Defining Blessings {Abounding Hope Bonus Study}

By March 13, 2013Book Clubs, God Time

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by Lara and Katie

One sign of a good Bible-study-er is reaching the point where your time in God’s Word perplexes you.

Last week we read that Job’s friends angered God with their poor theology. Specifically, they assumed Job had sinned because of his suffering. They thought God was punishing Job for something he had done. Which wasn’t true. God does discipline His children when we sin. But we can’t assume discipline when we see difficulty.

Similarly, we have to be careful not to make the mistake and say that obedience will bring me a happy, trouble-free, “blessing-filled” life. Obedience does lead to God’s blessing. We see that concept throughout the pages of Scripture. But an outwardly blessed life does not always mean that a person is walking in obedience.

In the case of Job, God chose to bless in physical, tangible ways. And sometimes He does that. But “blessing” is more often than not much deeper.

God is not a vending machine and Christianity is not a works-based faith. The Bible clearly portrays this. So, we have to look at these passages through the lens of what we know to be true throughout the rest of His Word.

When Jesus walked on this earthly planet He had nothing of material value. He didn’t even have a home. Yet He was most blessed because of His oneness with the Father. The most blessed.

God always looks at our heart. And He does bless obedience. But let’s be careful not to assume or seek out tangible blessings. More often than not His blessings come to us on a spirit-level.  Peace that passes understanding, even in the midst of horrific fires. Or love for someone who betrays.

We pray you glean the concept of “blessing flows from the obedient life.” The life that obeys the first and greatest command of love. But we pray you see His greatest blessings being those that the human eye cannot see.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights… (James 1:17 ESV)

Looking forward to all God has for us in the second half of our study of Abounding Hope! Thanks for taking this journey with us.


  • Cathy B. says:

    I had a miscarriage a few months ago. I found out after many blood draws that my body wasn’t wanting to let go of the baby so they had to give me Chemo shots to get my body to release and reset. I had an abortion about 10 years before (I have 2 kids now) and this felt like I was giving permission for another abortion. I went to reconcilliation (some call it confession) because I needed to say out loud that even though logically I could see the truth my heart didn’t want to accept it. Mind you my OB/GYN takes his personal and even work time to give free ultrasounds to women considering abortion to try to get them to choose life. He, of all doctors I’ve met, would give my baby every chance possible. He looked for half an hour to find anything on two occations and tried very hard to find a heartbeat. There was none. I just had to let go and let God. I have a hard time letting go of control. I could have waited longer but it may have ended in emergency surgery and then I might not have been able to have any more children. After I went to reconcilliation and said that I was having a hard time with my situation and I wasn’t trusting God but I knew I had to and I knew I wanted to but it just wasn’t happening. I heard the words of forgiveness and leaving I felt at peace and started to trust and let God work. God can use all things for good if we let him. Romans 8:28

    • Cathy, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace (8:6). Praying that His Spirit will fill you with peace as you move forward. He loves you so very much!

    • Helen G. says:

      I agree with Katie. When you seek God, humble yourself, confess and reconcile, He is faithful God, to forgive you amd heals you (1 John 1:9). Praying for you, Cathie.

  • Cathy B. says:

    I know that salvation is not about works alone nor is it by faith alone. Matthew 25:35-36 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, ..thirsy…drink, …stranger…welcomed, …naked…clothed, …ill…cared for, …in prison…visited.” To know who he means in the next verses by helping the least of these you can read Luke 14:12-14 “Then he (Jesus) said to the host who invited him, ‘When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite (those who can repay you)…Rather,…invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you.” Now, so you know that I’m not claiming that works alone will gain you what you want in heaven this chapter, I believe, brings it all together. “If I speak in …tongues, but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. …gift of prophesy,… comprehend all mysteries and knowledge; all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” It goes on with many examples and the end says “So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
    In other words, do all things with great love. Works are necessary to show you have repented (turned about/changed).Remember, your actions always speak louder than your words, ask any teenager or even a child. They are more likely to follow your actions than your words. Your words must match your actions if your words are ever to be taken seriously.

  • HisJules says:

    So glad to see this post!! Thank you Katie & Lara for this beautiful explanation and challenge to study God’s Word. I love this Abounding Hope study!

  • Melissa Q says:

    Christianity is not some kind of formula — do good and you get good; do bad and you get bad.
    It’s about God changing our hearts to be like His. And he does that through the good and the bad.

  • Thanks for saying, “God is not a vending machine and Christianity is not a works-based faith.” When it comes to suffering, I often hear well-meaning people suggest that if you just have “enough faith” then God will (blank) – it sounds like a “ching-ching” to me! Recently a woman led a session at church proposing that God had healed her of cancer because she claimed certain verses and all you had to do was claim them and he’d heal you – “ching-ching!” I’m old enough to know God doesn’t work that way, for which I am very thankful. It’s called grace, even in the midst of suffering.

  • I love this post! I found out yesterday that I miscarried after 8 weeks of pregnancy and I really felt maybe God was disciplining me because of something but now I’m thinking He is just preparing me for something He has in my future. Thanks so much for this encouraging word today.

    • Melissa Q says:

      So sad to hear about your loss, Regina. It is hard NOT to ask the “why” when something so sad happens. I hope you can take comfort in Him knowing “why” even when you don’t.

    • Regina, I’m so sorry for your loss. A miscarriage is so hard, I know from experience. Sometimes the storms of life come from sin, but sometimes they happen so God can be glorified in them. I just read this morning about how Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:3). He was blind so that the works of God might be displayed in him. And boy, did God show off in his life! But there is still grief. I’ll pray for you, believing we will both meet our babies in heaven one day.

    • Nicki says:

      Praying for you and sending you love, Regina. The pain of that is sharp and the thoughts that it is somehow ‘deserved’ is harsh but I know the reality of the question in that. You are so right in wondering if He has great plans for you through this. It may take years to understand but there is a great and beautiful plan for you, for your wee babe and all of it you will feel blessed by some day. Thinking of you!!

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