Posts Tagged blessing

Blessed Counsel

Psalm 1: 1

How blessed is the . . ..

Psalm 1, a very good place to start. Most of you realize the psalms are songs. As such they have a different tone and complexion from the rest of scripture. The psalms contain many special messages and they often minister straight to the heart, completely bypassing the intellect.

I am struck by the first words of the first Psalm. I participate in a conference call where we are learning about the blessing. How interesting that the first words of the first psalm are about the blessing. The songwriter is going to tell us how people live in the blessing of God. What comes next? How can we each be amongst the blessed of God?

Here is the first verse in its entirety: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” The first thing we learn about walking in the blessing is what not to do. So, what is this bit of wisdom. First, don’t take your advice from the wicked. I used to think this meant not to take advice from non-Christians. So, I endeavored to hire Christians for everything. However, I made a dazzling discovery. Some of the non-Christians were more ethical than the Christians I was working with. Jesus said we will know the wicked by their fruit. So now I have learned to be a fruit inspector. I would prefer to work with Christians but sometimes my light is better displayed by its exposure to those who need to see Christ alive. Also, the salvation prayer does not include a transformation button. We all have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2: 12). That means that our transformation isn’t automatic. Romans 12: 2 reads, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformation is a process. It would be wonderful if there was an automatic transformation but there isn’t. Everyone has to work on becoming the Christ like person God ordained. Checking people’s fruit is a check on their journey so far and their ethics is a part of that journey. So, we are instructed not to take our counsel from the wicked which means we must be certain that the people we look to are worthy to lead us on a right path.

That is true of the next statement as well. Do not conspire or plan with sinners. Who are the sinners? Does that mean limit us to Christians? I wish. Don’t hang out with people who practice sin regardless of their Christian affiliation. Choose to be with people who are endeavoring to live above sin. Jesus gave us his life and victory so that we can be free of the chains of sin but not all who have asked Jesus into their lives have broken the chains of sin. Be wise. Check their fruit.

Last, do not be a scoffer nor associate with people who are. This is a pretty big deal, actually. Scoffers are those who jeer, mock, are contemptuous, and speak derisively. These are people you need to stay away from. I think also of people who are generally negative, contrary and critical. We all have a tendency towards being scoffers at times, but you know there is a difference between occasional slipups and a pattern of behavior.

This first psalm points us towards the blessing. In so doing it alerts us to some easy missteps. If you want to live in the blessing you can’t take your advice from wicked people, scoffers or sinners. Of course, this makes sense. These people cannot point you to the blessing. They cannot teach you or counsel you in how to walk in blessing. They can only teach what they know which is scoffing, wickedness, and sin. None of those are in the blessing. Don’t hire these people, don’t take their advice, don’t let them lead you – even if they do have a fish on their business card or are related to you. Take your counsel from people whose fruit would please Jesus.

Salvation is for Today

Luke 4: 18 – 19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

Stop for a moment today and consider this passage. This is from the book of Isaiah and it is what Jesus read in the synagogue.  His speaking of this passage marked the beginning of his public ministry. If God sent Jesus only to die on a cross bearing the sin of the world, then why this scripture? If eternal life was the only thing on God’s mind, why did Yahweh anoint Jesus to do all these other things? My point is that we have narrowed our focus as to Jesus’ purpose and in so doing have missed the greater blessing.

John 3: 16 reads, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” I suppose there is no other scripture in the whole of the Bible that is more well known than this one. We make our children memorize it in Bible School, put it on bumper stickers and even billboards. It is a wonderful passage, but it is not the whole story. Jesus didn’t stand up in the synagogue and say, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me so that none shall perish but instead have eternal life.” Why? Because that was not his singular purpose nor his anointing. It explains God’s love but not Jesus’ purpose. If you want to know the reason God sent Jesus you must read 1 John 3: 8, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.” This scripture discloses Jesus’ purpose. Let us go further, though, to see what Jesus, himself, says about his purpose in the earth. John 10: 10 reads, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Abundant life, free from the works of the devil, is the gift Jesus came to give us. Yes, eternal life is part of that package but that is the end game, not the whole thing. God made the earth for us to live in and enjoy. He gave us this planet to be our home, not heaven. He didn’t create earth as a testing ground but rather as a home. The point is, the time we spend here is not simply a waystation. Life here isn’t just passing time until we get to heaven. We are supposed to have abundant life here and now. Look again at today’s passage. Clearly that has nothing to do with heaven. Those conditions do not exist in heaven. Adam’s job was to make earth look like heaven so that we would have a heavenly home right here. Jesus prayed, “Let your kingdom come. Let your will be done on earth as it is done in heaven,” (Matthew 6: 10). Earth is to reflect heaven.

