Be a Blessing

Following up on my recent post about “Finding Fault” I sense that I need to further exhort you to “Be a Blessing”.

You would think that being a blessing is a natural thing for people to do. It is a joy to bless others. It is more blessed to give than to receive. When you bless others they love and appreciate you in return. You can even become famous by blessing people.

Yet, sadly, many people find it hard to be a blessing, even to their family and children.

Stern Exhortation

So this is a direct word to your heart. I am giving you a stern exhortation to BE A BLESSING!

Stop being stingy in your spirit and negative in your outlook. Stop spoiling other people’s happiness, raining on their parade, stealing their joy, finding fault and being negative about things.

Being a blessing is not just a nice thing to do it is God’s purpose in the earth in this generation.

Be Like Dad

Your Heavenly Father is a God of abundant grace. God pours abundant blessings on people who don’t deserve it. He brings rain and sunshine on everyone, good and bad. He allows us to enjoy life, from a good night’s sleep to the laughter of our children. We have flavours, colours, breezes, smiles, friends, views, sounds, and so much more to enjoy on a daily basis. Even the evil people are not denied these myriad blessings.

“But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44,45

Calling for This Generation

I sense that God intends to open up fountains of blessing on the earth. He intends to open up millions of them. He intends that His people would each become a light in a darkened world, pouring grace into the lives of hurting, lonely, unloved people.

I sense that being a blessing is not just a nice idea or the right thing for Christians to do. Instead it is a peculiar calling on this generation of Christians. I believe God is calling men and women, youth and children today to become open wells of grace and favour into other people’s lives.

Please take this seriously. God is calling YOU to be a blessing. You are to become famous for your ability to fill others with joy, encouragement, faith, confidence, love, grace and blessing.

Commanded to Bless

You are commanded to bless others. You are even commanded to bless those who hate you and curse you. Imagine that. Your spiritual DNA is so full of blessing that even those who curse you receive a blessing in return.

“Bless those who persecute you: bless, and curse not.” Romans 12:14

This is particularly relevant to those I addressed in my ‘Finding Fault’ post, who use their poison pen to tear down and demean things, rather than to bless. You are commanded to be a blessing, not to be a destroyer and one who sows discord, separating people from things or others they would otherwise find blessing through.

Reversing Evil

A wonderful aspect of being a blessing is your ability to reverse evil. Rather than becoming bogged down in the mire of other people’s limitations, evil heart, negative behaviour and so on, you can actually overcome all of that evil, by simply blessing those who don’t deserve it.

The Apostle Paul, as he followed on from the instructions given in Romans 12:14 (quoted above) went on to elaborate and to point out that blessing those who curse us causes the good in us to overcome the evil in them.

“Therefore if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20,21

I Bless You

I bless you in the name of the Lord. I release God’s grace onto you and your family, your life and your destiny. Be filled with the fullness of God. Walk and live in the favour of God. Be brought under the mighty hand of God. I pray that the devil’s hold on your life be broken and that all that holds you back be cut off your life, so you can catapult forward into the things God has for you.

I release you to be a blessing, to bring favour, peace, joy and love to those who are desperate for it, but don’t know where to find it. I bless you with protection from moral harm and from the enemy’s destructions. No weapon formed against you will prosper. The Angel of the Lord encamps around you and delivers you.

Be blessed in Spirit, in Soul and in Body. Be blessed in your family, your provisions, your heart and mind. Sleep sweetly, speak powerfully, live joyfully, thrive in strength, reap the harvest of the earth and use it as a blessing for others.

Now, go and be a blessing!

The Crash of 2008 part four

The financial crash of 2008 is the product of greed, boom and bust cycles and the manipulations by power players. But it is also the product of man’s sin, man’s mammon worship and God’s judgements.

Prophetic insights tell us that God wants to humble people and the nations and to have them rely only on Him, not on their money or their survival plans.

What Should You Do?

What are the things you should do to weather the storms we are facing and will face in the future? I suggest that you consider the following list of things that I have taught others to do in this situation.

Humble Yourself

If it is true that God is at work in this situation, seeking to humble the nations and bring them back to Himself, then the best thing you can do is be quick to humble yourself. It is time to repent of your materialism and to stop looking to money to be your saviour. Money is proving unstable and even toxic to some.

You also need to consider whether you have been worshipping Mammon. God wants you to worship only Him.

Cry Out To God

Call on the name of the Lord, cry out to God and trust Him to deliver you in this situation. God is ready to rescue those who trust in Him. So call upon Him. Put your trust in His ability to protect and save you.

