I have had a very hard week but feel blessed by God. That started me thinking about blessings and where scripture tells us we are blessed. What does blessing look like to God? First, I wanted to start with a definition of blessing. The dictionary says: a gift of divine favor, good wishes or approval, anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune. I can see my week’s events were a blessing as God granted me divine favor and prevented severe misfortune.
Psalm 1 is a great place to start looking at blessings or being blessed. This psalm describes the way of the believer and the blessings that way brings.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The blessed man doesn’t seriously listen to the advice of unbelievers, do the things they do or make fun of godly things. The blessed man loves God’s Word and thinks about it all the time. He is deeply rooted by God and shows growth in both his faith and his life. He prospers in all he does. The psalmist contrasts this picture of one who loves God with the unbeliever.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Unbelievers are tossed to and fro with the ideas of the world. They are not grounded in God’s Word and faith in Him so they will perish.
As you meditate today, think about your life and ask yourself, Am I like the blessed man? Do I hunger after God’s Word and think about it a lot? Am I deeply rooted in God’s Word, and am I standing firm in faith where ever God has me? If your answers are yes, you are on you way towards blessings. Being in God’s Word and walking in God’s way gives happiness and guides us away from misfortune. Even if we go through hard times Jesus is with us. Therefore, by definition we are blessed!
Count your blessings today as you strive to walk with Him in His way,
I have struggled these first few weeks of January as it seems I can’t get things to run smoothly. Yesterday I sought solace in God’s Word and Job 42:1-6 brought me comfort. I was touched by the Message version.
42 1-6 Job answered God:
“I’m convinced: You can do anything and everything. I’m comforted by God’s
Nothing and no one can upset your plans. Sovereignty.
You asked, ‘Who is this muddying the water,
ignorantly confusing the issue, second-guessing my purposes?’
I admit it. I was the one. I babbled on about things far beyond me,
made small talk about wonders way over my head. I’m talking and not
You told me, ‘Listen, and let me do the talking. listening.
Let me ask the questions. You give the answers.’
I admit I once lived by rumors of you;
now I have it all firsthand—from my own eyes and ears! I do know you!
I’m sorry—forgive me. I’ll never do that again, I promise!
I’ll never again live on crusts of hearsay, crumbs of rumor.”
As I read this passage, I identified with Job. I too question God’s wisdom and His perfect plan. I forget that He alone is Sovereign. I tend to run on about things and not take time to listen to Him in prayer and in the Word. Thankfully, I do know Him and have experienced God first hand in my life. I know He is truth and He will fill me with His love and mercy if I turn to Him.
Prayer: Father, I do know you and trust in your plans for me. I know who you are and of your love and grace. You do not do to me what I deserve but shower me with grace and mercy. Thank you Jesus for loving me and keeping me in the palm of your hand. You shield and comfort me in hard times. You bring me joy and hope everlasting day after day. Create in me a clean heart that is focused upon you and not the swirling world around me. Help me, like Job, to cling to you and your truth with a repentant heart. Amen.
Have a blessed day living in the light provided and protected by Sovereign, Almighty God.
The first few weeks of January I write about goals, motivation, change, etc. This morning God has laid on my heart the idea of rising up and going. That may sound weird, but where do you get your get up and go? What makes you want to get up in the morning and pursue your day? For the believer, it is partly motivated by their understanding that God has a purpose for each day. I love Lamentations 3:22-24 and here it is from the Message, which may bring new meaning to these verses for you, “God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.” Knowing that God’s love and mercy are new each morning gives us hope and the ability to start a new day.
Another motivation for the believer can be taken from Acts 3:6-8 when Peter healed the man that had been lame from birth at the Beautiful Gate in Jerusalem. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” Then look what happened in verse 8 “And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” How about you? Has Jesus healed you in mind, body or spirit? What is your life’s reaction to that healing? Are you leaping and walking and praising God in your life? Today is the day to begin!
Each day, each year are new opportunities for us to walk, talk and live praising God. Let’s determine today to live that way. Put a smile on your face and live like you mean it because you know that God loves you, has mercies ready for you and wants to hear your praise as you journey through this day.
