Be blessed, don’t complain
I’ve always been intrigued by mountains. As a child, I liked to climb them, explore their crevices and find their secrets. But going around and around the mountain did not appeal to me. The thrill was in climbing one and getting to the top. Life is about achieving goals. It is about blessing others and being blessed. There are many things that will stop you climbing your mountain. I only want to talk about a few here. If you looked at the lives of some top achievers, you would find certain things missing from their vocabulary. These things would not be characteristic of them. That is: blame, needless criticism, pessimism and complaining. These negative traits stop you from reaching the top. They keep you going round and round life’s mountain.
Characteristics you will see in great men’s lives will be not only their ability to move toward their goals and keep life in perspective, but their genuine humanness. They know how to walk in mercy and forgiveness and love. To me, these are the qualities of great people. Men fail when they become bitter. You can climb life’s mountain, but in the end it doesn’t mean much without love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. If life is to be sweet when you reach the top, these characteristics must be embraced and lived out. Hard work, stress and strife put pressure on these values. They can be abandoned easily. I want to always enjoy God’s blessing in my life, no matter what I go through. Let’s look at the enemies of the blessing. And from examining them, decide not to walk that way, but to embrace a higher way of living.
The power is yours
The Israelites became weary and started to complain to their leaders on their way to the Promised Land? They were tired and said it would have been preferable to stay back in Egypt than to go through this. As I result of this complaining, God sent serpents amongst them and many died.
“And they journeyed from Mount Horeb by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses; ‘why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” Numbers 21:4;5. The people repented and asked forgiveness for speaking against God and his leaders. God then instructed Moses to put a serpent upon a pole, and if the people looked upon it, they would be healed.
They blamed Moses for everything that was going wrong in their lives. Blame is an unproductive thing. If you blame your circumstance or the people in your circumstance, you empower them. That takes the power from you and it leaves you powerless. Laying blame will ‘bite’ and it will eventually kill you if it is not dealt with. It is harmful There is only one remedy, and that is to look upon the Cross. There is forgiveness and healing from these negative behaviours.
You can never hold other people responsible for how you feel. Psychologists will tell you that blame is tied to the ‘shoulds’ of life. “You shouldn’t have done that,” “You should have told me that.” the ‘shoulds’ in your vocabulary reflect your expectations on how people ‘ought’ to behave. But to hold onto rigid, inflexible expectations of people can make you anger prone. Here are some common beliefs that make us angry: “They should do the right thing;” “It should be fair.” The world should be fair, but it is not! Take that word “should” out of your personal vocabulary and you will be a happier person. We even beat ourselves up with our own shoulds: “I should have done that!” We often fail to live up to your own expectations.
I grew up on a farm in the Southeast corner of Queensland. My father had his fair share of trouble, but I don’t remember him blaming the government, the weather, the locusts or the floods for his lot in life. He always focused on the next season. He made his decisions and moved on. Dad owned his own decisions and took responsibility for what happened. Whatever decisions you make in life, in the end they must be your decisions. If you ‘own’ your decisions, you may make some bad ones along life’s road, but at least they are yours. What’s even better is that you may make some really great decisions too.
There is a television game show called “Deal or No Deal” in which one player chooses a suitcase, hoping it contains a large sum of money. On more than one occasion, the person of the podium has come to the game with a friend. During the game, the host will often ask the player if they wish to consult their friend as to whether they should play another round or make a deal. They may have decided to deal but on listening to the advice of their friend, decide to go one more round. We know the scenario. Yes, they lose the “big” one on the next choice. Then they get mad and blame the other person after the show has ended. This is only a game show, but it illustrates the point: never put major decisions in the hands of someone else. If you do, don’t blame them when it all goes wrong. Winners don’t live life like that. They make their own choices and accept the consequences.
Not only are we to put blame into an irretrievable position in the back of our subconscious mind, we are to be merciful to those who have hurt us. The Bible says, “bless those who persecute you,” “love those who despitefully use you. “Matthew 5:11 Jesus told Peter when he asked how many times he should forgive, He said, “seventy times seven,” and that in one day. Matthew 18:22 I used to teach a class in Bible College about forgiveness. One of the points of my lesson was that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Christians think that you have to “feel” forgiving. Nowhere does Jesus tell us to feel forgiving, He just tells us to forgive. If you make the choice to forgive, then the feelings of forgiveness may come later. It’s by God’s grace that you can forgive. This is how to live in the Spirit. It’s a choice you make. Emotions fluctuate but the Spirit is steadfast, no matter what the circumstance is that you are facing. We are to be led by the Spirit. That means we do things because it is Biblical, not because we feel like it. Right choices lead to right feelings. This is walking in the Spirit. It is powerful, it’s enabling. You have a heaven-sent power that elevates you above what’s irritating you.
Oil and water don’t mix
Certain things in life don’t mix: oil and water, oil and vinegar, unequally yoked relationships, mercy and blame.
