Monthly Archives: September 2010

Your enemies will be unsuccessful against you

Deuteronomy 28: 7

The Lord will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you.  They will come at you from one direction, but flee from you in seven.  NIV

I am completely taken with this chapter of Deuteronomy.  I was somewhere recently with someone, I cannot remember who, but, I wasn’t near a hard-copy Bible.  I’ve downloaded a copy of the Bible onto my PDA, but, it is the King James version.  As we discussed Deuteronomy 28, I looked it up and read just the opening verses.  When I did, I saw something new in verse 2, “And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.” KJV

Blessings will overtake me … I love that!

I’m reading Henry Blackabee’s “Experiencing God.”  I’m only in the first week.  Each week, he assigns a memory verse.  This week, (which I confess is stretching into two calendar weeks for me) the verse is John 15:5.  The last part of that verse says, “apart from me you can do nothing.”  Blackabee makes an interesting point.  He says, “I think God is crying out to us, ‘Don’t just do something.  Stand there!  Enter a love relationship with Me.  Get to know Me.  Adjust your life to Me.  Let Me love you and reveal Myself through you to a watching world.'”

Stand there and receive My love … blessings will overtake you … apart from Me you can do nothing.

And my enemies … I’m not supposed to worry about them.  Verse 7 says that they will be defeated before me … while they might mount an organized attack, I read this verse to promise that they will be unsuccessful, and flee in confusion.

That’s a lot to think about today!

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No matter where you go, you will be blessed

Deuteronomy 28:6

You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. NIV

It hit me this morning.  On this entire planet, there are only two places that I can be … in my house, or outside my house.

This verse says that if I am obedient to God, I will be blessed no matter where I go.  That’s certainly a reminder not to worry.

I absolutely feel blessed inside my house.  It is filled with reminders of people that I love, each of whom is a blessing to me.

And, when I go out, I will be blessed, too …

My parents attend a very large church.  It has a completely massive parking lot.  They began attending there when I was away at school.  On my first trip home, my sister rode with me to the church in my car so that I would not get lost.  When I got out of the car, I remember thinking, and then kidding with her, that I half expected to see a parking lot tram, like the ones they have at Disney World, that would come by to transport us to the building.

The various sections of the lot are named for blessings that the Bible promises.  I thought was a nice touch.  That first night, I parked in “Peace.”  I liked that.

But, the greatest blessing in that parking lot, came when I left it … when I went out.

There was a big sign.  I soon learned that there was one at every exit.  It said, “You are now entering the mission field.”  I had never seen it that way.

Each time I leave my house, I am entering the mission field.  There is no sign by my door, but perhaps there should be, to remind me.

The world is filled with people who are not aware of the blessings held in Deuteronomy 28 … they don’t have the privilege of receiving the blessings that obedience brings, because they don’t know about the offer …

I will be blessed when I go out … out into the mission field.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Your basket will be blessed …

Deuteronomy 28:5

Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. NIV

As I continue to work my way through the precious promises contained in Deuteronomy 28, I’ve come to verse 5.  This one, I’m certain, was incredibly meaningful at the time, but, I’m not quite sure what it means.  The Message translates this verse, “God’s blessing on your basket and bread bowl.” I get the kneading trough … but what was the purpose of the basket?  My NIV concordance was no help at all … the Hebrew word is translated simply “basket.”

I’m wishing I’d paid more attention in my World History class.

I’m pretty certain that this has to do at least partly with food, and that’s meaningful to me.  Perhaps, the basket was used to help gather food, in the same way that the kneading trough was clearly used to make it.

I love baskets.

A good friend of mine decided to sell those gosh awful expensive ones several years ago, and I found myself going to parties and falling in love with them.  I have several shapes and sizes around the house, and they hold everything from extra rolls of toilet paper in the guest bath, to the back up hard drive for my computer.

They are great for carrying things … I have one that I use to carry food in to other people’s houses.

Your basket will be blessed.

My baskets are blessed … I have no lack of things to put in them.  My bread bowl  is blessed … there’s always bread, and, if there’s not, 7-11 is not too far away.

I am living this blessing.  I’m not worrying.  I am obediently trusting God.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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The blessings extend beyond you

Deuteronomy 28: 4

The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock — the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks.  NIV

What a beautiful, beautiful promise.  Blessings for obedience.  If we will obey the Lord our God, not only will we be blessed, but, our kids, our crops, our and our livestock all will be blessed.

I’m betting that if I had kids, crops or livestock, I would find a way to worry about them … this verse says I wouldn’t have to.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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His blessings are everywhere

Deuteronomy 28:3

You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country.  NIV

So, why do we worry again?

God’s blessings are abundant and all around us.

This verse is a promise to God’s people.  If we will obey His laws and carefully follow His commands, we will be blessed wherever we go.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Follow carefully

Deuteronomy 28: 1-2

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.  All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. NIV

Here, Moses is speaking.

