Posts Tagged blessing

Honored and Esteemed

Psalm 41: 1 – 2

God always blesses those who are kind to the poor and helpless. They’re the first ones God helps when they find themselves in any trouble. The Lord will preserve and protect them. They’ll be honored and esteemed while their enemies are defeated.

While typing in this verse I had to stop and just say, “Thank you Lord.” Do you ever do that? Are there times when the Word of God speaks to you so profoundly that it is as if God has just spoken to you aloud? That is the way it feels to me sometimes and I find myself grateful to be called his own. There is almost a sense of quiet awe, as if to break the silence is to be reminded that I am unworthy of His grace, but praise God, that is when the silence is ruptured by thanksgiving because in that moment we are overwhelmed with the truth, the truth that Jesus made us worthy. He did for us what we were unable to achieve through any other means.

It is in that moment of reverence and awe that I find myself honored to be the blessing that God sends into the world. You and I are God in this world. If the poor and helpless are to have their status changed so that they are no longer without help, it is up to us. Don’t think that I am telling you to go out and do good works. I am telling you to let your gratitude for what Father and Jesus have done for you overwhelm your senses and your spirit so that you just have to have an outlet for your thankfulness or you will pop.

The world does not need a group of sour faced people trying to win God’s favor or redeem themselves. It needs the love of God poured out in a real way. The world needs to see that God has redeemed us and given us joy unspeakable. Hopefully we share that joy and the world sees a God who loves them without measure, without works.

Let us not forget, though, that God honors and upholds us as we go out into the world bringing joy and hope. He takes care of our needs as we take care of the needy. He is our help in the time of need as we are help for the otherwise helpless.

Sow some joy and peace today. If you have nothing other than a smile to give, give it with gusto. Let other people be blessed just because you are there. Say a prayer that everywhere you go today, all people will receive the blessing of the Lord. Give hope and a hand to someone. Be still and silent in your personality and let the Lord speak and shine through you. The more you let go, the more blessed you will be. The more you let Him be the light, the more light you will walk in too. Be blessed, my friends.

Life and Peace

Romans 8: 6        NIV

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

I am sure we all want life and peace. Jesus said he came to the earth to give us abundant life (John 10: 10) and I certainly do not want to frustrate his purpose in my life. I am equally convinced that you want the peace of Christ flowing through your life along with the abundant life he brings. I wish, sometimes, there was nothing I had to do to position myself for all the blessings of the Father. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Our Father has blessed us with every blessing in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 1: 3). How, though, do we have all that blessing manifest upon us routinely? As to peace and life, Paul answers that question for us today in this verse from Romans. Our minds must dwell on the things of the Spirit rather than on the things of the body or of the world.

You’ve all heard this verse before, but I wonder how well we hear it. This makes sense, of course, but it is much easier said, and agreed upon, than actually done. The world and all its pleasures are before us daily. We live in the world and must interact with it. It can be a challenge to live in the world and yet not be part of it. It is hard to interact with the world all day and at the same time keep our minds on the Spirit. None the less, that is the way to peace and life.

One hears a great deal of talk these days about intentionality. It means to be purposeful about the minutes of our day rather than blowing about with the wind. It means to make some determined choices and let those guide our day rather than just bumping along from one stimulus to another.

If, when we awaken in the morning, we immediately turn our thoughts and hearts to the Lord, it is much easier to stay in that place with him and with the Spirit all day. You can actually stay linked with the Spirit all day, even when you have to go to work, do the shopping, pick up the kids, etc. All the tasks of life are easier when you stay connected with God’s Spirit.

Notice that the mind is governed, or ruled, either by the flesh or the Spirit. What are the things of the flesh that attract us? Well, it is all the things of the world, isn’t it and things our body wants. It could be sleep, food, television, wine, social activity and more. None of these things are bad, are they? God is not trying to deny us these things, but it can be a question of priority. Are these things which gratify the flesh the focus of our attention? Are they more important to us than the things of the Spirit? The verse says that when our minds are ruled by these things, it is death. When our minds are governed by the Spirit, we are always led to life and peace. That sounds nice. So, we need to learn the skill of focusing our minds on the things of the Spirit and then staying connected there even as we travel through the world. The Spirit will always lead us into blessing. He will always show us the way of peace and life. We have only to fix our minds on him and he will bring us love, joy, peace, life and the blessing of God. That is a good plan. So what are you thinking about today?

