Day 15 Bible Reading Plan

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We want to be blessed, right? But will we use those blessings for God’s glory and to bless others or just for ourselves? Being patient and trusting in God when His blessings tarry is the challenge we see today from the book of Genesis.

7-Fold One-Year Bible Reading Plan Day #15: Genesis 9-12 Scripture of the Day: Genesis 12:2 Listen: https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Gen.9 Join me live at 8am ET: http://www.facebook.com/deniseduboispass Bible Reading Plan: https://denisepass.com/bible-reading-plan/ #SeeingDeep #BibleInAYear

Mundane Monday: Bless You!

god-is-for-us

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

God is for us more than we are.

Scripture of the Day:

Numbers 6:23-27

“Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the way you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 The LORD bless you and protect you; 25 The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’. 27 So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

Bless you, friend! It’s always good to start Monday off well. Go ahead – bless someone around you. It does not deplete our joy to give joy and blessing to another. In fact, it is an incubator that increases our joy all the more. Let’s start this week with a blessing, what say you?

Ever just feel like you wish someone would encourage you? Critical judgments come easily, but for someone to take the time out to encourage us goes beyond the norm. We, too, can often be so wrapped up in the busyness of life or preoccupied with self that we don’t notice the deep need around us for some en-COURAGE-ment.

A blessing might be the very thing someone needs to give them strength and courage to carry on or to undertake a challenging assignment. Why not give it?

We probably all know what it is like to be on the giving and receiving end of a blessing as well as being one who withholds it. The irony in sticking ourselves out there to try and accomplish a project or work God has placed on our hearts is that we are often misjudged as being prideful for doing so, when we are actually being vulnerable and obedient, motivated by a desire to honor God and giving ourselves over to our calling. Observers watching the progress can misjudge our hearts as promoting self and withdraw their blessing or seek to discourage us from the work we are doing.

Ever felt like that? Reminds me of Nehemiah. Many detractors sought to undo his work. But He pressed on. Not a lot of blessings flowing his direction. But he knew the One Who had called Him and His blessing was all he needed. It is all we need, too, and this same blessing He has given to us so we can freely give to those around us.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the disciples who were envious of other co-laborers who were baptizing; their methodology wasn’t the same “brand” – must be sinful. Not according to Jesus.

It is easy to encourage someone we admire, but what about someone we don’t? Maybe they just don’t stand out or maybe we envy a person and can’t bring ourselves to praise them. Yuck. Jealousy is insidious and ultimately hatred disguised in a competitive spirit. We all hate being envied, but we can be guilty of it ourselves, if we are not careful.

Ok, back on the encouragement bandwagon. God wants us to bless believers around us – He spoke it as an imperative, not a suggestion. He even spoke the kind of blessing to be given.

Maybe we don’t feel that we deserve God’s blessing or perhaps that an enemy does. Well, none of us do. But isn’t it amazing that the God Who made us, whom we sinned against and violated His Holy covenant would turn around and bless us?

God is for us more than we are.

In that moment of blessing others, Scripture says that we are putting God’s Name on that person. Wow. What a picture of Christ being an atonement cover for us. His Name being placed upon us, blessing us now and for all eternity.

Maybe the hesitation to bless others can be set aside and blessing can become a norm for the body of Christ. As we share God’s kindness and love with all of His children, amazingly we end up just as encouraged – and maybe the blessing we give might impact generations and eternity through the encouragement of one vessel.

Oh God, we are all one body and all need encouragement to run this race. Help us to be on mission to offer Your sincere blessing to those around us.

 

Truthful Tuesday: Prevention or Provision of Blessing

Blessings prevented

Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The prevention of blessing in our lives is either caused by God’s sovereign grace or our disobedience.

Scriptures:

Genesis 16:2 ESV

“And Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.”

Genesis 17:1-2

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”

Walking in the Spirit means sometimes God prevents or leads in a way that does not make sense.  We want the typical blessings of life and do not understand that God’s timing is best.  So it was with Sarah.  God made a promise and she was going to make sure it happened.  Whenever we have to strive to produce God’s promise, we are probably missing the leading of the LORD.

I do not blame Sarah.  I’ve done the same thing myself.  She did not want something wrong, she just went about it the wrong way.  Compromise is like that.  It happens when we follow our own inclinations instead of waiting on the LORD and trusting His timing.

What did God want Abraham and Sarah to do?  To walk before Him blamelessly.  What is intriguing about this requirement is the word “that” which follows God’s command. Waiting on God is all about relationship.  He makes a covenant with us and WE can prevent God’s blessings in our lives when we simply do not walk with Him in obedience.

