Expanding Our Understanding of the Qualities and Names of God


A Seven Day Bible Study
by Dr. Linda Seger

Introduction

In the Judeo-Christian religion, there are over 300 names and attributes for God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Many of them are familiar: Father, Almighty, Savior, My Rock and Redeemer, The Good Shepherd, Lamb of God, The Light of the World, Lord, The Almighty. In this Bible Study we will be using prayers from The Alphabet Prayer by Linda Seger and Peter Le Var along with Bible verses, hymns and reflections to expand our understanding about these Names and how we might relate to these many qualities of God. With each prayer, say the prayer out loud at the beginning and end of your Devotional Time.

Day One

Prayer
“Almighty God, Awaken me to an Awareness of Your absolute authority and my absolute accountability to You.”

Scripture
Psalms 119:73: “Your hands made me and formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands.”
Reflection
For some, authority feels oppressive. It seems to give us rules and commands and sometimes it suppresses our talents and desires. But God’s authority frees us, and enhances us to become more truly ourselves. Have you ever felt authority as freeing? Has your accountability ever expanded you, rather than limited you?
Here are some other verses that help us better understand the Almighty: Genesis 28:3; Job 22:26-28; 27:10; Isaiah 44:6. Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty. Have you experienced the Almighty’s love in each of the ways mentioned: health? salvation? Prospering your work? defending you? Ponder each of the ways the Almighty befriends you.

Hymn
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
by Joachim Neander (1680)

Verse One
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Verse Two
Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Verse Three
Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee;
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Day Two

Prayer
Divine Deliverer, Deepen Me. Direct Me. Defend Me.

Scripture
Psalms 62:1-2: “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock, and my salvation. He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”
Reflection
Notice that this verse from Psalms includes other names for God: My Rock, My Fortress, My Salvation. Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn A Mighty Fortress is Our God. Does this language feel archaic, or can you identify with God as a fortress, a deliverer from the enemy, a defender?
Other verses that might expand this idea include: Psalms 18:3; 45:1-3; 54:3-7; 62:6; 91:2; 10:21; 144:2, Isaiah 19:20; Nahum 1:7; 2 Samuel 22:2

Hymn

A Mighty Fortress is Our God
by Martin Luther (1483-1546)

Verse One

A mighty Fortress is our God,
A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Verse Two
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

Day Three

Prayer
Forgiving Father, Feed Me With Faith and Favor

Scripture~
Psalms 86:5 “You are forgiving and good…abounding in love to all who call to you.”

Reflection
Think of at least ten qualities of a Good Father. In the Lord’s Prayer, (Luke 11:2, Matthew 18:35). Jesus uses the word “Abba”, which is somewhat similar to “Daddy.” It’s a familiar term, rather than formal. Say the Lord’s Prayer slowly, praying to “Daddy” or “Papa” or whatever familiar name you might have used with your father. Are there favors or specific requests you would ask of God, your Father?
Here are some other verses that tell us more about God the Father and our relationship to Him: Psalms 103:13, Proverbs 15:20, Matthew 18:35, II Corinthians 1:2-3.
What are the qualities you admired in your father? What must we do to be good children to a Heavenly Father? Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn Our Father in Heaven. Does that expand your images of a loving Father-God?
Ordinarily as we grow up, we learn to separate from our need for our Father. But as Christians, we are asked to be more dependent upon God as we mature in Faith. We are asked to call upon Him more often. Is that easy, or difficult for you?

Poem
Our Father in Heaven
by Susan J Hale (1831)

Verse One
Our Father in heaven
We hallow Thy name;
May Thy kingdom holy
On earth be the same;
O give to us daily
Our portion of bread;
It is from Thy bounty
That all must be fed.

Verse Two
Forgive our transgressions,
And teach us to know
That humble compassion,
Which pardons each foe:
Keep us from temptation,
From weakness and sin;
And Thine be the glory,
Forever, amen.

Day Four

 

Prayer~ Immanent and Immediate God, immerse me in your inexhaustible inspiration.

