Introduction by Pastor Don Gettys:
We want to thank Mindy Walters this weekend. Mindy has invited our guest speaker to be here. Mindy is the director of our Stewardship Program here at McDonald Road. Mitch Hazekamp used to be the ministerial director for the South Georgia area. He did a good job, he's in the Conference Office now, he is in charge of Stewardship, The Trust Services Department, Association Secretary and he is also in charge of Development for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. So, he wears a lot of hats. He is here to share with us this morning about the great way that God can use each of us in His service. And so, Elder Hazekamp, may God bless you this morning and also this afternoon in your program.
Good morning to everyone. It's nice to be at the McDonald Road, Tennessee church this morning. I was warmly welcomed and I want to express appreciation to the pastor, pastoral staff, and to Mindy for inviting me to be with you today. I regret that my wife is unable to accompany me as she had responsibilities in the Dalton church where she teaches in the local church school at the Learning Tree Seventh-day Adventist School. Anyway, I'm happy to be with you this morning. I'm very glad as I look out over the congregation I can see a number of familiar faces. Some of you may remember me when I was a student at Southern Missionary College. This was a while ago. I know that I look quite young yet, but it will soon be thirty years that I have served in Georgia-Cumberland Conference as a Pastor, Ministerial Director and now with Trust Services and Stewardship. God has truly blessed in my life and I am glad that I can come and share with you today.
I want to express happiness in seeing your building project going on here and your continued growth in the McDonald Road church. I remember when this church was built some time back. You're to be commended for the wonderful growth that you've experienced.
Let's pray as we consider God's word.
Wonderful Father in heaven, how thankful we are for You blessing in our lives. We acknowledge You as our Creator. We acknowledge that You have recreated us in Christ Jesus, our Lord. We pray now that you will be with us in very special way, that You will give us a message from heaven. And I thank you in Jesus' wonderful name, Amen.
A story circulated recently that caught my attention. It actually happened in 1946, and 1946 was a very good year because that was the year of my birth. To save you the worry about the math, that makes me 57 years old and soon I'll be 58. But in 1946, the story surfaced recently that was written by Eddie Aughan, a young lady as she shared the experience of her family's experience during 1946. She says she lived at home with her mother and her two sisters, Darlene was 16 years old, and Ossie was 12, and Eddie was 14. They were the tree remaining siblings left at home after other brothers and sisters had moved away. They were really in a very poor situation because their father had passed away five years prior to that. In 1946 she remembers very well the incident that happened that had in a sense mad e a great impact on their lives.
She said it was just before Easter, about a month before Easter Sunday Services at their church, and the pastor had made a very special announcement that they were going to have a very special Easter Sunday Sacrificial offering for a poor family in the community. He told them to plan ahead and to really make this a sacrifice and to come up with good offering for Easter Sunday.
And so the family went home that Sunday afternoon and they began to make plans as to how they could participate. They wanted to be part of that offering. They wanted to have something to give, so they began to think of some things they could do. And they came up with some plans. They said to themselves, "If we would buy a fifty pound bag of potatoes we can save twenty dollars on our monthly grocery bill, so we'll eat potatoes the entire month." And then they said, "If we some of the lights off, and we don't listen to the radio so often, we can save something on the electric bill." And they reasoned further that if they did some odd jobs; Darlene could do some jobs around among the neighbors, Both Darlene and Eddie could get some baby-sitting jobs and get some additional money. And then they had these little hoops that you could buy for just a few cents they could make some potholders and they could sell them for a dollar each to make some more money.
They had all of these wonderful plans, and the very next day they started in to implement the plans they had to be part of that sacrificial offering that was going to happen on Easter Sunday. They went vigorously about the task and the chores and it was one of the happiest months of their entire life, Eddie writes about that particular time in their lives. They were four, they didn't have a lot, but they were joyfully going about sacrificing in order that they could be participants in the offering, and so, they would sit at night and count out their dimes and their quarters and their dollars, and they would see how much money they had. They thought to themselves, "With the whole church participating, surely this is going to be a very large offering. It's going to be a significant offering for this poor family that they were saving for, they were sacrificing for.
