God’s blessing


Deuteronomy 33-34 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He knows us and blesses us with what is best

Some people seem to have a gift or talent for making money, everything they touch turns to gold.   Many have a natural ability for making friends, never meeting a stranger. Still others are great communicators, whether verbal or written.  We always seem to envy the gift we don’t possess and sometimes go to great lengths to achieve it.  After all, who doesn’t want to be wealthy, popular or wise?   But so often our striving to achieve what others possess backfires on us. Better to walk in the blessings and talents He has given us.

@ Deuteronomy 33
“This is the blessing that Moses, the man of God, gave to the people of Israel before his death:  ‘The Lord came from Mount Sinai and dawned upon us…Indeed, he loves his people; all his holy ones are in his hands.  They follow in his steps and accept his teaching.  Moses gave us the Lord’s instruction, the special possession of the people of Israel.’” (1-4)  As the Israelites stood at the threshold of their Promised Land, they listened as Moses gave his final address to them, one that was filled with blessings for each tribe.

Just before his death, Jacob, the patriarch of the sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel, delivered a similar message of blessing to his sons, but included what would be the history of their sins as well.  The address by Moses was about the blessing, character and function that each tribe possessed through their relationship with God.

The tribe of Simeon was not mentioned by Moses because it no longer existed and had been absorbed into the other tribes.  Levi was blessed with the ministry role for the tribes, Gad would be the great land owner and Asher was blessed with prosperity.  All together, the tribes would be a formidable nation in their new land…if they kept their relationship with God.

God has blessed each of us, His children, with giftings and talents that not only enrich each one of us on a personal level, but also advance His Kingdom here on earth.  We may envy the abilities of others, but we have no idea about the responsibilities that come with them.  According to Jesus, great wealth comes with a great struggle to surrender it to Him for His purposes (Luke 18:25).  Thankfully, without a struggle, He has promised that He “will supply all [our] needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)  Also, I’ve discovered that when I use the talents He has given me, His blessing overflows in many other areas of my life.

Early in his ministry, Moses did not want to accept the role that God had assigned him, yet this leader, gifted and blessed by the Lord for this task, delivered the Israelites to the door of their promise.  He may have worn the same pair of shoes for 40 years, but Moses was successful beyond measure because He walked in the gifts God had given him, “…the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” (Exodus 33:11), “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.” (34:10)  Life just doesn’t get better than that. 

Moving Forward:  I really don’t want the gifts and talents God has given others, but I do want to be faithful with what He has given to me. 

Tomorrow @ Esther 6-10

3 John (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He opens doors of opportunity to partner with His servants

Having spent three months on a short-term mission’s assignment in the past, I understand the message of 3 John, as well as its significance.  Traveling and living out of a suitcase becomes exhausting after a while, but the bright note in the experience is the kindness and fellowship of other believers.  Several families along the way opened their homes and hearts to us, providing comfortable lodging, delicious meals and precious fellowship.

In and of itself, it was humbling to be on the receiving end of such kindness, but the fact that these were missionary families made it all the sweeter.  I will never forget their generosity and kindness to us, and like John in our reading today, I often pray that “all is well with them and that they are as healthy in body as they are strong in spirit.” (2)

3 John is a perfect counter to the unseemly hospitality given to false prophets mentioned in 2 John.  Obviously this is a personal letter from John to his gracious friend Gaius, and it’s significant that of all the personal letters John must have written to believers, God’s guidance in the formation of the Bible included this letter.  Evidently, hospitality is important to the Lord. In fact, the Bible is filled from Genesis through the New Testament with examples of hospitality and the blessing that it brings to both the giver and the recipient.  Jesus and Paul both addressed it.  There’s something powerful in the act of opening one’s home or pocketbook to bless others, especially those who minister the gospel.

“Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers.  So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth.” (5-8) There it is – the simple truth.