We can be like a toddler, wanting what we want and all the while God is saying, “come and fellowship with me.  I want to bless you.”  Those who would seek Him would receive the blessings and the greatest of blessings which is Himself.  Those who would seek the blessings miss out entirely on the purpose of the covenant.

If we break His covenant He is still faithful, but we might not see the promise fulfilled or see it massively delayed.

Remember the Israelites in the desert?  That trip should have taken eleven days, but instead it took forty years.  BUMMER.

Even if the journey becomes difficult, walking in the Spirit and trusting in God’s plan and timing is far better than veering off course.  God might prevent us from something, but He is always leading us to another.

Obtaining blessing apart from God’s perfect will feels empty, but the peace of Christ that comes from abiding in God and walking in His ways is unsurpassed to any blessing we were seeking in the first place.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness, trustworthiness and promises.  Help us to wait upon You, knowing Your plans and ways are perfect.

Mundane Monday: Living Between a Vision and Its Fulfillment

Waiting for the Vision

Genesis 12:1-2

“Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. 2 Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing.'”

The chasm between the calling God has placed on our lives and the ultimate fulfilling of that vision can be rife with challenges and doubts.  To our limited understanding, it would seem that the all-powerful God would call us, then fulfill what He had spoken without a lot of delay or consequences.

But in His omniscient wisdom,

the process is often more important

than the receiving of the promise itself.

God is surely capable to crush everything that stands in the way of accomplishing what He has called us to, but in this fallen world the enemy is busy trying to undo what God has already finished.  We are stuck in this space called time that God is already outside of, fully knowing how everything will turn out.  Mind blowing.

Often I question whether God has really given me a vision or if it is myself trying to achieve a calling on my own.  I get confused and feel I cannot pray for success because I do not want it to be for my own glory.  It is then that I realize that a vision that is of God and for God will be tested and that testing process will refine the character needed to accomplish the task placed on my heart.

I don’t have to be perfect to be used by God.  I just have to yield to Him in the process and continue to press on in the work He has called me to.  Back to Abram.

God told him to go – he went.  It does not say that he labored over it.  He just obeyed.  He then promised incredible blessings, which, although Abram would be blessed, the goal was not just for Abram – it was for all people and ultimately “to exemplify divine blessing”.  Abram’s response?  To worship – even though He had not yet received the blessing.

When people look in our lives and see God’s blessings, it is not so we will be comfortable, but so people can see what being in a relationship with God is like.  When we are in between a promise and a blessing and face trials of all kinds, our worship in the midst can inspire many to do the same.

Abram was not spared hardship – he faced famine right after He worshiped God for His promise.  How we respond during the famine will often determine how long we stay there.  When Abram doubted God’s ability to protect he and his wife, God was faithful and protected them, anyway.  The world will see us fail, but the righteous man will rise again and again and continue to walk until God’s purposes are fulfilled in him.

When God places a vision in our hearts, we do not know how we will get there and many obstacles will stand in our way.  Abram faced famine, quarelling, war, family problems – but through it all he worshiped the God of the promise.  In the end, Abram became Abraham; his name and his life changed forever because of the faithfulness of God to keep His promise.

In His faithfulness, God will remind us of His calling and His promises.  He did not promise us a pain-free life, but He did promise to carry us through the challenges we face and that all of it has meaning for those Who would trust in Him.  In the process, on the other side of our calling – our nature is changed, too, for we can never be the same when we encounter the living God.

Lord, help us to trust You when the road seems long and burdensome.  You are faithful and You will complete the work You have begun in us.  Praise Your Name!

Thoughtful Thursday: Whose Fault Is It?

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Proverbs 11:5-6

“The righteousness of the blameless will make straight their way, but the wicked person will fall by his own wickedness.  The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, but the faithless will be captured by their own desires.”

Proverbs 12:12, 21

“The wicked person desires a stronghold, but the righteous root endures.  21 The righteous do not encounter any harm, but the wicked are filled with calamity.”

Genesis 4:7

“Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must subdue it.”

Romans 6:12-13

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.”

James 1:15

“Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death.”

Jeremiah 19:5

“They have built places here for worship of the god Baal so that they could sacrifice their children as burnt offerings to him in the fire. Such sacrifices are something I never commanded them to make! They are something I never told them to do! Indeed, such a thing never even entered my mind!”

Proverbs 19:3

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.”