God promises in His Word that we can be kept safe even when we go through the flood and the fire.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; neither will the flame kindle upon you.” Isaiah 43:2

Expect God’s Blessing

We are able to expect God’s blessing, even in a time of famine or trouble. God’s ability to bless us is not limited by physical circumstances.

Thousands of years ago Isaac, son of Abraham, experienced a 100 fold return during a time of famine.

“And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar ……. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year one hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.” Genesis 26:1,12

Whatever is happening in the global markets, God is able to protect you and to bless you. He is even able to bring you amazing provision when everyone else of struggling, just as Isaac had a one hundredfold return during a time of famine.

Avoid Slavery to Debt

Debt is not sin, but debt does make people servants or slaves to others. Those who are in debt are vulnerable to having their situation overturned by the lender.

“The rich rules over the poor and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Proverbs 22:7

I reiterate that it is not sin to have debt, but it is dangerous. In a season of financial upheaval it is possible to be penalised by the one who has lent you the money. If you have the opportunity to get out of debt, that would be to your advantage and an excellent strategy.

Let God Purify Your Heart

When our faith is tested then so too is our heart. God holds our faith to be of great value. He tests us to see how we cope under various pressures and to see what comes out of our heart.

“I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:10

As your financial and material security is put at risk your heart will be exposed. You will either trust God or be angry with Him. You will either rest in God’s provision or you will strive more and more in your own strength and cunning.

I have personally been through protracted times of hardship and those seasons tested and purified my heart. In such seasons I have been able to sort out my attitudes toward material goods, worldly values and God’s call on my life.

So, let God purify your heart even in the challenging financial times you may be going through.

Stand On God’s Word

People of faith know how to stand secure on the Word of God. God makes many promises about His blessings and His protection in our lives. Rather than looking to the newspaper headlines, you are much better to look into God’s Word and stand firm on what He is saying.

God says the He will supply all your needs (Philippians 4:19) and that His blessing meets your needs without bringing you sorrow (Proverbs 10:22).

Look To God

People seek to protect what they have and to build up a greater store of assets. This is the desire for gain and fear of loss which drive so much of our markets.

The Bible reveals that God is our greatest source of security and blessing. In fact, unless God supports your plans for protection and profit you are wasting your time.

Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders waste their time: unless the LORD protects the city, the watchman wakes in vain.” Psalm 127:1

Look to God, not your own cunning or resources. Your financial advancement and your security are found in him, not the markets or your clever ideas.

Help Us Turn Australia (and the Nations) back to God

God is challenging the pride and rebellion of the nations that try to survive without Him. Christians have the role of bringing the nations back to God. Rather than being eaten up in your own concerns, ask God how you can help to bring your nation to repentance and humility before God.

The Children’s Bread

Citizens of any nation have a special status, based on their inherited right, or chosen right for those who take on citizenship. Jesus Christ celebrated that special status, so it is enshrined in political reality. Sadly we are seeing an erosion of this special status, so it is timely to investigate our God-endorsed rights.

Children

Jesus Christ spoke of the natural national citizens as “children”.

On one occasion Peter made a mistake in his encounter with the administrators of his day. Peter was approached and asked if his master paid tribute money. Peter unwisely said that he did. Jesus then challenged Peter about Peter’s thinking on this matter.

“When they came to Capernaum those that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Does not your master pay tribute? He said, Yes. And when he came into the house Jesus detained him, saying, What do you think, Simon? Who do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute from? Is it from their own children, or from strangers? Peter said to him, From strangers. Jesus said to him, Then the children are free. However, so we don’t offend them, go to the sea and cast an hook, and take up the first fish that comes up; and when you open his mouth, you will find a piece of money: take that, and give to them for me and you.” Matthew 17:24-27

Why Children

Every citizen is a ‘child’ of the cultural family to which he or she belongs. That is significant and I will probably discuss that point in more depth at some other time.

Suffice it to say right now that what starts as a ‘family’ really should stay as a family. However, what tends to happen is that our leaders stop being ‘fathers’ to us and become greedy brothers and sisters who sell out the ‘family’ for personal status and reward.

Good government does not penalise its own family, but rewards it. Good government creates a wonderful environment for its own children. Good government then taxes the foreigners (“strangers” in the words of Jesus) for using the resources that really belong to the children.

Oh that it were so in our nations today!

In many western nations today the foreign entities can operate within the country with great tax advantages and privileges, while the children are heavily taxed to pay for the borrowings of their leaders (their ‘fathers’?) who have placed them in an unhappy place of national penalty.