Scripture~ Job 32:8 “But it is the Spirit in man, the Breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand.”
Reflection
Theologians often talk about God as Transcendent – the Heavenly, Almighty Great God, and Immanent – The Spirit that dwells within us. Genesis 2:7 tells us that we are literally brought to life by the Breath and Spirit of God; “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being.” We are so connected to God, that His breath has filled us. What an intimate, loving and close image!
In the New Testament, this image continues. The Holy Spirit is sometimes compared to the breath of God.The Hebrew word Ruach (roo’-akh) Strong’s 7307, can be translated as breath, wind, or spirit. Ruach is used 577 times in Scripture and is translated as God’s Spirit in Genesis 1:2, Genesis 6:3, Exodus 31:3, and Job 27:3 as well as, many other places.
Read the lyrics, below, to the hymns Breathe On Me Breath of God and Spirit of God Descend Upon My Heart. Is this frightening, freeing, or beautiful and warming to you, to feel that close to God?
Other verses about the Spirit of God and His inspiring presence are 2 Timothy 3:16, Romans 8:6, Isaiah 11:2, Job 33:4, 1 Corinthians 2:11-14

Hymn 1

Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart
by George Croly (1854)

Verse One
Spirit of God, who dwells within my heart, wean it from sin, through all its pulses move.
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as you are, and make me love you as I ought to love.

Verse Two
I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies, no sudden rending of the veil of clay,
no angel visitant, no opening skies;
but take the dimness of my soul away.

Verse Three
Did you not bid us love you, God and King,
love you with all our heart and strength and mind?
I see the cross there teach my heart to cling.
O let me seek you and O let me find!

Hymn 2

Breathe on me Breath of God
by Edwin Hatch (1878)

Verse One
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
fill me with life anew,
that I may love the way you love,
and do what you would do.

Verse Two
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
until my heart is pure,
until my will is one with yours,
to do and to endure.

Verse Three
Breathe on me, Breath of God,
so shall I never die,
but live with you the perfect life
for all eternity.

Day Five

 

Prayer

Just Judge, join me to your Journey for Justice.

Scripture
Psalms 12:5, “Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, says the Lord. I will protect them from those who malign them.”
Reflection
Isaiah scolds nations for making “unjust decrees, depriving the poor of justice…despoiling the widow and plundering the orphan.” Isaiah 10:1-2. The First Mission Statement of Jesus clarifies that he has been anointed “to bring good news to the afflicted…to proclaim liberty to the captives…to let the oppressed go free.” Luke 4:18-19. There are hundreds of verses in the Bible that call us to show justice and mercy, to protect and care for those in need. God is called Judge and Restorer. He judges us and changes us so we can better manifest him and better help him bring His Kingdom to Earth, as it is in Heaven.
Do you have certain Just Causes that you work for? It might be Prison ministry. Rights for women and children. Feeding the poor and homeless through soup kitchens or through your church. Helping the unemployed or under-employed, refugees, or other victims of war. Working for Peace. How does your work help create a more just and merciful world?

Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn O Thou Whose Justice Reigns on High. Are there ways you can further work for God’s justice – through heart, hand, life, and breath?  See also Isaiah 30:18, Psalms 72, Psalms 99:4, Amos 2:7, Job 5:16, Job 34:12,18-19, Deuteronomy 32:4, all of which ask us to be part of God’s journey for Justice.
Hymn

O Thou Whose Justice Reigns on High
by Issac Watts  (1631)

Verse One
O Thou whose justice reigns on high,
And makes the oppressor cease,
Behold how envious sinners try
To vex and break my peace.
The sons of violence and lies
Join to devour me, Lord;
But as my hourly dangers rise,
My refuge is thy word.

Verse Two
Thou hast secur’d my soul from death,
O set thy pris’ner free,
That heart and hand, and life and breath
May be employ’d for thee.

In Thee, most holy, just, and true,
I have reposed my trust;
Nor will I fear what man can do,
The offspring of the dust.

Day Six

Prayer
Kind and Kindred Spirit, Keep me in Thy Care

Scripture
Psalms 73:24a “You guide me with your counsel.”
Reflection
In Christianity, we become close to God through our Brother, Jesus Christ. There are many qualities we can associate with Jesus: Compassion, Love, Care, Empathy, Sympathy, and His understanding of our human condition. Read the lyrics, below, to the hymn Jesus Our Brother Kind and Good. How do you feel about your dearest brother’s humble beginnings and humble life? Does this kindred spirit help you feel more compassion for yourself, and for others?
More scriptures about this are Matthew 11:29, I Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 4:32, Hebrews 4:15, Hebrews 2:11.

