The Source of Blessings
I'm going to share some statements that all contain a major error.
Well, the crop is fantastic this year. I guess all that hard work has finally paid off.
Well dear, we have finally made it. We are officially set financially. All those years of working a thorough budget, skimping, and wise investing have finally paid off. We have really done well for ourselves.
Congratulations, Pastor! You have really built a good-sized congregation. Your preaching has brought many souls to Christ.
There is nothing that is intrinsically wrong with the statements, in general. It should be pretty obvious to all of us that each statement talks about a blessing that was felt. However, the problem is that each comment was shared without anyone recognizing God’s hand in the blessing.
There is a grave danger of becoming so self-sufficient and self disciplined that we no longer recognize God’s work in all the blessings.
As Christians, we need to remember that God is the source of all blessings.
This morning, I want us to look at the book of James, the very practical book on Christian living. We will be looking at two different aspects about gifts and blessings.
The good gifts--Our source-1:16, 17
The good gifts--Our source-1:16, 17
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
According two verse 16 and the first part of 17, it appears that James is telling us that Satan does provide what seems good. According to the world's perception, there seems to be a lot of good things they have to offer.
Satan offers many tempting things which may look good, but only leads to death. Our society has a lot of seemingly good gifts that are only detrimental. Let's consider just a few supposedly good gifts that society promotes.
One would be the acceptance and promotion of extramarital activity. Our culture has suggested that if any are not in agreement with a variety of extra marital activities, that person is judgmental, uptight, and downright prudish. Psychologically, individuals that choose this lifestyle have often found themselves torn. Physically, there can be a multitude of diseases and illnesses that can occur. None of this even considers the impact on one’s future life partner or a current life partner. What is often not shared is the trauma that children and in-laws can experience. From a purely secular perspective, it seems as though there is no ultimate game.
Another area the world has portrayed as a beneficial and good gift is the gambling system. The idea of getting something for nearly nothing is never suggested in scripture. The Bible tells us that a person who wishes to eat should work. Any philosophy that suggests that you can get rich quick off of other people's misfortune or misguided wishes, flies directly against scripture.
There are numerous other things which society would suggest is good and beneficial to us, but has a terrible price tag in the end. In addition, it is almost always in contradiction to what the Bible states is best. We have seen that the world would suggest many supposedly good gifts, yet they ultimately lead to harm. Satan never gives any gifts. Satan only bargains with people. He will not give us something for nothing. He always expects something in return. Maybe this is why the popular phrase has been quoted as, "selling your soul to Satan."
When any of us suggest immediate gratification and fulfillment of desires as coming from God, we are being presumptuous. God will not do anything contrary to his will. God does not work with a philosophy of us having it our way. God cannot be found by having a disposable paper plate mentality. God does not function like a microwave, instantly giving whatever our desire is. God's timing is perfect. Immediate gratification and fulfillment of desires is not of God. This mentality comes from the lies of Satan. It depicts an egotistical, self-centered people. This thinking comes from the old man that was supposed to have died with Christ.
If there is truly a need, then we should wait upon God, doing what we know we ought to do. Understand that God has promised to supply all our needs.
As we look at the first part of verse 17, we see that James reminds us that it is God who provides what is good. Since God personifies good, anything and everything we receive from him must be good. We all understand that there are times in which we receive some things which are unpleasant to us. However, if it is from God, then it is the very best thing for us. God knows each one of us. He also knows our needs far better than we do.
We also notice in this verse that God does not give only once. With God, it is a continual giving; "coming down.” God does not merely give once and tell us that his well is empty for us or that we have received our allotted quota. Every day, there are a myriad of blessings and good gifts that he pours out on us. I am reminded of the YouTube video which a church put out recently about thankfulness for every little thing we tend to take for granted. Each thing was wrapped in gift paper, as Dean pointed out last week. Maybe it would be good if we recognized every and all little things such as this as being gift wrapped from God. Our problem is that we often don't recognize God’s love offering to us in the simplest as well as the most complex of gifts.