Daily we bear the sins of one another as well as our own.  In vanity we scramble to attempt to cover our shortcomings, but underneath is the same intent and heart.  In all the stress of our messy lives, a sinless Lamb covered all of the sins of the world and yet our hearts somehow still can blame Him.

Every day sin captivates mankind and every day the consequences of those sins are born and the blame is cast.  Sin ravages our souls and is often permitted to do so by the very ones whose lives it wreaks havoc upon.

A sane mind would not seek to suffer purposely, yet that is exactly what we do when we give in to sin’s deception.  God’s laws still stand whether or not we pay heed to them.  Like gravity, our decisions will affect the course of our life and the weight of sin will be felt, much like the joy experienced from the fruit of obedience.

God hates sin.  He hates what it does to us.  Our flesh hates the rules and boundaries set, thinking we are being deprived. All the while God wants to spare us from the spreading cancer which threatens to steal our joy and imprison us.

Time and time again throughout history God’s people are lured away by sin’s promises deceitfully dressed up in an attractive array.  There is nothing new underneath the sun.  How is it we cannot recognize the same strategies of the enemy and refrain from indulging our flesh?  Especially when we have seen in history the effects of sin on this weary world?

Deception.  Lust of the flesh.  Distrust.  Rebellion.  Self-reliance.  If in the moment of temptation we cry out to God, He will provide the grace and strength we need to overcome.  But all too often we don’t.  He makes a way out and we rationalize that our way seems better.  Or maybe we doubt God’s goodness or His ways and choose to be our own God.

While the prevalence of sin in our culture can be discouraging, there is still hope.  We can stop blaming others or God and put no confidence in our flesh.  We can turn away from sin and ask God to help us recognize it for what it is.  We are left without an excuse, but God forgives us anyway.  What kind of grace would choose to bear our blame?  Selfless, Holy grace – from the Only One Who can grant it.

Lord, help us to recognize sin in our lives and to turn away from it, the enemy of our souls.  Thank You for Your gracious covering and for setting us free!

Thoughtful Thursday: Hidden Treasure – Our Prized Possession

Proverbs 7:1-2

“My child, keep my words and treasure up my commands in your own keeping.  2 Keep my commands so that you may live, and obey my instruction as your most prized possession.”

Proverbs 2:4-5

“If you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.”

Luke 12:34

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Colossians 2:2-3

“My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,  3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

We can go our entire lives searching for treasure – what our hearts long for.  Yet all the while it is right in front of us, sitting on a shelf, gathering dust.

Imagine finding a treasure and looking at it and taking just one piece of the treasure out, then leaving it there.  The treasure would not benefit us and would not be shared with anyone else, either.  In this fast-paced world, we can step over the greatest treasure and miss it, if we are not careful.

What are the various gems in this treasure chest?  Understanding.  Why is it that our eyes were opened to be able to comprehend what God has done?  Knowledge.  Adding to our understanding, more and more knowledge of Him and the ability to see our sins and His grace.  Wisdom. Knowledge applied and used for God’s glory.  Peace. Souls at rest no matter what is transpiring around us.  Salvation.  The penalty for our sins removed – our guilt stains washed away! Communion with God. being able to fellowship with Jesus and go to Him anytime.  Forgiveness.  All of our guilt washed away.  Grace.  Strength to live for Jesus.  Healing.  Changed hearts and minds yielded to Him, delivered from the burdens of this world.  Assurance.  The sweetest jewel – assurance that we will be with Him for all eternity lasts longer than any temporary treasure on this earth.

On and on the precious gems to be found.  To some the Bible is a book of rules, void of life.  To those who have recognized it’s worth, it is the greatest gift God has given to us.  Boundaries set to free us, counsel to comfort us, His word a lamp to guide us.

To be able to know the God of this universe and fellowship with Him is the greatest treasure given to mankind, but often we accept what is more tangible as a substitute and miss out on the gold He has for us.  No where else will we be able to find such a treasure, that supplies all our needs to each individual.

Lord, we delight in You!  Thank You for the treasure of Your most precious Son!  Help us to seek You without ceasing and to daily,moment by moment bask in your Word.

Truthful Tuesday: Blessed to Bless

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Sam 5:12

“David realized that the LORD had established him as king over Israel and that he had elevated his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.”

