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Archive for the ‘blessing’ Category

 

Believe him to be the Son of God,
and you will find him wonder upon
wonder, counsel upon counsel.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

A few years ago, I was introduced to Dietrich Bonhoeffer through a play that depicted an interaction between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  Ever since that introduction, I have read something by Bonhoeffer at least once a year.

Recently, I continued reading Life Together by Bonhoeffer.  Undoubtedly, it reminds me of the kindred spirit that Bonhoeffer offers me through his discourse on the concept of community to people of faith.  In all fairness, Bonhoeffer shares some inspirational words that should cause us all to pause for a moment and realize the true value of our Christian community despite the shortcomings and mistakes of our humanity.
I also started reading I Want to Live These Days with You, a daily devotional by Bonhoeffer.  I had read through it previously back in 2006 and 2009.  As I prepared for 2013, I decided to return to the devotional once again.  I had done the same with My Utmost for His Highest by Chambers and Morning and Evening by Spurgeon.

I suggest that most believers could glean something from Bonhoeffer’s writings.  He provides the reader with both inspiration and insight.

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O taste and see that the LORD is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!- Psalm 34:8

The psalm shares how taking refuge in the Lord can cause one to be blessed.  In fact, it starts this particular verse with an intriguing invitation to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” It is an entreat, starting with “O.” It implores and beseeches the one who reads or hears it read to pay close attention to what is being said.  It calls upon one to open his or her ears and eyes to what is being laid out.

O taste and see. . .

In other words, the psalm writer is beckoning others to come and try the Lord out for themselves.  He doesn’t simply say for others to take his word for it.  He offers others the opportunity to taste and see about the Lord on their own.  He assures them that once they have tasted of what the Lord has to offer that they will see just how good He truly is to those who seek Him.

Beyond everything else, the psalm shares how taking refuge in the Lord can lead to one being blessed by the Lord.  You do not have to keep running around and looking here and there.  Run to the Lord.  Seek refuge in Him.  Go to the Lord.  Flee to Him.  Make haste and come unto Him.  He alone can bless you beyond belief.  God alone can bestow blessing upon you that surpass your own imagination.

Try to recall the last time that you invited someone to taste of the Lord’s goodness and see for themselves.  Offer the invitation to the blessing of a lifetime to someone who may be near and dear to you.  Share it with a perfect stranger.  Put it on your Facebook status.  Tweet it in a direct message to a friend.  You’ve already tasted of His sweetness.  Share it with someone else.

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NIV Thinline Bible6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.- John 5:6-8 (NIV)

Expect A Miracle, My Life and MinistryThe Greatest Adventure Stories From the Bible: The Miracles of JesusOral Roberts is quoted as sharing how Jesus desires to heal the whole person, not just the part that is ailing them.  Jesus asked the man who laid among many invalids such as the blind and lame did he want to be made well.  He did not ask if the man wanted to get his feet healed or to get help moving into the pool as the angel troubled the water.  No, Jesus asked the man about his desire to be made whole.  Jesus asks this of the lame man by the pool.  The lame man lacked initiative to the point where he did not ask anything of Jesus.  When asked by Jesus, he just went into his sob story about not having anyone to push him into the pool.

Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?: Healings in the Gospels Jesus did not ask that.

Despite the man’s response, Jesus healed him.  Jesus helped him.  Jesus performed a miracle in the midst of the lame and the sick.  He did so for this man and commanded him to do something for himself, too.

Jesus expects the same of you.  He wants you to get up off your duff and do something.  He’s not healing you from your wounds for your own good.  He’s not helping you just for the sake of helping you.  I have said it before and I will say it again: God wants something for us and He wants something from us.  Perhaps, some of us are not getting what God wants for us because we are not giving God what He wants from us.

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Fox's Book of MartyrsOr A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and TriumphantDeaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” – Romans 12:14 (NKJV)

The words of Paul to the believers in Rome seem odd in retrospect.  Coming from a man who had once persecuted the early church, these words seem to carry a peculiar connotation.

