We all want to feel blessed by God, or at least feel as if we are in the right place and doing the right things to be blessed by God. But, what if receiving God's blessing has nothing to do with any of that? What if being blessed by God is more a matter of the heart? Fact is, while we do not orchestrate or dictate God's blessing, we really don't have to guess who God blesses and in what circumstances He blesses His children; He has shown us throughout scripture. The Rev. David Kibler reflects on God's blessings as we discuss his sermon: Who Does God Bless?
Table of Contents
- Who Does God Bless
- The Slayer of God’s Blessing
- All I Have Is Prayer
- Why David Was a Candidate for God’s Blessing
- At the Root of Humanity Is a Fear of Death
Who Does God Bless
Bob: Our guest today graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and a History minor. He went on to earn a Master of Divinity degree from Asbury Theological Seminary. He founded Catalyst Social Services Organization in Damaru India. It’s where he helps house, clothe, feed, and educate more than 150 orphans each year. Pastor Dave also began a prison ministry called Inside Out Fatherhood. In this ministry, he teaches incarcerated men fatherhood skills.
Currently, he is the founding pastor at Catalyst Christian Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky. You can find his sermons at catalystchristian.com, their Facebook page, and the Catalyst Christian Church podcast. Today, we are discussing his sermon entitled, Who Does God Bless? The One Who Feels Undeserving. The link to this sermon is on our guest's Best Preacher profile on inspirationalsermons.com.
One of the best preachers in America, the Reverend David Kibler.
Well, David, let's get started with a really important little caveat that you start out this sermon with. You say, and I agree with you, we all want to feel blessed by God. Or at least we want to feel that we're doing the things to put us in a place where we can be blessed.
But you start off this sermon with kind of a disclaimer that we need to get something straight first. We need to be careful to seek God himself. Tell us what you mean by that.
You Owe Me a Good Life
David: I think that just being human, we want God's blessing. There’s this thing that I struggle with most as a Christian. I know a lot of people in my church struggle with it too. It is mistaking God's blessing for God himself. Do I really want God? Or do I just want the things he can give me?
Everybody's got that friend, that is your friend when they need something. The only time you hear from them is if they need 50 bucks, or if they need something. But you never hear from them otherwise. What you realize is those people don't really value you. They value the things you can give them.
It's a constant struggle for us as humans to be that kind of person to God. “Hey, God, I don't really want you. I just want the things you can give me, the blessings.” So that's the situation a lot of us find ourselves in, and that's what this sermon is talking about.
Bob: That really distances ourselves a little bit from God. Doesn't it? When we're after him in a utilitarian way. “God, you're there for me to provide the following things, right? You owe me a good life, right?”
You say the critical question that you see for this generation is if you could have heaven with all the things that you would want, no sickness, all the physical pleasures. But the only exception is that Christ isn't there. You asked the question, would that still be a good deal for you? Why do you think Pastor David, that's an important question?
You Really Don’t Want Christ, You Want His Blessing
David: Before I go on, I have to give credit, that's from Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love. I wish I came up with that concept, but it was such a challenging thing. If you could have heaven, if you could have all the food you wanted, a healthy body, friendship, laughter, joy, money. If you could have everything you ever wanted except Christ isn't there, would that really be heaven?
If you answer yes to that, then you really don't want Christ, you want his blessing. Because I'll tell you if I could go on vacation, have the beach and have the food and everything but my family wasn't there, would I really enjoy that? I would say, no. The whole being there with my wife and kids is the whole point, not the things that happen.
That's where that comes from. I just challenge the people listening to look at your heart. Could you be in a place where you had everything you wanted? The only thing is, Christ isn't there. Could you be happy if you're a Christian? The answer is absolutely not.
Bob: Then you begin reviewing, making your point about the kinds of ways and situations in which God tends to bless, by going back to scripture. You start reviewing scripture and of course, you can't help but go to King David. You cite Second Samuel, chapter seven, where God begins to announce his blessing to David. It's a huge blessing.
