First Fruits

November 11th, 2018

David Sorn



As we talk more about our church’s future, Pastor David describes the difference between being a “first fruits Christian” and a “leftovers Christian.”



Browse Archives of all Past Renovation Church Messages




TRANSCRIPT


INTRODUCTION / RECAP

Morning!  Welcome to week 2 of 2 in our Harvest series as we look to our future as a church. 

If you weren’t here last week, I would ask that you watch last week’s message online where we explain everything that’s happening…          

But since I obviously can’t wait for you to do that right now J, let me quickly sum it up for you

Our desire as a church, from the beginning, has been to be a people being changed by God to change the world.  

And we want to do just that. 

We want to impact and reach as many people for Christ as possible.   

 (Show Attendance Chart Graph) 

And God has already been allowing us to reach many for Christ. 

And you can see here that we’ve had tremendous growth…especially in the past 2 years. 

And based on those trends, we know, that in the next couple of years, we’re going to run out of room here at Northpoint

And we also know…as much as we don’t like to say it out loud sometimes, our church meets in an Elementary School Gym. 

To the community, we don’t exist 6 days a week.  

We are already the 2nd largest church in town, and yet I still constantly meet people in Blaine who say, “Rena---what?  Never heard of it” 

There are some people (obviously not all), but some, who are never going to try “church in a school” 

I just talked to a woman last week who mentioned that when they were looking for to get plugged into a church, they tried every other church first…before they would try a church in a school.  

Why?  Because a church in a school, to an onlooker, could be there one day, and gone the next. 

Having a building displays a level of permanence, credibility, and sustainability…that renting a school can never give you. 

Now, personally, I wish that wasn’t not true. 

I don’t think type of facility should matter one bit…location isn’t what defines the heart of a church.   

But, unfortunately, that IS how many of the people in our culture that we’re trying to reach DO think, and we want to do whatever we can to reach people in OUR culture…in OUR city. 

And so having enough space is a HUGE part of it…but so is having the right kind of space  

But an important point of clarification here is that this isn’t just about SPACE.  

When we say we need the right kind or space OR we need more space …we say that because we need to reach even MORE people. 

And this is already happening.  We just need it to a greater degree.  

It’s not like we’re saying, “Gee, if we just had a building, then we could finally see people come to Christ and get discipled” 

NO, it’s already happening, it’s just that…we think it can happen to an even greater degree with more space.  

We’re not talking about doing anything different or new… 

One of the words we’ve been using for years here is that we just want to AMPLIFY what God’s already doing.  

And so this building we’re trying to build…(which you can see in the background…)

(Play silent Flyover Video in background)  

Is going to cost roughly 5 million dollars.  

We’ve already seen 1.3 million pledged toward it. 

That’s not 1.3 million in the bank, but that the people of Renovation (who were here 12 months ago), pledged to give that amount over a 3 year period.  

As I mentioned last week, that gives us about a 50/50 chance of starting construction in March of 2020, which is our goal.  

While there are certainly things beyond our control here, our hope is to increase the odds of breaking ground in March 2020 (which is just 16 months away) beyond 50/50

And so we’re aiming to raise an additional $125,000 in 2-year pledges of above-and-beyond giving. 

I mentioned last week that we’re praying we can raise that additional $125,000 for 3 reasons. 

1) It decreases the debt we’ll pay on the back end

2) It’s an opportunity for ALL of us to do this together…as almost 100 of you are new since we did pledges last Fall. 

3) It allows us to start construction during a “window of opportunity” while everything else is going up in that neighborhood as well.   

We know that if we don’t hit our goal to break ground in March 2020, that pushes a back another year to March 2021

I think anytime a church talks about expanding or extra space…or 500 SEATS…or anything like that…

The temptation is to just think about numbers.  

But we’re not just talking about numbers here. 

When we talk of reaching hundreds or thousands more in Blaine, Andover, Coon Rapids, Ham Lake, and Lino Lakes

We’re not just talking about numbers…or chairs. 

