Blessings and Burdens

Blessings don’t always come with no strings attached. Occasionally, they have burdens associated with them. Sometimes we have to work very hard to accomplish what God assigns us, according to His purpose.
Sometimes we go through hardship and suffering before we see the blessings that come out of our hard work. We don’t always see the blessings immediately. In fact, we often must wait much longer than we’d like to wait. This doesn’t mean that God has abandoned us, it means that he trusts that we have the faith to see it through. Look at the time and the hard work Noah invested in building the Ark. The time he spent ON the ark, feeding and caring for all those animals. Imagine the fear that Noah and his family felt during the storm, which must have seemed like it would never end. The rough waters, with no land in sight.

If Noah had focused on the burdens of his assignment, he may not have followed through – and none of us would be here today. Sometimes there is more riding on God’s plan for you than you could ever imagine! Think of how different our world would look today if Noah had balked at the size of his burden or had simply not followed God’s plan at all.
“Gee, God…I appreciate the offer, but I don’t think I can build a boat THAT big.
Cypress wood, you say? That’s pretty hard to come by. Could we maybe use some other material?
And do we really need two of EVERY animal? You see, I’m allergic to cats…”

It’s up to us to look past the difficult situations and see that His blessings outweigh the burdens of our lives.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
– ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7 NLT‬‬

When I am feeling overwhelmed, I will pray:
Dear God,
Things are hard right now. I am trying to follow your plan, but I am hurting. Please give me peace and the strength to follow you and fulfill your plan for me, no matter how hard things get.
Amen

Trust and Obey

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”
– ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:22‬‬

“And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him.”
– ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭7:5‬‬

‭‭Noah placed his faith in God, even though God’s plan may not have made sense to him. He didn’t question God or make any excuses, despite the enormous task that lay ahead of him. ‬‬

‭‭God has a plan for us. And when he calls you, he will equip you. Don’t allow fear to keep you from answering His call. ‬‬

‭‭Later on in the Bible we read about God’s plan for Moses, who has a completely different reaction to God’s calling. When Moses was afraid that he wasn’t the right man for the job…‬‬

“The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.””
– ‭‭Exodus‬ ‭4:11-12‬‬

‭‭When God tells you to go, you GO!‬‬
‭‭He is the one who determines who is qualified and unqualified. It is our responsibility to trust and obey, despite feeling inadequate or uncertain. As Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us,‬‬

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
– ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬‬

‭‭When I am uncertain that I have the abilities that I need to fulfill God’s plan for me, I will pray:‬‬

‭‭Dear Lord,‬‬
‭‭I hear you calling me, and I don’t want to let you down. Please give me the courage to step into action and follow your plan. Help me to set aside my anxieties, so they won’t hold me back. I put my trust in you, and I know that you will be by my side and give me the ability to complete the task that you have called me to do. Thank you for believing in me and preparing me for what lies ahead. ‬‬
‭‭Amen‬‬

Walk Faithfully

“Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”
– ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:9b‬‬

In a world full of wickedness and sin, Noah stood out from the rest. He loved and obeyed God, and he walked with Him faithfully.
Proverbs 13:20 says

Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

You see, who you spend your time with, is who influences you.

Even though Noah was surrounded by corruption and violence, he didn’t allow that to influence him. He didn’t spend his time living a life of sin with those around him. He spent his time with God.
Noah lived in a time when everyone around him was so appalling, that God regretted that He had ever created us. He wanted to wipe the entire human race from the face of the Earth. But even in the midst of all that sin, Noah knew that following God was still the best way.

No matter what your family, friends, or coworkers are trying to lead you into, there is no excuse to go along with it. We can’t control the people in the world around us, or make the right choices for them. But we CAN control how we spend our time, and with whom we spend it. You have the strength to stand out, like Noah did, by walking faithfully with God.

