Conditional Blessings

Solomon’s prayer dedicating the temple to the Lord  1 King’s 8:22-53 is full of requests for conditional blessings.  He prays: “If we pray, acknowledge, and turn from sin, THEN God hears and forgives.” “If we turn our hearts, repent with all our minds, and pray, THEN God hears, forgives and grants compassion.” Solomon made it abundantly clear in verse 46 that every person sins against the Lord.

“If they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—”(46)

Solomon didn’t just ask for blessings but made repentance a precursor to the blessing.

There is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no repentance without a desire to replace sinful habits and actions with God-honouring ones. And nothing changes until God grants the desire to pursue Him and the Holy Spirit transforms a heart.

How often do we pray for blessing and rescue but are unwilling to address our heart issues and repent? How often do we ask God for things, perhaps even good things—but still fail to repent of the actions, thoughts, and sin that prevent his blessing? I don’t know about you, but these questions are a timely heart check for me.

Oh, how I need to repent of the sin that prevents God’s power in my life! Oh, how I need to examine my choices.

  • What hobby or activity do I pursue more than Him?
  • What desire do I long for more than time in the Word?
  • What television program or novel pulls me from prayer?
  • What action do I KNOW I am called to act upon but have put off because of laziness, fear, or simple disobedience?

Oh God, open our eyes to hidden sin and misplaced priorities.I desire a closeness between us that will not tolerate sin or give it an opportunity to root. I want a soft heart so that as You reveal areas in need of surrender I will willingly release them.

It is not comfortable or easy to invite the Holy Spirit to expose our continual need for the gospel. But, it is good.

Melting popsicles, bubble machines, and blessings

Yesterday was shaping up to be one of those days. I started the day with a brisk early morning walk, worship music, and prayer. The only way to start this kind of day.

A full day loaded with eight (yes, eight) children, six of them aged five and under.

I prepared for yesterday. I made plans, plans that did not include raising my voice, pulling out my hair, or disciplining someone for pulling someone else’s hair out. But I know myself and my limits. Good intentions never get me far.

To create a day that ended with eight happy kids tucked into bed content and tired I needed help. I hired a teen from our church to be my extra set of hands and asked the Holy Spirit to work in me in a very practical way.

Praying for an extra dose of patience felt a tad simplistic. Does God really care I have eight kids to tend to when there are so many more pressing issues in the world? You bet He does. And I knew in the deepest place of my heart if I tried this on my own strength I would fail – miserably.

So what did I do with eight kids on a hot, hot day?

We built bubble machines.

We blew bubbles.

We made a spider web.

We had a dip in the pool.

We licked a popsicle and slipped on the slip ‘n’ slide.

We took another dip in the pool and licked more popsicles.

Most importantly, I reminded myself to breathe.

When life overwhelms breathe deep. Inhale the presence of God, the presence that He promises will never leave nor forsake. Move moment by moment trusting He will provide what is needed for the next step, and the one after that, and the one after that.

Dependence on the Holy Spirit enabled me to do more than survive a crazy, hot summer day with my own mini day camp in the back yard. It enabled me to enjoy every burst bubble, every wide-eyed wondrous expression, every shriek of delight (and there were many) and every drip of the popsicle. God used eight wonderfully delightful kids and a sunny summer day to bless me.