laundry devotion {on blessings}

This week’s laundry devo is about blessings- how we view them in our modern culture, and what they look like in believer’s lives in the Bible. This week I’ve also included the text below if you prefer reading rather than listening. :)

And if you are listening, please don’t forget to expect interruptions. In fact, I’ve come to realize I won’t even be able to record for a short time without at least one or two {this week, the kids may make a guest appearance or two- don’t worry they were playing on the playground- the girls just have amazing lungs! lol! Ah, the life of a mama! The good thing is, after four, I barely notice anymore! ;)}

click the link to open the player and listen:

laundry devotion {on blessings}

You can also download this audio devotion by right clicking and saving target as (or download link for Macs) on this link: laundry devotion {on blessings}

About Laundry Devotions:
I tend to think of my laundry room as my prayer closet. I spend a lot of time in there where I get away from everything else while folding clothes (laundry for six keeps a girl busy ;). It's awesome because my hands are busy doing what I'm called to do and I get to spend time with God at the same time. I realized maybe that concept would work for others who are in a super busy stage of life like me. Maybe you are in the car, or at the kitchen sink, or prepping dinner. Whatever you might be doing, I hope this short audio format helps you give you a chance to focus on God even in an unlikely setting, like the laundry room! :)

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If you’re more of a fan of reading, here’s the text version:

I want to talk about blessings this week- I think most of us probably live in a very rich culture right now- we have tons of what we call "blessings."

“Blessings” like houses cars, plenty of food, freedom, comfort, friends, soft beds, green watered grass, and so so much more.

All these things are considered to be wonderful gifts bestowed and blessings to us from the Lord, but this week I want to look at what being blessed looks like in Biblical terms. We're going to go through lots of Scripture and that's always a really good thing! I love that the Bible says so much about blessings!

Let’s start by defining blessings in a few different contexts:

Americans tend to think of blessing first as having basic life needs met, but you're really "blessed' when you have a nice home, a healthy family, a decent car to drive, a job with benefits, vacations, cell phones, and more.

In the world outside of U.S., many feel fortunate if they find a job that makes enough money to eat dinner that week, and if they have a shelter over their heads to keep out of the rain.

But looking in the Bible and studying the blessings of the people in it is a very different story.

There's a big difference in blessing between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the early OT, the people suffered for a time and then were rewarded in earthly terms. I'm thinking specifically of Abraham, Joseph, Jacob, Job, Ruth, David, and Daniel.

They all suffered a trial and were blessed with success on earth as a reward for their righteousness and works because of their faith in the promise what was to come- all of which was under the old covenant or the mosaic covenant. In the New Testament, when Jesus appears on the scene, the promise of blessings radically changes. 

Jesus, our Creator and Redeemer, tells us that faith in him will lead us to persecution, tribulation, trials, suffering, sorrow and more- all of which we will have to endure on earth as part of being saved. And you don't see riches and success as being a blessing from God in the New Testament.

2 Tim. 3:12 says, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

In reference to that verse, John Wesley said,"There is no exception. Either the truth of scripture fails, or those that think they are religious, and are not persecuted, in some shape or other, on that very account, deceive themselves.”

Wow. That's crazy to think of a=b equation but oh how we don't like to think of a lack of b meaning a lack of a. 

Let's take a quick survey of the people in the New Testament:

Paul went from having rich material blessings and great worldly success (in their own culture's religion} to persecuted, beaten, and imprisoned. Peter's death is foretold by Jesus in John 21. Steven was stoned in Acts 7.  James was killed with a sword in Acts 12. John the Baptist was beheaded in Matthew 14.

And then there aren’t enough words for Jesus- the perfect King of the universe who came into the world, worked as a lowly carpenter, who didn’t have a place to lay His head, who was persecuted, spit upon, and crucified for our sake. Nothing in the Bible about his life gives even a hint of material wealth or success among men- in fact men hated him. But we will get to that later!

And remember from the last devotion on trials, in 1 Peter 2:21: For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

Can you think of any examples of believers in the Bible finding out about Jesus, becoming saved by faith, then following after Him by going back home to run their business, raise their children well, and save for retirement? No? Me neither.

In fact, Jesus tells us the very opposite thing about storing up wealth.

Remember the story of the sincere rich man who followed the moral laws but wanted to know how to receive eternal life? In Mark 10:21, Jesus tells him how he could:

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

23And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" 24And the disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said to them again, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."

And again Jesus says in Luke 12: 32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

And in Luke 6:20-26, Jesus tells us exactly who is blessed and who’s not:

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. 22 Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! 23 Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

24 But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Those words send chills up my spine. Woe to you when all people speak well of you. Jesus is saying you're blessed when men revile you and hate you, and if everyone speaks well of you, woe to you. If you are really speaking the truth of the Gospel, it will not be popular. It will not earn you friends.

Are you willing to be persecuted, poor, hungry, to mourn and weep, and to be hated? Because that's what Jesus is calling you to here on this earth. That's what it is to be a Christian, dear friends. No one will tell you that, but it's all over the Bible. ALL over it.

Here's another thing you guys- if we follow our modern church culture and believe material things and success are great blessings, how does that affect our view of suffering? Do we subconsciously or consciously think that we are doing something wrong when we experience trials and tribulation in our lives? Do we try to “fix” it by praying or reading our Bible more? Just so we can get rid of it as soon as possible?

And what does our constant calling of our material goods and success God’s blessings tell the believers in our lives that are poor, disliked, and suffering? That they aren't blessed because they don't have those things?

Please realize that we don't have to actually speak those words to tell others that. It's our praise of material things and good circumstances that tell people that. We are so amazingly "blessed" to have so many things, good health, etc. I'm cringing right now because I've said it so many times myself! 