It’s Your Choice

Deuteronomy 30: 19           NOG

I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live.

Are you familiar with this verse? I want you to be. It is so very powerful and can change your life. In fact, this is a great one for you to meditate on. The piece of it I wish to highlight today is the word “choose.”

God has offered us life. He has offered us blessings. Death and the curse entered the earth in the Garden of Eden. So, both life and death and blessing and the curse are out there for the choosing. The interesting aspect is that we get to choose. I always smile when I read this verse because I hear it this way, “I have given you the choice between life and death, the blessing and the curse. Let me give you a hint. Choose life and blessing.” It is like God is trying to clue us in on which one to choose. It seems ridiculous at one level. We should be smart enough that He does not need to give us a hint and yet, it is a forebearer of a truth. We often make the wrong choice. We choose death instead of life and the curse instead of the blessing. Why would we do that?

Let me ask you a different question. Supposing you rather have life and blessing, how do you make that choice? What mechanism is in place for choosing? That is the main issue, I believe. Do folks know how to choose life? In how many ways do we choose the curse instead of the blessing? I believe most Christians do not realize there is a choice, how to make the choice, or how they are making the wrong choice daily.

One of the most poignant events in the Bible is found in the book of Joshua. As the book opens, Moses has just died. He, who was the liberator of Israel, who led them for years through their long sojourn, who importuned God for them, prayed for them, taught them, and cared for them, is dead. Now what? Shall the nation of Israel fall apart right there, having never crossed over into the promised land? It is a climactic moment is Judeo-Christian history. It could have all ended right there, on the wrong side of the Jordan. Instead, God appointed Joshua to be the leader of His people. How would you like that job, following in Moses’ footsteps? It must have been pretty frightening for Joshua. God took him aside, though, to give him the secret of success, to be his coach and mentor. God told Joshua, “Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” (Joshua 1: 7 – 9).

I know that was a long quote but you need to see it all. Right here God gave Joshua the choice to fail or succeed. He even gave him the crib notes for the test. In other words, God didn’t make success a mystery. Success or failure lay at Joshua’s feet so God showed him the path to success. He gave him all the secrets. That is what God does.

Here is my point. Father wants us to succeed so He has given us the cheat sheet. “Here are all the answers,” He says. All we have to do is use them. How many points do you find in the quote from the book of Joshua? I counted seven. The real question is, how many of them are we doing. This is how we choose life and blessing. Joshua didn’t have to take God’s advice. We know he did because he enjoyed success and led the nation of Israel into the promised land. He chose blessing. He chose life.

Here are two of the big seven. One, do not fear. If we live in fear, we fertilize death and curse. Second, and this is a really big one, meditate in this Word day and night. When we meditate in the Word, we are actively choosing life and blessing.

This passage from Joshua teaches how to choose to live in the blessing. We need to follow where the Lord is leading. We need to communicate with him so that we see his ways generally and the specific path he points out for us. We can choose to be blessed. We can choose the abundant life Jesus said he came here to give us. I think if you will follow the advice God gave Joshua, if you will learn how to commune with Jesus and actually do it, that you will find yourself in overflow of everything good. Please, choose life, choose the blessing. It’s your choice.

Bless the Lord

Matthew 8: 2 – 4

A leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

Tell me, what jumps out to you from this passage? There are many messages easily gleaned from these verses. As I read it recently, I was captivated by the last sentence. The facts are seen in the first two verses: evidence of faith, a request for healing, healing, and compassion. Jesus’ verbal response to the former leper is intriguing, though. The first message is this distinguishing between telling and doing. Jesus says, go do something. That actually is important because a leper would have been considered unclean and prohibited from going into the temple. However, the even more interesting part of Jesus’ statement is the directive to present the prescribed offering.

