Episode 1. When God Blesses he Blesses
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It’s fantastic that God is a God of blessing – and He is. His heart is to bless the socks off His people. But sometimes … we can get a bit of a cockeyed view of what blessing is all about. When …
It’s fantastic that God is a God of blessing – and He is. His heart is to bless the socks off His people. But sometimes … we can get a bit of a cockeyed view of what blessing is all about. When God blesses, He really blesses – but it’s not always what we expected it would be.
Hey I wonder how many of us truly expect that God wants to bless us? I was having an interesting discussion with a man the other day, he loves God, he believes in Jesus and yet for the past fifteen years or so he’s been suffering from depression. Now it kind of sounds difficult to get your mind across: on the one hand he’s growing in his faith but on the other he suffers from this terrible affliction – depression.
And he said, “I’ve prayed so many times that God would take this depression away and He just hasn’t. I started off thinking, well, I believe in God and that’s kind of like a contract as the man said: I follow Jesus and He will bless me. But God, God doesn’t sign up to my contract. (That’s the conclusion this guy came to.) Sure He loves me, yes He has a plan for me but He has a plan for this world and I’m a small part of that. And sometimes it seems, at least for a time that that plan doesn’t include healing me of depression.”
This is what the guy said. And so this man now helps other people with the same affliction. He has a ministry of compassion for them and brings them hope and good news of Jesus.
Isn’t that hard to come to grips with? Because our definition of blessing is sometimes quite different to what God has in mind. Nevertheless when God blesses He really blesses.
You see, what I think we’re looking for sometimes is a nice simple trite theology that solves all our problems and dilemmas. Blessing to us means that our needs and our desires will all be met. It means a comfortable existence; it means success according to the worlds onward and upward model. Faster, better, quicker, richer. You know the sort of thing.
But as that man said to me, God doesn’t seem to buy into our shallow contract of blessing. His idea of blessing is entirely different to that because blessing in God’s dictionary is about knowing Him. Everything else is peripheral. Sometimes we think, if only I had more money, then I’ll be blessed. Yeah that’s it.
I was sitting the other day with a very wealthy businessman. Now he is a man of God. He gives generously into the work of God’s Kingdom, he’s working hard, God’s blessed him greatly and you’d think looking at him that he doesn’t have a worry in the world. And he was sharing with me some of the things going on in his life – family, work pressures, the death of a close friend – and it struck me then and there that it doesn’t matter how successful or otherwise we appear to be in the worlds eyes, it doesn’t matter how much we love God and believe in His Son or not, the universal human condition is that life ain’t perfect.
We are going to suffer trials and tribulations in this world and as much as we have this idea in mind that it’s God’s job to remove all of those and to give us this hunky dory little life, friend, God is not buying into that nonsense.
So that’s the background. And before we get back to Ruth’s journey from the Old Testament Book of Ruth – we’re going to be heading back to join her tomorrow on the program – I just wanted to take this time to look at what it is that God means by this idea of ‘blessing’ in the context, not just of Ruth’s life, but your life and my life here and now, wherever we are, whatever the world thinks of our level of success.
And into this gritty reality of life, the life you lead and the life I lead, I just want to drop a verse of Scripture, something that Jesus Himself said because as it drops I wonder whether it resonates with you or whether you find it, well a bit jarring. Have a listen to this, Luke chapter 6, verse 38.:
Jesus said, ‘Give and it will be given to you. A good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
Now when you hear that, what does it mean to you? What’s it saying to you? Well the simple translation and this is in fact how 99% of people will hear what Jesus is saying is this. Well you know what? Put plenty of money in a plate at Church on Sunday and God will bless you financially. If you don’t, He won’t. Simple really. And so I know many, many people who’ve given abundantly to their Church with a specific motivation of receiving an abundant blessing from God in return.
Can I tell you something? I think it misses the point. I’ve heard this idea preached over and over again – give financially and God will bless you financially. Well of course sometimes He does but often He doesn’t and I know quite a few people who’ve given up on God because they were sold this deception from a pulpit only to discover that God didn’t sign up for their version of the blessing contract.
Now to understand the verse we need to read it in context. Anyone can take a verse from the Bible and use it out of context and turn it into a lie. The devil specialises in that. So let’s read it in context and anyone who’s signed up to this false contract may not like to hear the rest of what Jesus had to say. So don’t shoot me, I am just the messenger. This is what Jesus said. Luke chapter 6 beginning at verse 24:
But woe to you who are rich for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now for you will go hungry. Woe to you who are laughing now for you will mourn and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you for it is what their ancestors did for the false prophets. But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.
Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek offer the other cheek also and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you and if anyone takes away your goods do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
If you love those who love you what credit is that to you for even sinners love those who love them? If you do good to those who do good to you what credit is that to you even sinners do the same? If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive what credit is that to you even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much gain.
But love your enemies, do good and lend expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great and you will be children of the most high for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and it will be given to you a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back.
Do you see how Jesus demolishes all the worldly measures of success – Wealth and comfort – and then calls us to a difficult life, a life of loving our enemies and showing mercy and giving without expecting in return and all the things we’d rather not hear? He’s talking about a life that’s all in for Him. He’s talking about taking up our cross and following Him no matter what the cost and when we live that life, well that’s the life He’s going to bless with a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over.
Does He mention money? No. He’s talking about a life sacrificed for Him, dying to self, living to Christ and then, then the blessings of heaven will flow. Blessings of joy and peace and power to change, the blessing of God and seeing Him and knowing Him through Jesus Christ.
Friend that’s what He’s talking about here. Not some shallow slot machine contract – put the coin in, pull the handle and money pours out. That’s not Jesus and it never was. There is a far greater blessing here, one that God wants to give us, Jesus Himself.