Tag Archives: blessings

Ezekiel 6-10; Know that God is the LORD

When I read about the devastation that God’s children were about to face, I can get caught up in the brutality of it all. God was relentless in His discipline of His disobedient people. But I’m reminded that the discipline, the severe consequences for their sin isn’t really the point.

I was struck at the number of times God said these awful things were going to happen so the people would KNOW that He is the Lord.

Friend, there are severe consequences for sin. There is no getting around it. But God would rather you see Him. He reveals Himself in those hard times. But He also reveals Himslef in nature, in blessings, in the beauty of life, in His written Word. And the God I know would rather you see Him in the good times, recognize Him as the One True God, and make Him Lord of your life before He has to punish you. He would much rather bless you as His child.

Read God’s Word. Get to know Him. Look for the ways He is trying to get your attention. Then bow before Him, obey Him, and allow Him to pour out His blessings on you.

The alternative is devastating.

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Jeremiah 43-45; If You… I Will…

“God, I promise if You’ll heal my loved one, I’ll start going back to church.” “If you let me have this promotion, or win the lottery, I promise I’ll give lots of money to missions.” “Just answer my prayer and I’ll do whatever you want.”

That’s exactly what the Jews told Jeremiah. But the Jews, like most of us, couldn’t or wouldn’t keep their end of the bargain.

I imagine most of us have been at a point sometime in our lives when we find ourselves trying to cut a deal with God. “If You… I will…” Scripture is very clear, however. God is NOT the Great Negotiator.

Do any of us really think God wants us to love Him so much He’d let us determine the rules of the relationship? Do we think God is so weak He gives in to our lip service like a young mother trying to get her toddler to obey?

Here’s the deal: God is God. Obey Him. Period.

He says if we obey we’ll be blessed. If we don’t obey, there are severe consequences to pay. There is no room for negotiation. God doesn’t need to hear our lofty promises. He demands to see our obedience.

The next time you are tempted to make some promise to God in exchange for something you want, save your breath. There is only one “If you… I will…” that God honors. And He’ll honor it every time. It’s when He says to us…

“If you obey Me, I will bless You.”

 

Isaiah 40-43; Hold On To Your Hats

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Reading these chapters today has me praising God, not only for what He does for His children (which is nothing short of amazing), but in the reality of who He is. I hope you’ll read these chapters today for yourself. Be ready to have your socks knocked off!

It starts off with God wanting to comfort us, to assure us His Word will stand forever. It was true back then, it’s true today, and it will be true a thousand years from now. There is something very reassuring about that fact. I don’t have to wonder, or stress, or hope what I believe is right. If it’s in there… it’s true!

Isaiah tells us God is exactly who He says He is. He’s the God above all gods, the Creator, and the Savior. There is no one like Him. Lift up your eyes and look to the Creator who gives strength to us who hope in the Lord. He gives us everything we need to face our day, and in every situation. He upholds his children (me and you) in His right hand. Doesn’t that give you confidence and peace?

I love 41:17-20. We are thirsty, but God doesn’t just give us a drink. He turns our desert into pools of water, flowing rivers, and bubbling springs. And He doesn’t even stop there. He grows shade trees, fragrant trees, and food-producing trees to sustain us.

I think that’s what Paul meant when he honored God as the one “who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) We ask for a sip of water, God opens the flood gates!

Isaiah points us to Jesus who opens blind eyes, and sets captives free. He is God! He loves us, redeems us, forgives our sins and promises to never remember them ever again, and He takes us by the hand to guide us.

Isaiah 43:2 is a treasure you can take to the bank.

Oh dear one, take time to read these words God inspired Isaiah to write. But hold on to your hat. You’re going to be blown away. Then join me in praising God, the One who deserves our praise.

Psalms 96-101; Joy Unspeakable

Have you ever experienced joy to the point you thought your heart would burst? The day you looked into the eyes of the love of your life and said, “I do”? Holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time? Taking that dandelion from chubby fingers, stretched out to present you with their treasure? Receiving an “all clear” from your doctor? Watching a sunset?