Food and shelter are indeed gifts given to us from God {He meets all of our needs!}, but do we see what’s not considered good- things like trials- as being blessings from God as well?

The Bible says trials bring us blessings when we persevere through them, like in James 1:12: Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 

Do we truly believe trials and sufferings and persecutions are blessings like the Bible says? Where do we get our idea of what is a blessing?

We have to look at our own view of blessings in light of the Scriptures- and you can't live by what your church or popular leaders teach you without studying to see if it is Biblically accurate. You can't take my word for it either. It has to be the Bible, the Word of God that guides your life. There are so many deceptive teachings that try to use the Bible and God as ways to help you live life to the fullest, and to enjoy and ask for your material "blessings" but they actually have no Biblical basis whatsoever.

And as if you needed one, here’s another motive for listening to the Word of God: when we really read and listen to it, we are promised a blessing in Revelation 1:3: Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." 

Listen to the words of His book.

You are called to live a life that's hard but full of reward in the life that is to come. You are not living for the now, not storing up your treasures here on earth but instead in Heaven.

I know that the words He spoke are having a radical effect on my heart right now. I have everything I've ever wanted or needed, and it's truly ironic that I am studying blessings sitting my bottom on my comfy leather sofa in my beautiful recently remodeled living room. I can't help but feel so uneasy about it.

God is starting to call my heart to give it up, and give it away and go and share the gospel. I don't fully understand it, because we were given these things in amazing ways, and looking back I can see God's purposes in us having these things- the house that led to the Bible study, that led to my husband's salvation... and then the sharing the gospel with our neighbors.

I can't understand God's plans or ways by any means. I'm not sure what will happen or when, but please, please pray for us. I'm scared but at the same time, so ready and excited to do what God wants for us next. I'm praying that he will just give clear direction to my husband to lead us where we need to be going. Oh, my heart aches for this. I don't want a normal life.

Everything is stable and good here, and it seems crazy to give it all up. It is crazy. I so want to though. 

This life is short. the Bible is clear that we are called to give it all away, to live for Jesus. Because nothing else matters.

It's so important to examine ourselves- where do we have our treasure? Is it in our “blessings” of material things or health or our dreams of success? Because we aren't promised any of that in this life.

I'm praying that we won't let these things get in the way of serving Jesus- of giving our lives fully to Him- no matter what happens or what we lose here. He is our joy. Nothing else on this earth has any weight next to Him and His glory. Give it all to Him.

Beg him to give you a heart for what He wants- only He can do it. And He will. Oh, may our hearts change to see what He wants for us today. I'll be praying for you guys, and please pray for me too as we seek His will this week.

linking up at Casey Weigand's blog.

10 comments

Luann said...

:high five: well, HELLO from CO!

mandyBH said...

I'm in Texas- but CO would be my second choice! :D

Luann said...

i thought i had read what state you were in, yet i don't see it now. i'm in CO.

Luann said...

dude! totally! i soooo wanted to challenge people when they say this to me. ask which part of the definition are they actually wanting for me! bugs me so. SO.MUCH. stinky we don't live near by each other :)

mandyBH said...

Yay! thanks so much for listening! :)

mandyBH said...

I think you are right on, Luann- we always say God bless you in regards to material blessings and health. It totally changes it when we say "sanctify," because that's where the promises lie- in the testing of our faith, in the losing of ourselves, in the putting away of the old man- not in gaining more things or having a perfect life. In fact, the way the majority of people say it, it's almost like pronouncing a curse! It's more like "May God grant you everything you've ever desired in this lifetime." yikes!!! I would love to sit down with you sometime!! :)

mandyBH said...

Thanks for reading it- it's definitely been on my heart for a couple of weeks now. I think you are right, I was just thinking about that this afternoon. While it's not suffering by any real standards, I was thinking, how much do I face my daily trials with these 4 little ones with joy and do I view the suffering they cause me as blessing? Cleaning up cereal over and over and the constant crying or the fussing, and the tedious homeschooling-these are my trials right now, and I'm not doing so hot with them. I have to be careful to be faithful in the little ones, because eventually a bigger one will come along, and will I react the same way I do to these daily pains? I certainly don't rejoice when the kids are whining, though it does make me turn to God for help constantly. I'm a stinking weenie when it comes to suffering.

Abbie (Five days... 5 ways) said...

Preach it, sista. Kind of a continuation of our conversation on Tuesday. This is actually the first LD that I've "heard" because I can never get the audio to work on my computer, and you know me and technology. Thanks for including the text format. It was well-said/written. I remember having this conversation with Alby on our second date--how I was scared of suffering, but I was also scared of not suffering. I will say that, while my life is incredibly easy, and nothing in it can be considered "suffering," I think there are stages in life, and in this particular stage, just making choices like not putting our kids in daycare and homeschooling when the alternative would make our lives so much easier are at least steps in the right direction.

mister smith said...

how i long to sit with you and romans 1:10-12 on this (and more!). to continue on with the 'blessing' thing i wanted to share what i recently questioned, the whole pat greeting of 'God BLESS you" . i think when people say this THEY have in mind what they mean. YET, look up the definition of BLESS. {seriously! go look it up!) now replace the word 'bless' with the definition; God SANCTIFY you. God CONSECRATE you. God GUARD you. God GIVE HONOR AND GLORY TO HIMSELF through you. and then a lot of the definitions involve switching the position of 'God' and 'you'. i think this phrase is one of many that has become vague. i dislike vague. what if we said the above specific phrases instead? because really, what more is there that you could want for someone? it also requires a right understanding of blessings and hardships :)
{it logged in with the husbends account. it's the wife though, Luann :) }

mommommommom said...

Thank you, this is just what I needed to hear!
-Jenn
mommysaidno.blogspot.com