Transparent: God Blessing

To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah. How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD of hosts! My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; each one appears before God in Zion. O LORD God of hosts, hear my prayer; give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah Behold our shield, O God; look on the face of your anointed! For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you! (Psa 84:1-12 ESV)

As a kid, we’d drive through the desolate plains of West Texas to a town called Crane. It is where my dad grew up along with his brothers while my grandfather worked the oil wells for Gulf Oil.

In the early part of the 20th century, there was a sheep ranch owned by Mr. Yates out in that same area of Texas. Yates was hit hard by the depression and had to take subsidies to survive. It even appeared that he might lose his ranch. When seismographic crew came through and asked permission to drill an oil well, he thought might as well and signed the simple lease.

At 1,115 feet they struck oil on a reserve and that well would give 80,000 barrels a day in the years to comes. That was just the beginning and Mr. Yates owned it all. He was multimillionaire living in poverty only because he didn’t know all that was there.

Of course, the so called “blessings” of wealth are not all they are cracked up to be either. But that isn’t really the point of this message – for God has made transparent that his blessings are more than silver and gold – the blessings may be less tangible but the blessings of God are no less real.

The Bible uses two words to talk about God’s blessings. One speaks of receiving God’s favor. The other speaks of the fullness of life. In both cases it is a point to remember that God’s blessing isn’t some kind of magic. It is also true that while being blessed may refer to one’s spouse, beauty, honor, or wisdom – one must never measure the external benefits. True blessings the writer of Psalms says, are found in trusting in God.

These words are written by a king who could probably empathize with the pressure of our days. Meetings to attend, contracts to be signed, negotiations to be made, family pressures (he did have a few wives after all!) along with battles to be fought.

He found going to the temple to be the place where he found connection to God to be the easiest and best. That is one of the things we value here at Crossroads, creating a sacred space. The writer keys in on this idea that the space we worship in IS important.

Verse 4 tells us that part of our blessing will be found in the place we worship and seek after God. Verse 5 tells us that we’ll find blessing when God is our strength – not ourselves and if we skip over to verse 7 we find strength increasing.

We read of the Valley of Baca in verse 6. It is most likely this refers not to a particular location but is instead a reference to afflictions. If that is the case, we get the idea that those who are blessed go through and to places where people are hurting and change what was a place of dispair and barren land into a place of life and joy.

And then we come to the conclusion for the writer: (10) For a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (11) For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. (12) O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you!

God does not promise to give us everything we think is good, but he will not withhold what is eternally good. He will give us the means to walk along his paths, but we must do the walking. He will point us in the way to go, but we must use the map and compass. When we obey him, he will not hold anything back that will help us serve him.

God makes his blessings to us transparent – what God gives to us intended to bless the world. God is the sun and will show his light and give life. He will be our shield in difficulties though we still we find ourselves in the fight. And God is transparent about who it that receives His favor – those who trust in him.

Our trust cannot be in the blessings but in God. The gift isn’t the giver. Each blessing, counted or not, is a reminder of the one who gave and chose not to hold back. Now may I ask: What will you do with those blessings?

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