“The earth produces of itself, first the stalk, then the head, then the full grain in the head. But when the grain is ripe, at once he goes in with his sickle, because the harvest has come…”
- Mark 4:28-29
Friends of Atonement,
God is good – all the time! When we’re asleep in our beds, God is busy keeping the world going - healing our hurts, growing our food, bringing people together in new ways, opening up hearts to the wonders of grace. When we’re working up a sweat in the summer heat, God is working right alongside us to give us the strength for the living of the day. Then, at the end of those long days when we’re too tired to finish all the projects we began, God is just as present, diligent, and active while He holds us in His arms.
I hope you always feel that sense of God’s care and provision in your life. It’s just as Martin Luther explains in the Small Catechism:
I believe God…daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property – along with the necessities and nourishment for this body and life…out of pure, fatherly and divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness of mine at all! (*)
As people of faith, all we do and decide begins with the realization of all that God does for us. It is God’s pleasure and joy to give us those things we need, those things that help us become joy-filled, loving followers of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Last year, my son was invited to an evening service at a church in our area by some friends of his. I knew that this church had invested heavily in programs that appeal to youth and young adults. I also knew that their perspective on giving was very different from our understanding of the Bible’s teaching on stewardship. I told him, “Listen carefully to the sermon. You will probably hear them say that God’s blessings depend on our giving, and that the more you give to the church, the more God will give to you.” When he got home, my son was astonished. He told me that, sure enough, that was exactly what they taught in the sermon he heard there.
Our blessings come not as the result of good things we do, but from the good God we have. I’m so glad we remember that “we love because God first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We know that God allows the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the wicked and the righteous alike (Matthew 5:45). God’s love for us always has been and always will be unconditional and undeniable. Every day, He is always surprising me, an unworthy sinner, with good things I neither expect nor deserve. Though I did not plow or sow, plant or water, the harvest of God’s blessings are there each day for me and for you. By faith we see when that harvest is ripe and are ready to pluck the grain.
What greater blessing could there be than a grateful heart? In a society where even millionaires are in constant pursuit of riches, where there’s no such word as “enough,” we have a God who shares with us out of an endless stockpile of grace. Every day God…
...still preserves my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties…protects me against all danger and shields and preserves me from all evil…For all of this I owe it to God to thank and praise, serve and obey him. This is most certainly true. (*)
This is where we find peace in a restless world. And this is why we give.
Thanks again for your faithful giving to God through Atonement Lutheran Church. Together we are thoroughly and constantly blessed, both as individual Christians and as a vibrant congregation of Jesus Christ. May God keep your eyes wide open to the blessings that fill each day, and may your faith keep you every ready to harvest those blessings and enjoy the fruits of our gracious and giving God.
(*) quotes from Luther’s Small Catechism, explanation of the Apostles’ Creed, first article.