You displace a negative with a positive. For instance, if you are positive you can’t be pessimistic, if you are happy you can’t be sad. if you act forgiving you automatically stop blaming and if you extend mercy, you are not criticizing. Tip the scales in your favour and make a habit of showing mercy, being positive, loving and forgiving.
“When a person is kicking, he has only one leg to stand on.”
One of the side effects of laying blame, being critical and complaining is that people get sick of hearing your complaints. You lose friends. Hurt people rehearse their hurts. After a while we start avoiding people you know that talk about negative things. How do you know if you have truly recovered from an overwhelming negative in your life? You stop thinking about it all the time. And you stop talking about it. It gets put in the past and your focus on your future.
Blame is an enemy of grace. To lay blame, is to fail to access God’s grace. Blame will grind your life to a halt. While you blame you will not pick up responsibility for your life and do something to change the way your life is going. Life may throw you some “spin balls,” but no one else is responsible for how to handle it. Blame is about excuses and strategies for not dealing with issues in your life. This stops the blessing of God flowing through you. It stops up the wells of blessing.
“Watch your attitude toward the thing that upsets you. Your attitude may harm you more than the thing”
Bookstores are full of books written about the negative impact of criticism and playing the blame game. There are books with titles like: “Blame the Planet,” “Why Couples play the Blame Game,” “Claudia and the Recipe for Danger,” “It was You, Bluey Kangaroo,” Malcolm in the Middle — 101 ways to get away with anything — a collection of excuses and strategies for dealing with passing the blame.” These titles highlight the powerfully negative impact that blame can have on a life. To lay blame is to live life in a danger zone.
Successful people never allow themselves to indulge in negative, critical thinking. It abuses your inner self. It undermines productivity because your time and energy are spent on problems and not on solutions. Successful people are busy people who don’t have time to play the blame game. The power of your life lies directly with you. It’s a simple decision. Start work on yourself and you will find you can improve your life in so many ways. By taking personal responsibility you take the power back. Talk about empowerment. This is it! Take control of your life. Direct it where you want it to go. Instead of looking backwards, look forward. Set goals, make plans. Forget the past and move ahead.
“Give so much to the improvement of yourself that you will have no time for criticism of others.” Winners are people with an inner belief system that says, “I can make this happen.” And they do. It is like they have a wellspring inside of them and it bubbles up no matter what life throws at them. Great people have an unmistakable belief system that expects the best no matter what.
The River in your mind
You say, “I want to get the blessing flowing!” Develop new habits. It’s a deliberate choice when you get up to think in terms of mercy, forgiveness and kindness instead of blame, criticism and pessimism. Those negatives are no longer your friends and they cannot accompany you on your walk anymore.
It requires all your strength and energy to believe the good instead of the bad. This takes effort. You must believe the blessing of God is in you. It’s a deliberate decision to say the good when you feel bad. When you start out you will not feel you are living a blessed life, but you must believe it first before you will see it. That is faith!
As you begin to realign yourself, your mind will argue with you but your mind is not you. You are a spirit being and your mind is a part of you. Tell your mind what to believe. Persist and you will develop a “river” in your mind so the blessing of God can flow down and into your life. The “stream” of fear and anxiety will eventually dry up. Keep watering the river with positive thoughts of blessing. When you start it is only a small trickle across the mind, but if you repeat it, it will becomes a habit and eventually cut across your subconscious. Finally every thought you have about yourself, your future, your business and your family is “colored” by your faith.
The mind is a conduit for blessing. A conduit is like a pipe. The pipe comes from the throne of heaven to you. The blessing descends into you. It abides in you and from there, flows out and colours your life. Your believing in hard times is the key which either allows the blessing to invade your life or stops it.
The Seed of blessing
Everything you need for living life well is in you. It may need developing, but it is in you. I have found that the best way to think positive thoughts, is to think the Word of God. His Word in you is a seed, and it will develop you. It can grow strong in you and direct your life.
The Bible says you are “born again of the incorruptible seed of the Word of God, which lives and abides forever “.
1 Peter 1:23
“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these, you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. “ 2 Peter 1:2-5
God tells us we are partakers of the divine nature. His divine nature is in me. That’s extraordinary. The Word of God has within itself the power of its own fulfillment. And the seed of it is in me. It will work in me. When you immerse yourself in the Word of God and begin to speak it out, it exists and has the power within itself to do what it says.
When Isaac gave the blessing to Jacob it existed in history. He could not recall it for it had acquired an identity of its own. It had gone out and was accomplishing that task it was sent to do.
“Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him” Genesis 28:1
“May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples; and give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land In which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.” Genesis 28:3,4
To bless means you invoke supernatural power which can bring to pass the content of the blessing. In Bible times it was powerful and it released something supernatural.
“Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country. Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face , they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand.’ Deuteronomy 28:3-8
The blessing is invoked by us. We make it work. To invoke means to “call on (God) in prayer, to appeal to (a person’s authority), to summon, to ask earnestly for. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob each invoked the blessing of the Covenant. Each generation must activate the Covenant for themselves. You can activate the Covenant blessing for yourself. A word from God activates faith and that opens the Covenant blessing to you.
