1. So Blessed!
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" Ephesians 1:3
I have been praying for a new devotional theme and as I was babysitting my grandchildren yesterday I noticed the Bible verses that Daniel and Allison have on display throughout the house. What a wonderful testimony for all who visit them. Over the mantle was an autumn plaque that said, "Count Your Blessings". With today being the first day of November I think it is a wonderful time for us to count our blessings. I am so blessed I think we can make it all the way to Thanksgiving!
2. Blessings From Above
Let's look at our key verse for the month, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:" (Ephesians 1:3) I want to begin counting my blessings by recognizing where all my blessings come from, my Lord and my God. I am thankful that I know the one and only living God and am blessed that He gave His Son to die for my sin. I am so blessed that He spoke to my heart one day many years ago and showed me I was lost. Because of His great love I am truly blessed with spiritual blessings, physical blessings, material blessings, and everything I have. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17)
3. Blessed In My Church
"Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." Hebrews 2:12
I am so thankful for my church. We have a beautiful church building, and that is wonderful, but the real blessing is in the living church. The Lord said, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20) We can meet and worship the Lord and invite Him into our midst. In the presence of the Lord we have a refuge. In the chaos of the world today it is good to have a place where we can set aside all the hustle and bustle and join together in our faith and worship Him. We also have fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters as we read in I John 1:7. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." If any of my readers live in central North Carolina and need a place of fellowship, please come visit us at Pine Grove Baptist Church, Archdale, NC.
4. "Blessed Is He Whose Transgression Is Forgiven"
"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." Psalms 32:1
I can look back over my life with regret over some of my faults and failures. I was born into this world just like everyone else, with a sinful nature. "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" (Romans 3:10 & 23) I am so thankful that the Lord showed me my sinful condition many years ago and I asked Him to forgive me and save me. When the Lord saved me He gave me forgiveness and I don't have to worry about that sin anymore. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." (Psalms 103:12) That is a great blessing to all who put their trust in the Lord. Jesus takes our sin and buries it in the deepest ocean. "He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." (Micah 7:19) I am blessed that I can go to the Lord in prayer and find mercy and grace. "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:14-16)
5. Blessed To Have God's Word
"1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalms 1:1-3
When I think of the word "blessed" my mind goes to the first Psalm. We are so blessed to have the Word of God. Gutenberg began printing the Bible in Latin in 1456 AD. The King James Version that I use today was not published until 1611. In the 6,000 years or more that man has been on earth, the written Word of God has been easily accessed for just over 400 years. God walked and talked with Adam and Eve, and Enoch in the beginning of time. He spoke to Abraham. He spoke with Moses "face to face" (Exodus 33:11) and wrote out the Ten Commandments on tables of stone for the Children of Israel. They were instructed to pass the Word of God down through their generations.
"18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth." (Deuteronomy 11:18-21)
No people were ever as blessed as we have been in the last 400 years with the written Word of God. The Bible is available in many countries, now also through the internet, and new language translations are being added by faithful missionaries working to share God's Word. All who delight in the Word of God and meditate in the holy scriptures are truly blessed. "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." When we finish the Psalm we see that this is a great contrast to those who refuse God's Word. "The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish." (Psalms 1:4-6)
6. I Am Blessed With A Loving Husband And Children
"Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her." Proverbs 31:28
On August 12,1976 a young man asked to take me home after the High Point Camp Meeting service. That was the beginning of a long lasting relationship. Michael and I were married in March 1978 and the Lord blessed us with five wonderful children. For many years the house rang loud with love and laughter. Now that the children have all grown and started families of their own, it is much more quiet around the house, but love and laughter still reigns. I am so thankful for the years God has given us together. Life has not always been easy, but God has been good! We are growing older together and God has given us extra special blessings, our grandchildren, and they are grand!
7. I Am Blessed With A Godly Heritage
"The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." Psalms 16:6
I grew up reading the King James Version and there are many reasons why I still use it today. I love the poetry that comes through in this verse. "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." The language in this scripture is beautiful and so well versed. I can't go back in my heritage the way David could when he wrote this Psalm, but I was born in a country that was founded on Biblical principles. My Mom and Dad brought me up in church and I heard them pray and could see their faith and trust in God. I am so thankful that they loved the Lord and tried to guide me in the right paths. I am also thankful that my husband also has a goodly heritage. We never had discussions as to whether we would bring our children up in church, or not. We both tried to teach our children from God's Word just as we had been taught. For those reading today who can't say you have a goodly heritage, why not start now to give your family a good heritage? Turn to God in faith and trust in the Lord to save you. Try to point your family on the right direction and let your path fall in pleasant places. Be a goodly heritage for those following after you.