Throughout the Bible, godly people have recognized that circumstances may have not felt like it was a blessing at the time. Job is a classic example. We have recently studied briefly about his story. But let me share with you another very familiar story from . Here we find that Potiphar’s wife had inappropriately offered herself to Joseph for his very own. Joseph could have very easily taken Potiphar’s wife and considered this as a wonderful blessing. However, he understood that to do such a thing would have been contradictory to God's very nature. Joseph said no to Potiphar’s wife because this would be sin against God, sin against her, sin against Potiphar, sin against Joseph himself, as well as his future wife.
We might consider it very unfortunate that Joseph's godly response was rewarded with jail time. Most of us would state that this did not work out like we thought it would. We certainly would not consider this as a good gift. But from verses in , we realize that Joseph could see the big picture. He could see that God had indeed blessed him.
As we become more aware of our multitude of blessings, we need to realize that all good gifts are from God. He is the only source of all blessings.
Now we need to look at the most important blessing we could ever receive.
The best gift--Our salvation-1:18
The best gift--Our salvation-1:18
In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
My friends, there is no greater gift than eternal life with Jesus Christ. To understand this further, let's go back to the Gospel of John.
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Here we understand the salvation is not provided by us in any way shape or form. It does not matter how hard we try, we cannot earn or gain salvation on our own merits or abilities. In fact, you nor I could ever do enough to gain salvation.
Nicodemus would probably have fit into the category of being a godly man. If salvation could have been earned by good works, he probably would have been saved. However, that is not the way of God. Jesus stated: ”No one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born-again."
I am not a biologist nor a doctor nor a midlife. But let me assure you of one fact which is indisputable. When you and I were born physically, we did not have anything to do with causing our conception or our birth. That was totally beyond our control. I understand that we had to accept the responsibility of breathing and eating since our parents could not do that for us.
The same is true spiritually. We cannot cause ourselves to be born spiritually. God causes spiritual birth, as well as physical birth. We are responsible for our decision when the offer of salvation comes our way. Yet, we cannot give ourselves spiritual life. It does not matter how much study and research one does. It does not matter how much meditation one does. It does not matter how many times we come to church. It does not matter how much money we put it in the offering. Salvation, being born again, is completely of God.
To show this even further, I take us back to , .
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
Salvation is not provided by anyone around us. It does not matter who your parents are. As much as we might desire that salvation could be inherited by our children, there are no spiritual genes which could cause them to be saved. As much as we would like to believe that our children will obey our desires, we cannot force them to say yes to Jesus. They must make that decision based upon God's free gift. They must be born of God. Age also has nothing to do with salvation. Salvation can take place at the earliest instance of understanding or just before the grave. In order to be born of God and experience this best gift of salvation, it requires a response from each person individually.
In and 6:44, we read that salvation is provided by God."Jesus answered, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me." The reality is that none of us receive salvation through the church, it comes through Jesus Christ alone. You and I are completely unable to convince other people to accept Christ based on what we say or how we say it. "No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him…"
So we understand that salvation is all of God. However, we who are saved must do our part in proclaiming the Gospel message. But the act of providing salvation is all of God. There is absolutely nothing that we have done or nothing that we can do to merit this best of all gifts. The best of all gifts comes from God; our salvation.
What is it that we can do that would help us to recognize God's hand in all of our blessings? At Thanksgiving we often spend time giving thanks to God. Thus, I want to share six items that have come to my mind which we can do.
1--consciously give thanks to God. Don't forget him. Don't take him for granted. Don't be like those in the world who think that they have attained their blessings by the sweat of their brow.
2--realize that Satan is the provider of sinful and harmful things. Understand that only God is the source of all good gifts. We also should recognize that sometimes we fail to distinguish the difference between the two. That is because of our own selfishness.
3--frequently, if not daily, thank God for the very best gift of all; thank God for our salvation.
4--realize for absolute certain that it was not you or anyone else on this planet who gave salvation. Salvation is all of God.
5--part of our giving thanks for a blessing is wanting to spend time with the one who blessed us. So spend time with the Lord. The more we study the Bible, the more we pray, and communicate with God, the more aware we are of him and his blessings minute by minute.
6--recognize that God is the source of all blessings. But here is the part that you might find challenging and somewhat interesting. As we recognize the fact that God is the source of all blessings, we need to let others know that we know the one who provides ongoing blessings.