Lessons of 2019 – August.
This is the eighth part in a new blog-series about the lessons I’ve learned this year. Read the full into in the January post, but basically I’m sharing the stand-out lessons from the last year in the hope that they will inspire and encourage others, and I also want to urge you all to be intentional about capturing and retaining the lessons that will make you a better person. Here is June’s lesson…
August’s Lesson: It’s the things that no one sees that result in the blessings everyone wants.
I learn a lot from Craig Groeschel and quotes from him often make their way into my Lesson of the Day. This was one I came across in August when listening to his sermon series on the prophet Elisha. I like how he brought out the point that blessings flow from obedience, which is a relationship that’s often missed or misunderstood. We all want blessings, but few of us are aware of, or accepting of, the conditions that come attached to those blessings.
In the Bible, blessings are usually conditional. In the Old Testament God spoke very clearly through Moses to promise blessings as a reward for obedience and curses as a consequence of disobedience. That’s what Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30 are all about. The covenant between God and His people laid out the conditions for how the relationship would work: God would bless, protect and provide for His people when they kept the covenant, but would punish them and withdraw His blessings when they broke the covenant. This same idea is borne out in general terms elsewhere in the Old Testament and is also reflected in 2 Chronicles 7:14 where God says He would restore His blessings if only His people would first mend their ways.
Enter Jesus, and the same principle holds true: blessings stem from obedience. It’s a crucial distinction to realise that salvation is unconditional, but blessings are not. We need to do nothing for our salvation except simply believe in Jesus – we can’t earn it or forfeit it – but blessings are conditional. When we obey God, the blessings multiply. When we disobey God, we miss out on those blessings.
God’s love is unconditional, but His blessings are conditional. That’s why Paul can say to the Romans that each person will be rewarded according to what they have done (Romans 2:6-7). That’s why Jesus promises that more will be given to those who obey Him (Luke 19:26). It’s also why Jesus speaks about laying up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:20) – these treasures being blessings that are dependent on how we act in this life.
We all want God’s peace, but few of us are obedient in bringing both our anxieties and our thankfulness to Him in prayer. Philippians 4:6-7 makes very clear that the peace is predicated on the prayer. We all want to know God better and receive His direction in life, but few of us are willing to get up an hour early to spend regular quality time in His Word. We all want to play a significant role in the church, but few of us are willing to graft away, serving behind the scenes. We all want God to bless us financially, but few of us are willing to tithe faithfully and give away our best and our first. These are all things that no one sees, and they are all things that result in blessings that everyone wants. How then can we expect the latter without doing the former?
Bringing it back to Elisha, we all want to be used powerfully by God, for Him to do amazing things through us, but few of us are willing to give up everything we have to serve Him (1 Kings 19:21). Elisha gave up home, work, family, comfort and personal gain to follow God’s call, but he had the blessing of God working through him to bring about mind-blowing miracles, wonders and victories. Wouldn’t you like to see some of that in your life, to be a person through whom God works to bring it about? Well then, we need to take a leaf out of Elisha’s book and follow God wholeheartedly.
We want the blessings without the burdens. We want the honour without the hard work. We want the prestige without the perseverance. If you want to be blessed by God, you’ve got to be willing to do your bit. To change your life and model it along His lines, to faithfully obey Him and invest in the spiritual disciplines He has commanded. Those things that no one sees will result in blessings everyone wants. So, put in the effort. Sell out and commit everything to God. Follow Him wholeheartedly, holding nothing back. And watch the blessings flow. It won’t be easy, it won’t always be comfortable, it won’t be under our control, but it will bless us, and it will help unlock everything that God has for us.
What thing can you do that no one will see, but which will unlock God’s blessing in your life?
January’s Lesson: Don’t Worry About Tomorrow, God is Already There.
February’s Lesson: Inconsistent Parents Raise Insecure Children.
March’s Lesson: Thank God for what He is going to do, even though you don’t know how He is going to do it.
April’s Lesson: Dream Big but Start Small.
May’s Lesson: Ambition is the path to success; persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
June’s Lesson: Stop thinking about what you don’t have and start using what you do have.
July’s Lesson: Be king, for everyone is facing a great battle.
Come back tomorrow for September’s Lesson. Even better, subscribe to my blog by email and never miss another post.