Blessed by God

In thinking about what to write today I decided what I need, and what many people need, is a little more inspiration in their lives. We’re a tired world: tired of money problems, tired of cranky kids, tired of bad food, tired of terrible drivers. So in my search for inspiration, I picked up The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson and the book of Job. I hope you’ll see the inspiration and begin your own journey for living a more inspired and blessed life.

The Prayer of Jabez:
The book the Prayer of Jabez is actually about a person who’s found in the Bible, Jabez. We read Jabez’s story in 1 Chronicles 4: “There was a man named Jabez who was more honorable than any of his brothers. His mother named him Jabez because his birth had been so painful. He was the one who prayed to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and expand my territory! Please be with me in all that I do, and keep me from all trouble and pain!” And God granted him his request.”
The conclusion that Wilkinson reached when he studied the prayer was that sometimes we’re not asking the right question or praying the right prayer. The fact is that great men and women of God think differently than the rest of the people. Wilkinson writes “He [Jabez] left it entirely up to God to decide what the blessings would be and where, when, and how Jabez would receive them.”

I love this statement that Wilkinson makes as well: “Even though there is no limit to God’s goodness, if you didn’t ask Him for a blessing yesterday, you didn’t get all that you were supposed to have.” WOW. It’s so true: God never said he had a limit on the number or kind of blessings we could have. Take Wilkinson’s challenge and pray Jabez’s prayer at least once every day and see what amazing things show up in your life.

Job:
Job is a book of the Bible dedicated to telling the story of a God-fearing man who lost almost everything when he was tested by satan, but the story ends with God blessing Job with more than he started with. I’m probably simplifying things calling the experience told in the book of Job a “challenge”, but what resulted was an amazing display of who God is and who we are. Job 38-41 is a massive outpouring of words directly from God. God speaks to many people throughout the Bible, but nowhere else does God really let loose like he does here. Job’s reply to God in Job 42:3 shows the incredible humility of a man totally blessed by God, and totally amazed by the blessing of God’s words in his life: “You [God] asked, ‘Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorance?’ It is I [Job]-and I was talking about things I knew nothing about, things far too wonderful for me.” Job learned a valuable lesson: in the midst of God’s blessings, there can be challenges, but God will never leave you hanging.

When was the last time that you took time to inhale and immerse yourself in God’s wonder in nature? Maybe you did this past weekend with some Earth Day activities. We’re such driven, busy people that taking the time to be one with God in nature seems almost frivolous. But maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what we need to feel like the people God created us to be again.

We’re truly blessed to be living in the time of transformation and learning that we’re living in. Although there are many broken pieces and challenges ahead, I believe that one of the biggest keys to successful transformation is each of us stepping up and being the leaders God has created us to be. I hope that this week you’ll take time to seek God’s blessing in your life, however He decides to bless you.

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Blessings for Today

Today I’m thinking about blessings. We’re a little over a week past Easter and the celebrations of Jesus rising again, certainly a huge blessing to all of us who believe. But there’s a lot more to life than just one day out of all of history. Yes, it’s a big day and certainly one worth celebrating each year, but Jesus lived for 30 some years (approximately 10,950 days) other than that one day, and most of us live for more than 30 years and more than 11,000 days. Those days contain a lot more blessings than can be summed up in just one day, not to mention all the challenges that are part of our human existence.

Challenges and blessings are interesting because if we look for them we can find them both, and sometimes we’re surprised by them as they happen to us. There are certainly things you can do with your life, heart, words and mind that can set you up for more blessings, but as long as we’re in this human experience we’ll experience challenges as well.

A phrase that I say is “this or something better.” It’s my way of accepting the reality I’m in, but always being open to something better, to a bigger blessing, a different blessing, a way to bless others or revelation God may have for me.

So if you’re in need of some blessings today, or need a little help turning the day around after some challenges met you this morning, open yourself to the good God has for you, look for the good around you and choose not to focus on the bad for longer than you have to. What blessings will you experience today?

“My cup overflows with blessings.” Psalm 23:5c

Helping Others

This month the topic we’re talking about is one that’s become more appropriate with the events of the past few weeks, the topic is helping. It’s something we’re seeing in a major way in Texas and other southern states following Hurricane Harvey. It’s something we see and do as a regular part of our daily lives. We also make choices not to help those who need it, sometimes for reasonable reasons, other times because we’re lazy, selfish, or just plain mean.

