WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2022 - LOOK WHERE TRUE BLESSINGS ARE TO BE FOUND!
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2022
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s reading is Luke 6:20-23, where Jesus says to His disciples,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.21 Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. 23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven.
If you are looking for real blessings, even enduring love today, the key is to look in the right place, to look to the right source! That’s why these “Beatitudes,” these “words of blessing,” instruct, amaze, and confuse. Jesus belies looking to personal circumstances as the key to God’s blessing as He blesses the poor, the hungry, and the persecuted. Blessed? What? That certainly doesn’t jive with our view of blessing. Jesus goes further in Luke 6 when he warns us that earthly, temporal blessings can actually be a detriment to the enduring blessings of God. He goes on to say, “But woe to you who are rich…well-fed now…who laugh now… (and those of whom) everyone speaks well” (Luke 6:24-26). Woe? What’s going on here?
Now it’s important to note that God is not against prosperity, laughter, or eating and drinking per se. But He is against people believing that these things are all we need for life or that these things are reliable evidence of God’s blessing. It’s true that where our heart is, there indeed our treasure will be. God wants our heart, our treasure, and our blessing to be rooted and resourced in Him. The key then to receiving and sharing a life of God’s blessing is to look to Jesus, who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6), as the center and the source for what ultimately matters. Also, the certainty of God’s blessing is not determined by one’s circumstance; instead, the key for God’s blessing is determined by God’s work for you, the bringing of His gracious, eternal kingdom in Jesus Christ into this world for all. That’s why Jesus reminds us later in Luke chapter 12 to “seek [God, the Father’s] kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well” (verse 31).
Today is Valentine’s Day. And many people are looking for the blessings of love in their life. But so many are looking for these things in all the wrong places. Many have reduced Valentine’s Day to Cupids, cards, and candies when the blessings of love for which so many search are rooted in something so much more than mere temporal things. Many don’t even realize that the celebration of Valentine's Day is rooted in the power of faith in Christ, the power of sacrifice to others in His Name, and the power of God’s love in action for others. That’s all “kingdom of heaven” stuff. While it grew out of the natural human yearning for life to be something more than mere surface appearances, something beyond routine, misfortune and mayhem, and beyond the daily grind, observing this day is actually rooted in God’s enduring love for us in Christ Jesus. The ancient legend says Valentine was a priest who defied the Roman emperor's order forbidding Christian couples to get married. Nevertheless, Valentine performed marriage ceremonies (a “this world” blessing) in secret out of his compassion for these people. His service to them in Christ eventually got him imprisoned and put to death. While awaiting execution, legend has it that he healed the jailer's blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, "Your Valentine." What we do know is that St. Valentine was a priest who got into trouble for his efforts to share the love of Christ with others, no matter the cost.
So, on a day when many are searching for the blessings of romance and love, receive the ultimate “Valentine’s card” and look where true blessings are to be found. St. Valentine himself would tell you to seek first and foremost the love of God in Christ, and then to seek to share that with someone, not just for a day, but for a lifetime, even an eternity. St. Valentine would challenge you to look for the things of the “kingdom of God” first, and not to be so concerned about the temporary challenges that occur this side of heaven when trying to share God’s blessings and love. Why? Because being part of Christ’s kingdom by grace through faith is the focus and the source of blessings that last. Then, as Jesus himself reminds us, “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy because great is your reward in heaven” (Luke 6:23).
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, teach us to seek the things of our heavenly Father’s kingdom first and foremost in our lives so that we might live blessed lives for others no matter the circumstance. And let our struggles and our successes always be focused on the vision of what is yet to come in heaven by Your blessing and Your grace. AMEN.
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