We’re talking about people…real people.    

                                                       

 

MORE THAN A NUMBER

It’s actually easier to see that by looking backwards instead of forward.  

I want you to take a look Nancy’s story…from our church. 

(PLAY NANCY TESTIMONY VIDEO) 

The harvest is plentiful. 

And this next season, is about writing more stories like that one.  

It’s not just numbers…but real people and real stories. 

That’s what who sacrificing for.  

There are people ALL over this city and beyond that need to know Christ… 

They need to have their lives changed like that. 

And we want to tell them. 

And we need to create room for them! 

But great things always requires sacrifice. 

Any time you hear of any person or group that has accomplished a lot, you’re almost always going to hear that they sacrificed a lot. 

It’s not enough to just want it…or agree with it. 

You know, we’ve been working towards this process of getting land and a building for 5 years now. FIVE YEARS! 

We’re getting there!! J

But over the past 5 years, I haven’t had a single person tell me, “David, we shouldn’t do this.  This is the WRONG move for Renovation Church” 

Every person I talk to people from our church…seems to be incredibly excited about this. 

But as with many great things, there is often a huge gap between, “This is a great idea that I can’t wait to reap the benefits from….and, “I will personally sacrifice to make this happen”  

But it’s not going to happen unless we all sacrifice together.  

Think about it this way: What causes us to “sacrifice?” 

We only sacrifice for something when we feel the end result is worth the sacrifice along the way.  

You sacrifice and don’t eat what you’d rather eat…you run on a treadmill…like you’re a dumb hamster

Why SACRIFICE like that? 

Because you believe the goal will be worth it. 

And I promise you, this is greater than anything else we could sacrifice for. 

We’re talking about sacrificing together because, like you saw in the video, we’re talking about saving people (REAL people!) for all of eternity!

Please, someone tell me what would be a better investment than that?? J

 

 

FIRST FRUITS  

Now, if you’re new around here in the last year or so, and I know a ton of you are, I will tell you (and you’ve probably already noticed this), we’re not a church that talks about money a whole lot. 

We just aren’t.  

Last week was probably the first time in last 52 weeks.  

Honestly, we probably don’t talk about it enough…considering it’s one of Jesus’ most talked about topics. 

But, listen this is where we’re at right now (it would be weird to NOT talk about it)

Next Sunday, a whole lot of you are making FINANCIAL commitments, so I think it’s good for us to look at Scripture concerning that topic today.   

If we want to see the continuation of our world-changing vision…we have to be people who put Christ first…not ourselves first. 

A few months ago, God put the topic of “first fruits” on my heart, and I’ve been waiting for the right time to teach about it…and I think today is that day. 

“First fruits” is a major concept in the Bible, but it’s not one that gets talked about all that often anymore. 

In fact, there are over 30 verses in Scripture dedicated to the concept. 

The teaching of “first fruits” begins in the Old Testament when the Israelites are coming out of Egypt in the Book of Exodus…

The principle of First Fruits is this:  In those days, when you began harvesting ANY of your crops, you were to bring the FIRST 10% of them to the Lord…and His work.  

(Leviticus 27:30) – NIV

“‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.

And throughout the Scriptures, this concept is called “First Fruits.”

And it was called the “FIRST” fruits because before they sold any of their crops off to make money, before they ate of any of their crops for themselves…they were to always give the FIRST 10% to God.    

One of the things that’s interesting to me about the journey of God’s people in the OT is that they always come back to the principle of FIRST FRUITS when revival hits, and the people turned back to the LORD

When King Hezekiah brings the people back to God after generations were stuck in idolatry…this happens: 

(2 Chronicles 31:5) – NIV

As soon as the order went out, the Israelites generously gave the firstfruits of their grain, new wine, olive oil and honey and all that the fields produced. They brought a great amount, a tithe of everything.

The same thing happens when Nehemiah brings the people back to Jerusalem, they rebuild the wall, and come back to the LORD.  

