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Prophet Maurício Artur Berger's Speech

Luck and Misfortune


Have you ever wondered why in life some people seem to have more luck than others?

Unlike what many people think, luck and bad luck go hand in hand through the relationship we have with God.

In the Bible, specifically in Proverbs 16:33, we read:

"The lot is cast into every man's lap; but every decision about it proceeds from the Lord."

But if this is so, if all the decisions about good fortune are in fact in God's hands, the question is: What should we do to obtain His favor? And thereby obtain the GIFT OF DIVINE GRACE?

First of all, we have to understand once and for all, WHAT IS GRACE.

Well - The word grace derives from the Latin gratis and literally means a gift freely given to man by God.

Because of this, when we speak of divine grace, we are referring specifically to an undeserved favor that we human beings obtain as a gift from the Father's mercy.

It is through His grace that God grants us the restoration of lives, that life that is to be lived abundantly, as promised by Jesus in John chapter 10, verse 10, and, finally, the eternal salvation of our souls. - And yes, that gift is addressed to all human beings by God's sole and exclusive will, FREE of charge, just as stated in the record in 2 Nephi 25:23, which reads:

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by GRACE that we are saved, after all we can do”

Notice that the text in question says: "it is by grace we are saved", however, we cannot ignore, as evangelicals in general do, that this gift is only obtained by us humans "after everything we can do for the Work of God". What shows us clearly and unequivocally, that in order to have the divine favor and grace, that is, this good fortune that we long for so much in life and that God freely gives to whoever He wants, there is a means by which it can be obtained.

What is this means?

Well, we only need to look at the Scriptures to realize that God selects among human beings those who are His favorites, those to whom He, the Almighty, grants favor and makes the light of His face shine on all the works of His hands.

Yes, that is exactly what you have heard, and I invite you to pay even closer attention to what I will say from now on, for although God allowed Satan to test Job, the scriptures assure us that because of his righteousness in doing His will, it was that God designed a dome of protection around him and gave him riches and glory among men like no other who lived in his time. And, even though for a brief moment he allowed Satan to test him with every kind of affliction, God rewarded him even more for his faithfulness, so that the Bible says that he received ten times more, in addition to what he had lost, or in other words, what Satan had taken from him. - And, that is exactly what Satan does, he takes what he can from us. For so it is written, "The thief (Satan) comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."

But take heart, in this same context Jesus says, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." - John 10:10

The reality, therefore, is that God, although he is no respecter of persons, as the scriptures reveal to us, does have, among his sons and daughters, those who are his favorites, and the Bible is full of accounts that demonstrate this favoritism of God for those who carry out his will to the letter.

We see this in the story of Joseph, who went from being a slave to being the ruler of Egypt, of Esther, the commoner who became a queen, of the widow of Zarephath, whom God appointed, through Elisha, not to lack food, even in a time of scarcity around all the nations; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abdenego, when in obedience to God's commandments, they refused to bow their knees before an idol made by human hands, and being aware of the consequences of this act, submitted themselves to death in a fiery furnace in order to never submit to a false worship, Jehovah, the God who inhabits the highest and immaculate cradle of heaven, intervened on their behalf, because not even a hair of their hair was singed by the blazing fire, which, being so intense, earned the lives of the soldiers of Babylon who pushed them into the furnace. Of Daniel, whose path under the yoke of Babylon was thrown into the den of beasts, while he was delivered in plain sight from the mouths of hungry lions, and so many others that are too innumerable to be measured on the fingers of our hands.

However, there is no denying that there was something in common, a divine grace, a good fortune accompanying the lives of these men and women of the past, whose religious leaders today refrain from speaking from the pulpits of their churches, because this would belittle their postulated position over the flock.

The fact is that, just as God favored those humble servants whom He favored in the past, God being the same yesterday, today and forever, He still favors those who serve Him in the present, and He will do the same with those who will do so in the future, and although most of them were poor at some time when they approached God at the beginning of their spiritual paths, all of them, sooner or later, became not only successful people, but also recognized and respected, like pillars of support in the midst of the society in which they lived.

Someone, however, will say: - But with Jesus and his fishermen disciples it was not quite like that!

Wasn't it?

