Ninety Times Fifty Times Six: The Power of Group Giving

The season of giving is upon us. Well, at least for the many who celebrate a version of Christmas. Regardless of the true origins of the day, it still results in giving. Agreed, much of it is to excess when there is so much desperate want in the world. Charitable organizations, from those who feed children to churches across the land, use the season as an opportunity to encourage an increase in giving to help those who spend their days doing without. In thinking about this, I wondered how many people thought about the power of giving as groups.

I thought about an average number of people who might attend a church. I picked 90 because I remember hearing that number as an average attendance once for one church. Sure, many churches have a much greater number who attend regularly, and some other churches have far less. The number is just to show the power of a group when it comes to giving.

How much could you give for six months in addition to your tithe? I wanted to think of a dollar amount that would be a strain for many people but not absolutely beyond the realm of possibility. I picked $50 for six months. I know some people who earn a very good living. They could give $50 for six months without it creating any real issues with their family budgets. I know other people who could pull it off, but they would have to cut corners and make sacrifices with their own families for the six months. For some others I know, it would just require a little restructuring of their spending habits for half a year.

Do you know anyone in your church who is in need? Maybe someone needs help with a new furnace or a much needed upgrade to their home. Maybe someone needs some medical equipment not covered by insurance. Maybe a new mom desperately needs someone to come in every day and help a little but in no way can afford the expense. Maybe someone needs reliable transportation. It could be anything.

 

90 x $50 x 6 = $27000

 

A group of 90 giving $50 per month equals $4,500 per month. At six months the total is $27,000. The total is more money in six months than the annual income of many people each of us likely know and interact with at church. How could $27,000 change a family? Is $50 way too much? Is the sacrifice too much of a burden? Okay, let us change the amount to $25 instead. For a group of 90 that equals $2,250 each month for a grand total at six months of $13,500.

My neighbors need a furnace. They are elderly and raising their 4 year old grandson who has autism. The furnace replacement will cost about $3,500, or less than two months of 90 people giving $25 per month. At the $25 level it would pay rent, a payment on a used vehicle that could be paid off within six months and still probably have some left over to cover a few utilities for a homeless family. This would allow a homeless family six months to have a home and get back back on their feet. It would permit them time to look for work and still have a roof over their heads as well as transportation.

All that it takes is a heart for giving—a commitment to do it even if it is a strain—and a little organization. All of these things are biblical principles. In looking back at needs I have become aware of in the past, I am ashamed at my lackadaisical response. Fifty bucks for six months would have been difficult for us but not impossible. I am thankful that God is changing how I look at the world.

I feel it is important to mention one more thing about giving. I know people who want to control the gift. They never really give it away. They want a say in how it will be used. I can appreciate the mindset, but is that true giving? If you give something, you need to give it. Not give with a string attached to it so you can yank it back. As my pastor has indicated many times, if that is how you view your gift, just keep it. God does not need it. In fact, I heard a teacher on giving mention the other day how God is the owner of it all. He does not need anything. He gave giving to us! Do you get that?

There are a lot of scenarios running through my head right now concerning those who set conditions on giving. One that comes to mind is seeing a person in line at a grocery store using food stamps and wearing a name brand coat. We see the food stamps as a gift from society—our tax dollars—and are appalled at the audacity of the gift recipient owning a name brand coat. Maybe the coat was a gift. Maybe it was purchased at a store that sells irregulars for a highly discounted price. Maybe it was found at a second hand store. Maybe it is old and was purchased when times were better.

Are there abusers out there who would take advantage? Certainly there are. Wisdom is another biblical principle that needs to be used in giving. Regardless of the details of meeting each need, the command is to give. It goes beyond tithing and giving offerings. The early church had all things in common (Acts 2:44 and Acts 4:32). And remember what Jesus said about doing or not doing. In all of it, it is like we do or not do it to him (Matthew 25:31-46).

Harvest Your Part of the Field

Matthew 9:37-38 reads, “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2 states, “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest.”

Reading in Matthew and Luke, we see that around this time Jesus had given power and authority to the twelve apostles. It was power over devils and to cure diseases. He sent them out to preach the Kingdom of God and heal the sick. Herod already had John the Baptist executed, and some people were telling him that Jesus might be John back from the dead or that he was possibly Elijah the prophet come back.

Around this time Jesus even asked the twelve who the people were saying he was. They answered that some people thought he might be John the Baptist come back or Elijah the prophet. Jesus then turned the question on them, asking them who they thought he was. Peter, without missing a beat, said, “Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God.”