Pastor David, can you remind our listeners what that context is here? What's really going on?
Who Am I That You Would Do This
David: 2 Samuel 7:8 is where God approaches David and basically says, David, I found you in the middle of nowhere. I'm going to elevate you to the kingdom, you're going to be the greatest. Not only that, I'm going to give you rest from all your enemies. Life is going to be great, you're always going to have a successor on the throne.
David's head is spinning. I love his response because it leads to the rest of the message. But he says, who am I? I love his response. “Who am I that you would do this? I am nothing, God. I have no claim on this. I'm a shepherd. I have no family history, I have no wealth, I have nothing. Who am I, that you would bless me this way?”
I think that right there is the key to, this is who God blesses. The one who feels undeserving. When God does all this stuff, you don't say, well, of course I deserve that. Where's my second helping? It's who am I, God? You understand who you're talking to. I’m nobody. I love his response.
Bob: So that to you sets up what you see as potential pitfalls and problems when we're wondering where our blessings are. Or we have difficulty even putting ourselves in a place to receive a blessing.
You say, one of the things is that there is a kind of slayer. Something that really gets in the way of us, which appears to be the opposite of how David responded. It's something, unfortunately, we see a lot of. Can you talk about that?
The Slayer of God’s Blessing
David: In my life experiences and everything, I'm a father of four, just having been in this world. I was in youth ministry for nine years. Just going all around the world, I've been to India and Nepal. I've been to Chile, I've been to Mexico. I have done missions in Dominican Republic and everything like that. I’ve seen so many different cultures.
Probably, that it's universal in every culture and in every skin color, every language, every country. It's what I call the slayer of God's blessing and it's called the dreaded E word in my house. We're not allowed to say it, it's entitlement.
When you feel entitled, it's the thing that you are owed by God. That just by being here, existing, that you deserve certain things. A person with entitlement, I believe it's a spiritual condition that basically stops God's blessing in its track.
Bob: The thing that you see as driving that is something that is another killer of the spiritual life as well. Isn't it?
David: Yes. Pride. There's a reason why it's the number one of the seven deadly sins. Pride is the number one driver of entitlement. As a matter of fact, someone said that pride is a sickness. It’s a condition that sickens everyone, except the person that has it. That's very true, but pride is what drives entitlement. This feeling that you are greater than you are, that somehow just by existing, you deserve it.
A person with a sense of entitlement is being driven by pride. What the scripture says is that God opposes the proud, he gives grace to the humble.
Part of Human Nature
David: A person with entitlement and pride shouldn't expect any blessing from God. God doesn't bless people he opposes.
Bob: Isn't it part of human nature to feel somehow that God owes me? Especially, what if we're talking about Christians in the church? “Hey, God, I'm volunteering at the church here. I'm on the council. I've been your guy, right? I'm on the altar guild, I'm helping out, I'm cutting the lawn, I'm doing everything. Hey, I'm working for your kingdom, buddy.”
“So why do these sometimes very human things happen to me? This is how you treat your friends, God? Come on. Shouldn't you make my life a little bit easier?” Isn't that potentially problematic?
David: That sense gets even worse when you're a pastor, because, “Hey, I dropped my life to do this for you. And this is how you're treating me?” God had to teach me this in a very real and painful way about entitlement.
It's funny that someone like me would be talking about entitlement. I grew up very wealthy. My dad is an orthopedic surgeon, a world-renowned shoulder surgeon. I learned to drive on a Mercedes. That's what I learned to drive on.
I don't take anything away from my daddy. He worked so hard and was just an amazing man. For me to talk about entitlement, really, it's strange and people a lot of times ask, what brought this on?
Bob: What was that epiphany for you?
David: First of all, I was never really allowed to be a spoiled kid, that was never allowed. But back in 2004, my wife and I, we already had two kids.
