The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Blessing and Blessed

"A missionary in Africa had a farm some miles from the mission station. The season had been very favorable, and he had a large crop of corn on the mission farm. When the crop was ready to harvest, he made a public appeal to the Africans, asking them to help him carry his corn from the farm to the mission granary. He named the day and asked each person to bring his own basket to carry the corn.

On the day he named, scores of men came to the farm with their baskets to help harvest the crop. Some had baskets large enough to hold a bushel or more; a few had very small baskets. At the close of the day the containers were filled for the last time, and everyone walked to the mission station, carrying his basket of corn.

When the men arrived, the missionary thanked them for their help. Then he told them they could take home the corn they had just carried from the farm. Those who carried large baskets with a full load were very happy. Imagine how the men felt who had carried small baskets. Some of them said, "Why didn't I bring a bigger basket?"

God has always rewarded generosity with generosity. By that, I’m not necessarily speaking of money. I’m talking about blessing. When Malachi told the troubled people of Israel that they had robbed God by withholding the tithes and offerings God had required he told them in chapter 3 and verse 10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”

God wants to pour out blessing upon blessing to his people. He desires worshipful hearts. We tend to think that all there is to worship is singing in church. While that is part of worship, it is only a small part. True worship involves presenting our bodies as living sacrifices to God” see Romans 12:1-2. This means giving of ourselves generously to God. When we give our money, time, encouragement, prayer and other valuable parts of our lives to God we are worshiping with all our hearts.

Jesus applauded the widow who gave only 2 mites (less than a penny) in the Temple offering, saying that she gave more than anyone else there because she gave all that she had. This was a tremendous lesson in worship for the disciples and us.

No matter what you have, it came as a gift (blessing) from God. In the book of Acts, a man named Joseph (who was an out of towner from Cyprus) was nicknamed Barnabas because he had sold some property and given it to the church. The name Barnabas means “Son of Encouragement.” His sacrificial gift was the blessing of encouragement to the entire church family. Giving encourages everyone. Paul told the church in Corinth that giving a love offering for the suffering Christians in Jerusalem would produce many offerings of thanksgiving.

In my entire life, I have never gone hungry because I gave a generous offering. It may have seemed like it would bring pain, but the blessing produced was far greater than any pain that could have come my way.

This Sunday our church family will be blessed by the attendance of the directors of a mission we have supported for a number of years. They will bring a report on how the work is going in the island region of Bohol in the Philippines. Mike and Jean Propp, along with their two teen sons, will join us September 17, this Sunday, to tell us what God is doing with the offerings we send and the prayers we send up on their behalf. We will have the privilege of sharing a generous blessing (offering) of love that day. Our congregation has always been generous and I can’t wait to see how much we get to share in this blessing to the work of Educate Bohol. Please attend the 9:30 Sunday School hour as all of our classes will meet in the Worship Center to hear the report. Then, Mike will present a message in our morning service titled Small is Big Enough based on John 6:1-14. Following that we will share in a meal. Check the newsletter and bulletin for details. May God bless you and the Propps and the precious people of Bohol through the blessing we all share with them.

Blessing and Blessed,

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