Count Your Blessings

RECAP: We need a survival kit to combat the everyday traps we fall into. The Bible can be our reference tool and teaches us how to live our lives pleasing to God. Our relationship with HIM matters too.

Our survival kit includes: toothpicks, rubber bands and Band-Aids. (Please refer to previous blogs for the complete explanation.)
Here is another item to pack in your Survival Kit: a pencil.pencil clip art

What is significant about a pencil? It’s to remind us to list our blessings every day. The words to this familiar hymn instruct us to be active and aware:

Count your blessings; name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; see what God has done
.”

How many of you woke up today in a good mood, because you saw the sun shining? That’s a blessing, isn’t it? Something to praise God for!

In some parts of our world, waking up to the bright sunlight wouldn’t be such a big deal. A quarter of Finland’s territory lies north of the Arctic Circle. At the country’s northernmost point, the sun does not set at all for sixty days during the summer season. If you lived there, your list of blessings would probably differ!

Ephesians 1:3 tells us, “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”

Our word blessing comes from the Greek word EULOGIA; it’s also our English word, eulogy, which is a speech or writing in praise of a person or thing. Often, a eulogy is given by loved ones and/or close acquaintances at a memorial service. The purpose of the speech is to express honor and heartfelt appreciation.

To list our blessings, means to praise God for what He is doing and what He has done. What is even more fun to do, is to take the time to read over an “old” list of blessings–it will amaze you to see how faithful God has been.

I’ve heard it said that God’s response to our prayers is sometimes a “Yes,” sometimes a “No,” and sometimes His answer to us is “Wait.” God has perfect timing; all that’s required from us is patience (that’s a topic for another day!). When it is all said and done, we learn that God’s Ways are best. Our hearts become full of gratitude and understanding. And that’s when we need to remember to record the blessing….with our pencils!

I have kept many lists over the years and delight in seeing answered prayer whenever I review what is written down. Many times, what was perceived as a bleak situation, was actually divine intervention. God ultimately had a plan in action; I just couldn’t see it at the time.

Not only should we make a list to document our blessings, but we should be vocal, exclaiming God’s goodness to those who will listen. I love what Psalm 19:1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” God’s Creation bursts forth in its beauty, praising its Maker! Now, get that pencil and start writing!

Ouch! Got Band-Aids?

Uh-oh. We are out of Band-Aids.

I don’t know about your household, but this first-aid treasure is an essential part of ours. We started stocking up on Band-Aids as soon as our first child began to walk. As our family grew, so did the need for a larger inventory! I kept them in my diaper bag, my purse and my car’s glove box. Band-Aids went everywhere I went: school trips, play dates and sporting events, and oh-so-many-other places.

Every Mom can relate to the hurt of a child who has fallen, scrapped up their knees or worse…. Putting a Band-Aid on even a tiny scratch seems to make those tears magically disappear. Not only do they cover up the affected area and help prevent infection, many Band-Aids come with a nifty super-hero or Disney princess affixed to them! How quickly a toddler will forget about the “boo-boo” because they have their favorite cartoon character stuck to their body!

Another item that is so necessary in our life’s survival kit * is Band-Aids, which remind us to heal hurt feelings–yours or someone else’s. God’s Word has a lot to say about this topic. One of my favorite passages is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”band aid

Have you ever heard of the “pay it forward” concept? It’s when someone–who has been a recipient of a kind gesture, monetary gift or award–makes a conscientious decision to repeat a similar act of kindness for someone else (usually a stranger.) This repetitious pattern of generosity and thoughtfulness can have far-reaching consequences; but it is with the sole intention to comfort, encourage and bless without expecting compensation. I think God is certainly pleased with that type of behavior, don’t you?

God wants us to respond to the hurt we see in others. When we do, we are actually reflecting His character of mercy, compassion and forgiveness. He has completely forgiven us and expects us to pay it forward, spiritually-speaking!

The greatest motivating factor behind us forgiving others is to remember that Christ has forgiven us of all of our sins. Therefore, we are expected to, in turn, be able to forgive each other fully as well. Only then will the healing process go into effect, because we took action and utilized that tiny, elastic life-saver tool: a Band-Aid.

Colossians 3:12-14 advises us to, “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

These words speak of a number of responses we should have concerning our relationships here on earth. Compassion is “love in action” and can be shown in a variety of ways; remain sensitive and aware of what others may be going through. This isn’t a perfect world and we will have disagreements and conversations that cause wounds-not physical, but emotional ones. God desires us to be peace-makers, willing to admit our wrongs. A spirit in sync with Christ will have a full supply of Band-Aids, eager to patch up the hurt and generate healing!

If there is anyone you know who is hurting, make an effort to put a Band-Aid on it today!

Gotta go! I have to make a Walmart run—-I need to replenish my Band-Aid stash!

* Ongoing series of blogs–What’s in Your Life’s Survival Kit?

Toothpicks and rubber bands

What do these two items have in common? Not much, except they should be in your daily survival kit!

