Above and Beyond

Ephesians 3:20

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

Not only is God able to do more than we ask or think; He is willing, and I can prove it.

This is a small story about something that isn’t important. At some level, though, I think it is all the more powerful in that it shows how our Father cares about all the things in our lives, even the small ones.

My roommate and I have begun to unpack our Christmas decorations to get ready for the Christmas season. I have a painting which I had framed last year. When I tried to hang it this year, I discovered that the hanger didn’t fold down correctly. Bummer! It made the painting stand out from the wall such that the wire could fall off the hook.

Additionally, roommate bought a print this year to hang over the fireplace. It came with an odd sort of hanger, not the typical wire. The problem there is that this print will temporarily replace the picture that usually hangs over the mantle. So, as I looked at it, I thought that having two sets of hangers would be undesirable and the second set might even show when we put the regular painting back. So, I decided to take both prints to Michael’s where I had the one framed last year. I was hoping they would repair that one at no cost, but it’s been a year so it is reasonable that I might have to pay for it. No worries, I figured. The other one, the new print, well, of course I would have to pay to have the hanging system on it changed out.

The bigger concern was how long we might have to wait to get the prints back. Again, it is not a big deal since we are ahead of schedule but not being able to hang the one above the fireplace would make it a challenge to move forward with decorating the mantle. These are all little things, right? And yet, sometimes it is the accumulation of lots of little things which burden us.

So, my roomie and I packaged up the two prints again and off we went to Michael’s. Along the way we said a prayer about this hiccup in our decorating plans. Phrased differently, we asked, we asked our Father to be with us and to be in this situation with us. Now, He is able to do beyond what we ask or think, but step one is inviting Him into the situation, and that is what we did. We asked Him for Michael’s to repair the one from last year at no cost and, most importantly, for us to be able get both of the prints back in a reasonable time. We were thinking, worst case scenario, it would be nice to have them back by Saturday.  It was Thursday.

We arrived at the Michael’s framing counter with our arms full of boxed prints. First, we unpackaged the painting from last year. Before we could say a word, the gentleman behind the counter said, “Oh my, someone had a moment!” He saw more than we could even comprehend about how things should be done. He was very positive, wouldn’t disparage the person who put the mounting hardware on last year but also clearly was not satisfied with how it was done. He immediately took the painting back to the work room to repair it. We just looked at one another with questioning looks upon our faces. “Is he fixing it right now?” I asked. Sure enough, he came back a few minutes later with it repaired. What!!!  I didn’t expect that.

Then we unboxed the new print. The worker saw the hanger system and explained its use to us. He also thought it was uncommon to have that type of hanger on this type of print. He agreed that the simple wire would more than suffice and that way we could use the hanger that is already in the wall. Now, the big question, how long was it going to take to get this print back? Would you believe he picked up the print and, again, headed back to the workroom? I thought, “He is probably just going to put it back there and then come write up a ticket” except he didn’t immediately return. We looked at each other and today’s verse came to my mind. We started saying how great our God is and that Jesus is so cool.

We were both so thrilled, not so much about the prints, though. What was so exciting is that our Dad showed up on the scene for us. His hands were upon the situation and us all. He was paying attention to the details of life and His presence seemed to resonate loudly through the store. I think others must have felt His presence too.

Soon the clerk came back and placed the print on the counter. He helped me box it back up in its many layers of corrugation. Once packaged again, I turned to the clerk and asked, “What do I owe you?” He raised his hand, shook his head, and said, “Nothing.” Okay, so I already knew Dad was in the situation, but I was still surprised at this additional blessing. I thanked the gentleman and blessed him. He smiled, thanked us and we turned to go, still a little in shock at how amazingly well the situation worked out for us. I know God is able and willing to do exceedingly above and beyond all I can think or ask, but He really surprised me this this time. Not only did we get our prints back, repaired right then on the spot but we weren’t required to pay for any of it.

The morale of the story for me was two-fold. First, when you think you’ve thought big enough, think again. Second, pray about everything. Don’t get weird and holy about prayer. Just tell your Father what you are hoping for, what result you would like. Then, get out of the way and be astonished at what He will do. It is so fun watching Father move through our lives. Yep, it is great to be blessed.

Blessed of the Lord

Genesis 26: 28 – 29

And they said, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you; so we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good, and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.’”

Wouldn’t you just love to have people to say about you, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you” and “You are now the blessed of the Lord?” The story here is that Isaac had settled in the land of Gerar and he prospered there even in the time of famine. The people of that land were, therefore, leery of him so they forced him to move to other lands. As he moved, he opened up wells that his father, Abraham, had dug when he lived there but that the Philistines had filled when Abraham died. Each time Isaac dug a well, though, the people of Gerar would contend with him over the water and he would end up moving on. Finally, though, Abimelech, the king of Gerar, sought out Isaac to make a covenant with him because he saw the hand of God on Isaac. And while he was willing to bully Isaac, he wanted no part of God’s fury.

