I Am Blessed 5

Luke 11:24-28

One of my hobbies involves painting with the use of little paint brushes. I have a small collection of brushes, about a dozen. Some brushes I use a great deal while others I rarely use at all. I have found that those brushes that I seldom use will frequently become un-usable and will need to be thrown away. Frequent use seems to keep them in good shape, whereas neglect makes them useless.

This passage from Luke is one that may not make sense at first glance. What is the first thing that happens with the evil spirit (verse 24)? What happens when it returns to its original place? Why are things worse?

How does Jesus respond to the woman’s statement? How does it apply to his parable of the evil spirit?

This parable of the evil spirit and its return speaks of the void we can allow our lives to have. We may have difficulties in our lives. We may have hardships and challenges – illness, infirmities, emotional stresses – and we can turn to God and seek relief from these afflictions. And when these problems are taken away, what then?

If our problems are removed and our prayers are answered, we may be thankful and joyful. But if we leave our lives empty we may be opening ourselves to more troubles. If we are blessed by God through relief of our troubles and problems, we need to fill the void with a good relationship with God. Allowing our spirituality to rest idle – like the paint brushes – may result in more problems.

To avoid this we are encouraged to fill our spirituality with goodness and blessings. And how do we do that?

The woman who heard Jesus teaching recognized that Jesus was both blessed and a blessing. She called out that Jesus was blessed. But that was not enough.

Simply recognizing that God can bless us may still leave us with a spiritual void. We fill the void in our spiritual lives by hearing the word of God and obeying it. Believing in God and being blessed by God requires more than simply receiving God’s goodness or recognizing that it exists.

It requires that we ask for more of God’s presence and insight in our lives through prayer. It requires that we seek a deeper relationship with God through study, Christian fellowship, and service. It requires that we knock – we work to understand the teachings of Christ better – and we make them a part of who we are.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you make your spiritual house something that is filled and not just “in order”?

I Am Blessed 4

Luke 11:9-10

I will never forget the time we were all sitting at the dinner table enjoying a meal when I noticed our son was visibly upset. I asked what was wrong.

“I didn’t get any potatoes,” he said.

“Did you ask for them?” I wondered.


The food was all there. My wife and I had prepared the meal and we wanted everyone to have all the food that was set out, but in that confused time of food being passed the potatoes had not made it all the way around the table. No one was hoarding them, and nothing was being denied anyone. My child just needed to ask for what he wanted.

What instructions does Jesus give? What are the results when we ask, seek or knock?

We may not have everything our hearts desire. We may not each possess the wealth and influence that some people have. But the blessings of a deep, rich relationship with God are available to all of us. There are times, however, when we need to seek them.

So often, people can look at life as being filled with blessings that are denied them. They may perceive that life is difficult and challenging because, for some reason, God is withholding blessings. But in truth, God wants to bless us. He wants us to have good things and goodness in our lives.

We need to be cautious so that we do not fall into the misconception that God is a magical being ready to dispense whatever we want. It would be selfish and erroneous for us to turn to God and treat him like a genie in a bottle – “Give me money.” “Give me power.” “Make me beautiful.”

Instead we should seek the blessings of God by seeking a right relationship with the Almighty. God indeed wishes to bless us. We must first see the blessings we have in our lives. Then we must seek the blessings that God wants to give us, realizing that these blessings may be different than what we may value from our human perspective, things that meet selfish drives.

The blessings from God are more appropriate and more wonderful than the materialistic blessings we may desire. We must seek them, ask for them, by striving to be obedient to God and by striving to grow stronger in our faith and our relationship with God.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you ask, seek and knock with the goal of receiving God’s blessings?

I Am Blessed 3

Matthew 5:14-16

One of my previous jobs was at a research facility in an area north of Cincinnati. The facility was one large, glass and steel building built on the top of a hill. The main corridor which ran from one end of the building to the other, with several turns, was about one mile in length.