When the Wind Knock Out of Your Sails
David: We decided that America was made for a family of four, a sedan, a restaurant table. I'm from a basketball country, UK basketball. We play man to man, not zone defense as parents. So we decided we were done. I have two kids and that was it.
Then right on my wife's birthday, in 2004, we found out we were pregnant with our third. We had been very careful. And we can only assume this was a child that was a gift from God because we were not trying and everything.
So at the 20-week ultrasound, I had two girls, my two daughters. We took them to the doctor, to see their new sibling, a 20-week ultrasound. I could go on and on. But basically what we found out was that our son, he was going to be our son had a heart condition called hypoplastic left heart syndrome.
I don't know if people listening are familiar with Sanctus Real. The lead singer of Sanctus Real has a son with the same condition. Praise God that his son is doing well. But we were devastated by this news, it's 100% fatal without surgery. Best case scenario, he had a hard life ahead of him.
Talk about having the wind knocked out of your sails. For the next five months, I struggled, we prayed, Lord, would you please heal our unborn son, heal him? We’d go back and nothing would change. You talk about a hypocrite, a youth minister that was teaching kids about the power of prayer. How God is there for you and God loves you, I'm just not seeing it in my life.
He Teaches You Things You Don’t Learn Anywhere Else
David: On September 5th, 2004, our son, Jacob Benjamin Kibler was born. From the get-go, things didn't go well, he never thrived. He never did well. He needed surgery within the first couple of days. His temperature kept spiking. We had to delay that. Then on September 14th, he had open-heart surgery. It's somewhere between 60% and 75% survival rate and everything.
We were in that 25% to 35% that didn't make it. The next day we heard that his heart was dead, wasn't coming back. He was ineligible for transplants and things like that. We had to make the very painful decision to take our son off of life support and watch him die.
Bob: How horrible.
David: He was 10 days old. That really was a defining moment in my life and talking about what we deserve and what we're owed by God.
But there are so many lessons that have come from that. One, when God sends you to the desert and you're questioning, you're suffering and everything, he teaches you things that you don't learn anywhere else. That's a different sermon for a different day.
Needless to say, my wife and I, through a lot of prayer and a lot of just community, a lot of love, we’re able to survive that. Our marriage didn't dissolve like a lot of people who lose children.
We actually were blessed with another son, Samuel, he's 14 years old now, perfectly healthy.
But I guess that never really left because it did something to my prayer life. I basically said, okay, Lord, I love you, I love your word. I've got no problems with that.
All I Have Is Prayer
David: But I just don't see the point in praying, especially asking things. Because God, you're just going to do what you're going to do.
Bob: You knew all too painfully well that sometimes the prayer does not end up. It does not get answered in the way you want it to be answered.
David: It does not. This may be a surprise to people listening, but pastors hear the word no too. We struggle with that, just as much as everyone else. So four years later, when the Lord called me to plant a church, I didn't pray about it. I said, Lord if you want us to plant a church, it'll happen. I had people calling me to ask, hey, it should be on your prayer team. Pray for it if you want. I'm not going to.
Now that I'm a pastor and we're about to plant a church, I'm thinking to myself, my goodness, what a terrible day.
Bob: All I have is prayer.
David: That's it.
Bob: Coming out of that experience, Pastor David, you got to have thought, I can't invest anymore emotional energy. It's going to be what it's going to be. If this church is going to make it, I could see you thinking that. Why get your hopes up, right?
David: It was funny that that came out many years later. In this sermon, I really share some very personal things about that. I was deer hunting with a friend and this was three years ago or so. My son died in 2004. This was 2017 or 2018.
Bob: Wow, 13 years later.
He Doesn’t Answer My Prayers
David: I was sitting up there and I don't know if anybody who's listening that's a deer hunter. The Lord answers my prayers everywhere, except in the deer stand. The deer stand and the golf course. He doesn't answer my prayers.
