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Blessing. You can’t just pray for it. You have to put yourself in the place where God’s blessing already dwells. Where is that?

1) Family
Time with your spouse, your children, your family is never wasted time. Family is a well of God’s blessing. But cheat your family, you’ll end up with a well of regret.

2) Devotional time.
Time with God is not wasted time. Reading and meditating on God’s word, prayer that adores God and requests of God, is where God’s blessing fills your soul and flows out of your life. Cheat yourself of time with God, you cheat yourself of eternal perspective.

3) Community.
Time with God’s people is never a waste. Without community you will bang your noggin against the ceiling of emotional and spiritual growth. No-one wants to continue struggling with the same issues from three years ago. Cheat yourself of community, you cheat yourself of victory and maturity.

4) Financial Generosity.
Sacrificial giving is never wasted money. When Jesus said (commanded!), “do not worry” but “seek first [give first to] the kingdom,” he was dealing with money. Do you want God’s blessing of provision on your finances? Seek Him first. Give tithes and offerings.

5) Humility.
Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less (C.S. Lewis). It’s decreasing ourselves and increasing others. There’s no threat or loss here. On the contrary, just as rain runs off the high places and puddles in the lowest places so God’s blessing puddles on those who get low in humility.

6) Forgiveness.
Anger, sleepless nights, pits in the stomach, revenge fantasies, come with grudges. Contentment, peace, freedom, and ability to get on with life comes with forgiveness. Forgiveness does not let him or her off the hook. It lets you off the hook. And repositions you under God’s blessing.

7) Purity.
John Piper once said, “God is not a kill-joy, He’s just against what kills joy.” Resisting ungodly desires and behaviors does not mean you are missing out. It means you’ve situated yourself under God’s blessing. Cheat yourself of purity, you cheat yourself of God’s peace and pleasure.

There you have it. So put yourself under the spout where God’s blessing is already pouring out!

What else would you add? Which of these meant the most to you? Which are hard for you?

Connecting with God

Connecting with God

The introductory post of the series is HERE, part two is HERE, and part three HERE.

Where were we? King David has retreated to gather with his friends, family, soldiers, and bodyguards. A man by the name of Shimei comes out of nowhere to throw rocks and yell curses and accusations at David. Shimei declares King David is a murderer and the one to blame for Saul’s demise. King David’s fellow warrior, Abishai, practically demands to cut off Shimei’s head on David’s behalf. Shockingly, David replies: “He curses me this way because the Lord told him, ‘Curse David!’…. Leave him alone and let him curse me; the Lord has told him to” (2 Samuel 16:10-11).

David kept an eternal perspective even toward that which wounded him, embarrassed him, and enraged him. He did not defend himself. He embraced the curses. How? How can you and I? By seeing our Shimeis and their antics as sent from the Lord Himself to drive us into deeper humility, trust, and dependence upon Him.

King David went on to say,“Perhaps the Lord will see my affliction and restore goodness to me instead of Shimei’s curses today” (16:12). That’s David’s hope—restored goodness by the Lord. But what if King David falters and takes matters into his own hands?

Know this: If you take matters into your own hands you will experience your own consequences. But if you wait upon the Lord and entrust yourself to Him to defend, care for, and vindicate you in His way and time, then you can hope and trust that every outright cursing or passive-aggressive innuendo that comes out of the mouth or off the keyboard from a God-appointed Shimei in your life will land as God’s goodness and blessing.

May God give us grace to pray these matters out of our hands and into His hands so that we can hope and trust for His outcome.

Read part five HERE.

 

dark_street_lamp_painting_by_androidworkshopG.K. Chesterton fascinatingly writes about the doctrine of conditional joy. He was convinced that fairy tales were written as echoes of another world, like echoes from a home we have never seen but have never once stopped yearning for.

He writes: “In the fairy tale an incomprehensible happiness rests upon an incomprehensible condition. The note of the fairy utterance always is, ‘You may live in a palace of gold and sapphire, if you do not say the word, “cow”; or ‘You may live happily with the kings daughter, if you do not show her an onion.’ The vision [of joy and happiness] always hangs on a veto. All the dizzy and colossal things [enjoyed] depend upon one small thing withheld. All the wild and whirling things that are let loose depend upon one thing that is forbidden. …  A box is opened, and all evil flys out. A word is forgotten, and cities perish.  A lamp is lit, and love flies away.  A flower is plucked, and human lives are forfeited. An apple is eaten, and the hope of God is gone.”

God has woven this “doctrine” into the very fabric of all reality. Everything comes with a condition. The enjoyment of anything depends upon something forbidden. I can enjoy my iPhone if I don’t use it to hammer nails. I can enjoy my freedom if I don’t cheat on my taxes. I can enjoy my wife if I don’t lie to her. Reality dictates that this doctrine is no fairy tale.

With great hostility the culture declares just the opposite—that freedom, pleasure, and happiness comes with no boundaries, no conditions, and no restraint. But no person or society can break God’s conditions without those conditions ultimately breaking the person and society. Something must be withheld, something must be forbidden, for any pleasure to be enjoyed in “dizzy, colossal, wild, and whirling” ways.