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Posts Tagged ‘character qualities’


God’s Blessing Isn’t Materialistic

 

 

Refer to Step 4: I chose to accept as true what God has said about Himself. He is good and can be trusted.

 

 

Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He is trying to change your heart.

—Larry Rust

 

 

In spite of what anyone might tell you, God is not a blessing machine, ready to dispense material favors for all who ask, without qualification or hesitation. When you review the “Fruits of the Spirit,” material acquisition is not mentioned. What is mentioned are estimable character qualities like love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Each of these character qualities is highly valued by God, and if you want to be a person after “God’s own heart,” you will seek them above all else.

Too often, most of us complain to God because we want material blessings without the slightest consideration of whether or not receiving them is actually good for us or not. What we want is for God to spare us from the natural consequences of our actions. We’ve come to learn that government bailouts are counter-productive, but we never seem to understand that asking God to bail us out may also be counter-productive. We are like children who demand candy from a reluctant parent, never considering what harm it might do.

Because we don’t recognize or understand the bigger picture, we demand that God make our will be His will. Then, we become critical of His treatment toward us when He doesn’t comply. Consequently, to us it seems like our prayers have gone unanswered. When we don’t get what we want, it’s usually because God is working on other, more important, things.

 

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3)

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In spite of what anyone might tell you, God is not a blessing machine, ready to dispense material favors for all who ask, without qualification or hesitation. When you review the “Fruits of the Spirit,” materialism is not mentioned. What is declared are estimable character qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Each of these character qualities is highly valued by God, and if you want to be a person after “God’s own heart,” you will seek them above the pleasures of life.

Too often, most of us complain to God because we want material blessings without the slightest consideration of whether or not receiving them is actually good for us or not. What we want is for God to spare us from the natural consequences of our actions. We’ve come to learn that government bailouts are counter-productive, but we never seem to understand that asking God to bail us out may also be counter-productive. We are like children who demand candy from a reluctant parent, never considering what harm it might do.

Because we don’t recognize or understand the bigger picture, we demand that God make our will be His will. Then, we become critical of His treatment toward us when He doesn’t comply. Consequently, to us it seems like our prayers have gone unanswered. When we don’t get what we want, it’s usually because God is working on other, more important, things.

If your desire purpose to be restored to your life, along with deep, estimable character qualities, join me in this prayer:

Father,

Sometimes, life can be so complicated.

Doing the right thing seems easy enough,

Until it comes time to do it,

When the dread of adverse consequences

Becomes an overwhelming nightmare.

My heart’s desire is for my life to become easier.

Tell me, why am I so special that my journey

Is constantly filled with so many difficulties?

Why can’t things go smoothly—just for a while?

Why me, Lord? Why me? Why? Why? Why?

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,

But I know that I am. I’m complaining because

My shoes are too tight, while others go barefoot.

I know I should be more grateful,

But I want a respite from my travail and anguish.

I want to be far from despair and sorrow.

I want to serve You with gladness and joy,

But I have no sense of hope within me—

Nothing that can sustain me for more

Than a few moments at a time.

I don’t want to be a robotic automaton,

Pretending everything is fine and joyous,

When I know things are dreadfully wrong.

My days, which are numbered by You,

Are passing before me, and it all seems

Like a terrible, meaningless waste.

Intervene, Lord, and allow me to know

Joy and gladness once again.

Fill my days with peace and purpose,

So that I can tell other of Your fidelity.

Rebuild me into the person you want me to be—

Strong and resourceful, and ready to do

The next right thing with gladness in my heart.

I ask this in Christ’s Name, amen.

Jack Watts

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Father,

Not knowing what lies ahead or what You have in store,

I willingly give You permission to finish

The work that You have begun in me.

Let my petty, whining nature be a thing of the past—

A distant memory of my childishness—

As I seek Your will rather dictating mine to You.

I ask only that You reveal Your will to me each day,

And provide me with the power to carry it out.