Hmmmm…..

The Children’s Bread is for the Children

Jesus spoke of ‘children’ in a political sense on another occasion. He spoke to a foreigner who was seeking His power for a family need. In that conversation with the Syrophenician woman Jesus affirmed His personal calling to the nation of Israel. His power, miracles and grace were intended for the nation of Israel.

Israel was by that time a nation that had existed for more than a millennium. It is easy to forget, after such a long time, that the nation is really a ‘family’. The original children of Israel were the literal children of a man named Israel. As the families grew over successive generations the ‘children’ grew in number to be a national entity in their own right. But they were still ‘children’ of Israel.

In political terms this foreigner was not a member of the family of Israel. Rather than being a child in the family she was something else, like a family pet. Jesus pointed this out by saying that it was not right for Him to take what belonged to the children and to give it to the dog.

While Jesus’ comments sound offensive to our ears it is important to note two things. The woman was not upset. She recognised that His statement was true. She was outside the Kingdom and had no right to the things she requested. She was not a child of Abraham or a descendent of Jacob (Israel). Jesus’ words were not an insult, but a statement of truth acknowledged by the woman herself.

Further to that, Jesus was happy to hear her appeal and expression of faith and to grant her what she asked.

She said (in essence), “It is true that I am a dog, but even the dogs get to eat the crumbs which are dropped by the children. Since not all of your blessings will be enjoyed by the children you can spare one of the crumbs for me.”

“a certain woman, whose young daughter had an unclean spirit, heard of him, and came and fell at his feet: The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation; and she begged him that he would cast the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not right to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. And she answered and said to him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children’s crumbs. And he said to her, For this saying go your way; the devil is gone out of your daughter. And when she came to her house, she found the devil gone out, and her daughter laid upon the bed.” Matthew 7:25-30

Your Bread

We have seen that Jesus used the notion of ‘children’ to speak of both political realities (paying tribute) and spiritual realities (claiming the blessings belonging to God’s people).

You too are a child and have your own bread. So, what is your bread? What is it to which you have political and spiritual right?

As a citizen of your nation and culture you are entitled to the freedoms and protections afforded to you. You should not be abused by the fathers of your culture and nation. They should be providing you the special blessings which you are entitled to as a member of the family.

As a child of God you are entitled to an amazing range of spiritual and practical blessings reserved for the ‘children’. In fact, you have the right to walk and live in a state that is described as ‘glorious liberty’ (wonderful freedom), as God’s child.

“Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21

I encourage you to enjoy the bread that is yours, both politically and spiritually. You are fully entitled to those blessings and it is your responsibility to protect and preserve them so that your own children can enjoy them as well.

Love as the Litmus Test

Everyone has their own way of assessing things. We judge all manner of things by first impression, speech, attitudes, dress, facial expression and so on. So how does God want us to be evaluated?

God’s Litmus Test

Jesus Christ explained that there is a litmus test by which we would be evaluated. That process was one that was important to God and so it was pointed out to us, along with a command that we perform in a way that gives us a good litmus test rating.

“A new commandment I give you, That you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” John 13:34-35

Did you notice the words “By This”? People will know you are Jesus’ disciple by a particular litmus test. It’s not the smile on your dial, your Bible knowledge or the frequency with which you go to church. The litmus test is whether you love others or not.

A Commanded Lifestyle

There are many optional things in the Christian life. Your diet, exercise regime, domestic comforts, career and much more are completely at your discretion. But there is one thing that is commanded of you. You are commanded to love other Christians.

Now that should not be a surprise, even if it is not something you see many Christians do. Remember that the second greatest commandment is to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And this command which was identified by Christ was first given under Moses.

“You are not to avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you will love your neighbour as yourself: I am the LORD.” Leviticus 19:18

What Does Love Look Like?

Have you ever wondered what “love” looks like? It is supposed to be visible. That’s how it can function as our litmus test. If love was invisible then no-one would know whether we had love for one another or not. Yet it is the very visibility of our love for one another that allows people to know that we are Christ’s disciples. Got it? So love must look like something. It is not invisible.

Love Defined

The best working definition for love that I have ever heard is where we “want what is best for the other person, despite the personal cost to ourselves”.

By that definition we can see that love is completely self-less. So our love can be seen by the selfless things we do. When we put other people ahead of ourselves and help others out even though it messes things up for us, we are demonstrating something that others know is not in their life.

So if love has to look like anything at all it should look like selflessness. When we devour other people, indulge our anger and self-will, are intolerant, prejudiced, reactive or closed, we demonstrate something other than love.

