Tag Archives: blessing

I Kings 15; II Chronicles 13-14; Titus 3

Titus 3:4,5 “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us…”

I Kings 15:11, 14 “Asa did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, as did his father David…his heart was loyal to the Lord all his days.”

II Chronicles 14:4 [Asa] “commanded Judah to seek the Lord God of their fathers, and to observe the law and the commandment.”  He prayed, “Lord, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O Lord our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude…”

It is one thing to read about God’s lovingkindness toward man and another thing to experience the benefits of living as one of God’s children.  One of the benefits that never cease to amaze me is the call from a friend when I desperately need someone to talk with. Getting bogged down with the details of making a living or performing an obligation can challenge my will power and my desire to share my burdens with others; yet having the support and godly encouragement of friends and family strengthens me to continue doing the next right thing.

Another benefit I experience comes from recognizing the extraordinary example of God’s provision seen through the ‘coincidences’ that turn around what appears to be a disaster on the horizon. Time after time when hope had seemed lost and my anxiety had heightened too dangerously close to unbelief, these unexpected gifts (sometimes even given through strangers) are dropped in my lap. These interventions outside of my influence remind me that God has no limits to what He can and will do for His children.  Such was the case recently when God provided at just the right time the financial means that were much needed. Without my knowledge, a blessing was waiting to be delivered, and all I knew to pray was that whatever happened, I would be dependent on God.

As special as these reminders are to me of acts of good works that demonstrate the love of God, I am always humbled that He chose to include me in His plan for doing good works. Though I try to live a life of obedience to God and the rulers and authorities of the land, my good intentions are often interrupted by the common sins to all.  Yet, even though I stumble instead of walking a perfect understanding of what God has planned, He makes it possible to receive His blessings through His most gracious gift of all – His great love for us. He loves us, and this not because of anything we have done right or wrong.  He loves us because He chooses to do so. He is the Lord who does not fret over the fears I cry out to Him, and He never withdraws His Spirit from me. He shows kindness, love, mercy, and power, and I just have to rest on Him even though I’ve done nothing to deserve His care.  How wonderful is this God we serve who loves us and who makes us “His heirs according the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:7)

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1 Samuel 17, 1 Chronicles 2, Acts 12

Miracle or coincidence? Throughout history there has always been and will always be conflict between our human nature and God’s sovereignty. This passage in 1 Samuel is special to me. A year and half ago I was severely injured in a car accident that left me with a 11 spinal fractures and paralyzed from the neck down. When I arrived at the hospital, the MRI showed significant spinal cord damage at C3 which should have left me permanently paralyzed and requiring a ventilator to breathe. But just like the story of David and Goliath and Peter escaping imprisonment and death, the Lord had a plan.

You see, there is no way any of these stories are believable in the logical sense. Our human, finite knowledge always wants to take over and say, “you’re so lucky” or most often, “what a coincidence”. I know many believe in chance and luck and so sometimes reading the bible can seem far fetched. I have always believed what is written in the bible is 100% true and should be taken literally but I now understand it on an even deeper level.

The Lord reminded me of his sovereignty just days after our accident. This passage from 1 Samuel is underlined in my bible with a very wavy line. I can tell it was soon after the accident because my hand writing next to it is hard to read due to difficulty using my hands and arms. His sovereign hand that provides miracles and makes the impossible possible leaves behind  trail of stories and legacies and lessons to learn and live by…..

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.”

The shaky, almost illegible hand writing on the side of my bible reads this, “The Lord saved me before the doctors even touched me with their scalpel.” Just like with David, it was because of the hand of the Lord and his appointed angels that I am here today. He went before me and surrounded my family with many miracles that day and because of that, our family’s “story” was heard by thousands of people. God’s miracles are not just for us. Yes God wants good for us and to bless us abundantly but it’s not all about us it’s about His great, Kingdom plan.

Sometimes we can’t see God’s sovereign hand while we are actually walking through hard times. It’s  when we look back- and we must look back- that we can see his angel armies were surrounding us all along. With each experience, our faith is strengthened for the next time and the next time and the time after that. I am sure that David’s and Peter’s confidence and faith in the Lord grew with their experiences and allowed them to be bold as they ruled and preached the gospel. Let’s not take things for granted and chalk it up to coincidence or luck. The battle is the Lord’s and we must give him the glory

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Genesis 26, 27; Mark 10

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16

One of the greatest aspects of being a parent is the ability to see everything fresh through my children’s eyes. Everything is new to them, even if they’ve seen it before. Everything is exciting, even when they’ve done it before.

Over the holidays, my parents and I decided to take my children for a drive to find Christmas lights in the nearby neighborhoods. We all loaded into the van after dinner and started driving looking for the decorated houses. It didn’t take long to find them, and the girls went crazy, oohing and aahing, squealing with joy at something as simple as lights in the darkness of the evening.

They do the same thing with Jesus. They love to hear Bible stories and sing songs about Jesus (amazingly I often hear my girls singing “You make me brave” at the top of their lungs when they are playing in their room). They accept who He is without questioning if He’s real. They accept everything He’s done without wondering whether or not they are worthy. They revel in His love. They dance with all their might in His presence. They accept every good thing He gives and expect nothing less than the best. They are princesses and prince(s), coheirs with Christ, and they don’t doubt that for a second. They don’t worry about what someone else might think about their relationship with their Heavenly Father, they don’t worry about ‘works’ they just jump into His arms, so to speak, and are blessed.

I remember times in my walk with God where I was like that little child, but more recently the cares of life have crept onto my shoulders and weighted me down; I became an adult trying to survive and my spirit has suffered for it. The responsibilities of ‘doing’ have taken over – because someone has to cook, clean, and wipe runny noses – and I have neglected simply ‘being’.