- Wasn't Jesus known as "the carpenter"?

Well, carpentry was in Jesus' day a noble and high-income profession.

But someone will say: Jesus didn't work, he only preached.

Is that so?

The Bible mentions that on Sabbath days he went out to preach in the synagogues, in the temple, and on the rugged prairies. It was on sabbatical days that he performed his healings and even most of his recorded miracles, but under no circumstances does he appear doing this on Monday, or any other day of the week. - Why is that?

Is it not for the reason that he was known as "the carpenter" and, therefore, that this was indeed his job during the week?

Although this is only an assumption, we must evaluate those whom he called as apostles, such as Peter, James and John, who the Bible mentions as sons of Zebedee, who, without a doubt, were successful businessmen in the fishing industry in the meridian of time, since the text of Mark 1:20 mentions that they immediately left their father with the employees.

Now, it is logical to conclude that if they had employees, then they had a business. - Isn't that so?

Regarding Matthew, the biblical record mentions that he was a tax collector - a noble office among the public employees of the provinces of Rome, hence the word "publicans", because they had extremely high salaries compared to the common people, through commissions obtained from the money collected from the people's collections and from customs taxes in the region.

Finally, about Bartholomew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Judas the Thaddeus, Simon Zelotes and Judas Iscariot, nothing is known about their professions. Also about Matthias, the substitute for Judas, there is no information about his occupation, but if we consider Paul, who was also appointed by the risen Christ to the office of apostle to the Gentiles, it is said that the occupation he used to support himself during his itinerant ministry among the nations, was the manufacture of tents (Acts 18:3), which usually included obtaining a good income.

Besides these, we have the account of the profession of the evangelist Luke in the New Testament, who was a physician, which shows that it was customary among the disciples of Christ in the first century church, that their followers were indeed successful men and women of noble intellectual perception to understand that one of God's requirements to his people, is the development of prosperity and self-sufficiency among them through work without idleness.

For these and other reasons, I assert that God, although he is no respecter of persons, does have his favorites among those who serve him. This is why the Bible says in Paul's letter to the Romans 9:13-18 that "God loved Jacob more than Esau."

— But why did God, the Father of tender mercies, love one of Isaac's twin sons so much that he despised the other?

The answer to this question can be found in the story of both of them. - Esau was the firstborn, that is, the one who, under the patriarchal promise, was to inherit all the blessings bestowed by his father Isaac, including the position of leader of the chosen nation of his day and, consequently, the presidency of the priesthood among the sons of men.

However, the Biblical account reveals that he was not willing to live up to such a gift, not being fully inserted in the context to which God had called him, so that he treated his duties as firstborn with a certain levity and was not willing to submit himself in all things to God's command, through his prophet, Isaac.

Jacob, on the other hand, the younger brother, longed so much to be committed, whole, so to speak - body, soul, mind and heart - to the Work of God, that he did not spare any effort to obtain the birthright which, by right, belonged to his older brother.

As a result of Jacob's obstinacy in wanting to obtain a divine gift that didn't belong to him, but that his brother despised, we read that on a certain occasion, just to show God that his brother didn't value what was extremely important to him, he made a stew with lamb meat, which his brother liked a lot and, after his brother Esau arrived home from a hunt, tired and hungry, Jacob induced him to exchange his birthright for a piece of that stew.

Perhaps Esau, not thinking that God cared so much about this, said: okay, thinking that this was just lip service and that such a gift would never be taken away from him because of such a foolish statement. - But in God's sight, such an attitude showed disrespect and contempt for a divine arrangement.

Moreover, Jacob persisted in pestering God with his maneuvers in order to obtain from Him his favor, his gift of good fortune, through His grace, so that he, after having deceived Esau, by coveting God's favor, over the right that belonged to his brother Esau, Jacob, fled for his own life, carrying a staff in his hand and some oil, facing a distance of about 800 kilometers to Haran, where Laban, his uncle, lived, and that it would take him about two months to cover all that distance.

One day, in the middle of this desert path, passing through a city that was called Light, he stopped for the night. It was then, in this divinely selected place, that he had an extraordinary experience while sleeping with his head on a rock. He dreamed that there was in that place a "ladder whose top reached to heaven; and the angels of God ascended and descended by it."

