Monday March 8 – Day 20 – ACCEPT THE BLESSING

 In Lenten Devotional

Monday March 8 – Day 20 – ACCEPT THE BLESSING

“14-17 Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you’ll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God’s generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.” – Hebrews 12:14-17 (MSG)

I have to make a confession: I really associate with Esau.

Do you ever get those moments when you just HAVE to have something to eat?  You honestly feel like you are going to die if you don’t eat something as soon as possible.  If you remember the story in Genesis 25, Esau had come in from the field and was able to smell this amazing stew that his brother Jacob was making.  Now Esau was a hunter, and he was good at it, whereas Jacob preferred “indoor living” and clearly, was something of a good chef.  Esau was so hungry he thought he was dying, so he asked Jacob for some stew.  Jacob replied by making an offer:  “my stew for your rights as the firstborn”.

Now, you have to remember, being firstborn offered many advantages and it was a title that was cherished and respected.  It would be like paying 3 billion dollars for a Shamrock Shake…although the Shamrock Shake does have minty goodness, it is NOT worth 3 billion dollars.

And a bowl of stew, no matter how hungry you are (and Esau thought he WAS dying of hunger at the time), is not worth giving up the rights of a firstborn.

How many times in life do we decide to make crummy deals just to take care of a want or desire?  Deals that we will regret later on, but at the time seem necessary.

How many times do we give up the favour of a loving and grace-filled God for things that are so worthless in comparison that we should know better before we get deceived?

This is what I believe a good definition of sin is:  trading God’s grace for something that can never fully satisfy, and that creates a greater divide between God and ourselves.

The world has so much it can offer us in exchange for a relationship with Jesus:  money, power, fame, pleasure, materialism…the list goes on.  But have you ever thought of things in your life that do not seem bad that get in the way of our relationship with God?

The love of our family, and our desire to protect and care for them before loving Jesus.

Putting your financial health above Jesus.

Putting your physical health above Jesus.

We would all agree that these things, in and of themselves, are not bad things.  However, when we put even the most beautiful and worthy things as being more important to us than God, we have just traded our birthright for a small bowl of stew.

In God’s economy, when we surrender everything we are to Him, He blesses us with more than we can fathom.

When we put Him before our plans, our agendas and our desires, He provides in ways we could never have imagined.

When we make the trade for a bowl of stew, we get less than what we deserve.

When we make Jesus the King of our lives, surrendering everything to Him, we get our lives back and so much more.

In the bustle of life and the worries that we experience, we can easily forget this truth:  God desires the biggest life for us as we live for Him.  Our joy, happiness and well being are His top priority.  When we sacrifice in Jesus’ name, He sees it and is honoured.

Now when I say that God desires the biggest life, I am not suggesting that when we renew our relationship with God that we automatically get an infusion in our bank accounts, our houses automatically get bigger and are relocated magically to a Hawaiian Island.  It means that we will stop living for things that can be bought by a bowl of stew.  We live and commit to the greater story, God’s eternal story, that is continuing to be written and YOU are now part of it.  Imagine at the end of your life looking back on all you have done, and seeing the ways that God allowed you to serve Him and His world.  Imagine the effect your work has had on the kingdom and how pleased this has made the God of the universe.  The God of Abraham and Issac.  The God of us!  You were part of an incredible story that changed the world and the rest of eternity.  If we can only remind ourselves to look forward into the future when we are offered a yummy bowl of stew, it would make a world of difference AND a difference to the world.

During the pandemic it does feel like we have lived in a vacuum of sorts:  isolated from people and changes in our daily routines.  However, we need to be mindful of the fact that our thoughts, prayers, decisions and actions have a significant impact on the future of God’s kingdom.

Do we believe this?

WE have a part to play in this amazing story.

We cannot keep playing down the role we have in eternity.  The world is looking to us, or even trying to ignore us, but the truth is this:  what we do will have eternal consequences.

And the amazing thing is that God has invited you to be a part of this amazing journey.  We just have to accept the blessing.

In this season, may you be encouraged to not make the lousy deal and give up your opportunity to be a part of God’s story.  May we continue to work at getting along with one another in the church, and that we don’t leave anyone out intentionally.  May we love from the core of who we are every day, and may that love be inspired by the One who first loved us!

It is not too late to want and accept God’s blessing. The time to enter into God’s story is right now. In the words of Pete Townshend, “I call that a bargain, the best I ever had” (Bargain, Pete Townshend, 1971)

See you tomorrow, church!

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