Would that the world would say those types of things to us today. Would that the hand of God on our lives was so evident that people would decide it is in their best interest to be in our good graces rather than opposed to us. If we will develop our relationship with the Lord to the degree that Abraham and Isaac did, then evangelism will not be a thing we have to give any thought or energy to. People will flock to the God of Abraham, Isaac and you. That, I believe, is supposed to be our living legacy, that we live a life of testimony. When people see the blessing of Abraham flowing in your life, they will want to know your God too. God should receive glory for supernatural miracles happening in our lives every day. We need to seek Him and dedicate ourselves to Him so that He may open the storehouses of heaven and pour out, on His kids, a blessing so great that it will be unrestrained. When that happens, we will be able to take care of many needs in this nation and others. Our God will receive His due glory and the needs of His children will be met. We will get to be the instruments for introducing other people to the loving Father of the blessing. Keep seeking Him with all your heart and with your time so that very soon people will be saying of you, “It is plain to see that you are blessed of the Lord.”

Blessed Beyond Measure

Proverb 22: 9              NIV

The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.

For some, generosity seems to come naturally. Others of us struggle. I do not believe that this lack of generosity always stems from greed. Sure, some people are tight fisted because they want everything for themselves. They are, in fact, selfish. I think, though, that some of us are generous of heart but fearful. The truth is we are not as generous as we might be because we lack faith in our God and Father. We don’t truly believe He will take care of us. That is why we hold on so tightly.

I have seen much in the scriptures lately about giving and though I consider myself a pretty good giver, I have found myself challenged. I need to do more. One of the things Father has shown me is that sometimes I hold on so tightly to what I have that He can’t get more to me. The expression, tight-fisted, is apropos. My fist is clenched and that is what I present to the Father rather than a hand outstretched and open. He cannot give into a clenched fist.

I am convinced that anyone who really loves God and does a study of the scriptures cannot continue to horde their wealth. These believers give beyond the tithe. They constantly find ways to bless others. I love these folks because they continue to show me ways I can give and I am often overwhelmed by their goodness, which is one of God’s qualities. I am still living in the glow of the outpouring of gifts for the Multiple Sclerosis charity bike ride. Many of you showed the most tender part of your hearts in your giving.

If I may, I would also like to be so honest as to say, some gave nothing. I do not believe it is because they lack kindness. Some may have chosen other charities for the year. That’s fair. Others though, may suffer this depression era mentality that causes us to hold on too tightly to what we have. If that is you, I sympathize because I stumble over that line too. However, there is hope for us and I want us all to be blessed in the full measure that God desires.

Father, bless those people who so demonstrate your kindness in their own giving. Pour out upon them a blessing so large they cannot contain it. And Father, for those who have not become great givers yet, teach us by your gentle Holy Spirit that it is your way and part of our calling. Relieve us of fear and boost our faith in you and your provision. Give us stalwart hearts and bless our giving as you do those who have already learned this important lesson. Father, make us, everyone, givers beyond the ten percent tithe and Father, for those who have not yet learned to tithe, encourage them that this is your way of meeting their need. Give them extra faith in your Word. Challenge them to take this first step. Give us all hearts of the giver, Father that we might be like you, and I thank you for this and bless you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessed

Psalm 115: 15

May you be blessed of the Lord, maker of heaven and earth.

I have noticed that there is a new expression that has gained much popularity. It seems I hear it mostly on voicemail messages not actually spoken person to person. That expression? “Have a blessed day.”

It is a nice sentiment but at the same time can be pretty empty. I expect that the people who leave this on their voicemail message are very sincere about wishing you to be blessed; I hope they are anyway. But it is good to remind ourselves from where blessings come.

God is the source of all blessing, but we are the hands of the Lord here in the earth. So, although all good things come from above, it is through us that the Lord reaches out to others. And while it is nice to wish others a blessed day, let us not forget that we can effectuate that ourselves. You can be the one that ensures that they have a blessed day by blessing them.

Hasn’t Jesus taught us that it is not enough for us to just say to a hungry person, “Be fed.” He taught us to feed them. When we wish for someone to be fed or to be otherwise blessed aren’t we really saying that I hope someone will bless you today? Aren’t we really expecting the person’s blessed day to come through other people? Well, why should we wait for someone else to have the idea to bless them? It is already in our mind and on our tongue.

Additionally, hungry and homeless people aren’t the only persons needing blessing today. Everyone you see could use a blessing. Also, do some kind thing for someone wherein you have no benefit in the blessing. In other words, bless someone in a way that you are not also reaping a benefit. It is alright to have win/win situations, but we need to learn to do what is in the best interest of others even if it is not in our interest. How much of a blessing is it really if your blessing of someone else is reaping a benefit for you? You’ve got to ask yourself how true your motive is if that is a constant occurrence.

And lastly, become a giver. Let being a giver become part of your personality. Look for opportunities to bless others. Try to figure out a way every day to do something kind for someone. What if we all got in the habit of blessing one person a day? Wouldn’t that be something? We might start some kind of revolution. I think it could really have an impact on our communities. So, shall we start today? Find someone to bless. Do something kind; give to others. I guarantee that you will end up being the most blessed person of all.

