Saturday, February 6, 2016

Blessing and Favor

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to preach on, of all things, the blessing and favor of God.  (A link to that sermon can be found below if you are interested.)  It is something that for reasons I don't need to go into here would be difficult for me to teach about even in the best of circumstances.  But honestly, it seemed like an impossible task for me to address that subject in this particular season of my life.  The last two years have just been too painful -- I have felt anything but blessed.

God reminded me that Sunday of the blessing in my life, and interestingly has continued to open my eyes to the truth of that spiritual reality in the days since.  Even in the worst of circumstances, those who believe in Jesus can find God's blessing and His favor if we just open our eyes and see.  We are, after all, declared righteous by the blood of Jesus, and as the psalmist says:

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
    let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
    that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous;
    you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Which brings me to my point today.

Last Wednesday night we were talking about the gospel -- and specifically about both the responsibility that we all have and the urgency we should all feel to reach people with the good news of Jesus.  To me, at least, it was a weighty night.  It was just one of those nights when God's presence felt so heavy and the challenge so great that all we could do at the end was sit quietly and contemplate what God had spoken to us through his Word.

Afterwards though, a young man came up to me who was so excited it was as if he was walking on clouds.  And honestly, at first his emotion and what he was saying didn't make sense to me in light of what God had done that night.  I guess my expectation was that the mood would be somewhat solemn as we contemplated together the weight of the gospel.  But he was anything but solemn -- he was bursting with joy.

But, I think I finally figured it out.  And, this is something that we must never forget. 

As believers, we definitely need to grasp as best we can the weight and urgency of the gospel.  Our love of Jesus and our love for others compels us to share the good news.  We, like Paul, should be so consumed by the weight of the gospel that we are willing to become slaves to all -- to become whatever we need to become -- so that some might be saved.  Complacency is just not an option.

On the other hand, must never lose sight of the fact that the gospel itself is ultimately freeing.  It frees us from the consequences of sin, and also from the chains of the law.  That freedom is obvious enough.  But, oddly, it also frees us from the burden of our own selfishness.

I think the reason the young man the other night was walking on the clouds was because he realized that the weight of the gospel at the end of the day was nothing compared to the burden of living life selfishly.  He could, perhaps for he first time in his life, remove the chains of his own ambitions, aspirations and desires, and start living the real life that is found in the freedom that comes from serving others.

Our God is a God of paradoxes!!

"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple."

"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

"Paradox:  a statement or proposition that, despite sound (or apparently sound) reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory."

Blessing and Favor

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