One of the first things Nehemiah does is to bring the people back to the Biblical idea that the FIRST Fruits of their lives are for God

(Nehemiah 10:35) – NIV

 “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.

So when God’s people brought the FIRST of their crops, their wine, their oil…the FIRST of all they had…why were they doing that? 

They were doing that to acknowledge that all they have comes from God, is a blessing from God, and belongs to God. 

And that’s true isn’t it? 

Why are you breathing right now? 

God gave you breath

Anytime you’ve had a job…or gotten paid…or have been able to purchase anything…

Who made that happen? 

God! 

This is why the Biblical word Christians use to talk about our money is “stewardship”

Because if you’re a steward of something, you’re just the person who manages another person’s finances

We are stewards of God’s stuff.  

If I take one of my kids out to Culver’s, and I ask for the FIRST bite of their frozen custard… 

They can’t say back to me, “Hey!  You don’t have right to ask for that!  I earned this.  I bought this by my own hand!”  

And yet so often, as believers, that’s exactly how we look at God.  

And worse yet, we don’t give God our first fruits, but instead, we give Him our leftovers. 

We don’t give him the first or best part of our day…but if we have a few minutes or seconds left over at the end of the day…while we’re falling asleep…we’ll give him our leftover minutes.  

We don’t give him first priority in our schedules on Sundays…or on “House Group Day”…or you name it. 

If we have soccer, or ballet, or the lake, or practically anything else on the calendar…we give all those things FIRST priority…and then we give the LEFTOVER Sundays to God. 

But you can’t change the world with your “leftovers” 

But we can…if we live as “First-fruits-Christians”

And this is true in how we handle our finances as well. 

When you get to heaven someday, and God asks you how good of a steward you were with what He blessed you with, what will you say? 

Unfortunately, sooo many American Christians will have to say:  “Um, not sure Lord.  But I made my car payments…made my house payments…had a nice TV…great phone…and if ever found any leftover…I gave it back to you.”  

Where are you right now? 

Are you giving God your “leftovers” or “first fruits?” 

I realize this is a hard word today…  

But Jesus himself challenges us with this thought:  

(Matthew 6:19-21) - NIV

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And Jesus is saying that our financial decisions aren’t just purely financial, but that they reflect our hearts back to us

 

 

HARVEST GIVING

I realize this is challenging stuff (I really do), but I do think it also provides us with an opportunity…particularly because we don’t talk about this all that often. 

This juncture, in the life of our church, is an opportunity for many of us to get our hearts right in this area of our lives.   

Now, yes, this is a matter of obedience…but there’s also a promise in living a first-fruits sort of life

When you put God first, above all, you’re going to really see your life change…because you’ll be giving God REAL space to come in and really move…not just the leftovers. 

If you’re in a place spiritually where you are giving, but you’re not tithing yet (you’re not giving the Biblical 10%...the “first fruits” of your life financially), maybe you ask the question this week of:  “What would it take, sacrificially, to use this moment as an opportunity to get to 10%” 

If you’re giving 5% to the General fund already, what if you, in addition to that, gave 5% to Harvest…to get to 10%.  

I know many of you already pledged to Harvest last year… 

But maybe your pledge has fallen off a bit…

Use this as a time to get back on the horse.  

Maybe you pledged some last year, but you want to get closer to tithing (to 10%)

Hand in a new, revised, 2-year pledge that gets you there.   

Maybe you’ve never given anything back to God in your life… 

Use this as an opportunity to take a step forward in trusting Him…even if it’s a small one.  

And for the 100 of so of you that are new…and have been thinking hard about this the past week or so… 

Take this to God… 

Don’t just listen to me…please don’t do that.  

I want all of us this week, to stop, sit down, and start talking to God about this. 

And trust Him in it.  

Right after the famous verse in Proverbs 3 about “trusting in the Lord with all of your heart and leaning not on your own understanding”…comes this verse that many miss: 

(Proverbs 3:9-10) – NIV

9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
    with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
    and your vats will brim over with new wine.

