Counting Our Blessings

Are you going through a tough patch? I understand. It happens. We are in one as well.       And when you are going through a tough patch you can begin to focus on what we don’t have. We can focus on our problems instead of our blessings. One way to deal with adversity is to count your blessings.
That’s right… you read that last sentence correctly… we should count our blessings.
There is an old hymn that goes…
“When upon life’s billows you are temptest tossed,
When you are discouraged thinking all is lost.
Count your many blessings name them one by one.
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

So, sit down and make a list of what God has done for you.
Psalm 92:4 says, “You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” Notice the Psalmist says, “Yo thrill me, Lord, with ALL you have done for me!”
Ok, so what has God done for us?
He has given us His Son, Jesus, who died for our sins.
He allows us to live in the United States of America which is still, despite it’s problems, the greatest country on earth.
He gives us jobs… maybe our job isn’t exactly what we’d like but, we have a job… we have income.
He gives us family.
He gives us health.
He puts food on our table.
We have a roof over our head.
Etc… etc… etc…
You get the idea.
Today, instead of focusing on your problems, let’s count our blessings and as the song goes, “see what God has done…”

Don’t Let Satan Use Old Sin To Discourage You

All of us have made mistakes and Jesus forgives us for our mistakes. But, the devil reminds us of our mistakes. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been forgiven, the devil wants to dig up our old sins and cause us to doubt if we are saved or, if we are saved he wants us to doubt that God can use today. But, if Jesus has forgiven us of our sins, they are forgiven.
The apostle Paul knew this. In II Timothy 1:3, Paul says, “I thank God for you—the God I serve with a clear conscience…” Paul told Timothy that he served God with a clear conscience. Earlier in Paul’s life, his name was Saul and he was a Jew. Paul stood on the edge of the crowd watching as Stephen was stoned. Paul was on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians when he had his conversion experience. Paul’s sins were forgiven.        Yet, don’t you imagine Satan wanted to remind Paul of his terrible past? Sure he did. Yet Paul, could write that he had served God… “with a CLEAR conscience..” Not because he hadn’t sinned… because he HAD sinned… but Jesus had forgiven Him of his sin…so his past was done.
Maybe there is something in your life that even though you have asked forgiveness, Satan continues to bring it to mind. Maybe pre-marital sex… Maybe a child born out of wedlock…. Maybe a divorce… Maybe extra-marital sex…. Maybe words spoken out of anger… Whatever it is… if you have asked for forgiveness, you are forgiven…
Today, thank the Lord for forgiveness and move forward. But one other note here… maybe you are having a hard time forgiving someone of their past. Maybe someone made a mistake and you have not forgiven them for it. You want to hang it over their head and remind them of their sin… Friend, let it go. God has forgiven you so we all need to forgive others.
Corrie Ten Boom once said that God takes our sins and throws them in the deepest part of the ocean and puts up a sign that says, “No fishing!”
Don’t let Satan bring up old sins… it’s done… by God’s grace, move forward.

Are You Content?

How much money is enough?
Many would reply, “Just a little bit more.”
We live in a very materialistic world. One’s success in life is often judged based on what they have. If you have a nice house, drive a nice vehicle, wear nice clothes, you are deemed successful. But, does a nice home and car and clothes automatically equate to success? Not if we follow the Biblical principles for success.
In the sermon-on-the-mount, Jesus said we shouldn’t worry about what we are going to wear or eat. He said, “Look at the birds of the air… God feeds them.. and look at the lilies of the field… they don’t toil nor spin but God clothes them…” So, Jesus added, “If the Heavenly Father takes care of the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, surely He will take care of us” (Matthew 6).
Paul said essentially the same. Paul said, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content” (I Timothy 6:6-8).
Think about what Paul said, “… true godliness with contentment is great wealth.” So, are we content? Contentment is something many people struggle with. We always want more. Part of the reason for this is our culture. Americans are very materialistic. We think more money, bigger house, etc… is sure to bring happiness. But it doesn’t.
How many times have you heard someone who grew up poor say, “We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had love.” That proves that money doesn’t bring happiness. I’m not suggesting having money automatically makes someone unhappy. You can have wealth and be happy as long you have the wealth but the wealthy doesn’t have you.
So, are you content? Are you happy? Maybe you are struggling with that. Maybe you know someone who has more than you and it’s eating at you. Don’t let it. Just because someone has more stuff doesn’t mean they are better than you. God doesn’t judge us on what we have but the condition of ur heart. So, today, ask the Lord to help us be content.

The Recabites; A Model Of Obedience

A couple of years ago, Holli and I went to the Atlanta aquarium. One of the things we enjoyed was a show involving dolphins. You have probably seen those.
In the show, when the dolphin does a trick, the trainer gives them a reward… something to eat. That’s how they train the dolphin. The dolphin is rewarded for obedience.
It’s the same way in the Christian life. The Lord wants us to be obedient. And, if we are obedient, the Lord rewards us.
A great example of obedience is the story of the Recabites in the Old Testament. The Bible says that Jeremiah was sent to the Recabites. He offered them wine to drink but they told him, “We don’t drink wine because our ancestor, Jehonadab told us to never drink wine. He also told them to not build houses or plant crops or vineyards..” If they did those things, they would be rewarded.
The Lord then told Jeremiah, “Go and say to the people in Judah and Jerusalem, The Recabites are obedient but you are not.” God used the Recabites as an example of obedience.
What about you? Are you obedient? Let’s be honest here… obedience is lacking in most of our lives. Why do I say that? Because most churches have attendance and financial challenges. It’s because Christians are not worshiping as we should and not giving as we should. What about you? Do you worship weekly? Are you giving faithfully?
Now, someone may say, “Why should I do that? Why should I be obedient? There is one reason; Jesus gave His life for us. Because of Jesus sacrificial death on the cross, we should serve Him and be obedient.
God will reward us if we are obedient. Like the Recabites, let’s be faithful to the Lord.