8. Family And Friends
"A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17
I am so blessed with family and friends. Long before I had a husband and children to call family I had Mom and Dad, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. We would often go visit different ones in the family and the adults would sometimes sit under shade trees while the children played in the yard. Other times we worked in the garden together, and often had meals together. The verse above mentions "a brother" and I only have sisters but they have proven through the years that they will help me anytime I need them. Family has always been an important part of my life. My love for my family continues to grow with Mother and Father In-laws, brother and sister-in-laws, daughter-in-laws, a son-in-law, and grandchildren. Each marriage into the family has added a whole new family to get to know and love. And each birth brings a new special loved one to cuddle and hold.
Now we back up to the first of the verse, "A friend loveth at all times." I am so blessed with friends. I have met many, many Christian friends through the years and enjoy fellowship with these "brothers and sisters in Christ". There are also friends I keep up with through the internet, and though I rarely see them in person, it is great to see pictures of their growing families. I rejoice with their posts of good news, and pray for them when I read of their troubles. When I was sick last summer it was such a comfort to hear of all those who said they were praying for me. Today as I "Count My Blessings" my number goes way up with all my family and friends.
9. The Lord Is Welcome In My Home
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
As I start thinking about Christmas I am glad that I enjoy shopping. When I go with Mom we spend hours going from store to store, looking for the right purchase. I also like to go visit people. When the weather is good I like going on vacation, but it doesn't take long for me to want to come back home. I like being at home maybe more than I like going away. I am blessed with my house. We have lived here over 20 years and no matter where I may be, there is no place like home. When we bought this house we made sure the Lord would feel welcome here and prayed that we could use it for His glory. Just as I would not want the house destroyed by termites, I don't want to bring anything else in that would destroy my home. I want to say like Joshua, "...as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." And when my life is over I know that I have a new home waiting for me! "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3)
10. The Lord Has Dealt Bountifully With Me!
"I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me." (Psalms 13:6)
When we think about taking time to stop and count our blessings we often think of Philippians 4:19, "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." I talked about being blessed with my home yesterday and I started making a mental list of all the other needs that the Lord has provided. I have heat, hot and cold running water, clothes to wear, food to eat, and vehicles to drive. I am truly grateful for all these things that make my life easier. I chose the verse from Psalms because the Lord has blessed me so much "my cup runneth over." In my warm house I have a soft bed to sleep on. I don't have to shake the straw in my mattress. I have a microwave, and a stove to cook my food. My grandma had a wood stove that made the house so hot when she canned her garden vegetables in the summer. I have a refrigerator to keep foods and drinks cold. My mother put her milk jug in the spring box after she milked the cow. We have televisions, electronic games and computers for entertainment. We have several copies of God's Word and religious books, plus all the information we can find on the internet. We are so blessed! I end with these words of Paul, "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21)
11. I Am Blessed With A God Who Never Changes
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." Hebrews 13:8
Last week I talked about being blessed with many Christian friends. There are a couple of friends in particular, that I have known for years that are always smiling. They are always dressed nicely and never seem to have bad hair days. If I have a problem they know the right words to say and if I need a special prayer, I can call them. I wish I could be a better friend like them, always able to lift up a troubled heart. As we start getting ready for Christmas I am reminded of this opening scene written by Charles M. Schulz.
"Charlie Brown: [Charlie Brown and Linus stop at a wall on their trip to the pond for ice skating] I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.
Linus Van Pelt: Charlie Brown, you're the only person I know who can take a wonderful season like Christmas and turn it into a problem. Maybe Lucy's right. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you're the Charlie Browniest."
I think Linus is wrong. I think there are a lot of people who have problems at Christmas. For me Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, so why do those wonderful feelings come and go? Some days we can smile through our problems and other days we would rather go back to bed and hide from the world. It doesn't sound like I am counting blessings, but my blessing today is that I serve a God who never changes! I know that He has always provided my needs and His supply will never diminish so I should never worry about money. He is my great Physician so He cares when I have aches and pains. We are shocked at the sin in the world today, but the Lord knows all and sees all, and He is still the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Scientists worry about the greenhouse effect and the earth running out of resources but God is the Creator and he is still in control. The writer of Hebrews put his faith in a sure foundation. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." He also gives us encouraging words to keep on keeping on. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
