"When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways." - Acts 3:26
I was recently listening to a old sermon by Steven Furtick that someone had shared on my Instagram feed. Since I generally enjoy sermons, I decided to take some time to see what it was all about. The entire thing was completely entertaining. Steven had some volunteers come up to the pulpit to play a game with some jelly beans. The game was called, "Beanboozeled." The jellybeans were randomized in a little box so that no one knew what flavors they were getting. If they got a blue one, it could be either "Blueberry," or "Toothpaste." If they got a pink one, it could be either "Peach," or "Baby Wipes." If they got a yellow one, it could be either "Buttered Popcorn," or "Rotten Eggs," and so on. The two volunteers, and Steven Furtick himself, all ate the yellow ones... and all got the "Rotten Egg" flavor. Of course, the audience (and myself admittedly) all loved it. They were clapping and laughing, and just enjoying the show. You can watch it here.
The point of Steven's game with the jelly beans was to prove that God was not trying to "Beanboozel" us. He wants to bless us. He wants to give us gifts. Steven even went so far as to promise and declare that God would bless us, and then begin to list ways in which Christians would potentially be blessed.
But is this biblical?
Several months ago, a man named John Drage came and spoke at my church. He has advanced brain cancer, and was taking a tour to say goodbye to many of the churches around America who had supported him. He spoke like no one I had ever heard before. He had so much resolve and belief in what he was saying. He preached about the goodness of God, in spite of the fact that he was dying. Our church tearfully prayed for a miracle for him. In fact, our church is still praying for a miracle for him and his family. But John and his family have yet to see a miracle. You can read more about his story here.
What about you and I?
I recently got hired as a house parent at a boarding school near where I live. I was hoping that this job was going to be a time of healing for me. I had just gotten out of such a terrible job, and was hoping that I was going to be able to have a bit of peace and rest in my life. But that wasn't the case at all. The teenagers I work with are often cruel. They treat me as if I am the bad guy when I am just trying to do my job. They talk back to me, and lie about me. It truly hurts, and I regularly leave my job crying after holding it together for hours at a time. I sometimes wonder why God hasn't given me the peaceful career that I long for. I am sure that you also have some stories where you just wonder, "Why, God?" Or perhaps in my case, you were expecting a blessing, and whatever you were hoping for didn't turn out exactly how you thought it would.
In this new age of Christianity, we constantly hear preaching that God will give us blessings if we love Him and we are good. We hear that Jesus came down from heaven to bless us. We have verses like, "He will give you the desires of heart" (Psalm 37:4) preached to us so much, that we begin to get angry if we feel that God doesn't give us the desires of our heart. As Christians, have come to expect more from God. We've even become bratty. In my case, I became resentful towards God that He didn't move me to the most perfect and wonderful career in the whole world.
But here's the thing:
The Bible never says that God would give us everything we will ever want here on earth. But it does say,"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places," (Ephesians 1:3) and, "When God raised up his servant, Jesus, he sent him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways." (Acts 3:26.)
God has already given us the most wonderful blessing we never deserved: His Son.
Because of His Son, we are blessed beyond measure. We have the free gift of eternal life, which is far, far, far, better than anything we could ever desire on earth. Even John Drage, who is living with terminal brain cancer, understands this. We should be rejoicing that Christ has given us a free gift. We should be rejoicing that God blessed us with the gift of Jesus Christ.
So how can we apply this to our own life?
I think that the next time we are feeling angry, bratty, or upset at God for something, we need to look past our negative feelings, and instead, thank God for the most precious gift of all... His Son Jesus.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." - Ephesians 1:3