In the course of that night he clashed with an angel of the Lord, a battle between a mortal being and an immortal being, in which he enters as Jacob, a failed man, who had lost everything, family, possessions, material goods and his own dignity on the run in the wilderness, and comes out of it being Israel, an overcomer to whom God says: "Fear not, O Jacob, for I, The Lord your God am with you, and you shall be known from now on by the name of Israel! And since you have been precious in My sight, worthy of honor, I have loved you greatly.... Therefore I will bring your offspring from the east and gather you from the west. I will command the North, "Give!"; and the South, "Do not withhold!" Therefore bring my distant sons, and all my daughters from the ends of the earth to be gathered to you in this place."

The next morning, Jacob took the stone he had used as a pillow, set it upright as a pillar, and taking the oil he possessed, poured it on that stone, declaring that that place was the House of the Lord (Genesis 28.18).

From this moment he then makes a vow saying:

"If you, O God, will be with me, and take care of me on this journey I am making, provide me with food and clothing, and bring me safely back to my father's house, then you will be my God. And this stone that I have set as a pillar today will serve as a sanctuary; and of all that you give me from now on I will surely give you a tithe for the building of a temple dedicated to You in this place - which you called Bethel, which means the house of God" (Genesis 28.20 – 22)

The journey Jacob had traveled to that place and time, although it had been very long and discouraging, did not allow him to give up on being whole in every action in God's presence or to diminish in any way the commitment he had made to the Most High, so he makes a vow before leaving that place, He promises to return ten percent of everything his hands produce from then on for the growth of the Father's Work among the children of Adam, for whose journey he would continue when he left there, but now with his head held high because of everything he had heard in that place, and that, despite the setbacks he had suffered, God had greatly blessed him in everything he did, bringing prosperity and abundance to his entire life.

Then, after becoming very rich, Jacob returns with his family and servants to his starting point, to the place where God had revealed Himself to him, in order to pay back the vow he had made in his heart. That's when God appears to him again and blesses him even more, saying that his name would be known to all nations and to all generations until the consummation of the ages in the final part of the fullness of time, simply because Jacob, now known as Israel, had kept his vows to return the tithe of all that his hands had produced throughout his life, to the Lord.

Certainly after that, as the scriptures attest, the Lord began to show favor to one and despise the other, so that God said, "I have loved Jacob and despised Esau."

But beware, don't be scandalized by this, because different from what it seems, the word despise in the context of the scriptures, doesn't mean that God rejected Esau as a son, but only that He gave him up to the chance of life, no longer favoring him with His Divine Grace, as He did with his brother from now on, making favorable decisions about every fate that fell in Jacob's lap, as transcribed in the text from Proverbs 16: 33 that we read at the beginning of this message, that "the lot is cast into every man's lap; but every decision about it proceeds from the Lord.

Do you understand now what it takes to obtain the good fortune that comes from God?

It all starts with an immeasurable desire to do His will, no matter what the cost.

Furthermore, since God's work cannot exist without money, just as described by Jesus in the text in Luke 16:9, that we should "Make friends through unrighteous riches, so that when these fail us, he may receive us into the eternal abodes," it is evident that God, not only rejoices with people who, like Jacob, commit to paying tithes to the Lord, but that their blessings are conditional on obedience to this law described in Malachi 3:10 which reads:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

And the text ends in verse 18, saying that everyone will see the difference between those who serve him, that is, who, like Jacob, commit to return their tithes to the bishop of their church, in relation to those who do not serve him.

In this way the Bible mentions that it is Jehovah who makes us rich, and that without him we are at the mercy of chance and the evils of life. - In fact, it is so important to have God as the priority of our lives in this matter of tithing, that the scriptures mention the first fruits that were destined to God.

Finally, I want to remind you of what Psalms 1:1-3 tells us:

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

In the end, it's up to you to choose!

It is you who choose the level of intimacy you will have with God.

It is you who chooses, like Jacob, to have the fate of your life in the Lord's hands, or, like Esau, to let yourself be carried away without any commitment to your work among the children of men, being left to the chance of life, without ever being favored by God with His Divine Grace. Amen!

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