Tag Archives: blessings

Problems or Blessings #2

Standard

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15

Well, I almost blew it again.  Just like Paul in the book of Romans, I know the right way to act, but more often than not, I keep choosing the same old sin.  A little while back, I blogged about how most of our “problems” are really just annoyances or inconveniences, and instead of whining and complaining, we should focus on the actual blessings we’ve received.  Today I had a test of just this sort of situation, and I came close to forgetting all my good intentions.

On Tuesday our church has a regularly scheduled Bible Study at 10:30AM.  I went over an hour early so that I could run off some copies needed for the Wednesday Prayer meeting and the next Fanning the Flame meeting.  I got there only to find a repairman working on the copier!  I got pretty cranky with my husband–after all, he could have called me to let me know what was going on, couldn’t he? I didn’t even bring a book to read (duh, what about my Bible?) and I didn’t have anything to do until class started. What a waste of my precious time.

Then it dawned on me — Joan, this gives you an hour to pray!  No interruptions, no phones, a beautiful sanctuary to sit in — what a blessing!  It calmed me down and I realized that not only did I have my Bible, I had my little Pilgrim’s Guide (a book of prayers of Bible verses from my Via de Cristo weekend) in my purse.  So I spent a peaceful hour thanking God, examining my conscience (something that I evidently sorely need to do), and reading over the chapter we’re studying (which I hadn’t found time for).  And you know what?  After class, I got the copying done, too.  Another first world problem solved!

 

 

Advertisements

Mountaintop Blessings

Standard

Most Christians have had what they describe as a “mountaintop” experience… a time when they felt especially close to God and keenly aware of His presence and blessings.  Some people may associate that time with their conversion;  others with a special time away on a Via de Cristo or other sort of retreat.  At these times, we feel on fire for God.  We are energized and ready to do anything and everything required of us to lead an authentic Christian life.

My devotional reading this morning focused on how mountaintop times, wonderful and blessed as they are do not last.  We can’t recapture them, but we can continue to use them.

“We must learn to live in the ordinary ‘gray’ day according to what we saw on the mountain.”

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chamber

How were you blessed on the mountaintop?  Were things clearer, brighter?  Did you feel loved and called for a special purpose?  Did you experience the joy of Christian fellowship or the peace that passes understanding? Even Jesus and the disciples experienced this:

And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. (Mark 9:2-3 ESV)

Yet, they still had the valley of Calvary ahead of them.  I’ve found that continuing in the spiritual disciplines of worship, prayer, study and fellowship (even when the day is gray and I don’t really want to) help keep the mountaintop feelings alive and fresh in my life.  These are the daily blessings that keep us growing in the valley.

 

Blessings in Disguise

Standard

In one of her posts, Beth Ann said our blessings aren’t always the “good” things in life.  I found a quote that addresses this very topic.  The greatest blessing of all looked like a horrendous defeat–  something we should keep in mind when we undergo trials.  Gods’ ways are not our ways and we never know what He has planned in the long run.

God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters. Any doubters need to do nothing more than ascend the hill of Calvary.

Max Lucado

 

Have you received any blessings in disguise?  We’d like to hear about them.

 

Problem or Blessing?

Standard

As I’ve been thinking about blessings this month, I’ve started to realize that feeling blessed has a lot to do with our perspective.  In other words, how do we think about things?  I’ve also learned a new phrase recently, “first world problem.”  Here’s the definition:  a minor frustration or irritation experienced by privileged people in rich countries.  Friends, think about it, most of our problems, all those things we get angry and worried about are really exactly this.  To much of the world, we’re whining about things that are pretty inconsequential.  Wouldn’t it be better when encountered with a “first world problem” to remind ourselves how really blessed we are?

Here are a few problems I encountered this week while on vacation visiting my daughter in South Carolina:

We arrived at our condo to find that due to a leak upstairs, our washer and dryer were not working!  I had to go to my daughter’s home about 20 minutes away to wash my clothes! (First world problem — how blessed am I to own a vacation home and an automatic washer and dryer in the first place!  How blessed am I to have plenty of clothing for goodness sake!  How blessed am I to have children who will help me out!)

We decided to meet our daughter for lunch at a favorite restaurant only to find out that it had closed!  What a disappointment!  We love their crab soup!  (First world problem– all we had to do was select another restaurant, there are many choices.  Aren’t we blessed to have a choice of foods and be able to afford to eat out at all?)

Here’s a good one:  our apartment in South Carolina does not have Wi-Fi.  We’re so used to this convenience, it’s annoying to be unable to look something up on google or check my email instantly (or write a blog post as soon as inspiration strikes).  Instead we had to make a trip to the library to use the computer. (First world problem!  Aren’t we incredibly blessed to have a library where we can not only use our computer — which we are blessed to own– but borrow books and movies at no cost.)

Well, you get the idea.  I don’t have to worry about having food for my next meal, shelter from the weather, or transportation.  I have resources to share.  I’m not alone in the world, I have family and friends around me.  Most of all, I have the church and the gospel. God has provided me with all that I need and more.  From now on, when I’m tempted to complain about one of those “first world problems” I’m going to count my blessings instead.  What about you?

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” (Matt 6:25-27)?

 

Blessed to Mourn?