I am reminded of the story of Abram (Abraham) and Melchizedek from Genesis 14. Abram had just returned from battle when Melchizedek went out to meet him. Melchizedek brought wine, bread and a blessing. This is the blessing Melchizedek spoke over Abram, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand,” (Genesis 14: 19 – 20). The narrative reveals that subsequently, Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all. That’s the tithe and this occurrence happened many years before the law. Therefore, Abram did not give a tithe out of any obligation imposed by the law. This all happened before Moses lived so you have to think it happens before Jewish custom as well because the tribes of Israel did not yet exist. Why then did Abram give a tenth of all and does this inform our lives in any way?

People really get hung up on the tithe and I just thank the Lord that my teachers led me to tithe early in my Christian life. Folks get all twisted here about Old Testament, New Testament, the law, grace, etc. There is no need for this theological maelstrom. You can figure this out for yourself. Clearly there is something going on here. The similarity between the telling of Abram’s story and the recounting of the leper’s experience with Jesus is revealing. First God blessed. Then man blessed God. Abram didn’t tithe in order to get God to do anything. God had already done everything. He gave the enemy into Abram’s hand and then sent His high priest with bread, wine and a blessing. Abram’s offering was a response, not initiative.

The same is true in the case of the leper but in this instance, Jesus had to teach the man as to a proper response. He said, go show yourself and present the prescribed offering. Other translations use the word gift instead of offering which I believe casts a different light on the matter. It makes me think of a gift of thanksgiving. God has done something wonderful. Does it not seem reasonable to express our faith, gratitude and thanksgiving in a tangible way?

Here is what I trip over – Why in the world do we resist giving to God? Was Abram concerned with how Melchizedek would use the tithe? He was not even asked to give, he just did, willingly and with a good heart. What makes Abram different from us? How is it that he could so easily give Melchizedek a tenth of the spoils without grumbling or worry? What is hard about it for us? Did Abram look at Melchizedek and judge the man or did he make his offering to God?

Jesus directed the leper to go give to God as an appropriate response to the gift of healing. Have we come so far in our societies that this is a foreign concept? Have we become cultures of takers rather than givers such that the thought of doing something nice for those who bless us is unique? Tips have become mandatory in many establishments rather than a deliberate blessing for someone who has treated us well? And, if so, is that something that has tainted our giving impetus. Or is it more basic than any of these sociological questions? Are we just self-gratifying pleasure seekers for whom the next toy is more important than thanksgiving for all the blessings our Father daily bestows upon us?

This passage makes me want to bless my Father. He will never be impressed with the pittance I lay upon the altar, but I pray that the condition of my heart and the appreciation and love with which I give, will bless Him. How much joy do you think you may find in a love offering from you to the lover of your heart? “Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name,” (Psalm 103: 1).

Request Granted

Psalm 21: 2 – 3

You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah. For You meet him with the blessings of good things.

I hope you are enjoying this stroll through the Psalms. I very much am. The hardest part of this, for me, is choosing only one or two verses out of the psalm to send to you. There are so many verses screaming to be heard, like verse seven from today’s psalm. However, I have to choose so verses two and three are my pick because of yesterday’s selection. I can’t help but feel that Father is trying to make a point this week.

We should always consider the placement of Selah (for further reading on Selah see the Word of the Day for August 30, 2018). It should be like a flag going up when we see it. In today’s passage it is sandwiched between the two verses. The Selah connects them and puts emphasis on them.

There are two thoughts which occur to me about the authorship of this passage. First, we know that David penned it. It is interesting that he is so vehement about God giving him the desires of his heart. We have seen two psalms in a row where David proclaims this truth. And, of course, Psalm 37: 4 is hanging out there just waiting to be read. So, David is pretty insistent on this point. Also, he is not trying to convince anyone. David’s words are for the Lord. This isn’t even a statement of faith. It is a statement of fact. David experienced God going far beyond meeting his daily needs. He has Yahweh showing up with blessings for him.

The second thought about authorship is that though David penned this passage, God is the true author. It is the Lord who gave David his inspiration and his songs. Beyond that, we know that Jesus is the Word. These two ideas mean that this declaration that God fulfills the desires of our hearts and meets us with blessings of good things comes from Him. Yahweh is the one who wanted this text in the Bible. He is trying to tell us something. He is using David and his gifts to get His message out to us.

