pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Generously and Joyfully

Reading: Deuteronomy 26: 1-11

Verse 10: “I will bring the first fruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me”.

Being thankful or grateful is such an important part of our faith. It was so important to God that this practice is one of the key tenets of the chosen people’s faith. Every year it was celebrated. Today we read, “I will bring the first fruits of the soil that you, O Lord, have given me”. By bringing the first fruits we act in faith and trust. Abel brought the first lambs of his flock trusting that God would give him more. In faith Abraham offered his only son Isaac on the altar trusting that God would provide.

In our passage today, the first fruits are being offered as a “thank” offering. The first grapes or wheat or olive oil or lamb or goat or… was brought and sacrificed to God along with prayers of thanksgiving for the blessings in their lives. It was a time of joy. Our passage closes with, “rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given you”. These offerings also acknowledged that it is God alone who provides. This is still an important perspective for us to keep.

These two practices remain essential to healthy faith. Our first fruit is often referred to as a tithe in the church. We usually think of it as money but it can also be our time or our talents too. Either way, God still calls for it to be the first fruits. In practice that means we write the check or give the gift at the start of the month. This demonstrates trust and faith in God. It requires much less to wait until the end of the month to give what is left. No one wants leftovers. To give thankfully and joyfully is also an essential. To give willingly with a heart that rejoices in all that God has done is pleasing to God. Remember cleaning your room grudgingly because you had to? Don’t give that way.

Lest we think it too easy, we must remember that God calls us to this thankful giving so that we learn to always live with a generous and giving heart. In the day to day of life we are also called to give of ourselves when opportunity arises. It may be time for a lonely friend, it may be a meal for a hungry person, it may be watching a young mom’s kids so she can go to the grocery store. In all we do may we be thankful to God and may we share richly with others.

Prayer: Lord, may I hold loosely to all you bless me with so that it may freely go to those in need. Amen.


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Giving and Receiving

Faith is meant to be lived out in community.  It is in the wider community of the world that we come to interact with people to share our faith.  Within our churches we also have a community.  It is in the fellowship of believers that we grow and develop in our faith.  It is from this smaller community that we go forth into the world.

Life is about giving and receiving.  In life we will all have situations where we can offer of ourselves to others.  We will also have times when we are in need and others will give to us.  This give and take is what it means to live in community as brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is about being filled and being emptied.

It is often through our relationship with Jesus Christ that we are filled.  He is the bread of life and the living water.  All who come to Him will never be hungry and will never thirst.  At times we need to be filled by Christ.  His table is always open for us to come, to connect with His Spirit, to be filled with His love.  Others in our community of faith can also fill us up and build us up.  This is just one reason community and relationships are so important to our faith.

It is from our community of faith and through our relationship with Jesus that we go forth into the world to answer our call to make disciples of all nations.  This is most often done in small, personal ways.  It is both giving generously of ourselves to meet the needs of another and also graciously welcoming another when they give to us.  Christ must be lived out in all of our relationships so that the light shines into the darkness and overcomes it.  It is in the light that we walk.  It is the light that draws others to Christ.

Scripture reference: John 6: 35