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

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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

Temptation

Even though God provided everything that Adam and Eve could possibly need, they decided they wanted more. When they ate the fruit, they chose to break the only rule that God had given them. God had been very generous with everything he provided, so when they disobeyed, he became angry. They chose to listen to the serpent instead of obeying God.

We are faced with choices like this every day! We may start to feel like we need more than what God has provided for us. We may have friends who try to convince us to do something that we know is wrong. But God is the one with the plan. He is the one who knows what is best for us.

Sometimes we feel like following our own rules, because we think we know what’s best. We can slide a little and get away with it. Guess what? That is Satan’s way of deceiving you! Just like he got into Eve’s head, he can get into yours just as easily! And where do you think he wants to lead you? Do you think Satan wants to get into your head so he can lead you into what is best for you? Of course not! He is leading you into sin. He will lie to you, tempt you, use your friends, anything he can do to make you fall into sin. We need to be aware of his presence around us so we can be ready to turn him away by leaning into God in full surrender.

The truth is, none of us is free of sin. No matter how hard we try to stay away from sin, we will be tempted and we will buckle, just as both Adam and Eve did. When Adam and Eve realized what they had done, they were afraid and they were full of shame. Their first instinct was to run and hide from God. Their second instinct was to make excuses. Adam blamed Eve, Eve blamed the serpent. When you fall into sin, you need to run TO him. Run to his love and his forgiving grace. Own up to your mistakes. Pay the consequences, if that applies.

When I feel pressured to do something that I know is wrong, I will pray:
Dear Lord, Thank you for being my constant companion. I know that I can lean closer to you when I am weak. I need you to help me resist the enemy when I am being pulled in a direction I do not want to go. Please give me the strength to walk away from this temptation.
Amen


Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 3:1-24 NIV
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”
11 And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
12 The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.”
17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are
and to dust you will return.”
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22 And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.