We were up there and I was all fired up and no deer. I prayed, Lord, send me a dear, nothing. I just got frustrated and said, Lord, aren't you sovereign over all this?
Bob: How hard can it be?
David: Exactly. Then like I said in the sermon, all of a sudden this really dark place came out. I said I don't know where it was coming from. Quite honestly, I was very disconcerted that it was there, I started getting angry with God. I said, God, this is why.
See, this is the same thing. This is why I didn't pray, this is why I never ask you for anything. It's why I don't feel comfortable approaching you in prayer because I get my hopes up and I just get dashed.
So if I don't ask you for anything, then I won't ever get let down. And I could not believe that that was still floating around in my heart. I really couldn't, I thought that I had dealt with it. Right there in that deer stand, the Lord showed me, took me into that darkness. He showed me how ugly this part of me was.
He basically knocked me down and then he healed me up. What he did was amazing. I was sitting there and I was saying, God, this is why I don't pray. Because you just love to dash my hopes. You just love to tell me no and watch me get frustrated.
My Healing Was My Blessing
David: Of course that's not right. I can't believe what I was saying.
Bob: That's what it felt like.
David: Yes. But the Lord simply said, take a breath. I took a breath and he goes, do it again. I did it again. He said, take a third one. I took a third one, I said, what's your point, God? And he said, well, which one of those did I owe you? Which one of those did you deserve? And which one of those did you pay me for? I said none of them. That is a gift that I have given you.
So God showed me this huge sense of entitlement that I had. I thought I was owed these things. Like I said, he took me to that very dark place inside my heart and then he healed me up. He said this was the real tough thing. This is something that I really appreciate about God, I really do.
He didn't handle me with kid gloves. He looked at me and said, you're a man. You can handle this. He said, why are you upset that your son died? I said, well, that's a strange question. He goes, no, tell me.
I said, well, quite honestly, because everybody else gets to live long. Everybody else has 70, 75 years, 80 years, children are supposed to bury their parents, not vice versa. He said, well, what if the life expectancy was five days and your son lived 10 days? Would you feel like he was short-changed? I said, well, not really. That'd be twice the life expectancy.
The Accelerator of God’s Blessing
David: He said, so do you understand where this is coming from? That your son had 10 more days than he deserved. You, at age 40, have had 40 more years than you deserve. Do you understand that? And he just drove that point home.
I appreciated that because he gave me such a new pair of eyes to look at what was going on in my heart. And he said, listen, I know what it's like to lose a son. I lost a son.
I know what it's like. He said, believe me. He goes, where your son is, is so much better, this is such a blip. That's why my promise of heaven, that's why my promise of grace, that's why I went to the cross. That is why all of this stuff is because this will never be the end. So, take a breath. You didn't deserve that one. I gave it to you anyway.
He showed me just that sense of entitlement. He replaced it with something that is a million times more satisfying and wonderful and joyful. It's the accelerator of God’s blessing. If entitlement is the slayer of God's blessing, then this is the accelerator. It's the thing called contentment. Where Paul talks about, I've learned to be content, any circumstance.
He lists all these terrible circumstances and he says contentment.
I've realized the content heart is the one that looks at God and says, listen, if you do nothing for me, except save me from hell, you do nothing. If I never get that job I want, if I live in poverty, if you never answer another prayer.
Why David Was a Candidate for God’s Blessing
David: But all you do is save me from an eternity in hell, and send me to heaven when I die, I will be perfectly happy.
That's what we see in King David. Who am I? I am nothing. I’m perfectly happy. If you never gave me any of this stuff, I'd be perfectly happy. That's why David was such a candidate for God's blessing.
Bob: But do you feel that you needed to have almost that Job moment where you cry out and say, God, this can't be the way you treat your friends. Where are you? And he steps up and says, where were you when I laid out the foundations of the Earth? Tell me if you know these things.