Called

Isaiah 45: 2 – 3

“I will go before you and make the rough places smooth; I will shatter the doors of bronze and cut through their iron bars. I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden wealth of secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.”

What is most exciting here, that God will smooth out the rough places, give you hidden wealth or that you are called by name? One exciting bit is that God is willing to prove by these measures that you are called by Him and for Him. He doesn’t call you as a servant then leave you to your own devices. It is by His strength and His power that accomplishments are made. God is willing to give you attesting miracles to prove, not that He is almighty God, but that you are called by name. That’s pretty exciting! He will validate your calling with Him signs.

This is also a good verse to think of when you are faced with a big project. When God first spoke these words, He spoke literally about rough places and doors of bronze. Those were the obstacles of the day. Today your rough places aren’t quite as literal and Father doesn’t need to shatter strong doors for you but still, isn’t this attractive? You will not have to endure closed doors and God will make the way smooth for you. By prospering you, He shows Himself. God, Himself, becomes your attesting witness.

You should expect to be blessed. You should expect favor. You should expect to be successful in everything you do because He has promised to bless the work of your hand. God isn’t looking for downtrodden Christians. He wants to show off so that everyone knows that you have been called by the God of Israel, the Almighty Lord and that He is well able to care for His own, and in style.

Be Filled

Psalm 81: 10

“I, the Lord, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide and I will fill it.”

This is a declaration of a God who wants to serve. What an amazing epiphany that is. have you thought of Yahweh as one to serve you? Wow! He brought each of us from our own Egypt. It is easy and not insignificant to think of the Israelites held in bondage to Egypt and its Pharaoh but that is not the complete Biblical picture. All of the stories in the Bible of past real events are included in the Bible for each of us. The Bible may well be the best storybook of all time, but that is not its ultimate purpose. Those stories are included for our edification.  Egypt, therefore, represents our own personal bondage. We’ve all been captured by destructive habits and/or relationships. God wants us to know that He is the one who led us into freedom and is available today to bring us out of Egyptian oppression.  That is not the end of the story, though. God doesn’t lead us out of our personal Egypt only to leave us starving in the desert. Just the opposite, He says, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” Now that you are free, be blessed, be filled.

I found an interesting twist on this. The first half of verse ten from the Passion Translation reads, “I am your only God, the living God. Wasn’t I the one who broke the strongholds over you and raised you up out of bondage?” First God must free us from bondage. The second half contains the provision but only in the Passion Translation do we see the nuance that is suggested in the other versions but only spelled out in this one. “Open your mouth with a mighty decree; I will fulfill it now, you’ll see! The words that you speak, so shall it be!” Did you see it, the little secret in the verse? When God invites us to open our mouths, He means for us to say something. The Jews would have known this. They knew their blessing is in their God given language. That is why they greet each other with a blessing. Most Christians expect to pray and God will provide but that is not what God is saying. Most of our praying ends up more like begging than decreeing. God wants us to say something declaratory. When Jews greet one another the substance of their greeting is, “Be blessed!” They don’t beg God to bless you, they declare the blessing upon you that God has already given. You see, they know what God did in the Old Testament, so they have a better sense of their rights and authority. A Messianic Jew can decree in the name of Jesus with absolute confidence. That is what the Father would have us do. Decree something and Dad will fill your life with it.

He longs to be a blessing to each one of us. He wants to serve us. The key is in our mouths. What are you saying?

Blessed and Blessing

Ephesians 1: 3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

There is so much good news in this passage that it is overflowing. First, it is good news just to hear that God has blessed us. He has given us His blessing in Christ. I think of a priest blessing a person and then apply that to God performing a blessing over each and every one of us. The thought of it brings a good feeling to your heart.

As we look at the blessing He gave us the news only gets better. God blessed us with every spiritual blessing that exists in heaven. In other words, He gave us every blessing He has. Do you want to shout yet? Not yet, okay, apply Jesus’ prayer to God’s blessing, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6: 10 KJV). Jesus knew the blessing that was upon us by the Father’s will and he prayed and taught us to pray that the father’s will would be fulfilled on the earth just like it is in heaven. Think of it this way, if you think heaven is a wonderful place, perfect even, then Jesus’ prayer means for us to have that same heavenly outcome here on earth. That is exciting!

Some people might get hung up on the wording of today’s verse because it says that God has blessed us with every “spiritual” blessing and subsequently think that is limiting language. Well, it’s not. Everything physical had to be birthed spiritually first. Even your job and your paycheck are spiritual blessings. Everything the Father touches is spiritual. Therefore, when He blessed you with every spiritual blessing that means He blessed you with all good things.

Let us not lose the genesis of this verse though. Paul writes, “Blessed be God.” Do you see that? Paul revealed that God, the Father, has already blessed us with every spiritual thing in the heavenly places but Paul blessed God in his present moment. Apparently, we humans have the capacity to bless God. Wow! You can bless God. What an awesome privilege! And what power we have that we can bless the Lord. Today is a good day to bless the Lord, our God and Father. You know how so enjoy being a blessing to the Father today.