Test Yourself

It is not always easy to properly observe ourselves, because we apply many filters to what we do and excuse things in ourselves we don’t excuse in others. However, despite the difficulties, we are wise to try to get a grip on ourselves and to make some kind of assessment about who and what we are.

So try testing yourself. Use the litmus paper on the acidic state of your own heart.

Take a few moments to write down ten examples of your selflessness, patience, kindness, generosity, tolerance, self-restraint and other practical expressions of love that you have shown in the past week. If you come up with more than ten items of substance then that’s a positive sign. If you can’t think of any then you need to pay particular attention to that.

God is Watching

Oh, and by the way, whether you test yourself or not, God is weighing everything you do and say. He is watching and ready to bless you if you fulfil His will. So, don’t take the subject too lightly. A good litmus test every now and then is worth the effort.

God and Abundance

Here’s some more proof that God is a God of Abundance. God is not stingy and He doesn’t run the world on a limited budget. And this world is not built on limited resources, where the more you get the less everyone else gets. God has created a win-win universe, filled with superfluous abundance.

In Jesus’ earthly ministry He personally displayed God’s love for abundance. So I’m pressing this truth onto you once more, to push you toward a larger faith horizon than might come naturally to you.

Are you ready?

Jesus and Abundance

On one occasion Jesus had His disciples perform an amazing miracle, feeding 5,000 people with a boy’s lunch. There were just a few fish and a few small bread rolls. When Jesus passed these pieces to His disciples they broke off pieces to feed the huge crowd, and the food multiplied in their hands.

Now that’s already a testimony of abundance. An entire crowd was fed to the full. No-one was asked to take less than they wanted, and no-one was sent home hungry. There was plenty. No rationing was needed. Yet surely those people would all have made it home with only half a meal.

Then, to top it off, they collected a super-abundant supply of left-overs and end up with twelve baskets of food! What a crazy abundance problem! If we could see one small lunch become 12 baskets full we’d be pretty impressed. But this was after 5,000 men and their families were fed.

Why didn’t Jesus measure the miracle to be just enough? Why this superlative supply? Isn’t that a bit wasteful? Would you organise a miracle that created such a huge pile of left-overs?

An Abundant God

It’s all about “abundance”! God is a God of abundance. God is not trying to stretch meagre resources. God already created an abundance of variety and an abundance of productivity in just about everything He made. We don’t need the diversity of colour, design, sound, shape and variety which God has given us. We appreciate it, but we’d all survive with less of it all. But God is a God of Abundance.

Jesus, as God’s Son, doing what He was directed to do by God, created abundance. That’s because abundance is in God’s nature.

Another Example from Jesus

On one occasion Jesus directed Peter and the others who were fishing with him to drop their nets down for a catch. The catch was immense. It was far more than they needed. They almost sank the boats trying to handle the sheer volume of the haul.

God doesn’t have to be sparing in His blessings to you. He generously gives us magnificent sunsets, a sky that stretches beyond our sight and superlative supply of all we could ever want. It’s in His DNA (in a manner of speaking). God has “abundance” built into His very nature.

An Old Testament Example

A widow once called on Elisha for help. She needed money. All she had was a small bottle of oil. The prophet told her to gather all the containers she could get her hands on and then fill them from the tiny bottle. The oil just kept pouring out of that small bottle until everything was full and they couldn’t find another container to put oil into.

If that widow had been able to get twice as many containers, she could have had twice as much oil. God was ready to give her as much as she could contain. The oil was then sold to pay the debt and to fund the rest of her life.

What About that Wine?

Remember the time Jesus turned water into wine. It was Jesus’ first miracle. He turned huge pots of water into pots of wine. And when the wine was tested it was found to be the very best wine!

Surely an average type of wine would have done the job. Surely a smaller quantity would have been sufficient. Surely they could have survived even if they ran out of wine. This isn’t a life or death issue.

Yet here we see Jesus providing an abundance of the best. No scrimping. No economising. Instead we have simple and wonderful abundance.

What About You?

What are your needs? What are you asking God for? Can you believe God for an abundance of good things for you?

I encourage you to stir your faith to believe God for more. Ask Him for more than you’ve asked Him for before. Don’t set your sights on survival. It is the father’s good pleasure to give you more than you could ask for.

Consider These Verses

Look at the notion of abundance and free gifts in these Bible verses.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3:20

“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” Romans 8:32

“Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, will men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you measure out it will be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32

“But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1Corinthians 15:57

“That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:7

I pray that your faith be stirred to reach out for the Abundance that God has already prepared for you.