. Some of you may have had the opportunity to meet him. He was the first Chaplain to partner up with Stephen and Stephanie Zoeller and actually attended many SCCA services. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of times and working with him in ministry….and although I didn’t have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him, he definitely touched my life.
Dick spent 22 years in public office as a State Representative and a State Senator up in Indiana. Upon retiring from that position, he once again found himself in public service becoming a pastor in the United Methodist Church. He spent time working for his local Hospice, counseling families about the importance of a personal relationship with God.
He also saw Stephen and Stephanie on television one day and knew he had to be involved. Dick had some experience as a race car driver, obviously loved the Lord, and it was a match made in heaven. He contacted Stephen and Stephanie through that television program and the relationship began. This was a way better start to their relationship than I did. I first heard about raceway ministry standing in the bathroom urinal up at Daytona for a Rolex 24 hour race. People ask Stephen and I how we met, and my response is always the same...I had to go to the bathroom.
But that was Dick, a consummate professional, very well spoken, a great man of God, and one that lived his life by giving of himself, he served his country, his community, he served those lying on their death beds in hospice care, he served his family, and he gave of himself to serve our racing family. He was one that certainly gave more than he received.
He will sorely be missed, but we know he is looking down on us, telling us to continue sowing the seeds for God’s harvest. For whether there is 1 in this service or 100, every child of God is equally important. We pray for his family in this time of need.
Dick’s life was a lesson on giving. Although he finally passed from a not so pleasant death caused by cancer in his spine, he never lost sight of the greatest gift of all.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son
God sacrificed His beloved Son so that we could all have a chance to spend eternity in heaven.
I have been fortunate in that I haven’t had to attend many funeral services in my life. The most recent was for our fellow racecar driver Kevin Malloy back in August. I recall listening to the conversations, watching the slide presentations, listening to his sister, and friends talk about him.....and it was all about giving. What Kevin gave of himself, what he did with his life, and I found it interesting to see how people are remembered.
At your funeral, how will people remember you? Were you a giver or a taker?
The third indication I was on the right track come from a retrospective look at last weekend.
Another example of giving was this past weekend at Sebring. We hosted our 11th annual Kids Racing for Life event with PBOC. Although the economy was tough, we still had enough people “give” to the cause so that we were able to bring 150 people out to the track for a fantastic weekend racing experience.
For those of you who don’t know about the program, it is set up for children with terminal illnesses and their families. They are treated to an all expense paid weekend racing experience where they get to meet the drivers, crew, track officials, they get to go around the track in race cars and high performance sports cars at some pretty good speeds, and most importantly, they attend a chapel service on Sunday which gives us an opportunity to preach the gospel to may who are troubled, lost, and not sure where to go. Chapel is voluntary, but we find that 98% of them stay for the service whether they want to or not.
In order for that event to take place, many people sacrifice by giving of their financial resouorces...it is an event that typically costs $20k-$30k. Many others give of an even more important asset, their time. We have nearly 30 volunteers that assist during the event, plus countless other who help throughout the year fundraising, etc.... And it is great to see the drivers and car owners give of their time, give of the wear and tear on their equipment, to take the ids around for rides. I’m not sure who enjoys it more, the kids or the drivers, they both have huge smiles.
What does the Bible say about giving?There are so many answers to that question that it could be a sermon of itself…actually it could be a book, several books.I did a quick search of the word give and it’s variations in the Bible and I found that the word is used more than 2100 times – 2400 times in the NIV version. If you divide that by the 66 books of the Bible, you end up with an average of 32 times per book. I believe the Lord was trying to tell us something about the importance of giving.
What has God given us?
He gave us life
Genesis 1:27 (King James Version)
27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
He gave us instructions for life (hold up the Bible)
We already said that He gave His son for us. (John 3:16)
John 3:16 (King James Version)
16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
He gave us the gift of His grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast. (KJV)
He even gave us the faith we needed to access that grace
Romans 12:3 …God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (KJV)
Should the pressures of the world be weighing you down, squashing that measure of faith, He even gave us a solution to increasing our faith…to getting more faith.
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (KJV)
God gave us the gift of free will to make our choices and when we choose to believe and receive Go into our hearts we receive a gift of Power
John 1:12 (King James Version)
12But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
God has given us so much…..I’m sure you heard the saying you can’t outgive God.