Yes, I think God sounds like he treated you the way he knew he had to treat you. To get you to see things the way he wants you to see them. But out of that came a greater appreciation and a greater contentment with what you have. That means a greater sense of peace and joy than you would've ever had before. It's a wonderful thing.
David: The way I describe it, sometimes I hesitate to share these things. Because it sounds so mean what God was doing, but I was the one it was done too. So I'm just telling you, it was a beautiful thing. It was a completely beautiful thing because I'm a second born. I'm the youngest in my family.
I don't know if people understand this. But when you're the youngest, you're used to not being treated as an adult.
You Can Handle This
David: Your older brother is the one that parents ask for, hey, what do you think about this? Us youngest, we're always the little one. When God looked at me like that and was able to talk to me like that. He didn't say, well, you're just a little kid.
You can't understand this. He looked at me like a man and said, I'm going to speak some hard truths. But it's going to be beautiful because this means I respect you, and you can handle this. Because this is what's going on. It was awesome.
Bob: What I love too, is that you also tie this into the church and how we worship. So many people come to the church to receive, to be filled up. You say that's not the best approach either.
David: It isn't. The oldest form of worship that we see in the old testament was sacrifice. It was giving. The whole singing and preaching thing is not the oldest form of worship. The oldest form of worship is giving. In the nation of Israel, you would go to a worship service full, and you would leave empty. You'd bring your stuff in. You would sacrifice and you would leave empty.
We in the Western church have gotten that cockamamie. We would say, well, I'm empty. I needed to be filled, I need to get, and you can tell. Because when people leave and they don't like the sermon, well, I didn't get a lot out of that. It wasn't for you. You're here to worship. You weren't here to get, you were here to give worship. You’re here to worship God.
The Richness of God’s Blessing
David: So contentment, I think, is the goal for every Christian. Listen, we have been saved from so much. If God does nothing else for us, except to save us from an eternity in hell and give us eternity in heaven, can we complain? Of course not.
When you bring that spirit into worship and to your walk with Christ, my goodness, it's just amazing.
Bob: What I hear you saying about contentment, it's not, hey, just lower your bar. Hey, you're never going to get the Porsche, so just be okay with a Kia. It's not that, it's that you have so many riches in your relationship with God. That's your focus, that's your real pleasure, your joy, your richness, right there. That is your abundant life. If you hang on to that, nothing can possibly compare.
David: My grandmother once told me, what if all you had today were things that you’re thankful for yesterday? That was one of her favorite sayings. I thought to myself, my goodness. Well, I wouldn't have a whole lot. I don't know about you, and the people listening. What if the only things you had were the things you were thankful to God for yesterday. Exactly what you're talking about, the richness that God has blessed us with. It's just amazing.
But one of the lessons that God showed me was in Luke chapter four when Jesus was baptized in the Jordan. That's what we call a mountain top moment. I think that's the greatest moment in scripture. That’s the only time in all scripture we see all three parts of the Trinity, God, son, the Holy Spirit. A voice from heaven, “You are my son whom I love”.
He Wants You To Live Powerfully
David: Jesus being baptized. Holy Spirit. The only time in scripture we see all three present. If anybody had been there, we would have fallen face down in worship. But after Jesus' baptism, it describes Jesus as being full of the Holy Spirit. Then the Spirit forces him into the desert, where he suffers, where he fasts and he's tempted. Then in Luke 4:14, it describes Jesus returned from the desert in the power of the Spirit.
He was full of the Spirit after the mountaintop, after the feel-good, after the big dynamic. But it was after he suffered that he began to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. I think that that is the key to contentment and why God does these things because he wants you to live powerfully.
After my son died, that was when the Lord called me to be a church planter. Church planting is hard and to go at it and not only that, but you mentioned the Catalyst Service Organizations. That's part of a church planting organization that me and three friends in Asia started in Pakistan and Nepal and India. We went over there to teach church planters how to plant churches.
