Success is measured in results or outcomes, such as the gaining of wealth, fame or rank. Blessing is measured in the gift of devine favor such as anything that gives happiness or prevents misfortune. Success can be momentary whereas blessing is designed to become a lifestyle.
Blessed living speaks to the way of the righteous and not the way of the wicked. The blessed man or woman chooses to become a student of God’s Word, His best practices for blessed living.
“Blessed is the man who[se]…delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1,2)
Living a lifestyle with the singular motivation of gaining wealth, fame or rank can lead us into choosing the way of the wicked and therefore forfeiting the blessed life. This man or woman will walk in the counsel of the wicked, stand with the sinners and sit with scoffers. (Psalm 1:1)
Blessed living is pictured like a majestic tree that is planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in the proper season. This lifestyle has a long term view, investing now for future returns that reap happiness later.
Blessed living is also described as a tree with leaves that do not wither, as in all that this man or woman does prospers. This is devine favor from God.
The wicked may have momentary success but at great cost because it is short-lived.
“The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” (Psalm 1:4)
The way of the righteous is the blessed life so choose wisely the lifestyle that leads to blessed living.
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither, in all that he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1:3)
Most gift-giving comes with strings attached and an expectation of reciprocation on some level. We are afforded many occasions throughout the year to give gifts to others as a gesture of affirmation, validation or reconciliation to possibly strengthen fragile relationships. In each case of gift-giving you have the giver and the receiver and at the core exists the relationship between the two.
God set the bar really high when it comes to the pure essence of gift-giving when He revealed His heart on the matter:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17)
In other words, when God gives a gift to us it is pure with no strings attached and perfectly designed to meet our need for all time as a recipient. God’s gift is given voluntarily without any payment or expectation in return. If we accept His gift we accept without any particular effort of having to earn it.
When we receive His perfect gift we find all the affirmation, acceptance and validation that we sought in other gifts that can never meet this need. Most of all we find our relationship restored to the God who created us to be in relationship with Him.
The perfect gift is Jesus Christ our Savior, the Gift of a lifetime. What He offers can never be paid for by any effort on our part. He was sent by God to save mankind.
“…I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Have you received the Gift of a lifetime?
Forgiving one another is very hard to do and yet God has asked us to do it for our sake more than His. I have discovered that the struggle of forgiving has much to do with perspective and approach.
But first, lets take a look at the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant told by Jesus in Matthew 18 about a king who wished to settle his accounts with his servants. There was one servant who owed him ten thousand talents (~$6 billion in today’s terms) and could not pay. His master determined to sell him with his wife, children and all that he had in order for payment to be made. The servant fell on his knees, pleading for patience and mercy and it says:
“…out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.” (Matthew 18:27)
Now this is where we come into the story. The same servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (~$12 thousand in today’s terms) and began choking him while demanding “pay what you owe.” (vs 28). Needless to say, word got back to his master who summoned him and said:
“You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” (Matthew 18:32,33)
The servant was delivered to the jailers until he could pay all his debt. In this parable we are the servant and God is the Master. Jesus goes on to tell us that forgiveness must come from the heart.
The Apostle Paul gives insight on the approach. After reminding us that we are God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, we are to put on:
“compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:12,13)
God offered forgiveness to all for a debt we could not pay. He gave His Son, Jesus in compassion and kindness for our lost souls.
Who do you most identify with? The wicked servant who refused to forgive or with God who has forgiven you and only asks in return that you do the same for those who owe you a debt? Mercy for mercy.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Aim for the blessed life and forgive!
What has God promised you and are you living in the hope of seeing it fulfilled? So often God’s best in life requires endurance which in itself will test your faith. This testing can be costly but is necessary as it works within us the character qualities that may be lacking.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1,2)
God is more interested in our preparation along the way toward fulfillment that in the end we are equipped to sustain all that He has promised us. Until you receive the promise it is safe to assume that you are in the process of being prepared. Embrace God’s timing and you will grow in character, integrity and the wisdom you will need to maintain the fulfilled promise.
“…not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed.” (Joshua 23:14)
God is a promise keeper.
God knew how difficult it would be to live a sin-free life. He also knew how important staying connected to Him in everyday life was vital to growing us up in our faith walk. And He made a way for us to live in uninterrupted fellowship with Him to Whom all our blessings flow.
“he shall confess his sin that he has committed. And he shall make full restitution for his wrong, adding a fifth to it and giving it to him to whom he did the wrong.” (Numbers 5:7)
Notice that when we sin there are consequences, sometimes seen and at other times unseen, but always in need of being accounted for and never forgotten by God until we confess.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:8,9)
Sin in our lives not only breaks faith with God and the enjoyment of living in the fruit of His fellowship it causes a ‘break’ in experiencing the abundant life that we have been called into through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Confess your sin(s) to God and to those whom you have sinned against, accept God’s forgiveness and begin again to enjoy the blessings of a faithful life!
Many seek a blessed life but few are willing to live in a way to receive and maintain the blessings.
Our heavenly Father is a generous and loving God who held nothing back by revealing His straightforward path to a blessed life ~ His Son, Jesus Christ.
“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him.” (1John 4:9)
God loved us first and asks nothing of us but to love Him back in order to receive the blessings Jesus died to give us access to. Living by His Word gives us the confidence of living by faith, by the Word of God. It proves our love for God and validates our faith in Him.
“…but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.” (1John 2:5)
Moses was a man sold out to following God with his whole heart and God blessed him like no other. God trusted him to lead and establish the Nation of Israel, to follow Him in complete obedience. Moses was so obedient to God that when the people had finished the work of constructing the tabernacle, not missing a single detail from the instructions given by God Moses blessed the people.
Obedience not only leads us into Gods blessings but it also positions us to bless other people. It’s not a formula nor a life of rule keeping; it’s a relationship with a heavenly Father who loves us and desires His best for us and those around us.
“And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them.” (Exodus 39:43)