“Bless those who persecute you. . .”

The Sermon on the Mount: The Key to Success in LifeIt rings with some familiarity.  It almost echoes the words of Jesus Christ when He said: “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. . .” He spoke of a new twist on an Old Testament way of thinking.  The words of Paul in Romans share striking similarities to those of Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount.

What the Holy Spirit Does in a Believer's Life (Christian Living/Classics) (Believer's Life Series)Beyond the natural inclination to strike back, the Christian is to be filled with the Holy SpiritThe spirit is to reign and rule in the life of the believer so much that the believer lives by the Spirit.  The believer is to submit to the Spirit working in his or her life.  By doing so, the believer submits to the will of God in his or her life.

Jesus Freaks: Martyrs: Stories of Those Who Stood for Jesus: The Ultimate Jesus FreaksStrength to LoveOppressive forces keep many in poverty and under persecution. The contemporary Christian band dc Talk wrote Jesus Freaks that shared stories of Christian martyrs and political prisoners throughout the world over the years since the early church was established.  Amazingly, the common threads throughout these stories are the faith and ability of Christians to love their enemies while still living under persecution.

What should we learn to do as Christians? Turn the other cheek? Seek an eye for an eye? Bless others.  Bless them by our words.  Bless them by the way we conduct ourselves.  Seek to live at peace with all men. 

Conversion on the Road to Damascus Giclee Poster Print by Gustave Doré, 30x40Bless them despite being belittled and bewildered.  Bless them and go beyond payback.  Bless them that they may come to know Christ.  After all, isn’t that what happened with Paul? Isn’t that why he, of all of the people one could imagine, could say such things after having zealously persecuted the church and being pursued by the Jewish rulers?

“Bless those who persecute you. . .”
God Bless the USA - Other magnets

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Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of BeginningsThen Jacob called his sons and said, “Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come. . . All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.
– Genesis 49:1, 28 (ESV)


Jacob led a full and eventful life.  He gathered his sons together before breathing his last breath and shared “what shall happen…in days to come.” He offered insights into each son’s character as well as a snapshot of each one’s future. 

Lucado 3-in-1: Come Thirsty, Traveling Light, Next Door SaviorThese same sons of Jacob became the tribes of Israel.  Their father spoke to them with a blessing for each one.  The Scriptures say that he blessed them, “blessing each with the blessing suitable to him.” He offered each son what he needed based upon what he knew and understood.

My Grandpa Harvey called such things wisdom and know-how.  His sage advice was different for me than it was for my cousins.  We all probably thought he was playing favorites, but once I got older I realized what he was doing.  he was preparing each of us for the way we would have to walk in this world and face the realities of everything in our lives.  For those of us who needed to become leaders, he pushed us to do our best and be our best.  He even forced us to do more hard labor than the others.  I had thought he was being mean and unfair, but I recognize how much he was humbling us. 

Just try to picture the image of Jacob looking into the faces of his boys and seeing the eagerness in their eyes as they awaited to get a blessing from Daddy.  How emotional must that have been for him as a father? Think about how full circle his life had gone until that point.  Here he was with his sons, the future tribes of a great nation, God’s chosen people, his very own sons.

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And Israel said to Joseph, “I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”- Genesis 48:11 (NKJV)

The father who had shown Joseph favoritism was old and sick.  That was the report that had reached Joseph.  Joseph gathered up his two sons and took them to Grandpa Israel (Papa Jacob).  The words in verse 11 are Joseph’s father’s words to his son.

Keep in mind that Joseph had been presumed dead for years.  Al of his time in Potiphar’s house, prison and even the palace, Joseph was presumed dead by his father.  Upon coming to Egypt, Jacob reunited with his son. 

