Charmed Life

“From this day on I will Bless you.” Haggai 2:19

How would we act if we knew that from this day on we’d be blessed? First, we would be less fearful about sharing our true feelings. We’d also be more brave in making life decisions because we’d be much wiser and be more optimistic about the future. We’d be bolder in sharing our faith too, because rejection by others wouldn’t be traumatizing.

In Haggai’s prophecy, here, that’s what God promised the Israelites once they acted in obedience by starting to rebuild the temple. They had been oppressed and living in spiritual and material poverty. God has promised to bless us daily too if we obey Him. According to Micah, that means we’re to act justly, love kindness and to walk humbly with God. And that’s the secret to a charmed life!

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Some Will, Some Won’t

Then Jacob Blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence. Genesis 47:10

We think God should only bless His favorites, only those who follow Him and believe He is God – like us! That’s not always the case. God blesses unbelievers too. The financially successful, the rich and famous and the folks who live healthy lives past 100 may or may not believe in God, but there is no question that they have been blessed. Like Job, Jeremiah and Habakkuk, we struggle with this.

Here, Jacob is blessing the Egyptian Pharaoh, who worshiped the Sun god, not ours. Being blessed doesn’t mean we’ll be saved, but God does it to open people’s eyes to Him, so they’ll hopefully turn to Him. Some will, some won’t, so what? Let’s not be envious of anyone else’s blessings. Let’s be thankful for the ones we receive.

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Wrestle Mania

Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But He replied, “Why do you ask my name?” And He Blessed him there. Genesis 32:29

Wrestling doesn’t have the glamour of football or basketball, but many high schools and colleges have very active and successful wrestling programs. It’s a sport of strength, agility and balance, and, as wrestlers know, it’s exhausting.

Here, Jacob wrestled with God all night. God blessed Jacob because he believed God had the power to bless him. How often do we wake up exhausted because we wrestled all night against real and imaginary threats and fears? We should be wrestling with Him, not ourselves. Jacob’s fight ended at dawn. We don’t need to wrestle with God over and over either. He knows that we need His blessing. Do we have the faith to ask Him for his blessing too?

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Circle the Wagons

For surely, O Lord, you Bless the righteous; you surround them with Your favor as with a shield. Psalm 5:12

When pioneers went west in wagon trains, they were often attacked by Native Americans. They would form their wagons into circle which made it easier to fight back.

This Psalm reminds us that God’s our shield, our defender. That doesn’t mean that we’ll escape unharmed; the pioneers sometimes died. It means that whatever is threatening us is part of His plan for us. It’s hard to accept that a challenging relationship, a health issue or financial crisis is how He shows His love for us. But if we trust in Him, we know that He wins in the end and so do we. Whether we live to see the victory doesn’t matter; only our faith, patience and hope in Him do.

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Straight Ahead

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Psalm 40:4

We’re distracted all the time by phone calls, texts and emails. In fact, a major purpose of advertising is to disturb our focus so we pay attention to ads.  We also turn our attention to the false gods of looks, status and possessions.

Here, we’re being warned not to chase after things or people, but instead to focus on God. Idolizing anything else leads to envy, frustration and sin. Character was once the measure of someone’s greatness; now it’s their net worth or their degree of fame. Jesus came simply, and He wants us to live simply with our eyes focused straight ahead on Him. Distracted driving can be fatal; so can distracted living.

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Eye to Eye

But Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16

Events have taken place in the past that we’d love to see first hand; the moment of our parents met, for instance. History buffs would be thrilled to watch the Gettysburg Address, see the Wright Brothers fly or observe the D-Day invasion. Unfortunately, we’re trapped in present. We can’t see into the future either, despite our desire to know what’s going to happen “next.”

In this verse, Jesus is telling His disciples how fortunate they are to be with Him, here, in the flesh. Many kings, people and prophets wanted to see the fulfillment of the Messiah’s coming, but didn’t. They died waiting. We need to remember that He’s still with us too. We may leave Him, but He never leave us!

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Give and Take

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble. Psalm 41:1

Our views of charity differ. For some it’s tithing. Whether it’s 10% or more or less, it’s an attempt to share with other people. Others volunteer and try to make a difference. Some believe in boot straps, that if you help too much you are an enabler of dependency. Poorer people contribute more percentage-wise of their incomes to charity, perhaps because they’ve benefited from it before.

God always wants us to help those who need it. He reminds us countless times that the material wealth we have is His – we just rent it from Him. While all of our intentions may be noble, serving and sharing are the only visible signs of our love. Give and take – our resources and His blessings.

 

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Uncertain Future

The Lord Blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. Job 42:12

Delayed gratification is nice in theory. Saving for the future is wise provided we live to enjoy it. In Jesus’ story of the rich fool, the man “retired” with his wealth and died that very night.  We all know good, younger people who die. No guarantees here.

Job is role model for uncertainty. He was an extraordinarily wealthy, healthy man who loved God and had a great family. It was all taken from him without warning. While he blamed God for his situation, he didn’t doubt Him. Why? Because he knew God would ultimately rescue him, whether on this side of heaven or that. The fact that he was eventually blessed is a nice ending. Where and how our ending will be written, God only knows.

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Happy Ending

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and Blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. Revelation 1:3

Computer algorithms can forecast human actions. They’re used to predict the stock market and to create self-driving cars.  But we usually ignore what God tells us is going to happen; we want our vision of the future, not His.

Here, in Revelation, Jesus is saying that life is not always going to get better. Mankind will lose its quest for perfection, and we’ll collapse into evil and be destroyed. Only His children will be saved. A happy ending, but not the one we would write. Whether “near” means today or a thousand years from now, being ready means we’re loving our neighbors and loving Him, daily.

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Escape Hatch

When David returned home to Bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!” 2 Samuel 6:20

Home isn’t always sweet. Stressful spouses, challenged children, loneliness and addictions live there too. How do we escape?

Here, David’s wife, Michal, tried to shame him. He was celebrating before God, and she wanted to humiliate him. It didn’t work. He knew he was right. And that can be our escape hatch too. We can’t control our family, but we can control our relationship with God. His peace “surpasses all understanding.” Pray for peace – not just in the world around us, but in the world within the four walls of our homes.

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