Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Three Keys to Blessing: Key 3

A Final Key to Blessing (other than not listening to false prophets like the dude who keeps predicting Christ's return!) is Ministry. If you want to be blessed, be a blessing to others. Now, I'm not just talking about "the ministry" as in pastoral ministry (although it's a great profession and an honorable calling from God). But ministry, at its essence, means "to serve." When we serve others, it comes back on us. God commands us to serve one another many times in Scripture. One that stands out to me is John 13:13-17: "13. You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them." Jesus stoops down and washes His disciples’ feet. I find it amazing that He not only washed those who were following Him, He washes those who would betray Him! Jesus washed the feet of Judas! Wow! But notice what He promises for those who follow His example: "God will bless you." If we serve, we will be blessed.
So, have you picked up a towel lately? What about with that mean neighbor or that coworker who is a jerk to you every day? How can you serve those people without encouraging their sin? Is there a way you can show them grace? Such is the pathway to blessing.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Is May 21 the Day?

Recently, my oldest daughter asked if the world will end on May 21. I asked her why she thought it might and she told me that her school is abuzz about a prophecy recently given by some personality (probably Harold Camping, who's made similar predictions in the past, which obviously didn't pan out). My answer to her was, "I hope so. I can't wait to get to Heaven!" And she said, "That's right!"
It amazes me how much ink is spilled and hands wrung over the timing of Christ's return. If you are His, then what are you worried about? I love Randy Alcorn's response quoted below on this topic. May it bless you!

"Some Christians are obsessed with prophecy literature. I myself was as a young Christian in the 1970’s when all of us were reading The Late Great Planet Earth and proving to each other that Christ had to return by 1980. Our youth group leaders taught us that this was an absolute certainty, confirmed by God’s Word. Obviously they were wrong. Ever since then, it’s been hard for me to get excited about popular evangelical interpretations of current events as related to the Bible. I’ve heard a string of dozens of “men who must be the Anti-Christ” during the forty years since I became a Christian as a teenager. You will pardon me if I don’t have much interest in the latest theories.
When believers put too much emphasis on issues such as the timing of the rapture or the identity of the Anti-Christ, it distracts us from our more important callings, such as loving God with all our hearts and loving our neighbors as ourselves, and living lives characterized by justice, mercy and humility. The primary focus of each day should be, 'God, as I seek your face in prayer and through your Word, and as I yield my life to you, please use me for your eternal purposes and for your glory,' not, 'Here’s why I believe the rapture/second coming/judgment will happen on this day, and never mind that Jesus said that can’t be known.'
2 Peter 3:10-14 says, 'But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. …the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. … But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.'
The important thing is that we believe in the return of Christ, and that we live lives of eternal perspective and godliness in light of our imminent deaths and His imminent return."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Three Keys to Blessing: Key 2

Key #2 is Unity. The Bible teaches that unity is crucial for God's favor. Jesus prays this in His priestly prayer in John 17:33:
"May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me" John 17:23. Paul reaffirms the principle in Ephesians 4:3 and elsewhere: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
If we are to get along with God's work, we must learn to get along with each other. Unity requires humility. It asks the Spirit to search my heart and see if I'm being prideful or selfish with respect to my brother or sister in Christ. Unity also apologizes for any wrong.
Throughout the ages, when God's people made unity forged around integrity to God's Word and humility before His Spirit a non-negotiable of their daily lives, great blessing was poured out. So, how are you doing? Does the age of rugged individualism and rebellion move you more than God's heart? Maybe it's time to forgive or to say, "I'm so sorry." It's a key to blessing!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Three Keys to Blessing: Key 1

Most people want the blessing of God. I've noticed that even unbelievers, when in crisis, will usually not turn down prayer. Often, their view of blessing is found in rituals of some kind. If I wear this bracelet, if I say this chant, if a minister touches me and says a prayer, if I do the hokey pokey and turn myself around, etc, etc, then I'll be blessed. But the keys to blessing are MUCH MORE SUBSTANTIAL than dry, external, religious formulas. If you or I want to have the favor of God upon us, there are some very specific ways to position ourselves in the river from which all blessings flow. Let me share three keys to blessing that are obvious according to God's Word:
Throughout the Bible, blessing is often impeded when sin goes unchallenged and is tolerated. For example, in Joshua 7:1, a man by the name of Achan takes some pagan items into his home and compromises not only his own holiness, but that of the entire nation of Israel. Take a look: "But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan son of Carmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the LORD'S anger burned against Israel." Joshua 7:1. Due to this toleration of sin, God actually gets angry and Israel experiences defeat in battle soon after. If we want blessing, it is imperitive that we are serious about sin. We must periodically audit our spiritual lives through prayer and, when discovered, confess our sins before God while asking Him to give us a delight in holiness. Just recently, God spoke to me about a sin I had committed through thoughlessness and an off-colored joke. I felt the Holy Spirit point out the sin and I sensed God's displeasure in it. And the Lord didn't let me off the hook immediately. For a few days, the ugliness of my words to the ears of a holy God was acute in my conscience. The Spirit then led me to confess it to Him directly and then to my wife. Immediately, I felt His forgiveness as I have so many times in the past. And the truth of 1 John 1:8-9 was felt in my heart. An impediment to the flow of blessing was removed. Are there any sins of which you need to repent? Is there a blockage to blessing in your heart? Follow God's Word, repent, and confess. It is a key to blessing.
"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9.