Walk with Him towards a day of blessing,
How do you do with change? Making resolutions for change are very common this time of year. It is a hope within us that with a new year we can have a new beginning, a redo, or a fresh start. Psalm 102:25-28 came to mind as a place to reflect on change. “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you will remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,
27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;
their offspring shall be established before you.”
We can rest assured that God’s plans for you and me have not changed since the foundation of the world. Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Our heart attitudes, desires, plans and schemes change from year to year but God is unchanging. Knowing that God does not change His plans, love, mercy, compassion, guidance, help…in the ever changing world that surrounds us gives us hope.
It is good to plan and try to incorporate change into our lives like spending more time in prayer, studying and reading God’s Word, exercising, eating healthy, spending more time with family, working on projects to help others, etc. All of those can be good things to help us reach a world in great need of a Savior. Ponder these words from Proverbs 19:20, 21 and 23 today as you pray about plans and change in the New Year.
Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21 Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
23 The fear of the Lord leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
May God bless you today with a renewed spirit of love and devotion to our unchanging God.
Happy New Year! I can’t believe 2018 is done and we are ready to embark on 2019. At this time of year we wonder what the year will bring- changes in places, people, relationships and even jobs. It is a good time to take a closer look at our relationship with God and reevaluate our commitment and devotion to Him. God never changes. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Psalm 33:11, “But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” These are just a few verses that reassure us that God is immutable and never changes. Knowing that fact about God, we can look more closely at ourselves, our attitudes and actions.
How do I remain faithful to a faithful God? God reassured the children of Israel when they were taken into captivity in Babylon that He would be their sanctuary. He alone would hold them steady in faith. Ezekiel 11:19 “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” God promises to put a new spirit within us and remove our heart of stone- attitudes of rebellion, faithlessness, unbelief, despair, rejection…. God can and will remove those from you and give you a NEW SPIRIT for the New Year. He will give you a heart that is loving, compassionate, believing, and filled with hope. How do you get this new heart and spirit? In Christ alone our hope is found. 1 John 5:11-12 describe our hope. “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Belief in Jesus, commitment to Him in gratitude and service is a place to begin. Repentance of past sins and asking forgiveness brings us to our knees and realigns our hearts with Him.
Celebrate your life in Christ, your hope in Christ and be assured that God will give you a new heart and a new spirit to live triumphantly in Him this year! 2019 Bring it on! We’re ready with a repentant heart looking to our Savior.
This last Sunday of 2018 where is your focus? Handel turns our thoughts to Christ’s return and the changes it will bring as he nears the completion of his work in 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. “Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” Wow! Now that will be a transformation! In a nanosecond in time we will be changed as we hear the trumpet signaling Christ’s return. We do not know when this will happen, but can be assured that it will happen just as Christ said. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 addresses the time of His return. “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” We don’t know the day or time so we need to be ever ready for His return. John ends his vision in Revelation 22:20 with this hope. “He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
Praise our Savior today as you worship! Revel in all He has done and will do in the future for you and me. As you look to 2019, pray for His return and stand with new hope and assurance that He will help you to overcome all obstacles that lie ahead. Praise Him for the victory that will be yours in Christ as you seek to follow Him each new day.
Enjoy the music and lovely pictures.
During this Advent Season, I journeyed each day using Handel’s Messiah as my guide. On Christmas Day I ended with the Hallelujah Chorus which seemed so fitting for the celebration of our Savior’s birth. The third and last portion of the Messiah focuses on Christ’s return and reign. I could not leave this wonderful piece without including a few more days in Part 3. It begins with Job 19:25-26. Job is in discussion with his friends who encourage suffering Job to curse and reject God. Job however, relies upon God’s justice and speaks these words of encouragement to his friends that echo throughout the ages.
“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,”
How has your year gone? How did you face the trials that the year brought? Did you see time like Job as a journey that is led by hope in your Redeemer? Or did you get bogged down in the daily struggle and lose sight of who was walking with you each day and who was there for you to lean upon? Job had confidence that He served a living God that will someday reign on earth. Even if he dies before this happens, he has the faith that he will live to see God. Do you share that conviction with Job? Peter shares our hope in Christ and echos Job’s conviction in 1 Peter 1:3-7. Trials of life come but our hope remains steadfast in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Let’s end this year by turning our focus back upon God, claiming the assurance and Hope of Job, that our Redeemer truly Lives!