There are countless ways you can be a help. You can start a business and sell something someone needs. You can raise dogs as part of a seeing eye, mobility or veteran organization. You can hold the door for someone. You can donate to a cause. You can recognize the good work someone did. You can add boxes and cans to a food drive. You can volunteer with a home building organization. You can babysit for a family who just lost a grandparent. You can plant a garden. You can offer to drive a coworker whose car is in the office to work. You can help paint a neighbor’s fence. You can do your least favorite chore to help a family member who is sick or injured out. You can tutor kids. You can run a support group.

I could probably come up with hundreds of ways someone can be a help. There are plenty of excuses that we put out about why we’re not doing something to help, but the fact is with all the technology today, something even as simple as sending out a Tweet or Facebook post can be a help to someone. The biggest thing to remember about being a help is the attitude and willingness behind it. No, you don’t have to help everyone or in every situation, but when a situation comes along that you can be a help with, you should. How will you help someone today?

Mother’s Day Blessings

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day we stop to appreciate and remember those women who have had an impact on our lives.  A word that I think really sums up this celebration is blessing.  It’s a word I’ve been sharing about quite a bit with you lately, because it’s an important word, one that often gets buried in our lives underneath “challenge” and “problem”.  This Mother’s Day think about these different blessings:

Bunches of Blessings:
One of the easiest and most popular gifts for Mother’s Day is flowers.  Personally, I prefer the potted kind instead of the cut kind because they last longer.  Whatever your flower preference is, don’t forget that what you’re giving isn’t as important as remembering to truly celebrate the one you’re giving them to.  Think of not only what you’re gifting, but also the gift of having a mother this Mother’s Day.

Bountiful Blessings:
In this world of abundance, abundant gas prices, abundant unemployment, and abundant opportunities for growth, change and development, one thing we don’t stop to think about is having abundant blessings.  Psalm 23:6 sheds some light on where we get those abundant blessings: “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  More so than anyone, mothers should be dwelling with God.  If they’re to be amazing mothers, they need a lot of strength, wisdom and many blessings from God.

Boxes of Blessings:
Sometimes our blessings come in disguise.  I’ve been meditating a lot on a song by Laura Story, Blessings, (on YouTube).  Her song reminded me that sometimes our blessings are like items that we get in boxes in the mail.  We don’t really know what’s in the box, but we hope it’s what we want.  Sometimes, the box doesn’t contain what we want, or what we did want is in the box but it’s not in good condition.  It’s the boxes of blessings that most often bring us to our knees asking for guidance.

Bundles of Blessings:
Mother’s Day is a celebration of the gift of life. Psalm 139 contains David’s thoughts on how God begins our lives with us.  God’s special plan for each of our lives includes our mothers.  If you are blessed with the opportunity to be a mother, remember to thank God for it, because not everyone is blessed with that calling.

This Mother’s Day, in all of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to say a prayer for all of the mothers around the world, and those who have a desire to be mothers.   Also, consider the bunches, bounty, boxes and bundles in your life.  These aren’t just lessons for Mom, they’re lessons that everyone needs to gather in their life.

Psalm 16:5 says “Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.  You guard all that is mine.”  I hope that blessings overflow in your life (and your mom’s life) this weekend, and I encourage you to take the time to celebrate and recognize all the blessings God sends your way.

Reality Reflection: Life Changing

I heard it said again on the radio tonight, the statement said by someone who had some interaction with an entertainment group (music/TV producer etc): “my life has completely changed!!”  Don’t get me wrong, I love life changes.  I love that we can step into them and many things can go right as a result.  There are plenty of people who have benefited from “life changes” that have begun like this, but there are others who have not benefited, and may even have a worse life as a result.  For every successful reality, music, TV, sweepstakes, lottery star/winner there are also those who end up throwing many good things in their life away as a result of the encounter with the “life changing moment.”

One of the things that pushes my buttons most about this is that before they won the lottery or before they became a mega star they were living this whole life-a life that probably wasn’t awful and they were OK living.  Sure, we all wish we could improve or change our lives in some way, but many people live OK lives in this day and age. As much as we may hope and dream for our own fairy godmother (in whatever form “she” comes in), most of us don’t need her to get through life.  With a little hard work most of us can reach the real goals we have for our lives (without robbing a bank or selling drugs).  We may never become the super pop star known ’round the world, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make enough money or have the life experiences we truly want.