We also have, around this time, the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes feeding 5,000 men—not to mention women and children—with 12 baskets of leftovers being collected after the meal. The seventy were sent out in pairs by Jesus into the cities he would be visiting. He gave them specific instructions to follow, including telling them to heal the sick in the houses where they would be accepted to stay.

When the seventy returned they were happy that even the devils were subject unto them through Jesus’ name. Jesus told them how he watched Satan fall from heaven like lightning. It was not a big deal to have power over the enemy in Jesus’ name. What was a big deal, and what was something to be happy about, was that their names were written in heaven!

Is your name written in heaven in the Lamb’s book of life? Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Do you believe he died for your sins and three days later was resurrected from the dead? Do you put your faith in him for your Salvation? If so, then you are one of the laborers of the great harvest of souls out there who need to hear this Gospel, this good news, that the gift of eternal life is bestowed on any who want it (2 Peter 3:9). The gift of eternal life is the hope of Salvation because the default state of fallen mankind is eternity separated from God. It is Salvation because there is something we are being saved from!

The potential of the harvest is massive and growing each and every day. As of 2013 the human population was supposed to be a little over seven billion with 316 million in the United States alone. That is a big harvest no matter how you look at it. Keep the visual in mind that Jesus used of laborers taking the Gospel to the people like laborers going into a field to harvest wheat because it is still time to work.

In John 4:31-38 Jesus had just spoken to the woman from Samaria at the well when his disciples asked him to eat. Jesus said to them, “I have meat (food) to eat that ye know not of.” Then the disciples asked among themselves if someone had brought him food, but Jesus told them, “My meat (food) is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” Then he pointed out that it was a time to be working when he said, “Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?’ Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

Jesus was at work harvesting souls into the Kingdom of God by talking to the Samaritan woman at the well. We see the results of the work when she goes back and tells her people about Jesus and how he knew everything about her even though she had never seen him before. Some believed because of what she said, and many more believed after they heard from Jesus themselves (John 4:39-43).

The harvest is bigger today. Too much for one person, and every person has their own abilities through the power of the Holy Spirit to harvest a portion of the giant field. Some can harvest more in a day than others can. It does not matter. Every laborer need to just do his or her part of the field they are assigned to harvest.

Some of us are in the wrong part of the field. We might need to go to that part closer to the horizon where the sun will be setting. Others may need to harvest close to the tree line. Some need to be in the middle of the field. Some harvesters may work well in large groups. Others may have a portion to harvest alone. Some may be just like the seventy, working in pairs in their part of the field.

The field is so large—seven billion and growing—that it can be overwhelming to consider. That is why Jesus told us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into the field. You might be in your part of the field barely able to see above the white tips of ripe grain to another part of the field you know is in desperate need of harvesting. That part of the field might represent your family members or other loved ones. You want so bad to work that part of the field, but you are stuck over here at the edges of the field where some other laborers missed some of the grain.

You might be spending a lot of time worrying about that other part of the field so much that you neglect your part of the field right around your ankles. Just keep on working your part of the harvest and pray that Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, will send laborers into the field where your loved ones are at. And, if that part of the field is not yet white and ready for harvest, pray for laborers who will plant the seeds of the Gospel and others who will water, and God will give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)!

Be Careful of Only Studying the Bible Forensically

This is how it usually goes with studying the Bible. New Christians read the Bible and discover all the wonderful events and people of God’s Holy Word.  Stories told in younger years of Noah and the Ark and miracles God performed through Moses as the Hebrews were delivered from the bondage under pharaoh are now alive and fresh in their minds again. The milk of the word is enjoyed as they grow and begin to bear fruit as followers of Christ.

Then the battles come and go, and the word is stood upon to walk in victory. During difficult times, believers turn daily to the Bible for instruction, encouragement and strength. The meat of the word begins to be enjoyed as the faithful mature in Christ. This growth is not a chronological thing. Some believers get there sooner rather than later. Reading the Bible then gives way to word studies. This gives way to in-depth study. Knowledge is gained, and it is a joy to experience God’s Holy Spirit revealing things as the depths of the Word are plumbed.

There is, however, something to watch out for when the study of God’s Word reaches a certain level. The desire to only study the Bible in a forensic manner can lead to missing out rather than learning more. Christians can end up taking the same approach to studying God’s Word as those forensic experts on TV crime dramas take when analyzing bodies for clues.