What do you do with that joy? These psalms tell me that praising God is the steam value on a pressure cooker. Praise is a natural expression of heart-filling joy. If you read these psalms you’ll see dozens of reasons to praise God.

96:4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise…

97:1 The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

97:9 For you, O Lord are the Most High over all the earth…

98:1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things…

But let’s be careful. The joy we receive is a result of God’s grace, His mercy and love. When we understand that, we can only respond like Ebenezer Scrooge did after spending the night hanging out with the spirits: “I don’t deserve to be so happy, I just can’t help it.”

Because true happiness, real joy comes from a right relationship through the precious blood of Jesus. Knowing your sins are forgiven, having fellowship with God can bring joy unspeakable. But let’s not make joy or happiness our goal. If we do, we are worshiping idols.

Praise God for who He is. Worship God because He deserves it. Recognize how blessed you are, and tell Him so. Let Him know how blown away you are at the thought of Him. Then experience that indescribable joy that does not come from things or circumstances. That indescribable, unspeakable joy is God Himself.

 

Psalms 40-44; Snap Out Of It

Have you ever felt blue (as my mom would say) or depressed, and then scolded yourself because you don’t have any reason to feel that way? You’re healthy, you have a job, a home, food on the table, your kids are ok, and the sun is shining? I have. David did.

In Psalm 42 David asks several times: “Why are you downcast, O my soul?” In other words, “What’s wrong with you, David?”

Often, when my own soul is downcast, I begin to remind myself of all the ways I’m blessed, as though remembering those things should snap me out of it. Then I end up feeling worse when it doesn’t. I tell myself, “What’s wrong with you, Connie? Shame on you. You shouldn’t be down. Look at all the reasons you have to be happy.”

Yeah. That helps.

In fact, it often pulls me further down. Because now I’m not only downcast, I feel guilty about feeling downcast.

A couple of things came to mind as I read these psalms today. First, I need to search my heart to see if these feelings are coming from unconfessed sin. Is this God’s gentle hand of conviction on my life? Is my sorrow a result of my putting distance between my Savior and me? If that’s the case, what I need is repentance. I need to confess my sin and allow God to wash me clean.

Oh, what joy!

Secondly, constantly reminding myself of all the things in my life that should make me happy is destructive on a couple levels. It implies that people who struggle financially, or who are sick, or whose children are troubled don’t deserve to be happy. Do we really think we are only blessed if we have “things”?

I think the beginning of Psalm 42 contains the key for upcasting a downcast soul. It’s that thirst for God Himself, it’s that hope that we have in Him, it’s the trust we have in His unfailing love, the Presence of the Comforter. It’s not what makes me happy, but Who.

I really don’t even like to use the word “happy” because we aren’t promised happiness, are we? I have a friend who is dying of cancer. She’s not happy about it. But you can’t spend ten minutes in her presence without recognizing her joy. You would not describe her soul as downcast. Does she shed tears for her husband and kids? Yes. Does she pray for physical healing so that some day she can enjoy being a grandma? Yes. But those things, as precious as they are, are not her source of joy. Her relationship with Jesus is.

I hope you will read Psalm 40 today if you read nothing else. Listen to some of what David wrote:

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God… Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust… may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, “The Lord be exalted!”

Are you living with a downcast spirit? I won’t tell you to snap out of it. But I will tell you to turn your focus, you thoughts, your energy toward God. Praise Him. Love Him. Let Him snap you out of it.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in his glorious face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.
(H. H. Lemmel)

 

Job 20-21; Zophar, Part 2

Let’s get one thing straight. People die. Godly people die. Ungodly people die. There are godly people who live to a ripe old age, and there are godly people who die young. The same can be said for ungodly people.

