Blessed to Be a Blessing

Then He said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they kept silent. Mark 3:4

In May 2015, an Iowa corn farm pledged to donate an acre of its summer corn crop to the Iowa Food Bank Association—about 500 dozen ears of sweet corn. In July, the co-owner of the farm said, “We have been blessed with a tremendous crop . . . so it’s just a blessing to be able to give this to [those in need].”

Unfortunately, not all who have been blessed by God see their blessings as an opportunity to bless others. Jesus encountered religious people who didn’t recognize that God had blessed them so they could bless others. For instance, the Sabbath was meant to be a blessing—a day of rest and reflection upon God and His goodness. But the Pharisees had turned it from a blessing to a burden. They were outraged that Jesus wanted to help a sick person on the Sabbath since it wasn’t a life-or-death situation and would therefore be considered work. Can you imagine? They had forgotten that the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

We should never turn our blessings and freedoms into burdens and fears for other people. As generous as God has been to us, we should be to others.

Doubting God’s Goodness

Genesis 3:1-7

Living in this fallen world can challenge our faith in God’s goodness. The pain and suffering that resulted from Adam and Eve’s sin may cloud our understanding of the Lord and tempt us to blame Him for every difficulty we face. Why doesn’t He always relieve hardships, fix our problems, and give us what we want?

When Eve listened to the serpent’s lies in the Garden of Eden, she began to doubt that the Lord had made the right choice in forbidding her to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Why would He deprive her of wisdom and the enjoyment of food that looked so desirable?

Our thoughts are similar to Eve’s when we don’t agree with what our Father says is best for us. From a human perspective, “good” refers to what is enjoyable, delightful, comfortable, or profitable. But God has a much higher standard and is always working to achieve His purpose—to develop Christlike character within His children.

Behind every restriction or commandment the Lord gives to us is His loving care for His followers. He knows the tormenting consequences of sin and wants to deter us from rebellious choices that will wreck our lives. In refusing His will, we’re choosing pain and trouble.

Eve learned through disobedience that God knows what’s best. We have the opportunity each day to discover His goodness by listening to His voice, obeying His commands, and trusting His wisdom. Whatever may come our way, we can know He is working for both our temporal and eternal good.

Loving the Word

“O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97)

This emotional stanza in Psalm 119 bursts with passion for the Word of God. “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103).

Previously, David’s 19th Psalm opened with praise for the “speech” and “knowledge” available in “the heaven” (Psalm 19:1-6) and gave his most open praise for the “perfect” laws (Psalm 19:7) of God that are “more to be desired . . . than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

The focus of this particular stanza (Psalm 119:97-104) is on the practical effect that knowledge of the Word of God has had on the psalmist’s ability to give a powerful witness.

-“Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me” (v. 98).

-“I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation” (v. 99).

-“I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (v. 100).

The excitement that comes with the “love” and the “sweet” taste of God’s Word in a believer’s life produces an assurance that results in a readiness to “give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).
Indeed, since it is clear that “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Corinthians 10:4), we should be all the more committed (as is the psalmist) to refrain “from every evil way” (Psalm 119:101), being sure that we do not depart from the “judgments” (v. 102), and that our understanding of the precepts ensures that we “hate every false way” (v. 104). HMM III

It Works!

Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. —2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Ten thousand enemies cannot stop a Christian, cannot even slow him down, if he meets them in an attitude of complete trust in God. They will become to him like the atmosphere that resists the airplane, but which because the plane’s designer knew how to
take advantage of that resistance, actually lifts the plane aloft and holds it there for a journey of 2,000 miles. What would have been an enemy to the plane becomes a helpful servant to aid it on its way….

If this should seem like a bit of theorizing, remember that always the greatest Christians have come out of hard times and tough situations. Tribulations actually worked for their spiritual perfection in that they taught them to trust not in themselves but in the Lord who raised the dead. They learned that the enemy could not block their progress unless they surrendered to the urgings of the flesh and began to complain. And slowly, they learned to stop complaining and start praising. It is that simple—and it works!

Lord, I pray for Your grace to work within me that I might allow the trials to lift me aloft rather than press me down. Amen.

Supernatural Grace: God Works the Miracle

…He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father. John 14:12

I don’t mind telling you that it is my earnest faith that all that is worthwhile in Christianity is a miracle!

The trappings and paraphernalia and outward dressings of Christianity are unnecessary—we could get along nicely without them.

But there is a series of miracles, throbbing and beating within the divine message of God, and within the hearts of those who believe truly—and that’s about all there is to the Christian faith.

When Peter wrote that God “according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” he arrived at a major miracle of the New Testament.

Peter was witnessing about a major miracle, that is, being born again—begotten again! Supernatural grace has been the teaching of the Christian Church from Pentecost to the present hour.

It is sad that some men are being forced from their pulpits because they have insisted upon preaching the supernatural quality of the acts of God. We stand with them in the belief that pure religion is a continuing perpetuation of a major miracle, and we cannot settle for just the mental quality of things.

The new birth is the creating of a new man in the heart, where another man has been. It is the putting of a new man in the old man’s place, and we are born anew! It is a vital and unique work of God in human nature.

Gifts and Graces

…gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will. HEBREWS 2:4

I go back often to Genesis 24 for the illustration and the figure in the Old Testament reminding us of the adornments of grace and beauty that will mark the believing Body of Christ. Abraham sent his trusted servant to his former homeland to select a bride for Isaac.

The adornment of Rebekah’s beauty consisted of jewels and the raiment that came as gifts of love from the bridegroom whom she had not yet seen.

It is a reminder of what God is doing in our midst right now. Abraham typifies God the Father; Isaac, our Lord Jesus Christ, the heavenly Bridegroom. The servant who went with the gifts into the far country to claim a bride for Isaac speaks well of the Holy Spirit, our Teacher and Comforter.

He gives us, one by one, the gifts and the graces of the Holy Spirit that will be our real beauty in His sight. Thus we are being prepared, and when we meet our coming Lord and King, our adornment will be our God-given graces!

Lord, it will be such an exciting day when You come for Your Bride, the Church. I pray that I will personally be ready to present myself to You, clean in body, mind and spirit.