Assuming you get lucky one day and it happens to you and you can say “and my life has completely changed!”, I encourage you to keep a level head.  Yes, you should celebrate the abundant blessings and great opportunities that come your way as a result.  You should take time to live it up and try things that before weren’t things you could do because of who or where you were or your finances.  But at the same time you should also put away as much of the money as possible to keep in case it happens that there’s an ‘after’ to your happy life change.  I’m not saying something will go wrong, just that it’s always a good idea to plan for the future.  And don’t give up on the people who mean the most to you now either, because it’s likely that they’ll be the people there long after the fame has ended.

Just in case today is your lucky day, it’s always a good idea to have a smile, decent outfit, cleaner house and positive attitude at the ready (and it wouldn’t hurt to work on meditating and finding your center now while you have the time to practice).  Who knows, maybe because of that smile and positive attitude you’ll get lucky without a fairy godmother today.

A Little Anticipation

Happy Autumn!  The new season has arrived, how are you feeling?  Are you looking forward to what is to come this season, or are you more apprehensive of the changes that are coming?  I’ve been thinking about what this season means to me and the potential it could hold.  Some of those thoughts are pretty overwhelming, and often when it comes to change it does seem overwhelming.  That could be the reason why you’ve been hesitating with changes that you’re considering in your life.

As I was thinking about autumn I was reminded of the season and events that are upcoming: winter and Christmas.  We look to Christmas (or Hanukkah) with a big sense of anticipation, even as adults.  We look forward to gatherings of family and friends.  We look forward to seeing what the stores come up with as window displays.  We look forward to our kids’ gleeful cheers and crazy antics with gift giving.  We look forward to cookies, things we let ourselves eat once a year and even leftovers seem to taste better because it’s the holidays.

Sure some of us anticipate pumpkin spice lattes, apple pie and apple and pumpkin everything that shows up this time of year. Some of us really enjoy Halloween and others really enjoy the falling leaves and autumn activities.  But do we really look forward to it as a season or are we so busy getting back into things, or missing the summer that we almost dismiss fall?  Would we adjust better and enjoy ourselves more if we lived life with anticipation rather than dread or just trying to get by?  I know that Christmas isn’t the perfect holiday, most of us can remember at least one bad one that we had (I can remember a couple that I was really sick for).  So it’s not about having the feeling of Christmas all year long, or having Christmas all year long, but about looking forward to what life sends us.

I encourage you to choose an attitude of anticipation for the rest of this month and season, rather than dread or apathy and see what awesome things come your way.

Ready for New Things?

I don’t know about you, but the events of late really point out to me that we need to be doing something different in this world.  It’s not OK that we’re killing others as violently and frequently as we are, nor is it OK for the violence to be all we talk about or see in the news.  So all of these events have me thinking about changes that need to happen in the world, as well as the changes that we go through in our lives and maybe are going through right now.  The Bible does talk about things becoming new and the importance of new things, so today I want to take a look at some of those verses.

“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!””  Revelation 21:5a

“You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled, but you refuse to admit it.  Now I will tell you new things, secrets you have not yet heard. They are brand new, not things from the past.”  Isaiah 48:6-7a

These verses are really important because they are clear in that God sometimes thinks that what needs to happen are new things.  Sometimes things have to change, they can’t stay the same, and even more than that, God makes plans to change things.  We as a people have always been about improving things and making things better, so if we’re all about that, wouldn’t God be too?  If you look at the New Testament stories including those about Peter and the sheet of animals in Acts 10, as well as countless stories of Jesus turning old religious beliefs and traditions on their heads, it’s pretty clear that God is interested in making things new and isn’t willing to be stuck in the old or past if it’s not what’s best or what’s right.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

But not only is God interested in changing things, He’s interested in changing people.  When someone chooses to accept Jesus as their Lord they’re supposed to make changes in their life that include leaving hurtful practices and relationships behind, and moving into those that are in line with God’s commands and the calling He places on our lives.  Since we’re still sinners we won’t get it perfectly right, but we’re still called to do better every minute of every day and try to better follow the example Jesus gives us.

Are you going through a transition in your life right now or are you able to be of support to others who are going through transitions?  If you can, be a word of hope to all you meet,  especially those going through transitions.