Last month I had the honor of being the guest preacher for Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church on their New Consecration (stewardship) Sunday. It was a wonderful experience with a fantastic congregation, and my time with them included a dinner and a teaching presentation with the elders and deacons of the church a few weeks prior.
Without repeating my full message, I’m posting a brief summary that I put together for North Creek’s monthly newsletter. Earlier this fall in September, in our sermon series we studied the shema of Deuteronomy 6, with its “love the Lord your God with all…” In October, we transitioned to studying the three great “SOLAS” of the Reformation in observance of its 500th anniversary. There we discovered that Martin Luther’s re-discovery of faith alone in Romans 3 speaks of “all” as well – all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, but all are justified freely by God’s grace in Christ. This led me to explore this term further, and I discovered that the word “all” is the most common intellectually-significant term in the entire Old Testament (other than the word “Lord”), and it features prominently in the New Testament as well. It is from this rediscovery of the ubiquity “all” in scripture that inspired the theme: “I’m All In!”
Have you ever responded to an invitation by saying these words?
- You’ve been invited to attend a Seahawks game or a concert with someone – “I’m all in!”
- You’ve been offered a job that you really want – “I’m all in!”
- You respond to an invitation to volunteer at the local community food bank – “I’m all in!”
“All in” is a statement of personal commitment. It means you’ll be giving yourself to the task or activity, prioritizing it and pursuing it. You recognize that there are things in your life that could hold you back, but you’re not going to let them. You’re “all in.”
God is “All In” in His Love for Us. Did you know that one of the most common words with intellectual significance in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible is the word “all?” It’s true. The Greek word “pas” (meaning “all”) occurs nearly 7,000 times in the Greek language Old Testament (the Septuagint) and over 1,200 times in the New Testament. If you think about it, you won’t be surprised. Open the Bible, and you find “alls” all over the place:
- Psalm 24:1 “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”
- Ephesians 4:6 “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
- Romans 3:22 “God’s righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
God gives us His all in creation and salvation. The classic hymn says it all: “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.”
We Respond by Being “All In” with Our Love for God. In September we studied the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:5 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Our relationship with God provides opportunities for us to respond to God’s invitation with our personal expression of “I’m all in.”
• When we first respond to God’s grace in Christ, or make a recommitment of faith…
• When we become a member of the church…
• When we are ordained to a particular office in the church (elders & deacons)…
The stewardship season comes around each year and presents each of us the opportunity to respond to God’s grace and goodness by going “all in” on a financial gift that we offer to God through the work of the congregation. The biblical measure of “all in” is a tithe, or a freely-given gift of 10% of our income. Of course, giving a percentage of our income is a process, and an “all in” gift can amount to more or less than 10%. The percentage makes it a personal priority, and that’s the basic goal of our New Consecration Sunday on November 19. Together we consider the question “What percentage of my income is God calling me to give?” As you consider this important question, remember that it’s an expression of you saying “I’m all in” to a God who is “all in” for you through the limitless love of Christ.
Joyfully in Christ,