Make a habit – Add it to your routine. Just like you brush your teeth first thing in the morning, or eat meals at a certain time, set aside a time to spend with HIM.
Pray often – Not just when you need something. I have a reminder in my phone with a different prayer for each morning of the week. It helps as a reminder on those busy days, and it helps me to remember some of the things that I want to pray about.
Read the Bible – Learn the stories. Find a verse that will bring you peace during troublesome times and remind you to turn to him in times of need.
Join a group at church – Ask your pastor about bible study groups that will help you learn more and make new friends at the same time!
Journal – Start writing about some of the things you are learning as you read through the bible. Jot down some of your favorite verses so you have a quick reference when your spirits need lifted.
Listen to some good, positive Christian music – Nothing makes me feel better than singing along with my favorite tunes on K Love!

These are just some of the ways you can start walking faithfully with God. The most important thing is to make the time for Him in your life. If you only have time for a 5 or 10 minute daily devotional, then start there. Start small. Be consistent. Eventually, it will become second nature to you.

Lord, I pray that you will help me walk with you daily. I want to fully surrender to your plan for me. Please draw me close to you and guide me to the path you have set in place for me. I want to follow only You, God.
Amen

Finding Favor

“But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
– ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6:8‬‬

So what exactly is God’s favor anyway?

The favor of God can be described as His acceptance or approval. It can also mean a kindness or Goodwill.

James 4:6 says that He “…opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.”
Proverbs 11:27 tells us that “Whoever seeks good, finds favor.” God knows when we are trying to be better, and He respects that!
In Psalm 30:5, we learn that “…His favor lasts a lifetime…”
For the rest of our lives, he has blessings in his plan for us!

Psalm 128:1 (AMP) sums it up best for me:

“Blessed [happy and sheltered by God’s favor] is everyone who fears the LORD [and worships Him with obedience], Who walks in His ways and lives according to His commandments.”

‭‭ When God shows favor, He gives an abundance of blessings. In Noah’s case, he and his family were spared when God flooded the earth. When the angel came to Mary and told her that she had found favor with God, she was blessed with Jesus.
But with favor, comes responsibility. Noah had a great deal of work to do before God’s promise was fulfilled. Mary had to live with the trials of being an unwed mother, when people did not understand or believe in the concept of the virgin birth. Being in God’s favor doesn’t mean that life is going to be filled with nothing but blessings from here on out. There is no guarantee that finding favor in the eyes of the Lord will bring you everything your heart desires. Although the Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering (Genesis 4:4), he was murdered shortly afterward. Sometimes God puts those He favors through trials, as we see in the book of Job.

But as Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” That means that no matter how big your mistakes are, and no matter how bad things seem, God can work things out. If you love God and obey His commands, if you are pursuing your calling or at least trying to figure out what He has called you to do, if you are finding joy in serving Him, then you have found favor with God. Now look around you and find your blessings. And be ready for the blessings He has planned for your future! Remember – His favor lasts a lifetime!

Dear God, Thank You for the favor that You have poured out on my life and all of the good things You have in store for my future. Please open my eyes to the blessings that I overlook, so that I may take delight in them. And please show me how I can be a blessing to others. Amen

Bad Attitude

Have you ever found evidence that your child has disobeyed? As soon as you see what they’ve done, you call out to them. When they timidly approach, you ask them… “What happened to my antique lamp?”
They know they broke it.
You know they broke it.
They know that you know that they broke it.
So you are hoping, wishing, and praying that they tell you the truth.
Because you want them to be honest.
You want them to be sorry.
You want to forgive them.
But if they are tempted to lie, or act like they don’t know what you’re talking about, they must suffer the wrath of Mom! “Go to your room! You are GROUNDED! No TV or phone for a week!!”

In Genesis 4:9, God knew that Cain had killed Abel, but he wants to hear what Cain has to say.

“I donʼt know,” he replied. “Am I my brotherʼs keeper?”

Cain’s response to God was rebellious and disrespectful. God gave him a chance to confess, and Cain defied him. God had had enough. Cain was cursed and banished, destined to be a homeless wanderer. Did Cain beg for mercy or forgiveness? Did he apologize or express remorse? No. He considered the punishment too much to bear, and he was afraid he would be killed because of it.

Sooooo…let me get this straight.
– Cain caused the original conflict by being selfish.
– Cain became jealous of his brother because Abel was accepted, while Cain was not.
– Cain ignored God’s warning.
– Cain lashed out at his own brother.
– Cain lied to God and became defiant when confronted.
– Cain complained that his punishment was too harsh.
Cain sounds like a teenager with a bad attitude.
And just like a mother dealing with an insolent teen, who has the power to make you angry and break your heart at the same time, God sent Cain away. Even though he followed through on his punishment, he also showed his unending love and forgiving grace by protecting him from being harmed by others.

It hurts God to see us sin. He loves us and He forgives, but He wants us to be humble. He wants us to come to Him and confess. And he wants us to ask for that forgiveness.

How many times has your bad attitude pulled you farther away from God? Emotions are one thing, but how you choose to deal with those emotions are up to you. Whatever the circumstance, don’t let your bad attitude escalate the situation. Things will not improve and you won’t be satisfied with the outcome. Turn to God for help in resolving the situation. Remember Psalm 51:10 –

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

When I am in the middle of a bad day, and I don’t like the direction my attitude is taking, I will pray:
Dear God, I am feeling overwhelmed by my emotions in the situations I am facing right now! Please help me to control my attitude so that I don’t lash out at those around me. Please help me find a way to deal with what is happening in a calm and loving way.

Amen

Do What Is Right

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
– ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭4:7‬‬

God encourages us to do what is right. We might think that our hands are clean, or that our behavior is “good enough,” but just because we are not actively sinning doesn’t mean that we are doing what is right.
God knows what is in our hearts. He knows our motives.
He knows when we are not giving our best.
He knows when we are telling the truth, but not the whole truth.
He knows when we wish our competition would fail.
God warns us that if we do not do what is right, sin is right outside the door. Every time we do not do what is right, we are opening that door a little wider. If you allow yourself to be greedy, if you allow yourself to envy, if you allow yourself to hold on to anger, if you allow yourself to hate…you are allowing yourself to slip and slide dangerously closer to sin.

We all have been angry. We all have times when we feel like the situation we are in doesn’t feel 100% right. God is telling us that we have the power to control that. We have the power to do what is right and close the door on sin. Slam it shut, lock it, and slide the deadbolt!

When I feel like I’m failing to remain in control, and I’m afraid the door may be cracking open, I will pray:
Dear Lord, I must confess that I haven’t done what is right. Please open my eyes and give me clarity when I am allowing my emotions to get the best of me. Help me to resist the urge to deal with situations my own way. In my heart, I want to live in obedience and follow you. Thank you for guiding me back to the right path when I start heading in the wrong direction.

Amen

Giving Your Best

God provides everything we need. He blesses us. He answers our prayers. This isn’t conditional on tithes, but to show our love and gratitude, we should do our part in this relationship by giving generously. This IS important to God, as we see in Genesis 4:3-5.

Cain brought an offering to the Lord, which is definitely better than nothing at all! But God knew he could do better. Abel also brought an offering. His first and his best. He didn’t feed himself and his family and then offer the tough meat or leftovers. He wasn’t selfish, and he didn’t hold back. This pleased God and made Cain jealous and angry. Instead of learning from this – that he was being selfish, Cain looked at it as being treated wrong or unfairly.

The most important message in this part of the story is that we not only need to give, but we need to give generously.  And first. When I get paid, I need to first set aside my tithes and offerings, before I spend a penny on myself. That car payment, that cable bill… Those should never come before God!

The mortgage company does not have the power to bless your finances.

Pastor Robert Morris

The same goes for my time. If I’ve spent the whole day without giving God a single minute of my time until I crawl into bed tired, with a quick prayer – then I know that my priorities are completely off.

When I need to get my priorities straight, I will pray:
Dear God, Thank You so much for providing me with a life full of blessings. When I feel like there’s not enough time for everything, please help me to pause and assess my priorities, because I always want you at the top of my list.

Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 4:1-7
1 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.
Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”