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God Blesses Hurting People

Week 13_thumbnail_God Bless Hurting People

God Blesses Hurting People

Jesus spent most of His time with tax collectors, zealots, prostitutes, beggars, and outcasts. When you read the story of Jesus in the gospels, you read about regular interactions with the lonely, the least, and the lost. When He talks to political elites, He rebukes them. When He talks to sinners, He heals them.
Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. 2 This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
The most famous sermon Jesus ever preached is called The Sermon on the Mount. He gathered a huge crowd and told them about His upside-down Kingdom.
One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him, and he began to teach them. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied. God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God. God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God. God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Their culture would have said that God blesses the wealthy and well-connected; the powerful and influential, but Jesus said God blesses outsiders. He’s not saying He won’t bless insiders, but they are statistically less likely to receive His blessing.
 
Imagine this: you order a pizza, and the delivery guy shows up holding the pizza in his hands with no box. There’s cheese oozing down his arm. What would you think? You would wonder where his hands have been.
You ask him, “Where’s the box?”
He replies, “You just ordered the pizza, not a box.”
You’d be furious. When you order a pizza, you expect the pizza to come in a vessel. When you’re hungry, you don’t think, “I’m going to buy a box.” The box without a pizza has no value. What am I going to do with an empty box? Throw it away. Not long ago I walked into an Old Chicago and asked them for a box. They just gave it to me, for free. It probably costs them 50 cents. That’s nothing to them. So, what makes the box valuable? The box becomes valuable when there is a pizza in it. A vessel becomes valuable when its contents are valuable.
 
We are like pizza boxes, and we live in a world of people who love to brag about how pretty their box is. People determine their worth by their appearance, but their boxes are empty. Comparing the beauty of one pizza box to another is pointless. When I order pizza, I want to know how good the pizza in the box is, not how pretty the box is. In fact, my favorite pizza comes from a restaurant with plain white boxes.
 
Our beauty, wealth, power, or popularity on Instagram mean nothing if we are empty. Someday, our bodies will die, and without God, our bodies are worthless. However, if God is in you, your value cannot be measured. If God is in you, you are infinitely valuable. Christians are vessels who choose to surrender their agendas to be used by God.
 
Elisha was a prophet of God to the nation of Israel, and in 2 Kings 4:1-7, when one of his disciples died, the disciple’s widow came ask Elisha for help. When her husband died, his creditors came to take his sons into slavery. That is how their culture handled debt.
 
Elisha, moved by her plight, asked her about her possessions. She lamented having nothing substantial, except for a small amount of oil. Elisha, determined to offer a solution, instructed her to borrow jugs and bowls from her neighbors. Once gathered, she was to lock herself and her sons at home, pouring oil into each container until they were all filled.
 
Following Elisha’s guidance, she collected as many containers as she could find. As she poured the oil, it miraculously kept flowing until every vessel was full. When the last container was filled, the oil ceased.
 
Recognizing the miracle, she reported the extraordinary event to Elisha. In response, Elisha advised her to sell the oil, settle her debts, and use the remaining funds to provide for herself and her sons. Grateful for the guidance, she embarked on a journey to turn the surplus oil into a source of financial relief and security for her family.
 
Notice that when the vessels were being filled, they didn’t care what the vessels looked like. They just wanted more vessels. The vessels became valuable when they were filled with oil.
 
In those days oil was often used as fuel for fire. It was their light. Throughout Scripture, oil represents the presence of the Holy Spirit. When someone is anointed with oil, they are filled with the Holy Spirit.
 
In order for a pizza box to be useful it just has to be clean and empty.
 
  1. Clean
 
The box can’t clean itself. Someone else has to do this for it.
 
You can’t clean yourself, but Jesus has offered to do that for you.
 
  1. Empty
 
If it is full of junk, there is no room for pizza.
 
If we are full of ourselves, full of self-sufficiency, pride, anger, and skepticism, there is no room in our life for God.
 
“The deeper we grow in the spirit of Jesus Christ the poorer we become; the more we realize that everything in life is a gift. The tenor of our lives becomes one of humble and joyful thanksgiving. Awareness of our poverty and ineptitude causes us to rejoice in the gift of being called out of darkness into wondrous light.” – Brennan Manning
 
Jesus prioritized ministry to the least of these because they were empty vessels. The pretty vessels filled themselves with worthless junk. There was no room for Jesus in them, so He went to the ugly vessels. You will never be pretty enough, strong enough, rich enough, or famous enough to experience true fulfillment, because it is not you who makes you valuable. The only way to experience true fulfillment is to allow God to make you valuable.
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