Well, just before that Easter Sunday, the day before, they went to the bank and they took all their change and all their dollar bills, and they gave them to the cashier at the bank. The cashier gave them back three crisp twenty dollar bills and a ten dollar bill. They had never had so much money in their entire life. The had never seen so much money. The two girls went running all the way home to show mom. "Look what we have. Look we have! Three twenty dollar bills and a ten dollar bill that we can put in that sacrificial offering! Surely this family is going to be richly blessed as we share in our offering and as other church members do as well."
They could hardly wait to get to church the next day. They were so excited they could hardly sleep that night. It was a rainy Easter Sunday morning and Darlene had to put cardboard in her shoes because there were holes and the cardboard got wet, and they all got wet, and they didn't own an umbrella, but they had on old clothes anyway, because they weren't able to buy Easter clothes because they had given all of their money and their resources toward this sacrificial offering. But they didn't care. They were absolutely elated and sang all the way to church. When the sacrificial offering was taken, they were sitting on the second row. When the offering plate came by, mother put in a ten-dollar bill, Darlene put in a twenty-dollar bill, Eddie put in a twenty-dollar bill, and Ossie put in a twenty-dollar bill. And the offering plate went around. They felt so wonderful to be able to give, to have a part in sacrificing for a poor family. They just felt good all over because they gave that offering that day.
Well, at lunch, Mom had a special surprise, because in addition to the potatoes that they had been eating for a month, she had been able to buy a dozen eggs, so they had for Easter Sunday dinner they had potatoes AND eggs! It was just a special time.
They had hardly finished the dinner when they noticed the pastor drive up in their driveway. Mom went to the door to see what the pastor wanted. The girls were really wondering, Why is the pastor here? Well, Mom came back in and she was only gone a short time. The girls said, "Mom, what did the pastor want?" Mom didn't say a thing. She had in her hand an envelope, and she opened the envelope and in the envelope was a lot of money! There were three twenty- dollar bills, one ten-dollar bill, and seventeen one-dollar bills from the affluent members of the church.
They didn't know hardly what to say! They were absolutely devastated because they had been feeling like they were millionaires and now they realized that the church members thought that they were poor. They never considered themselves poor. They didn't like the idea of feeling poor. They just sat down dejected and could hardly believe it! "These people must think that we're poor." And the girls began to think about what the members of the church must think. They said, "I'm not going to go back to that church anymore." They began to think about school, "I wonder if they think we're poor at school? I've never felt poor."
Even when their siblings would come for a visit they would actually play a game as to who would get a fork and who would get a spoon because they didn't have enough to go around to everybody. And they would take the two table knives and pass them around so everyone could use them. But they never thought they were poor. They had loving parents and a loving family, and they never, ever thought that they were poor. But now they felt poor! And they didn't like the feeling. Well they sat in silence for a long time. They just went around mechanically with the activities through he week. And it came the next Saturday the mother said to the girls, "What do you think we should do with the money that the church gave us?" They didn't know, they didn't have a clue. "What do poor people do with money?" They had no idea what to do with that money.
They didn't want to go to church, but Mom said they had to. In those days, children still listened to moms. So, they all went to church on Sunday. They hadn't been happy all week from the time the pastor had visited. It was a sunny day, but they didn't say a whole lot and Mom tried to sing, but nobody joined in.
They got to church, and there was a guest speaker. He had just been to Africa and he was a missionary and he was sharing from the front about the work in Africa, the needs of the African people. He painted a very needy picture like oftentimes they can do. He said, "You know, we can build a church out of dried bricks in Africa." And he said, "For a hundred dollars we can put a roof on that church. I would like to take a special offering today. If you folks could sacrifice for this offering, then we could put a roof on a church in Africa."