Forensic: relating to the use of scientific knowledge or methods in solving crimes.
From Merriam-Webster.com.
Retrieved March 6, 2014, from, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/forensic

Is it wrong to study the bible like this? Not at all. In fact, it reveals to those ready for the meat of the Word extremely powerful spiritual knowledge that is yet hidden to the babes in Christ who are living on the milk of the Word. Those forensic experts that study bodies for clues to solve crimes miss out on understanding and appreciating the lives of the very people who used to be alive in those bodies they are examining. Choosing to exclusively take the forensic approach to studying God’s Word can lead to missing out on the spiritually renewing fact that the Word of God is alive (Hebrews 4:12)!

The problem comes in when the Bible begins to only be studied as a thing rather than the Living Word from our Creator. If this begins to happen, take a step back and reread those favorite events in the Bible just to enjoy the stories they are telling. See the events of Bible heroes unfold once again as if reading them for the first time.

The day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus is fast approaching. I like to take time to read the stories of the life of Jesus in the four Gospels around this time. As of this writing, I am reading Luke’s account of the life of Jesus. As I read I am seeing new things and remembering old things. Though I do stop to pick apart some clues about details I never noticed before, I am also just enjoying rereading the telling of the earthly life and ministry of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. The day of love. It is the day where you spend time with that special one you love, or loved ones in your life. It is a day to express your love for one another. However, I am here to remind you of the greatest love of all, and that is the love of Jesus Christ!

There is no greater love than His love for you! It says in Romans 5:8, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” While we rejected Him, while we cursed Him, while we wanted nothing to do with Him, He loved us so much that He willingly gave His life for you and me! Take a moment in the remainder of your night to just think about that. HE LOVES YOU!

Homecoming Services In Virginia

Dayna Sellner and Ruth Menhart at Victory Gospel Church in Virginia.

Dayna Sellner and Ruth Menhart at Victory Gospel Church in Virginia.

My cousin, Dayna Sellner, who resides in Manassas, Virginia, told her pastor about our ministry. He said he had been praying for an evangelist to come and speak to the church. He invited me to speak for their homecoming in October.

We stayed with my cousin Dayna and her husband Kevin. They made us feel so welcome and at home. It was great to be with our family. We had our own reunion on Friday evening with Dayna’s other sisters, Dina and Wendy, along with their families.

On Saturday, Dayna prepared a wonderful meal and invited Pastor James and Linda Bowers along with two other couples from their church for a time of fellowship. We had a wonderful afternoon getting to know one another and sharing testimonies of what the Lord has done in our lives.

The next morning we arrived at Victory Gospel Church. I was so thankful that our family had the privilege to worship God together. All three of my cousins were there with members of their families.

Dayna, Wendy and Dina.

Dayna, Wendy and Dina.

A printed history of the church was given to everyone that attended the 20th anniversary celebration. Plenty of special singing and music was shared by church members, and the morning’s message was given. At the end of the message, the Holy Spirit moved and a number of people came forward for prayer in response to the Spirit’s call.

Before the service ended, Pastor Bowers asked if we would return in the near future for revival services. The meeting is scheduled for January of next year. We are thankful and excited about returning. After the service we all went to the fellowship hall for a delicious meal.

We really enjoyed being with our brothers and sisters from Victory Gospel Church and give God all the praise and glory for the lives that were touched. Thank you Pastor James and Sister Linda for all of the hospitality and love that was shown to Ruthie and myself.

Dayna, Wendy, Dina and Ruthie.

Dayna, Wendy, Dina and Ruthie.

Frank, Wendy, Dina and Ruthie.

Frank, Wendy, Dina and Ruthie.

Revival Fires Are Falling at Prayer Hill Church of God

Pastor Mike and Judy Ream from Prayer Hill Church of God in Wheeling, WV invited us for revival last weekend. What a privilege it was to minister to the saints at Prayer Hill. Ruth and our family was so blessed to see and experience the hunger, joy and love for the Lord that was expressed during the worship and preaching of the Word of God!

Each service people responded to the altar, seeking God and receiving from the Lord. There were testimonies of healing, deliverance and Holy Spirit baptisms.

While there, we learned that several from the church have committed themselves to a one year extensive discipleship program which is called, “Cadre”. I sat with the participants Sunday afternoon with their faces glowing as they shared with me how the Word is transforming their lives!

Our family left blessed and refreshed just being with this exciting congregation. Thank you family of God! We look forward to worshiping with you again in the near future. And thank you Pastor Mike and Sister Judy for making us feel so welcomed and loved.