 

Question: Do you know what God has in store for you? Do you give Him permission to do whatever is necessary to make you the man or woman you need to be? Be thoughtful about your response.

Being forgiven much, people in recovery develop a deeper capacity to love, which is a highly valued character quality. If you’re in recovery—any kind of recovery—you know this as well. Those who have never fallen—who have never done anything seriously wrong—don’t understand this perspective. Their comprehension about such things is limited.

Question: React to the paragraph above. Do you agree with it or disagree? Think of three reasons that support your position.

To criticize the minister—”the anointed one”— is perceived as criticizing God, making the person who disagrees have flawed, having “sinful” character qualities. Routinely, those who are in opposition are depicted as “carnal”—as purposefully going against God’s will. This makes the questioner’s walk with the Lord appear to be defective, which is exactly how it is positioned by the abusive leader. When the abuser says, “I’ll pray for you, brother,” it is usually accompanied by a syrupy smile. When this happens, you can be certain that no prayers will be forthcoming—only character assassination.

Journal: Was this your experience? If so, write about it, being as critical as you feel the need to be.

 

By looking to God for the future, rather than blaming Him for the past, I chose life over the debilitating half-life of bitterness. I worked out a new purpose—a rewarding, fulfilling one. Christ saved my soul, but I did the recovery work to forge a new life—a life of value.

 

Question: Do you still look to the past? Have you put it behind you? Are there still some things that trigger you to anger about what happened?

In our watered-down version of cultural Christianity, which is espoused in many denominations, God’s blessings are equated to materialism and not to the rich character qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. If you are prosperous, God is blessing you. If you aren’t, your life has fallen short of the mark.

Journal: React to this paragraph, either agreeing or disagreeing with it. Write about it.

Jack Watts

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God’s Blessing Isn’t Materialistic

 

Refer to Step 4: I chose to accept as true what God has said about Himself. He is good and can be trusted.

 

 

Sometimes God doesn’t change your situation because He is trying to change your heart.

—Larry Rust

In spite of what anyone might tell you, God is not a blessing machine, ready to dispense material favors for all who ask, without hesitation or qualification. When you review the “Fruits of the Spirit,” material acquisition is not mentioned. What is mentioned are estimable character qualities like love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness. Each of these character qualities is highly valued by God, and if you want to be a person after “God’s own heart,” you will seek them above all else.

Too often, most of us whine and complain to God because we want material blessings without the slightest consideration of whether or not receiving them is actually good for us or not. What we want is for God to spare us from the natural consequences of our actions. We’ve come to learn that government bailouts are counter-productive, but we never seem to understand that asking God to bail us out may also be counter-productive. We are like children who demand candy from a reluctant parent, never considering what harm it might do.

Because we don’t recognize or understand the bigger picture, we insist that God make our will be His will. Then, we become critical of His treatment toward us when He doesn’t comply. Consequently, to us, it seems like our prayers have gone unanswered. When we don’t get what we want, it’s usually because God is working on other, more important parts of your life.

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Father,

You’ll have to prepare the heart of my friend—

The one I have chosen to be my confidant.

When I reveal myself to that person,

I pray that Your love and acceptance will be

What I experience and not the condemnation

Of someone who is judgmental and self-righteous—

Someone who will not understand or accept me—

Just as I am, exactly like You do, Father.

Question: It’s important to have others be part of your recovery, but only trustworthy people. On a scale of 1-to-10, how trustworthy are your confidants?

 

Nobody plans on being abused, especially by fellow Christians, but it happens all the time. When it does, it’s debilitating and can render a person fruitless for a long, long time. It usually means your original vision about your purpose in life changes, and many have difficulty accepting this. That’s why it’s important to remember that it is God’s purpose we are here to fulfill—not our own.

Question: Has your vision changed since your abuse? If so, in what ways has it?

