Blessings with a Purpose

I will make you into a great nation,
   and I will bless you.
Genesis 12:2

God not only blesses us, but he blesses us for a purpose.  He blesses us so we will be a blessing.  The word bless means, “to benefit.”  It implies abundantly or greatly. In the Bible we are reminded that God blessed Abraham abundantly by building a great nation through his seed.  He made Abraham’s name great.

God’s blessings are different toward each one of us. Sometimes our blessings may come through the most difficult of trials. The purest gold comes through the most intense heat, and the most beautiful gems are formed through immense pressure. Other blessings may be in the rich joy of family members or friends in our lives.

Everyone can look at unique ways God has blessed their lives. The question is, “Are we focusing on the blessings God has given us or on the frustrations?” Let’s thank God each day for the wonderful ways He blesses us, and then let’s be diligent to use our blessings to bless the world around us.

How does God want to use your gifts and talents to benefit others today?

He Speaks

The LORD had said to Abram,

“Go from your county… to the land I will show you.

Genesis 12:1

              God is not a silent god; He is a God who speaks.  In the Old Testament God spoke to His people through prophets, through visions, and sometimes He spoke directly to His servants. He spoke to Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, Isaiah and Jeremiah to name a few.  Does God still speak to His people today?

            One of the ways He speaks to us is through His written word, the Bible.  We learn who God is and how He wants us to live as we read His word.  His Spirit speaks to us. Often He speaks through that still small voice within us, lovingly prompting us to follow His direction and gently convicting us to turn from sin.

Now we must be careful not to think that every thought we have is from Him.  We must test it against scripture. The more we get to know Him through scripture and prayer, the more we recognize His voice. Just as sheep recognize their shepherds voice, so we recognize our Good Shepherd’s voice as we grow to know Him and trust Him.

Father, open our ears to hear and our hearts to understand. Help us to follow your ways and honor you in everything we say and do.

Walking Together

Enoch walked faithfully with God. Genesis 5:23

            When we walk with someone, we enjoy fellowship with them as we travel together. We have a choice to walk with God in a close relationship, or we can choose to wander in our own direction doing as we please. Enoch chose to walk with God. Additionally, the Bible tells us that, “Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.” Even in the Garden of Eden God we see a hint of God’s walking as we read, “The man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”            

Paul wrote that just as we have received Christ Jesus as Lord, we are also to “walk in Him.”  We can walk with God as we pray to Him throughout our day. It’s one thing to know God as an acquaintance we simply see on Sundays. It’s another thing to walk with Him in close fellowship. God invites us to walk with Him. Will you accept the invitation?

This is an excerpt from my devotional Pursuing God in the Quiet Places

The Power of Rest

On the seventh day he rested from all his work. Genesis 2:2

The Bible tells us God does not slumber or sleep. If He does not grow weary or slumber, what does it mean that He rested?  It means that He ceased from His work. He deliberately stopped and set aside the work of creation.  He chose to establish the seventh day as a holy day, a day of Sabbath rest.  The word Sabbath means intermission or repose from labor. The Sabbath was a covenant sign of God’s lordship over creation. The Israelites were instructed to observe a Sabbath rest, thereby identifying themselves as God’s redeemed people. 

God wanted His people to be set apart and be different than the rest of the world by ceasing from work one day a week. When we take a break from activity it gives us time to reflect on the goodness of God and trust Him for our provision. It also allows us to mentally and physically recoup from our work.

Thank you Father for you know what is best for us. Thank you Father for establishing a pattern of rest for us.

Thriving Through Difficulties

inspiration, joy and happiness concept, silhouette of woman with many flying balloons on the beach

How is it that some people end up thriving after a dramatic difficulty or even trauma? That is the question researchers are asking as they study Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). We are all familiar with the term PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), but few are aware of what some call Super Survivors – those people who actually get better and move in an improved positive direction after a trauma.

Here are a few of the principles that have been observed in PTGers.

They grieve well. Studies show that those who eventually show improvement after a trauma, have first grieved their loss deeply. They don’t ignore the pain or put on rose colored glasses. They recognize the hurt or loss and don’t dismiss their sadness.

They ask hopeful questions. As they grieve, they also begin looking for glimmers of hope in the form of questions. They may ask, “Given my new set of circumstances, how can I make the best of this?” Or, “How can I grow and learn from this?” Or, “Is their a way I can use this experience to improve someone else’s life?”

They use their pain to help others. Often a PTGer will take pro-active steps to start an organization or interest group to benefit and strengthen others as a result of their experience. This not only gives them new vigor in life, but it helps them heal and feel purposeful.

They are thankful. Although they are not thankful for the pain, they are able to find reasons to be grateful for what they have experienced. They may be thankful that they grew stronger or that they were able to find meaning in life or discover a new life purpose as a result of their trauma.

Whether we are going through a life-jolting trauma or simply a heavy disappointment, we can learn from these principles to help us discover an element of positive in our pain. Some have said that PTG should stand for “Put Trust in God.” Interestingly, studies show that many PTGers rely on their faith or find their faith strengthened through the difficulties. In Psalms we read David’s words, “God is our refuge and our strength. A very present help in time of need.” May each of us be strengthened by the comfort and hope He brings.

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You can read stories of PTGers in my book, Thrive, Don’t Simply Survive.