From the Pastor’s Wife at Prayer Hill Church of God

This revival with Brother Menhart came with great expectations. Everyone was anticipating God to move in a powerful way. As pastors, it is thrilling to watch people of every age come alive in Christ. We know God never fails, and when our faith touches God’s presence, miraculous things take place. This weekend was no different.

God’s glory touched down at 51 36th Street this past weekend. Lives were changed as people chose to answer the call to draw near to the Lord. Young and old were set on fire with the presence of God. We are thrilled to say the fire is still burning and gaining intensity since the revival closed.

We are forever grateful for the powerful presence of the Lord that moved this weekend and is still moving even as I am writing this account. We can all make the decision to answer the call. NOW IS THE DAY AND THE HOUR! If you make that determination in your heart and life, God will move just as powerfully in you. We pray God blesses and moves in your life as He has in this wonderful revival.

Thank you Brother and Sister Menhart for your complete obedience.”

—Judy Ream
Prayer Hill Church of God
Wheeling, West Virginia

Brother Jyothi Reddi

Brother Jyothi Reddi and Frank Menhart

Brother Jyothi Reddi and Frank Menhart

Brother Jyothi Reddi (pronounced Joe Tee) is the State Overseer and Governing Body Chairman of the Church of God in Andhra Pradesh India. He also runs an orphanage that cares for, at the time of this writing, 500 children. It was 400 when we first included information about the orphanage here on our website at the India Missions page.

His ministry steadily grows reaching out to provide a Christian home, food, clothing and education for children who have no one to take care of them as well as reaching lost souls through his ministry as an evangelist. Refiner’s Fire Ministries Incorporated (RFM) has been supporting the work in India for many years. Brother Frank Menhart has visited and ministered in India where Brother Jyothi lives and works.

If the Lord puts it upon your heart to provide for Brother Jyothi Reddi and his orphanage and ministry in India, you can give directly to him or through RFM. Any offerings given through RFM go 100 percent to  the work in India. RFM is a 501(c)3 tax deductible non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Service code making donations tax deductible. You can learn more about Brother Jyothi’s ministries at his website by clicking HERE.

Jyothi Reddi, Frank Menhart, Makenna Shape,  Michael Menhart (in back), Ruth Menhart, Kayla Singo, Gretchen Shape. This photo was taken at the Connellsville, PA Church of God. Brother Jyothi visited to share about his ongoing work for the Lord in India.

Jyothi Reddi, Frank Menhart, Makenna Shape, Michael Menhart (in back), Ruth Menhart, Kayla Singo, Gretchen Shape. This photo was taken at the Connellsville, PA Church of God. Brother Jyothi visited to share about his ongoing work for the Lord in India.

Testimony From Prayer Hill Church of God

On Friday, when I went to physical therapy, my husband had to push me in a wheelchair. On Friday, I came to your revival. I am now walking with very little pain. Thank you! Thank you Jesus!”
—Donna A.
Prayer Hill Church of God

Times of Refreshing at Greene Valley

What a time we had this past weekend with the youth and congregation at the Greene Valley Church of God in Carmichaels, PA. Senior pastor Jeff Hathaway and youth pastor Leo Orlandi invited me to minister for this year’s youth fall event titled, “Experiencing God.”

The weekend began Saturday evening as youth gathered from Greene Valley and other churches for a time of fun, fellowship and worship. We started the evening with Crazy Hair Day, then there was a talent show.  It was great to see the young people using their talents for the Lord.

After winners were announced for the talent show, there was a brief time of praise and worship followed by the evening message. At the end of the message, the youth gathered in the altars to worship and receive from the Lord. There was an awesome time of prayer and moving of the gifts of the Spirit. Some lingered afterwards, even after dismissal. I love to see hunger for the Lord!

The night concluded with pizza and some volleyball.

On Sunday morning I was asked to address the church. I saw a number of old friends that I had grown up with when I was a teen in the youth group. (Greene Valley is where I received Christ as my Savior, and the church I was a part of during my childhood and teenage years under Pastor Tony Barnes.)

The presence of the Lord filled the sanctuary and there was an awesome anointing during the preaching. The altars filled the entire way across the sanctuary. It was wonderful watching the Lord change lives and seeing the Body of Christ minister to one another in prayer.

Sunday night, youth and adults gathered again, along with a number of visitors from surrounding churches. Again, the presence of the Lord was strong. Some were saved for the first time, others cried out in repentance and rededicated their lives to the Lord. Some received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The entire weekend was awesome!

Thank you Pastor Jeff, Pastor Leo, and church family for making this weekend a success and for blessing our family and ministry! WE LOVE YOU ALL!

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