God also gave each of us gifts to use for His kingdom. He gave each of us different gifts and talents.
For me, he placed a passion for motorsports in me from birth. It had to come from God, because neither of my parents care anything about racing. There were no early influences. It was just put in me from birth.
My passion for God came much later in life. As a child, we never went to church. Well God chose me…he took my passion for serving Him and coupled it with my passion for motorsports and my passion for children, mixed them all up – shaken not stirred – here I am today, serving Him and trying my best to follow His will for my life.
God gave each and every one of you individual gifts to use for His kingdom,.
1 Corinthians talks a lot about the gifts of prophesy , healing, teaching, ministering.
To save some time here today, I’ll skip over the scriptures and ask you to take that back as a homework assignment.
He wants us to use those gifts for each other, he does not want us to bury them.
Lets take a quick look at Matthew Chapter 25
The Parable of the Talents
14"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. 15To one he gave five talents[a] of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. 17So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. 18But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.
19"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'
21"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
22"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'
23"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
24"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'
26"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.
28" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. 30And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
God gave you talents, desires, passions......and He wants you to use them for His Kingdom. Don’t bury them in the sand.
What does God want us to give Him?
Because of time, I want to throw out 1 quick thought – lets look first at God’s commandments…after all a commandment is something God is telling us to do is it not?
In Matthew Chapter 22, Jesus Christ was asked, what is the greatest commandment?
The Greatest Commandment
36"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
First and greatest is to Love your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.....
To do that you must give of yourself completely over to God…..give in… !!!
The second is Love your neighbor as yourself – to love your neighbor, you must give – give of your time, give of you resources, help one another, be there for one another.
The Bible tells of terrible times in the last days, are we there...I don’t know....but I do know that we won’t survive without pulling together. Our country won’t survive if we don’t pull together.
Our rights, our beliefs, our freedoms are slowly being stripped away by the vocal minority as the silent majority sits by idly saying it will all be OK. …….sorry I digressed.
We as a body of Christians need to be there for one another, to help us be able to operate in the world but not be of the world. We need to give to one another by supporting each other, lifting each other up in Christ’s love.
Sometimes we tend to think that bigger is better.....that in order for us to give anything, it must be of huge significance...and that is simply not true.
It is the small things that count. For example, our neighbors gave of their time to watch our dog this weekend so we could be here. My company gave of the copy machine and paper to offset costs for printing bulletins and signs.
Maybe it’s a meal, or an article of clothing donated, maybe it’s visiting someone when they are ill. Maybe it’s just being there for someone, giving of your time when a friend is in need. It’s about being there for each other....sacrificing of yourself, no matter how small, to reach out to help someone.
Here is perhaps the best parable about that in the Bible.
The Sheep and the Goats - Matthew Chapter 25
31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
We have to go back to that month of Elul, we need to take an introspective look at ourselves...are we sheep or are we goats?
As Christians, we need to go against the grain, to go against the whims of society, the flow of society…we have taken a wrong turn. We have shifted from long term planning and success to immediate short term gain, it’s the same in business – same in politics – and for some, same in religion.
We MUST change our mindset. It can no longer be about what can I get, it has to be about what I can give. When America makes that paradigm shift, we will begin the road to recovery….we will begin to return to God’s grace.
As we close here today, I ask you to look inside and ask yourself the hard question,
What has God given you?
What are you giving Him?
What are you giving to your country?
What are you giving to your community?
What are you giving to your family?
Dear heavenly Father,
Thank you for your Word this weekend. Thank you for your presence. Thank you for all of the gifts that you have given us...the gift of life, the gift of your son, the gift of your Word, and for the gifts and talents you placed into each one of us.
Lord we ask that you speak to us, encourage us, help us, for we can not do it on our own. Lord we pray that you help us turn from what’s in it for me, to what can I do for You?
Lord we pray for this great country, we pray for its leadership, we pray for those in our armed forces protecting our freedoms.
We pray for you safety and protection as we begin to depart, and Lord, we thank you mostly for your love, mercy, and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.
Thank you for coming.....please Don’t forget your homework
Read 1 Corinthians on gifts
Talk to an SCCA official thank them for allowing us to meet here
Invite a friend to service next time
Pray for Stephen, the ministry, Dick Shank and Kevin Malloys family.