Beautiful Blessings

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We often hear people say, “I am blessed.” Often, this is expressed in reference to prosperity, health, children, or peace. Indeed, our “blessings” come in diverse and unexpected shapes.

In the book of Numbers, Aaron and the priests were instructed to bless the people in this way:

The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

~ Numbers 6.24-26, ESV

Paul echoes this blessing as he opens his letters to various churches and individuals:

  • Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:3, 2 Corinthians 1:2, Galatians 1:3, Ephesians 1:2, Philippians 1:2, Titus 1:4, Philemon 3)
  • Grace and Peace to You” (1 Thessalonians 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:2
  • Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” (1 Timothy 1:2 & 2 Timothy 1:2)

Peter uses this as well:

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you.” (1 Peter 1:2)

And, John the apostle does also:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.” (2 John 1:3)

What greater blessings can we have from the Lord than grace and peace?

The Blessing of Grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

~ Ephesians 2.8-10, ESV

Grace is one of the greatest blessings we receive from the Lord.

We work for the Lord because we loved Him, and yet our works do not save us because our sin stands to condemn us in spite of our work. Under the Law of Moses, constant sacrifices had to be offered for every sin or impurity. Under the Law of Christ, He died one time for all time. When we come into contact with His blood through baptism, it continues to wash away our sins as we continue in repentance and transformation.

Grace does not give us license to do as we please. The scripture in Ephesians clearly says, we are created in Christ Jesus for good works… to walk in them. As Paul points out:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

~ Romans 6.1-4, ESV

Grace inevitably leads to an inner peace transcending our circumstance.

The Blessing of Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 4.6-7, ESV

Circumstances toss us around like waves in the ocean, but within the shelter of God’s hand rests unshakeable peace. If you are being pounded by distress or simply overwhelmed with the demands of the day, lay it out before the Lord. Place your calendar or to-do list on the table and request His help to see you through.

Request His help, do the next thing, and trust Him with the rest.

You are loved by the Lord. May you find joy in these beautiful blessings that are not dependent on the vicissitudes of life, but on the constancy of our unchanging God.

 

What a Marine Taught Me About Jesus

About a month ago, I was asked to be one of the contributors for Kirk Cameron’s new website, The Courage. I am deeply honored to be working with his team to spread hope and strength to larger audience of Christians! Please take some time today to sign up for email updates and follow the site on Facebook and Twitter. They have some amazing articles from a broad range of talented contributors. In addition to working with The Courage, I’ll still be posting regularly here at Elihu’s Corner to encourage you on your walk with the Lord and help you draw closer to Him.

My first article went live today, and I wanted to share it with all of you, my very dear readers, who have been such an encouragement to me over the past two years since I started blogging.

May you be encouraged today to live, as Jesus lived, saying, “My life for yours.”


What a Marine Taught Me About Jesus

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A few days ago, I found myself sitting in a quiet waiting room with my kids. While they were playing with the toy set in the room, my eyes fell upon a small picture of a Marine. The young man sat in his dress uniform, his face giving just a hint of a steely smile. His knees and lower legs were exposed, revealing two prosthetic legs. Beneath his picture, the caption read, “Regrets? No, Mr. President, none that I can think of.”

This Marine had two well-functioning limbs taken from his body in the course of fighting in the war. Can you imagine living without the legs you were born with? Instead of sulking in bitterness or succumbing to depression, he expresses no regrets in such a loss.

People like that Marine—military personnel, law enforcement officers, first responders—run toward the danger everyone else is trying to escape. They risk death or injury to help those who cannot help themselves….

(Read the rest of this article here at The Courage)

When I Don’t Feel Like Trying Anymore

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Photo from cnn.com

I was one of the millions of people blown away by Mandy Harvey’s inspiring performance on America’s Got Talent. Mandy, 29, explained to the judges that she had been singing since the age of four, but due to a connective tissue disorder, she lost her hearing at age 18. As an amateur musician and avid music lover myself, I well-comprehended the devastation stemming from the loss of this irreplaceable sense. Mandy told the judges, “After I lost my hearing, I gave up, but I want to do more with my life than just give up.”

After sharing her story, Mandy opened her mouth and sang (watch the full video by clicking this link). Her clear, pitch-perfect voice, soared through the hall, to jaw-dropping astonishment.

