December holds the exciting conclusion of God’s Story of blessings. We get keen insights from those who wrote letters as the church continued to grow, both in number and in maturity. Paul, James, Jude, Peter, the writer to the Hebrews, and John all penned messages of hope, encouragement, and loving warnings to those they deeply cared about. The final blessings that await us in Heaven seem too good to be true. But they are. God is true and His blessings remain forever.
Paul’s Christian life was far from boring! In November we joined him as he continued on in his adventurous journeys of sharing God’s good news message to all who would listen. When trouble comes his way and he is thwarted from travel he used the opportunity to connect meaningfully by writing letters. We now are privileged to read the blessings of God through Jesus that he originally penned to believers in Corinth, Rome, Colossae, to a friend named Philemon, and to gatherings of dear friends in Ephesus and Philippi.
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” In October we experienced Jesus’ life during Holy Week, His death for our sins, His amazing resurrection and the blessing He gave for His followers right before He returned to Heaven. Jesus changed the way life was lived. Hope and peace, due to faith in Him, could not be contained but was actively shared. Bold new leaders like Peter and Paul preached and the early church formed and grew. Paul wrote to the new churches in Galatia, Thessalonica and in Corinth.
In September we were so blessed to read from Jesus Himself how to live the blessed life. Jesus faithfully modeled those teachings as He healed, fed, and comforted people in various locations during His ministry on earth. He is strong and He is smart and He leads in ways so that His followers can also lead with truth and love. His cousin John and His twelve disciples may have known Him best, but the four Gospel writers (Matthew, Luke, Mark and John) recorded the life of Jesus so that we too can know and be blessed by Him.
God’s people, still in Babylonian captivity, needed hope so the first week of August we read of Job’s story of extreme faithfulness in intense suffering. God’s prophets provided assurance as the Israelites, now called the Jews, traveled back to their war-torn land. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Ezra, and Nehemiah helped to restore the hearts of God’s people and rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. We then meet the main character in God’s Story. Jesus, God’s greatest blessing, comes to earth! Luke tells of the birth and early childhood of Jesus.
The Israelites, now the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, grew in their ungratefulness and rebellion. Fighting, hotter than Texas in July, took place on multiple levels and increased the instability. God’s spokespersons, (Hosea, Amos, Micah and Isaiah) faithfully urged both Kingdoms to return to Him, but to no avail. Then the unthinkable happened: captivity of God’s people by God’s enemy. Daniel, Ezekiel, Zephaniah and Jeremiah entered the Story yet the stubborn refusal of God’s blessings meant life got worse before it got any better.
June focused on the life of King Solomon, known for his wisdom, a gift from the Lord. Solomon shared this wisdom with us by writing proverbs and insightful poetry. When Solomon built the Temple, God’s fame spread as the One who blesses. Unfortunately, Solomon’s choices to turn from God affect the whole community and the Israelites become a divided kingdom. Obedience and blessings are often linked and God used prophets Joel and Hosea to try to get the attention of His disobedient people.
As David grew older his songs and poetry reveal more and more of what it means to be blessed as we journey on in God’s Story. The month of May also provides additional information of who David was as a king and a father. Life is challenging and it is often in hard times that we recognize afresh the need to depend upon God. Solomon, David’s son with Bathsheba becomes the new king at the end of David’s life.
April began as a romantic love story between Ruth and Boaz and we see how God blesses commitments. Samuel, Israel’s last judge, a great prophet, and the one God used to anoint Israel’s first and second kings enters the Story as a prayed for little baby. We are introduced to King Saul as God’s Story records the shift from a Theocracy to a monarchy, but whoever may rule on earth God remains our good King who blesses. Battles are frequent and life is turbulent. We read how David is a man after God’s heart and we get a glimpse of David’s heart in the many psalms he penned that emphasize both being blessed by God and blessing God.
As we march through the month of March, Moses paused with God’s people to refocus them on the holiness and goodness of God. We too are reminded that blessings come when we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Before Moses died, he blessed the tribes of Israel and Joshua was appointed as the new leader. Joshua faithfully led the beginning conquest of the Promised Land. After his death, we get a sampling of what life was like during the period of the Judges.
In February we wrap up the life and ministry of Joseph, Jacob’s eleventh son. Reading of the many ways that Joseph was blessed, and how he used his position in Pharaoh’s palace to bless the Israelites, we too are encouraged to bless. Moses is the next major character in God’s Story. Excitement builds through the great escape from Egypt and God’s chosen people, now in large numbers, learn how to follow Him. On our journey we are just steps away from entering the long awaited Promised Land.
We have traveled through a whole lot of blessings! God blessed humanity over and over and we were introduced to people like Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham and Sarah, as well as Isaac and Rebekah. God’s great covenant blessing in Genesis 12, that we are blessed to be a blessing, is now being passed on to Jacob. February holds some great stories of how God’s Story continues to unfold, blessing after blessing. Read on, be blessed and bless! Feel free to pass along TheBlessingBook to those you would like to bless. Love, Karla