David: We started in 2012. It's called Asian Church Planting Mission. We have over 750 churches now planted in India, Pakistan, and Nepal under our organization. The Catalyst orphanage and everything is an outgrowth of that, where we have 151 children.
David: But basically out of that, losing my son and realizing the shortness of life and the courage and the power that came with that, that's what gave me the faith to step out.
At the Root of Humanity Is a Fear of Death
David: To plant a church, to step out and do the mission work and everything, start the fatherhood ministry in the jail. It's like going to places where no one wants to go. That's where the Holy Spirit has led me to go.
Bob: So do you feel that renewed appreciation that every day is a gift, and to be content? That really motivated you, right? It wasn't like a cloud over your head. I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow, I don't have tomorrow. Rather it motivated you to go out and do more.
David: Well, not necessarily do more, but do what I was put here to do.
One of the things that stop people from pursuing their calling in Christ is fear. If I do this, I won't be comfortable, if I do this, it may cost me this. At the root of humanity is a fear of death.
So when you realize that you're not going to get out of this life alive, it doesn't matter what you do. It's not like, if I don't do this, I'll be saved. No, you won't. My son had 10 days, and the fact that he lived 10 days wasn't as strange as the fact that I've lived 46 years. We're all on borrowed time, we're all going to die. So let's go pursue the calling with reckless abandon.
Once you realize that by playing it safe, you're not going to stave off death. Then you lose all your fear and you can actually pursue what God wants you to do.
Bob: That's more of an adventurous, abundant life, more fun anyway.
Living in Appreciation for the Gift of Life
Bob: You bring up an interesting cycle, near the end of the sermon that we see with the Israelites. But we experience the same cycle, and it's something that we all have to recognize. Remind our listeners what the cycle is. I guarantee people listening will see themselves in this as well.
David: The cycle is just throughout history. It's every society, but it's really seen in the nation of Israel. What happens, it doesn't matter where it starts, but the people rebel. Because they rebel, God either sends prophets and they reject them or he sends off some kind of judgment. Life falls apart, and people realize how bad it is. They repent, they come back to God, God forgives their sin, removes the judgment, blesses.
Because the people are blessed, they forget God, because they forget God, they rebel. Then God judges. Then the people realize how bad it is, they repent. God removes the scourge, blesses because they're blessed, people forget God. It's a cycle. You can see it everywhere.
Bob: So really what you're saying, Pastor David is, we really have to live in the awareness of that gift. The gift of life that God owes us really nothing. Yet, he provides so much for us. Living in that appreciation can really help us see life new. It opens up an opportunity for us to really begin to flush out what our purpose is, what our mission is, and live goal-oriented.
That goal is not to collect more, or necessarily to have more blessing, but to be closer to God. That's what I hear you saying.
Set Free to Pursue What God Has for You
David: Absolutely. We're all put on here for a purpose. Once we eliminate the fear of dying, and we realize that we can't get out of this world alive, you remove all your fear. John Wesley said, I'm immortal until my work is done. I believe that.
My son had 10 days and the fact that he only had 10 days isn't nearly as strange as the fact that I've had 46 years. So life is short. We have a purpose. Once the fear of losing it all is away, you are really set free to pursue what God has for you. That contentment, that Lord, you've already blessed me. You've already given me everything, that contentment in Christ drives our purpose in Christ. I believe that.
Bob: Pastor Dave, I think everyone listening to this, their heart goes out to you and your wife. For the experience that you had, losing Jacob, back in 2004. But I can tell you out of that, the church has a pastor. That pastor has some stories that uplift everyone who hears them. So, God's blessing to you on that.
I can't thank you enough for being on this podcast today. Anyone who would like to hear or see your sermon in its entirety can go to inspirationalsermons.com. They’ll find the link to your profile box on the Best Preachers page. Reverend David Kibler, thank you so much for being here today. May God continue to bless you.