This is harvest season. Not many of us are involved in harvesting large amounts of crops. Most of the major harvesting in our time is done by large agribusiness. So even though few of us actually go to the field to pull corn off the stalks and tomatoes off the vine, there is still harvesting happening. Without it, we would soon perish. One thing to know about the harvest season from the Bible is that God told his people, Israel, to bring the first fruits of their harvest to the worship space and offer it to God.
For example, “. . . you shall take some of the first of all the fruits of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling place for his name” (Deuteronomy 26:2).
One of the things this passage of Scripture does is show that there is a real connection between what God does for us and what we do in response. The people of Israel brought their first fruits as an expression of gratitude to God for what God had done for them. What had God done for them? God had delivered two million or three million of them from bondage and slavery in Egypt. By doing that, God proved to be a God who keeps promises to God’s treasured people.
As we approach the season of harvest, we have the chance to prove our faithfulness to God that is just as real as it was to the children of Israel. Obviously, we have not been delivered from Egyptian slavery. But in Christ we have been delivered from a lifetime of sin and given hope for eternal life. Our slavery was a lack of forgiveness and lack of power to live in victory over sin. And by ourselves we are powerless to do anything beyond the grave. But now that Christ has come, has been raised from the dead, and is interceding (praying) for us as he sits at the right hand of God, we have everything in the world for which to be grateful. We have inherited our “harvest” because of Christ. Therefore we are God’s own possession just as surely as those who first received the admonition to bring the first fruits of the ground to God.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will remember some of the most powerful teachings of Scripture. God wants us to earn all we can, and to save all we can, and to give all we can. If you were in worship on Sunday Oct 18, you heard a report from the Finance Committee. We have a pretty good amount of financial ground to make up in the next few weeks before the end of the year. All I can do as your Pastor is simply to ask each of us if we have adequately expressed our gratitude to God in the past year?
There is always going to be a reason, or reasons, not to give to God as abundantly as we can. My prayer is that we will see the real reasons to trust God and give to God in response to the blessings God has given us. God has worked mightily through body of Christ at Midway UMC in the past. We want God to continually expand what God is doing here, rather than have to make decisions to discontinue things. Pray and ask God what your part is to grow our outreach and ministry.
Have a happy Thanksgiving. And may God help us to see each of our blessings, and respond to those blessings accordingly.
Pastor Barry October 24, 2015