This morning, in the sermon in church, the visiting pastor mentioned that GOD has pronounced blessing over us, His people. From way back in Genesis and Exodus, He pronounced blessing over His people. He told them who they were. They didn’t always live up to the blessing He pronounced over them, but He did it just the same.
That was who they were…the people of GOD,
and as such, they were told what His people would look like as a community,
living out love for GOD and love for others as stated in the 10 commandments.
“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.
The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession,
out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
It was not because you were more in number than any other people
that the Lord set his love on you and chose you,
for you were the fewest of all peoples,
but it is because the Lord loves you and
is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers,
that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and
redeemed you from the house of slavery,
from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Know therefore that the Lord your God is God,
the faithful God who keeps covenant and
steadfast love with those who love him and
keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, and
repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them.
He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face.
A benediction is a way of stating a blessing over people. The one above is a common one. As you read it, you realize it isn’t just a bunch of words, but rather it is full of doctrine! It reminds us who GOD is in terms of His attributes and personhood, something of His work…both on the cross and as we grow in grace, living out the christian life.
At the end of our church service, we raise our hands and receive the benediction/blessing as we leave worship and go into the world.
It also gives us hope. Hope that we don’t do the Christian life on our own. It is an outworking of His work in us. But although it can often seem discouraging from our side, He is watching and sees that He is equipping us to do good. He is working in us things that are pleasing to Him!
We know the struggles that are involved with our growth in faith…so does He. But He knows the direction He is moving with the growth He is planning in you and me and it is good and pleasing.
He doesn’t look at you and go, “Did you fail again?” because just like a parent who is watching their child learn to walk or talk doesn’t get disgusted with the times their child falls or says the wrong word, He sees you progressing in the direction He is moving you. He is pleased.
You are learning kindness/self-control/meekness. He knows you won’t exhibit it perfectly. He knows you won’t be perfect at it until heaven. That’s why you need Him…to run to for forgiveness when you fail, to run to for enablement when you feel too weak to try to obey, to run to when you realize He completed the work of salvation for you on the cross!
But He delights in the fact that you are maturing in the directions He is trying to teach and grow you. It’s because of the blood of the eternal covenant. He shed it for you so you could be in relationship with Him.
You and I don’t deserve it. But He gives that forgiveness freely as a gift. No recriminations. No guilt trips. You are forgiven for everything by Jesus, at the cross, when He paid for all your sin…past, present and future.
Whether you have turned to Him to repent of trying to do life on your own in the past or not, you may need to think about whether you are trying to do the christian life on your own. Just like doing life on your own doesn’t work, doing the christian life on your own doesn’t work either.
He has to do that for you too. Be encouraged and cooperate with the changes He wants to work out in you.
Receive the benediction!