Sermon delivered October 30, 1999

by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Love Will Find a Way

Today I would like to propose two ideas to help us raise funds for our church. See which idea you think is the best.

IDEA # 1)--This is something that we could do, and it wouldn't cost too much for a small investment of maybe five thousand dollars and with not too much work. We could invest in a large CAT RANCH near HERMOSILLO, Mexico. We could start rather small with about a million cats.

Each cat averages about 12 kittens a year; and the skins can be sold for about twenty cents for the white ones and up to forty cents for the black. This will give us about twelve million cat skins per year to sell at an average price of around thirty two cents, making our gross revenue about three million dollars a year. This nearly averages out to about ten thousand dollars a day, exclusive of Sabbaths and holidays.

A Good Mexican man can skin about fifty cats per day at an average wage of $3.15 per day. It will take only six hundred thirty three men to operate our ranch. We could appoint our deacons to oversee the operation.

Now of course cats need to be fed. They would be fed on fat nutritious rats exclusively. Because rats multiply four times as fast as cats, we could start a rat ranch right adjacent to our cat ranch. If we start with a million rats, we will have four rats per cat each day.

Rats have to eat, so the rats will be fed on the carcasses of the cats that we skin! This will give each rat a quarter of the cat. You can see by this that this business is a real clean operation. Well thought through. Self-supporting and nearly automatic throughout. The cats will eat the rats and the rats will eat the cats and we will get the skins.

I've heard that a genetic engineer says that they are near a break-through on crossing cats with a snakes. The genes of a snake would be injected into our cats, thus enabling the cats to skin themselves twice a year. This would save the major cost of skinning as well as give us two skins per cat. I believe our five thousand dollar investment would be a fantastic fund raiser. Imagine what God's church could do with all that money. We could finish the work and go home. No more financial problems ever! Then we could stop giving to the Lord's House. Wouldn't that be nice!

Now, God could have invented a method of perpetual motion for the support of His church. Every time some Christians build a brand new church God could deputize a delegation of angels to put an oil well in the church-yard. Every church would be funded and have all the money they needed for their projects. Does God do that? How does God finance His church? I sincerely believe that God wants His church to be supported by His people. I don't think there's any method of fund raising, do you? I don't know of any.

And so we come to IDEA #2)--Personal sacrifice from the members, from those who love God. Notice a Bible story that illustrates this beautifully. This is about a special lady I believe was Mary. Mary's alabaster box.

Mark 14:3-9 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.

"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." I sincerely believe that Mary demonstrated her "Agape" love to Jesus. Mary demonstrated the proper method of providing for Jesus and His cause. Just as Jesus showed His love to His Father, Mary showed her love to Jesus by what she did. That's how it works. If you don't do something for Jesus, how are you showing your love for Jesus? Jesus glorified His Father. It is our good works that we show our love for God and glorify Him.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Mary wanted to show her deep love for Jesus and she did so by giving Him a gift. How do you ever show your love to Jesus? I was giving a Bible study this week to a small child. I said, "What do we do with the tithes? How do we pay the tithe? What does the church do with the tithe? And she said, "They send it up to God." "Well, how do they get it there?" What do we do with the tithe. What do we do with the offering? We show our love by our works, our good deeds that we do here in this world. They glorify our Father which is in heaven. We do that when someone we love has a birthday. We give a gift from our hearts.

At great personal sacrifice Mary purchased an Alabaster box of ointment of Spikenard. It was extremely costly. She wished to anoint Jesus' body. Maybe she thought that He might be the King of Israel. Or with her womanly instinct of her heart she realized that Jesus had less than seven days to live. He would give His life on the cross that coming Friday.

God's Holy Spirit prompted her to give a gift to Jesus and she obeyed. She wanted a large contribution to give to Jesus. Too many of us wait to bring our flowers...we wait until the person is already dead. Is it good to bring flowers to a dead person? We do it because we love that individual, but they can't enjoy them. How much better it is to give them the flowers when they are alive and can enjoy them! Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did not offer their gifts of love to Jesus during His life. With bitter tears they brought their costly gifts for His cold unconscious form. Mary brought her gift before He died. I want to give my gifts to Jesus before I die.

Imagine how Mary's noble deed cheered the heart of Jesus in His darkest hours. Jesus needed this out pouring of her love. Jesus needs the outpouring of your love. Not tomorrow. Not yesterday. He needs it today.

WHY did Mary choose such a luxuriant gift? I don't know. It is a mystery. The Bible does not answer that question. I think it was the love of Christ that constrained her. She gave much because she had been forgiven much. I have been forgiven a lot, and you have, too. Mary displayed the spirit of heaven which is the spirit of liberality. Giving is a gratifying experience. Mary did not ask how little may be given to meet the minimum requirements of God. She did not water down her perfume, but gave it full strength.

II Corinthians 9:6,7 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. You need to give what you have decided in your heart to give.

Mary's gift was given cheerfully. And Mary's gift was a Sacrifice. She didn't buy her gift at a bargain sale or flea market! She probably went to the most expensive place because that's the only place she could get her gift. You don't buy nard at the dime store. Spikenard was extracted at great expense and with great difficulty. It originated from way up high in the Himalayan Mountains of North India. And it could have been sold for more than a year's wages.

Mark 14:5 says: It could have been sold for more than a year's wages. The value was more than three hundred denarii or three hundred pence. Matthew 20:2 says that the denarius (penny) was the usual day's wage. Therefore three hundred pence would be equivalent to a working persons annual income. Have you ever given a year's wages? I've never done that. But, I suppose over many years I have done that, but not in one lump sum. Mary sacrificed a year's wages. Apparently she purchased the finest available.

Imagine her asking a Jerusalem shopkeeper for some ointment. Seeing only a poor woman, he suggests a cheap preparation.