Jesus came to restore our original purpose to us and to return the earth to us as our heavenly home, a home made in the image of heaven. Then God will come here and live with us. We’ve got to stop waiting to get to heaven to start fulfilling our purpose. We’ve got to stop waiting until heaven to start living, especially living in the fullness of God’s intent for us.

Redemption? Yes, it’s a big deal, but it is not the end of the story. It is the means by which God put us back on track. We could not have the abundant life Jesus came to give us until we were cleansed of the sin which stained us and our existence. Furthermore, I do not think eternal life is the evangelical message; it is not the salvation message. The word salvation means, rescue or safety, deliver, health, victory, prosperity, help, and welfare, (Strong’s 3444 & 4991). It does not only mean deliverance from sin. The savior came to give deliverance, health, victory, prosperity, help and welfare. In other words, he came to give us an abundant life right here, right now. This is why I think evangelism is important, but it also points out why our evangelistic message is presently off target. We are trying to get people into heaven while Jesus is trying to save them from their current peril and give them a great life now and forever.

Eternity is now. It began a long time ago. God has plans to get us into heaven but the good news that Jesus shared is that our freedom and victory begins now. This is not the good news we have been carrying to the world, however. God wants people to know they can be free now. Jesus came to set the captives free. Amen? The good news of the gospel is that God wants to bless you now, in this life. He wants to free people from torment and hurt. He wants to mend their hurts and restore them to good life. People need God now, not just in heaven. The message of the gospel is that God loves you now. Salvation emphatically is not, buy your ticket to heaven and then suffer until you die. That is not God. If you know God at all, you know that is not His heart.

To be clear, the evangelical message, the message that all the world needs to hear is that God wants to be your savior today. He wants to move into our lives and improve them. He longs to give us perfect peace and joy in this world, right now. Yahweh is a now God. Jesus came to give us abundant life. Abundant life is that life which in intertwined with our beloved, our Father, Yahweh. He who loves us has sent His son to restore us back to health, welfare, liberty, prosperity and joy. This is the good news of the gospel. Tell that to someone. Heaven is here and now for all who live in Christ. Now is the salvation of the gospel. Now is life and love in the Son. Jesus is here now to give you a good life. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope,” (Jeremiah 29: 11). Tell someone the good news. Jesus has come, and he has life and healing in his hands. This is his salvation, and ours. Amen.

Being Blessed

2 Chronicles 20: 25

And they were three days taking the spoil because there was so much.

For those of you who have been reading the Word of the Day for a while, you know this story from 2 Chronicles is one of my favorites. It shows how God works in our lives as well as showing what our part of the dynamic is. (Go to our website, https://iveyministries.org and select the daily devotional tab. From there you can search 2 Chronicles 20 and read other messages taken from this moving passage.) This chapter is a classic teaching on spiritual warfare but today I want you to see something different. We can see God’s economy working here too.

I understand when I write about us living in God’s economy rather than the world’s it is challenging to put practical legs on it. It seems so nebulous, so farfetched. I agree. It’s hard to wrap your head around God being your source when all you see is a job or a paycheck. We have been trained to work for an income but God is telling us to believe for our income. Use your paycheck as seed and your faith for your income. That is just a little hard for most of us to understand. Here, in 2 Chronicles, we get to see a practical application of God’s economy.

Back in the day, the armies went out to fight and “to the winner went the spoils” of war. In this passage from 2 Chronicles, though, no one drew their sword. Three different nations gathered together against Judah and yet not one soldier fought. King Jehoshaphat had people standing upon the ridge singing and playing their instruments as if there were not three armies ready to annihilate them. Can you picture that. Instead of sharpening their swords or setting an ambush, these guys had a sing-a-long. Not one of them fought, not one of them died and yet they ended up with the spoils of war. There was so much booty that it took them three days to haul it off. What does this say to us about God’s economy? They certainly did not work for it. One can hardly say they were the victors of battle. None the less, they walked away with a bounty.