She sang. I cried. 

I know that feeling she sang about—the feeling that you are giving it your best and your best is never enough; the feeling that no matter how hard you try, you keep on getting knocked down.

Continue reading

Too many irons in the fire.

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Go! Go! Go!

Run upstairs to get the client specs. Run back downstairs to deliver specs to the factory floor. Run down the block to the print shop for a press check. Run to the car to catch a plane. Race to get home. Whip up a quick dinner while helping a kid practice music, checking email, and prepping tomorrow’s lunches.

Run! Run! Run!

Without warning, something goes wrong. The mailman shows up, and your crazy dog goes busting through the front door to greet him. As the dog runs by, she knocks over your kid. While you’re coping with this catastrophe, the dinner on the stove starts to burn and your critical email goes unsent.

Crash! Boom! Bang!

All at once, all your well-laid plans come to a screeching halt. Like a line of dominoes, the tipping of one is the downfall of all. Continue reading

Memorial Day

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What good is a memorial if we’ve forgotten its purpose?

In the United States, we set aside the last Monday in May as an official memorial to honor the fallen.

Since most people are given the day off, it’s usually used to kick off summer, have a barbecue, and hit the beach.

For others, it’s a trip to the military cemetery to sit with the remains of a husband, wife, father, mother, brother, sister, or friend.

Today is a time to reflect on those who died to make us a free country, to end slavery, to deliver the oppressed, and to make the world a better place.

Take time today to remember. Tell your children what today is for so that it’s purpose will not be lost.

 

Who Do I Fear More: Man or God?

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When I choose the wrong path while under pressure, is it mere weakness or something more?

I lived in California for over 30 years. I learned early-on that I was often in the minority religiously, morally, and politically. In fact, if one held a remotely conservative view, silence was the recommended modus operandi… unless you wanted to lose your job, be branded as a bigot, or simply sneered at. Liberals, on the other hand, vehemently spoke on their viewpoints even when it was unrelated to the subject at hand. Continue reading

Tired of all the Negative in Your Newsfeed?

This morning I was doing some Facebook catch-up and one of my friends had posted this picture:

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The picture immediately reminded me of God’s Love and the awesome gift of prayer He as given us. It was a ray of sunshine into the dark of my early morning.

Intrigued by the beautiful rendering of the bible verse, I clicked over to the connected Facebook page and scanned through some of the content. Aside from a devotional or two most of what I spotted were simple designs of Bible verses. How cool is that?

My personal newsfeed gets cluttered with plenty of negative information. I don’t need to hide under a rock and pretend the world is all sunshine and daisies, but I do need to be intentional about balance. Continue reading

Forgetting God

This is Part 3 of the Series “The Effects of Knowing God” For the previous post, click here.

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[God] established a testimony in Jacob…
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them…
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
but keep his commandments;
and that they should not be like their fathers…
a generation whose heart was not steadfast,
whose spirit was not faithful to God.

~ Psalm 78.5-8, ESV

How would it feel to be the generation that ruined it all? If the United States collapsed within the next 40 years, the fault could not be laid exclusively at the feet of millennials. At least 3 previous generations would also bear the blame for our slow slide toward destruction.

But… What if there had not been a slow slide, but a completely foolish string of choices confined to one generation? Can you imagine witnessing the destruction of your country, knowing your generation was responsible? Continue reading

Am I Intellectually Lazy?

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The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.

~ Proverbs‬ ‭14:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

A few years ago my spouse and I were driving to San Diego. Because of the labyrinth of freeways that make up Southern California, we had the GPS (Global Positioning System) running. I knew generally how to get where we were going, but it is helpful to have those little reminders of impending exits and freeway interchanges. As we were cruising southbound on Interstate 15, the GPS suddenly commanded, “make a u-turn if possible.” Continue reading

Is Your Parenting on Cruise Control?

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Parenting is inconvenient.

Yes, I just said that.

Once you have a child, your life will be forever changed.

You will be humbled. Humiliated. Screamed at. Loved with abandon. Squeezed with unimaginable strength by those little arms. Amazed. Shocked. heartbroken. Overwhelmed with love. Filled with a newfound awe for your own parents.

Unfortunately, once the baby phase is over, we parents hit burn-out: Continue reading