For the first time in a week, Mom and Darlene and Eddie and Ossie all brightened up. And Mom reached in her purse and got that envelope out. When the offering plate was passed, they were sitting on the second row. And when the offering plate came by, Mom handed the envelope to Darlene. And Darlene handed it to Eddie, who handed it to Ossie. And Ossie put it in the offering plate. And they felt really good. When they counted the offering and the gave a report about the offering that day, the missionary was absolutely flabbergasted as to the amount of money that had come into the offering plate. He said, "For such a small congregation I never thought you would give such a wonderful offering here, but there's a little more than a hundred dollars and we can put a roof on a church in Africa." And then he said this: "There must be some very wealthy family in this church." And they thought to themselves, "Hey! We put in eighty- seven of that hundred! We're the wealthy family in the church!"
It seems to me that it might be a matter of perspective. What do yo think? They're either very poor or they're very rich!
Well, the Scriptures have a whole lot to say about both rich people and poor people. A lot of what Jesus talked about in the Gospels related to finances and money matters and all kinds of different things, but I'd like you to take your bible and examine a couple of those instances that Jesus reporte about in Luke. In the eighteenth chapter we have the story of the rich young ruler.
Now you will remember that the rich young ruler came to Jesus with a very important question. He askew Him in verse eighteen, Luke 18:18, ... "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Well, that's a pretty important question isn't it. I'm very glad that he asked that. Jesus side-stepped him a little bit: ..."Why call Me good. No one is good but one, that is God." (verse 19), And then He quoted a number of the Commandments in verse 20. The rich young ruler said, ... "All these have I kept from my youth." (verse 21).
And then Jesus went right to the heart of the matter in verse 22: ... "You still lack one thing. Sell all hat you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.
Jesus went right to the heart of the matter. The money, the rich young ruler's money was his god. It was his idol, it was what was important to him. It was the highest priority in his life, and Christ knew about it. And so, even though he could make the statement, "I have kept all the commandments," but obviously he hadn't because his covetousness was permeating from his body. It exuded from his very being.
Here was the rich young ruler, but Jesus went to the heart of the matter: "Sell everything you have and give to the poor and you will have eternal life." He went away sorrowful because money was his god, his wealth was his god. He riches is what was important to him. It wasn't the poor, it wasn't giving, it wasn't generosity, it wasn't being prudent in his spending. He wanted everything for himself. When he was asked to give it up, he couldn't give it up for the sake of Christ. It was his god.
We have a contrast to that story Jesus pointed out and told. We find in just a few pages over in Luke, the twenty-first chapter. Another very familiar story to us. You find it there in Luke 21:1, the very first verse. Luke 21:1. The He looked up ans saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all: for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings to God, but she our of her poverty has put in all the livelihood that she had." What a testimony that Christ gave!
Consider the fact that Jesus in His ministry saw this poor widow put in two mites and he took note of it. All heaven took note of it because it wasn't the amount of the money, because it was very intrinsic, very minute in its monetary value. But it was that which motivated that giving. It was a heart filled with love and adoration, and commitment and devotion to the Lord. It was a woman who was willing to put in all the livelihood she had in order to express her love to God.
And so, she stands in sharp contrast to the rich young ruler, who wasn't willing to give up his wealth in order to inherit eternal life, and here's a woman, whose affections of the heart were clearly demonstrated by the gift of that two mites in that offering tray and all heaven took note of it, and Jesus included it in the Sacred Writings of Holy Scripture, holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, they included it there for all admonition for all learning so that maybe we could emulate what that woman did.
Now Ellen White has something to say about it in the Signs of the Times, 1910. She made this statement: "The widow's mite has been like a tiny stream flowing down through the ages, widening and deepening in its course, and contributing in a thousand directions the extension of the truth and the relief of the needy. The influence of that small gift is acted and reacted upon thousand of hearts in every age and in every country. And as a result, unnumbered gifts have flowed into the treasury of the Lord from the liberal self-denying poor. And so, that gift, those two mites that Jesus took note of, and all of heaven noticed, have multiplied by hundreds and thousands of dollars through the ages that have come into the treasury house of God because of that one woman's sacrifice and her example."