God promises not to put more on us than we are able to endure which, at the time, never seems to be true. It always feels like the weight of our hardship will break us, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He stretches us beyond our comfort zone, which is His intention. At the end of it, however, we develop deep character qualities, which we would not have achieved through lesser means.

Journal: Write about how far you have been stretched by God. Think of at least one example and write about it, being sure to spend time on the long-term results.

 

Your future behavior is in your hands. If you are smug and self-satisfied, you will have a great impact—all-negative. If you display love and graciousness, you’ll also have a greater impact—all positive.

Question: Being completely honest, what has your impact been? If it’s less than you desire, tell God about it, asking Him to make you into the person He wants you to be.

At some level, accepting what their abuser have said about them as true, the abused person acts out the role ascribed to them, in nearly the way that Pavlov’s dog salivated. The abused person believes they are worthless, behaving predictably. If this has been your experience, admit it to yourself, to God, and to another human being. You’re not responsible for your abuse, but you are responsible for your reaction to it.

Journal: Taking time to be introspective, write about the acting-out behavior you participated in shortly after your abuse.

Jack Watts   Restoration Resources

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Character Development

Refer to Step 4: I believe that God understands my wounded-ness and He alone can heal me.

 

Adversity is the mint in which God stamps upon man his image and superscription.

—Henry Ward Beecher

When you see how carefree some people’s lives seem to be, do you ever wonder if God is holding you to a higher standard than He does others? Many people seem to have such a comfortable, easy life, while those of us in recovery—by way of contrast—seem to have a much more difficult time than they do.

If that’s true—and I believe it is—then what is the reason for it? What is the purpose? In my own life, I distinctly remember when I was thirty-three and prayed, “Father, thank You for sparing me from trouble. Everything has always gone so smoothly for me. Nothing bad or difficult has ever happened. My life has been free from pain and suffering. Thank You for that. I’m so grateful—so grateful.”

From my simplistic perspective, I believed what I prayed was true. God was taking care of me by sparing me from all the heartache suffered by others. Within a month from the time I uttered that prayer, things changed, and the subsequent thirty years have been filled with difficulties. Have I struggled and chafed under the strain of my circumstances? You bet—big time!

But I’ve also grown, and the growth was the purpose behind all the difficulties. God promises not to put more on us than we are able to endure which, at the time, never seems to be true. It always feels like the weight of our hardship will break us, but God knows us better than we know ourselves. He stretches us beyond our comfort zone, which is His intention. At the end of it, however, we develop deep character qualities, which we could not have obtained through any other means.

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials; knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)

Jack Watts   Resources

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Being Purified

 

Refer to Step 9: I humbly ask God to change anything He wishes, and I ask Him to heal my pain.

 

Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.

—Pablo Picasso

Being pruned by God is a way of life for His children—a way the Scriptures say we should embrace. In my own experience, as someone who wants to be everything God wants me to be, I have prayed, Father, do whatever you want with me. I accept all of it graciously, willingly.

Such prayers seem so noble when we say them—that is, until the Lord actually initiates real change. When that happens—when His pruning process begins, we scream Holy Murder! The pain is often so intense that we’re certain we cannot make it through. We are all for pruning—just as long as it’s not too painful.

But that’s not the way God seems to work in our lives. The Scriptures teach that He is a consuming fire, which is most often associated with judgment, but it can also refer to being purified. To get us where He wants us to be, God burns away everything that prevents us from becoming stronger, more resilient people. By the time He is finished, most feel like they’ve been whittled down to nothing, with little left.

We see this process through our eyes; He sees it through His. To make us stronger, better people, God engineers our circumstances to put us in a position where we have no alternative other than to trust Him. When this happens—and it happens to every child of God—it feels very destructive and, in many ways, it is. That is, until something new emerges, and you become a person with far more estimable character qualities than ever before.

Therefore, let the Lord do with you as He will. He’s going to anyway, regardless of whether you like it or not. When the process is complete, you’ll like what you see—so will others.

And He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness. (Malachi 3:3)

Jack Watts   Resources

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