VIDEO You Are Blessed!

I will bless you… and you shall be a blessing. Genesis 12:2

This year’s Olympics in Japan weren’t the same as past Olympics. Because of COVID-19, the stadiums were empty, the stands were vacant, the cheers were muted, and the ratings were down. The athletes performed in cavernous amphitheaters of silence, unable to feel the rush of the deafening shouts of their supporters.

 How many people feel as empty as a deserted stadium? How many have no cheerleaders, no encouragement? Life feels futile and vain. They try to grab onto the excitement of each day, but there’s nothing deeper than the swoosh of the passing pages of the calendar.

If that sounds like you, stop and take a moment to realize that’s not what the Lord intends. His gift to you is an abundant life of blessing, of purpose, and of service on earth and then in heaven. He wants to bless you and make you a blessing!

Here’s a prayer for you: “Lord, I feel empty today. But I ask You to open my eyes to the marvelous blessings You’ve sent me this very day. I receive them! I enjoy them in Christ! Now, Lord, make me a blessing.”

Blessing is God’s default setting—His first and foremost reflex. If you don’t believe that, you’ll doubt the goodness of God. Mark Batterson


Genesis 12 – 2009 – Skip Heitzig

Great Wisdom

Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear. Jude 1:22–23

“The shepherd needs great wisdom and a thousand eyes,” wrote the beloved church father John Chrysostom, “to examine the soul’s condition from every angle.” Chrysostom wrote these words as part of a discussion on the complexity of caring well for others spiritually. Since it’s impossible to force anyone to heal, he emphasized, reaching others’ hearts requires great empathy and compassion.

But that doesn’t mean never causing pain, Chrysostom cautioned, because “if you behave too leniently to one who needs deep surgery, and do not make a deep incision in one who requires it, you mutilate yet miss the cancer. But if you make the needed incision without mercy, often the patient, in despair at his sufferings, throws all aside . . . and promptly throws himself over a cliff.”

There’s a similar complexity in how Jude describes responding to those led astray by false teachers, whose behavior he describes starkly (1:12–13, 18–19). Yet when Jude turns to how to respond to such grave threats, he doesn’t suggest reacting with harsh anger.

Instead, he taught that believers should respond to threats by rooting themselves even more deeply in God’s love (vv. 20–21). For it’s only when we’re deeply anchored in God’s unchanging love that we can find the wisdom to help others with appropriate urgency, humility, and compassion (vv. 22–23)—the way most likely to help them find healing and rest in God’s boundless love.

By: Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

Why is it crucial to “[build yourself] up . . . in the Holy Spirit” (v. 20) before you respond to perceived threats? What examples have you seen of great wisdom and compassion used in helping someone in great pain?

God of love, when I’m faced with evil and hate, help me not to respond in kind but anchor myself in Your love

Experiencing God’s Goodness

When we look and listen for God’s goodness, we will truly know He is good because evidence of His love shines all around us.

Psalm 31:19-24

When life is pleasant, we find praising God easy because His kindness is evident. But recognizing hardship as an expression of His care is hard. In difficult times, we need to remind ourselves of today’s passage, which tells us the Lord has stored up goodness for those who trust and obey Him. If you feel He’s benevolent only when circumstances are to your liking, then you misunderstand His nature. Those who know His character are able to see evidence of His goodness in all situations.

I didn’t always understand this truth. When I was growing up, my goal was to be obedient so God wouldn’t do anything bad to me. But the difficult and painful situations in my life hindered my understanding. Now as I look back, I can see His love and wisdom in allowing and using those trials to shape my character.

Today when God does something that I don’t like, I pour out my heart to Him. After seeking His perspective and listening, I’m filled with gratitude and trust in His character. And then I am willing to accept His wise choice for my life.

We live under the umbrella of God’s goodness. When circumstances and feelings tell you otherwise, rely on what you know. Throughout the day, look for signs of His loving care. As your perspective changes, then no matter which way you turn, you’ll be able to see confirmations that He is good.

The Time of Old Age

“Now also when I am old and greyheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.” (Psalm 71:18)

One tends to grow resentful against the limitations and increasing infirmities associated with aging, even complaining to God and others about growing old—at least until one considers the alternative! We need to remember that as long as the Lord preserves our lives, He has some ministry for us to perform for “this generation” and “to every one that is to come.”

The Scriptures abound with promises of blessing in old age, so growing old should be an occasion for rejoicing and deepened commitment to whatever the Lord enables one to do. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree:…Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age” (Psalm 92:12-14). But if there develops a tendency to grow spiritually cold with age, the admonition of Paul is appropriate. “Aged men [should] be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness,…teachers of good things” (Titus 2:2-3).

Thus, the heartfelt prayer of the psalmist in our text is still appropriate today, for all who will, sooner than they think, enter the time of old age. Note also the following prayer: “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth” (Psalm 71:9). That God will answer such a prayer, offered in faith and sincerity, was affirmed by David when he said: “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalm 37:25). The time of old age can be a time of happy harvest if we have sowed the seeds of good fruit. HMM

The “Where Of Praise

Hallelujah! Praise God in His sanctuary. Praise Him in His mighty heavens (Psalm 150 v. 1).

