Friday, August 11, 2006

Blessings

Sometimes I feel like the difficulties I face are pretty disheartening, and seemingly have no end in sight. I pray that God will perform a major, breakthrough in my life. I’m sure that we’ve all made that request once in a while. But, what happens when your hope and encouragement is met with disappointment time and time again?

Not too long ago, my best-test friend sent me some pictures of a trip she recently took. She is getting closer and closer to taking a huge step in her life; where her outcome is unknown. Nevertheless, I’m completely enamored by her determination. Likewise, my ultra-accomplished sisters have demonstrated -- time and time what happens when you continue to chase the things you want, remain faithful to God and never sell yourself short.

Each of their stories of perseverance remind me of the story of the lame man in Acts 3. This is a terrific story that helps to reenergize my faith in God's blessings, even when I can't always see them. According to scripture:

"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God."
- Acts 3:1-8


A few interesting things were discussed in this passage. This series of verses gives us insight on how to prepare for God's blessings:

(1) Get positioned to receive a blessing
By hanging out by a specific gate, the lame man was strategically setting himself up to receive a blessing. The gate called Beautiful was the largest and most visible gate to be found in the area. More importantly, it gave people access to the temple. The lame man used good, sound judgment by placing himself in the center of traffic. People who were on their way to worship would be sure to give him money; rather than ignoring him and being left to feel guilty about it during worship.

This begs an important question: are you adequately positioned to receive your blessing? Even if you don’t feel qualified for that certain position, did you apply anyway? You don’t think that your grades are high enough to get that certain scholarship. But did you complete that application anyway?

I think that sometimes we miss our blessings because we don't adequately positioned ourselves to receive them in the first place. Maybe we’re not being persistent enough. Or maybe we’re afraid to take a step into the unknown (I know that I'm guilty as hell on this one). But, one thing is for sure: receiving blessings often require us to be risk-takers. In the spirit of faith, we must be willing to try new things and take on new and unknown challenges. That said, put on your faith hat, turn on the tracking system, and see if you're in the right place.

(2) Look to God with expectancy
When the lame man noticed Peter and John passing him by, he asked them for money. I can just see it now: the moment that their eyes rested on his; even if only for a second, he noticed their intentions and met them with his expectancy. Although money wasn’t what he received, he was at least expecting something. If you think about it, this man essentially survived from the hustling he did. For him, begging and solicitation was a survival mechanism. How desperately do we seek to receive blessings?

It’s also interesting to note that the Bible makes no effort to mention this man’s name. One could suspect that he was considered relatively unimportant to those around him. On top of that, he’s lame and sick; essentially fortifying his unimportance. But rather than sitting around feeling sorry for himself, the Bible tells us that he made it a point to get carried to the gate every day. Every single day; every hour on the hour, this man was out there trying to take care of himself. This begs another question: how is your disposition regarding your current conditions? Are you spending your time wallowing around in pity because opportunities keep getting away from you? Or do you continue to hustle and bustle for your blessing?

A part of our problem, I think, is that we don’t always expect blessings. When we fail to expect blessings, aren’t we essentially short changing God? If He’s as great as we claim He is, and He’s delivered for us before, what makes you think that He can’t work with us now? How many times does God have to bless us in order for us to have radical faith in Him? I think that it’s important for us as believers to be injected with the expectation that God will work in our lives. Doing so gives Him more room to work.

(3) Recognize your blessing and accept it
Eventually, Peter charges the lame man to get up and walk. But, there's a little more to this that just getting up walking. Peter told the man to get up, walk, and keep walking. Peter’s intervention only got the ball in motion. It was up to the man to keep the blessing going. What good are God’s blessings if we just sit on them? When God blesses us, we should not stay in the frame of mind that we were once in. We must not continue looking at our situations through eyes of impossibility. Doing so can cloud the mind, and make us lose sight to waht God has or wants to do for us. Eventually, you may wind up back in the same difficult and hurtful place where you once were. But, looking to God with expectancy will nullify the impact of the circumstance we face. Then, once God works in our lives, we’ll be able to stand up – like the lame man – and receive what’s been coming to us.

Are you ready for God's blessings?

- ACL

7 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

Best "test" friend said...

Andre,

Once again you've given me so much hope and inspiration. Thanks for being one of the few people who believes in me. I'm sure that those men who carried the lame man to the gate everyday got tired of carrying him and probably thought it pointless. That man had to make up in his mind EVERY morning that he was going to position hmself to be blessed.

We have be like that man, too. EVERY SINGLE MORNING I have to make up in my mind that, no matter what anyone says, that I'm going to pursue what God has placed on my heart (And believe me, people have LOTS to say)

One more thing...

Sometimes you may pursue something, and no matter what, you still didn't accomplish your goal. Be sure to take a look at the journey to see what you learned. What you learned from the journey MAY be the entire point of the journey! You may have met people, blessed someone, or even brought someone to salvation.

Love ya, MAN!

Andre said...

Hey best-est friend...

Even though we've been at each other's throats and have had our fair share of head-banging experiences, you know that I'm still your NUMBER ONE FAN! You've been there for me time and time again. Far be it for me to not return the gesture. That said, I'm NEVER going be one of the men who get tired of "carrying" the friend. You've "carried" me more times than I can count...

You drive home an interesting point that I never thought of. Even if your blessings don't come out the way you expect, they are STILL blessings nevertheless. OUR outcomes may not always match up to God's outcomes. But, there's ALWAYS something to learn for the experience.

Thanks for your insight! It's refreshing!

By the way, I love you more...:)

cynthia said...

Terrific post, as usual!

Andre said...

Thanks Cyn!

Diane said...

Andre, good job with your illustrations. I think one of, if not THE reason, the lame man's name wasn't used here was so that we could more readily identify with him and put ourself in his place. It helps me when I read scripture sometimes to put my name in the scriptures. For example, John 3:16:

"For God so loved the world (Diane)that He gave His only begotten son, that whosever (Diane) believeth shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

There are many more scriptures that I do this with.

This is good stuff, Andre. :-)

saved_sinner said...

Hey Andre,

Good post. You're absolutely right. Sometimes we miss our blessings because we don't position ourselves where we can actually receive them. God expects us to be on the move, before He goes on the move.

Powerful words, friend.

Andre said...

@ Diane: Great point. The lame man could have easily been you, me, or the next person. The same principles that were in effect then, apply now. The Christ that we serve hasn't changed. Neither has His offer for healing, restoration, and blessings.

Thanks for your comments.

@ saved_sinner: Good point. Our movements have to match God's movements for things to happen. We can't expect Him to move if we're standing still.

Thanks!