PENTECOST 27, C – November 24, 2013

SCRIPTURES – Ps. 103; Mal. 3:13-18; Col. 1:13-20; Matt. 13:24-30, 37-43 

 [God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the king-dom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Col. 1 

Last Tuesday was a very significant day. Did you mark it? Perhaps some of you marked the day by reading the Gettysburg Address, with which Pres. Lincoln dedicated the National Cemetery in Gettysburg on Nov. 19, 1863. If you did, good for you! The 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address made last Tuesday very significant. But, there was something else that was significant about last Tuesday: it was World Toilet Day. The United Nations first designated November 19 as World Toilet Day in 2001, and what a success it’s been! Last year’s “Big Squat” campaign generated 24 “Big Squats” globally. This year’s campaign has inspired such memorable things as:

  • An art sculpture in Singapore titled, “Evolution of Man: Poo Pee Happy.”
  • The creation of two big replica toilets – one 16’ in length made of plywood and fiber and the other a massive 551 lb. fruit cake – in New Delhi, India. 500 school children formed a human chain around them. (Good thing that’s all they did!)

I spoke last week about the amazing things that the mind of man can conceive of and create. The flush toilet – invented by Sir John Harington and improved upon by Tom Crapper – is one such invention for which to be particularly thankful. It is a blessing we all take for granted, but which we sure depend upon!

How many blessings of God do we rely upon and yet take for granted? They are countless. And, even though we don’t often think about them and count them and thank Him for them, God still faithfully gives them. He even gives them to wicked and unbelieving people who care nothing about Him and deny His very existence!

  • As we see in the parable of the weeds growing among the wheat. “Let them grow together with the wheat,” the Master tells his servants. He will allow them to enjoy the same good soil, the fertilizer he spreads, and the good sun and rain his wheat receives.

God’s blessings become hidden under their constancy and normalcy (like the flush toilet), as well as by the fact that they are freely given to everyone, and not only to those who love and serve Him. His good hand is not seen; and that is too bad.

So, it is a very good thing to pause now and then to think upon and thank God for the many blessings He so freely and generously bestows upon us in Christ. Now, His bestowing His blessings upon both the righteous and the wicked, the believing and the unbelieving, seemingly without making any distinction between them can be very unsettling. This led some of the people in the prophet Malachi’s day to say, “Serving God is useless and brings no benefit. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.” May God keep us from ever thinking or saying such faithless words! He will answer such words at the end, when Christ comes and shows “the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.” (Mal. 3) At that time there will be a very clear difference between people. All will be harvested and brought before God. The righteous, Christ’s believers, will be gathered to Him as a farmer gathers his wheat into the barn, while the wicked and unbelieving will be cast away from Him and into the flames of hell. We must keep this in mind and prepare ourselves for that day. Thinking upon and thanking God for the many blessings, both the ordinary and the extraordinary, which He so freely and generously bestows upon us now in Christ will help to keep us prepared.

Keeping these words of God before your eyes and foremost in your mind and heart will keep you prepared: “God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col. 1:13-14) These words of Psalm 103 are similar: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. He forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases.” Notice: the forgiveness of sins is the blessing spoken of first. It is the essence of His kingdom.

The forgiveness of your sins is an extraordinary ordinary blessing. It is extraordinary in how it was attained: the eternal Son of God became an ordinary, flesh and blood man for you. He took upon Himself your sins and their guilt, stood before His holy Father as the guilty sinner, and on the cross endured the eternal punishment of sin. It is extraordinary that Jesus – “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation by whom all things were created… the One who is before all things, and in whom all things hold together” (Col. 1) – became so lowly for you to obtain for you the forgiveness of your sins! And now, that we might receive and rejoice in this extraordinary forgiveness, it is made ordinary. It is given to us through words spoken by sinners like us; through simple water; in simple bread and wine. How ordinary! But, how extraordinary the blessing! Don’t ever take it for granted and fail to appreciate it. By these blessings God transfers us into the kingdom of His beloved Son. He sets us aside as His treasured possession, His precious wheat which He will protect until the harvest.

Your life may seem to be no different from anyone else’s, no more blessed or favored by God. Some of you may even have it worse than most. But, “God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” You live under His watchful eye and His caring hand. Evils that occur will be turned by Him to your ultimate blessing. Even the worst evil, death, will end up becoming the entrance into eternal life in heaven with your Savior! And so, we can now see all things, even the most ordinary things of this life, as gifts from a loving Father who sees and provides for all of our needs. Dare I say that we can even poo pee happy! For, our God and Father is happy with us. Be glad, then, and say:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems my life from the grave and crowns me with mercy and great love. He satisfies me with good things and my youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Bless the Lord, O my soul!” (Ps. 103)