For me, the opportunity for fellowship with His servants seems blessing enough, but when we provide care, hospitality and support for those who minister, we become partners in all that they do.  We are partners – associates, cohorts, co-workers – with those we support, partners not only in the expenses of the mission but also in the profits.  These are eternal profits that moths and rust cannot destroy. (Matthew 6:19)  The benefits from these partnerships last forever.

Moving Forward:  May a heart of hospitality invade my busy day, partnering with servants in their mission.

Tomorrow @ Deuteronomy 29-31

I Chronicles 15-19 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: His response to our request is always what is best for us

No one likes being told “No, you can’t have that” or “No, you can’t do that,” etc.  I’ve been told that when I was really young, I wasn’t a child who whined or sobbed when told no.  I was a pouter.  Ugh.  That lower lip would fall to the floor, and, you know, it’s very difficult to smile when one’s lip is on the ground.  However, my mom had a way of putting a smile on my face even in my moments of disappointment.  She would look at me and say, “I’ll smile if you’ll smile,” and then she would give me a hopeful little smile.  Sometimes it took more than one smile on her part, but eventually I couldn’t help but smile and laugh.  In our reading today, David heard no from God but praised Him anyway. 

@ I Chronicles 17
David had a brilliant idea.  He wanted to build a beautiful temple for the Lord.  I’m sure his hopes of accomplishing this were high when the prophet Nathan said to go for it. (2)  However, Nathan returned to David after hearing from the Lord with a definite no to David’s idea.  We love it when God says yes to us or we submit to His wait, but when He says no, we are wise to accept His will as well.

Because God is so very gracious even when He answers with a negative response, He threw in His own version of I’ll smile if you smile to David. “I will raise up one of your descendants, one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my favor from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.” (11-14)  Now a proclamation like that would put a smile on any father’s face.  Even though many of David’s descendants failed in their love for God, a descendant was coming to redeem the world, Christ Jesus, and His throne will be secure forever.

Even in the face of disappointment, David was immediately humbled by God’s smile in the midst of a no.  “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? And now, O God, in addition to everything else, you speak of giving your servant a lasting dynasty! You speak as though I were someone very great, O Lord God!…O Lord, there is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!”(16-17,20)  David’s response to God is filled with praise and worship – a big smile for God!

Sometimes God’s answer to our prayer is no, and we may be tempted to whine, cry … or pout.  A much better response is to follow David’s example and believe that He knows what is best and has a better plan, whether He expresses that plan at the time or not.  The very thought that my God loves me and is concerned enough about my welfare to say no at times humbles me to my knees.  I cry, “Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”  And that makes me smile!

Moving Forward: Throughout my prayers today, I will smile with confidence because I know He has my best interests at heart. 

Tomorrow @ Psalms 102-104

Numbers 5-8 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He desires to grant His blessing at our request

God bless you! Blessings to you! May the Lord richly bless you!  These are phrases that we say or write for many different reasons, from a sneeze to a wedding wish.  For many of us, they have become a part of our every day vernacular, and that certainly is not a bad thing.  But I wonder if we really understand the solicitation we are requesting from God on the behalf of the dear one we are addressing.  In light of our scripture today, all I can say is “Bring it on!” 

@ Numbers 6:22-26

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing:’ 

“May the Lord bless you [impart His holiness to you] and protect you [keep you safe every moment of the day and night because He never sleeps, Psalm 121:4].  May the Lord smile on you [place on you His radiant shine so you may reflect His love to you everywhere you go] and be gracious to you [provide compassionate forgiveness for your sin and eternal life with Him even through you may not deserve it].  May the Lord show you His favor [His kindness, support and approval and preferential treatment] and give you peace [a calm, serene state of being regardless of your surroundings that surpasses all understanding].”  Amen!

When we ask the Lord to bless others, we are asking Him to flood their lives with His holiness, protection, smile, grace, favor and peace.  One simple word reflects such great goodness from God when said in His name.  “Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.” (27)  Evidently, He’s listening and waiting on our call for Him to bless.  How could we disappoint Him!

Moving Forward: I ask the Lord’s special blessing on His dear ones who are reading these words today.  I understand what that blessing really means, and I know He will respond. 