Joy must have captivated his heart.  He must have be overjoyed to some degree.  Not only was Joseph alive but he was doing quite well for himself as he worked under the king of Egypt.  Jacob must have been both happy and proud of his son.  However, Jacob blesses both of Joseph’s sons after Joseph gets the news of his father’s illness.

There are just somethings that we have to face in life, but when we can regain some other things it gives us our unique purpose. The are some defining moments that come about in our lives. They stick out in our memories.  We cling to them for one reason or another.  These are the very moments that serve as reminders to us all of how precious life is to each and every one of us.  How much did that moment of those two boys being blessed help Joseph recall how much he loved and missed his father?

Most probably, you have reflected on some moments that stood out for you in life and with your family and friends.  Live on and make more memories.  Live on and enjoy it.  Make memories as you go along.  Everyone will not be here forever, so make as many memories as you can now and be at peace among each other.  God bless.

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And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household with bread, according to the number in their families. – Genesis 47:11-12 (NKJV)

The Prince of EgyptJoseph assisted his family.  He advised his family on what to say when they entered into the presence of Pharaoh.  He approached Pharaoh with news of his family’s arrival in Egypt.  He advocated for his family.  He made allowances for his family to survive by giving them bread.

In the land of Rameses, Joseph’s family was better off for the time being than they had been in the land of Canaan.  Based upon how God had favored Joseph, his family was able to benefit.  They were blessed based upon Joseph’s favor and blessing.

Grace: Gods Unmerited FavorThink on that for a moment.  Joseph’s blessing allowed Joseph to provide for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household.  Joseph’s favor helped his father and his family. Picture that happening today.  What if you used your blessing to bless others? What if you used your favor to grant others favor? Imagine how much of a blessing that would be for others.

We need to see Joseph’s character coming alive right here.  Joseph, the same dreamer that his family had despised and questioned, was now living the dream.  However, Joseph’s dream did not just benefit and bless Joseph.  The Bible makes it obvious that Joseph did not simply sit in a position of power and prestigeHis heart allowed him to forgive and give to those who had even sold him into slavery

Forgive to Live Devotional:: 8 Weeks of Daily Readings on Forgiveness That Could Change Your LifeJoseph depicts the epitome of forgiveness and favor in a man.  He obviously could have let his family live without any contact or consideration, still being okay with it as many Christians do so daily.  He could forgive and never allow himself to forget how they wronged him and set him up for failure.  No, that is not the path that Joseph took.  He did not allow it to harden him.  He did not allow it to turn him sour.  He forgave.  He gave to his father and his family.

How to Forgive...When You Don't Feel Like ItDo you need to forgive someone? Have you made the first move beyond saying so? How have you shown that person that you have truly forgiven them?

Praying the PsalmsLook at Joseph.  The Bible doesn’t say he had to fast for 40 days to get ready to forgive.  It doesn’t say that he needed to meditate on verses in Psalms to prepare to forgive.  He showed his forgiveness.  He said it.  He demonstrated it.  He did it.

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…But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” – Genesis 32:26 (NIV)
Jacob (The Bible Collection)

Jacob was on his way to face his brother.  He had ran away from Laban.  He was on his way to face the brother who sought his life.  He had sent everyone else ahead of him to his brother Esau.  Now, he sat alone and awaiting the coming confrontation.

Jacob didn’t expect the man to appear.  Yet, he knew that this man was different.  He wrestled with the man all night.  His words showed his will to fight to the very end.   I will not let you go unless you bless me.  Those were the words of Jacob as he fought earnestly with the man throughout the night.  He held on, refusing to be overpowered by the man.

Jacob was never the same after that night.  He was permanently injured (v. 25).  He was no longer to be called Jacob again.  Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel.    He was left changed in many ways.  He had wrestled with God face to face.  He had held his own with God.  He struggled with the Almighty and survived.  Even the place was changed.  He called it Peniel because he had seen God face to face and his life was spared.