In my NIV Bible, this chapter is titled, “Blessings for Obedience.”  That’s not a bad trade!

This entire speech, which goes on for 14 verses, is filled with reminders not to worry.  I heard it read aloud last night and it spoke to my heart.  I’ve decided to spend some time here for the next few days.

Verse one says that we must “fully obey” and “carefully follow.”

I think that’s interesting.  Matthew 7:14 says, “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life.” And, Matthew 19:24 says, “Again I tell you it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” NIV

If you “fully obey … and carefully follow … blessings will come.”  That’s a reminder not to worry … follow the rules, care about others more than you care about yourself and your things,  and you will be blessed.

Each time I start a new sewing project, I am alway anxious to get to the point where I can actually begin to sew.  It seems there are a million steps that must be completed … the fabric must be chosen, and washed, and dried and ironed; the pattern must be determined; the cutting must be done.  But, once all of those steps are completed, it is finally, finally time to turn on the machine.

I love the smell of sewing machines.  My newest one is mostly plastic and has a computer, so, it doesn’t have the same smell.  But, my older one, and many others I’ve used over the years, is made of cast iron, with rubber belts and a small motor and a little electric light.  When I was a kid, I would take the thing apart and carefully oil all of its pieces to ensure that they would continue working properly.  It is likely that oil that gives a machine that distinct smell.  In any case, I love it.  It’s the smell of something good about to happen.

Before I can begin to sew, the machine has to be threaded.  As I wind the thread through all of the various parts, I delight in the simplicity of it.  If I thread it properly, the machine will work magic.  When it comes time to thread the needle, I don’t always find that part very easy.  It’s not that I can’t see they eye, but, sometimes, it is just challenging to get the thread to go through.  To some extent, I think that depends on what the thread is made of, but, I’m confident that human error is also a factor.

When I successfully thread the needle, I feel a sense of relief.  All of the barriers between me and beginning to sew have been removed, and I can actually start the project.

Threading the machine, and finally the needle, is a metaphor for life.  There are many steps we must take along the way.  If we follow the rules that God has set out for us, our paths will be straight, we will enter the kingdom of heaven, and untold blessings will be ours.

If you fully obey … blessings will come.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Recognize the blessing

Genesis 39: 6a

So he left in Joseph’s care everything he had;  with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate.  NIV

In the New Living Translation, this verse reads, “So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing—except what kind of food to eat!” NLT

I found this verse this morning, by searching for the word “worry” in the NLT on Bible Gateway.com

I love the story of Joseph.  It is an amazing tale of God’s provision, and is a vivid example of God having all the pieces of the puzzle … Joseph certainly didn’t.  At this point in the story, he is a servant in the house of Potiphar.  Earlier in the chapter, we learn that God was with Joseph.  Verse 2 says, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.”  It also says in verse 3, “the Lord gave him success in everything he did.”

The Lord gave him success …

When Potiphar saw this, he favored Joseph.  He put him in charge of the household, and entrusted to Joseph everything he owned.  From the time that he did this, according to verse 5, the Lord blessed Potiphar, too.  His blessing was on everything Potiphar owned, both in his house and in his field.

Potiphar had no worries, except what his next meal would be … note that it doesn’t say where his next meal would come from, but what he would eat … presumably there was more than enough of everything in Potiphar’s house.

The Lord was with Joseph … He gave him success … He blessed those who recognized Joseph … they were successful too, and had no worries.

Of course, this story doesn’t end well.  Part B of this verse says, “Now, Joseph was well built and handsome.” NIV  This fact did not escape the notice of Potiphar’s wife, who attempted to seduce Joseph.  When he refuses, she accuses him of rape and Joseph ended up in jail.

She was the wife of Potiphar … they had everything they could possibly need or want, and yet, she wanted more.

Her actions caused lots of worries for poor Joseph, but, God uses his experience in jail ultimately to achieve His plan for the Jewish people.  Throughout Joseph’s life as things happen to him, he continually sees that, even when others mean their actions to be hurtful — like his brothers who sold him to a band of gypsies — God works it for good.

God is with us, He is blessing us, whatever situation comes our way, God can and will work it for good.

There will be a blessing … there may already have been …

In my case, I’d often like the timing to be a little more immediate and/or the plan to be a little more clear, but, I’m learning to trust God.  He has it all in hand.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Look around … what needs doing?

Job 19:28-29
“If you say, ‘How we will hound him, since the root of the trouble lies in him,’ you should fear the sword yourselves; for wrath will bring punishment by the sword, and then you will know that there is judgment.” NIV

I found this verse yesterday morning, and began this post then, but, I was out of town, and the connectivity to the Internet was too challenging for me to complete the task.

The Message translates this verse, “If you’re thinking, ‘How can we get through to him, get him to see that his trouble is all his own fault?’  Forget it.  Start worrying about yourselves.  Worry about your own sins and God’s coming judgment, for judgment is most certainly on the way.” MSG

Here, Job is speaking to his friends, who all seem to be saying that if Job will just admit whatever it is that he has done wrong — whatever it is that has so incredibly offended God as to cause all of the hardships he is facing — Job will have a chance at redemption.

