Monthly Archives: January 2014

Counting Our Blessings

I Timothy 6:6

I Timothy 6:6

COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS 

Yesterday on our way home after buying groceries Glyn and I were talking about how much life has changed for us since he lost his job in May last year. Every penny we spend now has to be stretched to purchase necessities and not spent on frivolous whims.

Just to set the record straight I am not seeking sympathy! My family will tell you that I am a master at “rationing food” to make it stretch and probably could get a medal for being a hopeless miser!

Glyn started the conversation saying that even though we have a limited income and are facing an uncertain future, he rests in the knowledge that when the money runs out God WILL BE THERE FOR US in one way or another. This led us to reminiscing over some of the amazing times God has stepped in when we could only turn to Him for help.  We began to “count our blessings” both past and present; by the time we arrived home we were flooded with a sense of contentment and peace.

A Wall Street Journal columnist, Jonathan Clements, offered his readers “Nine Tips for Investing in Happiness.”  Interestingly, one of his suggestions was precisely the same admonition we read in the favorite old hymn by Johnson C. Oatman, “Count Your Many Blessings.”

Clements urged his readers not to brood over the riches of their neighbors and those in their circle of acquaintances, but to focus on the many blessings they actually DO possess. This man was giving wise and scriptural counsel, as the Word teaches us that our “spiritual wealth” in Jesus is immeasurably more valuable than any material possessions this world can offer.

God did not give us the Bible as a guidebook for a “get rich quick” formula, even though there are many that teach this idea. God’s Word tells us how we can be eternally joyful even in times of financial poverty and how we can experience joy on our way to the eternal life and joy He is preparing for us.

The Apostle Paul reminded young Timothy this truth:

“Godliness with contentment is great gain,” (1 Tim. 6:6).

The apostle wanted his protégé to understand that being grateful for the BASICS of life would help keep him from the trap of covetousness. It is so easy to slide into an attitude of feeling sorry for ones-self when we see others, both godly and ungodly, abounding in worldly goods and wealth.

The key to contentment is in what we are focusing on. Do we long for the luxury and security in this world that will eventually pass away or do we anticipate unwaveringly the glory that a-waits the children of God in our eternal home?

The answer found in the verse of “Count Your Blessing”!

“When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;

Count your many blessings—money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.”

Today let us focus on the wonders of God’s grace, training ourselves to make a spirit of gratitude pervade our daily lives. That’s the true way to experience contentment and to be forever joyful regardless of our circumstances.

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Meekness a Magnet For Strength

Baby Impalas at Kruger National Park, SA

Baby Impalas at Kruger National Park, SA

MEEKNESS A MAGNET FOR STRENGTH 

We live in a very angry world. It seems that more and more people function under a “sense of entitlement” and if they do not get their way, acts of violence become their knee-jerk reaction.

Let us not confuse well controlled strength or a harnessed strong will with unmanaged rage. Our daily news is filled with graphic accounts of innocent people who unwittingly have been on the receiving end of someone’s malicious rage.

I am sure all of my readers at some point in their lives have been angry for one reason or another. Sometimes it was justified and other times it was merely a reflection of your state of mind that given day.

I saw a slogan tonight on Face Book that said; “If Mamma ‘aint happy, ‘aint nobody happy. If Grandma ‘aint happy………RUN!  It gave me a good chuckle as this Grandma (Ouma) is a red-head, so a fiery personality is part of the package! True, the copper red hair has now turned to grey but there is still a fiery strong will that even though it has matured with the passing of time, has not lost its intensity!

So “meekness” is not a natural attribute for me, it is a characteristic I have had to permit God to nurture in my life. I know many individuals who seem to be graced with a meek spirit and they are a joy to know; yet many scorn meekness considering it a sign of weakness of character.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus give us teaching on the “Beatitudes”. Among them we find that He speaks of “meekness”.

What did Jesus mean when he said the meek will inherit the earth?

Matthew 5:5 (NKJV) “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”

I believe He meant that those who surrender their being under His control will experience God’s matchless power working in their lives. Let me flesh out a few examples for you to consider.

MEEKNESS enables us to have the ability to forgive when we have been wronged. Forgiveness takes a much stronger character than it does to get revenge.

