March 4 – I’m Blessed, and That’s My Problem!

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The relationship I have with my wife is very special to me. We enjoy working together and love facing the daily challenge of life. Yet, sometimes our focus temporarily shifts to the “things to do” list, instead of relishing in all the blessings we enjoy right now. I have come to realize this is a trait of humanity; more blessing equals more pressing!

To those who see great provision, protection, and success comes the challenge close behind. God warned His people in the days of Moses to remember all the blessings when they came into the land flowing with milk and honey (Deuteronomy 6). He knows in the midst of greatness, the temptation to become disgruntled can be pretty strong.

Jen and I have discovered that when we take a moment to rehearse just a few of the good things we’ve experienced, our attitudes shift to the positive in a hurry. We find ourselves invariably giving thanks to God because we see His fingerprints all over the place.

That is my prayer today for every person on this planet. This is my prayer for America and every free nation in the world. May those who live and legislate in them awaken to the handprints of God and see all the blessings He’s poured out on them. May the sacrifices of those who’ve gone before speak loud and clear. And may we all realize and never forget that without the presence of God we would be nothing.

Lift up your head today. Look up from the task at hand for just a moment. And catch a glimpse of all the blessings surrounding you!

See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.   Exodus 23:20

 Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

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February 25 – He Sees and Knows

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I can be guilty of having temper tantrums from time to time. And although I am not proud of it, they tend to encroach upon me just about the time things are going pretty good. Sometimes, all Hades breaks loose and I find myself questioning God as to “why,” but not so much anymore. I’ve lived long enough to know it’s usually darkest before the dawn and if you just hold on awhile, things will get brighter.

What tends to trigger the oversized baby in me is a sense of not being understood by those closest to me. Here’s an example: I have a certain way I fold my t-shirts. Not a big deal, normally, but definitely a preference.

On most occasions I am just grateful when Jen or one of the children goes the extra mile and does mine. But there are those rare moments when that little voice says, “If they really cared about you, they would know how you like your shirts folded.” If I don’t nip it in the bud, that kind of thinking will hit me in the backside before I know it, leaving a whole lot of precious people feeling unappreciated. I know, you can’t relate…

The fact of the matter is every human being can and will feel that no one truly understands them at times. And guess what? They are right! We are so unique and our ways are very individual. God made us that way on purpose. One, a puzzle won’t come together if all the pieces are just alike. And two, if we had someone on planet earth that knew us “picture-perfectly,” we would never need to seek the face of our Creator. He alone knows and sees who we are and where we are headed. All others are His instruments to help get us there.

I love how Nathanael said to Jesus, “How do You know me?” Jesus wasted no time on frivolous introductions, He spoke in a way the man would know He knew him; but how? And here’s the nugget I encourage you to ponder with me and my family today: Jesus stares into Nathanael’s eyes and He says, “I see you! And I know you better than anyone, including yourself. Don’t worry; what I see in you doesn’t change what I think about you. So, if you feel the need to have a pity party, no problem; fits don’t faze Me. I’ll still be around when the smoke clears. Then, I will remind you that in Me alone lies perfection, not people.” He sees!

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. John 1:47-48 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalms 139:1-4 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. (Check out all of Psalm 139!)

 

February 6 – Playing Second Fiddle

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I heard a story once of a man who would travel to towns where a well-known evangelist of the time was scheduled to have a series of meetings.

It was said that this man would cover his own expenses for days on end just to pray in his hotel room, morning and evening for the will of the Lord to be done in that town. When the evangelist arrived, the man moved on to the next town.

It wasn’t important to him that people knew his name or even why he came. What mattered most was that he fulfilled what the Lord had given him to do.

This morning, I just had a conversation with one of my “extroverted” children. He isn’t bashful and loves to be in the center of the action. And at times, his desire to be the front guy takes precedence over just taking out the trash. But taking out the trash and picking up the random pieces of paper on the way to the dumpster qualifies us for greater tasks ahead.

That doesn’t mean that if God calls upon us to pick up trash for Him the rest of our days that we are lesser than the dignitaries who travel after us on clean streets.

On the contrary, it means we know how to be willing and obedient to the leading of the Master. In my estimation, maturity is reached when His kingdom coming and His will being done means more to us than fame, fortune or even a great name.

May the Lord help us rejoice in our lot, our spots of service, whether bottom or top in the eyes of the world. May our gaze rest on what He sees and not on our own need for value and validation.

And at the end of the day, may we hear His voice alone say, “You done good, my child, you done real good. Well done!”

 Now those who were sent were from the Pharisees. And they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, saying, “I baptize with water, but there stands One among you whom you do not know. It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” These things were done in Bethabara beyond the Jordan where John was baptizing. John 1:24-28

 Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 6:6 [And it is, indeed, a source of immense profit, for] godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain.

 

January 25 – Fueled By Gratitude

 

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Take a moment and recall an event in your past that could have destroyed your life. Most likely you had some ownership in the matter, but found yourself out of control.   What a scary place to be!

One such occasion comes to mind for me. I was barely sixteen. It was the summer of ‘86 and my buddy Greg had just got his new wheels. His dad had restored a late model Mustang and it was “sweeter than candy.”

So on a Sunday evening after church Greg took me and two other friends joy-riding. After playing some video games we headed home. As we crossed over the overpass and approached the turn-on ramp Greg lost control of the car. Because of our excessive speed, the car went air-born, flipped, and rolled into oncoming traffic on I-35!

It happened around 8:00 pm and traffic was thick, but no one hit us. The three passengers (including me) came away from the wreck unhurt. But Greg went to the hospital that night, unconscious. He suffered several injuries to his neck and head but thankfully he survived the tragic event.

For all practical purposes, all four of us got a second chance on life. We didn’t know it then, but now it’s very evident that there are many people who would have been directly affected by our demise.

Now that’s quite a serious example, but that’s what gratefulness is really all about. It means always being ready to count your blessings. It’s recognizing that things could be a whole lot worse and making the very best of the life you have right now.

To drive this home, take a look at this idea from a God-perspective out of the Message Bible: We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.   Ephesians 2:3-6

 God is ultimately the One who is responsible for all the blessings we enjoy. So, our daily thanksgiving is a necessary part of healthy living. “Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you!”