Hymn
Jesus Our Brother Kind and Good (Carol of the Friendly Beasts)
English Traditional Author Unknown

Verse One
Jesus our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude,
And the friendly beasts around him stood,
Jesus our brother, kind and good.

Verse Two
“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown,”
I carried his mother uphill and down.
I carried his mother to Bethlehem town.
I,” said the donkey shaggy and brown.

Verse Three
“I,” said the cow, all white and red,
“I gave him my manger for his bed.
I gave him my hay to pillow his head.
I,” said the cow all white and red.

Verse Four
“I,” said the sheep with curly horn,
“I gave him my wool for his blanket warm.
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.
I,” said the sheep with curly horn.

Verse Five
“I,” said the dove from rafters high,
“I cooed him to sleep, so he should not cry.
We cooed him to sleep, my mate and I.
I,” said the dove from rafters high.

Verse Six
Thus every beast by some good spell,
in the stable dark was glad to tell
of the gift he gave Emmanuel,
the gift he gave Emmanuel.

Day Seven

 

Prayer
Savior Sustain me with your substance and sustenance so I can better serve thee.

Scripture
Psalms 18: 35-36: “Your right hand sustains me; you stoop down to make me great. You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”
Reflection
God is sometimes called He Who Strengthens Us and the Sustainer.  Being sustained means we’re upheld. But this verse goes further – the path is broadened. We don’t just sustain but become greater, we become more. And we’re able to stand straight and tall and righteous.
Read the lyrics, below, to Oh God Do Thou Sustain Me, an Anabaptist hymn of prayer for strength and protection written by Leonhart Sommer, who died in prison, December 1573, because of his belief. What is the substance and sustenance you feel you need from God? How do you, or would you, use these qualities from God to help you better serve God?”
Other verses to read about God’s sustaining power; Psalms 54: 4; Psalms 55:22; Psalms 119:116; Isaiah 40:31; Habakkuk 3:19; Philippians 4:13.

Hymn
Oh God Do Thou Sustain Me by Leonhart Sommer (1750’s)

Verse One

O God, do Thou sustain me,
In grief and sore duress
Pride counter which disdains Thee
And comfort my distress.
O Lord let me find mercy
In bonds and prison bed
Men would seek to devour me
With guile and controversy
Save me from danger dread!

Verse Two
Thou wilt never forsake me
This firmly I believe
Thy blood Thou hast shed freely
And with it washed me.
Therein my trust is resting
In Christ, God’s only Son
On him I am now building
In tribulation trusting
God will me not disown!

Verse Three
To die and to be living
Until my end I see
To Thee my trust I’m giving
Thou wilt my helper be
Soul, body, child companion
Herewith commit I Thee
Come soon, Lord, come and take me
From ruthless men do save me
Be honour ever to Thee.

Amen.

Get more inspiration from The Alphabet Prayer written by Linda Seger and her husband Peter LeVar – purchase a copy for yourself or as a gift  >HERE< 

The beautiful illustrations in this article and the book are by talented Calligrapher/ Artist Matthew Wright.

 

