But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. In past generations he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” Even with these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them. Acts 14:14-18 ESV
You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy. Psalm 65:9-13 ESV
One Christmas several years ago an amazing thing happened. Many people had put toys and other Christmas presents on layaway in stores. This meant that they couldn’t pay for them right away, but hoped to be able to pay for these things by Christmastime, and the store would save the gifts they had set aside for them. But as Christmas came closer, for many people it wasn’t going to be possible for them to pay what they needed to pay in time to celebrate and give these gifts to their children. But this year, other people that they didn’t even know paid off their layaway accounts for them. The people who had done this were strangers to them. All they knew is that someone had taken care of their bill, and that they would be able to give their children the Christmas presents they had hoped to be able to give.
When Paul and Barnabas realized that the people thought that they were gods and were about to worship and sacrifice to them, they were terribly upset. They knew how wrong this would be. They both tore their clothes, and then they rushed into the crowd and started telling them about the true God. He had made the earth and the sea and the heavens above, and even though people in the world had turned away from him, he was still with them giving them joy. Like the people who paid for Christmas presents, he remained unknown, but he left the good things he gave the people of the world as a witness to himself. He hoped that people would realize that a good and loving God was the one who gave them the rain and their food and everything good that they had.
God has given us so much more than only the wonderful world and the food we eat and everything good we have. He’s also given us his word, the Bible, so that we can know him. His word teaches us about Jesus, his best gift of all. Jesus came to die for us and bring us back to the Heavenly Father we had turned away from. Because of Jesus, our sins are forgiven, and we have life with God, now and forever. He leaves us on earth to be his witnesses to all the good that he has done for all people.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the good you give us, and especially for Jesus, our Savior. In His Name, Amen.