Psalm 24:1-6 and Ephesians 1:3-14
(Quoted scripture is New International Version)
Praise God for all the wonderful things God has done in our lives and in our world! We continue to be filled with awe and wonder. Our fitting response is to sing praises to our God. Our favorite praise hymns and songs can transport us beyond our present situation into the very presence of God.
Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Isn’t God awesome? He’s given us this beautiful earth and all that it is in it and on it. God has given us these amazing human bodies which have healing power created within them, and minds that think, create, discover, imagine, invent ways to better our lives and the life of God’s creation. We are truly blessed!
There are those minds and bodies which are controlled by Satan and used for his evil; people who try to destroy God’s creation and try to destroy those of us who try to build God’s kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.
The Apostle Peter wrote in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” There is temptation around every corner that can lead you away from God. Please pray before you make any decision. Ask God for guidance and follow what He puts upon your heart, instead of what the world would lead you into. The devil is looking to devour you!
King David wrote in Psalm 24:3-6, “Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, O God of Jacob.” Keep seeking God’s face and His will in your life; and know that you are blessed by God!
What does it mean that we be blessed by God? Paul writes in Ephesians 1:3, “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.”
What does that mean? Does it mean that everything is always going to be a bed of roses? Maybe it means something entirely different.
Al Keeney, whom God has blessed with intelligence, the ability to work, a wife and family, tells of a young man bagging groceries at his local supermarket. The young man takes his job seriously. The young man has Down’s syndrome. As he bags Al Keeney’s groceries, he does so very conscientiously. Keeney thanks him and moves to push the grocery cart out the door. But the young man insists that helping him to the car with the groceries is part of his job. Keeney dutifully follows the young man to the car. He opens the trunk and the young man carefully places the grocery bags inside. Keeney says thank you. Then the young man does something that catches Keeney off-guard. He puts his arms around Keeney and says, “I like you!” Keeney, in turn, says the only thing he can come up with, “I like you, too.”
Thinking about that moment Al Keeney writes something quite touching. He writes, “Now, some will say that when I see that young man in Heaven, he will have been made whole. In other words, they think he will be like the rest of us. But I wonder if, when by God’s grace I am made whole, I won’t be more like that young man than he like me. You see, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 6:22-23). My friend the bag boy was blessed with all those qualities and none of the pride or meanness that so often afflicts me.” (1)
We have been chosen by God. Paul writes in verse 4, “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Being chosen may mean something different from what we think.
God said to the Hebrew people in Deuteronomy 7:6, “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”
Normally we think of being chosen as an honor or an award that we have won. Chosen for the football team, chosen to be a cheerleader, chosen for a promotion. This is something we work for and look forward to. We may even brag about it when we are chosen. Long before we were chosen by God, the children of Israel were chosen by God. Few groups have suffered from persecution as much as the Jewish people have. Think Hitler’s Germany.
When God chose me to be in pastoral ministry and I answered His call, I felt blessed to be chosen. There are days, however, when I wish God hadn’t chosen me. Days when I must rely totally on God’s strength to get through the day. When I think about it, this may have been God’s plan all along. We are not meant to do this life without God. When I try to, He puts a situation in my life, where I must call out, “Jesus, I cannot do this day without you!”
The Apostle Paul then writes, “In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-“ (v.5). Adoption is the process by which a person who does not belong to a given family is formally brought into it and made a full, legal family member with the rights and responsibilities of that position. It is a beautiful practice when such families function as they should.
A minister in Vermont tells about a Bible Class teacher who was registering the children in Sunday school, and she asked two brothers their ages and birthday. One of the two boys said, “We’re both seven. My birthday is April 8, 1976, and my brother’s is April 20, 1976.”
The teacher was a little confused and said, “But that’s impossible!” The other brother said, “No, it’s not, one of us is adopted.” Before she was even aware that she had asked, the words came out, “Which one?” The boys looked at each other and smiled. Then one of them said, “We asked Dad that a while ago, but he just said he loved us, and he couldn’t remember any more which one was adopted.” (2)
When we come to Jesus and confess our sins, asking Jesus to be the Lord of our life; God says, “Come on in to the family of God. I want to adopt you as my child.” Then He no longer remembers our sins and we walk in God’s grace and mercy. I like the thought of that, don’t you?
Paul continues in verse 7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
What does this mean, redemption through Jesus’ blood, the forgiveness of sins? Redemption was the price paid to gain freedom for a slave. Jesus redeemed us by his blood on the cross, paying the price to release us from slavery to sin. We are not pure enough to pay the price for our sin. We are sinful human beings. What Jesus did is called the grace of God. It was not those nails that held Jesus on the cross, it was God’s grace and love.
Forgiveness in the Old Testament times was based on the shedding of animals’ blood. We are forgiven by the shedding of the blood of the pure and spotless Lamb of God; Jesus, God’s one and only Son. We can’t earn salvation, nor do we deserve it. No religious, intellectual, or moral effort can gain it, because it comes only from God’s mercy and love. Without God’s grace, no person can be saved. To receive it, we must acknowledge that we cannot save ourselves, that only God can save us, and our only way to receive this loving blessing from God is through faith in Jesus. Faith that Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. Praise be to God for His glorious love and grace!
What a wonderful thing it is to be blessed, to be chosen, to be adopted, to be redeemed and forgiven. It doesn’t mean that God loves us any more than He loves everyone else. It doesn’t mean that life is going to be any easier than it is for anyone else. What it means is that our lives have meaning and purpose. What it means is that we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ.
Go, live your life knowing you are blessed by God. Be an ambassador for Jesus Christ!
Pastor Rosemary DeHut
References: (1) Copyright 2012, Al Keeney by way of
“Christian Voices” (ChristianVoices@att.net).
(2) Contributed. Source: Attributed to Alan