WAITING FOR HEALING

by Dr. Linda Seger – author of Reflections with God: While Waiting to Be Healed

It is easy, with all the thousands of Bible verses that promise God’s help, to presume that healing will come, that that job offer we’ve been waiting for will come quickly, that the relationship we want – or want to be improved – will all work out. God is on our side and hears our cry. Of course, that cry will be answered and all will be well.
When the answer we are waiting for doesn’t come, Christians might have several different responses. One is to simply turn our backs on God and decide God is definitely not on our side. I have a dear friend with a brain injury. Every time improvement comes with her injury, another problem develops which is, like the brain injury, rare, not easily diagnosed, and not getting healed. She waits. She asks “why?” She hears verses about healing and wonders where God is. Christians often come into this situation and play the Blame Game – ” this is happening because you didn’t.” ___ (fill in the blanks). The problem must be our fault. If only we had done something differently, all would be well.
Others give lots of advice: “You need to – take this supplement, go to this doctor, read this book, say more prayers, go to the faith healer in ______, go to my church, read these verses, Have Faith, Believe More.” Some people have already done all of the above – and they aren’t all better. So, friends try to come up with other ideas. “Watch this video. Have your tried dance therapy? singing? reading the same Bible verse a hundred times? taking communion every day? How about ____?” The advice is endless.
As Christians, our faith often is dependent on seeing evidence of healing – either for ourselves or for others. Our illness is a real burden and frustration to Loved Ones. There must be a reason.
Through my own eight-years of medical problems, I have found strength in several ways:
• Encouragement in the Scriptures
Waiting can go on for a long, long time. There are many Psalmists who kept waiting, and felt forsaken, and finally (who knows how long after their prayer for help?) found help. It is not terribly helpful when we are waiting, but many verses in the Bible imply even the “More Holy Than We Are” people waited some time for the answers to our prayers.
I draw great comfort from the Book of Job, not just because he suffered so much, but because he experienced what many of us experience – well-meaning friends trying to quickly solve our problem with reasoning, and logic, and trying to figure it out for us. Job kept feeling that his friends’ answers were wrong. Finally, in Job 38, God enters and instead of answering Job’s question of “Why?” responds with a non-sequitur – an answer that makes no sense. “Where were you when I created the world?” God asks us to enter in the Mystery of His Authority. And then, he turns to Job’s friends and tells them they were wrong. The answer does not lie with all their reasoning.
• Unexpected Ways
The answers often come in ways that we didn’t ask for. I have found strength when my strength and patience seemed to be all worn out. I have been led to brilliant doctors, oncologist, Dr. Uchenna Njiaju, and Radiation oncologist. Dr. Jane Ridings. ( See the image below with me in between) I have found the gumption to continue my therapies. I am learning to identify the Hand of God being there for me – and not demand it look a specific way.

• Just Being with Others
I have found it far more comforting to have others simply wait with me – expectantly, praying with me, and recognizing there still is a Presence, in spite of everything. And remembering, Jesus also suffered, and it didn’t all neatly go away, even though he prayed all night. We wait – for redemption, for healing, for a response.
And, always, Something, Someone Is there – in the midst of our waiting.

 

Dr. Linda Seger is an internationally known author, keynote speaker and seminar leader on spirituality. She has a Th.D. in Theology, two M.A.s in Religion and one in Drama. Linda’s award-winning books, nine on screenwriting and 6 on spiritual topics, are known the world over for her practical wisdom and insights. Her most recent books on spirituality include The Alphabet Prayer which she co- authored with her husband Peter Le Var and Reflections with God: While Waiting to Be Healed.


Reflections with God by Linda SegerThe Alphabet Prayer by Linda Seger and Peter Le Var

 

 

The Success Prayer

From Linda Seger’s book, Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success

Chapter 3: Willing to Be Blessed – The Success Prayer

Before I started my business in 1981, I struggled with the “whys” about success. Why weren’t things going my way, in spite of preparation, experience, and willingness? I looked at all aspects of my life and even analyzed myself in case there were glaring faults within me or inappropriate behavior. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t dress funny. I was a reasonably nice person without any serious mental illness or character flaws. I had spent years studying drama-certainly I had something to contribute. Why, then, did success seem so far away?

It’s easy to believe the obstacles come from God’s side. We can blame God for our lack of success. If we’re prepared, is God withholding? Might it be we’re off-center? Perhaps  we’re not praying enough, or are forgetting to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Maybe we’re seeking in the wrong direction.

But what if the obstacles are actually coming from our side? If God wants to bless us, and we’re not receiving blessings, might it be that we’re putting up the barriers, not God? Might it be that the real problem is our fear of success, or our horror at becoming the greedy types often associated with success, or our unwillingness to do what is necessary? Are we more afraid of success than we are of failure? Is it possible there’s something in our own attitudes that is getting in our way?

After many years of small, dead-end jobs, and no sense my career was taking off, I began to wonder if the problems came from me, and if I needed help in resolving these problems. I finally said a prayer I later called “The Success Prayer.”

God, I’m thinking I’m creating the obstacles.

If so, I pray you would help me do whatever is needed to remove them.

Recognizing this may take courage, I prayed for courage. Recognizing this may take help  from others, I prayed for help:

I’m willing to look at whatever is necessary within myself.

If I need courage to look at these barriers, then give me courage. If I need help, then send me help.

I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to break down the barriers between me and success.

If I need a therapist to help, then I pray you send me a good one (who’s also cheap!)

I recognized it may not be in God’s best interest to bless me if I lost touch with God. So I added a “Promise Prayer”:

God, considering my relationship with you for the past years has been one of getting by, of dealing with my anxiety, of praying you get me through one more day, I realize success will change our relationship.

