We’ve been over “God Bless America”, but what about “God bless me”? There are Christians who believe we should be content to “live to the glory of God” and neeeever want anything for our undeserving dirty sinful worm selves. It is enough that we are allowed to glorify God.
Do I want to honor God? Yes I do! Because He reached down in love when in fact neither I nor anyone else deserved love, and He provided at a terrible cost a way for Him to treat us as righteous and eventually transform us into righteous beings, forgive us for our sins, and give us citizenship in Heaven for an Eternity of joy, pleasure, health, and happiness. Life, liberty, and happiness achieved, not “the right to the pursuit of”.
That’s a transition in thinking: from what God has done for me, to what God has done for me!
Those thoughts make me want to interrupt this bulletin with an announcement about our Sponsor. The Hallelujah Chorus, for example. Or “Love Come Down”. Thank You, Abba. You have given us a gift that we didn’t deserve, that we could never have achieved on our own, and You are giving us the ability not to mar that gift. Thank You, Lord Jesus, King of Kings, Prince of Peace! for the incredible sacrifice You made for us. There is no way we can ever repay You for enduring the prolonged pain and rejecting all temptations Your entire life to rescue us. I can’t even understand how You were able to do it, but I thank You with my life, as much as I am able.
Is that knowledge and certainty blessing enough for now?
The blessing of freedom from fear of God is a powerful blessing! Enough in itself to be grateful to God for all Eternity, and especially in this life. We can relax. God is not waiting to punish us for our sins. Those who have accepted God’s provision for our sins can relax. Can talk to God as what we are: adopted children whose adoptive Father loves us with a love stronger and purer than any other in the Universe.
The blessing of a clear conscience. In the political realm, the clean consciences of Christians and people who attend Christian churches is attested by the sarcastic comment one sometimes sees after a mass murder, a drive-by shooting, or a bombing, “Must be those [Methodists, Baptists, Catholics whatever]. You know how violent they are.” The point being that it is ridiculous, absurd, to believe that Protestant or Catholic Christians would be guilty of such things. If you have ever, as a Christian, come close to a serious crime or sin, you can look back with a shudder, but also with a sigh of relief and gratitude that God kept you from it. I well remember the day when I learned that it is literally true that “… God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1st Corinthians 10:13)
We have been released from bitter grieving for those who died believing in Jesus. Every one who has lost a loved one who believed knows that there is pain and loss and grief, but it is not the bitterness that comes from saying goodbye forever: “I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.” (1st Thessalonians 4:13-14)
The blessing of a 24/7, on-call, legally qualified attorney Who is on our side: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1st John 2:1-2)
“I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.” (1st John 2:12)
The blessing of a God and Savior Who not only forgives our sins, but trains and enables us to sin less as we go along:
“Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted, He is able to help and provide immediate assistance to those who are being tempted and exposed to suffering.” (Hebrews 2:18, Amplified Bible)
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city of Jerusalem until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)
“You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome [false spirits], because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1st John 4:4) You will not be deceived by false preachers and teachers if you allow the Holy Spirit to transform your mind.
Every “bad habit”, every sin, is subject to the power of the Holy Spirit, if we are willing to give Him control over it. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
Just in case everyone hasn’t heard, scarlet and crimson were “fast” dyes. They didn’t fade. That was a rarity. Even when I was young, many of the colors of clothes faded in the wash. What God is saying is, “No matter how impossible it is for you, I can cleanse you from every sin.”
Believers in Jesus have a fantastic hope, a source of strength, a Comforter, an Advocate, an example, and an instruction manual with an interpreter (the Holy Spirit) that tells us how to live. And when the government we live under will allow it, the Christian life is one that maximizes the potential for wealth and creativity, and all the blessings that can flow from them. All those blessings are ours now, and what will our life in Heaven be like?
Tune in next week for a very partial but startling answer to that question.