There was no missing this building. On clear days the windows of this immense structure reflected the sun. Anyone hoping to find the building simply needed to look because a person could see the building from quite a distance. The image of that building comes to mind when I read today’s passage.

In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells those listening about what it means to be an obedient believer. He tells those who believe that they have certain abilities. What are the comparisons that he makes to those who are faithful? What command is given?

If we are obedient to the laws of God and the commands of our Lord, if we follow the teachings of Christ, then we will be ambassadors of God. We will show others what God is like through our own behavior and actions.

If we are blessed – and we are! – then we need to let others know that we are blessed. Our joys and gladness in our blessings should be evident to all who see us.

A city that is built on the crest of a hill is not something hidden from sight. Anyone near it will be able to see it and identify its features. Even from quite a distance a city on a hill can be seen.

The same is true of people who are blessed. Our blessings will be evident to anyone who will look at us, and our behavior should exhibit and demonstrate to others how blessed we are.

Like a lamp that is intended to shed light on the surroundings, so we as blessed children of God should let the blessings we have be an illumination to others. We should let our blessings shine out to others. We should live lives that show we are blessed by God.

Jesus commands us to let our light shine – let our blessings be evident – so that others may see the goodness of God. And we are to do this not to shame them or create envy, but to draw others into the kingdom of God. By letting our blessings shine before others, they will be drawn to the Lord to praise Him and to seek blessings in their own lives.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you live so as to let your blessings shine?

I Am Blessed 2

Jonah 2:1-10

We have a slightly longer reading today, but I wanted everyone to read the whole chapter and be sure they got the whole story.

At the beginning, Jonah is calling out and thanking God for his blessing. Now many of us wouldn't think that being digested by a large fish was much of a blessing, but at least he was alive!

Jonah had been running from God and felt that God had turned his back on him. He was feeling totally alone and abandoned. But he still called out to God and found refuge, although not what he might have been expecting.

He ends with a "song of thanksgiving" even though he is still in the belly of the whale. He does this because he can see God's hand in his current situation.

When our lives feel like we're drowning, we need to find our strength in God. We need to call out to him, even when we feel we are alone. We need to realize that while we might seem like where we are stinks (and I'll bet it did for Jonah!) that God is still managing the details.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Give God a "song of thanksgiving" even for a situation where it's hard to see the blessings around you.

I Am Blessed 1

Psalm 128:4-6

This coming Sunday is Laity Sunday. The message will be presented by a woman from one of our churches and Peggy and I get the weekend off (sort of). But what is more pleasing than getting a Sunday where we aren’t the worship leaders is knowing that the person giving the message has chosen the topic of blessings. She has seen so much blessing in her life that she will be sharing this idea.

Psalm 128 speaks of blessings. Who is blessed? What is offered in verse 5? What special blessing is mentioned in verse 6?

Looking at the notes for the message I saw that our speaker will point out the many blessings that each of us have in our lives, blessings that are often overlooked. The simplest part of life can be a blessing from God, yet we don’t always recognize it.

We may not have incredible wealth and we may not live in a palace. We may not have servants and enough disposable income that we can travel anywhere we like or be entertained by whatever we choose. Yet we are blessed.

The psalmist reminds us that to be blessed we need to be people who fear the Lord. That is to say, the person who honors God and respects Him, obeying His commands, is the one who will be blessed. And the blessings offered in this psalm are not riches beyond compare, tremendous good times, abundant food and entertainment, but the prosperity of Jerusalem. The blessings called upon are the successes of the nation, a place where life can be lived in safety and where the common goodness of basic needs is supplied.

Beyond the blessing of a good life, there is offered the blessing of longevity and descendents. “May you live to see your children’s children.” May you grow old and see your family grow.

What a blessing that is, to be surrounded by children and grandchildren and to have the length of years to enjoy the times together as a family group.

These are simple blessings, but some of the most profound from God. Good life, good health, and a happy family. If we can have these things from God and nothing more, still we are blessed.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What blessings do you have that you may have overlooked?