God's Blessings Are the Best
It is hard to prepare a preamble to any sermon or TFT that I write anymore. Things are changing so quickly around the world that when I write something just a couple weeks back, there is a great chance that it will be overwhelmed by more immediate headlines. We were so enamored with our battle with Covid-19 and our fear with that disease, that we forgot that there are other concerns, such as war, and even nuclear war, that we need to address. This is why quality leadership is so important, not just in our country but around the world.
A couple weeks back I made the comment that I prayed that our leaders were playing chess and not checkers. A number of people asked me later what I meant. What I meant simply is this: To play chess and win against a strong opponent, you must think several moves ahead, minimum. Checkers is a somewhat reactionary game, you can win without strategy. Chess requires strategy to win, just to compete really. So what I meant is that I pray our leaders have a strategy and are not just reacting to the moves of others around the world. Sadly, I just don’t feel they have the ability to play chess. By the way, if you play checkers like chess, you will be very successful.
So many of our leaders today just deal with short term wins, making points in quick, short sound byte ways. Little gotcha’ moments that look good on the internet. Long term strategy is not necessary, in many ways not even needed. This is not a good way to operate a global, geopolitical strategy.
I guess what I’m really saying is that the war between Russia and Ukraine was created by the US and our European friends over the last twenty years. We created this situation, by not thinking and communicating strategically, and did nothing to correct it. We treated Putin like a politician in the US. We can’t do that because he will not understand and will naturally misinterpret what we are doing. Which is exactly what happened. I know it sounds crazy, but the blame is on us and the other western powers that be. I’m not blaming one party either, there is plenty of blame to go around for all of our leaders, regardless of political part or opinion.. I am not feeling sorry for Putin, please understand. He made a mistake based on lousy communication from us. People are dying because of this mistake that Putin made. Sure he looks bad. Sure, Russia will suffer. Ukraine will suffer too. All of us may end up suffering in one way or another. Also, this is a spiritual battle. Remember, we don’t wrestle against flesh and blood.
Poor leadership gets people killed. It has for centuries.
Our leaders will fail us. Our cars will break down. Our homes will need repair. Our bodies will break down, become sick, and hurt. Our friends will hurt our feelings. Our family members will disappoint us. Even our church will make mistakes.
But God’s love will never fail. His love for us is constant, even when we are worshiping other idols, God still loves us. God remains true to us in every way. His promises are true forever.
Let’s go to King David. He has just returned with the Ark of the Covenant, dancing before the Ark as the procession entered Jerusalem. What follows is a Psalm of thanks written by David, 26 verses of praise about God. Psalms like these by David are one reason that God views David as one after his own heart. Today I want us to begin by focusing on just one verse from this psalm by David. 1 Chronicles 16:34,
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
Everything good in our life is from God. Everything, period. Nothing good comes from anywhere else, other than God.
God is not temporary, fleeting, short-term, a quick fix, brief, or momentary. God is eternal. I could use other words like lasting or permanent, but eternal is the word because eternal is forever. God is eternal. His promises are eternal. His love is eternal. God’s love endures because it is eternal.
Have you ever watched one of those TV shows like the Bachelor or the Bachelorette? These are cringeworthy shows for me. I can’t even watch the commercials showing clips about these shows. The participants are so insincere, so obviously not knowing or communicating anything about true love that what you see is always an emotional trainwreck. For some, it makes for great TV. But don’t tell me the show is about love. This love is a facsimile of what God’s love is. It’s pretend love, faux love, temporary, fleeting, there one second then gone the next kind of love.
God’s love is forever. It is eternal. It is real. God’s love is real.
So that those people, who for all of their lives have been fooled by the pretend love found in the world, in God they can stop searching, because in God they found the real thing. God’s love is real. Since God’s love is eternal, they don’t have to ever worry about God dumping them. His love endures forever.
God loves each one of us, even if we don’t believe this, and his love endures forever.
For our next blessing we’ll turn to Ephesians 1:3, this is Paul teaching us here,
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms, with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”
Paul then goes on to list these spiritual blessings throughout the next ten verses. Included in this list:
We are adopted as sons and daughters to God through Christ
We have free grace
We have redemption through Christ’s blood
We have forgiveness of sins
We have knowledge of the mystery of his will and purpose
We are sealed and marked with God’s Holy Spirit
What a powerful list. Each one of these blessings, you can call them promises too, are of a spiritual nature. What makes these promises so special is this: Because they are all spiritual, just like God’s love, they are all eternal. They all endure forever. In 1 Peter 1:4, Peter mentions our inheritance through Christ’
“that can never perish, spoil, or fade – kept in heaven for you.”
Spiritual promises and blessings are eternal. They do not spoil, fade, rust, putrefy, sour, go bad, decay, mold, or rot. They endure, forever. These promises are the best, better than any earthly blessing.
We will finish today with another promise, this one from Jesus. All of Jesus’ promises are of a special nature, but today’s is especially so. John 14:1-4,
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
We have spoken often today of how God’s blessings and promises are of an enduring eternal nature. This promise from Jesus here is indicating that he is in eternity right now preparing a place for you and me.
But that’s not all of the promise, that’s just Jesus telling us what he’s doing. His promise is that he is returning for each one of us. His promise is that when he comes for us, either when we die or when he returns in the sky, he’s taking us to live with him, in eternity, in a room in His Father’s house that he has prepared for us. He is also promising that we will be with him for eternity and that no longer will we be separated from him. The more you read this promise, the better it gets.
Now we know that he was speaking directly to his disciples when he said this. This is just after Jesus told Peter that “before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times”. So, this is just before his crucifixion.
These are some of Jesus’ last words. Many people, right before they die, make sure that they communicate effectively with those that they love. Jesus is no different. Some of his most important and foundational teachings are in these three or four pages in the book of John.
Jesus wanted the disciples (his friends that he loved) to know that he was not leaving them in the lurch. Sure, he would be gone, but he would be preparing a place for them (and us), and that he’d return to take them (and us) to be with him in eternity.
Then, to reassure them even more, he says “You know the way to the place where I am going”.
The disciples did not all understand this at the time. But I would guess that almost everyone hearing that believes understands this today. You have to skip down a verse John 14:6, where Jesus says,
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The path to eternity goes through Jesus. While some of us will struggle more than others while on this path, know and remember this please: Wherever we're at on this path, Jesus will come to us.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC