Sunday night, March 6, 2016, will go down in the history of our church as a miraculous and memorable night.
For the first time in the history of our church, we had the facility to hold an all-church banquet on our property (a result of the generous giving of God’s people in the March 2014 and 2015 offerings). But not only that, in this one evening, our church family gave a large and sacrificial cash offering toward campus developments that will shape the future history of our church.
So here it is Monday morning, and I’m rejoicing in God’s goodness and in the miraculous blessings of last night. But I think I see them in a different light than anyone who is not the pastor can.
The amount of the offering is truly a miracle answer to prayer. And it will enable construction to begin on a much-needed, multi-phase project that will provide space for our Spanish and children’s ministries.
But the amount is not the greatest miracle I see. Allow me to share what a miracle looks like through a pastor’s eyes:
God’s grace in hearts—I see yesterday’s offering as a result, not as a cause. It is the fruit of God’s grace in the hearts of his people. Giving is a grace, and our church family demonstrated yesterday how they’ve allowed the grace of God to reach their giving.
Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.—2 Corinthians 8:7
Like the Apostle Paul, I rejoice—not because of the gift, but because of what the gift reveals about and means for the givers.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last your care of me hath flourished again… Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account.—Philippians 4:10, 17
Spiritual maturity of our church family—God has blessed us with beautiful facilities (all of which are the fruit of generous, grace giving). And obviously, our facilities are enough to meet the immediate needs of our church from one Sunday to the next. But this year’s offering wasn’t primarily for our needs—it was to provide needed space and facilities that will enable us to reach more people in our community with the gospel.
So what I saw last night was a church family who has reached the point where they could enjoy what they have without building more…but has the spiritual maturity to care for others to be reached with the gospel. Not just for one year, but for thirty years, our church family has continued giving.
For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.—Philippians 4:16
People serving as a body—Everywhere I looked last night, I saw our church family serving. From parking lot attendants to the commemorative photo booths team to ushers to hosts to people helping with transportation… And that doesn’t include many of the less-visible roles or those who labored in the preparation.
The really exciting part was to see people serving who this time last year weren’t part of our church. So many helping in these year’s banquet have been saved and baptized at Lancaster Baptist Church just in the last twelve months. That rejoices a pastor’s heart.
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.—2 Corinthians 8:5
Sacrifice of God’s people—It’s no cliché when I say that it’s not the amount that matters, but heart behind the sacrifice. That’s what Jesus said about the widow who gave her two mites as well (Luke 21:3–4). And I understand why.
As a pastor, I was so blessed to see God’ people sacrificially give from the heart to the Lord. And I know God was blessed as well.
But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.—Philippians 4:18
Answers to prayer—For the week proceeding this offering, our church family organized into a seven-day, twenty-four hour prayer chain. In addition, individuals and families were asking God to provide an offering for them to give. The testimonies I’ve heard of how God answered those prayers are astounding.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,—Ephesians 3:20
God receiving glory—Although our entire church family had the opportunity to participate in this offering, none of us—not even all of us—can claim the glory for last night’s victory.
As we announced the total last night (it’s a long-standing tradition that we wait while the offering is counted and then announce), there was such a spontaneous moment of celebration in praising God for what He enabled us to do. Ultimately, our goal in giving is for more people to hear the gospel, trust Christ, and grow in the Lord—all to the glory of God!
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.—Revelation 4:11
Our entire church family is rejoicing in the miracles of yesterday—especially the amount of the offering we were able to give.
And don’t get me wrong, I rejoice in the amount too! But, as a pastor, I’m thrilled over the intangible victories of yesterday as well—the sacrifice, the growth, the service, and, most of all, the work of God’s grace developing in hearts.
To God be the glory!