Job knows that he has not sinned against God.  And yet, he still finds himself in unbelievably difficult circumstances.

This verse, I think, is one of the most important of the entire book of Job.  And, it still rings true today.

We cannot spend our time worrying about the sins of others.  They are none of our business.  Instead, we have to focus on ourselves, on our own relationship to God.  What are we doing that we could do better?  What are we not doing that needs to be done in order to better advance the kingdom?

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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It would just upset you …

II Kings 10-11

Elisha answered, “Go and say to him, “You will certainly recover, but the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die.”  He stared at him with a fixed gaze until Hazael felt ashamed.  The the man of God began to weep. NIV

This morning, I began to worry.  I’ve been working my way through the listings of the word “fear” in my King James concordance, and the end of that list is in sight.  But, I’ve found only 201 reminders not to worry … 164 short of my goal.  While I haven’t counted how many “fear nots” are left, I can see that there are less than 164 remaining.

Certainly, fear is not the only synonym for worry, so, I think I’ll leave the fear list for a while and explore some other avenues to find reminders.

I went back to Bible Gateway.com, where I plugged in “worry,” and asked the computer to search The Message.  In that translation, verse 10 reads, “Elisha answered, ‘Go and tell him, “Don’t worry, you’ll live.”  The fact is though — God showed me — that he’s doomed to die.'” MSG

This is a pretty interesting story.  Elisha is a prophet who is clearly in close communion with God.  He’s been able to raise people from the dead, and he can see the future.

He can see the future …

Earlier in this chapter, the Bible tells us that the King of Aram is ill.  When the King hears that Elisha is near, he sends Hazael with gifts for the prophet and he tells him to find out if the king will recover from the illness.

Hazael does as he is told, and that brings us to today’s reminder.

When I first read this verse, I was confused … I didn’t remember the end of the story, and, without that, this first verse makes no sense.  Bottom line — the illness doesn’t kill the king — Hazael does.  He smothers him with a wet blanket.  Then Hazael becomes King.

This takes me back to verse 11.  Elisha wept, because, we learn in verse 12, while he is gazing at Hazael, God shows him what Hazael will do.  Apparently, he will be a very destructive King, and this saddens Elisha greatly.

He can see the future — good and bad — and it upsets him.

I’ve learned that my desire to see — and not just to see but also to control — the future, was at the heart of my worry problem.  As I’ve worked through this study, day by day, I am in awe of the wisdom of how God has set this up.  My life unfolds for me moment by precious moment.  I don’t know what’s around the next corner, and, as I’ve learned to trust God, I find that I don’t need to.

I’ve always felt that people in general, have one of three life orientations:

  • They look back — “remember when we used to …”
  • They look to the future — “I can’t wait until we …”
  • Or, they live in the moment — “Look at that sunrise!”

Before I began this project, I prided myself in my forward looking approach.  I thought that those who looked back were missing the point and that those who lived in the moment were unfocused.

I’ve been humbled by this process.  I was wrong.  Living in the moment is a glorious, wonderful experience.  One that I could not have appreciated without everything that has happened in my life over the last couple of years.

I don’t want to see the future anymore.  It is likely that it would just upset me.

I’m delighted in this moment, on this gorgeous, cool morning, with a splendid cup of coffee.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Just believe

Luke 8:50

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”  NIV

Of course Jairus was worried!  Verse 42 says, “his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.” NIV

Jairus has come to Jesus, thrown himself at the Master’s feet, and begged for help.  As Jesus is on his way to the man’s house, they are met by a member of his household, who tells them that the girl is dead.

It is at that point that Jesus tells Jairus not to be afraid.  He says, “just believe, and she will be healed.”

Just believe.

The rest of the story is a true miracle … Jesus raises the child … it is also complex for those of us reading it in 2010 who have experienced the loss of loved ones.

Why wasn’t our loved one saved?

I don’t have an answer to that question, except for this — as my friend lay dying, she had given up an internal organ, her ability to speak or to breathe on her own and her mobility.  But, she never forsook her Savior.  When she died, she passed into heaven and it is there that she was truly healed.  No more pain, no more suffering – perfect communion with God our Father.

Over the last year, I’ve grown to see the wisdom in the first part of what Jesus tells Jairus … “Just believe.”

Things will not make sense in this world — they can’t — we don’t have the full picture.

God has a plan, His word is true.  And, while my individual circumstances or those of people I love dearly might become quite uncomfortable, even to the point of death, it doesn’t change the basic facts:

  • God made the earth and everything in it.
  • He made me, He sent his son to die for me and He has a plan for my life.
  • His plans for others may or may not meet with my approval, but they don’t have to.
  • I am not in charge.

My job is to just believe.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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