Tag Archives: Blessing

A Lesson from Bedsheets

Raising three boys was a joy. A joy not without its challenges but still a joy. One of those challenges was finding a reliable, good trustworthy babysitter for those all too few occasions when my wife and I wanted to relish time alone. We were blessed with and by Pam. She was that rare combination of fun and firmness. Fun enough that the boys loved her (they still do) yet firm enough to keep them in check and enforce the rules.

In that vein, when Pam put the boys in bed she was sure to play a game of tucking the top sheets firmly under the sides of the mattress to help hold the boys in place. They enjoyed the game and challenge but also heard the message: “The sheets are tucked tightly around you so you don’t try to get up and become disobedient. If you become disobedient the fun stops. The bedsheets are hemming you in for your own good.”

The memory of that tactic reminds me that God is much like a babysitter. Recall the words of the Psalmist. “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” The New Living Translation puts it: “You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” And the Good News Translation words it: “You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power.” God hems us in! God keeps in our place! God hems us in and keeps us in our place for our own good. He tightens the sheets around us to remind us to stay put with Him so He can protect us and bless us.

The next time…

  • you’re not happy with life
  • not happy where you are or not happy you can’t go where you want to go,
  • not happy that you cannot do what you want to do,
  • you feel like God’s not being fair because He’s not answering your prayers and giving you what you want
  • you just wish God would just leave you alone

…spend some time wondering.

“What is God protecting me from?” “How is it God wants to bless me?” You may not come up with firm answers, but you will be reminded that God has your best interests at heart.

That’s the affirmation of the Psalmist: “Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding.” (Psalm 139:6 Good News Translation) Then he recognizes how valuable God’s hemming us in really is.

Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.(Psalm 139:7-12 The Message)

Oh the beauty of God’s presence! We are never alone, always protected, always blessed by His loving hands. I realize our boys never thought of the Psalmist as they were being hemmed in. I didn’t think of Him for a long time either. But now that I have, each bedtime can take on new meaning. Each night, as I nestle under my bedsheet, I can envision God tucking in my sheets, reminding me He will protect and bless me through the night. It gives new meaning to my version of the old child’s prayer: “Now I lay me down to sleep while grateful, Lord, my soul you keep. Guide and guard me through the night and wake me when your time is right.”

Thanks, Pam, for the lessons and inspiration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Doesn’t Matter

While in elementary school I was awarded a part in our class play. In fact, I got the part of the main character. Are you ready for this? The play was “The Ugly Duckling.” So – you guessed it – the main character, my part, was the ugly duckling!

It’s okay to laugh – it is rather funny! …

But now that the laughter has died down, here’s the kicker. At the point in the play where ugly duckling first appeared as the beautiful swan, someone else took over the part.

Now that’s even funnier! You can laugh again. I wasn’t permanently scarred and there was a good reason for it – everyone had to have a role to play so parts were doubled up. At least that’s what they told me!

I, obviously, still love to tell the story. It’s a good ice breaker and can quickly lighten up a discussion. Yet what I remember equally well about the play, and the most important memory, is the song we sang at the end, which summarized the theme of our little play. I still remember the words and the tune. The words went like this:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a pig pen, born in a pig pen, born in a pig pen.
It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a pig pen, if you’re really a swan.”  

What a lesson! Birthright doesn’t matter. Opinions of others don’t matter. What people choose to call me doesn’t matter. How I’m labeled doesn’t matter. As long as I know who and whose I am.
Perhaps that’s why I love the apostle Paul’s opening words to the Ephesian church.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.4 Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.5 God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. 6 So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. 7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.8 He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:3-8 New Living Translation)

Wow! It doesn’t matter if we’re born in a pig pen when we’re really the most beautiful swan of all – a child of God! Can we even grasp it? “He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms … He has showered his kindness upon us.” It’s all ours! As the apostle John put it, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” (John 1:16) Jesus brings all of the faithfulness, kindness, and mercy of God into our lives. “From the fullness of His grace…” any and every grace He has is available for us. He will give us all the grace we need. Jesus brings grace upon grace, one blessing after another, repeated and endless favors. It is continuous, with no limit. Where one grace ends, another begins; when one blessing is no longer adequate, another begins. When one favor is no longer needed, another begins. When our needs and situations change so does the mercy of God; His mercies are new every morning. There is a blessing for old age and one for youth; there is favor for those in prosperity and for those in adversity; there is grace for success and grace for failure.

Why is God so good and gracious? Because even before the foundation of the world He took great pleasure in deciding and determining to love us. He even adopted us into His family. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus! No matter what anyone else says or thinks about us, no matter what someone else may do to us, it doesn’t matter. We are beautiful swans – because we come from good stock, the best stock of all.

There’s much more I could say (I can hear the shouts of ‘preach it brother!’). But let’s end it here. Or should I say begin here. This week read Ephesians 1:3-14 three times a day – morning, noon (mid-day) and before you go to bed. Think about it. Meditate on it. Digest it. And, along with that, remember the little chorus:

“It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a pig pen, born in a pig pen, born in a pig pen.
It doesn’t matter if you’re born in a pig pen, if you’re really a swan.”

Just see what a difference it makes.

Dealing With the Overflow

I was pouring from a pitcher into my drinking glass and wasn’t paying attention – and before I knew it the overflow was on the countertop. So I grabbed a ‘quick picker upper’ and wiped it up. I then gave myself the usual brow beating for being so careless.

Yet once again I was struck by the amazing way God works. At that time I had been preparing messages on the blessings of giving and had been making presentations for our church stewardship campaign. My personal focus was on Malachi 3 and 2 Corinthians 9, which both deal with abundance and overflow of blessings. I thought of the two key passages.

Malachi 3:8-12 (New Living Translation)

“Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.

2 Corinthians 9:6-12
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.

My brow beating stopped – I realized that rather than berate myself I should have stopped and offered a prayer of thanksgiving. After all, I had enough supply of drink, more than I needed; I had an excess. I was reminded of the many times God’s rich abundance has overflowed in my life. My lesson for the day was “When you need paper towels, thank God for the overflow.”

With a different analogy another of my facvorite poems, this one by Jimmy Dean, states it poignantly.

I’ve never made a fortune
And I’ll never make one now,
But it really doesn’t matter
Cause I’m happy anyhow.

As I go along my journey
I’m reaping better than I sow.
I’m drinking from the saucer
Cause my cup has overflowed.

I don’t have a lot of riches
And sometimes the going’s tough,
But when I’ve got my kids to love me
I think I’m rich enough.

I’ll just thank God for the blessings
That his mercy has bestowed,
I’m drinking from the saucer
Cause my cup has overflowed.

If you give me strength and courage
When the way grows steep and rough
I’ll not ask for other blessings,
I’m already blessed enough.

May I never be too busy
To help another with his load,
Then I’ll be drinking from the saucer
Cause my cup has overflowed.

From what are you drinking?

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