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Are you inside God’s circle of blessings or have you put yourself on the outside? When we put ourselves outside of God’s circle of blessings, we risk shortening our lives and opening ourselves to God’s discipline.
The Circle of Blessings
Are you inside or outside?
Verse 16, “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of his ways will die.”
The Puritan Pastor Matthew Henry said about this verse, those who make it a lifestyle to keep God’s commandments, “secure their present peace and future bliss, and provide every way well for themselves.”
It made me think of a very simple illustration we use when counseling children. We call it the “Circle of Blessings” based on Ephesians 6.1-3:
¹ Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.
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When children obey and honor their parents, things tend to go well with them and God promises a long life, but the opposite is also true. When they put themselves outside of God’s circle of blessings, things, generally, don’t go well with them and they risk shortening their lives.
You can quickly draw this out on a piece of paper or a white board as you talk about Ephesians 6.1-3. This is a simple illustration that helps children understand the passage, but the same principle is at work in our lives. When we keep our Heavenly Father’s commandments and honor Him, things tend to go well with us. When we reject the commandments and wisdom of God, we put ourselves outside of God’s circle of blessings. We, too, risk shortening our lives and opening ourselves to His discipline.
Today’s Other Readings:
Failure to Trust in the Sovereignty of God
If you think of the Bible as being written chronologically, today’s reading and much of what follows may seem confusing. But the Bible is not put together chronologically, as far as the various books go. And at times, as in Chronicles, it repeats things that were previously recorded with a slightly different perspective.
It may help to remember that Chronicles was probably written by Ezra. He was a priest who came back to Jerusalem after they had been in Babylonian captivity for 70 years. So he was writing from the perspective of the return and how life was so dramatically different from how it was during the reigns of David and Solomon. This portion covers the genealogy of the people who were returning and emphasizes the reign of David.
The last two verses of chapter 10 are worth meditating on:
13 So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the LORD, because he did not keep the word of the LORD, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the LORD; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse.
Even though Saul committed suicide, God had allowed the situation in which he found himself (about to be captured and probably tortured) as a consequence of his sin. Notice the sins delineated all involved his lack of trust in the sovereignty of God. He refused to believe that doing things God’s way was best and sought to know the future apart from waiting on God to reveal it at the proper time.
“I will remember”
The psalmist starts out “This is my anguish …,” but turns his thoughts to God and begins to remind himself of God’s faithfulness in the past, “I will remember,” “I will also meditate,” and “I will talk of Your deeds.” Then he recounts the great things God has done.
Have you ever tried writing your own psalm? This would be a great way to spend some of your devotional time if you’re struggling with discouragement of any kind.
Importance of the Ministry of Helps
This passage points to the importance of the ministry of helps. When others use their gifts, it frees those who are called to the five-fold ministry, such as pastors and teachers, to do what God has called them to do—that is pray and study God’s Word.
ne 23" >Facing Religious Persecution
But there are other great truths contained in this portion of Scripture. Let’s look at verse 15:
“And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.”
Stephen faced the anger and persecution of an angry religious mob, with a peace and calm that demonstrated his complete trust and reliance on God.
Jesus said in Matthew 10.18-20:
18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
What a great promise!
ne 23" >What about you? Questions to ponder or journal:
Have you ever faced religious persecution? How did you respond? How would you like to respond in the future? I hope you will share your story with us.
Read several of the Psalms, then try writing your own. After you’ve shared your honest emotions with God, turn your attention to other times when God has shown Himself faithful. Use a concordance or go to Bible Gateway and look for verses that speak to your situation. Share your experiences and insights in the comments section at the end of the blog.
Where are you in regard to the “Circle of Blessings”? Are you inside that circle or have you put yourself outside?
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