Tomorrow @ I Chronicles 10-14

I Chronicles 1-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: Because of His great love, He adopted us

I’m going to write about your family today. Oh…you didn’t know that I knew them?  Well, yes, I know a little bit about them.  In fact, today we read all about your ancestors as well as mine, many of whom were dynamic leaders and people of great faith, and a few bad apples on the old family tree too.  I mean, really, don’t we all come from Adam?

I Chronicles 1-4 records the official family history of the nation of Israel, starting with none other than Adam.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are adopted or grafted into the family tree of Israel, so all the inheritance that was promised to Abraham and his family is ours as well. (Romans 11:17)

Just like with our personal family genealogies, we are able to read about our ancestors in the Bible and discover how and why we have arrived to the point where we are today.  So, dear one, I won’t be stopping by for dinner unannounced as family sometimes does, but please keep in mind that we are family and we’re all going to live together someday in one great big glorious city.  Don’t worry – it will be good!

There are so many amazing family members listed in these chapters that it would be impossible to write about all of them today, but a few stand out to me as I read them:  Enoch, who walked with God and never died, now that’s a story all on its own; Noah, the shipbuilder who trusted God in the face of ridicule; Abraham who left home and all that he knew to settle in an unfamiliar land just because he trusted God; David, the King after God’s own heart; and Jabez, our example of the man who prayed and God granted his requests.  Most of these are listed in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11.  What a heritage!  Also listed were dozens of faithful kings, priests and prophets – such an impressive background we have.

The next time our enemy comes around to demean and to discourage us by reminding us of our more recent family members who may not be so illustrious or to remind us of our own dismal past, we have something to declare:  We come from a long line of Royalty, we are Kings, we are Priests, we are blood-bought, (Revelations 1:6) and these are things our enemy will never be.  We will someday rule and reign and these are things that he will never do.  Because of who we are in Jesus, we really don’t have to take any of his talk!

As I think about where we come from, who we are and where we’re going, I can’t help but remember the verse that puts it all in perspective for me.  In Revelations 4:10-11, represented by the 24 elders, we learn what we the redeemed, His royal family, will do with our crowns when we stand before Him, “And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”   We may have a great and impressive heritage; but when it’s all said and done, it’s really all about Him.

Moving Forward: Head held high, I move forward today remembering who He is and remembering who I am because of Him.  I’ve got great genes

Tomorrow @ Psalms 93-95

Psalms 90-92 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He will rescue and protect those who love and trust Him

If we’re looking for a Social Security program that won’t run out of money and a Healthcare Plan that doesn’t need to be funded by anyone, then Psalm 91 has the perfect plan.  It provides a beautiful place to live, Homeland Security, invisible protection shields, perfect healthcare and a 24/7 emergency service.  No government funding, no tax increases and no endless paperwork.  It may sound too good to be true…but it’s really true! 

@ Psalm 91
“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  This I declare about the Lord:  He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.” (1-2)  And I trust Him. Some might consider this phrase the little glitch in our security plan, but clearly, we have to trust the One we’re living with!

His shelter for us is not a place He intends for us to visit now and then.  No, He wants us to live there, where the Shadow of His presence covers us as we rest.  He can be trusted. Some days when troubles are thrown at me from all sides, I say right out loud David’s short declaration in Psalm 130:5, “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him.  I have put my hope in his word.”  It resounds in my own ears as well as throughout heaven that I am trusting in Him.  We have to trust the One we’re living with!

“For He will rescue from every trap and protect you from deadly disease…Do not be afraid of terrors of the night…Do not dread disease or disasters…though ten thousand are dying around you, these evils will not touch you…He will order His angels to protect you wherever you go.” (3-11)  When reading this Psalm, we want to believe that we will never face any troubles, disease or persecution, but because we know godly people who have suffered in this way, we may be tempted to doubt its truth.  If this is true, then why did this or that happen to someone we know?  What kind of security and health plan is this, anyway?

