16th Sunday after Pentecost

September 12, 2021

Summary

We can no more stop God’s praises than we can stop the movement of days and seasons. God created a time to be awake, work and enjoy and a time to sleep.

He created a time to work the soil, cast the seed and water it /// and a time to rest and wait for the seed to sprout and grow /// not knowing how /// until it’s harvest time.

Sleep, rest, waiting /// recharging your batteries, getting God’s perspective on life was and still is the purpose of the Sabbath.

And God’s perspective is very simple actually:

Either life is moving toward ever-increasing life or it’s heading toward futility.

No matter how good a farmer is at planting and harvesting, life sprouts when he is resting à when he is NOT producing but assuming the position of a beggar /// praying for seasonable weather and an abundant harvest.

In the same manner, when the men and women of God rest, when they assume the position of poor needy beggars, they get to see God open His hand and shower them with strength and growth.

Welcome to God’s Day of Rest à for you.

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!

Our reflection for this Harvest Festival is based on Amos 8 verses 4 through 7, which read:

Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, 5 saying, “When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, 6 that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” 7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely, I will never forget any of their deeds.

Let us pray: Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in You sight, o Lord, our Gracious Rock and Redeemer.

 

 

The financial movers and shakers in Amos 8 could not tolerate the Sabbath (the day of rest) because it kept them from their important business of making money, which /// as it happens /// didn’t make them any more relaxed or happier.

We always overvalue the importance of giving it all: putting in the hours, buying and selling, producing and bringing in the money.

This is such a big problem that 3 of the 10 commandments caution us not to overvalue stuff by stealing, by coveting things or by coveting people.

From God’s point of view, nothing has lasting value if the Sabbath’s promise of eternal rest is lost.

Life is futilely spent when we give it all for things. But life is freely and abundantly given to us when we drop our pursuit of things and open our hands in prayer, when we adopt the posture of a poor beggar.

The poor and needy, with their unpromising lives, threaten the wealth of those who want more wealth.

But God is not threatened, He doesn’t see them as liabilities and He doesn’t’ pass them by. As a matter of fact, He loves them and wants to relate to the poor and needy.

Also, He doesn’t look at the little money and things we bring with a greedy eye.

He doesn’t need any of it.

What He wants is mercy, and He looks with compassion on the spiritually poor.

If your life seems unpromising and unfulfilling like a barren land, then you are spiritually poor. But God doesn’t expect you will work yourself up and out of it.

He knows you can’t.

Rather, He wants to fill you with good /// lasting things /// so that you may find rest in Him and have your strength renewed by His promises.

This is the Sabbath economy: that God is always more willing to give than we either desire or deserve.

God knows what our real needs are and this is how He manages our supplies and keeps us from wanting

Psalm 145:15-16 à He gives food in due season to all those who look to Him. He opens His and satisfies the desire of every living thing.

God, really and truly wants to bless us and make us happy.

Just think for a moment: If money is so good, why do we need more and more of it?

Money and things are like an addiction. You always need a higher dose than before to achieve the same passing pleasure.

But true happiness /// long lasting happiness /// is in relationships.

Not in treating people like things but in investing time and forgiveness in broken relationships

And what is forgiveness if not cancelling the debts of those who have wronged us /// like God cancels our wrongs against Him?

It’s shrewd management.

 

 

Remember Jesus’ parable of the dishonest manager in Luke 16 (verse 1b through 8a):

There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions.  2 And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’  3 And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.  4 I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’  5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’  6 He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’  7 Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’  8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness.

When the manager was caught red-handed, he realized the limits of money, he realized the full extent of his debt to his master and he understood that debt forgiveness means having less money but better relationships.

And what a valuable insight!

When the prop he trusted failed, he understood the true value of a lasting relationship /// and He realized that he could use that thing of less value in the service of something of lasting value.

Now God also uses less valuable, temporal things in creation to draw us into and deepen our trust in the grace that gives us our daily bread and forgives our debts thus opening the path to eternity.

God established this weekly time off from our earthly pursuits that He may enrich us with Himself, His gifts, promises and blessings.

He is like a farmer working throughout the slow repetition of seasons breaking our hardness of heart and casting into us the seed or repentance and faith.

He props us with Law and Gospel to gain strength and grow over time.

And Jesus is our shrewd manager.

He is very generous about casting that seed /// you could even call Him wasteful /// he keeps wasting it on us /// but He is completely trustworthy. Because this is God’s will for us – through Him.

And here we get to take a look at His books and see the account of His management.

They are the Gospels /// and in them we see that He squanders God’s possessions by cancelling our debts to Him.

Unlike the dishonest manager, Jesus is strong and He wasn’t afraid to dig.

He carried the cross laden with all our sin and He wasn’t shy to beg saying Father forgiven them.

Jesus balances the books for us.

On his cross our debts were paid and God’s grace was credited us.

And this is the foundation of a relationship which is unlike any relationship in this world: that of our Heavenly Father with us – His beloved children.

God’s mercy is the currency that runs the life of a Christian.

And this is not a life of trade but of trust in God that is solidified over time /// because time and time again /// we need to learn this same lesson.

Even the untrustworthy and untrusting manager learnt that forgiveness is the fundamental cycle of our life and foundation that we rest on and trust in.

Do you want to experience pleasures? Work your fingers to the bone, use people to get what you want, create an environment of mistrust and then grab your pleasures with both hands because they won’t last.

Do you want to experience lasting happiness? Let go, /// you need your hands empty to beg and to receive God’s forgiveness. /// Then, pass it on and see what happens.

Happiness happens to you when it happens in the heart of another person: a forgiven sinner.

Our greatest happiness is when our cost produces a deeper happiness in someone else.

This not about getting more but about giving away more of that which God has showered with à forgiveness for our sins.

And this is Jesus’ venture – that we may enter into His rest and enjoy a good relationship with God and one another /// and like rain watering the fields this flows from heaven to earth to tune our barren unpromising lives to sing His praises with joy.

God’s grace is sufficient.

When we are poor, He blesses us with His riches.

When we are weak in ourselves, He makes us strong in Him.

In the holy name of Jesus. Amen!

And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen!