God sightings, Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Blessed to be me — blessed to be you

Sometimes God shows up in my everyday life in ways I don’t expect, especially when I’m not looking. That happened last Friday night at our nephew’s football scrimmage.

I was sitting by the aisle but wasn’t paying too much attention to the people who walked past. Once when I did look up, it was just in time to see the message filling the back of a man’s t-shirt as he walked down the stairs:

Blessed to be me.

What a powerful perspective in a time when so many people seem to always want more.

We see people with more money, more followers, more friends, more social life, more of all sorts of things that seem bigger or better than what we have — and want it for ourselves. As you read this, please know I’m not just pointing fingers at other people. I fall into the same trap myself.

But the truth is, I’m blessed to be me. And you’re blessed to be you.

We’re blessed to be created in God’s image exactly how He wanted us to be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

Blessed to be gifted with abilities that can be used to serve God and help other people.

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Romans 14:4-8)

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:10-11)

Blessed to be part of a plan that God mapped out specifically for us before we were even created.

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

Blessed to be part of God’s family and treated as one of His children.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

The way we were made, the opportunities we have, the people whose paths we cross are all for a purpose. The reasons behind it are beyond my comprehension so I need to stop trying to figure it out.

As flawed as we are, God still loves us and has a purpose for us. And that’s worth more than any number of followers or amount in the bank.

I’m blessed to be me. You’re blessed to be you.

How will you remember that this week? Drop a note in the comments so we can encourage each other.


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Living in Faith

Following through on the promises we make

Promises. We’ve all made them, but how well do we keep them? Do we even remember the promises we make long enough to follow through?

That issue has been percolating in the back of my mind for several weeks, thanks to a nameless cupbearer in the Bible.

He’s found in the book of Genesis, buried deep in the story of Joseph — a man whose drama-filled life included everything from family favoritism and abandonment to political maneuvering, accusations of sexual misconduct, and national famine. It’s also a story of God working through every situation in Joseph’s life — good and bad — to all make sense in the end.

In Genesis chapter 39, the wife of Potiphar — one of Pharaoh’s top officials and captain of the guard —  accuses Joseph of taking advantage of her. The truth is that Potiphar’s wife makes advances toward Joseph and is enraged when he won’t play along. Potiphar believes his wife and throws Joseph in prison.

It’s a story I’ve heard since childhood, one that often is told to emphasize the point that God is always with us and that His plan is always in motion, even when we don’t see it and no matter how terrible our circumstances might be.

But the last time I read this part Joseph’s story, a piece of it stood out to me in a new way.

Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker are also thrown in prison during Joseph’s time there (Genesis 40). They both have strange dreams one night and can’t figure out the meaning. Joseph reminds them that interpretations belong to God as ask what they dreamed.

Joseph says the cupbearer’s dream of a budding vine that becomes wine in Pharaoh’s cup means that he will be restored to his position in Pharaoh’s household in three days. He says that the baker’s dream of birds eating bread from baskets on top of his head means that he will die in three days

When Joseph’s interpretations of the dreams come true, he asks that the cupbearer remember him when he returns to Pharaoh’s service, that he plead Joseph’s innocence and ask Pharoah to free Joseph from prison.

Of course, the cupbearer promises to do as Joseph asks. And then he promptly forgets.

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (Genesis 40:23 NIV)

The cupbearer goes right back to his earlier job serving Pharaoh and doesn’t think of Joseph until two years later when Pharaoh himself has a troubling dream that he wants to understand. Pharaoh sends for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt, but none can interpret the dream.

That’s when the cupbearer remembers Joseph.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.” (Genesis 41:9-13)

Pharoah brings Joseph to him. Joseph interprets the dream, which leads to Pharoah releasing Joseph from prison and Joseph becoming Pharoah’s righthand man.

There are many lessons we can learn through Joseph’s story about relationships and patience and trusting God. But, as I said, the cupbearer is the person whose role struck me in a new way the last time I read the story.

People knew that Joseph was wrongly accused and shouldn’t be in prison. They knew he was a good man and that Pharoah’s wife was the one making sexual advances, not the other way around (because Joseph wasn’t the first man she tried to sway). They knew he shouldn’t be in prison.