12. I Have Been Blessed With Freedom!
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
It is good to see the pictures that have been posted of those who served and fought for our country. We are blessed with freedom, but freedom does not come easy. Many have suffered hardships and some have laid down their lives to give us the freedom we enjoy today. Our nation was founded on Biblical principles and God has blessed our country. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance." (Psalms 33:12) Many have turned away from God and are fighting against the religious freedom that men once fought to gain. We need to pray for the leaders of our country. We need to stand up for truth and righteousness. I am thankful for freedom! Even more, I have been blessed with spiritual freedom. The Lord Jesus laid down His life to pay my sin debt, so that I could be free. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:36) "But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6:22-23)
13. I Am Blessed With Light
"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12
As more and more people start putting up their Christmas lights my excitement for the Christmas season grows. I am blessed that God has shown His great Light and has given me eyes to see the light. I believe the creation account in the beginning of the Bible. In a world without form, where darkness covered the deep, God stood on nothing and created everything. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day." (Genesis 1:3-5) All was good until Adam and Eve brought sin and darkness to God's perfect world. But once again God stepped in and brought Light to a dark world. As Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms He prophesied, "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel." (Luke 2:32) Early in His ministry Jesus said, "The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up." (Matthew 4:16) I am blessed that many years ago the Holy Spirit convicted my heart and I asked the Lord to save me. He brought me out of darkness and into the light. As you hang your Christmas lights and light your candles this season take time to thank the Lord for the Light. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (II Corinthians 4:6) And as you open your Christmas gifts remember to be grateful. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17) "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (I John 1:5)
14. The Lord Blesses Me With Benefits
"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" Psalms 103:2
When someone goes for a job interview the prospective employer usually discusses the benefits. In addition to a salary a person usually receives some types of extra benefits, such as vacation and sick days, paid holidays, often some type of savings plan, and maybe insurance benefits. Well, the Lord has blessed me with so many benefits and most of the time I don't think to say, "Thank you". My sister gave my son some furniture that she was no longer using and I drove four hours there and four hours back to get it today. Many would think that a hard day, but it had its benefits. First of all, my Mom went with me and we had a good day together, talking about our families, Thanksgiving plans, sharing recipes, and discussing Bible scriptures. We also enjoyed spending a few hours with my sister, whom I rarely get to see. Next, I have to thank the Lord for the beautiful day! The weather was perfect and we walked and talked with my sister on the beach, and picked up a few sea shells for something I am working on. The Lord let us drive in the sunshine and although we saw puddles along the way home, God kept the rain away from the truck-load of furniture we carried. God gave us protection on the road which I try never to take for granted. The Lord continues to bless me day by day just like I read in Psalms 68:19. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah." And the only question I have is found in Psalms 116:12, "What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me?"
15. I Have A Song
"I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving." Psalms 69:30
I enjoy singing to the Lord. It is a blessing to be able to sing with my family at church. I enjoy singing, "Jesus Loves Me" with my grandchildren. I have started listening to Christmas music as I work about the house and it brings so much joy to my day. All of these times are a blessing, but some of my greatest blessings have come when there was no one else around and I sang from my heart to the Lord. I have often had to wipe away the tears of thanksgiving while I drove down the road, just the Lord and me. My pillow sometimes gets damp with tears as I sing to the Lord in my heart, as I drift off to sleep. When I am out shopping or driving down the road I often notice that so many people look sad and depressed. Oh, how blessed I am to have the joy of the Lord and a song in my heart!
16. Love, My Greatest Blessing
"17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." Ephesians 3:17-21
Paul tells the church at Ephesus that he wants them "to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge..." How can we know something the passes knowledge? Last Wednesday evening Preacher Jack Tripp compared verse 18, "the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;" of God's love to John 3:16.
What is the breadth of God's love, how far does it reach? "For God so loved the world,..." His love reaches the whole world.
To what length did God go to show His love? "...that he gave his only begotten Son,..."
What is the depth of God's love? "...that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,..."
What is the height of God's love? "...but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
What more can we say of this great love that passes all knowledge?
"28 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.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (portions of Romans 8:28-39)
17. Joy Unspeakable
"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:" I Peter 1:8
Yesterday we saw love that passes knowledge and today we see joy unspeakable. I have often heard that happiness comes from happenings and joy comes from the Lord. I am blessed with this joy from the Lord. This joy came the moment I accepted the Lord's gift of salvation and it is deep down in my soul. Sometimes it rises up like a spring of living water and overflows in thanksgiving prayers and songs. Only God can give us joy in the midst of our troubles. Only the Lord can bring true joy to a broken heart. Do you know the joy of the Lord? As you read the familiar scriptures this Christmas rejoice with the good tidings of great joy which was given for all people.