In favour, out of favour, the blessing flows
In the Old Testament, Abraham said to Lot after their herdsmen had been quarreling,” you choose where you want to go and I’ll take whatever you do not choose.” He wanted them to separate to give each other room.
“Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, or you go to the right, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere,, and Lot chose for himself the plain of Jordan.” Genesis 13:9; 11
How could Abraham be so generous? He knew that it didn’t matter where he went; it did not matter whether he was on the plain or in the desert, on the mountain or the valley; he was blessed. God’s blessing was with him, in him and it certainly was not dependent upon his situation.
“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, ‘Lift up your eyes now and look from the place where you are —for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth.” Genesis 13:14;15
If the blessing of God is in you, you take it with you wherever you go! As it turned out, Lot had chosen the plain of Jordan and ended up in Sodom. He later had to be rescued by Abraham when he was taken captive by the King of Sodom. Sometimes we make choices not by the Spirit, but by what appeals to the ‘eye.” It captivates us. What ‘looks’ best is often deceiving. Be led by the revelation of the Spirit of God. The best is in you.
Connect to God, connect to creativity
Jacob is talking to Laban, his father-in-law, “Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.” Genesis 31:42
God influenced Laban to make reconciliation with his injured nephew who was on his way back to his homeland. During their twenty year relationship, Jacob had endured various hardships at the hands of his churlish uncle. He always took responsibility for any loss of livestock that he’d incurred. He never took it personally. “The blessing of God makes one rich,” it says in Proverbs 10:22. God’s blessing made Jacob rich despite Laban’s design to ruin him.
While Jacob was faithfully serving his uncle, God showed Jacob a creative way to build his flock and become prosperous. Would you have thought to put different rods in the sheeps’ watering trough so that when they mated, they would produce after what was before their eyes; the streaked, spotted and speckled lambs? Jacob ended up with a huge flock. He put the rods in when the strongest of the sheep mated, not the weaker. That way he ended up with the strongest of the flock. Who could have thought of that? Only God! Every creative idea is in God. Connect to God and you’ve connected to every creative idea that is and is yet to be!
Genesis 3 0:32 “Let me pass through all your flock today, removing from there all the speckled and spotted sheep, and all the brown ones among the lambs, and the spotted and specked among the goats; and these shall be my wages.”
Jacob did not demand the best. He took what appeared the lesser; the blemished sheep; the spotted, specked and streaked, and God gave him a creative idea. It only takes one creative idea to make you wealthy. Only ONE!
Verse 37-43 “Now Jacob took for himself rods of green poplar and of the almond and chestnut trees, peeled white strlps in them, and exposed the white which was in the rods…. So the flocks conceived before the rods, and the flocks brought forth streaked, specked and spotted And it came to pass whenever the stronger livestock conceived, that Jacob placed the rods before the eyes of the livestock in the gutters that they might conceive among the rods, but when the flocks were feeble, he did not put them in; so the feebler were Laban’s and the stronger were Jacobs. Thus the man became exceedingly prosperous.”
Be positive in the midst of trouble. Look at what you have. What’s in your hand that you can use right now to help you? When I was young, my mother tried to teach me piano. I was a poor student, but I learnt the position of the keys on the board and the scales! I knew what an octave was. When we started our first church we had about sixty people and were desperate for a keyboardist. I asked God in prayer and he told me that I should play! The essence of the conversation was, “Lord, I can’t play.” He responded, “learn!” In essence He said, ‘what’s in your hand.’ What skill do you have, no matter how basic, that I can use?’ So I sat down with a song that I liked and because I knew basic hand positioning and scales, practiced up to six hours a day for twelve months. In a year, I was the church piano player. God took what was already in my hand, which was very little, really, but with my willingness and His grace or ability, we got our answer to prayer. There was a hidden blessing to this: as I learned to play piano, I would actually start worshipping and play chord progressions. God’s presence and inspiration would come. I found I met with God through worship in that year. Why do we always look for outside solutions to trouble? The answer lies within us, and God uses what is in us. He takes our very little, and makes it something extra ordinary.
You pay our own way in this life. Jacob didn’t ask his father-in-law for any handouts. Don’t expect others to rescue you. Work on yourself to make things happen. You cannot control your outside circumstance, but you can control how you think and feel. Work on yourself. The blessing is in you, so work on yourself, and the blessing will come.
Keep doing the “right” things. Don’t give in to complaining, doubt and fear. Negative emotions destabilize and de-motivate you. Keep up good little habits: for example, be happy and put a smile on your face. Greet people positively. It doesn’t matter what you start with in life, if you believe that the blessing of God is in you then you are blessed. When you rely on God every day, the most unexpected blessings come to you. And God does great things through you. When you are dependent upon the Lord, He becomes great through you.
Next Chapter: A Ticking Clock in a Thunderstorm
Visit Pastoral Ministry Training dot com for more of Peter and Lindsay’s writings.