Meanderings of a Minister


Count Your Many Blessings
March 31, 2017, 1:50 pm
Filed under: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever stopped to think about all of the blessings you have been given just by virtue of the fact that you are a believer in and follower or Jesus Christ?  Ephesians 1 lists seven of these blessings.  Perhaps in reading through the following list, we can embody Proverbs 14:30, which says, “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but envy makes the bones rot.”  Here is that list from Ephesians 1.[1]

Blessing #1:  God has chosen us to be holy and blameless.  (Ephesians 1:4)

This means that, if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, God has chosen you and drawn you into relationship with Him.  He has begun a good work in you and will complete it. (Philippians 1:6)  He is giving you the desire daily to live for Him.  (Ephesians 2:13)  God already sees you the way you are going to be when you become what He is leading you to want to become.

Blessing #2:  God has adopted us into His family.  (Ephesians 1:4-6)

This means that you are wanted by God.  He is not stuck with you.  He knew you before you were born (Psalm 139).  He wrote your name down in the book of life before you came to be.  (Revelation 13:8)(Ephesians 1:4)  He chose you.  He loves you.  You are part of His family with all of the privileges that come along with being a child of the King!

Blessing #3:  We are redeemed and forgiven.  (Ephesians 1:7-8)

This means that the ransom has been paid to deliver us when we were incapable of delivering ourselves.  He loosed us from the demands of sin.  (Romans 6:23)  He purchased us and set us free.  He cancelled our debt.  We owe nothing for our sin because He already paid for it.  When we sin, He advocates on our behalf.  (1 John 2:1)

Blessing #4:  God has shown us the mystery of His will.  (Ephesians 1:9-10)

This means that we no longer have to worry about living for or carrying out the will of God in our lives.  For most of us, we get to a fork in the road of our lives and wonder, “What is God’s will for me in this situation?”  We really don’t have to ask this because we already know the answer.  God’s will for me in every situation is to glorify Him.  To point people towards praising the grace of God.  For many of life’s situations, we needn’t stand paralyzed at the fork in the road because in Christ, we should be living out this will everyday.  Jesus showed us the example in that He lived for and glorified God in every circumstance.  (John 17:4)

Blessing #5:  We are chosen for an inheritance.  (Ephesians 1:11-12)

This means that we are chosen to receive not just heaven, although that would be enough.  We are also chosen for an inheritance of God’s love, nearness, and presence in our lives.  We are also to receive an inheritance such as is described in the promises to the overcomers in Revelation 2-3.

Blessing #6:  We are included in Christ.  (Ephesians 1:13)

This means that I am in Christ.  Inside, covered by His righteousness, identified by His Name and considered His brother and fellow heirs (Romans 8:17).  When God looks at us, He does not see the sin we so struggle with.  Instead, He sees the righteousness of His Son that is being accounted unto us by grace, through faith.

Blessing #7:  We have the guarantee of the Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 1:13-14)

This means that I already have the down payment for what is to come.  I have the seal of God that is an indication of His promise that I am His and will be for eternity.  (1 Corinthians 12:3)

With all of these blessings, why do we chase after others that don’t even come close to measuring up?  We are encouraged by some to seek parking places close to the store, bigger cars, fancier clothes, etc.  All of these “blessings” will burn up and will be gone in an instant.  The blessings described in Ephesians 1 will never go away.

Count your blessings!

[1] Holladay, Tom.  Great Chapters of the Bible:  Ephesians Chapter One, Discover Your Spiritual Blessings.  Rancho Santa Margarita, CA: Saddleback Resources, 2010.

Advertisements


Where Do God’s Blessings Come From?

blessing

Chances are good that, if you turn on the television and tune into a religious channel, you will hear a lot about God’s blessings.  You will hear that God wants to bless you beyond your wildest imagination.  You will hear that God’s main concern is that you be happy, fulfilled, wealthy and blessed.  Actually, they are right!  But, many times, they are just as wrong.  Allow me to explain.

First, we need to understand what blessing means from God’s perspective.  The word for blessing in the Old Testament actually comes from a root word that means to prepare.  It is a word that, properly translated, means much more than just stuff.  So many times we think blessing means that we get a new car, new home, lots of money, etc.  Sometimes this is the case because God gives us those things in preparation for what He wants us to do and do with them.  This is not always the case.  God equally blesses the person that has nothing as He works in his or her life to prepare them for the ministry He has ahead of them.  Sometimes God even uses difficulty to prepare us to be useful for His Kingdom!

Consider the story of the widow in 2 Kings 4:1-7.  Her husband has died, the food is gone, and the creditors are going to take her two sons away as payment for her husband’s debts.  She is at the absolute end of her rope.  She has nowhere to turn; however, she does have one last desperate choice.  She goes to Elisha, the prophet, and asks for his help.  With the desperation that we can only see in a mother that trying to keep her family together and her home intact, she cries out to God through His prophet.  Much to her chagrin, the prophet asks what she wants him to do?  She has no answer.  He asks what she has left in her house.  She replies that she only has a little bit of oil and that is it.

This is the chance where she has a choice to make.  She has presented her request to God and He has responded by asking her to give up the little she has.  That would probably not make for a successful television ministry, but it was what God wanted.  Faced with this call to action, the widow had a chance to obey or not obey.  By not obeying, she could protect the little she had and continue to find a way out that was more appealing or popular.  If she obeyed, she would have to trust that God knew what He was doing and would take care of her.  She chose to obey even though it made no sense from a human standpoint.  What did she receive?  God’s blessing.  In this case it was stuff, but it was not the stuff that mattered.  It was her obedience that taught her to trust God and provided her example for us that mattered and still does.  Her difficult circumstance was the blessing!

