Harvest Thanksgiving

Dear friends

Do you ever wonder whether you can make a difference to the lives of those around you? 

In the reality TV Show The Secret Millionaire, Kevin Green – a covert multi-millionaire – searched for people and causes that would benefit from his financial support.  He gave almost £60,000 to a range of people working with the homeless, with teenage addicts, and with disabled children.  The response of all these people was deeply moving.  They were so grateful, and the causes they work for benefited greatly.  They were blessed and enabled to bring greater blessing to others. However, the most interesting aspect of the programme was the change in Kevin Green.  He had experienced in a new way the joy of blessing others.  He said his life had been changed as a result.  The words of Jesus are true: ‘It is more blessed to givethan to receive’ (Acts 20:35). 

Archie Coates, Vicar of St Peter’s Brighton, speaks of the church as a ‘blessing machine’.  That is exactly what we as Christians are called to be – as the church and as individuals.

Today we come together to celebrate in a particular way God’s goodness to us and the multiple blessings he has showered upon us. It is God’s blessing on your life that enables you to make a difference to the lives of others.  God is the source of all blessing.  He loves to bless you.  God is not just some multi-millionaire.  He is ‘the Maker of heaven and earth … The highest heavens belong to the Lord’ (Psalm 115:15b–16a).  In his extraordinary generosity, ‘the earth he has given to [us]’.  God loves to bless. The appropriate response to blessing is gratitude.  Each of the recipients of the generosity of ’the secret millionaire’, showed great gratitude.  Our appropriate response is that ‘we bless God’ (v18).

A Channel of God’s Blessing

How, in practice, can we make a difference to the lives of those around us?     As children of God, we are called to be like our Father in heaven, who loves to bless and through us release a tangible expression of His love.

Trusting God

Many people are reluctant to trust God with their futures because they fear that God will make them do something that they have no desire to do, or will make a mess of their lives.  Of course, both of these fears are without foundation. 

If our will is surrendered to him, God will give us the desire to do whatever he is calling us to do.  If he is calling us to a ministry with the poor, that is where our hearts will be.  If he is calling us to teach, he will give us a desire to teach.  If we surrender to his will, he will bring about ‘his good purpose’. What he wants for our lives is good.  It will not necessarily be easy, but we will not be able to improve on his plan.  He will also give us the energy we need: ‘That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give him the most pleasure’ (Philippians 2:13, MSG).

Paul knows the joy of being a ‘blessing machine’.  He writes, ‘Do everything readily and cheerfully – no bickering, no second-guessing allowed!  Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society.  Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God.  Carry the light-giving Message into the night’ (Phil 2:14–16a, MSG). 

We have the immense privilege of being able to give people – not just money, like the secret millionaire, but ‘the word of life’ (Phil 2:16a).  There is no greater joy than seeing people who are spiritually dead come to life through Jesus.

Paul is willing to give his life with joy for this privilege: ‘But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you.  So you too should be glad and rejoice with me’ (Phil 2:17–18). 

God is interested in our hearts, not in our outward appearances. We cannot pretend with God. If you are experiencing the blessing of walking in a close relationship with God, those around you will get caught up in the blessing.

At this season of Harvest Thanksgiving, may we never grow tired of expressing gratitude to God for all he has given to us and in turn never tire of being a Blessing to others with our time, our money and our abilities.

As God gives us opportunity may we release an increase of blessing and build upon the generous hearts so evident amongst you all.                                                                                        

                                                    With every blessing in Christ,     Stephen