Conditions for Receiving God's Blessings
by Anna Balsamo
Heart Song Worship Center
Many people pray to God asking for this or that and then go about the rest of their lives as usual without thought to what they do or say or even to what they really believe in. God to them is like a puppet. Just pull a few strings here, and He does what you ask Him to. Maybe. If you're particularly good and play by the rules, you know- no lying; cheating or stealing, etc.
But, if you look in the Bible, you will find many scriptures that show there are specific conditions to receiving His blessing in our lives. The most important condition is detailed here in John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." You must believe in His Son and then you will receive the promise of eternal life. We cannot expect God to answer our prayers if we haven't first asked Him to be our Lord and Savior. If we haven't even decided to follow Him, just who are we praying to anyway? In Matthew 6:33 we read, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Condition number one: being saved and putting Him first in your life.
Many of us are struggling in life and the stress of it leaves us without peace and in much turmoil. In Romans 5:1-2 we learn, "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom we also have access." In Philippians 4:7 it says, "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." We cannot access that peace unless we know the Savior and are walking with Him. But if we are, that peace is His promise to us. "My peace I leave you; my peace I give you." (John 14:27)
"Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4) So many people take the second half of this verse and claim it expecting God to bless them with many material things. But very often the first part, delighting yourself in Him, is neglected. That's where the key is - delighting in Him. It's not in looking for all the extras in life (although many times He gives them to us as well!). It's in focusing on Him and feeling the joy of fellowshipping with Him and longing to be near Him. It's in making a commitment of time everyday and throughout the day to praying to Him and worshipping Him and reading His Word. Dr. Charles Stanley says, "We should be more devoted to Him than to our hopes and dreams." If we make Him our priority, He promises to take care of us and, yes, even bless us.
In Joshua 1:7-8 a great promise was given to Joshua from the Lord that is just as applicable today as it was then. "Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." We read in Psalm 1:1-3 that, "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." God expects us to make meditating and studying His Word a priority in our lives. If we don't, we cannot expect Him to bless us as He would like to. For "the Lord longs to be gracious to you." (Is. 30:18)
"If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you." (Exodus 15:26) God expected the Israelites not to behave like those around them who didn't know Him. If they did, He promised to keep disease from them. God expects us today to live different lifestyles than those around us. It is very common for people to "sleep around" and go from one sex partner to another. No one gives it much thought today. But many of the diseases associated with sleeping with more than one partner could be avoided if people were following the truth of God's Word today. "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery." (Gal. 5:19) God has placed a very high priority on the importance of marriage between one man and one woman. "This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh." (Gen. 2:24) To do otherwise, is to invite trouble into your life.
He also expects us to take care of our bodies by eating right and getting proper rest and exercise. ("Don't you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself." 1 Cor. 6:19 NLT) If we abuse our bodies, we cannot expect Him to keep us free from illness.
"Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10) Many of us are not experiencing His blessing financially because we refuse to give a tithe to the Lord. It is very difficult to take that step of faith and give back to God when you just don't think you have enough to go around. Especially in this economy! In Malachi we hear God saying to us, "Go ahead and try it! See that I will bless you because of it." (My paraphrase here!) But, we are afraid to. "What if I can't pay my mortgage and the bank forecloses?" Or, "It's not possible that my paycheck could stretch any further!" Obedience is key here. In the Seventies there used to be a commercial jingle that said, "Try it, you'll like it!" And here we see God saying the same thing to us. "Test me in this," He says. If you do, you will find He is faithful. But He can't prove Himself faithful if you aren't first being obedient.
"Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37) The Lord is very specific about these conditions. We do "reap what we sow" just like His Word says. (Gal. 6:7) How can we expect our Lord to forgive us if we are not forgiving? In James 1:25 we read, "the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it - he will be blessed in what he does." God didn't say doing these things would be easy. But He does expect us to obey Him - and then the blessing comes.
Many of us feel a great burden for the state of our country. We are definitely in a state of decline; morally and economically. We were once a Godly nation, but I think I can safely say, that is no longer the case. I wonder why? "If my people, who are called by my name; will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (2 Chron. 7:14) The answer is very obvious from this particular scripture, isn't it? You can hardly mention God's name anywhere without causing some kind of uproar. We have to be politically correct now, don't we? We have taken Him out of schools, and just about everywhere and everything else. So how can we expect Him to bless our nation?
Listen, we live in a fallen world and sickness and difficult times will affect us all at one time or another, but there are certain things we could certainly avoid if we were following His Truth in our lives. God's Word is certainly very clear about this.
I write this not to condemn anyone, but to remind us all that our Lord and Savior who suffered and died for us, expects something from us. We cannot expect to continually take and take from Him and not do something for Him. It is after all, a relationship that we have with Him. Relationships are all about give and take. God wants us to do our part - so He can do His.
I, myself, have suffered in my walk with the Lord when I, very foolishly, went on my merry way each day with a quick prayer and devotional in the morning and not much else throughout the day. Oh, sure I'd pray if something urgent came up, but I didn't make Him my priority. And my life suffered because of it. I didn't have His peace and my life wasn't reflecting His grace and mercy. Looking back, I can see I was "all dried up!" Now I know why. I wasn't really connected to the Vine. I was saved, but not living as the branch. (John 15:5) I falsely believed I just didn't have enough time to devote to the Lord. I was working full-time and caring for two young sons and a husband, and by-the-time nighttime came, I'd plop myself in front of the television to rest. My life was going nowhere fast. I was irritable to my family and certainly not useful to the Lord in that state. I didn't even attend church services any longer, and although I did give financially to the Lord, it wasn't with any joy. I think I just felt I had to do it, or else. Eventually I lost my job and was unemployed with a lot of time on my hands, and finally committed to prayer and reading His Word each morning. Then, a friend invited me to a women's bible study and the fellowship there, along with prayer and meditating on His Word really helped me to grow in my walk with Jesus, and now I have found that, "without Him, who could eat or find any enjoyment?" (Ecc.2:25) My connection to Him has given me the peace I longed for and contentment the world just doesn't understand. While I am still a sinner, He is changing me for His glory. For that, I am ever grateful.
Let's remember to make Him our number one priority along with meditating on His Word and then doing what it says. "Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses." (Deut. 30:19) Let's choose life. Then we can expect God to do His part - and bless us as He sees fit!