FIRST, WE GIVE OF OURSELVES: Giving in Grace/BIBLE STUDY 2: “We Give of Ourselves”

September 9th, 2014

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints — 5and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

In this passage of Scripture, The Apostle Paul writes of what we might call the first “world hunger” offering. In the passage from 2 Corinthians 8, Paul commends to the church at Corinth, the Macedonian Christians who, despite their own trials, shared a grace-filled offering for God’s people in Jerusalem. As Paul speaks of this gift from the Macedonians, he uses descriptive terms such as “the grace of God,” “abundant joy,” “wealth of generosity.” and others. But the most interesting description of the Macedonian giving is the phrase found in verse 5 of this text. Paul says this about the Macedonians’ offering: “and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord…” 2 Cor. 8:5

Giving of oneself is set out by Paul as the spiritual understanding of our grace-filled giving. Our giving is about more than what is in our pocketbook at any given moment. Giving in grace is a life filled with response to God’s grace in Christ. It is the joy and delight in the giving of oneself in response to God’s rich and abundant gift of grace. This is the measure of grace-filled stewardship.

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think Paul means when he says about the Macedonians, “…they gave themselves first to the Lord.”?

2. What characteristics might be present in this attitude of giving?

3. How would this attitude that Paul describes affect your understanding of giving and your faith practice of giving?

4. If we understand stewardship as “how we walk each day in the midst of God’s grace, how might “giving oneself” be lived out in this context? Does this apply only to the sharing of gifts or does it impact other facets of life such as relationships with others?

5. How does the concept of “giving oneself” impact your understanding of stewardship?

6. Beyond the obvious, such as family, friends, and church, what are some examples of God’s grace that you have seen or experienced this past week?

7. What are some ways you have “given yourself” in grace this past week?
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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

We Give of Ourselves

September 9th, 2014

First, We Give Of Ourselves: Giving in Grace

“We Give of Ourselves”
Over the course of this week, we will consider what it means as “we give of ourselves.” The Apostle Paul writes of this spiritual aspect of our giving in 2 Corinthians 8:1-7. Here, Paul speaks of the Macedonian Christians who, in the midst of their own financial trials, shared a grace-filled offering for people who were suffering in Jerusalem. As Paul speaks of the Macedonians and their giving, he uses descriptive phrases such as “the grace of God,” “abundant joy,” “wealth of generosity,” and others. But our theme verse appears in the 5th verse of this passage when Paul says this of the Macedonians and their giving: “…and this, not merely as we expected, they gave themselves first to the Lord…” 2 Cor. 8:5

Giving of oneself is set out by Paul as the spiritual understanding of grace-filled giving. Our giving is based on more than what is in our pocketbook at any given moment. Giving in grace is a life filled with response to God’s grace in Christ. It is the joy and delight in the giving of oneself in response to God’s rich and abundant gift of grace. This is the measure of grace-filled stewardship.

Where have you seen or experienced God’s grace this past week?
What ways have you “given yourself” in grace this past week?

Welcome to a New Year of Sunday School

September 5th, 2014

Welcome back for a new year of Sunday school. September 7th is our Sunday school kick off. We will meet in the music room at 9:00 for gathering, then we will go outside for games and snacks. It should be a great morning seeing old friends and maybe meeting some new ones. We look forward to seeing everyone and we hope you all had a great summer! Remember you can always bring a friend!

FIRST, WE GIVE OF OURSELVES: Giving in Grace/BIBLE STUDY 1: “The Gift of God’s Grace”

September 5th, 2014

Read Romans 3:21-24

21But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 23since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; 24they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
In this passage from Romans, the Apostle Paul lays out the cornerstone of God’s great love for us. That cornerstone is Christ and God’s rich, abundant, and free gift of grace in Jesus Christ. As Paul tells us, each of us is sinful and in need of this life giving grace. Through faith, we receive the greatest gift we could ever receive, God’s grace. It is this grace, in and through Christ, which brings each of us forgiveness and life. Grace lies at the foundation of God’s relationship with us and informs how we are to live as God’s people each day. Stewardship is our faithful, joyful, and thankful response as we delight in this rich gift of God’s grace.

Discussion Questions

1. What do these verses from Romans tell us about God’s grace in Christ?

2. How does the gift of God’s grace in Christ impact our understanding of who we are as person?

3. How do you respond to this gift of God’s grace?

4. One way to understand our Christian stewardship can be summed up in this statement: “Stewardship is how we live each day in the midst of God’s rich grace in Christ.” As we live each day in God’s grace, how does that inform our relationship with the people and the world around us? Share some examples of what difference this kind of lifestyle would make.

5. How does this passage from Romans inform your understanding of stewardship?

6. Beyond the obvious such as family, friends, and church, what are some examples of God’s grace that you have seen or experienced this past week? Dig deep!

7. What are some ways you have given in grace this past week?

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New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Gift of God’s Grace

September 4th, 2014

First, We Give Of Ourselves: Giving in Grace

“The Gift of God’s Grace”
This is the focus of our congregational conversation this week and is centered on Romans 3:21-24. In this passage from Romans, the Apostle Paul sets out the cornerstone of God’s great love for us. That cornerstone is Christ and God’s rich, abundant, and free gifts of grace in Jesus Christ. As Paul tells us, each of us is sinful and in need of God’s life giving grace. Through faith, we receive the greatest gift we could ever receive, God’s grace. It is this grace, in and through Christ, which brings us forgiveness and life.

