First Fruits

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall… say, ‘I declare today to the Lord God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us… My father… became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the Lord, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O Lord, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God and worship before the Lord your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.” Deuteronomy 26:1-3,5-11

Before any new endeavor, be it a move, a new job, or heading to college, it helps to be oriented, to know what to expect and what will be expected. Moses is a master (by God’s direction) at preparing the Israelites for entering the promised land, and sets out clear instructions for them. He knows the ‘milk and honey’ will be a welcome blessing after their decades wandering in the desert, perhaps even a temptation to glut or feel self-sufficient pride, so he makes sure they remember where they came from, how God delivered and multiplied them, and that all is from Him. He establishes their required offerings of first fruits and tithes, a visual aid for any day of giving our first and best to the Giver of every good and perfect gift to us. (Deuteronomy 6:10-13; James 1:17)

God alone is deserving of honor and thanksgiving and our best. It is a worthy spiritual discipline to offer Him the first fruits of my time, my physical and mental resources, my energy and abilities. It is good (and brings great joy!) to think on all He has given and done for me, and to respond in loving gratitude by giving back what He owns.

“Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small.
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”  ~Isaac Watts (1707)

Gracious LORD, as recipient of Your measureless abundance, may I ever bless You, exalted Ruler from Whose hand comes all honor, wealth, power, and might, and serve You with joyfulness and gladness of heart. (Deuteronomy 28:47; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13)

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