The Blessing

“So the people of Israel followed all of the LORD’S instructions to Moses.  Then Moses inspected all their work.  When he found it had been done just as the LORD had commanded, he blessed them.”

                                                                                                                                        Exodus 39:42-43
My congregation and I are spending a few weeks studying the Tabernacle, the “Tent of Meeting” for the people of Israel while they were in route to the Promised Land.  It is a great visual aid – all the symbolism, all the detail – of how a holy God interacts with a people that are often quite unholy – yet loved nonetheless.

The passage above caught my eye this week.  It points out two important aspects of God’s blessing and how we receive it.

First, the people – in going about setting up the Tabernacle, “followed all of the LORD’S instructions….”

Too often, it seems to me that we expect God to bless us “just because.”  Like children born in entitlement we think we deserve it “no questions asked, no demands made.”  Here, however, we see that God’s blessings are a natural outpouring of God’s love once we position ourselves, according to His very specific instructions, to receive them.

Now, please don’t misunderstand.  I am no believer in a “health and wealth”or “prosperity” Gospel that says – do this – and God will bless you – period.  Those instructions, often given by a TV preacher who wants to equate giving to him with God giving to you – please – give me a break.

On the other hand, I do believe that when we follow God’s instructions on how to live a holy, faithful life – as much as we are able to do so – we align ourselves with a lifestyle that often opens the door wide to God’s love.  It is not that it is conditional as much as it is that we open our hearts, minds, bodies, souls, to the possibility of receiving God’s blessing.

Think of it this way, God’s grace is a gift – but we have to be willing and able to receive that gift.

Second, we note in this passage that Moses “inspected all of their work.”  That speaks to me about accountability.

It’s a good thing to be accountable to one another, to the teachings of sound doctrine, to the body of Christ.  It keeps us on that “straight and narrow path” that results in blessing.

Again, it’s not about a “quid pro quo” way of life – “I’ll be good but I expect God to be good to me in return.”

That is looking at God and all He can offer as if He is merely a big vending machine in the great by and by.

No, instead, it is our helping one another – to stay focused, to learn, to be vigilant and faithful, in our walk of faith.  Do that, and blessing will follow.

Remember this too – it does not mean life will not at times be very hard.  Moses and the people of Israel and all the saints through the ages know that the walk of faith can be difficult.  Suffering is real and it is very hard.

Still, it does not mean God has been unwilling or unable to bless us along the way.  In fact, I find that in reflecting on my life’s journey, some of God’s richest blessings have come to me during some of my darkest times.

So – stay strong – stay faithful – follow God’s instructions as best you can.  We are not required to be perfect – just faithful.

Keep your eyes open for the blessing – for it will surely come.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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