Receive God’s Blessings
A Sermon Delivered to
5 May 2013
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
We are still in the Easter season culminating with the remembrance of Jesus’ Ascension and the celebration of Pentecost later in this month.
It is also Cinco de Mayo, the celebration of Mexico’s independence in the victory over France on 5 May 1862, which was right in the midst of our United States Civil War.
This also points out a major flaw in the way that most people live.
They don’t live in the Resurrection power of Jesus Christ that is to bring peace to the world.
They don’t live in the heavenly will of our Father that requires us to work for peace and end as much pain, suffering, and death that we possibly can in the world around us, beginning with what we put on our plates.
They don’t live as the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God that Jesus calls us to be.
And, they don’t receive God’s blessings.
Instead we continue to see one group or another oppress another group of our fellow human beings or other species of animals.
Instead of lovingly seeking peace with one another, most of the world makes war against both humans and non-humans and, because of this, every day is filled with violence.
How can we ever expect God to hear our prayers, be gracious to us, and bless us if we insist on living in ways that oppose God’s will?
Note the contrast between the way most of the world lives, and the way we are told to live in Psalm 67:1-7.
1. God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us —
As we asked above, how can we expect God to do this if we continue to live in violence?
The simple answer is that we can’t.
If we truly want God to answer this prayer, then we also must be willing to live in God’s heavenly will here on earth.
2. That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among all nations.
The people of this violent world are to see God’s way in us as His peacemaking children of God, change from their evil ways, and be saved.
Then we will see true and lasting praise on the earth because the whole of creation will once again have peace, for we will be once again living in God’s blessing.
3. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God;
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
4. Let the nations be glad and sing for joy;
For Thou wilt judge the peoples with uprightness,
And guide the nations on the earth.
Violence against our fellow humans and other animals can never bring this to pass, for it is in opposition to everything that Jesus taught us, and everything we know about God’s heavenly will.
5. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God;
Let all the peoples praise Thee.
6. The earth has yielded its produce;
God, our God, blesses us.
7. God blesses us,
That all the ends of the earth may fear Him.
There is both a physical and spiritual aspect to the earth yielding up its abundance or produce (verse 6). It’s both the abundance of the plant foods growing forth from the ground, which cannot include any animal foods, as well as the abundance of God’s blessings for the people having returned to God with a whole heart.
In the Beatitudes Jesus tells us how to receive God’s blessings in this way. Note what we are told in Matthew 5:3-11…
3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Where is there any room for violent ways of living in any of these verses?
There isn’t any.
But even if there is violence in the world around us and even directed toward us, we will still be blessed if we remain at peace and in God’s heavenly will.
10. “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11. “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.
All the time, we hear from peacemaking children of God who have been persecuted and insulted for caring about the whole of God’s creation, including the animals.
Unfortunately, a substantial amount of this ungodly behavior is coming from the churches that falsely claim to be followers of Jesus.
Let’s now take a look at John 14:22-31, and see how Jesus explains how we are to be living in this world.
22. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?”
23. Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him.
We hope we all see and understand the key to being peacemaking children of God, as compared to the ways of the world; for only the peacemakers receive God’s blessings.
24. “He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.
25. “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you.
26. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.
This is the time we live in today, and we are to live as Jesus taught us.
We also don’t have any excuses, because the Holy Spirit is constantly reminding us.
27. “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
28. “You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
29. “And now I have told you before it comes to pass, that when it comes to pass, you may believe.
30. “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me;
31. but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go from here.
This is the time we are living in, and we are to stand firm against the ruler of the world and all the pain, suffering, violence, and death that he brings with him.
Only the devil is empowered by the shedding of blood.
God is empowered by our obedience and love for Him.
And in turn, we are empowered by receiving God’s blessings.
This is also the easiest way to determine what things are of God, and what things are of the devil.
Live in the loving, compassionate, and peacemaking ways of the Lord our God and we will be blessed.