November 18, 2014

"The earth has yielded its produce"

That’s a thanksgiving kind of verse, is it not? The full text of Psalm 67.6 reads:

“The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.”

How true! God has, indeed, blessed us! And what a distinct privilege we have to spend our earthly sojourn in a culture whose forbears thought it wise to commemorate God’s blessings, and the gathering in of the earth’s harvest, by means of a regular holiday dedicated to giving thanks! I hope you take advantage this Thursday. Even if 2014 has been one of the most difficult in your memory, you can surely look back over these nearly eleven months and see God’s provision, and help, and kindness along the way. And (to borrow a thought from an old friend), even if we had no other evidence of His kindness, the fact that God gave His own Son for us would be reason enough to hold thanksgiving 365 days a year! “God, our God, blesses us” indeed!

But we mustn’t read Psalm 67.6 without also going on to notice what follows quickly upon it on verse 7! Read both verses together, and notice, at the end of v.7, the reason God blesses us; the reason our harvest has come in again in 2014:

“6 The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
7 God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.”

Don’t miss that purpose clause this Thanksgiving! “God blesses us”; God fills our barns and silos (or, in modern times, our refrigerators, and cupboards, and bank accounts) … why? So that we, His people, might be a blessing to those who live at “the ends of the earth”; so that people dwelling in far flung lands may come to fear our God. And how do such people come to “fear Him”? The same way that we did – by hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, which draws us to Him in repentance and faith! And so the thrust of verses 6-7 is that, to whatever extent God fills our pockets, He does so … not simply so that we can feast and enjoy the good life, but so that we might be the means of bringing the gospel of Christ to people living at the four corners of the globe! “God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him.”

And how does this calling to get the gospel to “all the ends of the earth” relate specifically to full barns and wallets? Well, it costs money to send out missionaries, does it not? And to support them while they are on the field? It costs money to print Bibles and tracts to hand out to people who need the word of God in their own language. It costs money to show practical love to the people with whom the gospel is shared (many of whose cupboards are actually quite bare). And so when “God blesses us” (v.7), the idea is that we will share the wealth so as to get the gospel out in the cause of missions. In fact, that’s what the entire Psalm is really all about – the missionary task! And it is for this task that our barns are full!

So this Thanksgiving … yes, enjoy the feast! Delight in God’s bounty, and the blessings that we enjoy in this country because of it. That is a biblical thought, too (Deut. 14.22-27)! But remember that there is an even higher purpose to all this blessing than just enjoying it in the company of family and friends (or spending way too much of it on Christmas presents – most of which will be forgotten by next December 25, or maybe even January 25!). Think, too, about how you can use the monetary blessings God has placed in your hands for the sake of the gospel at “the ends of the earth.” Give generously to Lottie Moon, and/or Operation Christmas Child. Make an end of the year gift to a group like HeartCry or The Gideons. Pick up a Christmas gift catalog from Samaritan’s Purse, or World Vision, or Compassion and use some of the fullness of your barns to help fill up someone else’s in the name of Jesus. These are the reasons why our silos are full in the first place! “God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him” (emphasis added).

1 comment:

Vishva Bhraman said...
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