 

Hope In The Present

(Editor’s note: This blog will shut down in two days. I have to pay $100 a year for this blog’s domain. At the present time, I do not have a job and our money is ultra-tight so I don’t have the money to pay for the domain. I appreciate you following my blog. Saturday will be my last post. Thanks, Gregg.)

Just a couple of days ago, I did a blog post on hope. As long as God is on the throne, there is hope. The Bible repeatedly speaks of hope.
Paul said, “Faith, hope and love… but the greatest of these is love.”
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For the I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord; plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer. 29:11).
Ok, but let’s be honest. Those verses do speak of hope. There is hope and we can tell someone “the Bible says there is hope.” But when a person is hurting… when a person is struggling… they need hope NOW. We may speak of hope in the future, but when a person is struggling, they need hope now.
Hope as in… paying the bills…
Hope as in… maybe groceries on the table…
Hope as in… help with marital problems…
Hope as in… they need a job.
Don’t misunderstand me… I believe the Bible… I believe the verses that speak on hope… but that isn’t enough if someone is hurting today.
For example; let’s say a single Mom is working two jobs to make the ends meet. She is struggling. She needs hope. Sometimes we speak of hope in the future… and she may thinking… “Ok, I appreciate hope for the future… but I’ve got to make it until then… I need hope now.”
Today, you may be able to give someone hope. Maybe you can give someone just a little cash if needed. Maybe you can pay a utility bill. Maybe you can repair someone’s car.
It’s nice to quote someone a scripture… but if a person is hungry… or sick… or thirsty… a scripture isn’t all they need. Sometimes they need something tangible. The hope that comes from having their immediate needs met. Let the Lord use you to give someone hope today.

Yes, There Is Hope

Hope.
Everyone needs hope. It may only be a glimmer.. but still, we all need hope.
In Jeremiah 32, the prophet gave hope to the people of Judah. To get the impact of the text, you have to understand the background. Judah was under siege from the      Babylonian army and Jeremiah was imprisoned. Jeremiah had been put there by king Zedekiah because Jeremiah had prophesied that Jerusalem was going to be punished.
While Jeremiah was in prison, and while Jerusalem was under siege, the Lord sent Jeremiah a message. The message was, “Your cousin Hanamel son of Shallum will come and say to you, ‘Buy my field at Anathoth. You have the right to buy it.”
Then, just as the Lord said he would, Hanamel came to Jerusalem and offered Jeremiah the right to buy his land.
Now, let’s pause a moment; Jerusalem is under siege… Jeremiah is in prison… yet, Jeremiah is being offered a piece of land in a city that’s under siege. Why would you buy that land? The city is about to be conquered! But, God had told Jeremiah, “Someday people will again own property here in this land and will buy and sell houses and vineyards and fields.”
Did you catch that? “Someday people will again own property here…” In other words, although the city is under siege now, better days are ahead. A time is coming when people will buy and sell again, in a city that is currently under siege. That message from Jeremiah, gave the people hope.
We have hope as well. I don’t know what you are facing, or, what you are going through, but God wants to give us hope.
We may be concerned about our nation. We may think “there is no hope for America.” But there is… if Christians turn to the Lord.
Maybe your church is struggling. Maybe you are questioning if there is any hope. There is… if the church turns to the Lord.
Maybe you are facing what seems to be a gargantuan task. Maybe you are thinking, “there ain’t no way.” Yes, there is a way. Now, it may be very slow and it make take a while but, there is hope.
Maybe you have a relative or friend who is dealing with a drug addiction. You are questioning if there is any hope. Yes there is, but we have to give it to the Lord.
Jeremiah was told, “Buy the field… there is coming a day when business will take place in this land.” That message was a sign of hope for Israel. God gives us the same hope today.

How To Have Peace

Everyone wants peace… but people look in different places for peace. Some may look for peace in an alcoholic drink to “soothe their nerves.” Some pay insert a needle in their arms to get a high from drugs. Some may take a trip thinking that will surely bring them peace. But all of things mentioned above are wrong.
If you want real, lasting peace, it will only come from Jesus. In II Thessalonians 3:16, the apostle Paul wrote, “Now may the Lord of peace himself, give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all.”
Notice Paul says, “Now may the Lord of peace himself…” Peace only comes from the Lord. You can have a drink… but the alcohol leaves your system and then, you have to drink again. Drugs wear off besides doing damage to your body and even your brain. A trip.. that’s nice but eventually you have to go home.
Paul refers to Jesus as, “the Lord of peace…” meaning He is the source of peace. So, to get the peace of Christ first, we have to know Jesus. Do you know Jesus as your Savior today?
But, you can know Jesus as your Savior and still not have peace at times. That’s because, we don’t allow the Holy Spirit to reign in our lives. If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit lives in you and wants to give you peace. But, you have to allow the Spirit to control your life.
We can have peace… even when we lose our jobs…
We can have peace… even if we don’t get the promotion…
We can have peace…. even when we don’t make the sale….
We can have peace… even when our money is short or even gone.
How? Because we have faith in Jesus.
Do you have peace? If not, you can. Make sure you know Jesus as your Savior and you are allowing the Holy Spirit to control your life.
“Peace, peace, wonderful peace,
Coming down from the Father above.
Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray
In fathomless billows of love!”