Worshipful Wednesday: The Purpose of God’s Blessing

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Psalm 67:1-2, 7

“For the music director; to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a psalm, a song.  May God show us his favor and bless us! May he smile on us! (Selah) 2 Then those living on earth will know what you are like; all nations will know how you deliver your people. 7 May God bless us! Then all the ends of the earth will give him the honor he deserves.”

Everyone wants to be blessed.  Life is easier.  But ultimately our blessings are not for us.  God wants to bless His children, but within His acts of kindness is an opportunity for others around us to see our relationship with God and to see His faithfulness and provision for His children, bringing God praise.

Sometimes when we receive a lot of blessings we can want to hoard and keep them for ourselves, yet God wants us to trust Him to provide blessings for another day.  The Israelites gathered manna God provided each day and reaped maggots when they coveted more blessings than what God had provided.  God’s demonstration of care in providing food in the desert was not just all about them.  It was for the surrounding nations to see how awesome our God is, ultimately come to know Him and receive His gift of salvation, too.

Just like the Israelites made mistakes that affected the reputation of their God, we, too, show the world how powerful our God is by living faithful lives all for His glory.  Complaining about God’s provision tells the world that God is not enough. Being stingy tells the world that we are not generous.

So it is with us.  With the provision He has given us – we can use it as a testimony for His glory, or all for ourselves.

Lord, thank You for all You give us.  You are forever faithful.  Help us to worship You and be content whatever level of provision and to invest what You give for Your kingdom and glory.

An Idol Among Us

Joshua 24:14-15, 23

14 Now obey the Lord and worship him with integrity and loyalty. Put aside the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and worship the Lord15 If you have no desire to worship the Lord, choose today whom you will worship, whether it be the gods whom your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But I and my family will worship the Lord!”  23 Joshua said, “Now put aside the foreign gods that are among you and submit to the Lord God of Israel.”

When I consider the apostasy of willingly, knowingly worshiping a dead god, it is ridiculous to me.  I venture to say that there is a disconnect for many of us when we contemplate how it would be possible to serve false gods when God had so clearly shown Himself to be the One true God.  Parting the red sea?  The ground opening up and fire coming from the sky? Yep!  He’s the One true God.

It would seem fairly obvious that an object formed by our own hands is not capable of being all-knowing or saving, but maybe it is not as obvious to us because these gods are among us; interwoven in our culture, possibly not easily recognizable.  In fact, it might even be in our own Christian culture that we are worshiping false idols.

How could we be so deceived?  The enemy is cunning.  An idol cloaked in righteousness would not be easy to discern.  If it is our ancestors who laid a foundation of worshiping a false god, it is part of the family dynamic.  We do not readily see it, because it is our custom.  It might even appear holy or be esteemed by man.  The Amorites worshiped many gods, which would likely be obvious to us today, but perhaps less known gods of theirs were glorifying in their own sophistication, power and strength. These became their hidden gods of worship and could be a stumbling block to God’s people if they did not recognize it.

Does the body of Christ have idols that need to be cast down that are not visible to us?  I enjoy visiting different denominations within the body of Christ.  It occurs to me that each one has its strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps idols. When we begin to worship truth rather than the Giver of all truth, or to worship music rather than the God Who is the Only One with whom we are to delight, we have lost our way.  When we boast of our knowledge of doctrine over recognizing our need for compassion when we see a broken person, we have forgotten the purpose of our salvation.

It can be so subtle, but it can be like a noose tightened around the necks of the congregation, who are made to bow down to the culture of the church.  We begin to acquiesce to please those around us in their worship style or preferences and forget that our relationship with God is our own.  We can begin to be “religiously correct” instead of following the Holy Spirit.

Worshiping false gods is giving glory to anything or anyone other than God.  It can be as small as instead of praising one’s appearance, diverting praise of beauty to the One Who gave it.   It can be as big as thinking our denomination is “the” denomination, rather than viewing us all as the body of Christ.  If we are to worship God with integrity and loyalty, we need to pursue intentionally worshiping Him alone with all sincerity.  Worshiping God, we are completely undone and recognize our spiritual poverty.  We dare not forget that our righteousness is not our own, but given freely so that we could worship God freely.  May we not again become ensnared after so great a salvation.

Oh God, You set us free from religion so we could know You.  Please help us to remain in You and to recognize and avoid cultures that infiltrate our gatherings.  May we never accept any counterfeit that would draw us away from You.

Children of the Promise

Galatians 4:22, 23, 28-31

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman.  23  But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise.  28  But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac.  29  But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now.  30  But what does the Scripture say?  “Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son” of the free woman.  31  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.

Sibling rivalry.  Nonsensical and yet so commonplace.  It was present in the first two brothers in all creation, Cain and Abel.  It is present now, played out on the world stage in the Middle East.  Envy was at the root then and it is now.  As a parent, I seek to stamp it out, but it is hard to convince our flesh that it is ok when one is seemingly blessed more than another.  Man shakes his fist accusingly at God when he thinks that he has been unfairly treated, and yet what does it mean for us to be fairly treated?  Why would any of us ever deserve favor from God?  But I digress.

Each day as I open God’s word, I see evidences of God’s favor and the resulting envy on the part of those not a part of His promise.  I see it on the evening news.  People perceiving that they are owed something.  People blaming another people group pretty much for existing.  What is difficult for man to accept is that God chose a people – His people – to be the apple of His eye.  It is His prerogative to choose – He is the Creator, after all. He chose to grant Abraham and Sarah a son, Isaac.  They took matters into their own hands and had Ishmael.  But God was not going to bless the action done outside of His will.  He knew from the beginning what His plan was and His plans have never gone unfulfilled.

The amazing thing these other people groups neglect to see is that all people groups can be a part of the promise.  It was through Israel that all nations would be blessed.  I am a part of the promise, though I am not Jewish.  Grafted in, adopted as one of His own – I will never understand why such undeserved mercy was granted to me.  While the favor God granted to the Israelites might appear unfair – we all want to be chosen as the captain of the team – God knew Abraham’s heart – He is omniscient and His purposes are so far above ours.

The spirit behind the envy is the same spirit as the ancient enemy of our souls – he was jealous of God’s place and wanted to be like the Most High.  So the enemies of God’s people foolishly think they can take the place of God’s chosen.  Their plot is evil and will end up with the same result as the devil – forever cursed to hell.  May God open their eyes to see that the One they are persecuting is God Himself. 

Lord, help us to shine Your light and love to all peoples.  Anyone Who calls on the Name of the Lord may be saved.  The days are evil, but You are still calling people to Yourself.  Please use even this evil circumstance to draw even more to Yourself.  You are good, God, all the time!