If so, I promise I won’t desert you.

I will continue to pray, worship, and read the Bible.

I will have faith our relationship won’t be lost, but will change to something even better!

After fourteen years of my living on the edge, success came within a year. And the cheap therapist? I found an excellent psychology student at the Jung Center in Los Angeles who worked with me for several years on a sliding scale. She was cheap, but good. I was also doubly blessed with a career consultant who just happened to also write scripts and who was willing to trade services.

Are We Hearing the Call Clearly

An excerpt from Linda Seger’s book, Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success

How do we absolutely know we are following the calling of God? We probably can’t. “Some who have heard ‘the call’ may have gotten the wrong number or at least a bad cell-phone connection.” (This quotation is not attributed.)

How can we be sure we’ve received the call clearly? In his book Essays on the Quaker Vision of Gospel Order, Lloyd Lee Wilson discusses several different tests we can do to study the call and help ourselves discern if we’re on the right path.

Test the call by waiting first.

Wilson recommends we first quietly wait and not feel rushed: “The first thing to do…is nothing at all. One simply sits with the incipient leading, tasting it in the silence of one’s personal worship and devotional time, waiting to see whether it feels true and if so, how it will develop. This is a time to be, rather than to do: to be listening to the Divine voice, to be quiet in one’s worldly activities, to be ready to hear and obey.” (Footnote 8 here.) God is not in a rush. God is not frenetic. Meanwhile, the adversary to our call wants to get us in a tizzy, running in all sorts of different directions, wants us to be confused, and hopes we misinterpret the call. Waiting centers us. It gets us in tune with the Spirit and with the still waters rather than the rushing rapids.

The call will reinforce the gospel.

A call will not contradict the essential gospel message; “True leadings guide us in ways that are in harmony with the Spirit that gave forth the Scriptures and with the clear teaching of Christ,” says Wilson. (9) And he says a call will not contradict the paths we’ve taken before that have seemed in tune with the Spirit. “A true leading should feel like a continuation of other movements in our spiritual life that have proven to have been Spirit-led and Spirit-fed.” (10)

The call will express spiritual gifts.

A call will manifest and express the gifts of the Spirit – such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control. (11)

A call would use our spiritual gifts. St. Paul lists a number of gifts we might have, such as the gift of wisdom, of healing, of prophecy, of discernment, (13) of teaching, and of service. (14 )

A call brings us into harmony with God, and brings us a sense of peace, release, relief, and clarity. Quakers sometimes use the words “to be at ease” with a decision. Others might describe it as being comfortable, or as a kind of knowing that feels solid.”

Our call can be discerned by others.

To test the call, some might turn for advice to spiritual people they trust, who they believe have a gift of discernment.

Many callings seem to prove they are right by the effectiveness of the work.

And sometimes we don’t know for sure. All we can do is to be obedient to what we discern our calling to be; and to move, step by step, along the path; and to keep listening to the Spirit, which may often be only a still small voice. We follow the light we have, hoping for a clear “yes” to continue, or a clear “no” to stop and turn in another direction. We try to commit to manifesting the Spirit in the world, knowing our steps and our work may still be flawed.”

Footnote 9: Wilson, p.185. (Wilson, Lloyd Lee, Essays on the Quaker Vision for Gospel Order, Philadelphia: Quaker Press, 1996.)

Footnote 10: Wilson, P. 186.

Footnote: 11: Galatians 5:22-24.

Footnote 13: 1 Corinthians 12.

Footnote 14: Romans 12.

The Theology of Blessing

From Linda Seger’s book, Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success

Chapter 3: Willing to Be Blessed – The Theology of Blessing

Blessing is a word of considerable power. The first chapter of Genesis tells the story of Creation. Again and again we are told, “…and God saw that it was good.” It is possible to argue that this is the unfallen condition of the world: that of living in a natural state of blessing. Blessing is to be given, and received: one does not bless without investing something of oneself into the receiver of one’s blessings. Can one truly receive blessing if one is ignorant of the gracious giver? If it is true that all creation flows from a single, loving source, then surely all of creation is blessed, and is itself a blessing.

The  power of blessings is “not the power of control or the power of being over or being under, but the power of fertility.” Blessing makes things bigger. It expands. It is a sign of blossoming, of great grace, of extravagance. It is an image of overflowing, of great pleasure, of great gifts-a banquet of abundance.” Many Bible verses about blessing use words like “flourishing,” or say that all our undertakings and labors are blessed, or speak about receiving peace and prosperity. There is a sense of overflowing and abundance.

