What does it mean to bless God?

(Photo and quote by Jacqueline Cooper.)

How has God blessed you? I’m sure many of you would agree that God is a loving, gracious Father. That His love and forgiveness alone is more than we deserve. If we are in Christ, God has poured blessing upon blessing into our lives. He even turns our messes into something beautiful if we let Him.

I love the The Message translation of Ephesians 1:3: How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.”

Did you know that it is possible to bless God? Some may argue: Because God is altogether perfect and lacks nothing, He doesn’t need our blessings. Though I agree that we don’t add to God’s character, or somehow strengthen Him through our blessings, I do believe that our attitudes, words, and actions can bring joy to his heart and a smile to His face. When we bless, praise and acknowledge God, we are fulfilling His original purpose of creating us.

What if we make it our priority to daily bless God in 2019? For He truly deserves it! You may read more on this topic here: What Does It Mean to Bless God? And for all of you scholarly readers, you might enjoy John Piper’s thesis: What Does It Mean to Bless God? 

God Finishes What He Starts

I love this verse! There are times when I wonder if I am making any gains in my spiritual life. Too many times I start the new year with well-meaning goals and resolutions. Not that they can’t be attained, but on my own, my best efforts usually hit a wall at some point. But thankfully, when God starts a project, He finishes it!

Paul is describing the Christian’s growth process here. God’s work for us began when Christ took our place with His sacrificial death on the cross. His work in us begins when we first believe. With Jesus Christ as our foundation, He continues framing and building our character while daily enabling us to be more Christ-like through His indwelling, empowering Holy Spirit. If you are God’s child, rest in the promise that He will finish this good work when we meet Him face to face.

Happy New Year!

I hope that joy and peace graced your Christmas. I also hope you have managed to find some rest time, especially if you have a house full of kids.:) Reflecting on this past year, I’ve found myself enjoying lots of our kids’ sporting events. Other highlights from 2018 include:

  • Cameron’s high school graduation, (our oldest son). He attends Grand Canyon University and loves it.
  • Eric and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary in Coeur d’Alene, ID in June.
  • Our family enjoyed a vacation in Whitefish, Montana and visiting Glacier National Park in July. We spent our time hiking, mountain biking, ziplining, and viewing some beautiful scenery.

God has graciously blessed our family in many ways, for which I’m grateful. He has also led me into some new ministry terrain that is challenging and rewarding at the same time.

I am also starting a new business called L&L Abode. So far my products comprise canvas and mugs with pictures that I photograph and/or digitally create. But I plan on adding more products and variety in the near future. (If you’re interested in checking it out, this link will take you to my store: L&L Abode.)

As you reflect on this past year and set your sights on new horizons, I hope and pray that God makes His will clear for you and that you see his hand at work in your life. We can trust God in the year ahead, for he has good plans for our future. The following Bible verses, shared by Mary Fairchild, are grounds for excitement!

NEW BIRTH – A LIVING HOPE

Salvation in Jesus Christ represents new birth — a transformation of who we are. The start of a new year is a great time to reflect on the new and living hope we have in this life and in the life to come:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3, NIV)

A NEW CREATION

This passage describes a transformation that will eventually lead to the full enjoyment of eternal life in the new heavens and new earth. Christ’s life, death, and resurrection introduce followers of Jesus Christ to a foretaste of the new world to come.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)

A NEW HEART

Believers are not merely changed externally, they undergo a radical renewal of heart. This total cleansing and transformation reveal the holiness of God to an unholy world:

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart with new and right desires, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony heart of sin and give you a new, obedient heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so you will obey my laws and do whatever I command. (Ezekiel 36:25-27, NLT)

FORGET THE PAST – LEARN FROM MISTAKES

Christians aren’t perfect. The more we grow in Christ, the more we realize how far we have to go. We can learn from our mistakes, but they are in the past and need to stay there. We look forward toward the resurrection. We keep our eyes on the prize. And by maintaining our focus on the goal, we are pulled heavenward.

Both discipline and perseverance are required to accomplish this objective.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I am still not all I should be, but I am focusing all my energies on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven. (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT)

Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:10-11, NIV)

WAIT ON THE LORD – GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT

We can be content and wait for God’s timing, for it is sure to be the right time. By waiting and trusting patiently, we gain quiet strength:

Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes. (Psalm 37:7, NLT)

Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31, NASB)

Merry Christmas!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." -Isaiah 9:6-7

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, MIGHTY GOD, EVERLASTING FATHER, PRINCE OF PEACE. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” – Isaiah 9:6-7

Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas!

 

More Than Pieces of Peace

True and lasting peace is rare in our sin-ravaged world. Fear, sin, uncertainty, doubt, and many other forces war within us. The holidays don’t invoke good memories and/or warm fuzzy feelings for many people. Just a quick read through the newspaper can leave one’s mind and heart reeling in a state of unrest. While most of us manage to grasp pieces of peace here and there, what is the secret to the few who find a confident assurance that everything is going to be okay, even in the midst of adversity?

Jesus says He will give us peace if we are willing to accept it from Him. Unlike worldly peace, which is usually defined as the absence of conflict, the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives produces deep and lasting peace. With Christ’s peace, we have no need to fear the present or the future.

Beginning a new series on peace, Pastor Cliff Purcell shares some practical ways to secure deep and lasting peace. His first podcast can be found here: Making Peace With God” (Dec. 2, 2018). The next podcast can be accessed here: “Making Peace With My Past” (Dec. 9, 2018). Wishing you God’s gift of His deep and lasting peace!