Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Psalm 97:11
As a kid, I was short and skinny. One day, I got ahold of a muscle man magazine. It was then that I determined that I was going to be big with muscles. Immediately, I started an exercise program and dietary changes. For breakfast, I had Wheaties with wheat germ sprinkled on top. After breakfast, I forced myself to consume a table spoon of black strap molasses. The stuff was nasty, but I was told that it would make me big and strong. So, i ate it anyway. After weeks of this program, it seemed as if there wasn’t any benefit. I wasn’t bigger and definitely not stronger. So because of my disdain for the molasses and the lack of recognizable benefits, I quit the program.
Some people after living the Christian begin to think that there isn’t any benefit. They don’t see miracles happening in their lives and they continue to struggle with sin and the attacks of the enemy. Sadly to say, many drop out of the heavenly race. The legalist crowd would say that these people were never saved. I think that they became disillusioned and discouraged.
Regardless of how things appear, there are benefits for living for The Lord. Psalm 97:11 states that light will be sown for the righteous. When the clouds of trials and troubles loom overhead, we can rest that The Lord will shed light on the direction that we should go. The skies will not part open like a scroll nor will the mountains shake, but nonetheless The Lord will lead. More than likely, we will not recognize his leading until after we have arrived at his place.
Another promised benefit for those living for The Lord is gladness. Gladness is what the entire world is looking for. They will not find it in the bottom of a bottle, in a pill vial or in the pleasure of sin. Their money cannot buy it and fame or position will not yield its peaceable fruit. Gladness comes to the upright in heart.
These blessings can be considered much like salt when cooking. You may not recognize when it is added, but you sure can tell when it is missing. If you are facing difficulties, don’t bail out on God and miss the promised blessings that he has for you. The benefit will be worth it and the loss will be great.
As a kid growing up, my father decided to make wine. He recruited me as his helper. I really didn’t have any say in the matter, it just happened. He located some black berry bushes not too far from the house. The patch was relatively large. I remember squeezing my way through the picky branches of the bushes. Once in the center of the patch, I was in kid heaven. I don’t recall how many quarts of berries I picked, but I can say that I ate more than I picked. Although my legs and arms were torn by the branches, it was well worth it.
Truth is an important part of the Christian’s life. By it the believer is made free (John 8:32). God’s word or truth is a guide (Psalm 119:105) and by it favor and good understanding will be found with God and man (Proverbs 3:3-4). According to Psalm 91:4, truth is a shield and buckler. These words are very similar and from their meanings we gain great insight into the benefit of truth.
The word shield comes from the word meaning pointed or prickliness. As something prickly keeps opponents from advancing forward, truth keeps falsehood from getting too close. A buckler is something that surrounds a person. It is used to deflect blows from a sword. In the same manner, truth deflects the wiles and attacks of the enemy from advancing and overcoming the believer’s heart.
For whatever troubles I may face today, truth is what I will need to withstand the enemy. When my faith rests in truth, I will experience victory. I don’t need better plans: I need truth. Although the experience and encouragement from others may help, in the end it is the truth that they experienced and share with me that will bring hope and strength. Before you start your day, get the truth that you will need. Without it, your heart will be unprotected and you will be unable to withstand the enemy.
Shortly after the stock market crumbled in 1929, there were many, who previously had been very wealthy, that were facing financial ruin. They were in debt beyond their imagination. For those who saw no way out and could not face the shame, ruin and their current state of poverty, decided to take their own lives. They did so because they could not face living under the bondage and constraints that the poverty would bring.
For Moses, this was not the case. He was raised in the palace of the Pharaoh, but of his own accord chose no longer to live in the pleasures of sin. By forsaking Egypt and following God, he went from being a ruler to servant. The choice was not placed upon him, nor did he make the decision after being coerced by spiritual leaders. Moses recognized that in life he would serve somebody or something. He chose to serve the living God.
Today and every day, I must make that same choice. Will I live to fulfill my will or will I live to pursue the desires of God? This decision begins when I awake and continues to occur countless times throughout the day. Will I labor for my employer like I want or as God wants? Will I handle problems that I have with people in my manner or God’s? Will I manage money my way or God’s way? The decision is mine. When Christ saved me, he set me free and the liberty that I have in Christ is that I get to choose. I can do this because I no longer am bound in sin, but set free.
What decision will you make? As you make the decision to serve God, vocalize it to him each day. Begin your day with the declaration to God that you choose to serve him.
I chuckle as I remember back to the days when I was dating my wife. It seemed that I tried to spend every free waking moment with her. The more time I spent with her, the more time I wanted and the more time we spent together, the more we came to understand each other. However that understanding of each other was a bit elusive. It was not until we were married that I learned about the deeper aspects of her person. Because of this we have clung together through the years and my heart has longed for and loved her in a greater measure than I could have ever imagined.