When my husband unjustly lost his job last May, my gut reaction was to fight back. He was wronged and I wanted to “call fire from heaven” upon the individuals who perpetrated this injustice. In my “carnal” thinking, revenge would be sweet to taste and I was more than ready to do battle! Then the gentle voice of the Spirit reminded me that it was far better to let the Lord fight the battle as His justice is eternal and not tainted with the evil of this world.

MEEKNESS gives us the moral strength to overcome temptation. It will enable us to have the self-control to resist sinful inclinations. We live in a fallen world and temptation waits on every turn of the road.

MEEKNESS will define our life by strength, not insecurity. When we are blind-sided by circumstances that turn our life upside down, a meek and trusting heart will beat strongly and not quiver with insecurity.  The Lord is greater than our biggest fears and will fill us with His strength in times of uncertainty.

That’s what Jesus meant by meekness. Jesus himself provided the ultimate demonstration of meekness. Though he was the Son of God, he willingly surrendered Himself to his enemies in order to save the human race from its own destruction.

Think about it for a minute:

The irony is heavy; his tormentors mocked him for lacking the power to come down from the cross (Mark 15:30), but Jesus showed infinitely MORE strength by remaining on the cross rather than crying out to his Father to rescue Him from its horror. That……… is MEEKNESS IN ACTION.

In this generation many will try to convince us that Christianity is fine for weaklings, but strong people don’t need God. These individuals have no idea what true strength is! Trusting and serving God doesn’t sap our strength; it EMPOWERS us in ways we would never have experience without Christ in our lives!   

A true spirit of meekness is a magnet that develops strength and not weakness in the lives of those who manifest it.  

God Never Makes A Mistake

Romans 11:33

Romans 11:33

GOD NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE

Romans 11:33 (NKJV) “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!”  

Another year has faded into the records of History. Choices, decisions and events that we experienced in 2013 cannot be erased or rewound. They will remain in our personal history that will be seen not only by those that follow after us but they will effect and influence our remaining days in this life.

At the beginning of a New Year many tend to look back, second guessing and questioning the arduous path they had to walk. For many 2013 was not a “walk in the park”; some were tested to the limit at each turn of the road. I don’t know about my readers, but for me, I feel during this past year I have had more questions than I found answer for. There have even been moments when I dared to ask God if He had made a mistake! Bear with me as I share an illustration that fits so well with the heart of this Nugget.

In the summer of 1864, the Forty-ninth Tennessee Regiment was worshiping in the shade of the trees in a Georgia woods. Chaplain James McNeilly was leading the group of rag tag war weary soldiers. Suddenly a stray bullet from a battle in another location passed through the head of one of the worshipers and lodged in the chest of another. The soldiers stopped singing at the horror of the scene unfolding before their very eyes. They saw the man with the bullet in his head slump over and stop breathing.  They realized there was nothing they could do to help him so quickly they focused on the man who suffered a chest wound. (Lessons from the Battlefield)

I am certain that this incident made the soldiers think about eternity and the mystery of life and death.

Questions must have been bombarding their stunned minds.

Why didn’t God save the faithful?

Why did God allow this to happen during a scared time of worship?

Did God make a mistake?

Life is full of unanswered questions concerning God’s intervention and providential care for us. Suffering and untimely death are mysteries even to the trusting child of God.

The brutal deaths of thirteen of our missionary colleagues in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe, Africa) made absolutely no sense.

The heinous torturing and subsequent murders of African Pastors, hardworking farmers and innocent children at the hands of the terrorists in Rhodesia left those of us who survived, reeling with unanswered questions.

The death of our infant son before he was a day old seemed, to our broken hearts, that God had made a mistake. How could this happen while we were serving Him with all our strength as missionaries in the land of Africa? During those dark days of heart-ache we received a letter from a friend, who was a classmate when Glyn was a student at Zion Bible College in Rhode Island. In her letter of comfort one sentence struck home and has stayed with me through the years. She said: “While your hearts are broken just remember, GOD NEVER MAKES A MISTAKE.

You see until we reach our eternal home, we will never have ALL the answers to the questions of human suffering. However, we can take comfort in knowing that when God’s children suffer patiently, He will provide the grace and strength they need at that time.

Many believers down through the ages have resigned themselves to the providence of God in their affairs. When things happened they could not understand; they knew that the Lord was in control; allowing this knowledge to give them peace during the time of trial.

So too my dear readers let us learn from the example of those who have gone before us.

God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts than our thoughts. We cannot know why God allows tragedies to happen in life, but we know that He never makes a mistake.