Verses 14-15 give God’s response in the matter, “The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them.’”  There wouldn’t be need for a promise of rescue or protection if it was impossible for us to face troubles or sickness.  As always, the if clause is present in His promise – He will rescue and protect those who love Him and trust Him.  And He adds that if we find ourselves in trouble, all we have to do is call on Him, and He will rescue us.

Well, I, for one, am going to run with that!  The One who knows our past, our present and our future leads us on His path where He protects and rescues us when needed and even sends angels, our invisible protection shields, to accomplish this.  While evil would like to conquer us, only God will control our destiny. We may not understand our situation, but He does and will use that situation in ways we may never understand and touch lives that would not be reached any other way.  “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28)

This is the unshakeable, undeniable truth of Psalm 91 that is not affected by governmental control, financial meltdowns or attacks by our enemy:  When we make the Lord our dwelling place, our refuge, and when we love and trust Him, we can live without fear.  If we face troubles and sickness, we can call on Him to rescue us and we know He will be with us.  The answering, the rescuing and the healing are in His hands, and He can be trusted to do what is best for us.  I’m good with that.  I promise you, Congress will never come up with anything better! 

Moving Forward:  Sheltered, protected and rescued no matter where I go today or what comes my way.  Only He could provide a plan like that! 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 14-15

Leviticus 13-15 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: God provides all that is needed to keep His people alive and well on their journey

“If a man loses his hair and his head becomes bald, he is still ceremonially clean.  And if he loses hair on his forehead, he simply has a bald forehead; he is still clean. However…” (13:40-41)  For those who are hair challenged, I would imagine reading Leviticus 13 brings great relief, although I’m still somewhat concerned about men with hairy foreheads.  Whether clean or not, I’m not sure hair growing on the forehead is a good thing.  But even more disconcerting is that little word however.

God gave Moses specific instructions regarding the healthcare of the wilderness Israelites.  Hospitals, Emergency Rooms and 24-Hour Urgent Care Clinics did not exist on the backside of the desert where this nomadic community of 2 to 3 million people traveled for 40 years.  The priests were the healthcare providers who administered the diagnosis and treatment needed to preserve God’s chosen people.  It’s not farfetched to imagine an insidious epidemic totally erasing this isolated people group from history, but God would not have that!

God provided all that was needed to keep His people alive and well on their journey as long as they paid close attention to those howevers.  Skin lumps, bumps, sores and discolorations on His people were all diagnosed by the priests to prevent the spread of leprosy, the killer of the day, as well as other diseases.  Even clothing and household goods were evaluated for disease-producing mildew and mold.  Individuals deemed unclean were isolated and goods were either purified or burned.

God was concerned about preventive healthcare because it was obviously much less debilitating and more cost effective than aftercare.  His laws in Chapter 15 regarding bodily discharges, gross indeed, were all about preserving and protecting those He loved.  God really wasn’t surprised when our medical researchers over the past century discovered conclusive proof that diseases, ranging from colds to AIDS, could be transmitted through bodily discharges.  I would think all of heaven offered one big DUH at that conclusion.

If we think the laws and instructions of Leviticus are irrelevant to us today, we should think again.  Yes, the blood of Jesus protects us, but so does His wisdom. There’s a reason that may go all the way back to Leviticus that I carry disinfectants and hand sanitizers when I travel; and after rereading Chapter 15, I’ll be thinking twice about trying on clothes in mall dressing rooms.  I’m just saying…

All God’s instructions regarding healthcare were important to protect His people and get them to the Promised Land.  For us today, equally important is what leprosy and the like represent to us.  Sin is much more menacing than any physical disease could ever be.  It may start small, like the white patch or bump with leprosy, seemingly insignificant; however, if left unchecked, it will bring eternal death to us.  Daily examination before our High Priest for His diagnosis is the best preventive healthcare for the soul that I know.  As far as treatment, His blood has it all covered!

Moving Forward: His wisdom protects my life today and guides my steps, and His blood treats whatever ails my soul. 

Tomorrow @ 2 Kings 6-10

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