Ask, and it will be given to you

Taking the first fruits and the tithes of my produce and the first shearings, I would give these to the priests, the sons of Aaron, at the altar. Of all my produce I would give a tenth to the sons of Levi who ministered at Jerusalem; Tobit 1:6b-7a RSV

In the opening lines of the book that bears his name, Tobit describes how he joyfully fulfills the three tithes levied by God upon the people of Israel. This is not his burden, but his identity, and he is happy. Even though he and his people have been carried away by the Assyrians to Nineveh, he enjoys significant prosperity which he ascribes to God’s favor. Tobit has been faithful and God fills his cup to overflowing.

Sadly, bad things happen to good people. Largely due to Tobit’s extreme faithfulness, he become a fugitive and looses everything except for his wife and son. Later, he is able to return to Nineveh safely, but then, after another extreme act of charity, he is blinded. Through all of this, Tobit’s faithfulness does not waver, and God hears his prayers and sends the archangel Raphael to him. It’s a great story so I won’t give away the rest.

Tobit’s life of obedient action and prayer models an important principle we also learn from Jesus.

Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 RSV

Ask in humility seeking God’s will. Knock, persevering in prayer, confident the Father will provide what is best according to His sovereign, gracious will. 1

As we each consider next year’s estimated giving to our parish church, it may be far better to dwell upon the example of faithful Tobit, than to be primarily concerned with our parish operating expenses. Current levels of giving are meeting our expenses. However, when we give more, that overflowing generosity will let us do more as a parish for the kingdom of God to reach the lost, and to minister to His people and those in need.

Estimated giving cards are available now in the narthex. The collection of those cards begins next Sunday.

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1 Suggested by ESV Study Bible notes.

(As published as part of Holy Trinity Anglican Church’s 2015 Annual Stewardship Campaign My Cup Overflows, Week 2, 11/15/2015)

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My Cup Overflowing

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:5 ESV

Our annual stewardship focus begins this Sunday. In today’s message, I will describe what we will be doing, and then share my thoughts on how Holy Trinity is doing financially. Today and on the next two Sundays you will receive a stewardship message (like this one). Then, on November 22, we will place a small box in the nave by the baptismal font. This is where you may deposit a card upon which you have indicated your estimated tithes and offerings for 2016. We will leave the box in-place for a few weeks to be sure everyone has a chance to participate.

Asking you for your estimated giving is one of the things we do to practice good stewardship of your gifts. It gives us numbers in which we can be confident to prepare a meaningful budget. We believe that your good-faith estimate (not a promise or contract of any kind), rather than our guess, is a better input upon which to build next year’s budget. Last year, an amazing 98 percent of you gave us an estimated giving card for which we are truly grateful.

How are we doing financially? In our eleventh year as a congregation, God continues to bless us with abundance as you have blessed us with your faithful giving. Your actual tithes and offerings (money given towards our regular operations and maintenance) generously continue to exceed 2015 estimated giving, and actual income has been tracking ahead of expenses all year. This blesses us beyond our ability to imagine. Truly, our cup is overflowing (Psalm 23:5). This has made it possible for us to do more and to give more as a parish.

Over the last three years, Holy Trinity significantly increased giving to our diocese with an explicit objective of the vestry to reach the point where our giving to the diocese would be at least a tithe (10 percent). At our June meeting just before the diocesan synod, the vestry voted unanimously to report to the synod that Holy Trinity will give a full tithe of our own tithe and offering income. This year, we have also been able to generously increase our giving to worthy ministries in our community and beyond.

Jesus said, “give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” Luke 6:38 ESV

A facsimile of the 2016 Estimated Tithes and Offerings card
2016cards

(As published as part of Holy Trinity Anglican Church’s 2015 Annual Stewardship Campaign My Cup Overflows, Week 1, 11/08/2015)

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People Will Not Endure Sound Teaching

Because this has been on my mind.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV

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