blessings

I Am Learning Obedience While In My Desert

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With faith and obedience practiced long enough, the Holy Ghost becomes a constant companion, our natures change, and endurance becomes certain.

Henry B. Eyring


http://youtu.be/jT4G9o4EkqU

May and I define a blessing as any expression of God’s goodness and love toward us. Answered prayer, miraculous provision, and unexpected favor are some examples. We easily recognize these as God’s gifts. But sometimes He chooses to bless us in different ways. For instance, He grants us strength and joy in the midst of hardship, and He uses our suffering to help us mature spiritually.

When we obey God, we can trust that He will display His goodness and love to us. Those who are wise will watch for His blessings in all their different forms.

Biblical Examples

A. Noah’s obedience saved his family from the flood.

B. Abraham’s obedience resulted in his becoming the father of a great nation, God’s chosen people, Israel.

C. Moses led the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage.

D. Joshua won the battle of Jericho by following God’s supernatural strategy.

E. David refused to harm Saul, the anointed king.

F. Jehoshaphat relied on God’s word when the Ammonites attacked Judah.

G. Peter obeyed Jesus’ command to fish in the heat of day.

H. Paul followed God’s will and took the gospel to the Gentiles.

Types of Blessing

God’s gifts aren’t always obvious. But when you obey Him, He may bless you with:

A. Peace, joy, and contentment. These internal qualities often result when we step out in faith and obey God.

B. Spiritual growth. We will have more faith to obey the next time God challenges us to do something.

C. Eternal blessings. When we stand before God on judgment day, we will be rewarded for our obedience (see Mark 9:41; Luke 6:21-23).

Suffering Before Blessing

Often, the first effect of obedience is not blessing, but suffering. Sometimes, what God requires of us will initially lead to pain and sadness. We shouldn’t assume that difficulty means we’ve made a mistake or that He has abandoned us. Let’s look at two significant examples of suffering as an initial result of obedience:

A. Moses followed God’s command to lead His people out of Egypt. Not only did the leader experience difficulty in freeing the Israelites from bondage; the people also complained bitterly about life in the dessert once they were released. Despite these and other challenges, Moses is known as the most important leader in the Old Testament.

B. Paul obeyed God by preaching the gospel. As a result, he suffered tremendous persecution, danger, and physical abuse (2 Cor. 11:23-27). However, because he was imprisoned, the apostle had time to write his epistles to the Colossians, Philippians, Ephesians, and Philemon. His obedience resulted in supernatural blessing (see 2 Tim. 4:7).

God’s Purposes for Our Suffering

A. To bring us to the end of ourselves. We become most useful to the Lord when we rely on Him completely. If we respond correctly to loss and suffering, we will find blessing through it.

B. To prevent pride. Suffering reminds us that all good things are gifts from God and not earned by our own efforts.

C. To remove idols from our lives. Worshipping anything other than God is a problem. He causes all things to work together for our good (Rom. 8:28). So if He removes a good thing from our lives, He must have a purpose, even if we can’t see it at the time.

D. To deepen our understanding of His ways. When God does something and we aren’t sure why, we can anticipate learning something new about how He operates.

E. To demonstrate His faithfulness to His children. In suffering, you and I have the opportunity to become living examples of the goodness of God. As others watch how we respond to overwhelming adversity, they recognize His loving care.

Conclusion:

If you obey God, can you expect His blessings? Yes. But remember that His choice of blessing may be different from yours. Perhaps He will use suffering to draw you closer to Himself. Or He may use it to remove from your life those things that hinder fruitfulness for Him. No matter what, if you walk in His will, He will bless you in surprising ways. We are speaking from a suffering spirit right now, but O’ how sweet it is to see His provision and peace all the while.

Unexpected Blessing

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blessings

Ruth 2:11-23

New International Version (NIV)
11 Boaz replied, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.”

13 “May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord,” she said. “You have put me at ease by speaking kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servants.”

14 At mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come over here. Have some bread and dip it in the wine vinegar.”

When she sat down with the harvesters, he offered her some roasted grain. She ate all she wanted and had some left over. 15 As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. 16 Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up, and don’t rebuke her.”

17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah.[a] 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough.

19 Her mother-in-law asked her, “Where did you glean today? Where did you work? Blessed be the man who took notice of you!”

Then Ruth told her mother-in-law about the one at whose place she had been working. “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz,” she said.

20 “The Lord bless him!” Naomi said to her daughter-in-law. “He has not stopped showing his kindness to the living and the dead.” She added, “That man is our close relative; he is one of our guardian-redeemers.[b]”

21 Then Ruth the Moabite said, “He even said to me, ‘Stay with my workers until they finish harvesting all my grain.’”

22 Naomi said to Ruth her daughter-in-law, “It will be good for you, my daughter, to go with the women who work for him, because in someone else’s field you might be harmed.”

23 So Ruth stayed close to the women of Boaz to glean until the barley and wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.
Ruth 4:15

The Message (MSG)
14-15 The town women said to Naomi, “Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life. May this baby grow up to be famous in Israel! He’ll make you young again! He’ll take care of you in old age. And this daughter-in-law who has brought him into the world and loves you so much, why, she’s worth more to you than seven sons!”

Naomi and Ruth came together in less-than-ideal circumstances. To escape a famine in Israel, Naomi’s family moved to Moab. While living there, her two sons married Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. Then Naomi’s husband and sons died. In that culture, women were dependent on men, which left the three widows in a predicament.

Word came to Naomi that the famine in Israel had ended, so she decided to make the long trek home. Orpah and Ruth started to go with her, but Naomi urged them to return home, saying, “The hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”(Ruth 1:13). Orpah went home, but Ruth continued on with Naomi, affirming her belief in Naomi’s God despite Naomi’s own fragile faith.

The story started in desperately unpleasant circumstances: famine, death, and despair. It changed direction due to undeserved kindnesses: Ruth to Naomi and Boaz to Ruth. It involved unlikely people: two widows (an aging Jew and a young Gentile) and Boaz, the son of a prostitute(Joshua2:1;Matthew 1:5). It depended on unexplainable intervention: Ruth just “happened” to glean in the field of Boaz. And it ended in unimaginable blessings: a baby who would be in the lineage of the messiah.

God makes miracles out of what seems insignificant: fragile faith, a little kindness, and ordinary people. In all the setbacks of your life as a believer, God is plotting for your joy.

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