2 Sam 7:8, 18-22

“So now, say this to my servant David: ‘This is what the LORD of hosts says: I took you from the pasture and from your work as a shepherd to make you leader of my people Israel.  18 King David went in, sat before the LORD, and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my family, that you should have brought me to this point?  19 And you didn’t stop there, O LORD God! You have also spoken about the future of your servant’s family. Is this your usual way of dealing with men, O LORD God?   20 What more can David say to you? You have given your servant special recognition, O LORD God!   21 For the sake of your promise and according to your purpose you have done this great thing in order to reveal it to your servant.  22  Therefore you are great, O LORD God, for there is none like you! There is no God besides you! What we have heard is true!”

Overcome by God’s goodness, David poured out his heart in a moment of beautiful abandon.  He recognized God’s blessings and realized that he was not worthy.  His response was so beautiful – worship in action.  He dedicated to God fully what was given to Him, ruled in humility and righteousness, showing favor and honoring even his former enemy’s crippled son, Mephibosheth.  Ultimately, he saw that God’s blessing was not for Him, but for God’s people, Israel.

He was wealthy and in the highest position of the land, but he chose to identify with and respect the lowly.  Sounds a lot like his Heavenly Father.  Demonstrating kindness and mercy, God honored David further, providing protection, favor and victory everywhere he went.

It’s a funny thing about blessing.  When we give away what we are given, we receive even more because we cannot out give God.  Do we perceive all that He has done for us?  Probably impossible to do so, but contemplate for a minute the gift of life and what He has given us.  Once we begin to see a glimpse of what He has bestowed upon us physically and spiritually, the key is not only in recognizing all of the blessings in our lives, but in not expecting them.

David had already learned the lesson that God was Holy and although He loves us, we should not take for granted His favor and become casual with His requirements.  The ark of God was not a trinket to be handled and God’s presence not something to be casual with, either.

What we have was not ours in the first place, but hanging onto those blessings is where idolatry can slip in if we let it. Each blessing, once acknowledged, becomes even more when it is surrendered back to God to be used how He sees fit.  Along with David, we have an opportunity to see that what we are given is not about us at all, but about those who God brings along our path.

David knew all too well what hardship was, which also produced a sincere gratitude for the tremendous blessings God brought about.  When we remember what we were when He called us, that makes us all the more grateful for each blessing He has bestowed; a beautiful offering given back to the One Who gave it to us in the first place.

Mundane Monday: Plain Beautiful

Psalm 73:7

“Their prosperity causes them to do wrong; their thoughts are sinful.”

Psalm 73:28

“But as for me, God’s presence is all I need.  I have made the sovereign LORD my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done.”

Expenses in life can be so very challenging sometimes.  I confess there are moments when I wonder if it would be possible for some of those pesky challenges to just stop.  Drifting down this line of thinking I ponder what it would be like to have no financial troubles.  It reminds me of the main character, Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof”, when he said, “IF MONEY IS A CURSE THEN SMITE ME WITH IT”.

Our vehicles are all over 200,000 miles and have each exhibited signs of that wear that keep our local auto center in business.  We want to refrain from going to the doctor because insurance does not really pay anything, anyway.  Each month I hope the cost of the prescription for a skin condition has somehow decreased, but alas, itch I must.  Opportunities that I wanted for my kids that we cannot afford.  Food costs drive you to always choose from the value menu if you go out at all.  Vacations?  Usually combined with larger family gatherings because affording a vacation place would mean fasting for the trip.  Exaggeration for effect here, but you get my point.

I am not looking for sympathy, really I am not.  Because even though in one moment I could wish it was a little easier, in the next breath, I am so very thankful that I have not had everything I have wanted.  Sure troubles can be frustrating, but there is a deep contentment within that fills me with peace when I am tempted to wonder why things are not easier.  I trust my God and He is sovereign and perfect in His provision.

Where it hurts the most is when I would want to do more for my children or other people but cannot. In this, too, I can rest in God’s wisdom and plan.  He is their Provider, and mine, too.  He is the One Who meets our every need.  If He does not use me to provide for someone else’s need, He has someone else appointed.  What I have felt as lack perhaps is not lack at all and can also cause me to get creative and contemplate what I can do with what God has given.

So, without sounding hyper-spiritual, where is the blessing in not having all that I want?  Not having enough of what I thought I needed causes me to ask my Heavenly Father for help.  The hunger for more is replaced with a longing for God and I am always satisfied in His presence far more than the temporary satisfaction of comfort or materialistic goods.

This flies in the face of prosperity theology, which would proclaim that we always have an abundance.  Defining that abundance, though, is difficult to do.  When is enough, enough?  Perhaps what we have is an abundance, already.  Let that sink in.  A home, vehicles, clothing, food, electricity, a garden – sounds more blessed than I deserve.

