2008-04-09 Deuteronomy 28.1-14 Prayer Day Service
Why do we get together like this, on a Wednesday evening, during busy days? What do we expect will happen? What’s our attitude in this?
We must understand our motivations and we must understand God’s purposes for us.
This is a prayer service, made especially concerning the crops that are waiting to be planted. It is a service the CRC has mandated we have, and we’re only too happy to do so. I would hope, that were we not an agrarian congregation, we would still have this kind of service.
But what is our attitude toward God in this service? What do we expect God to do? What would our attitude be, for example, if we didn’t have this service and then had a poor harvest in the fall? Would be blame God or ourselves? Or what if we had a good harvest in the fall? Would we praise God or ourselves?
Do we have this service out of superstition? Is it like knocking on wood? Okay, we’ve done our part, now it’s up to God to follow through on His part?
How do we view God in all of this? Are we approaching Him in the right manner?
I know most of you, and I’m sure that you know what you’re doing, and what your motives are.
Nevertheless, there are a few things we need to be clear on.
God desires to bless us! God is not a lucky rabbit’s foot that we rub in this service, in order to get a blessing on the crops this year. God is a loving and gracious God who does desire to bless us. In fact, in Christ, we’ve already been blessed with every spiritual blessing.
But how does that translate into life? Does that guarantee that God will bless us financially? Will He bless the markets so that grain prices are high when we want to sell grain, but low if we have to buy grain? Will He make it so that you can buy your calves at a low price, but allow the market to jump so that you can sell the finished cattle at a high price?
But at what expense? What if your blessing causes ruin for someone else? What then? How do we look at this?
It is tempting to look at our passage tonight and see it in these ways. Some people, I don’t know if this includes any of us, but some people hear these words and believe that if they follow God’s commandments perfectly, they will be blessed.
But is that really what this passage is saying?
Keeping in mind that God created the whole universe, that He purposely created people, what’s the mind of God? What is the will of God for us?
What command did God give to Adam and Eve?
Go, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, have dominion over it, be good stewards of it.
When we read the Ten Commandments, when we read the commandments that God gave Israel, right up to our passage this evening, what do we think about them? Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled these commandments, and that means we don’t need to worry about keeping them perfectly, simply because we cannot. We are able, but we still sin, so we’ll never live up to them well enough to merit God’s blessing.
Does that mean God won’t bless us?
Not at all, in fact, he will bless us based on what Christ has already done.
So, then what is our responsibility, in light of these commands? What is our responsibility in desiring good crops? What is our responsibility in a service such as this one?
Well, if we were to look at Israel’s behaviour over time, what stands out? When they had a good leader, they were blessed and the followed God.
We have the best leader. No, it is not me! It is Jesus Christ, He’s the head pastor, I’m just an associate pastor! Christ is the head of the church, make no mistake. When Israel had good leadership, what did they do?
They followed God’s commands and were good stewards of the land, and they prospered.
That’s the key to it all, congregation! How do we pray this evening?
Do we pray asking for God’s blessing? Well, yes, of course! But we pray for ourselves too don’t we?
Now, it has not been my custom to include a prayer of confession in a service like this. Ordinarily, I keep them to Sunday mornings. But I put it in here this evening for a reason. I don’t know all your sins, but I’m aware of at least some of mine! It benefits me when others point mine out to me!
Knowing my own sins, and believing that yes, we’re all guilty of sin, we need to confess our sins to God, realising that he’s forgiven our sins through Jesus Christ. What sin might we need to confess? What about the sin of poor stewardship? What if we haven’t been as faithful as we could be? What if the thing that is motivating us is not a desire for God’s glory but rather a desire for more stuff for ourselves?
In the book of James it says, you don’t receive from God because when you ask you ask with the wrong motives, you ask so that you can spend what you get on your pleasures.
So why do we have a prayer service like this?
In this service we acknowledge the following things: First, that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Second, that God gives willingly. Third, that we cannot, by our prayers and supplications badger God into giving us what we want for our own purposes. Fourth, that in this service, we ask for forgiveness for failing to be good stewards, and ask God for the strength, desire and determination to be good stewards of al that He has given us. Fifth, that we will use what we get, whether much or little, for the glory of God.
We are going to pray for our crops and lands, for rain and sun in season, that we might have a bounteous harvest in the fall, to the glory of God the Father.
But, there is a harvest and we don’t need to wait for the fall. There are people in this town, in this community, in Peers and Niton, and all the areas who are ready to be harvested! Let us not forget our stewardship in that area as well! Amen!