Posts Tagged ‘blessing’

I experienced one of those “ah ha” moments this weekend.  I was speaking with a new friend about God’s goodness and blessings.  We had taken turns sharing how God had, in His grace, provided healing and protection at different points in our life. It is good to take time to remember God’s faithfulness in the past because it is a helpful reminder that when we face a trial of any kind, that God, Who has been faithful before, will be faithful in the future.

My eyes were opened to a new perspective when she shared about praying for a woman for healing on multiple occasions.  The person was very vocal about her need.  She carried her pain and woundedness around constantly asking for prayer and comfort.  My friend had prayed for her and had even gathered a group together to pray for the woman.  After some time of praying though my friend sensed the Holy Spirit tell her that it was time to stop praying.  That the woman being prayed for didn’t really desire to be healed, but rather she wanted the attention and sympathy her illness brought her.

When she said that I suddenly realized what a big truth that is.  ‘When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. ‘  James 4:3  What pleased this woman more than receiving God’s healing was being the center of attention.  She had become comfortable in her condition and was satisfied with the sympathy of others.

The picture that came into my mind was of a person lifting their hands to God in supplication asking for a gift from Him, but their hands were full of tightly clenched “other stuff”.  Even if God offered to give what was requested they would have to release what they currently had to receive the gift from the Lord.  And many are not willing.

Lest you mistakenly think I am condescending in this, please know that the hands I am seeing are my own.  This is not simply a believer versus non-believer issue.  This is true of all gifts and all growth in faith.  As a believer I have grown by steps and stalls.  I can see that some of the stalls have been when I have tightly held onto a thing, a desire, a belief, that the Lord wanted me to lay down.  And the steps have been when in obedient trust I have released and lifted open hands to Him for whatever He has in store.  In some cases it was a blessing pure and simple.  In others it was a blessing disguised as a trial, but a blessing none-the-less.

For the person who does not yet know the Lord, the things they hold onto can cause them to miss out on the greatest gift of all, a relationship with the living Lord.  Holding onto pain from the past, unforgiveness toward someone, lifestyle choices contrary to God’s plan are all abundant life limiters.  The Lord is a good, good Father.  He is perfect in how He parents.  He is neither over-indulgent nor overly stern.  And like any good Father, He enjoys blessing His children.

Today, I encourage you to ask the Lord, “What is it I’m holding onto that I need to release?”  And then listen… and obey.  The second question is then totally appropriate.  “Lord, what do you want me to receive?”  The follow up to this question is a bit more open-ended.  He may answer that long requested prayer… or put a new desire in your heart… or simply bless you with His overwhelming peace.  Regardless, you can know that in releasing what’s in your hand, you make room for God’s “something better” in your life.  And that’s the path to the abundant life He desires each of us to experience.

Read Full Post »

A recurring prayer for me goes something like this.  “Thank you Lord for all the blessings you’ve poured out on my family and on me.  I don’t deserve it, but I thank you for it.”  And then I wonder why I am so favored.  Now I need to put this in context before I go too far.  We have had our share of difficulties.  Perhaps not the tragedies some have experienced, but difficulties just the same – my wife’s shattered leg in 2012, my near heart attack in 2014, my job loss at the beginning of 2015, my broken shoulder in 2017 to name a few.  Yet, whatever direction I look, I see God’s goodness poured out… not just on me, but on so many people that I know.  He is indeed good… all the time.  And I wonder anew, “Lord why are you so good to me?”  Today as I have thought of this I think I have at least a little different perspective to share.

Being a father for 33 years, I know a daddy’s love for his children.  We just finished souvenir shopping for our four children and four grandchildren.  This is my wife’s time to lead and I dutifully follow.  As I watch and respond to her questions I realize she is seeking the perfect balance.  She wants to get them something they will enjoy, but that is also beneficial.  No to excess sugar and candy, yes to clothing that says laid-back Hawaii.  No to things with sharp edges or that can choke a little one, yes to cuddly and cute.  Since God is the perfect Father, He wants to give us gifts that achieve that perfect balance in our lives.  He knows our talents, our personality, our likes and dislikes.  He knows what is best for us.  His gifts are meant to draw us to himself since a deep and growing relationship with Him is what we are created for.  And just like giving gifts to our children warms my wife’s heart, I sense that God is also pleased when He is able to give us good gifts that bring us joy.  Oh, and when we recognize and give Him thanks, the mutual joy is amplified.

