John Baker, the founder of Celebrate Recovery and author of “Life’s Healing Choices”, uses the Beatitudes of Jesus to help us explore choices that help on the pathway to growth, spiritual maturity, happiness and healing.
We often say “bless you” or we sign off a card or email with “blessings”.
Jesus, in his famous ‘Sermon on the Mount’, tells us eight ways to be blessed, to be happy.
The first Beatitude - "Blessed are those who recognise, that they are spiritually helpless" (God’s Word Translation - Matthew 5:3). I imagine that helplessness to be an admission that we’re powerless, that we need help, that we can't control and manage everything in our lives but we need God's help; then we will be blessed.
How do we develop that kind of attitude – humbly admit we need help, humbly ask God for help and humbly accept help from others.
Injustice is a fact of life. We wish that it wasn’t, but it is.
From the time we were small children, we understood the concept of injustice well. “It’s not fair!” Do you remember saying that to your parents or your teachers? Of course you do. We’ve all been there.
When we suffer as a result of doing something stupid, whilst it hurts, at least we can reconcile ourselves in the knowledge that we brought it upon ourselves. But when we suffer as a result of an injustice, when we’re experiencing pain that we don’t deserve, man that rubs salt in our wounds, doesn’t it?
The bottom line is that injustice magnifies the pain of our suffering.
So how do you respond when you’re suffering unjustly?
Probably a lot like Habakkuk in the Old Testament. He took God to task, because the injustice and the suffering of his people just wasn’t fair. He cried out to God, but God didn’t give him the answer he was looking for.
So today, we’re going to spend a bit of time with Habakkuk … because during his suffering and through the injustice, God wrought a mighty work in his heart.
And with all that I am, I believe God means to do a mighty work in our hearts, when we suffer injustice.
Sometimes, on our life’s track, we come to realise that the destination we’re trying to reach is unachievable; the dream we had isn’t going to come true; the hope we had isn’t going to be fulfilled.
Some destinations become unreachable because of our choices; a single decision or choice we’ve made. Some are out of reach because of decisions others have made. Sometimes there’s no one to blame. We are where we are and not where we want to be!
Solomon reminds us that - “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but a longing fulfilled, is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12). We can move on from our heartache. We can continue to pray fervently, to listen for God’s voice, to find the ‘good’ we can in our circumstances, to use our hardships for God’s glory and continue to believe that somewhere along our track in life God will do something “good” for us.
What has your attention these days?
What has mine?
And is where we’re directing our attention leading us somewhere that we want to go?
The Proverbs of Solomon, recorded in the Old Testament, give us wisdom about our path, about the track of our lives. Solomon’s key observation was that it’s our direction (more than our hopes, or dreams, or intentions) that determines our destination and where we end up.
In Proverbs 4:25-27 Solomon adds an important corollary, namely that what gets our attention, determines our direction and ultimately, our destination. Attention, direction, destination. That’s the principle, of the track of our lives, in three words.
We can choose to ‘give’ our attention and we can choose to ‘pay’ attention. The writer to the Hebrews encourages us to give our attention and to - ‘fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfected of our faith’ Hebrews 12:2-3).
An important aid for navigating our “track” in life is to figure out what we don’t know. So, how do we do that? How do we discover, what we don’t know, that we don’t know, so that we avoid, the potholes, and pitfalls, we never saw coming?
Solomon’s wisdom (Proverbs 15:22) tells us our “… plans fail for lack of counsel, but
with many advisers, they succeed.”
For a variety of reasons, we’re hesitant to seek advice – our ignorance, our pride or our laziness. And sometimes the advice we seek isn’t from “wise” advisors.
Solomon says - “... let the wise listen, and add to their learning, and let the discerning get
guidance” (Proverbs 1:5).
Genesis 25 v19-34
Genesis 27 v1-40
Most of us are probably familiar with the story of Esau and Jacob where Jacob’s mother Rebekah tricked her husband Abraham into giving the family birthright to the second son Jacob.
She did this by providing what is called in the NIV bible either red stew or lentil stew to Jacob to give to the near blind Abraham on the pretext that it was being given by his older brother Esau so that Jacob might receive the family birthright.
Esau had previously said, at Jacob’s instigation, that he was prepared to give up his birthright if only he could have some of that red stew.
And so it happened and Esau gave up his birthright.