VIDEO Blessed to Bless

Not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9

The Church’s first martyr, Stephen, delivered a powerful history of redemption just before his death. He began his overview not with creation, but with the calling of Abraham out of Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2-3). When God called Abraham, He said, “I will bless you . . . and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).

There is hardly a better explanation for why we are to forgive, to witness, and to live for God: We have been blessed and are therefore to be a blessing to others. The apostle Peter picked up this theme in 1 Peter 3:9, saying we should not repay evil for evil. “On the contrary,” he wrote, repay ill deeds with a “blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” Abraham was called and blessed in order to be a blessing. Christians have been called and blessed in order to be a blessing as well.

When you repay evil with a blessing, you are carrying out the earliest mandate for the people of God: Be blessed to be a blessing.

Faith brings a man empty to God, that he may be filled with the blessings of God. John Calvin


How To Attract Flies – 1 Peter 3:8-12 – Skip Heitzig

The Big Story of the Bible

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

When Colin opened the box of stained-glass pieces he’d purchased, instead of finding the fragments he’d ordered for a project, he discovered intact, whole windows. He sleuthed out the windows’ origin and learned they’d been removed from a church to protect them from World War II bombings. Colin marveled at the quality of work and how the “fragments” formed a beautiful picture.

If I’m honest, there are times when I open particular passages of the Bible—such as chapters containing lists of genealogies—and I don’t immediately see how they fit within the bigger picture of Scripture. Such is the case with Genesis 11—a chapter that contains a repetitive cadence of unfamiliar names and their families, such as Shem, Shelah, Eber, Nahor, and Terah (vv. 10–32). I’m often tempted to gloss over these sections and skip to a part that contains something that feels familiar and fits more easily into my “window” of understanding of the Bible’s narrative.

Since “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful” (2 Timothy 3:16), the Holy Spirit can help us better understand how a fragment fits into the whole, opening our eyes to see, for example, how Shelah is related to Abram (Genesis 11:12–26), the ancestor of David and—more importantly—Jesus (Matthew 1:2, 6, 16). He delights in surprising us with the treasure of a perfectly intact window where even the smaller parts reveal the story of God’s mission throughout the Bible.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

Why is it important to recognize each portion of Scripture as a fragment of God’s bigger story?

Father, please help me to see You and Your work more clearly.

Grow deeper in your understanding of the Bible.

Joyful Endurance

Hebrews 10:32-39

When you think of endurance, what comes to mind? We usually associate it with persistence through hardship, like the mindset of a marathon runner pushing through the pain to finish the race. Yesterday, we saw that Hebrews 12:1 encourages us to run with this kind of determination. The implication is that we are going to face hardships and suffering in the Christian life.

Our goal should be to remain faithful and obedient to Christ through every situation. That is possible because we know our suffering is temporary and we have an inheritance waiting for us in heaven. But in the meantime, we need the right attitude. Are we to grit our teeth, mutter, and complain all the way to heaven? Certainly not!

The writer of Hebrews commended the suffering Christians for their joyful attitude. They didn’t enjoy the pain and hardship, but knew that it was all part of God’s plan for their good and ultimately they’d have a great reward in heaven.

We, too, can endure hardship with joy in the Lord, who comforts and strengthens us through it and promises to bring us safely to glory

My Every Prayer

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” (Philippians 1:3-4)

The letter to the Philippian church stands as perhaps the most personal of the epistles, with Paul’s love for the believers being obvious. He expressed his love with heartfelt prayer for them every time he thought of them.

These prayers are constant in the sense that the Philippian believers were never far from his thoughts. Often Paul resorted to prayer for their personal needs and their relationship to God. His prayers are described by at least two Greek words of interest to us. First, he tells that he “thanked [his] God” (Greek eucharisteo) each time they came to mind. To another church he similarly wrote, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4). The word implies a sincere statement of genuine gratitude for their fellowship in being with him in serving God and partnership in the ministry.

Likewise, he used the word “supplication” (Greek deesei), an expression of gratefulness for his needs having been supplied. Paul’s needs were often provided for by those to whom he ministered, and he was profoundly grateful. The Christian minister is enjoined to remember his followers with “joy.” Paul remembered them in thankfulness to God for them and to them for their response.

We should strive to arrive at a balance between our ministry goals in evangelism and ongoing care for believers’ Christian growth and steadfast doctrinal purity. What is the state of our harmony among church members, as well as our prayers for them? JDM

Confessing Inconsistency- Psalm 106

Hallelujah! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Who can declare the Lord’s mighty acts or proclaim all the praise due Him? How happy are those who uphold justice, who practice righteousness at all times. Remember me, Lord, when You show favor to Your people. Come to me with Your salvation so that I may enjoy the prosperity of Your chosen ones, rejoice in the joy of Your nation, and boast about Your heritage (vv. 1-5).