This is not a get-rich quick scheme…remember, God looks at the heart. 

But the Word of God is saying that if you live as a first-fruits person, not a leftovers person… 

Even as you feel like you’re “jumping into the unknown” in your faith…God can take care of you.                        

And the truth is…the best time to start being generous is right now. 

It will never get any easier.  

We all like to think that the more money we make, the easier it will be to give. 

But studies show that actually the opposite is true.  

They tell us that the more money people make, the less likely they are to be generous with it.  

There is no better time to start TRUSTING and OBEYING God…than right now. 

I know so many of you pledged last year… 

But between those of you have already pledged, and those that will pledge this year, our prayer is for 100% participation. .  

And I know that’s going to look different for all of you. 

(put Giving Chart on screen as well)

Let me show you a chart of what I’m talking about…and this is in your Harvest Booklet that I know many of you have already. 

If you don’t have one yet, you can pick one up right outside the doors on your way out today. 

I  want to encourage you to use this tool to help you see what different gifts look like at a monthly level. 

And again…there are no all-star givers here. 

It’s not equal gifts…but equal sacrifice…given your situation. 

But listen, we’re praying someone would pledge $40,000

But we’re also praying for people who feel like they can’t give anything, that they find a way…to be a part of it.   

Page 16 in fact has a ton of ideas in there on how to creatively find a way to give or even to increase your impact

If this is going to happen, it’s going to take ALL of us.   

But it is possible! 

Under your chair, you will also see a commitment card for our Commitment Sunday next week (looks like this) 

If you haven’t pledged yet, or you want to revise your pledge from last time…

Take this home with you, and sometime this week, fill this out, and then bring it back next Sunday. 

This is simply a pledge of your intentions.  

It’s not a binding contract. 

When you pledge, we’ll send you out information that week of how you can actually begin to give. 

But for now, it’s just a pledge of intent. 

And if you’re married, again, we encourage you to pray and talk with your spouse a lot about this during the week.    

 

 

THE WHY  

And remember, this is always spiritual before this is financial. 

As a guy who would rather talk about a WHOLE lot of other things than money…the only reason I’m asking you to seek God on this…

…is because A WHOLE Lot more people are going to be able to meet Jesus if we do this.  

This building, not only allows us more space to reach more people for Christ here in Blaine, but it gives us a greater “Launching Pad” to send people out to change the world.  

I just got back from Arizona on Friday night, as I was at the Church Planter’s Assessment Center with yet another future church planter of ours.  

Who, by the way, passed with flying colors, and will be planting our FIFTH church in the Andover/Ham Lake, or Coon Rapids area, in the next 9 to 10 months. 

“And I tell you that…because we’re going to be able to not just see people come to Christ in our building, but we’re ALSO going to disciple them, and send them out to reach even more people for Christ!

There are 500 people here today…and as our 4th church (Pursuit Community) has their Grand Opening this morning (hoping to update you on that in a few minutes), there are now over 1,000 people total in our “Renovation network” when we add in our church plants. 

In the next 5 years or so, as we continue to plant churches at a rapid pace, the number of people in our Renovation network is going to quickly expand to closer to 3,000 people. 

Listen, we want to be one of the most influential churches in America…that no one’s ever heard of J

A few weeks from today, we’re going to introduce you to some people from our church that are getting ready to leave us…to move to Eastern Europe…to share the Gospel there as full-time missionaries. 

So we’re not just talking about sacrificing to change lives here in Blaine…but we’re talking about building a LAUNCHING PAD for the Kingdom of God. 

Where literally THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of people…when they get to heaven someday…and will be able to connect the dots back to us… 

Thousands upon thousands of people will be able to praise God for the ministry of Renovation Church and how it played a massive part in saving their life…saving them from hell…

And ushering them into the presence of God. 

And WHY will they be able to do that? 

Because of people like you. 

And your sacrifice. 

Thank you for your faith. 

Let me pray.



Copyright: David Sorn

Renovation Church in Blaine, MN


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