It All Adds Up—Life Application for March 19, 2017

March 12, 2017 1 Comment »
It All Adds Up—Life Application for March 19, 2017

By David Faust

Jesus had a lot to say about fruitfulness:

• “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

• “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (v. 8).

• “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (v. 16).

We bear spiritual fruit when our character and behavior demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). We bear missional fruit when we preach the gospel and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). And we bear financial fruit when we exhibit God’s love by excelling in the “grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7).

Generous and Persistent

I preached recently for a Faith Promise missions program in northeast Indiana. Markle Church of Christ is a high-impact congregation. About 1,100 residents live in the town of Markle, and the church’s Sunday morning worship attendance averages around 500 (nearly half of the town’s population). In 2016 the church set a one-year goal of giving $231,000 to missions, and their Faith Promise commitments totaled over $255,000—a God-sized achievement. There’s more to the story. The church has conducted a Faith Promise missions program every year since 1960. They checked their records and discovered that over the last 56 years, altogether the church has given more than $5.2 million to missions—in addition to the members’ regular giving in support of their own local ministry.

Imagine a preacher standing before the congregation in 1960 saying, “I believe that in the years to come, if we are faithful, generous, and persistent, our church could give more than five million dollars to support the Lord’s global mission.” Many would have struggled to grasp such a bold vision and perhaps would have dismissed the preacher as a wild-eyed visionary.

Little by Little

We tend to be so aware of our own limitations, we underestimate what God can do and take too lightly what God’s people can achieve when we work together. Stuck in the here and now, we underestimate what the Lord can accomplish through persistent generosity multiplied over many years. Have you ever done the math and added up everything your own congregation has given to missions over the last 10, 50, or 100 years? Regardless of your church’s size, you will be encouraged (and perhaps amazed) to see the cumulative impact it has exerted for God’s kingdom through the years—especially when those dollars combine with the giving of other faithful churches.

According to the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research in Religion, people of faith contribute $1.2 trillion per year to America’s economy—a bigger cumulative impact than “the top 10 tech companies combined—including Google, Apple, and Amazon.” Citing this study, author Eric Metaxas observed, “Put another way, if American religion were a country, it would rank 14th or 15th among the world’s economies, just ahead of Russia and just behind Australia.” That’s a lot of fruit.

The Bible says, “Whoever gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). By expressing God’s love through long-term support of world missions, Markle Church of Christ reminds us of another truth: “Whoever gives money little by little helps God’s kingdom grow.”

David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2013, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

As you apply today’s Scripture study to everyday life, read Engage Your Faith by David Faust and the correlating Evaluation Questions.

Daily Readings

Feb. 27

M.

1 John 3:11-17

Christ Died for Us

Feb. 28

T.

John 14:18-24

Jesus and the Father’s Love

March 1

W.

1 John 3:18-24

Believe in Jesus, Love One Another

March 2

T.

1 John 4:1-6

The Spirit of God Confesses Jesus

March 3

F.

1 John 4:20–5:5

Loving God and Brothers and Sisters

March 4

S.

Psalm 40:1-10

Thankful for God’s Steadfast Love

March 5

S.

1 John 4:7-19

Dwelling in God’s Love

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One Comment

  1. Aaron McClary March 17, 2017 at 9:44 PM - Reply

    We are incredibly thankful to have seen God do immeasurably more than we could have ever asked or imagined–for our neighbor and for His glory!

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