Tuesday, 19 August 2014

God just loves to bless

The following talk was given at the 9.00 Welsh Service in St. James for the 9th Sunday after Trinity (1984 Green Book readings):

God is a God who loves to bless. In our readings this morning we have two examples of Old Testament beatitudes in Jeremiah 17:7-10 and Psalm 1 where God talks about blessing.

But there are clear conditions if we want to be blessed by him.

First, we have to trust him but it’s a trust that does not keep God at arms length. Jeremiah writes:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust IS the Lord.” 

He makes the point that we don’t just trust God because he is a powerful being but because he is person who is trustworthy. It’s the difference between trusting a car and a person. We can trust a car because it is mechanically sound and able to take us from A to B. But when it comes to a person it’s a different kind of trust. We trust in them as someone we know personally as trustworthy. God is not a thing but sometimes we can, if we are not careful, treat him like he is.

Second, we are to avoid the kind of people and situations that can undermine our relationship with God.

In psalm 1:1—in the KJV—it poetically describes what we must not do in terms of sitting, walking and standing:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” 

Sitting, walking and standing is another way of saying we spend our whole time—apart from when we lie down and sleep—in the company of those who are ungodly, lead a sinful life and are continually scornful of God and all things sacred. It is not that we are to avoid their company altogether—Jesus said he came to save sinners and so are we—but that we must not immerse ourselves totally in that kind of unbelieving and negative environment because it will lure us away from God.

That is why Church is so important. I can never understand people who say that they are Christians but never go to Church. I suspect that a few hours in their company getting to know them will reveal that their Christianity has worn rather thin and that their faith levels are low to non-existent.

Wesley in his early life tells us in his diaries that “he met a serious man,” who said to him, ” Sir, you wish to serve God and go to heaven. Remember you cannot serve Him alone. You must therefore find companions or make them. The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.”

Being blessed by God depends on keeping company with God, keeping company with fellow Christians and finally keeping company with the Bible, which is God’s word and expression of his will and purpose for us:

“...his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law doth he ponder day and night (Psalm 1:2)”

When I came to Christ in my early twenties I was advised to read the Bible every day and was given an outline of readings which, if followed, would take me through the Bible once every year. It consisted on reading a 5-6 chapters every day. It wasn't bad advice but the problem was that I read the passages but I didn't ponder or meditate on them. My sole intention was to try and get through the readings before they log-jammed into the next day and I had to read 12 chapters or 18 if it left it three days!

Someone put it like this. If you want to enjoy a boiled sweet you need to suck it not crunch it. To delight in God is to get to know God and that takes time. So read and ponder, don't just read.

These three things then bring us closer to God. Keeping company with him, his people and his word. That is where we will find his blessing.

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