What are you facing right now that is tempting you to question the goodness of God?  What are you going through right now that is not what you wish it would be?  What difficulty is threatening to crush you?  Perhaps, just perhaps, this might be God blessing you, not with stuff, but with the opportunity to obey and learn about Him, grow closer to Him and be used more by and for Him.  Maybe instead of searching the television channels for a person to make you feel guilty and inferior because of what you are going through, you should spend that time talking to the One in charge of your circumstances and ask for Him to guide you through it.



O Christian, When Was the Last Time You Took Stock of All You Have in Christ?
January 23, 2014, 10:06 pm
Filed under: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

MoreGrace650x500

I came across this poem in my readings and thought I would share it with you:

 “The moment a sinner believes,

And trusts in his crucified God,

His pardon at once he receives—

Redemption in full, through his blood.

“’Tis faith that still leads us along,

And lives under pressure and load;

That makes us in weakness more strong,

And leads the soul upward to God

“It treads on the world, and on hell,

It vanquishes death and despair;

And oh, let us wonder to tell,

It wrestles and conquers by prayer

“Permits a vile worm of the dust

With God to commune as a friend;

To hope his forgiveness as just,

And look for his love to the end.

“It says to the mountains, ‘Depart,’

That stand between God and the soul

It binds up the broken in heart,

And makes wounded consciences whole.

“Bids sins of a crimson-like die

Be spotless as snow, and as white;

And raises the sinner on high,

To dwell with the angels of light.”[1]

As I read this poem, I was reminded not of everything I want in life, but everything I have in life.  So often, the enemy of our souls wants us to look at the 100 miles left of the journey when sometimes we would be spending our time better looking at the 200 miles we have travelled.

 Take some time this week to just get alone with God and thank Him for all you have in Christ.  What is that you say?  You are not yet in Christ?  You don’t even know what that means?  Pray and ask God to reveal             Himself to you and then go seek out a Christian at work, school, play, or church and ask them how you can know Him and then you will have these same praises.


[1] Gardiner Spring, The Attraction of the Cross; Designed to Illustrate the Leading Truths, Obligations and Hopes of Christianity, Ninth Edition. (New York: M. W. Dodd, 1854), 138.



What Are You Doing?
August 8, 2013, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

What-Are-You-Doing

For many people, this is a simple phrase used to greet each other.  Unlike “How are you doing?” they actually do want an answer.  They may say this to a friend on the phone to make sure they are not interrupting anything.  They may ask as they arrive on a visit to make sure they are okay invading their home turf. 

I was asked this question recently, but not by someone with a desire to avoid interrupting my day.  I was asked this question as a way of stopping me in my tracks and getting me to think about what I am actually doing and how that lines up with my walk with Christ.  “What are you doing?”  Actually, the question was asked a bit differently by a long dead author, Oswald Chambers, when he wrote in My Utmost for His Highest, “If the Son of God is born into my mortal flesh, is His holy innocence and simplicity and oneness with the Father getting a chance to manifest itself in me?”[1]

I had to think long and hard about Jesus manifesting His innocence in me because I know that I am anything but innocent.  I struggle with the same sins as everyone else, but probably more because I have more opportunities to express a Christlike attitude (or not).  I believe what Oswald Chambers was asking in the first part of the question was, “Does your life reflect the holiness of God?  The willingness to be different than others?”  As I thought about this question, I thought about the fact that having a daily quiet time with the Lord is different than much of the rest of the world.  The lost cannot understand the things of God and those things are considered foolish to them (see 1 Corinthians 2:14), so that makes me holy in this area of life.  I tithe, or give 10% of my income to my local church.  This makes me different than about 92% of those who identify themselves as Christians.  I give above and beyond the tithe with offerings.  That makes me different than about another 2 to 3% of “Christians”.  I attend church faithfully.  That makes me different than 75 to 80% of the population of our area.  So, the answer to the question is that I do allow Christ’s holiness to be manifested in me.

Just about the time you may be thinking I am bragging, or I might begin to feel pretty proud of myself, I realize pride is not part of the holiness of Christ, Who humbled Himself to give up the glory of Heaven to be born of a virgin, to teach twelve clueless men, to obey God unto death and even a death where He would be exposed shamefully, treated cruelly, and executed mercilessly.  On top of that, He did it because of the Father’s love for the world He had created (see Phil 2, and John 3:16).  In addition to that, I read James and realize I don’t control my tongue (chapter 3) , have disagreements with people because I want my way (chapter 4), and don’t always live out what I know the Bible to be telling me (1:22). I realize that I don’t control my food input, media input, time management, … the list goes on and on.

Is His simplicity getting a chance to manifest itself in me?  Hardly!  My wife and I are in the process of adopting a young child.  Simple does not explain any part of our lives right now.  In addition, I am attempting to work on another degree, be involved in the church, family, community, Pancake Day, Chamber of Commerce, school system, etc.  Simple does not seem to have a place with me.  I have been so busy this Summer, that the people of my church have languished to the point that many of them have put church attendance and meaningful Bible study on hold.

Lastly, is His oneness with the Father being manifested in me?  No.  Sadly, no.  For a lot of the previous reasons.  As I think about this reality in my life, I am challenged to look for ways to submit myself again and anew to my Savior.  While I cannot speak for anyone else, I wonder how many other people feel these same pressures and long to be and do differently.  Will we?  Or will we simply do what we have always done and hope things turn out differently?

What are you doing?



[1] Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year (Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications, 1986).