Grace lies at the foundation of God’s relationship with us and informs how we are to live as God’s people each day. Stewardship is our faithful, joyful, and thankful response as we delight in this rich gift of God’s grace.

Where have you seen and how have you experienced the gift of God’s grace this past week?

In what ways have you shared God’s grace this past week?

 

First, We Give Of Ourselves: Giving in Grace – GIVING in GRACE Bible Study

August 25th, 2014

Our all-congregation Bible Study begins Sunday, August 31st, with a variety of opportunities to participate. This is a four week study and a key spiritual growth opportunity in the
“First, We Give Of Ourselves” emphasis.

The studies will be around half an hour in length. Here are the opportunities for you to participate:

Sunday *9:00am, at Adult Forum, in the Parish House
*11:45am, at Coffee Fellowship, in the Fellowship Hall

Monday *7:00pm, after Handbells, in the Fellowship Hall

Tuesday *11:30am, after 10:30am Bible Study, in the Parish House

Wednesday *6:15pm, before Choir, in the Fellowship Hall

Please join in!

The Summer Sprint is Coming to an End

August 25th, 2014

Each summer feels like a long-distance marathon for us. Lots of movement, sometimes fast… often slow… but always in motion. This summer was no different.

The Lord has blessed us with a unique team: half guys and half gals … this in itself is amazing as this is a first during our past ten years here in Mexico. We usually have more gals than guys. We had four Canadians (two Chinese Canadians), and six Americans coming through our partner ministries: Gospel Operation International, the Canadian Christian & Missionary Alliance, LAM Canada, and our mission, United World Mission.

We worked with six different churches throughout the Mexico City metropolitan area. We had a successful Mission’s Conference, attended by many from within and outside of Mexico City. We had an Avance Prayer Retreat and a Ministry Couples Retreat, as well.

Thanks for being a part of this summer!

Paul, Nydia, Andy, and Anna

Women’s Circles

August 25th, 2014

Hannah…… Meeting Thursday, September 18, 9:30 a.m.in the Parish House
Convener: Marilyn Raymond, 309-787-2542 or marilynraymond@hotmail.com

Chloe……… Bible Study: Tuesday, September 9, 7:00 p.m. in the Parish House, study from the September 2014 Gather magazine: “Transformation & Conversion.”
Anyone is invited to attend. There will be copies of the study and refreshments. Call 786-1152 if you have questions.

Northern Illinois Synod WELCA Convention

August 25th, 2014

Saturday, September 27, 2014, 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

First Lutheran Church, Galesburg, IL

The theme of the convention is “We Are All One,” and the Keynote Speaker will be Pastor Diane Dardon. Bishop Wollersheim will also deliver a morning message. The $35.00 registration fee is due by September 9th. Please contact the church office for registration forms.

The Convention Offering will go to Women of the ELCA, LWR (the quilt shipping fund), and to the two Companion Synods in Tanzania and Arcot, India. The material offering will be Lutheran World Relief School Kits. Even if you are not attending the convention, you can donate to a kit. See the items for a kit on a sheet in the Narthex at First Lutheran, Rock Island, and sign up to donate one or more items. Bring items to church no later than September 14, 2014. Call Sylvia Martin, 786-1152 if you have questions.

ELCA Treasurer to Preach

August 25th, 2014

The Rev. Linda Norman, treasurer of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will be our guest preacher at First Lutheran, Rock Island, on Sunday, September 21st. Plan to attend to welcome her and hear her message on Giving in Grace.

Upcoming Events—Mark Your Calendars!!

August 25th, 2014

First Lutheran’s Dinner Theater- “You Know You’re a Lutheran When…..”
Saturday, October 18, 2014
5:00 p.m. – Dinner: pulled pork, coleslaw, cheesy potatoes, beans, relishes, dessert, drinks
6:00 p.m.- The show: “You Know You’re a Lutheran When….”
This is a fundraiser for MISSIONS.
We will start selling tickets that are $10 per person the first weekend in September.

Get ready to laugh and reminisce and sing!

Holiday SERRV/World Crafts Sale at First Lutheran Church

Dates: Saturday November 15th from 10:00am to 3pm
Sunday November 16th noon till 2pm

Stock up on wonderful gifts for the holidays that are unique and hand-made in countries all around the world. These hand-crafted items are made by artisans who get a living wage for their works, and profits are invested back into the communities to build schools and infrastructure. Proceeds from the sale will help to support the missions of our Northern Illinois Synod.

Missionaries at Work

August 25th, 2014

There is a brand-new world map on the east wall of Fellowship Hall. You will notice there are a few photos of missionaries pinned to the countries where they are doing their mission work. In the next weeks, there will be more photos going up. The Sunday School children will help pin some of the photos.

When the project is finished, you will see up to 150 different photos pinned all over the map. The purpose of this map is to make you and the children aware of just how much the ELCA supports missionary work in the world. There are actually many more ELCA missionaries, but we do not have photos of all of them.

Donate to Make a Lutheran World Relief School Kit

August 25th, 2014

Look for a requirements list for making a LWR School Kit in the narthex. Sign your name by an item or items that you would like to donate, and then bring the item(s) to church and deposit in the box provided no later than September 14th. The kit will be taken to the Northern Illinois Synod Women’s Convention September 27, 2014 at First Lutheran Church, Galesburg, IL.

Congregational Meeting September 7

August 25th, 2014

On Sunday, September 7, immediately after church in the sanctuary, there will be a Congregational Meeting to vote on the two alternate members for the Call Committee. It is important that you stay and vote. There will be a paper ballot.