To grow in Christ is much like the relationship with my wife. Growing in Christ is to go to another place with him in your relationship. It is not accomplished through observances or the keeping of more regulations. We grow in Christ as we abide in and dwell with him . It seems that one of the greatest difficulties for believers is to understand how to dwell or abide. The problem they are experiencing is caused by them trying to perform something that is “abiding” or “dwelling”. Abiding and dwelling are the results of something greater than an act. What The Lord wants is for us to love him and to know his name (Psalm 91:14). When we love him, our hearts are clinging to him. We are finding our heart’s delight in him, which causes us to desire him even more. We dwell in Christ as the result of coming to understand him. We know God’s name, Peace, because we have experienced his peace. We know his name as Deliverer because we experienced deliverance by his hand. This love for and understanding of God are essential for growth and victory. Take them away and all you have is a legalistic performance based duty towards a very unfamiliar entity.
It is only when we love him and know his name that we can experience the dwelling in the secret place with God and when we do, all the blessings of his protection and provision will be upon us. So instead of trying to perform more for God, trying getting to know him better and set your affect on him who is above (Colossians 3:2).
As a boy, I collected coins and in the process, came across some of significant value. What I had learned in the process is that the condition or type of stamp determined the value of the coin. The coins in mint condition were worth more than the same year coin that was not. One special coin that I had was a rare issue. It was the first issue of the Indian head penny which reflected the designer’s initial. Some of the rarest of coins were those doubled stamped or made of a different composite. During the war, pennies were made from steal instead of lead. However, there were just a handful of copper pennies from that year made and because of it, they were of greater value.
The scriptures tell is that upon trusting Christ, we were sealed or stamped with the Holy Spirit. His sealing indicates the greatness of our value. Just as a monarch sealed documents with his image or signet in wax, we bear the markings of God’s possession. Because of this, you and I are more valuable than everything else in the universe.
The world has a different standard of value and by it they determine your worth and project it upon you. Look like this, have these skills, own these possessions, work in this vocation and you are somebody. The saddest part is that we believe it and because we believe it, we begin striving to attain skills, abilities or achievements to define our value. If you are in that trap, it is because you have failed to recognize your true value. Remember, you were bought with a great price and that payment made by Christ has made you a possession of The Almighty. His seal upon you may not be visible to humans, but all spiritual beings know who you are and the greatness of your value to God.
Instead of striving to be somebody, just be yourself. Who you are is the person that God loves, bought and owns. Why would you want to be anything different? So, be the best “you” that you can be.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: Ephesians 1:3
Did you ever find yourself caught in a conversation with somebody telling you about their grandchildren. They go on and on boasting about their intelligence, athletic ability and their extreme cuteness. You feel trapped and unable to escape their control.
In heaven, the exact same thing takes place. The scriptures tell us that God blesses or eulogizes us in heaven. He brags to all of the sprit beings about the wonder of his children and to show the greatness of their value to him, he speaks of how they are his chosen ones who are without blame whom he has adopted into his family by first buying them back to himself and forgiving them of all wrong. It is beyond the understanding of these spirit beings and has caused them to look into this mystery since the beginning of time. What a wonderful position we have in Christ. The self existing one, who should receive all praise continually, steps up to his podium in heaven and lauds us before his captive audience.
Instead of walking through your day today and focusing on negative aspects of yourself, reflect on how God feels about you and that at that very moment he is blessing you as he stands before his adoring audience.
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. Ephesians 1:6
As a kid growing up, I did not have much interaction with my father because of the extended hours of work that he put in. After working 40 hours per week in the steel mill and also put in many hours painting houses as side work, there wasn’t much time for anything else. Needless to say, his absence from our lives was not without problems: that was until I recognized the price that he personally paid and the motive behind his work. I often wished that I had recognized this earlier. It was not until I was placed in the position of needing to sacrifice for my family, that I understood the measure of his love and sacrifice. It was then that I began to praise him for who he was and what he had done.
The work that God does for you and in your life is intended to bring you to the point of praising him. However, you will praise God only after you recognize what he has done in your life. In this passage, the idea is conveyed that God is praised for the grace work that he does in individuals which makes them acceptable in Christ. This pattern of God working, our recognizing it and then offering up praise to him is a pattern that should constantly be evident in our lives.
My first thoughts after reading this was, how much of what God is doing in my life am I missing and if I am missing something, I am also failing to praise him for it. What I reminded myself to do is to slow down in life and strive to recognize even the little things that God is doing. As you walk through your day, assess the people in your life and how God is using them. Question how your friends are being used by God to help you. Have you noticed the sky, flowers, birds and other aspects of nature? All of creation is intended to bring glory to God and you and I are the ones to speak those praises. When you recognize what he has done, you too will praise him.