This week in a men’s Bible study that I lead each Thursday, 6:30a.m.-7:30a.m., we studied about “Boasting only in the Cross, the blazing center of the glory of God,” based on chapter 3 of John Piper’s book, DON’T WASTE YOUR LIFE. One of the questions we sought to answer was this:
Do you view life and breath and health and friends through the lens of the cross? Do you take those things for granted and view them as yours by right? What biblical truths have you neglected that lead you to regard these blessings as rights? Cite Scripture verses in your answer.
The four Scripture passages/verses below, amplified by other verses, help me not to take things for granted:
1. Genesis 28:3-4, 10-22. These verses record the story of Jacob being blessed by his father, Isaac, and his subsequent journey to his uncle Laban’s place. On the way he encounters God in a very powerful and personal way. As a reminder of the experience and what the Lord had told him, Jacob sets up a stone as a pillar, pours oil on top of it (a way of consecrating it to God), names the place where he was, “Bethel” (House of God), and makes a vow saying,“If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” (Genesis 28:20-22).
Jacob knew that though he was running away from the consequences of his own lies, God had shown mercy to him and reaffirmed His promises. Jacob was in no position to earn God’s favor. Yet, God promised to be with him. What a great display of God’s mercy and grace! Jacob, therefore, did not want to take these blessings for granted. Instead he started being grateful to God. In order not to forget the fact that all blessings came from the Lord, he erected the memorial stone. Jacob would later on refer to the Lord as, “The Stone of Israel” (Genesis 49:24).
2. Psalm 23. In this Psalm, King David who had been a shepherd boy recognizes that the Lord is his Shepherd. He is my Shepherd too, and because of that I shall not want. Psalm 34:8-10 is King David’s reiteration of the goodness of the Lord in providing for his needs. In the passage, David encourages us to put our trust in the Lord and to fear Him,
“8Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see—
how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.
9 Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.
10 Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.”
[According to The Message by Eugene H. Peterson]
As children of God, like King David, we are able in a number of situations to attest to the ways God has met our needs. Psalm 37:4 reminds us to delight ourselves in the Lord, and He will give us the desires of our hearts. When He does, we should not simply enjoy the blessings and forget the ONE WHO BLESSED US. We should not at all take for granted the blessings He sends our way. If it happens that we do, we need to ask for His forgiveness, and start again on a journey of gratefulness.
3. Psalm 84:11. The Amplified Bible renders this verse this way, “For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” The sons of Korah observed it right. As the wise and righteous of the Lord, they noted that time after time God gives good gifts to His people. Psalm 103:3-12 recount the benefits (blessings) of the Lord. We should take time to read and record them and start praising the Lord who has blessed our lives with so much. “Lord, help us not to take these blessings as our rights but rather as your gifts of grace to us.”
4. James 1:17. I have always loved this verse and used it whenever I have set my eyes on a newborn child. After holding and beholding the beauty or handsomeness of the child, I would quote this verse to the parents, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (NIV). Then I would pray, “Lord thank you for this perfect gift that you have given to these dear parents. Give them your wisdom and all the help they will need to bring her (or him) up in the fear of you. May this child come to love and serve you for the rest of her life. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.”
I have applied James 1:17 to the gift of children, but it can be applied to a broad spectrum of other things as well. The key here is to recognize the source of the things we have or claim to be our own. This verse stresses the fact what we have are gifts presented to us by someone else. In this case, it is none other than the Father of the heavenly lights. We should never lose sight of this truth. Instead we should engrave it in the inner recesses of our hearts.
Hope the above Bible verses bless your heart as they have blessed mine this week.