If the only gift we received by confessing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior was eternal life, that would be more than enough. But our God, so full of love and mercy, also gave His life so we could have the blessing of living an abundant life. Now the abundance of life that Jesus promises isn’t necessarily about material wealth or possessions, but rather about spiritual richness and fulfillment. It includes a deep and abiding relationship with God, as well as meaningful relationships with other people. An abundant life is also marked by a sense of purpose and meaning, as we are called to love and serve others. Using our gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world. I love what Dr. Charles Stanley says, “To live the abundant Christian life is to allow Jesus to live His life through us. His love motivates and empowers us, so we obey Him out of joy and thankfulness.”
2 Timothy 3:16
Many are the ways and forms in which God sends us help, and one of the most powerful is His Word. And what a blessing is the Bible. No wonder it’s the best selling book of all time! For it contains the history of creation, the Good News of Jesus Christ, and the wonderful promises of God. Beyond that the Bible is also a blueprint for life, giving us valuable advice and practical applications for any and all situations. And when we follow it’s wisdom we can’t go wrong. For far from being a book written by man, every word is divinely inspired by God Himself. And it’s benefits include life teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. If we want to deepen our faith and relationship with the Lord, spend time in His Word. Because not only will it help us live according to God’s will, it helps us understand God’s plan for our lives.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Although we aren’t told specifically what Paul’s thorn was, we can relate to the suffering he endured. Because whether it be emotional, physical, or spiritual, each of us have our own thorns to bear. Thorns for which we have pleaded with God to remove. And sometimes He’ll do just that. But what happens when His answer is no? It’s then Paul tells us to rejoice for the blessing of our sufferings. For although the thorn may remain, God is at work strengthening the one under it. Often it’s at our lowest times when God can do His greatest work. Because our weakness is an opportunity for God to work through us and show His strength. And by surrendering all to God, relying on His might rather than our own, not only can we deepen our relationship with Him, we can find joy in difficult circumstances because they allow us to experience His power in a unique way.
An Indian guru once said, “The stones of a river start out rough, but with the current continually bumping and polishing them, they end up being beautiful.” A perfect description of the Christian life. Each of us are as river stones. Rough and jagged around the edges, tossed and turned in the raging current of life. And although no one looks forward to the grating friction brought on by tribulations, we are to think of troubles as a joyful blessing. Why? Because as James tells us, “the testing of your faith produces perseverance”. (James 1:3) Spiritual perseverance is never giving up no matter how hard our circumstance may be. It’s trusting that God is using our situation to grow our faith, and working all things together for our good. (Rom. 8:28) And what great joy there is in knowing that our Father does so in love, with the purpose of making us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:4)
1 Thessalonians 5:9
The world is a scary place. And it grows scarier by the day. But for Christians no matter the chaos, we needn’t fear. Because we know God is in control. And as Jan Markell says, “The world isn’t falling to pieces, the pieces are falling into place.” War is coming. And God will not contain His judgements forever. For as He Himself warns, “Behold I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his clothes, so that he will not walk about naked and men will not see his shame.” (Rev.16:15) But believers have the blessing of knowing that God’s plan isn’t for us to suffer the coming wrath. But rather to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. So no matter how dark the world grows, we can hold fast to God and stay strong. Because God’s glorious plan for our lives is one of salvation and redemption. Not one of death and destruction.
1 Peter 3:9
I love the quote, “The best revenge you can give an enemy is by showing them true love.” When someone wrongs us our first instinct is to retaliate. But when we do, we become no better than the one who acted against us. And as satisfying as it may feel to exact vengeance, it never changes the heart of the the one who hurt us it only changes ours. As followers of Jesus, revenge isn’t an option. For we are called to pronounce blessings upon those who hurt us. Betrayed by even those He loved, Jesus had every reason to get even with those who scorned Him. Yet Christ chose love over vengeance. And we are to do the same. To break the cycle of retribution, replacing it with love and forgiveness. Doing so not only brings healing and reconciliation, but blessings from God for our obedience and faithfulness.
We all make plans for our lives. Some work out better then we could have hoped, others leave us shaking our heads wondering what in the world we were thinking. But although we can try our best to see that our plans will come to fruition, God always has the final say. And it’s a blessing that He does. Because God knows us better than we know ourselves. And unlike us, can see from the beginning to the end. So instead of going it alone we need to give our plans to God. Praying for Him to guide and give us wisdom to proceed with them. And to accept if His answer is no. For God wants to save us from heartache and pain. So if our way isn’t the right way, He will show us a better way. Our heavenly Father only wants the best for us. So we can lay our plans at His feet. Believing in full faith that if it is His will, God will see it done.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Evangelist Billy Sunday once said, “Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in.” Temptations are everywhere, and not even the strongest Christian is immune to their pull. But thankfully we have the blessing of knowing that God will never let Satan tempt us beyond our ability to resist. And by turning to Him when we are at our weakest, we can resist any enticement. Through prayer we can ask God for strength and wisdom. By studying His Word we can gain God’s insight to help us overcome. And through the mighty power of His Spirit living inside of us, we can discern right from wrong. We serve a God who knows firsthand the temptation of sin. So when when Satan is enchanting us to wickedness, by turning to God and fellow believers we can turn aside from sin. And we can be victorious, living a life that is pleasing to God.
2 Samuel 22:17
When we are drowning in troubled waters, we have the blessings of a mighty Lifeguard who will reach down and pull us out of the raging rapids. Because just like He did with David, God will provide and rescue us from all danger. And no matter how dire the situation may seem, with God’s help we can not only survive but overcome and experience victory in the end. For nothing formed against us is too powerful for the Lord. He is the One who saves, sustains, strengthens, and secures. Whether they be people, addictions, disease, or Satan himself, we all have enemies. Each day is filled with personal battles. But we never need face them alone. When we put our faith and trust in God, even the mightiest of foe cannot stand against His power. We can confidently cast all of our anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us and is committed to helping us win every war. (1 Peter 5:7)
Growing up my brothers had a tree fort in the woods behind our house. It was their secret place where they and their friends could go as a refuge from the world. We too have a secret place. A fortress so secure, no evil can penetrate it. And that’s dwelling in the shadow of the Lord. For He is our perfect security and refuge. His faithfulness is an impenetrable wall and our shield against all enemies. And in His presence alone can we dwell in perfect safety. This beautiful blessing we have from God isn’t because we are good and deserve it, but because He is. And from that goodness the Lord promises to answer every plea, every call, and every cry. He will never forsake nor abandon us. Nor will He fall short or fail to show up. The Lord loves us so much, He sends His angels to guard and protect us. And because of our love for Him, in times of trouble God will not only rescue us, but set us securely in a high place of honor.