Monday, April 11, 2016

How to receive God's blessings

People today are still very much like those in the New Testament times.  They want the blessings of God more than they want God.  We see in John 6:26-40, after Jesus feeds the 5,000, they begin to follow him wanting more food.  Feed us every day just like when Moses fed us as our ancestors wandered in the wilderness. 

We see the same kind of faith or lack of, today in the prosperity gospel churches where people come to receive "blessings".  "Give and you shall receive", the preachers proclaim.  "See how God has blessed me!  You too can have a nice car, a beautiful house and riches untold if only you give to God (me, my church) your money". 

And the prosperity gospel churches are not the only ones that rely upon such tactics. You can see it also used in mainline churches, only a more subtle version.  It's not the doctrinal belief system that the church is built upon like the prosperity churches, but in many churches you'll hear testimony from members to the fact that God has blessed them when they gave to the church, building campaign, pastors discretionary fund, etc.  It is a manipulatory tactic to get people to give more. Ironic that we use manipulation on our people by manipulating them to believe we can manipulate God into giving us material wealth, if we give to the church.  It's not that those giving testimony are not telling the truth. They believe God has blessed them and indeed God probably has. But the fallacy is in reason why God blesses his children. He does it because God loves us, not because we have earned it in some way.   

We see the same problem with those who followed Jesus around. They wanted to know just what they needed to do to gain the blessings of God, to get a free meal every day.  They wanted the blessings much more than they wanted Jesus.  Jesus didn't say you need to give money to the church or to me.  He didn't say you need to pray five times a day.  He didn't say you need to sacrifice a lamb or go to the Temple on the Sabbath.  He said in verse 29, "believe in Me". "God provided the bread from heaven, not Moses.  I am the bread.  I am the manna.  Put your faith and trust in me.  It is a relationship with you that I want.  Not your works or your money, just your time, your worship, your heart".

This may be the hardest concept for us to accept.  It is what separates all religions from true Christianity. We want so much to believe that we must accomplish something in order to receive God's blessings. It is so counter intuitive that this simple doctrine of grace is what keeps many from that relationship with Jesus.  
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10

What would it look like if we understood that Jesus wants our devotion not works? How would I live my life differently if I could fully comprehend the depth of that relationship and the grace that Jesus offers? 

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