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We often see blessings as an immediate, tangible satisfaction; something that gives us what we want, or that pleases us in the short-term.  While this can be so, blessings -- particularly God's blessings -- can be more broad than that.  For example, when God intervenes in our life because we're going down a bad road, that's a blessing.  It may not be very comfortable when He does, or very pleasing in the short-term, however, long-term it can keep us from bearing some rather stiff consequences.  Conversely, if we were to continue going down a bad road, it may please us in the short-term, however, in the end, we will pay a heavier price.  Ultimately, blessings are always good things, but their benefits may not be as apparent, or as immediate, as we might hope.  Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV) The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Some say the Bible is out of date and no longer relevant for today.  Well, consider this: The Bible tells us...  ...not to steal from others (Exodus 20:15) ...not to lie about others (Exodus 20:16) ...not to murder one another (Exodus 20:13) ...to love one another (Mark 12:31) ...to treat each other with respect (Romans 12:10) ...to defend the poor, abused and oppressed (Isaiah 1:17) ...and that we're stronger together than we are apart (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)  If you don't like people stealing your things, lying about you, or trying to kill you... if you want to be loved, and have people come to your aid when you need help... then maybe the Bible isn't so out of date after all.  But also, if you don't like these things, then don't be too quick to write off the other parts of the Bible -- the parts that you may not understand or agree with -- because this is what the thieves, liars and murderers do.

Before Judas betrayed Jesus the Lord said to him: You're going to betray me, now go do it.  (John 13:21-27)  I'm paraphrasing of course, nevertheless, after this exchange, Judas went out and betrayed Jesus.  We might think that such a plain statement would have been taken more seriously by Judas and cause him to think twice about his actions, but... it didn't.  Such is deception.  Don't ever assume you are impervious to deception.  Be humble before the Lord, discerning, and teachable so that deception might not have a foothold with you.  Otherwise, deception will lead you to places you do not want to go.  1 Peter 5:8 (NIV) Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

It doesn't take character to live according to our emotions and desires.  Neither does it take talent to be unkind, to ridicule, to accuse, or to condemn.  Anyone can thoughtlessly engage in these things, but doing so will only bring us, and others, harm.  Be a person of exceptional character and choose a better way.  Romans 8:5-6 (NIV) Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.

Don't discount the great value in living in peace with one another -- many good things go away when we don't.  We all have our differences, but we are far more alike than we are different.  When we demonize each other and hate each other because of our differences, the quality of our life, and society, diminishes.  But when we live in peace with one another, a world of possibilities open up to us.  Imagine how different your life would be if people would just be kind.  Now imagine how different your life would be if the anger and frustration you feel didn't exist.  We can't bring about peace by making others comply with our will -- trying to do so will only deepen the divide -- but we can choose to live it out ourselves.  Colossians 3:15 (NIV) Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.


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