“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times you may abound in every good work. As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
II Corinthians 9:8-12 (ESV
Beth Ann blogged about the Aaronic blessing which we often hear at the end of the worship service, and I posted the hymn, “Sent Forth By God’s Blessing” which is a common recessional. It occurs to me that God blesses us during our weekly worship, not only because He loves us, but because He wants us to go out and extend that blessing to others. One church I visited had a sign as you exited the parking lot that read, “You are now entering the mission field.” How often do we think about this? Most of the time, church is over, and we simply slip back into our usual routines, without giving a thought to what God wants us to do next. We’re happy to have been inspired, uplifted and blessed, but we don’t make time to “pay it forward.”
There are probably a million ways to do this. We can just practice the fruits of the spirit by loving, being patient, kind and gentle in our interactions with others. We can be generous to those in need. We can invite somebody to church or Bible study. We can say “thanks” or “have a blessed day.” We can go down to the local mission and serve a meal. We can help an elderly neighbor or a young mother. We can give someone a hug.
The point is, God’s blessing isn’t just for you and me. We’re to receive it, and then give it away. There are many people out there who desperately need God. How can we pass the blessing on? I’d like to hear suggestions from other authors and readers.
This book is a discarded treasure I picked up recently in the local Salvation Army Thrift Store. It caught my attention because the author, Pastor Dennis Whitmore, used to do a Christian radio spot with my husband, and I met his wife during my short stint as a substitute librarian for Washington County.
In the Bible, the Christian life is described variously described as a race, a journey, or a walk. All of that implies direction. To arrive somewhere, you have to travel in the right direction. Pastor Whitmore has been traveling on his bike since childhood. It’s given him time to muse about his beliefs and what it means to journey toward Christ. In his brief essays he talks about the interesting people he meets (including John Glenn), little-know historical facts (the name Wheeling, as in W. Va. comes from an Indian word for ‘head’ and in the eighteenth century, Indians killed a man and put his head on a stake on the bank of the Ohio river as a warning — stay our of here!), and theology (after all, he is a Pastor). Here are some of the things he has to stay about directions:
“Every path we take leads to a crossroads eventually. Options present themselves. Denying some to pursue others is necessary. Even doing nothing is a choice. But if you don’t regularly check your compass for true north, you may find yourself lost along the way:
“God sees who’s traveling in what direction.”
“Life constantly moves forward. There is no reverse gear….it keeps going, and you have to go with it as it is. That’s why in the Bible life is called a walk.”
“As I have watched many who ‘claimed the name’ embarrass that name and fall away, the message to me has been clear: ‘Don’t follow my followers, follow me.'”
This is an engaging little book. You can read it straight through, or read an essay a day as a devotional. It will get you moving in the right direction.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” John 15:16-17
Jesus chose to love us and die for us as individuals. Without Him, we would have no choice and no purpose at all! Our lives would be meaningless. Amazingly, He chose us to be His friends (you will find this earlier in the same chapter) and for an important reason, to bear fruit, the fruit of love. This is the harvest that will abide or last.
“Love never ends” 1 Corinthians 13:8
The worldly fruit we produce (money, knowledge, power, influence) is transient. The fruit of love is eternal. Like so many other topics the Lutheran Ladies have discussed this year, it all comes back to love.
The lesson? Invest your time, talent and energy in the best fruit, the fruit that will last. Cultivate love and give the harvest away. That’s what the Christian life is about.