Aren't you glad that Jesus took note of it, and that He included it in the Sacred Scripture?
There are lots of reasons the gift has multiplied and have been so influential. It was because it was all she had. It was all her living. She put it all in. She held nothing back. She gave it to Christ. She gave it to God. She committed her life in the gift of those two mites.
It was Patrick Henry who said, "Give me liberty of give me death." It was Moses who said, "Forgive their sin, and not, blot me out of Thy book." Or the apostle, Paul, who said, "I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren. It's that kind of commitment, that kind of emotions, that kind of sacrifice that is emulated by this woman's gift.
And, so the rich men, who came to the treasury, although they cast in a great deal of money, it was not enough. The widow, however cast in only a little, did it with more than enough. It was everything she had. "Give and it shall be given unto you." the Scripture says. "Good measure and pressed down and shaken together, and it will be blessed and multiply your heart and your life. She gave more than they all did. In the sight of heaven it is not the size of the gift that counts, but the motive that prompts the giving. Heaven is interested only in the amount of love and devotion it represents, not its monetary value. Jesus' commendation of that widow was based on the spirit that prompted the gift not on its intrinsic value.
And so, in the contrast of the rich young man and the poor widow, which one was really rich? And which one was really poor? There are lots of similarities. And how do you measure what riches are? And, it's a matter of perspective, as we've already seen.
There was an article some time ago in the Signs of the Times about a pastor that supposedly was very rich. Now I know that is a paradox in a sense: a pastor being wealthy or rich. But it seemed so. He was being questioned by an assessor.
"Is it so, Mr. Pastor, that are rich?"
"Yes," said the preacher, "that is true, I'm a rich man."
Getting his pencil ready to write, the assessor inquired, "Just how much is your wealth?"
"I enjoy the best of health," said the minister. "I am never ill, and health is better than any amount of wealth."
"What more do you have?" he asked.
"I have a wonderful wife that is worth more than diamonds, and some well-behave children that all the money in the world could not buy."
"And what more do you have?" he continued.
"I have many, many friends, friends that are worth more than silver and gold. Money can't buy friends. I wouldn't trade my friends for a gold mine." He said.
"Oh yes! I've invested a lot of time and money for some property in heaven. The Lord has told me He has built a mansion there for me. What it would be valued at, I can't say, but I wouldn't sell my equity for it for any thing in the world."
"Do you own more?"
"Well, I have citizenship in heaven. I know in my heart that I'm a child of God." he went on to say. "Otherwise I don't own much of value." said the minister.
"Pastor," said the assessor, "you are one of the richest if not the richest person I've met in all my work as an assessor. You really have riches untold, but it can't be taxed."
Most rich people have to pay taxes.
And so, Jesus encountered a rich man and a poor woman. He encountered both of them. He used them both for an object lesson for us today. The poor woman had nothing in the world, but she had the hope of eternity in heaven. The rich man had everything in this world, but lost out on eternity. The rich man was pointed out by Christ as being an unfaithful steward. The poor woman was an example of being faithful in sacrificial giving. The rich man illustrates that indeed the love of money is the root of all evil and that you cannot serve two masters. You will love one and hate the other. The poor widow illustrates where your treasure is, you heart will be also. Her sacrificial gift demonstrates the affections of her heart. Her deep love for the Lord Jesus Christ was demonstrated by her putting those two mites in the treasury.
And so, the stories of the rich man and the poor woman were written for our admonition. They were written for us this morning. One was faithful, and one was unfaithful. One knew the law, but not the law-Giver. His heart was with his money. One knew Jesus and revealed it with faithful stewardship. May God help all of us to emulate the sacrificial giving, the generous spirit and the prudent life of the poor woman who was really rich because she had the riches of God and heaven. May god help us to be faithful in our stewardship as He has entrusted many things to all of us.
Hymn of Praise: #7, The Lord in Zion Reigneth Scripture: Luke 6:38 Hymn of Response: #508, Anywhere With Jesus
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last updated 4/21/04 by Bob Beckett.