I believe the Father loves to hear us laugh and this is frequently one of the purposes of God’s blessings.  In some cases it may be the only reason.  But at other times God has multiple motives behind the gift given.

Being open to and responsive to the Lord’s leading in gift-receiving and gift-giving is an acquired wisdom.  God will bless us so that we can in turn bless others.  Giving of tithes and offerings is a tangible demonstration of finding our place in God’s economy of blessing.  Less formal but just as important is being open to the Holy Spirit’s leading to provide help for someone when the Lord prompts us to.  Our home group purchased a moped for a young woman in difficult circumstances recently and we know it was a God assignment.  Today we are excited to see what God is going to do through this simple act of passing His blessing on.

There is one other aspect that I believe the Lord wants us to understand about His blessing, but I hesitate for fear I will not be able to adequately explain.  It is that obedience brings blessing.  As we live life the way God desires us to live, we will experience His protection, His provision, and His favor.  The Holy Scriptures contain God’s blueprint for life.  Everything necessary to know how to enter a personal relationship with the Creator of the Universe is there.  However, it is spiritually discerned.  That means God Himself must be living within us by His Holy Spirit for us to read, understand, and apply the truth contained in the scriptures.  Sadly just knowing the scriptures isn’t enough.  The Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day were thoroughly knowledgeable of the scriptures, yet they crucified the one the scriptures foretold.

There is a progression in this flow.  The first is to recognize that there is a Creator of all that is.  He has been called many things… El Sahddai, Elohim, The LORD God, Almighty God, but it is safe to call Him God.

Second is to search for Truth.  When we honestly and openly search for Truth, asking God to guide us to Truth we will run into Jesus.  There are numerous reasons this is true, but suffice today I’ll point out the one I know to be true and unassailable.  Jesus’ resurrection proves He was Who He said He was – God’s one and only Son, sent to redeem mankind through His sacrificial death on the cross.

Third, once we recognize Jesus for Who He says He is, it is only right to surrender our life to Him and take up the life He is calling us to.  It is a life of dying to poor life choices, bad decisions, and irresponsibility.  It is letting go of living according to your own agenda and morality and learning how to live a life that aligns with God’s game plan for life.  It is saying yes to Jesus in how we live.

Fourth is to ask Jesus to help us to know Him better and to live the life God desires us to live.  Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help us live life the way God intends.  He never takes away our ability to choose whether to follow or not.  In fact He partners with us in the work of transformation, but He will do the heavy lifting if we simply turn to Him and ask for His help.

As we live a life of consistent obedience, God’s blessings will flow.  It is not that we are immune to difficulties, but knowing God and trusting Him provides a solid place to stand even when all around is shaking and unsettled.  And when we thank Him in the midst of the hard and difficult, when our suffering is wrapped in thanking God for being with us in the storm, we will know His peace and comfort, which is one of the greatest of His blessings to His children.

As I shared in an earlier post, my wife and I are celebrating our 33rd anniversary in Hawaii.  I am going to post a few more pics of our trip for those who are interested.  The week has contained a snapshot of life.  We’ve experienced a good bit of clouds, rain, and wind.  The conditions were not always ideal.  But through it all God has been with us, showing us His love and care.  We have thrilled with new adventures and quiet times together.  Today the sun broke through and it is gloriously beautiful.  It happened just in time for a morning helicopter ride… with the doors off and a sunset on Waikiki Beach.

Wherever you are in life, know that God loves you and He is for you.  If you are at one of those points of progression that I mention above and you would like to know more, please drop me a comment.  I would be happy to chat and pray.  It’s what I’m supposed to do.  In the meantime, enjoy the pics. and be blessed today.  And don’t forget to pass the blessing on!

