When You Plant Simple Joy – YOU Can Gain a Generous Harvest

On Thanksgiving… suppose, just suppose… some sweet loved one put a whole handful of blessings on your plate. I mean the turkey (or your favorite) will be good. The “taters” terrific. The pie a precious dessert. We’ll have to see how the ballgames go. O, it’ll be something! But better than all of that, just suppose. A handful of blessings on your plate. And all with a life lesson for which you can give thanks every day of your life. This is the lesson. When you plant simple joy…YOU can gain a generous harvest. And here are the five blessings. ‘Five fingers full of some of the best of our faith in Jesus Christ.

1. God is not mocked, we reap what we sow.

2. Do not grow weary in well-doing, in due season we reap, if we do not lose heart.

3. As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to the household of faith.

4. Count it all joy, when you meet various trials.  You know: testing your faith produces steadfastness.

5. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure: pressed down, shaken together, running over, right in your lap. The measure you give, the measure you get back…PLUS: forgiveness, as you forgive.

God is not mocked, we reap what we sow. My dear friend, Preacher Bobby Bishop used to say it with gusto like this. “Every farmer knows it so: You can’t sow corn and expect to reap beans!”

This is, I can tell you, a kind of double blessing. First off, life is reliable. We can trust the world God has given us. We can rest in the gospel Jesus has laid out for us. That’s very good to know, especially these days. So much all around makes us wonder if we can count on any thing or any body. [The Penn State news, the wobbling of a worrisome economy (is there any security in Social Security), the relations that surround us (BK/Br.)] So is there any reason to believe, any payoff to believe? God says yes. Jesus shows yes. God loves us. [FH/cross] Of course, there is another side to this blessing. God is watching, and waiting to work God’s wonders through us! So faithfulness, consistency is required. We act like it’s a revelation sometimes, a big surprise. But it is not! We can’t “raise hell” and expect God to “let down heaven”! ‘Can’t speak evil and expect to hear praise, ‘Can’t put down our kids/parents/partners/friends and expect to be upheld with kindnesses. ‘Can’t live like a state or a nation or a world with no moral compass and expect to find our way to the safe harbor of the good life. Sooo… Scripture offers us a second blessing to help us receive the first.

Do not grow weary in well-doing, in due season we reap, if we do not lose heart. We can’t find blessing if we give into the temptation to lose heart. God’s blessings are a reliable promise. But it will take living toward them, not away from or despite them. And it will take patience, a certain “holy doggedness” (there’s a phrase) to get there. The Africans are right to sing the song of the prophet Isaiah, “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings, like eagles. They shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint; help us, Lord; Help us, Lord, in our way.” I cannot come to Thanksgiving this year without thanks for our newest and nearest neighbor, the Welcome Center. If, as Beverly and I, you watched it rise out of the ground and grow up before your eyes and take on its form and begin its function, it becomes an almost living thing. So long in coming. So many meetings and turning points and trials-before-triumphs. And so many times we all thought nothing would ever happen. But we learned along the way. God’s time for the blessing, not our own. We learned waiting does not mean doing nothing, it means actively placing yourself at the service of the Master and making ready for the moment you receive the call. I ask our couples, are you doing that in your life with each other? Are our students doing that in their classes? Are our workers doing that at their work? And when you get tired, really tired, do you wanna throw in the towel? Or will you wrap up in trust… that when you get tired, God will be the busier… even for you?!

Sometimes to receive a blessing, we are to be a blessing! As we have opportunity, let us do good to all but especially to the household of faith. Here’s a twist on Thanksgiving you can talk about around the table come the Thursday Feast. Take time to thank God for all the places in your life God offers you the chance to be a blessing to others! Here is our purpose. Here is our sense of

mission and meaning. I invite you to inspire the youngest souls around your table with tales of taking care, with and for others! Lift the places, be creative with the people you can serve and let each person, youngest to oldest do the same [7yr. old doing fresh water in Africa, 9 yr. olds Cider for Srs., Sr.s > call ministry, fisher tournament for city kids in Indianapolis, etc.]  Watch the joy on the faces and give thanks for the joy. And DO take note. Scripture singles out the joy of being a blessing to the household of faith itself. What better time, with thanks at hand and the Christchild-coming-soon to ask: what am I doing with and for those who call on his name? [Hospitality ministries of the season.]

Count it all joy, when you meet various trials. You know: testing your faith produces steadfastness. Among the blessings for which we can count our blessings, this one’s pretty cool. If there’s anything that saps the soul, it’s the question what for! What’s the point? Is there some purpose or good that comes from challenge and distress? God in Christ offers an affirmation. Testing your faith produces steadfastness. [Hesed… the mark of the Holy] The amazing truth of trial is it can bring us near to God, both in our relationship and in our person. [The Bradford story.]

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure: pressed down, shaken together, running over, right in your lap. The measure you give, the measure you get backPLUS: forgiveness, as you forgive. Here is the last best blessing we can lift. When we give of faith, person, material or in our bonds to each other, we do not become less, but more. We don’t get emptied we get filled. We get what we deserve AND MORE.  So much more. Pressed down and overflowing. 40 years in ministry and marriage have shown me it is so. [E.g.s] 30+ years a parent confirm the report. And a lifetime a believer has taught me to sing over and over, “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine. O, what a foretaste of glory divine!”  How many of you can sing the same song?… Lift your hands! (Friend, if you’re not sure you can lift your hand, go and sit and talk with one of these who can. Do it right after church. Don’t waste a minute!)

When you plant simple joy…YOU can gain a generous harvest.

A handful of blessings for an eternity among the blessed, in Jesus name. Thanks be to God.

 

 

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