Episode 1. No It’s Not What You Think
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One of the reasons that people get a bit twitchy when I tell them “God wants to bless you!” is because they look at that truth through the lens of the world’s selfishness – and it doesn’t …
One of the reasons that people get a bit twitchy when I tell them “God wants to bless you!” is because they look at that truth through the lens of the world’s selfishness – and it doesn’t look quite right. Fair enough, so let’s look at it then, through God’s Word.
I remember, probably a decade or more ago, when I first read Bruce Wilkinson’s book, The Prayer Of Jabez. It had a huge splash when it was first released. And I don’t know how many millions of copies have sold since but it’s been a huge hit. I distinctly remember though, how uncomfortable I felt reading the first chapter of that little booklet, which, I read all in one sitting in a bed when I was in New Zealand. This is the bit that really got me, Wilkinson writes:
That God really does have unclaimed blessings waiting for you, my friend. I know it sounds impossible, even embarrassingly suspicious in our self-serving day, yet, that very exchange, your want for God’s plenty, has been His loving will for your life from eternity past. And with a handful of core commitments on your part, you can proceed from this day forward with the confidence and expectation that your heavenly Father will bring it to pass for you.
Think of it this way, instead of standing near the river’s edge asking for a cup of water to get through each day, you’ll do something unthinkable. You will take the little prayer with the giant prize and jump into the river. At that moment, you’ll begin to let the loving currents of God’s grace and power carry you along. God’s great plan for you will surround you and sweep you forward into the profoundly important and satisfying life that He has waiting for you.
Do you see why I was so troubled by this? On the one hand, Wilkinson was promising me the very thing that I wanted, God’s abundant blessing. Do you want that? Sure you do! I want that too. Who doesn’t want to be abundantly blessed by God? But on the other hand, it conjures up a fear … that perhaps the desire to have God’s abundant blessing was a selfish thing to want.
You and I, both, have seen the gross excesses of some who claim to be God’s people and who live this extravagant lifestyle that looks nothing … NOTHING … like taking up your cross and following Jesus. I found myself in a conundrum that I think we all find ourselves in, when it comes to God’s blessing.
Should I ask or shouldn’t I ask? Does God want to bless me abundantly; or does He not want to bless me abundantly; or at all for that matter? They’re the questions we often find ourselves asking.
Wilkinson hits the nail on the head, though, when he says that we live in a self-serving day, we do. And if we approach God’s promises of blessing unlimited, in a self-serving way, then of course, it’s not the right thing to do. To ask Him for blessings that just serve us. He’s much smarter than to give us everything we want. He loves us way too much to instantly fulfil our every desire.
When I was a child, even back then (over a half a century ago), the retailers in the stores figured out that the best place to put the sweets and the small toys was at my eye level, right at the checkout. They knew that I’d pressure my parents to buy me this and to buy me that. Do you remember pestering your parents to buy you these things when you were a kid, right?
But no, being wise parents, being good parents and loving parents, they didn’t always accede to our howls of protest as they dragged us kicking and screaming out of the store without that packet of lollies that we just had to have. And yet, I’m able to look back on all that my parents did for me, for the eighteen or so years that I spent under their roof, I tell you inequitably, that they blessed my socks off. I think most of us can look back on our upbringing and say exactly the same thing about our parents.
Good loving parents don’t always meet the selfish wants of their immature children. But they still bless them beyond measure because that’s how parents are wired … to bless their children. That’s exactly what God’s like. You don’t believe me? Well, let me ask you this, what’s the very first thing that God said to and did for Adam and Eve, when He created them, the very first thing? Do you remember?
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them and then God blessed them and God said to them, ‘be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.
God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of the earth and every tree with seed in its fruit you shall have them for food and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the air and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food and it was so. God saw everything that he had made and indeed it was very good and there was the evening and there was the morning of the sixth day. (Genesis chapter 1, verses 27 to 31)
The last thing He did after completing all of creation, was to hand it over to Adam and Eve. God blessed them and He told them it’s all theirs. The whole cotton picking lot, He gave it to them. He gave it to us. And it was only then, on the following day (the seventh day), once He’d done all the hard work of creation, once He’d given it all away to us that He decided to take a day of rest.
Now, if you have any doubt, any doubt whatsoever that God wants to bless your socks off. If the story of creation still doesn’t do it for you, then please turn your gaze with me to the cross of Christ. Galatians chapter 3, verses 13 and 14:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us for it is written ‘cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’. In order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
God doesn’t want to bring us up as spoilt brats. But wrap your mind around this; He wants to bless us beyond measure.
The picture that Bruce Wilkinson paints in the passage I shared with you from his book, The Prayer Of Jabez, of standing near the river’s edge asking for a cup of water to get you through each day, is how we’ve been conditioned to think about going to God, and asking for His blessings. “Don’t ask for too much, don’t be too demanding, don’t impose on God”.
Well, that’s not how we are as parents, are we? Of course, we don’t want to spoil our kids. But the more they show us their gratefulness and maturity and selflessness, the more we want to bless them, right? We’re wired to bless our children without measure, in the right way.
Do you imagine that God isn’t up to the same mark? I mean do you really? Here’s what Jesus said on the matter, Matthew chapter 7, verse 11.
If then you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more then will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask it.
So let’s get this thing about God’s blessing straight. God is a good Father. He will never give us things that will cause us to become spoilt brats. So forget asking Him for that boat, or that holiday house, or that personal jet, or that bank account filled with millions and millions and millions of dollars or whatever currency you desire. He will no more fill us with that stuff than my parents would fill me with the candies at the store, that I demanded each time we were there.
But ask Him for good things, worthwhile things, things that will achieve amazing stuff on this earth. And watch God open up the windows of heaven and pour untold blessings into your life. “What to ask for? How to ask for it?” is what we’re going to be chatting about tomorrow and for the rest of this week on the program But right now, let me finish up by saying this, your God wants to bless you!