Blessings are reciprocal. We bless others, we bless God, and, as the psalmist says, “May these reflections of mine give him [God] pleasure as much as Yahweh gives me!” We ask for blessings for us and for the next generation, and if we experience the blessings, we lose our sense of being deprived and our ever-widening empty spiral of acquisition. We  don’t have to get and get some more, because we are blessed, first and foremost, and it is the most basic of God’s gifts to us. It predates sin and it is what our relationship with God was meant to be.

The Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says he sees blessing as “the capacity to transmit energy and power for life from one to another.” When God blessed creation, it became fruitful in Genesis 1. Human persons can give blessings as in Genesis 27. Brueggemann sees blessings as circular, “but not just ‘back again,’ but out beyond to others.” He says, “I think blessings move in concentric circles rather than a closed circle.”

The German theologian Claus Westermann says most blessings mentioned in the Bible involve salvation and deliverance, and are not just horizontal but also vertical.

If we believe blessings are just about getting good things, we have missed the boat. It is not enough to just get good things so we can become better consumers and be more respected and live a more comfortable life. Of course, we see plenty of evidence of people who seem to be blessed – with the things of the world – but since it is God who gives blessings that sustain us, if we’re closed to God, and not in a relationship with God, we’re missing the vertical part of the blessing – the part that goes far beyond having nice things. The vertical dimension includes the things of the Spirit that enter into the good things – a greater awareness of God’s love for us, of peace, fulfillment, empowerment to do good for others, and the multiplication of our gifts.

Blessing must be reciprocal.

Blessing is not just about entering into a more comfortable life on earth, but about entering into the Kingdom. Since the Kingdom is broad and wide and eternal, there are no boundaries to blessings. They are meant to keep rippling out, causing things to mature and grow and prosper and make everything bigger than it would be without the work of God.

If there isn’t an inner transformation within us as a result of the good that has come our way, we have only received the horizontal part of the blessing and missed the connection with the Holy Spirit. So, as we bless others, it also means “to invoke divine favor upon them.”

We may find it easy to think of blessing for ourselves as personal fulfillment. We may love the idea that the contributions we make bless others through building their self-esteem through our encouragement, helping them get a job by dropping their name or endorsing them, and thereby prospering them. But we are also asked to bless God. Blessing God may be a new thought. How do we bless God when God seems to have all the blessings He needs? How do we bless the Inner Spirit and the transcendent Spirit that binds our world together?

The Temptation to Struggle

From Linda Seger’s book, Spiritual Steps on the Road to Success

 Chapter 3: Willing to Be Blessed – The Temptation to Struggle

In First World developed countries, many believe we achieve success through hard work and through the hard climb to the top. We learn that “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!” And doing something well takes time and energy and work. We have heard the saying, “You can do it fast or do it well,” and we believe doing it well means a long time of struggle. We presume we’ll encounter difficulties and obstacles along the path to success.

So we prepare ourselves for the obstacles, and clench our teeth and gird up our loins and go, once more, into the breach. We believe success only comes as a result of scratches and bruises and falling down and getting up again.

We also tend to believe that if we work hard enough and long enough, the blessings of prosperity and a fair amount of wealth and respect will naturally follow-provided, of course, we’re willing to make the big effort. We tell ourselves, “I’m such a good person, I deserve success!” And we are shocked if things don’t go our way.

In the West, where I live, we’re told to “cowboy up” –  when you fall off the horse, you cowboy up and climb back on again. And we expect to “cowboy up” again and again and again.

Our temptation to struggle may actually be a hidden desire to prove our determination and self-worth. We believe: The harder the struggle, the better the result. If we show our struggle to the  world, the world can easily believe our task is, indeed, difficult, and our work is, indeed, important. The world admires our great perseverance and tremendous commitment to the goal. We become known as the one who never gives up, even when everyone else seems to have fallen by the wayside. When taken to the extreme, there can be an addiction to suffering, and a belief that success only comes from great struggle. Deep down, some of us, in a very subtle way, make take pride in our struggles and difficulties, and in the amount of time it takes to do well. There are some hidden pay-offs.

It is possible, for some, there’s an obstacle to success that lies with our temptation to struggle, rather than our willingness to be blessed.