"Don't you have anything better?" she asks.

"Yes," the shopkeeper says, "but it will cost you one hundred pence a hundred denarii."

"Is that the finest you have?" she continues to ask.

"Well, I do have one back in the safe that is the finest available. It is the most expensive in the world. It will cost three hundred pence, and you can't afford that, Mary!" "Is that the best that you have?" "Yes. It's fit for a King!" Mary says, "Let me have it. It will cost me everything I have, but it is worth it all."

Carrying the precious bottle, and perhaps concealing it so no one would rob her of such a valuable object, Mary made her way to Simon's house. She came in and saw Jesus. She opened the small bottle and poured the entire contents upon Jesus' head and feet. She didn't just share half of it. She didn't re-cork it. She gave the whole thing on His head and on His feet. She knelt weeping. Her tears mingled with that perfume. That's the kind of gift heaven wants. She had given from her heart. Finally she wiped Jesus feet with her long flowing hair.

Luke 7:46,47 "You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little."

I believe Mary set the example. "She Loved Much." Her generous costly gift came from her loving heart. Those who from the constraint of their heart give largely to the cause of God demonstrate the depth of their love to the Master.

The Kingdom of God cannot be built with leftovers. Mary gave a large gift to Jesus work. Do you think Mary suffered lack or want because of such a gift? I think God blessed her greatly because of her love. She was a great blessing to Jesus.

Judas questioned her gift. He criticized the whole thing. Judas sat back and complained.

Judas displayed the selfish carnal nature of man. As treasurer for the disciples, Judas questioned the wisdom of Mary's Judgment. Yet her act was in such a marked contrast to his selfishness that he was put to shame. That's because their hearts were different. They were coming from two entirely separate directions.

Judas turned to the other disciples and threw doubt on her purpose. He talked behind her back. "Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?" This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief and had the bag and bare what was put therein."

Had you or I been present would we have been ready to second Judas' motion? Would we have been ready to vote with Judas and say, "Yes, I agree. She made a mistake. That should never have been done. How wasteful are the brethren!"

The faultfinding attitude of Judas and the disciples depicts our natural human reaction to the tender love of Jesus. Some of us may be more followers of Judas than of Jesus. Judas would lead us to be more and more selfish, covetous and critical. All wrapped up in our own pursuits. Now we are not saved by giving, we give because we are saved. We are not saved by our works, but by His works.

Look at the contrast there in that room. Christ's love was reflected in Mary's generosity. - Lucifer's selfishness was visible in Judas greed. Could our giving or lack of giving reflect the great controversy between Christ and Satan? What does your giving reflect? Whose side are we on anyway?

Judas symbolized what all men are in sin. - Mary illustrates what we may become through Christ.

I am glad Heaven is not like Judas. Heaven could have said, "Why give the Divine life when only a few will respond? Why pour out a Niagara Falls of love when all but a trickle runs to waste? Why such a price when the returns will be so meager? The sacrifice made was sufficient to redeem all and yet so few will benefit. Why must Jesus die on the cross and pour out His expensive blood on sinful dirt just to save a few? WHY? Because genuine love is lavish and unselfish. Because Love never calculates the cost. Genuine love does not hold back. Could God who is love do less than His Utmost for our highest? God never thought of how to redeem us at the least cost."

You may realize that this is finishes our stewardship series. You've been receiving some letters from me this week. In the last letter I enclosed a little card. If you've brought that card with you today, I'm going to ask you in a few minutes for the deacons to collect those cards and bring them up here and we're going to have prayer over your decisions. Some of you may not be ready to make that. Some of you may not want to make that decision. But I want you to think about it and be prepared to do that.

Philippians 2:5-9 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

Dear friend, if you want to be blessed to the highest, then be willing to give unselfishly like Christ gave. Give your life to Jesus Christ. It isn't just your money. It's your life. Give your life like He gave for you. He gave His life to you.

Love will find a way. God is love, and He found a way to save us. I'm so glad Jesus found a way to save us. I don't want that blood to be spilled in vain in my behalf. I want to be saved. I want to be saved today so that I can see Him then. I do that by accepting Him as my Savior. So the ultimate question for me, am I doing my best for the One who did His best for me. That's my question.

Mary did the best she could. That was commitment. That is all God expects from us. The ultimate Question here is are we doing our best for the one who did His best for us? Do you love Him with an out-flowing love? How you use life reveals your true self. How you use your money can confirm or deny what you profess to believe. Jesus permitted Mary to show her appreciation and love to Him by giving a gift to Him. Jesus still permits us to follow her lead. Jesus accepts our gifts as an indication of our appreciation of the self-sacrificing gift of Himself.

Just now we would like to give you an opportunity to respond in a mature, spiritual manner. You should have received a card in your mail this week. Many of you have prayed about your commitment to God s Tithe and His offering. --Many of you have been faithful for years in returning God s tithe and giving a faithful offering to Him. --Others today are committing to begin Tithing ten percent and giving an offering to God as He makes it possible.

We want all the envelopes turned in. You can turn it in empty. No one has to fill it out. Maybe you still need more time to make a commitment

Deacons, please collect the envelopes and bring them to the altar. Let us pray. "Dear Father in heaven, Help us to be like Mary who was willing to give her best. Help us to be like Jesus who did give His best. Help us to give, first of all our hearts to You, to give our entire life into Your hands and to be willing to do whatever it takes. Help us not to depend on oil wells or some kind of perpetual motion but to depend upon You. As we give to You, we pray that we will be blest by You, and that this church will continue to do Your work for we ask this in Jesus' name, Amen.

Opening Hymn: #183, I Will Sing of Jesus' Love
Scripture: John 17:1-5
Closing Hymn: #327, I'd Rather Have Jesus

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