Imagine being in Jacob’s lonely condition.  Imagine finding yourself wrapped in a struggle with God.  That’s the spiritual condition of many.  many do not have that strong bond with God, but He is near.  They grapple with the Lord, seeking their own will and not His will.  In the end, after toiling with all of their might, God can still change them.  God can make them different.  It is the powerful work of the Holy Spirit that wins us over and captivates our souls.  In the end, God prevails and overcomies our frail spirits.

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>Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings

Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
– Genesis 27:41 (NIV)

     

There are no minced words.  Esau didn’t hold a single thing back.  The brother exploded with emotion.  Before swearing to seek violent and bloody revenge against his brother, Esau had wept aloud in agony and torment.  Another translation reads: Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing.  Henry Morris said: “Esau’s hatred might have led quickly either to murder or to such family conflict as would destroy the house of Isaac and Rebekah.” In other words, things heated up real quick once Esau discovered of his brother’s trickery.

 

His brother, with the help of Rebekah their mother, had deceived their father and stolen Esau’s blessing.  “Esau had suddenly changed from an indifferent, carefree sportsman into a bitter, vindictive neurotic,” writes Henry Morris.  Esau unleashed words of fury in his father’s presence.  And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? (Genesis 27:36, KJV).  Such was the rage that came forth from Esau.
 
However, the deeds of Rebekah continue behind the scenes and under the cloak of deception.  She gets wind of her eldest son’s threats against her favorite son, propelling her into action again on Jacob’s behalf.  “Knowing Esau’s nature,” Henry Morris writes of Rebekah, “she assumed his anger would pass away quickly and he would soon return to his carefree ways.” Rebekah warns Jacob, urging him to take refuge with her brother Laban in Haran.  She assures him that things will cool down with Esau in a few days.  Obviously, this woman had spent so much time putting her love and care into one son over the other that she did not realize the extent of her eldest son’s rage.
Jacob (The Bible Collection) 

Look at Jacob’s issue.  He had his mother coaching him in deception and his brother breathing threats of violence against him. His character was deemed befitting his name, according to Esau’s outburst.  His death was promised by Esau once the days of mourning for his father were over.  Jacob was forced into hiding.  He ran away with the blessing, fleeing for his own life.
 

How many of us run like Jacob? We go out of our way to get something. We obtain it, and then we are so unsettled that we can’t enjoy it. We buy a house, and then we struggle working two jobs and a paper route just to stay in it.  We fight our way through school to obtain a degree, then we have to go back to school to get a higher degree to compete for a promotion or a career change.  We go through whatever to get what we want, only to realize that what we wanted can’t be enjoyed like we thought.
 
The Cost of Discipleship

That’s not what God wants for us.  He wants us to live free of our possessions.  That was the whole point when the Lord encountered the rich young ruler the other day.  Could you sell all that you have and simply follow Jesus? Could you leave all, leave everything behind, just to follow after the Master? We must control our possessions, not allowing them to have control over us.  When Jesus tells us to count the costs, He is asking us to decide if we are willing to sacrifice and serve as His disciples.  That type of inheritance won’t cause you to run and hide.  It should cause you to go and tell others.

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Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born. And Sarah said, “God has made me laugh. Everyone who hears about this will laugh with me. No one thought that I would be able to have Abraham’s child, but even though Abraham is old I have given him a son.”
– Genesis 21:5-7 (NIV)

Genesis Record, The: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings
God can do wonders beyond our finite imagination.  He can things beyond the limits of the time frames and deadlines that we set up and uphold.  Yes, the Creator is in ultimate control and reveals His omnipotent power to us at various times.

God demonstrated His power by giving Abraham and Sarah a child in their old age.  At one hundred years old, Abraham was blessed with a son.  God can use us, even when we no longer think that we have any use left in us.  he can bless us at a time when we feel that there is no hope left.

Trust God today.  He is able.  His ability rests in who He is- I AM.  It does not depend on what we think He is or imagine He is.  It rests simply in who He actually is as God Almighty.  Trust Him today.

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