God knew when He inspired David to write this song that thousands of years later, you would be reading them. In fact, you might be the one person who more than any other inspired the Father to insert these words into His Bible. The Bible is His letter to you. It is here that He contained some of His most important ideas for you. You don’t have to depend on your ability to hear God’s voice. The words are lying on the page for you. And, as if that isn’t enough, He has now inspired and directed me to send them directly to you. They were sitting in your inbox this morning awaiting you.

So, what’s the point? The point is that God wants to fulfill all your heart’s desires. It is His idea, His desire. He wants to greet you in the morning with baskets full of blessings. Everyday is Christmas to Him so He has gifts for you. One of the key components for each of us is that we need to get this into our hearts. It is quite easy to accept these ideas in our minds, but your mind isn’t the key. Belief, real belief, happens in the heart. The mind can agree and can accept but belief is rooted in the heart.

David was fully convinced. You can hear it in His words. He believed it and he lived it. Guess which always comes first. He believed God even when he was hiding in a cave. He believed God even when facing a giant. His boast was always in the name of the Lord God and thus he lived the blessing of God. When we believe in the goodness of God the way David did, then maybe we will have something to sing about too.

Blessed Refuge

Psalm 5: 11 – 12

Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them sing with joy forever. Protect them, and let those who love your name triumph in you. You bless righteous people, O Lord. Like a large shield, you surround them with your favor.

I hope you are enjoying this sojourn through the psalms. David reminds us, today, that there is blessing, success, victory, protection, joy and favor for those who take refuge in the Lord.

David found his respite in the Lord.  He had a way of intertwining his existence with that of God and that was an uncommon space for the Old Testament believer. I love reading David for this reason. He had an enviable relationship with the Lord. We get to peer into this relationship through the songs written by David. Can’t you almost hear his heart soar as he sings, “Let them sing with joy forever.” As he wrote these words, I believe he was basking in the presence of the Lord. You can hear the praise and reverence in David’s lyrics but you also sense the deep intimacy he had with Yahweh.

As you read this psalm, you hear about the favor of God surrounding you. You may even rejoice at the simple acceptance that God blesses us, His righteousness. Most of all, though, today I hope that you will not only hear the substance of David’s song but even more so the tone of his conversation with the Lord. I hope that through these words, you will glimpse the heart and passion of David seeing the inspiration of his affection for the Lord. I think if we will take our time with these words, we will find our own hearts stirred. Maybe we will raise our voices or pen a beautiful lyric of our own. Maybe you can write a love song to the Lord. If you do, I hope you will share it with the rest of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord. Rejoice in Him.

Abundance

John 6: 13 – 14

So they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten. Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

I am sure you recognize this as the telling of the feeding of the five thousand. We forget, sometimes, that not only were all the people fed, which actually numbered somewhere around 20,000 when women and children are included, but that afterwards the disciples gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. What does this say to us and why did John include that detail in his narration of this event?

The first thing I see in it is the very nature of God. Not only does God not do anything half way, He actually goes above and beyond the need (Ephesians 3: 20). Our God works in abundance. He thinks in terms of overflow. We need to understand that about Him because that is the way He wants us to think too. Not only did God meet their immediate need, He also gave them food for the next day. That is worth pondering.

In addition to the idea of abundance, I believe John wanted us to see that this miracle was easy. Clearly Jesus did not struggle to feed the 20,000 since there was so much left over. John tells of the overflow as a prelude to his next statement. We know that because the next word is “therefore”. The telling of this miracle has a conclusion, a purpose. John says that when the people saw the miracle they concluded that God was on the scene. They thought that Jesus must be the foretold prophet that God would send before the coming of the Messiah. They missed it a bit but they recognized God’s hand and that is the part I like.

When God shows up, people get blessed. Great things happen. It doesn’t matter if the showing of God’s power comes right out of heaven, through the ministry of a prophet or at the hands of you and me. Whenever people get blessed, or their needs get met, God gets that glory and the attention. We can be instruments of His great grace and kindness as much as Jesus’ disciples were because we have the same Lord and the same Father. We actually have more because we have the Holy Spirit too.

Let God’s kindness be shown through you. Believe me, when people see the manifestation of God, evangelism becomes very easy.