A few blogs ago, I described the race that is set before us. Our life’s journey is frequently compared to a course we must complete. It’s not important how quickly we run, but that we stay on track. Various elements, detours and many other bumps-in-the-road will discourage us, possibly tempt us to quit. Even if you’re not a runner, the analogy is very easy to understand: our years can be filled with purpose, direction and resilience.

For some of us, the finish line is well within reach. For others, it will be a much lengthier expedition until that final lap of completion is upon us. Every day requires commitment and strength beyond our abilities. This is where God’s Word can supply us with the basic essentials required to finish the course…and finish well.

These basic essentials are available for all participants! Our mission is to recognize their priority and utilize them effectively. How rewarding our time on earth will be, when we’ve relied upon the items in our survival kit!
Here are two pieces to consider:

toothpick clip artTOOTHPICK
~reminds us to pick out the good qualities in others!
Too many times, we focus on the negative stuff and make wrong assumptions; we might form an opinion that is too hasty or harsh. Matthew 7:1 says to “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” His words here were addressing the behavior displayed by the Pharisees. They were a religious sect in Jesus’ day who were very rigid and severe in their thinking, possessing a fault-finding type of spirit. They looked down their noses with an air of superiority — what was actually going on in their hearts? Certainly not a loving attitude!

We have to be very careful that our behavior is not condemning or critical. What is going on inside our heart, if we are acting that way? Make an effort to pay someone a compliment, be positive and encouraging in your relationships with others. This type of attention pleases God and can be quite contagious!

gumby clipart

rubberbank clip artRUBBER BAND
~ reminds us to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it will work out.
This quality makes me think of the Marine Corps motto. Semper Fi means “Always Faithful” but there is also Semper Gumby, which is the military’s way of saying to be “Always Flexible.” For those of you who may not remember Gumby, he was a bright green, very bendable, animated cartoon. Serving in the military requires a surrendering of self; patriotic duty demands a compliant spirit and loyal support. And you never know what is coming next. You have to be ready, but you also have to be flexible.

Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” This verse can help us to trust God in those times of anxiousness when we don’t always know what is coming; but, we DO KNOW that it will eventually come to pass and that God is always in control. And God’s Ways are always GOOD.

If we truly love Him, we should be trying to live in a way that honors Him. Whatever God has allowed into our lives has a purpose. We can have assurance in knowing that since God is in it, He IS working it together for good! Don’t tense up, rather stay loose….like a rubber band!

*There are more items in our survival kit….stay tuned for the next blog revealing them!

When the Course is Coarse…

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Survival: the state or fact of continuing to live or exist, typically in spite of an accident, ordeal, or difficult circumstances.
Who knows what the day holds before us? Aren’t we all just one phone call away from news which can cause our heart to faint, our spirit to be crushed?

Our future is full of unforeseen events; some will be life-altering, possibly tragic in nature. Other moments are memorable, good news which uplifts us and encourages us on this course of life. I like how David trusted God completely and knew that ultimately, whatever he faced had already passed through the Master’s Hands. Read what he expressed in Psalm 31:15:

My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand difficult path
of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

David’s trials required him to flee and hide, fearing for his life! Our dilemmas may not be quite as severe, but we can certainly relate to the urgency that prevails. We seek a place of refuge, a place of comfort, where we can linger and wait for the issue to pass.

But, what if the circumstance is more permanent, like a poor health prognosis or a broken marriage that seems irreconcilable? We have to stay steady in our faith, knowing that we serve and worship a Holy, Righteous Creator who only wants the best for us. God’s Word is full of promises that give us a blessed hope and sure victory!

Does it feel as if you are at the end of your rope, left hanging with no where else to go? Is there a void, something missing from your life? Many times, we fail to look “up”–we attempt to find help all about us, ignoring that God has the entire situation under His control! His desire is that we survive; He patiently, lovingly awaits our invitation for Him to accompany us on this life’s journey.

Have you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? He promises to forgive you from your sins (past, present and future) and will establish a relationship with you like none other! That is the only thing that will matter once this earthly life is over. Eternity awaits all of us, and God wants us to spend it with Him in heaven! Salvation is for everyone: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

Survival is attainable! We can struggle through our daily course alone, but much better, we can make a choice to be strengthened each and every moment with the help of our Heavenly Father. Invite Him along on this journey called “Life.”

Allow me to encourage you with the lyrics to “Trust His Heart,” a Christian song performed by Babbie Mason:

All things work for our good
Though sometimes we don’t
See how they could
Struggles that break our hearts in two
Sometimes blind us to the truth
Our Father knows what’s best for us
His ways are not our own
So when your pathway grows dim
And you just don’t see him,
Remember your never alone

Chorus:

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When don’t see his plan
When you can’t trace his hand
Trust His Heart

He sees the master plan
He holds the future in his hand,
So don’t live as those who have no hope,
ALL our hope is found in him.
We see the present clearly
He sees the first and last
And like a tapestry He’s weaving you and me,
To someday be just like him