No Blessing Goes Uncontested
No Blessing Goes Uncontested
‘No blessing goes uncontested’ is one of Bishop Sandy Millar’s many original aphorisms, with which he would encourage us all. During his time as vicar of HTB he taught us not to be discouraged by the difficulties we faced because, as he liked to reassure us, ‘No blessing goes uncontested.’
God will bless you in amazing and wonderful ways. In the passages for today we read about the promise, the extent and the privilege of God’s blessing.
However, it was true of the people of God in the Old Testament and of the disciples of Jesus, and it will also be true in your life that ‘No blessing goes uncontested.’
Blessings contested by trouble, sickness and slanderPsalm 41:1-6
- Blessings on those who care for the poor
Blessings follow those ‘who have regard for the weak’ (v.1) – those who care, for example, about the poor, the hungry, the sick, the addicts and those in prison. This should be a characteristic of those who follow the Lord. If you care for the poor, God promises to deliver you in times of trouble, to protect you, to preserve your life and to bless you (v.2). He promises to sustain you and to heal you (v.3). But these blessings from God do not go uncontested.
- Contested by trouble, sickness and slander
There may be ‘times of trouble’ (v.1b). There may be ‘foes’ (v.2b). There may be periods of ‘illness’ (v.3). There may be enemies: ‘they speak falsely, while their hearts gather slander; then they go out and spread it abroad’ (v.6).
Being aware that there are enemies around should put you on guard. There are some, for example, who come to ‘gather slander’. They are on a fishing expedition to find gossip against you so that they can go out and ‘spread it abroad’. But God promises his blessing and that he will ‘not surrender’ you (v.2b).
One of the encouraging things about the psalm is that this blessing of protection does not seem to be dependent on you always getting it right. David is very aware of his own sin, crying out to God for mercy and healing where he has fallen short (v.4).
Lord, thank you for all the blessings you have poured out on me. Thank you for your promise to deliver me in times of trouble, sickness and slander.
Blessings contested by Satan and demonic powersLuke 9:57-10:24
- Blessings of following Jesus
As a follower of Jesus, you are more blessed than any human being in history who lived before Jesus. Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it’ (10:23–24).
The blessings are so great that they far outweigh any apparent cost. At times, you may have to say farewell to comfort (9:58), compromise (v.60) and even company (vv.61–62).
Like the ‘seventy-two’, you have the great blessing of being sent out by Jesus into a huge harvest (10:2). You have the privilege of healing the sick and of telling people, ‘God’s kingdom is right on your doorstep’ (v.9, MSG).
It is not just the Twelve who were sent out to heal the sick and proclaim the kingdom. The seventy-two went out and did exactly that. They returned ‘with joy’ (v.17). Jesus is ‘full of joy through the Holy Spirit’ (v.21) as he sees the wonderful blessings that come to his disciples.
- Contested by Satan and demonic powers
Jesus sends us out as ‘lambs among wolves’ (v.3). But our ultimate enemy in the New Testament is spiritual (‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood’, Ephesians 6:12). When ‘the seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” [Jesus] replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy…”’ (Luke 10:17–19). The enemy is Satan and his demons.
It is remarkable that, almost as an aside, Jesus says he was there at the moment, before the creation of the world, when Satan fell.
Again, you are promised victory. The demons have to submit to the name of Jesus (vv.17,20). But Jesus says there is an even greater blessing and that is that ‘your names are written in heaven’ (v.20).
Lord Jesus, thank you that my name is written in heaven. Help me not to be put off by attacks, because you have given me ‘authority… to overcome all the power of the enemy’ (v.19).
Blessings contested by problems, burdens and disputesDeuteronomy 1:1-2:23
- Blessings in the wilderness years
Are you going through hard times at the moment? Do you feel like you are in a wilderness period of your life?
Sometimes there seems to be a long delay between the promise of God and the fulfilment of that promise. What do we do while we are waiting for God to do what he has promised to do?
During these times, your faith is tested. Learn to trust God, seek his presence and worship him when life is hard.
Deuteronomy is one of the longest sermons ever preached. It is certainly the longest sermon in the Bible and the last preached by Moses.
In the book of Deuteronomy we read of Moses’ parting instructions to the people. Here Moses reiterates the law God had given the people, retransmitting God’s ways for a new generation. A key theme is ‘the land’, which is perhaps paralleled in the New Testament by the blessings of the ‘kingdom of God’, which come through being in Christ and living under God’s rule and reign.
The Bible is the story of God’s people, God’s blessing and God’s rule. You experience God’s blessing when you are living under God’s rule. At the start of Deuteronomy, we are reminded about God’s blessings to his people in the past, present and future.
First, regarding the past, Moses said, ‘The Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son… The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast desert. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything’ (1:31; 2:7).
Second, concerning the present, Moses reminds them of the ways in which God has been faithful to his promises to Abraham: ‘The Lord your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky’ (1:10). Four times in the opening chapter we discover that God is giving his people the land of Canaan (vv.8,20,21,25). It is a gift of undeserved grace to God’s people – much as it is pure grace that you and I can have a relationship with God through Jesus.
Third, in relation to the future, Moses spoke of all the blessings God will give to his people. He prayed, ‘May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!’ (v.11). You will increasingly experience God’s blessing as you continue to live under God’s rule.
- Contested by problems, burdens and disputes
Yet alongside all these blessings Moses also highlights a series of problems, burdens and disputes (v.12). God said, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain… See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land’ (vv.6–8). It was only eleven days’ journey, but it had taken them forty years! They had developed a wilderness mentality and allowed themselves to be overcome by fear and discouragement (v.21), grumbling (v.27), loss of heart (v.28) and opposition (v.26 onwards).
Now the time had come to ‘get moving’ (v.7, MSG). Yet Moses did not promise that they would be free of problems. In fact, Moses talked about ‘your enemies’ (v.42). They were going to have many battles ahead and much opposition. The key is to follow the Lord wholeheartedly (v.36b).
We also need leadership and organisation. Moses told them to choose ‘wise, understanding and respected’ people (v.13) and then to delegate. Choosing the right people is the key to delegation and will avoid the need to micromanage. As General George Patton said, ‘Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.’ Delegation involves putting others in charge but being willing to take ultimate responsibility (vv.9–18).
Never allow opposition to put you off. Moses said, ‘Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you’ (vv.29–30).
Lord, help me not to be put off by problems, burdens and disputes, fear, discouragement or opposition, but to follow you wholeheartedly and to enjoy your blessings to the full.
‘I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.’
It is encouraging that we have authority over ‘all the power of the enemy’, but I’m not going to try trampling on snakes and scorpions to put that bit to the test.
Verse of the Day
‘The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you …’ (Deuteronomy 1:30).
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