I hear many people talking about what we can do for God and what we can do for our neighbors. This is a great conversation to have, but I want to make sure we’re also talking about what God does for us. After all, our deeds do not save us. Our actions cannot redeem our souls. We do things for others and for God, because He first did things for us. Not only that, but He continues to do things for us. It is out of gratitude and a heart full of His love that we can go forth and serve. Fill up on God first. Be blessed by Him. Then, go out and be a blessing.
How does God fill us up? How does He bless us?
Let me count the ways! (And, be sure to add more, for I will surely forget some.)
1. He forgives us.
I don’t know how to say this exactly, but I just think about how many times a day my thoughts and actions must offend God. I am saved, but I am still a sinner. I try not to sin. I don’t gloat that His forgiveness covers me, therefore I will be the worst sinner out there. No. I try. I really do. And, I fail again and again. I come back to God over and over. He forgives me. I am humbled and grateful.
2. He speaks to us.
Now, wait. Don’t think that I’m saying I hear his voice directly or that I see him spelling out words in the sky. I don’t. But I do have His Word. The Bible is the Word of God. He used people to write the words, but those are God’s words indeed. I have read certain verses of the Bible hundreds of times, and they still speak to me. Some remind me of my sinfulness. Some remind me of His Grace. But, those words from God are for me. And for all people.
He speaks to us in the divine service as well. Through the readings I hear in the church service, through the hymns and liturgy, through the sermon—God has multiple ways to speak to me. It’s hard to be there and not listen.
3. He gives us blessings.
So many, many blessings. If I only would count them on occasion, I might be more grateful. From family to a house, to food on the table, God has blessed me and continues to bless me daily.
4. He gives us salvation.
The best blessing, in my opinion is that sacrifice of his one, dear Son. Sending Jesus to take my sins to the cross and rise victoriously over death—well, it takes my breath away. And, the blessing, the gift of faith, that God gave me freely, is amazing. I was an infant when I received faith through baptism. I have never had a moment in my memory when I did not have faith. What a gift, to always have known the Lord! I may take it for granted sometimes, but I thank God that He gave me that gift.
5. He gives us worship.
This is what inspired me to write this post. I see so many people talking about how to worship God, but how many reflect on what God gives us in worship? Yes, we do praise and thank Him in worship. But, what He gives us is so much more powerful than our singing and praying.
6. He gives us His presence.
We know God is with us throughout our day, but there’s something very special about meeting Him in His house.
7. He gives us forgiveness in a tangible way.
When the pastor pronounces the forgiveness of sins, I can practically feel it wash over me. When I receive communion, again the forgiveness permeates me soul as the body and blood of Christ, with the bread and wine, go down my throat.
8. He gives us Himself.
Through Communion, I receive Jesus’ body and blood. That’s right. When Jesus said, “This is my body . . .” He meant it. When I receive Jesus, I am very intimately, humbly, receiving Him. It’s a deep, personal experience that I wish everyone could know.
9. He gives us His peace and blessing.
At the end of worship, we hear the benediction. It’s like a sending off in one sense: Go! Live for me!
But, it’s more than that. He’s sending us off with Himself. We take Him with us. As we go out the door and make lunch, then go to work, and all those meetings – we go in His grace, with His blessing. And, He is still with us.
Now that I think about all that He has done for me—filled me up to overflowing and then even goes out with me – I can start talking about how to serve others and serve God. How can I keep from helping, serving, doing? I have strength from God.