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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Giving it all away

The blessings of God - some would say they come unannounced, and often unrealized. Others might say they don't come often enough, as though there were some delay in receiving his blessing which is unexplained and undeserved.  Realized or not, his blessings surround us.  Delayed or quick to appear, his blessings are sure.  In good times and bad, his blessings come - though some may think they are undeserved.  Who can really say there has ever been a blessing of God "deserved" by anyone?  Even when we are obedient and following closely to what God wants for our lives, can we claim his blessings as "deserved"? Not really - for ALL God's blessings are simply because of his grace and grace is totally undeserved!

Shout praises to the Lord!  The Lord blesses everyone who worships him and gladly obeys his teachings.  Their descendants will have great power in the land, because the Lord blesses all who do right.  They will get rich and prosper and will always be remembered for their fairness.  They will be so kind and merciful and good, that they will be a light in the dark for others who do the right thing.  Life will go well for those who freely lend and are honest in business.  They won’t ever be troubled, and the kind things they do will never be forgotten.  Bad news won’t bother them; they have decided to trust the Lord.   They are dependable and not afraid, and they will live to see their enemies defeated.  They will always be remembered and greatly praised, because they were kind and freely gave to the poor.  When evil people see this, they angrily bite their tongues and disappear.  They will never get what they really want.  (Psalm 112)

Although we might never "deserve" his blessings, this one thing is for sure - God blesses those who choose to put their trust in him.  Those who understand blessing also understand the joy of finding ways to bless others in some way, as well.  They want to share the blessing of grace, but also the various other blessing God showers upon their lives.  Out of their hearts come blessings of good deeds, kindness in the face of unkindness, and provision in the midst of despair.  Why?  There is something about being blessed which makes a child of God desire to see that blessing multiplied as it touches others around them.  I think God might have had that idea in mind when the scriptures declare that we can cast our bread upon the waters and someday you will find it again (Ecclesiastes 11:1).  

There are several other characteristics of a child of God I'd like us to see from our passage today:

- Blessing is conditioned upon where it is we direct our attention and heart.  Worship is a means of surrendering time, talent, and attention to the one being worshiped.  When our heart is surrendered to Christ in reverent obedience, we are in a position of receiving blessing from his hand.  There is something about having our focus firmly directed toward Christ that "positions" us to receive - we may not fully understand how or why this is, but we can determine this to be true from what scripture declares.

- God's blessing bring benefits, but these benefits are not just for us.  Even though we might realize great power, or increase in some financial manner, these blessings are not for US. They are designed as a means to bless others!  When we understand worship, we understand what is given is meant to be shared.  When we receive much, God asks for us to develop a heart willing to give as freely as one has received.

- Kindness, mercy, and goodness are hallmarks of a life which has been blessed.  Want to know if someone is receiving God's blessings in their lives - look for these hallmarks.  Those who understand blessing also understand there are times when blessing will be the least deserved, but the most needed! Blessed individuals develop a reputation for their expression of blessing others who may or may not deserve that blessing!

- Blessed individual are not fazed by the rumors of wars, or the dips in the stock markets. They know their source and they are secure in his care.  Their ability to rise above what others might consider "crushing forces" will often be evidence of their depth of faith and intense trust in the one who has always stood by them regardless of the circumstances.  

This kind of blessed living confounds those who are out for all they can get and never concerned for anyone other than themselves.  They don't "get" how someone can be so grace-filled in the midst of what others would consider to be hostile, bitter, or tumultuous times.  I guess this might be why believers "stand out" in the crowd - they bear the hallmarks of being blessed!  The very next time you have the opportunity to share the blessings of God, do it.  You might just be surprised at how significant a little bit of God's grace might be in the life of another who has no concept of this grace!  Just sayin!