In Baroque music a composition consisting of the repetition of a short theme or succession of harmonies in slow triple meter was called a “chaconne.” Johann Sebastian Bach said, “The end and goal of thorough bass is nothing but the honor of God.” Here we have the psalmist’s chaconne of confession.

Musically speaking, confession is the ground bass around which this psalm is structured. Far from being “righteousness at all times,” Israel was more often ungrateful and rebellious. The ancient prophets, including Ezekiel and Isaiah, sounded a stern warning, urging her to confess and forsake her evil ways (see Neh. 9; Isa. 63; and Ezek. 20).

The psalmist strikes a major chord by praising God’s goodness and constancy, as evidenced in the mighty acts he has performed on Israel’s behalf. On that same note he moves on to pronounce a blessing on those who are consistently just and fair, progressing to a chord of concern for his personal accountability before the Lord.

Emotionally I’m capable of pretty severe mood swings, but I worship the living God of the universe who never changes. Sunrise and sunset, summer and winter, in adversity and prosperity, he parades past me the evidence of his unchanging nature.

Personal Prayer

I praise you today, Lord, for your constancy. When all of life crumbles in around me, I can count on your faithful love to orchestrate a symphony of joy.

The Great Stimulator

There is one God, the Father. All things are from Him … And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ. All things are through Him.—1 Corinthians 8:6

In order to remain spiritually vibrant we must strive to be creative and outgoing. It is never too late to acquire this characteristic. We are made in the image of our Creator, and when we cease to be creative, we cease to be.

Kagawa, the famous Japanese Christian, used to refer to Jesus as “the great Stimulator.” One day some students asked him why he was so fond of this phrase, and he replied: “Because He stimulates the creative center in each one of us, making us first aware of God, and then aware of the infinite possibilities in God.”

When I was at school, I struggled with my studies, and although I passed all my examinations and went to college, my passes were always on the borderline. Then I found Christ as the great Stimulator—and what a change. He stimulated the creative center within me, and He so transformed my attitude toward work that within months I had moved from near the bottom of my classes to near the top.

When taking a seminar in Birmingham, I met a friend who had recently come to live there. “What do you think of Birmingham?” I asked. His reply was: “I have lived here for three months, and every day I keep seeing new horizons.” This is what happens when we stay close to Jesus—every day we keep seeing new horizons. In His company we begin to see farther, feel for people on a wider scale, act more decisively, and live on the growing edge of adventure. Why? Because a creative God gives to His creation the same creative impulses.

Prayer

O God, stimulate my whole being, I pray, so that every day I shall see new horizons. Help me never to walk with my eyes focused on the ground, but with my eyes fixed on You. For Your own dear name’s sake I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 1:1-18; Col 1:16; Php 2:1

Who is at the center of creation?

What happens if He is the center of our lives?

God’s Amazing Grace

Romans 1:7

I am among those authors who, when they set about the task of writing, have difficulty with beginnings and endings. Paul had no such problem. In his epistles he followed the stylized form of Greek letter writing. But though his beginnings and endings were written according to the transient conventions of his time, they were always filled with the eternal content of his faith. For example, almost without exception they contain the hallowed words, grace and peace, which ring through his writing like the melodious peal of a carillon.

The actual greeting which follows Paul’s salutation in Romans is more than a mere greeting. It is a prayer of blessing containing a promise and a pledge:

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ”

(Romans 1:7). The grace of Christ was unveiled to Paul on the Damascus Road and remained the source of his achievements ever after.

When he speaks of the grace of the Lord, he means the unconstrained and undeserved favor and mercy of God toward needy, sinful man and the fact that Christ Himself is the sacrificial expression of that divine grace. (Ephesians 2:4-9). Grace is the master word and key to Paul’s theology. It appears 88 times in his writings and is actually one of the most significant words in the New Testament, for it indicates the nature of God and sums up all that He has done for us through Jesus Christ.

God’s grace is not conditioned by the worth of its object. It is shown in His tender regard for the person who lives in sin.

Though grace comes to us while we are yet sinners through the convicting Spirit, it can be resisted and spurned. The dictionary gives eight different uses of the word grace, and among them is one that stirred my memory—”a short prayer of thanksgiving before or after a meal.” As far back as I can recall, prayer at mealtime was an institution in my parents’ home. This defense, available to every Christian family, helps to hold it together and protect it from hostile external influences. As a family altar, it is the heart of the home where the family gathers about God’s Word and communes with the heavenly Father. There, children are taught the things of God and learn how to pray. A family at prayer is a sign of grace.

Clarence D. Wiseman, The Desert Road to Glory