As I began to wake up one morning a few months ago, it was on my mind that the more I wished blessings on someone else, family or friends or even unknown others, the more I would be reaping blessings in my life. This is a basic principle of the Bible by which our actions and thoughts and desires for others and for ourselves yield for us what we focus on. If we are suspicious of other people, if we are worried about what they’ll do to us, if we don’t see any good in them, then that very negativity is what is reflected in our lives. The basic principle is about how obedient we are to God’s commandments :
to love God above all else in our lives(1-4),
to honor our parents(5)
to treat others as we’d like them to treat us:
no false testimony against your neighbor(9)
no coveting of anything that belongs to your neighbor(10).
I am not writing about strict obedience to God’s laws. It is not about being letter-of-the- law people. It is really about how we experience God’s love and how we are to give nothing but love back to Him and to everyone else. For if we truly love God, if we are putting Him first above everything else in our lives, then we are living in gratitude for His love and care and guidance; we are aware of His presence; we welcome the blessings and grace He showers on us daily. There is nothing of more importance in our lives than God—no family or friends or work or even anger at someone else or envy or fear or our own pain and suffering–nothing stands between us and God. God is enough for us, when He is first in our lives.
Let’s look at Deuteronomy Chapter 28 which focuses on how our obedience to and love of God brings us blessings—everywhere we go, our children, our work, our comings and goings—“on everything you put your hand to.” He will protect us from our enemies, establish us as His holy people.
But, if we do not follow His commandments, we will be cursed in our work, in everything we do and everywhere we go. We will suffer diseases, droughts, defeat before our enemies and much more.
It is in our choices how our lives go. Blessings or curses. Love and obedience or self-centeredness. It is our decisions and our actions and our attitudes that determine how our lives go. It is in our thoughts and desires that determine the richness or poverty of our existence. If God is at the center of our existence, then we are living rich and fulfilling lives. If He is not acknowledged, if He is not obeyed, then it is by our own choices how our lives go steadily downhill.
I am not saying that nothing bad or challenging will not happen to us if we are committed to God. But like Paul, we can weather the storms at sea, the dangers, the opponents, being a prisoner and more, because we rest in Christ’s presence and can endure anything with Him. Without God and His Son, we are tossed and beaten up and suffering all by ourselves.
I am also not in any way saying that if someone is poor they don’t love God. For a whole lot of poor people are a lot happier and more dedicated to God than the rich. That’s what I experienced in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. And in Mexico where they surely know how to celebrate life. And even in the United States, poor people are more apt to live in and celebrate community among themselves than any middle class or rich person would, supporting each other through any crisis, even money problems. For example, my son-in-law owned a trailer park in Florida. Inevitably, every month one or more of the residents would come into his office and pay part of the rent due for another, mentioning that the person was struggling now.
We choose whether we are blessed or cursed by the choices we make. God does not rain punishment on us for our mistakes and sin, we choose the consequences which fill our lives. He welcomes us when we turn back to Him. He is just waiting for us to choose Him above all. He celebrates our return and He restores us to our place in the family of man and of God. This is so clearly seen in the Parable of the Prodigal or Lost Son.
I know, I know, there are lots of places in the Old Testament where God is angry at the Israelites and wants to punish them for forsaking Him, i.e. when they worshipped Baal. And He does—like the exile to Babylon or the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. But the punishment is already established in their actions, their choices, not because God is an angry punishing God, just waiting for us to do wrong..
Jesus reveals God to be Love, Forgiveness and Presence in our lives. The more we live in God’s ways, the more we experience His love and forgiveness and presence. He will meet all our needs. He will attend to our suffering. He will walk with us all our days. He will bless us. Really, what more could we want?
Postscript: I am writing a book about following Jesus, and I would love to have stories from you readers about the things/thoughts/people/whatever has enslaved you and how you were freed from that slavery. Send them to my email, email@example.com, or message me on FB. I will only use your initials in the book, not your name. Thanking all who desire to contribute, Pat
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I living a blessed or an accursed life? Do I really see that it is my choice which one I live? If I wanted to change, where would I start? What is most obvious to me? And then, what would the next step be?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who live a blessed, grace-filled life. May we be aware of all the blessings that God rains down on us every day.
If you’d like to receive my blog five days a week in your email, go to patsaidadams.com/by-the-waters-blog/. There is a gift waiting for you.
Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life. New posts 2x a month. 6.22.20s is entitled, “The Life That Awaits You.”
 Exodus 20:1-17
 Deuteronomy 28: 1-14
 Deuteronomy 28:15-68
 Luke 15:11-32