pastorjohnb

Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!


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Thanks

Reading: Psalm 50: 1-8 & 22-23

God’s voice booms out in this passage.  It opens with, “The Mighty One, God, the Lord, speaks”.  One can hear the thunder in God’s voice.  Rightly so, God sounds like an angry parent.  God summons the people Israel to hear what needs to be said.  God reminds them of their covenant and that God is their judge.  In the verses not read from the Psalm, God lays out both why they should offer just thank offerings and also a list of the sins they are committing.  As we pick up in verse 22, God reminds ‘you who forget God’ the consequences and benefits of following God faithfully.

We live in a time where blood sacrifices of animals arr no longer made nor are they necessary.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross covers all of our sins.  Yet God still desires our sacrifices.  In our passage God calls for thank offerings.  These are what God desires of us as well.  A thank offering expresses our gratitude to God for all we have been blessed with.  This can run the gamut from our tithe that we lay on the altar to the time we give to mentor one new to the faith.  It can be the time we give to teach a class and it can be the time we set aside each day to specifically and gratefully thank God for the specific blessings of each day.

This idea goes beyond simply saying ‘Thank You’ to God for the good things in our life.  Our thanksgiving also keeps us humble by recognizing God’s hand in all of our blessings.  It takes the focus off of us and how good we are.  We are also made more aware of God’s vast love, mercy, grace, … and this lessens the load that we feel we have to carry.  It relieves us of some of our fears and anxieties as we come to trust more in God’s provision, power, and presence in our lives.  We come to know God is in control.

Today may we take some time to thank God for the many ways we are blessed by and experience the divine hand at work in our lives.  May we express our gratitude through our selfless offering of our time, gifts, talents, resources, service, and witness.  And may we welcome the presence and peace of God into our lives.

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Willingness to Give

In many places in the Bible we are called to give. We are called to give of our time, our talents, and our gifts. We find this call in other religions as well. On our confirmation trip to Denver this past weekend, we heard this call to give to those in need echoed in the foundational beliefs of the Jewish and the Muslim faiths. To give to those in need is such a basic human drive when we can set selfishness aside and allow our natural compassion to rise to the surface.

In Leviticus 19 God directs the farmers to leave the produce missed in the first picking so that the poor and the traveler may come and glean from the fields. God instructs them not to pick all the way to the edges and not to go over the field a second time. In the New Testament we see Jesus and his disciples being the recipient of this practice. When harvests were bountiful, this must not have been so hard to do. But in a year with drought and a poor crop coming in, a farmer would be tempted to get every last grape or head of grain out of the field. Society knew this practice was in place and that people could come glean from the harvested fields. Because it was a social norm, it removed the need for the poor and alien to have to come beg from the landowner. It was an early form of social justice and loving neighbor in the biggest sense of the word neighbor.

So… how do we seek to administer similar acts of social justice and giving? How do we honor the call to share our time, talents, and gifts? How intertwined these can be!! For most the simplest way is to share our gifts (money) – we give some back to the church to use in various outreach and mission projects or causes. Some also chose to donate directly to a cause or to sponsor a child in a third world country. We may volunteer to teach Sunday school or to help with Youth group or donate some time each week through a program like CASA that helps those in need. All great ways to say ‘thank you’ to God for all that he has blessed us with. All ways to share with our neighbor the things that God has given to us!

However we chose to make a difference in our world, it is all based on the same underlying idea. All that we have is God’s. In the days of old Israel, the farmers got to keep almost all of the crop that God had blessed them with. Today if you go so far as to tithe, you still get to keep 90% of what God has blessed you with. May we joyfully give from what we have been blessed with!! In the end, it is all God’s anyway!!