I watch my girls, especially on Sundays, dancing and waving flags and having fun, and while I really enjoy watching them expressing their love and freedom, I am also jealous to experience even a small piece of that again. A part of me wants to cast off the responsibility, the ‘Martha-like’ to-do list, the worry of ‘who is going to watch my kids’, and immerse myself like a little child in God’s presence, in Heaven on earth. And, a part of me is scared that I have forgotten how to enter in, how to let go, how to let my guard down enough to let the little girl escape her ‘duties’ and encounter joy.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I am not sure how to balance being an adult and being child-like. But I know that I want to be received into Jesus’ arms and be blessed just like a little child.

Yesappa, thank You for loving me. Thank you for blessing me with Your gift of grace. Will you give me wisdom for becoming like a little child before you? Will you meet me where I am and heal my spirit, heal my heart? Will You show me how to let go and let God? Thank You for showing me the way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Jeremiah 1, 2; II Thessalonians 2

I’m not a superstitious person, but I grew up with a mother who will grab your arm and in alarm warn, “It’s bad luck to leave a house through a different door than the one you used to come into it,” and refuse to do so herself. I’ve heard many such sayings, and of course, most people have heard of the superstition – break a mirror and you’ll have seven years bad luck.

So I had to smile the other day when the director at work came to me and said the mirror she had kept in her office for years fell off of the wall and broke. However, it did seem uncanny the next morning at work when I reached for my lipstick and found that the miniature mirror I had transferred from purse to purse over the years had cracked from the middle out to each corner of the frame.  Well, I can tell you that the director and I who have both been hired within the last two months thought it a hoot that we should both be cursed with seven years of bad luck (which by the way is about the number of years left before I retire)!

The thought occurred to me that in reality this new job will be a challenge to me as a first time supervisor. Providentially (not coincidentally), in my 66 Books in a Year devotional reading this week, I recognized Jeremiah’s timidity at God’s call to be His prophet. God has to encourage Jeremiah several times by saying, “Do not be afraid of their faces,” and again, “Do not be dismayed before their faces … for I am with you…” (Jeremiah 1)

With any call from God comes my responsibility to answer, “Yes, Lord,” and my expectation that the Lord Jesus Christ will “comfort [my] heart and establish [me] in every good word and work,” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). If I truly believe that God has a purpose in placing me in this environment, then it would be foolish to look to any other source for wisdom, courage, strength, and mercy.  Not just so that my day to day is a path of roses, but so that every moment spent with God will reveal a deeper level of trust and faith in Him. It’s a win-win situation, really. The more I am challenged, the deeper I dive into God’s word. The closer I walk with God, the more His Spirit is able to do for and with me. I believe this not because of an old wives tale, but because it is written in Scripture that “our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and our God and Father has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,” (2 Thessalonians 2:16).  Given these beliefs, how then am I to view the job ahead that God has given me? What if the changes needed bring difficulties like those experienced by Jeremiah who endured decades of abuse, threats, apathy, and humiliation? Will I be faithful and obedient, and will I persevere in doing what is right not just expedient? Will the next seven years be someone else’s bad luck or golden opportunities for others to see Christ through me? I’m not about to look to any mirror for those answers!

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Genesis 9-11; Matthew 4

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. Genesis 9:12-15

I gave birth to my precious daughter Serah two mornings before. We were both doing well, but the crazy surge of post-partum hormones was making me an emotional basket case. I spent much of the night crying, uncomfortable and lonely, and feeling foolish for being so miserable.

It was the second time I had given birth while my husband was on the other side of the planet continuing ministry in India while I was on baby furlough (we are still praying for the finances that will enable us to apply for the visa he needs to visit the US again). My parents and my oldest daughter were in Maryland and wouldn’t be coming to the hospital until later in the day. And, the girlfriend who stayed with me overnight the first evening had to leave the afternoon before.

Though it was peaceful without the hustle and bustle of visitors and trips to the NICU that I experienced with my first child, that 24 hour period felt a little too isolated for my liking. I was feeling lonesome and deserted. I wanted someone I loved to be there, to sit with me, to care for me.

Aware of bitterness knocking at the door of my heart, I prayed. I laid my heart open for my Heavenly Father to see, unveiling the sadness, the loneliness. I cast my cares at His feet and asked for serenity I knew only He could give.

At that moment, I looked out of the window of my room. Hovering over the bridge rainbow-juliet2912leading to City Island in the midst of the Susquehanna River was a double rainbow. I had just enough time to grab my phone and snap two pictures before everything disappeared. The second, faint arc vanished even before the camera app opened.

In those same flashes, I heard God’s voice whisper promises into my ear. “I will never leave you, nor forsake you. You are never alone.” He used this double blessing as a reminder to me of His covenant, a bond sealed with the blood sacrifice of His Son. It ministered to my need.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. Matthew 4:1-11

When I think about Jesus being alone in the wilderness for 40 days, I can only imagine how He felt. I would have been shattered, my heart susceptible to temptations, my mind willing to believe the lies that the enemy hissed. I was on my own for a day and I was a wreck, even with my newborn in the room and the hospital staff in and out every few hours.

Jesus stood strong, and even though His body was weakened, He KNEW that He was not alone. He held on to the Truth. The Word of God fortified Him. Those Words gave Him the strength to withstand His test and the might to send the enemy away. And when the enemy left, the angels tended to Him and gave Him what He needed, just like God did for me when He painted His rainbow in the sky.

Yesappa, Thank You for always being there for me; and for reminding me of Your presence and Your promises in the midst of my struggles. Thank You for ministering to my heart and giving me peace. Help me remember to stand strong in You when the enemy comes against me. Bring Your Words to my mind and help me use the Sword of the Spirit to prevail. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)


Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Genesis, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament