“At that time gifts will be brought to the LORD Almighty from a people tall and smooth-skinned, from a people feared far and wide, an aggressive nation of strange speech, whose land is divided by rivers — the gifts will be brought to Mount Zion, the place of the Name of the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah 18:7
Today’s devotional has been prepared by Rev. Mark Roberts and can be found by clicking this link or reading below: https://depree.org/unexpected-and-ironic-gifts-for-god/
Reading between the lines of Isaiah 18, we can see that certain ambassadors from far away came with an offer of military help for Israel. They came from Cush, a region south of Egypt along the tributaries of the Nile River, roughly equal to modern-day Ethiopia. Ambassadors from Cush came down the Nile in their boats in order to enter into an alliance with Israel. But the Lord rejected their offer, noting that he had more than enough power to deal with countries that would attack Israel.
But then Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Cush ends with an ironic and unexpected twist. The ambassadors from Cush would come to Jerusalem again, this time bringing gifts to Jerusalem, and offerings for the Lord. Their gift-giving would implicitly recognize the Lord’s own sovereignty and power. It was almost as if the ambassadors knew of the Lord’s glory. How ironic that the people of Cush would be so generous in their offerings to the God of Israel!
Have you ever thought of the irony in our giving gifts to the Lord? Everything we have is from God: our talents, our time, our money, and our very lives. In a very real sense, we give back to God only what God has already given to us. In fact, we give to the Lord that which is ultimately his. Yet the Lord is honored, not so much in what we give, but in our act of giving. In this way, we recognize his worthiness and sovereignty, much as did the ambassadors from Cush.
Remember that your giving to God has to do with much more than offerings in church or going on mission trips. We are to present our bodies to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). This means that everything we do can, in principle, be an offering to God. Whether your work involves poring over spreadsheets, selling services, building furniture, teaching children, or nursing babies, every kind of good work can be an expression of worship.
Reflect as you think of gifts you have given to God, which gifts stand out to you? Why?
What difference does it make to you that in giving to God you are essentially giving back what is already his?
Do you think of your daily work as an offering to God? Why or why not?
What might help you in offering your work to God each day?
Annual Church Picnic
Our church picnic will be held on the church lawn on Sunday, September 11th, following service. To pull off this event, we need your help! We’re looking for:
People who can help with set-up
Someone who can lend pop-up tents
If you want to volunteer in one of these ways, you can sign-up by clicking on this link:
https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C44AEAC2BA1FCC43-volunteer, or you can put your name down on our volunteer sign-up sheet at the back of the sanctuary.
New Sermon Series: “TOXIC FAITH”
Our church will launch a teaching series called Toxic Faith this fall, starting on September 11th. Every week during this series, we’ll examine what dangerous and toxic religion looks like and how Jesus calls us to something better than judgementalism, tribalism, legalism, and a fear-based faith that makes us afraid of God…or of our neighbors.
Resuming Music Ministries
The Choir and Bell Choir will resume rehearsals on Tuesday, September 6th. Rehearsals will be on Tuesday in the choir room, with Bell Choir at 4:30-5:30 and Choir at 5:45-7:00. Feeling unsure about joining? Feel free to sit in on a rehearsal any time before deciding. All are welcome – no experience is required!
Sunday School Starting Back Up
Our church is restarting our in-person Sunday School program on September 11th. If you plan on having your child attend Sunday School in the coming year, please email Gretchen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kim Schulz at email@example.com.
Small Groups & Adult Sunday School
Our Adult Sunday School and Tuesday Small Group are starting a bible study on the Gospel of Matthew this fall! Bruce LaPenta will lead Sunday’s group, which will begin on September 18th, and will meet Sundays at 9 am in the A-Wing Conference room. The Tuesday group will be facilitated by Pastor Chris and will meet at 1 pm starting September 20th. Finally, we encourage everyone who decides to participate in this study to pick up a copy of the Matthew Immersion Bible Study. This resource will help you better understand the book of Matthew. Copies can be found in the church office.
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