Several years ago, I was serving as a youth minister, and we were looking to make the youth area more, “youthy.” I think we’ve all seen this type of thing in churches, haven’t we? The church I was serving had space for the youth ministry that had formerly been the sanctuary many years earlier. The carpet was sky blue, the light fixtures were from 1960-something, and the walls were pretty rough from many youth events that were, well, youth events. You get the picture.
Everyone agreed renovating was the right plan. There was only one problem – how were we going to pay for this? We decided to set up a renovation fund and allow people to give with a specific goal to be reached before renovations would begin. I sent out a letter to the church and made the case for renovating the space as well as the amount we sought to raise.
As we made plans for the renovations, I was also seeking the Lord for a way to share the purpose of our effort. Our goal was to reach students with the Gospel and help them grow in their walk with Christ.
As I was praying and searching God’s Word for direction, I came across Exodus 36. God had been leading the Israelites, under the direction of Moses, to construct a tabernacle. Moses called on those whose hearts were stirred and those skilled in the work needed to begin building the tabernacle. He also received from the people a freewill offering.
As this was happening daily, Exodus 36:5 says, “and they spoke to Moses, saying, ‘The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.’” Those words resonated with me and filled me with incredible joy.
As I read the verse over again, I began to type out a simple letter that would go out to our members and ask them to pray about how they might give toward our renovation project. A few weeks later, we had received more than enough to complete the project.
That renovation project was a great success, but more importantly God used it to reveal a spiritual principle that has been life changing for me. At God’s leading and according to His will, (36:1b), the combination of godly wisdom (36:2a), and willing sacrifice (36:2b-4) will result in there being more than enough to do what the Lord has commanded (36:5).
Southern Baptists have seen this principle lived out in the lives of millions of people who have taken Matthew 28:19-20 seriously. God has led us, according to His will, to unite in one mission – the Great Commission. We have also united in a God-given, unmistakably wise, and proven program, the Cooperative Program. God’s people have willingly given sacrificially for the purpose of sharing the Gospel across the street and around the world.
My prayer is that hearts would be stirred once again to give as the people did in Exodus 36. I pray daily for churches to be filled with the joy of giving willingly and sacrificially for the glory of God. I pray that we rejoice in combining our church’s gifts with other like-minded believers to reach the nations and our neighbors.
Because the tabernacle had specific dimensions and specifications, there was a point where Moses told the people to stop giving because there was enough to complete the task. Our work for the Great Commission will not be completed until we are in heaven with the Lord. So, until that day comes, we should continue to give faithfully, sacrificially and cooperatively as unto the Lord. We can be assured that those gifts will be more than enough when the Lord adds His increase.
To God be the glory: Amen!
State Missionary Jay Stewart serves as director of the Office of Cooperative Program and Church Financial Resources. He may be contacted at 1-800-264-1225, ext. 2283, or (334) 613-2283, firstname.lastname@example.org.