Read Full Post »

Joy and happiness are not the same.  Happiness is the light-hearted feeling we get when something goes our way.  An unexpected gift, our sports team winning, loved ones gathering together are all events that can produce happiness.  However happiness is transient.  When the positive stimuli is removed happiness drains away like water from a tub when the stopper is removed.  Happiness is based upon circumstances.  Therefore it ebbs and flows as our circumstances change.  Happiness is nice, but joy is so much better.

Joy is the uplifted feeling we have based upon the knowledge of spiritual truth.  Joy is first cousin to Peace.  They both emanate from a relationship with the living Lord and are responses to His promises and activity in our life.  Let’s follow the progression.  In John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed in Him Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”  In John 20:19 – 22 Jesus returned to the disciples immediately after His resurrection. He twice blessed them with His Peace and then breathed upon them imparting the Holy Spirit to them.  They were prepared to experience the Joy of the Lord in an on-going manner.  We have only to look at what happened a few weeks later at Pentecost (Acts 2) to see how the Lord poured out His Holy Spirit in a mighty, joy-filled torrent that stirred the city of Jerusalem and brought thousands into the church with one inspired teaching.

One way Joy is distinctly different from happiness is that it is independent of our circumstances.  Corrie Ten Boom was a believer imprisoned by the Nazi’s for aiding Jews.  In the midst of the horrid conditions of a Nazi concentration camp Corrie experienced the Joy of the Lord.  I think of the Stephen in His defense of the faith in Acts chapter 7.  The Word describes his beautiful countenance just prior to being martyred and I believe the Joy of the Lord was upon him.

Scripture tells us numerous times that the Joy of the Lord is our strength.  In a war it is vitally important to fight from a position of strength.  In military parlance that means things like holding the high ground, possessing detailed information about the enemy and their strategy, building superior forces through weaponry, training, and numbers.  In the spiritual realm it is just as important to fight from a position of strength.  Lest anyone fail to recognize that as a believer we are in a war, I simply point out that the world, the flesh, and the devil are all active antagonists against the church and those who follow the Lord Jesus.  So one crucial element of our position of strength is the Joy the Lord.  The parallel with physical warfare is that Joy is spiritual high ground.

Sadly many who profess the name of Jesus as Lord fail to walk in the Joy of the Lord.  All of us will have times when we struggle with our relationships.  Our relationship with the Lord is the foundation from which the Joy wells up.  Let me be clear, we are not to seek joy for the sake of having a constant happy feeling.  We are to seek the Lord and one by-product of that intimacy is the Joy of the Lord.  If your life does not reflect an over-riding, exuberant Joy at times, let me encourage you not to give up believing that it exists and is available to you.  The Lord’s desire is that we walk in intimacy with Him and experience His Joy is abundance.  Here are some practical steps to that end.

  1. Enter into a relationship with the Jesus.  We do this by recognizing we are separated from Him due to sin.  He has made a way though.  We simply turn away from our sin, believing that He died in our place, ask Him to come into our life, and then confess the truth that Jesus is Lord to others.
  2. Seek to grow in that grace by constantly looking for and taking your next step of faith.  If you just came to faith then find a bible-believing church and be baptized.  Another next step is to get involved in serving others through a local church.
  3. Read the Word of God consistently and prayerfully and do what it says.  I suggest a focus upon the teachings of Jesus, but include some from the old testament and the other books of the new testament as well.  When you read ask the Lord to make it come alive.
  4. Pray often.  Prayer is a dialogue with God.  He wants to speak to us.  One important balance that I have found is that when the Lord speaks to me it is often through His Word.  The times it is not specifically words from the bible it is always aligned with what the bible teaches.
  5. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit that you may understand more and more of what He is calling you to do and how to live.  As I look back over my life I see that Joy was present when I was obedient to what the Lord asked me to do.  And conversely, a lack of Joy describes the times when I was not actively seeking to know and please the Lord.

Don’t settle for less than God’s best.  Don’t substitute the world’s happiness for God’s joy.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His (our heavenly Father’s) kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” As we pour ourselves into knowing, growing, and pleasing God, He will fill our cup with everything we need… including a joy that will run out and over the cup touching lives around us in dramatic, life-changing ways.

Have a most blessed day today my friend.  An don’t forget to let your light so shine before men that they see and recognize your Father in Heaven.

Read Full Post »