Furthermore, no matter what Zophar would have you believe, there are wicked, evil people who are living long lives of luxurious, seemingly carefree lives, while there are godly people without homes or food. The opposite is true as well.

It’s tempting to equate God’s blessings with the things we can see. I will say God blessed me with a career for 37 years which has allowed me to live comfortably in my aging years. God has blessed me with good health, a loving family, a precious church fellowship. The sun is shining today. The sky is blue. And I have eyes that can see it all.

I could go on. But you get the picture. Some of the blessings I enjoy today come as a result of choices I made along the way. I don’t apologize for that or feel guilty because someone else made different choices. But I clearly know nothing I have, no blessing that I’ve been given is deserved. God doesn’t owe me a good life.

In fact, if I did get what I deserve, I would be one miserable lady.

I guess as I read the conversations between Job and his friends, I am reminded that it is useless to try to explain why things happen in this life. I mean, I can say the reason someone gets lung cancer is because he smoked for forty years. But then how do I explain the one who gets lung cancer and never smoked?

Here’s what struck me as I read Zophar’s second speech and Job’s reply: If I really thought only ungodly people receive devastating doctor’s reports, why am I not stopping everyone from undergoing chemo, and instead get them to accept Jesus? Why don’t I pray with all the homeless people I see so God will give them houses?

I should be talking to cancer patients and homeless people (and neighbors, co-workers, family members) about Jesus. Not for anything they can see. But because their eternity depends on it.

Zohar was right about one thing. “the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts for a moment.” In light of eternity, the “blessings” people enjoy on this earth are merely a blink of an eye.

Do you believe that? Regardless of bank accounts, health reports, popularity, or influence, we all will stand before a Holy God one day and give an account for the choices we made while we were enjoying, or struggling with, life on planet Earth. If you know Jesus as your Savior, that’s all God will need to know. Account paid. Good job, dear one. Let the party begin.

But if your choices haven’t included asking God to forgive you, and accepting what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross, you’re on your own. Good luck trying to defend yourself before a Holy God. Do you honestly think you’ll match up? Really?

Let’s not get bogged down by things we can see. Let’s not waste time trying to understand God’s ways. His ways are not like ours. But let’s look at the true, and eternal blessing that comes from knowing Him personally. And let’s makes sure others know how they can be blessed in the same way.

 

2 Chronicles 25-28; It’s None Of Your Business

Have you ever been obviously blessed by God, and thought, “Wow. I don’t deserve that”? First of all, that should be our response every day. Every breath we breathe, every beat of our hearts, are blessings we don’t deserve.

But I trust you have enjoyed the direct blessings of obedience, too. Maybe God lays on your heart to give sacrificially to your church, then your boss gives you a raise. Or you visit that cranky neighbor when God nudges you, and you have the privilege of leading that person to the Lord. The Bible is full of examples when obedience results in great blessing.

But before you get too satisfied with yourself because of the amazing ways God has blessed you, read 2 Chronicles 28. Israel had just had victory over their brothers in Judah. 120,000 soldiers in Judah were killed, hostages and plunder taken. But the Israeli army, on their way home after God had blessed them so dramatically, were met by the prophet Obed. Listen to what he said to them:

Because the Lord, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand… But aren’t you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God? (verses 9-10)

In other words, listen up boys. You aren’t “all that.” You were blessed because God was disciplining Judah. Don’t get too comfortable. You are just as guilty as they. And God always punishes disobedience.

Sometimes we might be tempted to be jealous when some jerk seems to get all the breaks, while you struggle. And you’re so much better than he.

What God reminded me today is that I don’t know the whole story like He does. How God is dealing with someone is none of my business. God draws people to Himself through good times, and bad times. And He never lets me in on His methods of the heart.

If I am focused on someone else’s fortune, or if I become too prideful with God’s blessings in my own life, I need to brace myself. Sin is knocking at the door. I’d better confess it, ask God to forgive it, and be the person He wants ME to be. Anything else is none of my business.