"8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:8-14)
18. Peace That Passes All Understanding
"And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7
Love that passes knowledge, joy unspeakable, and peace that passes understanding... I am so blessed! In a world of turmoil, I find peace in Christ the King. When the storm clouds gather, I know that no one else can calm even the winds and the waves with three simple words, "Peace, be still." (Mark 4:39) When my Dad died unexpectedly I had peace that passed all understanding in my Savior, the Resurrection and the Life. When I lost my job three years ago and everyone kept asking, "What are you going to do?" I had peace because I know that my God supplies all my needs. When I was being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance this past summer I had peace in my heart because I know the Lord dwells in my heart and He directs my path. In the darkest nights when despair threatens to bring me down I remember Psalms 4:8, "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety." This Thanksgiving season I can count my blessings with love, joy, and peace.
19. My God Is Longsuffering
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." II Peter 3:9
After thanking God for the love, joy, and peace that He continues to bless me with, I think it would be good to continue with the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." So today I thank the Lord that I serve a God who is longsuffering. God sees the sin of this world and we can be sure that He is the righteous Judge, as we continue in Galatians 6:7-10. "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Paul continues his message with encouragement to the believers, living in a sinful world, to keep on doing what's right. "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith."
"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:17
Next in our list of the fruit of the Spirit is gentleness. The Lord wants us to be gentle with others. As a young mother I learned that my children listened better and learned more when I was gentle with them. When they had problems they learned that they could come to me for help and I always tried to help them in kindness. One of their memory verses was Ephesians 4:32, "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." When we have problems we can go to God as His children and he gently relieves our fears. As David gave God glory for deliverance he also spoke of the gentleness of the Lord. Oh what a mighty and loving God we serve!
"31 For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?
32 It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect.
33 He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places.
34 He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms.
35 Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.
36 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip." (Psalms 18:31-36)
21. I Am Blessed With God's Goodness And Mercy
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever." Psalms 23:6
When I stop to count my blessings I know that all I have comes through the goodness of God. Just as I learned in my first prayer, "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands we all are fed, Give us Lord our daily bread. Amen." God has provided all my needs, food, clothing, and shelter, and blessed me with many of my wants and desires. He has given me guidance and protection along the way. He has been so good to me I can say with Psalms 126:3, "The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad." Not only has He been good to me in the past, but my God continues to bless me day by day. He gives me health and strength to get up and do the things I need to do each day. God blesses me with family and friends that I love and cherish. "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah." (Psalms 68:19) Sometimes I fail Him and get discouraged but I have the promise that God's goodness will endure forever. "Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever." (Psalms 106:1) God is good all the time!
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear." Hebrews 11:1-3
I thank God for believing faith. Without faith I would be lost. Without faith I would not know God. "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) Through faith the lame were made to walk and the blind were made to see. Through faith I'm saved and by faith I walk day by day. "(For we walk by faith, not by sight:)" (II Corinthians 5:7) By faith the Lord will be with me all the way. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2) People I know may let me down. Some that I depend on may fall. There are times that I stumble and fall. But the Lord will never let me down and never leave me or forsake me. God is faithful! "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (I Corinthians 10:13)
"Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom." James 3:13
As I looked for the right scripture on meekness I found this one and liked the phrase at the end, "meekness of wisdom." Meekness is not usually associated with wisdom in our day but James begins this verse with a question, "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?" So we see that meekness is a sign of wisdom. Peter tells us that meekness is also an ornament of value and beauty. "But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." (I Peter 3:4) The Lord gives guidance and joy to the meek. "The meek will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way." (Psalms 25:9) "The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 29:19) We can count all these attributes of meekness as great blessings in our lives. But the most important aspect of meekness is that we can come to our Lord Jesus Christ in meekness, for He calls us to Him in meekness and love. "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matthew 11:29)
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Galatians 5:22-23
We have come to the last of the fruits of the Spirit, temperance, or self-control. I have talked about the fruit of the Spirit in several of our devotional series, but this time I noticed how much our Lord was an example of each of these virtues. The Lord Jesus is our example and we should strive to be like Christ. As we complete the list with temperance let's look at some of the times Jesus showed self-control. First we see that He rebuked Satan and did not fall into temptation during His forty days and nights in the wilderness. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15) During His ministry He showed love and forgiveness to the lost. When the woman caught in adultery was brought to be stoned He used all self-control with the angry crowd and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." (John 8:7) One by one they walked away. The most amazing period of His life which we have as an example is just before His crucifixion. He allowed the multitude to take Him, and beat Him, and condemn Him to death on the cross. "He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7) What amazing control He showed, to give Himself to pay for our sin. "And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin." (John 19:9-11)
