Blessed are those who keep His statutes and seek Him with all their heart. Psalm 119:2
Some people are law abiders and others are law “benders.” Law abiders follow the rules, even when those seem unfair or too restrictive. Law benders understand the need for rules, but often just keep the ones they like and ignore the ones they don’t. Old Testament laws were written in stone; the New Testament ones are written in our hearts.
The second half of the verse shows God’s intent. He wants us to seek Him and to know Him. When we love someone they don’t have to write down what they “like”; we already know it. When we seek God, we don’t get a written list either. We’ll know what He likes. The rest is up to us – like it or not!
“The Lord Bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. Ruth 2:20
If you’ve been married or have married children, you know about in-laws. They can be a troublesome bunch or a blessing. Jesus even mentions in-law tensions when He was discussing why He came to earth. On the other hand, the Book of Ruth illustrates the opposite: that the love and care that a foreign daughter-in-law gave her mother-in-law was better than seven sons.
We don’t get to pick our family, God does. We may not agree with His choices, yet we’re called to love them, and try our best to like them! They may not return our affection, but tit-for-tat relationships don’t exist in God’s world. Unconditional love does. Acquiring an in-law can feel like getting an organ transplant; it’s painful but ultimately is designed to be life giving.
Look down from heaven, Your holy dwelling place, and Bless Your people Israel, and the land You have given us as You promised on oath to our forefathers, a land flowing with milk and honey. Deuteronomy 26:15
“Milk and honey” means health and happiness. Milk gives us strength and honey makes life sweet. God promised it to His people because He loved them, not because of their goodness.
He loves us too, and our milk and honey doesn’t necessarily consist of a physical health or piece of land. Ours is more subtle and spiritual. God uses our circumstances and our faith to form the personal promised land He’s crafted for us, not someone else. God gives us all the milk and honey He wants us to have so we can be strong, but also able to appreciate the sweetness He’s providing.
Jabez cried out to the Lord, “Oh, that you would Bless me and enlarge my territory!” 1 Chronicles 4:10
Bigger is always better, right? A bigger house, job and bank account. Praying for these things may sound selfish, but Jabez wasn’t shy about asking, and neither should we. The question is: Can we be wealthy and Godly?
We’re called to love God, each other and particularly the poor. Wealth in the Bible is either a blessing or a curse. It’s a blessing for one’s faithfulness – think of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, Joseph of Arimathea, all of whom were rich and all of whom were great lovers of God. Possessions can be a curse if the primary purpose is accumulation without attention to the afflicted. Praying for material blessings is fine; what we do with those blessings is the measure of our character.
May the Lord Bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem. Psalm 128:5
We all want prosperity. We want our families, our finances and our futures to prosper. Most people think that it’s either up to them or luck to bring about any improvements. Of course, they’re wrong. Only God can make us prosperous. He’ll use our efforts, but only in ways that accomplish His goals.
For whatever reason, God chose to put His earthly “dwelling place” in Jerusalem, a gritty, complex and confounding city. It was destroyed more than once because it frequently abandoned Him. He’s now decided to bless it again. He’s bless us again too despite the ruin we made our lives. Pray for Jerusalem’s continued prosperity, and ask Him to bless and prosper us right along with it!
Her children will call her Blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31: 28
Being a mother and wife has never been easy. Historically, many children died in infancy, and husbands often died early too. Death during child birth was a major risk. Yet, thought it all, moms have carried on, focusing on the welfare of their families.
Proverbs 31 classically illustrates modern Christian women. They care for their families, work at demanding jobs and help those around them. No one goes without, even the less fortunate. But can anyone “have it all?” Is “all” worth it? We’re called to do our best. Sometimes our best is a microwave meal or opening a can. God wants us to focus on what we can do, not what we can’t do. He even happy to help clean up the messes we make!
For seven days celebrate the Feast of the Lord your God at the place the Lord will choose. For the Lord will Bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete. Deuteronomy 16:15
God likes celebrations. Three times each year He commanded His people to come and rejoice in His blessings – each feast lasted seven whole days! These celebrations always started and ended with an acknowledgement that everything they had came from Him.
Our harvests depend entirely on Him too and, as we know, some harvests are more abundant that others. But, whether they are big or small, we need to celebrate His kindness, provision and mercy with joy! We honor God by thanking Him, and what better way to do that give a party in His honor!
For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground. I will pour out My Spirit on your off-spring, and My Blessings on your descendants. Isaiah 44:3
Water symbolizes life. But it’s much more than symbolic; we will die without it. Even getting dehydrated can cause problems. We always need of more it. We can also be emotionally and spiritually dry from the stress of life, and our souls and minds cry for relief.
The Bible uses water over and over again to represent God’s relationship with us. We’ll die without Him. He knows that; we have to learn it. Once we sincerely ask Him for help, He’ll not only quenches our thirst, He’ll flood us and those we love with peace and hope. Jesus said that His water gives eternal life. Let’s drink to that!
“And Blessed be God Most High who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:20
God is a BIG God. The Lord’s Prayer says: “Deliver us from evil.” He also delivers us from stupidity and self-satisfaction. We ALWAYS think we’ve got things “under control” only to discover we’ve often painted ourselves into a corner.
Abraham, here, had just won a great battle. He didn’t have the strongest army, he had God. God delivered him without asking for anything in return. His delivery was free – no strings attached. Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything, because, as God’s priest, he could accept that token of thanksgiving. God delivers for free all day long. It may not be victory in a huge battle, but it may be victory over a tough temptation. Free is good!
Thus is the man Blessed who fears the Lord. Psalm 128:4
Fear means one of two things: Fright or Respect. God doesn’t need to frighten us; plenty of other things do. We’re fearful of failure, rejection and financial, family and work issues. Some people are afraid for our country, while others worry about their health. We never seem to run out of things to fret about.
Respect, on the other hand, is vague. We are told to respect policemen, parents and bosses, but we’re not really sure why – other than the power they wield over us. God wants us to fear Him because He made us and ultimately wants our recognition and appreciation. We tend to believe that we made it all by ourselves. Let’s never forget to acknowledge that we owe it all to Him – ALL to Him!