The cupbearer forgot all of this when he was released from prison. He was thrilled to be free, thrilled to be alive and restored to his previous position.

Two years went by before Pharoah’s distress at not being able to interpret a dream triggered the cupbearer’s memory of Joseph. And his promise to speak well on Joseph’s behalf.

How often do I do the same thing?

How often am I caught up in my own life, in my own “things,” and forget about the people around me? Forget about the promises I’ve made to them?

If I’m honest, I have to say it happens more often than I’d like. And probably more often than I realize.

Ouch.

So where do we go from here? I’ve been asking God to help me remember the promises I’ve made and to do better with following through on them. But I’m not just talking about the times I forget to pick up shampoo at the store.

I’m talking about when I say I’ll read some extra chapters for someone in my critique group, but then let their email get buried in my in-box. Or say I’ll pray for someone and their situation but don’t take it to God as often or as fervently as I could. Or, like the cupbearer, say I’ll speak or do something on someone’s behalf and give it little thought once the moment passes.

Yes, the cupbearer fulfills his promise to Joseph in the end, and everything works out according to God’s plan. But a two-year lag time before remembering that promise seems much less than ideal in our minds. I wonder if he felt guilty once he realized how much time had passed.

I don’t know the answer for the cupbearer, but I know the answer for me: yes. Big, fat, resounding yes.

I do feel bad when I realize I haven’t kept my word as I should have. That’s good as long as it helps motivate me to do better next time. It’s bad if I keep beating myself up over my shortcomings and never move forward.

It can be hard to draw the line between the two extremes, but I’m trying. Asking God to keep reminding me of the promises I’ve made can help, but I’m sure there are other ways to help me follow through. What tactics have you found that help in these situations? Leave a comment below and we can all grow together.


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Living in Faith, Monday Motivation, Scripture verses

Monday motivation: It’s never too late

Here’s a nice thought to start our Monday: It is never too late to be what you might have been.

Every day is a new day, and a new chance to start over or at least take a step — even if it’s only a really small one — in the direction of our dreams. God wants good things for us and plants beautiful dreams in our hearts. He is continually making us new and helping us get closer to being the person He wants us to be, closer to seeing the dreams He gives us become reality.

Every moment of every day brings a fresh beginning. Here’s to remembering that as we step into this new week.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)


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Living in Faith, Scripture verses

Being faithful like Moses

I’ll be the first to admit that when I’m looking for parts of the Bible to read, I don’t normally gravitate toward Numbers. But a couple of verses from my devotional a few days ago really struck me. In them (Numbers 12:6-8), God is talking to Moses and his siblings Aaron and Miriam:

“Listen to my words: When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the Lord.”

There’s no doubt that Moses had a different kind of relationship with God than most people. Although even Moses wasn’t allowed to see God’s face (Exodus 33:20), he had such a close relationship with Him that God spoke to Moses like a friend (Exodus 33:11).

And, thankfully, so can we – thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection.

Numbers 12:7 bible verseI don’t expect to ever be anywhere close to Moses’s caliber in terms of my faith, but there’s nothing wrong with working toward a closer relationship with God. Sometimes I get frustrated because I’m trying to hear God’s voice and don’t seem to be getting any answers. Sometimes I think it would be so nice to see God face to face, even for a split second. And when I do get nudges (or whacks over the head) that I think are God’s responses to my questions, it sure would be nice to get it straight instead of feeling like it’s all a riddle.

Will I ever get to that point? I don’t know. But in the meantime, I can work on the little gem hidden near the middle of these verses: “He is faithful in all my house.” I want God to say that about me! Whether I’m spending time with my family, talking with friends, writing something for work, noodling the next chapter of my novel or buying groceries – I want to be faithful to God. I want to stand up for Him and for what I believe He says is right. I want to share Him with others through my words and actions. I want to trust Him with everything instead of falling in the traps of doubt or deceit (which is where these verses originated, because Aaron and Miriam were grumbling about God speaking through Moses, but that’s a story for another day).

How about you? What’s your favorite gem from these words of God? How can we stay faithful to and humble before God in the middle of everything else? I’d love to know how you approach it.