I was thinking this morning about the designation ‘Black Friday’. It seems that since the 1950’s the day after Thanksgiving has been called ‘Black Friday’. It began as a term to describe the crowds, like the street was black with pedestrians. It then became a day to retailers signifying when they began to turn a profit and moved from the ‘red’ into the ‘black’ as the volume of their sales increased. In the Bible the blackest Friday would be the day of the crucifixion. It was the day when the skies turned black and darkness covered the land. “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23:44-46 The blackness of that Friday is a picture of the sin that Jesus bore on the cross for you and me. His death was the darkest day that brought the greatest profit for us. John 12:46 puts it in perspective for us as to why that blackest of Friday’s had to happen. “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
Even on that blackest of Fridays, the people were rushing around preparing for their Sabbath. Since they could do no work on the Sabbath, they rushed to get Jesus down from the cross, hastily buried and settled in a borrowed tomb. Mark 15:42-47 describes these events done in haste. After the Sabbath was over, several women came back to the tomb to anoint Jesus with spices as his burial had been done in such a hurry they felt they had not been able to treat his body properly on that Friday. “When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.” Mark 16:1 Their walk to the grave site was done in sadness but their return was joyous as the learned of Jesus’ resurrection and defeat of sin and death. An angel spoke to them when they got there, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” What joyous news they had to share!
That blackest of Friday bringing death to Jesus and a hasty burial brought the greatest profit to you and me. Colossians 1:21-22 explains where we were on the black Friday and where we are now because of it. “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” That was the the biggest gain or profit for mankind ever in history. Christ reconciled us to God so that we can be in communion with Him and have our sin’s forgiven. We are free to live a life in Christ that is pleasing to God that is free from the penalty of death brought on by sin. That Black Friday was the best one in history for you and me.
As you venture out today to do some shopping, think about that blackest of Friday’s and how much you gained through Christ. Praise Him as you do.
“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.” 1 Chronicles 16:8
This is a great way to view the opportunities we have a Thanksgiving time to share with our family and friends the many things God has done for us during the year. Going around the table and naming our thanks, putting words to what our hearts know gives glory to God as we praise Him.
Here is another verse to stimulate your thankfulness- Hebrews 12:28 “Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.” Spend time thinking about the unshakable kingdom we have access to through Jesus. His kingdom is without end, holy and pure, a place of hope and security, a place of worship and love, unchanging and permanently held in place by God, ordered and governed by righteousness and presided over by Jesus. Having head and heart knowledge of God’s glorious kingdom leads us to praise and worship that is filled with reverence and amazement. I am always brought to my knees when I consider the power and greatness of my Savior. His sacrifice was great so that I may know and experience His kingdom during my life now and into the future.
As we approach this wonderful holiday time, take time to put words and thoughts to your thanks both to your family and to God. Thank Him for all He has done, is doing and will do for you. He is an awesome God worthy of all our praises!
In Colossians Paul talks about specific areas in our lives that should create thankfulness within us. “15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. 16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:15-17 NLT
Paul teaches that we are to be thankful always for the peaceful living that is possible for us as brothers and sisters in Christ as we work together for the cause of Christ. Next, he reminds us that our worship should reflect our thankfulness to God. Lastly, Paul explains that we need to be thankful to God as we are able to speak as a representative of Christ because of His sacrifice for us.
One of the key elements in our thankfulness is the peaceful living in Christ we experience towards one another causing us to be thankful always. Singing praises to God creates in us a state of worshipful living in the presence of God causing us to have grateful hearts and because of Christ we can be His representatives living in and with Him causing us to give thanks through Him.
May the peace you experience this season of Thanksgiving with your brothers and sisters in Christ make you always thankful. May your times of worship be rich and fill your heart with gratefulness and may your times of sharing about Christ remind you that you speak for Him to others and cause you to give thanks though Him.
Thankful always for you -my brothers and sisters in Christ,