That is what happens when I enter into His presence.  My perspective is changed and what I perceived as plain and not sufficient becomes more than I could ever thank God enough for.  Perhaps having less than all I want is more beautiful, after all.

Lord, help us to be content when others around us appear to be without troubles and humble enough to help those around us who look at us in the same way. 

Worshipful Wednesday: The Purpose of God’s Blessing

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Photo credits:
galleryhip.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 67:1-2, 7

“For the music director; to be accompanied by stringed instruments; a psalm, a song.  May God show us his favor and bless us! May he smile on us! (Selah) 2 Then those living on earth will know what you are like; all nations will know how you deliver your people. 7 May God bless us! Then all the ends of the earth will give him the honor he deserves.”

Everyone wants to be blessed.  Life is easier.  But ultimately our blessings are not for us.  God wants to bless His children, but within His acts of kindness is an opportunity for others around us to see our relationship with God and to see His faithfulness and provision for His children, bringing God praise.

Sometimes when we receive a lot of blessings we can want to hoard and keep them for ourselves, yet God wants us to trust Him to provide blessings for another day.  The Israelites gathered manna God provided each day and reaped maggots when they coveted more blessings than what God had provided.  God’s demonstration of care in providing food in the desert was not just all about them.  It was for the surrounding nations to see how awesome our God is, ultimately come to know Him and receive His gift of salvation, too.

Just like the Israelites made mistakes that affected the reputation of their God, we, too, show the world how powerful our God is by living faithful lives all for His glory.  Complaining about God’s provision tells the world that God is not enough. Being stingy tells the world that we are not generous.

So it is with us.  With the provision He has given us – we can use it as a testimony for His glory, or all for ourselves.

Lord, thank You for all You give us.  You are forever faithful.  Help us to worship You and be content whatever level of provision and to invest what You give for Your kingdom and glory.

Thoughtful Thursday: When the Blessing is Removed; a Blessing in Disguise

Job 29:2-5

2 “O that I could be as I was in the months now gone, in the days when God watched over me, 3 when He caused his lamp to shine upon my head, and by his light I walked through darkness; 4 just as I was in my most productive time, when God’s intimate friendship was experienced in my tent, 5 when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me.”

Job’s pain over his loss is so tangible we can feel it.  He remembers being in a position of prominence and favor and his temporary position of scorn and constant pain seemed to be handed out by a merciless God.

The heartache over loss can be paralyzing and discouraging.  We can wonder if God abandoned us.  Why did His blessing have to be removed?  Was it Him or the blessing we were after?  In a moment of nostalgia, we can think that the time which has gone before was better than the present.  Yet in that former time, would we have had that perspective?

Surely when one has gone through a traumatic life event, innocence is gone and one can long to return to that simpler time with less strife.  The pressure of living with consequences is significant and the desire for relief is a constant current, longing to pull us back to the blessing we knew before.  When things are difficult, we crave ease.  But God, our loving Father is the perfect parent – even when we do not get what we want.  He knows what is best for us.

While the lessons learned in the midst of tragedy are a harsh tutor, there is a bright side often unseen.  Priceless wisdom is gained and if we truly look to God in the storm, we will have a peace that is greater than the peace before which was in ignorance.  Ignorance seems to be bliss, but if comfort is our highest goal, we miss out on being able to worship God in a deeper way when things are not “perfect”.

I have not experienced all of Job’s sorrows, yet I identify with this passage in so many ways.  When tragedy strikes, we might not be as esteemed by man, but the opportunity to be closer to God is far greater.  Grieving over loss of reputation seems kind of silly when we consider all of eternity.  Instead of bitterness, a removed blessing can cause us to be grateful.  Why were we so blessed?  Perhaps there are things in my life now that I do not recognize as a blessing.  Lamenting over the past has its place, but then so does surrendering to God in the present and looking to Him for our redemption.

God will restore us.  While we wait, He is developing character worthy of bearing His Name.  Job would certainly say He could not conceive of the blessings that God brought back into His life.  He was a different person when He was restored than the one before.  Transformation carries a cost we would likely not be willing to pay if we knew it ahead of time.  Praise God for His wisdom and enablement when we are in the crucible of suffering and walking in times of blessing.

Lord, You are our portion.  You are our delight.  Thank You for all of the blessings in our lives and for Your precious promises.  Thank You for redeeming every hardship and turning them into a blessing, after all.