In the history of mankind, God’s people were “challenged” to make a freewill contribution or offering as their heart was “moved” to do so.  In Exodus 25:1-2 we read the LORD’s words to Moses: “…tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; from every man whose heart moves him you shall raise My contribution.” The purpose of the contribution, or heave offering, was to construct a sanctuary for God (vs. 8-9).  In Exodus 35 and 36, it’s revealed that the Israelites responded tremendously to this effort as “…everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the LORD’s contribution for the…tent of meeting and for all its service…all whose hearts moved them both men and women…” (Ex. 35:21-22) from their possessions, whether materials or skills.  Furthermore, we read in Ex. 36:3-5 the people “…continued bringing…freewill offerings every morning…” to the point that the builders informed Moses “…the people are bringing much more than enough…”.  Moses issued a command to the Israelites to STOP bringing any more as the material they had was “…sufficient and more than enough for all the work…” (Ex. 35:6-7)

            After the LORD’s Church was established, there was a means by which these early Christians also shared with others from their material blessings.  “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them…all who were owners of land or houses would sell…and bring the proceeds…and lay them at the apostles feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:32-35)  History tells us that these “new” Christians in Jerusalem were among the poorest and most impoverished of the residents and through these freewill offerings, the physical needs of the brethren were met.

            Recently, the LORD’s Church in Ripon was presented with a “challenge” to share with others the material blessings that God has provided for us.  As the Israelites did and as the early Christians did (also Paul’s statement in Phil. 4:14-19), you responded to the opportunity admirably!  Through the generous spirit and hearts of God’s people here, 844 lbs. of food and goods (that’s two fully stacked pallets!) was donated to two community secular organizations for distribution to those in need, especially during these difficult times of today.  Additionally, cash donations of around $900 will be sent to these organizations by the Church.  Altogether, this amounts to about $2500 value to enhance the efforts of community charities in trying to meet the needs of those who have less than we!  Of a very special note is that our efforts brought people from the community who happened by and after inquiring about what we were doing, also contributed.  What a great message to the community was sent, whether it was to a few or many! 

             Jesus’ teaching on providing for the needy is clear in Matt. 5:7 and in Matt. 25:34-40. The apostle Paul stated that “…the LORD Jesus…Himself…said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)  Our freewill and generous contribution is precisely what God expects from His people. (1st Corin. 16:2 & 2nd Corin. 9:5-8)  And, yes, this effort — this good work — did “Let (our) light shine…” to the community! (Matt. 5:16)  To God be the glory, forever!  Amen! 

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