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)

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

What are Your Study Habits?

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When I was a green seventeen-year old beginning my first year of college, I went through an orientation week affectionately called “WOW week” (aka Week of Welcome). In one of our mandatory sessions, the Dean of the College of Sciences asked us the following:

How many hours did you study in high school?

Do you know how to take notes?

Do you know the importance of rest?

Having graduated second in my high school class, I had little concern about my study habits because I knew they were sound. I am not a genius so I had to spend hours (about 30 hours/week) studying, taking detailed notes, recopying my notes as a study method, and prioritizing my projects. I continued these habits in college and managed to graduate cum laude. Persistence really does pay off.

A few years after college, this question was posed to me:

“Do we devote as much time to studying the Bible as we did studying for our chosen professions?” Continue reading

Why The Resurrection Matters

IMG_3051Some may ask why the resurrection is essential to our faith. Why can’t we just believe Jesus was a good teacher and follow His teachings? Why does it matter whether He had divine power?

If there was no resurrection, what do we have beyond this life?

If there was no resurrection, our Savior has no power to save.

If there was no resurrection, being a Christian is downright crazy.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

~ 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:17-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus’ disciples walked with Him for 3 years. Show-stopping miracles were a regularity. The blind saw. The deaf heard. The lame walked. Demons fled. The disciples bore intimate witness to His divine power.

And yet, as Jesus was led away by an angry mob, they ran for their lives.

The disciples, like most humans, feared death. Like the rest of the Jews, the disciples believed Jesus was going to restore the kingdom of Israel to earthly power. When He died, their misguided hopes died with Him.

Dark despair hung over the disciples as Jesus’ body reposed in the shadowy tomb.

Sunday morning, the sun crept over the horizon, softening the earth with its gentle warmth and light. At that same golden moment, a brighter, more glorious Son, rose from the realm of death.

Hope crushed despair.

Love conquered death.

Jesus overpowered Satan.

After Jesus’ resurrection, we see the apostles boldy preaching the gospel in the face of inevitable persecution. From the depths of prison to a dusty, blood-strewn road, their voices rose in praise. Death no longer frightened them. Fear no longer controlled them.

What changed?

What made them embrace death without fear? What made them choose lives of sacrifice?

The Empty Tomb.

The Living Savior.

The Resurrection.

When Jesus revealed His resurrected self to the apostles, all doubt vanished. Why fear death when your King has demonstrated His power to vanquish it?

The resurrection is crucial.

Without the resurrection, we have no hope.

Without hope, joy is lost.

Without joy, life is meaningless.

But Jesus has risen, hope is assured, and our lives overflow with joy inexpressible.

Our hope is not in this world or this life. Our living hope is the resurrected Christ. We take up our cross daily, crucifying the old man of sin, dying to self until he returns or we go home.

Today, and every day for the rest of your life, treasure this gift from God. We have an unshakeable hope because Jesus rose and Jesus lives.