25. A Blessed Hope
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" Titus 2:13
When I say that I have a blessed hope in the Lord I don't mean to insinuate any doubt. The way we use the word "hope" today shows uncertainty, like I might say, "I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow." It shows what we want to happen. But my hope in the Lord is sure. When Paul said "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" he is speaking with a certainty of the "glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." As I count my blessings today I am thankful for that blessed hope. I know in my heart that the Lord is coming back just like He said. I have hope in the Lord to walk with me and keep me each day. Without the hope of the Lord I would be constantly worried and troubled. But with this hope I have joy and peace. "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13) With this hope I have courage and strength to face each new day. "Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD." (Psalms 31:24) With the hope of Christ we have a testimony. "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (I Peter 3:15) I don't need to worry about cares of this old world, because my hope is in the Lord! "But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more." (Psalms 71:14)
26. I Am Blessed With The Lord's Guidance
"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalma 119:105
Mike and I loaded up the truck yesterday evening with a broken computer chair, worn out rugs, old printers and vcrs... a truck load of junk that was getting in my way. I assured him that I could take it to the landfill and recycle center with the GPS for direction. So I tied it all down this morning and started out. The GPS was "searching for a satelite" but since I knew which direction to go I started out anyway, knowing I could stop and pull up the address when it was ready. Now that I am back home I have been thinking of following the GPS, and following God's direction. Just as I started on my journey before the GPS was ready, I am afraid that I often do that with God. How often have I started out because I thought I knew what direction I was going when I should have prayed and waited on the Lord to guide me? Sometimes we are too impatient to wait. Stopping to put in the destination was not the only stop I had to make. I had to stop for men in orange vests holding signs, first "STOP" then "SLOW". I think God also has us stop and slow down along the way as He prepares the road ahead of us. My next unexpected stop was waiting on a train. There are probably countless times in my life that God had me waiting, waiting, waiting, and I did not understand, but He was helping me avoid a train wreck in my life up ahead. When I got almost there the GPS took me down a few roads that I had never been on before. I had to stop relying on my memory and trust that it would get me there, and it did. We have a destination and God will get us there. There are times we have to stand still with patience and wait on God and there are other times we don't understand the direction He is leading. We may even find ourselves down in the dump, but He will put us on the right path when we let Him. I was thankful for the GPS today. I was able to get rid of a lot of stuff that has been crowding my life. Even more I am thankful for God's guidance along my way. My morning journey to unload a truck load of junk, reminds me of Hebrews 12:1-2. "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."
27. Only One Gave Thanks
"11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.
12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:
13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.
17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?
18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole." Luke 17:11-19
What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Answers probably include a turkey dinner, parades on television, football games, spending time with family, time off from work, and this year maybe a day to start Christmas shopping. I wonder how many will take time to give thanks to God on this special day. In our scriptures above Jesus healed ten lepers and only one returned to thank Him. God has been so good to me I could never thank Him enough. My theme this month has been, "Count Your Blessings" and I have put my answers in generalized groups. If I listed all the blessings God has given me I don't think I could ever stop. We have so much more than any generation before us. Even on cold nights I can eat a warm meal, drink cold water, take a hot bath, and sleep in a warm bed. God has been good to me. If the ratio is one to ten today among people who take time to thank God for His goodness, then I want to be that one. Thank you Lord!
28. A Blessed Christmas
"10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." (Luke 2:10-14)
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with most of our family. Now, for the next month I will be looking forward to Christmas. We could go on and on thanking God for the blessings of Christmas. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6) Jesus came that first Christmas and for almost 2,000 years faithful men and women have been celebrating and looking for His return. I enjoy Christmas to the fullest with the sounds of Christmas carols, recitation of Luke 2, and the laughter of children. I bask in the lights on Christmas trees, and even the twinkling stars as I think of the special Christmas Star and the Light of the world. And the smells of Christmas enhance the taste of special foods we make and eat together. All of these wonderful things, made possible through the love of my blessed Savior, give me countless blessings for Christmas!
29. Without Easter, There Would Be No Christmas
"4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.
6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.
7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you." Mark 16:4-7
In counting my blessings I shared thoughts of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I finish this series today with the greatest blessing of all, Easter. Without Easter there would be no Christmas. Without the gift of salvation, the gifts of the wise men would have had no value. Without the Light of the world, the star would have shown in vain. Without the sinless sacrifice of my loving Savior, the precious Lamb, whom Mary laid in a manger would doubtless have been forgotten instead of pondered in the hearts of many. Jesus came for the purpose of saving the world. "Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." (John 18:37) This Christmas as you celebrate with family and friends, don't let the festivities become so great that you don't hear the voice of the Savior. And if you only know Jesus as the baby in the manger, let me invite you to pray to the Lord of the resurrection and trust in Him for salvation. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." (John 3:16-18)