This is one example of how God can bless your pocketbook. I am not suggesting He is going to slay three armies for you but certainly you have your own situations. He has all kinds of ways figured out to get resources into your hands without you having to earn them. The key, in this case and in our lives, is following His direction. Judah listened to the voice of the Lord and then did what He told them to do. That is the entire secret. We only have to do whatever He says, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, and He will prosper us. So, if you wanted to know the secret, now you do.

Be blessed in all you do. Let God increase you. He is our source and the master of our increase. Set your heart and mind on following this example. Embrace the idea that God can make material goods come into your hands from any source. He is your provision, your job is not. He will make His enemies pour their gold into your hands. Believe it and it is yours.

Sell Out

2 Chronicles 16: 9

For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

Do you ever wonder what God is up to? What is he doing with His time? Now you know. He is scanning the whole earth looking for those he can support and strengthen. God wants to bless us. He wants to uphold us by His strong right arm but the truth is that we won’t let Him because we don’t allow ourselves to receive from Him. Some of us lack belief, others lack expectation. Still others of us don’t appreciate His goodness.

Being blessed is a process of teamwork. The first part is that we must be dedicated to God. Do you see that He scans the world looking for a heart He can work with? Those are important words and if we are not living in the blessing as fully as we think we should be, then this is the place for us to begin our analysis. We see that God wants to bless us. He wants to support us in all we do. He is just looking for someone who will cooperate with Him. His eyes constantly search for someone who is wholeheartedly in for Him. Is that you. Is your heart for God? Are you completely sold out to Him?

If you answered, “Yes,” then God is all in for you too. My next question is, “Will you allow yourself to be blessed?” Some people have difficulty receiving. It begins with believing that God wants to bless His people. Hebrews 11: 6 reads, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” We have to believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. So, He is searching the earth for those whose hearts believe that He is and that He is a rewarder. You see, you are not sold out to God nor wholehearted towards Him if you don’t believe His word and even specifically this verse from Hebrews. He is looking for someone who will believe that God is for them in every way. He wants us to lean on the expectation of His strong support.

That brings up another point from today’s verse. God isn’t looking just to sprinkle you with blessing or just give you a small step up. He is a big God and wants to show Himself strong to you. He wants to “strongly support” your dreams and goals. That means that not only is He in your corner, but He is the loudest cheerleader you have. He wants to give you all He has. That ends up boiling down to all you will receive. He isn’t trying to be a subtle encourager. He wants to get loud and flex His muscles with strength.

I think if you will mediate on this verse, you will find more here than you have previously considered. I hope it blesses you from the top of your head to the bottoms of your feet. Get your heart fully committed to the Father who loves you and who wants to be your supporter. Be sold out to Him. Believe Him and let Him help you.

Greetings

1 Samuel 25: 6

Have a long life, peace be to you, and peace be to your house, and peace be to all that you have.

Our Jewish siblings greet each other with “Shalom.” In this, apparently, simple greeting is a mountain of blessing. It is the essence of today’s verse.

King David sent messengers to a man named Nabal. David told his representatives to greet this man with the words from today’s verse. What an elegant and resourceful way to greet someone. David spoke a blessing on the man but he didn’t stop there. He blessed everyone in his household and all of his possessions.

The reading from the New American Standard shows David speaking peace to Nabal’s household. What we don’t see, is that the word “peace” is a loaded word. It means much, much more in the Hebrew context than calmness, or tranquility. The God’s Word translation reads, “May you live long! May you, your home, and all you have prosper!” Now that is a blessing! Wouldn’t you like everyone you meet to greet you like that?

I do not send this to you today merely as a history lesson though. I find these passages enlightening as they touch my mind and soul. What can we learn from this? How can it impact our lives? What would it be like if we said, “live a long good life” instead of the unbiblical, “take care?”