This psalm is an orchestra of praise—every instrument imaginable poised and lifted up in worship, celebrating God’s incomparable excellence. Wherever his creatures live, God should be praised, the psalmist says. First, he encourages believers to praise the Lord in the sanctuary. Second, he urges the angels to praise the Lord in the sky, the vault of heaven. Since God’s glory fills the universe, his praise must do no less!

Many of us organize our lives into neat, convenient categories—business, domestic, spiritual. We find it hard to think about praising the Lord at work, or while swimming or playing tennis, or at home with the family. Worship is slotted in on Sunday mornings. Many of us have fallen into the sacred versus secular dichotomy, which robs us of spontaneity and vitality in our relationship with the Lord. Such a narrow concept of praise leads to a life of truth without beauty, which, in turn, can result in legalism, disillusionment, or even rebellion.

We need to learn to praise the Lord wherever we are. We ought to try standing around the dinner table, holding hands with our loved ones, and singing the “Doxology” together. We ought to dare humming the tune to a hymn at break in the office. We ought to join some major community choir in the Easter or Christmas season, sing the “Hallelujah Chorus,” and allow ourselves to lose control of our emotions, letting tears flow down our cheeks and the chills run up our spines. That will be a preview of heaven when we join the angelic choir of millions upon millions! Hallelujah!

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, may I be bold enough to praise you wherever I am today You inhabit praise, so my joyful heart is your “sanctuary.”

Hallelujah Chorus

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom

The kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ;

And He shall reign forever and ever,

King of kings! and Lord of lords!

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

Words based on Rev. 19:6. Music by George Frederick Handel.

Is There a Personal Devil?

Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army.—Revelation 19:19

Surprising as it may sound, some Christians do not believe in a personal devil. A modern-day theologian writes: “Let us put to sleep this idea of a personal devil who walks about with a pitchfork seeking to tumble people into hell. Evil is not a personality but an influence—it is just the darkness where the light ought to be.”

While I agree that the picture of a personal devil walking about with a pitchfork and with horns and a tail is not to be found anywhere in Scripture, the concept of a personal devil is found everywhere in Scripture. One evidence of this is the fact that many of the names given to him denote his personality: Satan, deceiver, liar, murderer, accuser, tempter, prince of the power of the air, and so on. Listen to what someone has written on this subject:

Men don’t believe in the Devil now, as their fathers used to do.

They reject one creed because it’s old, for another because it’s new.

But who dogs the steps of the toiling saint, who spreads the net for his feet?

Who sows the tares in the world’s broad fields where the Savior sows His wheat?

They may say the Devil has never lived; they may say the Devil has gone,

But simple people would like to know—who carries his business on?

Take it from me, whether or not you believe in the Devil, he most certainly believes in you.

Prayer

Father, help me see that it is to Satan’s advantage for me not to believe in him. Then he can do his evil work unresisted. Over these coming weeks, unfold to me the strategies I need to overcome him. In Christ’s name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

2Co 11:1-14; 1Th 3:5; 1Pt 5:8; Rv 12:10; Jn 8:44

What are some of the guises in which Satan comes to us?

How does Peter describe him?

The Power of The Spirit

Acts 1:8

Employers may know us by our commercial qualifications; sons and daughters know us as parents; neighbors and friends know us as single, married or widowed. But though we remain whatever designation fits us, we are more than that. We have a God-given task to fulfill. We are ambassadors for Christ, channels of divine grace, and the source of much encouragement and truth to those around us.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is the supreme gift. When we have Him, we have everything God has to offer us. The Spirit is the gift of gifts and, according to Jesus, the Father is more than willing to make the gift available to us (John 16:13).

There are certain things the Holy Spirit does for us all when He comes to us, some of which have been mentioned previously, but there are some personal things He does for us which He does not need to do for other people. This could be related to our personalities or to the task He wants us to do. Sufficient it is for us to say that there is no limit to His power to change and equip us. What a glorious provision this is!

The disciples would receive power after the Holy Spirit had come to them. We note the ordinariness of the disciples and conclude that this common characteristic is part of the divine strategy. God has always intended to work through ordinary people, knowing that His Spirit would make them extraordinary. The promise of power was made, therefore, because it was essential.

The Spirit’s gift is unlimited. The Spirit imparts initiative, boldness, authority and powers of persuasion. We have only to compare the failure of the Apostle Peter in the courtyard when he was challenged about his relationship with Jesus (Luke 22:54-62), with his bold proclamation of the resurrection outside the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost to see the change the Spirit makes. How greatly we need the power, the fire of the Holy Spirit today!

So often, Lord, I trust my own resources,

And work as though I labored all alone,

Forgetful that Your Spirit reinforces

All I should do: all You desire to own.

Remind me, Lord, that in my work for You,

Your Holy Spirit’s power will see me through.

Harry Read, Words of Life