This Bible verse isn’t, perhaps, as instructive as some others but it does stimulate thought. So, in my closing I would like to say to you, “Be blessed in every area of your life, may all your belongings be blessed and everyone in your household. May you live a long beautiful life and prosper.”

Go Get Gad

1 Chronicles 21: 9

And the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer saying, “Go and speak to David, saying . . ..”

I read this verse this week and it kind of bugged me. “Why did God speak to Gad,” I thought, “instead of speaking directly to David?”

David is a hero to me. He walked with God and talked with God as few people have. He is numbered among God’s personal friends. When I read the psalms, I see a revelation of the Holy Spirit that is completely unprecedented for an Old Covenant believer. In truth, David knew more about the Holy Spirit and followed his leading better than most New Testament saints. Besides that, his intimacy with God is inspiring. I soak in those words, longing for the same close fellowship he enjoyed. Then, this week, I read this verse and it caused me pause. Why did God speak to Gad instead of to David?

I found the answer and it does nothing to assuage my discomfort. 1 Chronicles 29: 2 reads, “Now with all my ability I have provided for the house of my God.” Do you see a problem here? David is now much older. He is the King of Israel but he is preparing to pass the throne to his son Solomon. He has laid up much gold, silver, wood and all manner of other materials for the building and equipping of the temple. By now he has sat upon the throne for many years and been very successful. And there is where the blessing can challenge us all. David’s success has gone to his head.

In the early days David depended on the strength of the Lord. God was his strong right arm. He followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and he trusted his God. He is a grand example of a person who demonstrated active trust in God.

He is famous for his praise and worship. Once he celebrated God so energetically that he danced himself out of his clothes. He was man who loved God, trusted in God’s ability and then praised God for the continuing triumph.

Now we see him at the end of his reign, very successful, very rich but also, a bit self-impressed. He says he used his ability to provide for the temple but the truth is, and he knows it, he would have had nothing if not for the provision of the Lord. Everything David dedicated to the temple project was given to him by God. David didn’t win the gold, silver or any of the other treasures in his might. God went before him and handed the enemies and their spoils into David’s hands. Then in his later years David began to believe his own press. He began to believe that he was mighty and strong. When he was young he knew he was small and weak but that his God was mighty. Oh, how it grieves the heart, but it also explains, so clearly, why God had to speak through Gad. David was no longer listening. He was too busy attending to people’s praises of him.

You know you have gone off track if you are reveling in the praises of people. Only the humility of the truth will keep you or I in power of the Lord. As soon as we start believing we have done something in our own power rather than acknowledging it was the blessing of the Lord, we are bound for disaster. Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own,” (John 5: 30 TLV). What makes any of us think we can do better? Any success any of us have is because of the grace and blessing of the Lord. David knew that, but he forgot. He became enamored with his success and could no longer hear the voice of God. What a shame.

Look, God wants to bless us. He also wants to speak to each one of us personally but our big egos get in the way. We are so busy trying to feel good about ourselves and pump up ourselves to others that we are losing the intimacy with God. Adam did the same thing and look where that led. God will bless you and keep you in the protective and loving safety of His embrace. He will give you good success. However, as you are blessed, just remember that He is the author of every good thing you have. All good things come from above. It is He who blesses the work of your hand and you could do nothing without Him. So, keep your heart tender towards Him, or make your heart tender if need be. Get you out of the way so you can hear God. Don’t make Him speak to others in order to reach you. Give Him the glory for everything you have. Get off the throne and let God be a Father and best friend to you.

More

2 Chronicles 25: 9

The Lord has much more to give you than this.

God has so much more he wishes to give us. The subject of this story had to have his mind expanded by the prophet of God sent to minister to him. We are all in the same shoes at one time or another. We often have low expectations of what God is willing to do for us; what he is able to do for us. Since we have such low expectations, we don’t even bother to pray. Then a servant of the Lord comes along to remind us that God is all powerful and that he loves us intensely. Then hope is reborn; our faith is renewed.

Let us all renew our hopes today. Let us make new plans and revive old dreams. Take all of your desires, wants and fervent prayers to the Lord. Take your disappointments and failures as well. And dare to believe that God can and will fix every problem you have and bless you with all the good things you desire.

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