Standard

“Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  Matthew 5:4

Blessed means exceedingly happy, and it’s hard to imagine anyone being happy during a time of mourning.  However, as I thought about this, I remembered a young man who had been my coworker.  When his father died unexpectedly, he told me, “You never realize how many friends you have until somebody dies.”  There’s some truth in that.  In the busyness of life we often forget to make time for others, but when death occurs, family and friends rally around.  We are all reminded that relationships and love are the things that really matter, It’s certainly a comfort and a blessing to know we’re not alone, that others care for us.

Mourning is a time to reflect.  I found when my mother died, as I sorted through her photos, I also remembered my childhood, the personality traits and interests we shared; the birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, family reunions and other important events in our life together. I cried some and laughed some.  I hadn’t thought about those things in a long time, but they are part of what made me who I am.  That has been a blessing to me.

Mourning is a time to turn to God.  Nothing comforts me more than the rituals and routines of my faith life.  Nothing means more than the assurance that mom is with Jesus, and one day I will be with Him as well.  Nothing eases the pain so much as knowing she is no longer stuck in a body that doesn’t work, and with a brain that can’t think.  These are the greatest blessings of all.

The Bible tells us that God works all things out for our good, and that includes mourning.

“Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”  Psalm 126:6

New Month/New Theme

Standard

I can hardly believe it’s April and time for a new theme.  This month the Lutheran ladies will be exploring our blessings.  What better time than Easter to do this, for we have just received the greatest possible blessing — freedom from the penalty of sin and reconciliation with God!

Blessings come in many forms:  there are spiritual blessings and material blessings.  People bless us, and we can be blessings to others.  Health is a blessing.  Our very existence is a blessing, one that we should never take for granted, or waste.  If we make  time to “count” our blessings, we’ll find that God’s grace rains down upon us constantly.  Spending time reflecting on what we’ve been given will surely inspire an attitude of gratitude.

Stay tuned, dear readers, for our thoughts on what it means to be blessed, and any other topics that are on the hearts and minds of our authors this month.

In a Direction We Do Not Understand

Standard

This poem was written by Kathy Galloway, an ordained Church of Scotland minister, who is also a poet and hymn writer.

Our brother Jesus, you set our feet upon the way and sometimes where you lead we do not like or understand.

Bless us with courage where the way is fraught with dread or danger;

Bless us with graceful meetings where the way is lonely;

Bless us with good companions where the way demands a common cause;

Bless us with night vision where we travel in the dark, keen hearing where we have not sight, to hear the reassuring sounds of fellow travellers;

Bless us with humor– we cannot travel lightly weighted down with gravity;

Bless us with humility to learn from those around us;

Bless us with decisiveness where we must move with speed;

Bless us with lazy moments, to stretch and rest and savour;

Bless us with love, given and received;

And bless us with your presence, even when we know it in your absence.

Lead us into exile, until we find that on the road is where you are, and where you are going is home.

Bless us, lead us, love us, bring us home bearing the gospel of life.

 

Blessings #2

Standard

I know it’s not music, but Beth Ann’s post on Blessings prompted me to post this prayer.  It was published in The Lutheran Prayerbook, 1992,  and the author is unknown.  It’s titled “Answered Prayer.”

He asked for strength that he might achieve;  he was made weak that he might obey.

He asked for health that he might do greater things;  he was given infirmity that he might do better things.

He asked for riches that he might be happy;  he was given poverty that he might be wise.

He asked for power that he might have the praise of men;   he was given weakness that he might feel the need of God.

He asked for all things that he might enjoy life;  he was given life that he might enjoy all things.

He has received nothing that he asked for;  all he hoped for.  His prayer is answered.  He is most blest.

Does anyone else feel they got not what they asked for, but what they really needed the most?

 

Blessings

Standard

Michele challenged us a while back to blog about a song that really spoke to our hearts.  I know, I’m just now getting around to this, but I do have many songs that speak to me in so many different ways.  But one song stands out from the rest, “Blessings” by Laura Story.

All of us have times when we wonder if God’s left us.  Life takes a nasty turn and we feel that the Lord has turned his back. When I first heard this song I was struggling to trust the Lord in my situation.  My husband was disabled from a brain tumor and his health was getting worse.  I was still supporting my son and his family, which included two autistic sons.  Sometimes the tension around the house would be thick since my husband and son didn’t always get along and other various things that happen when you mesh two families together.  It was during this time that I first heard the song “Blessings”.  The words struck my heart and found a home there.

After I had heard the song several times I looked up Laura Story and found out that her husband had also had a brain tumor and that was the situation that brought this song about.  That had to be a God thing; her husband had a brain tumor, too?

Here is a quote from Laura Story regarding “Blessings”:

The song shows that we still have more questions than answers. But there’s a decision that I find God is asking us to make. Are we going to judge God based on our circumstances, or are we going to choose to interpret our circumstances based on what we hold to be true about God?

Our circumstances have magnified the blessing of marriage. As high school sweethearts, we faced the strong chance that our long-awaited marriage bond might last just two years. Once you’ve rallied through a life-threatening illness together, the rest of it is like a surprise; every day is a new gift that might not have been there. It’s not as big a deal now if he leaves his socks on the floor.

The words of James 1:2–“Consider it a great joy … whenever you experience various trials”–ring especially true and duly influence the joyful, wisdom-loving tone throughout “Blessings.”

Don’t get the wrong idea. It hasn’t been easy. Everyone wants to be a mature and equipped follower, but would I have signed up had I known what it would take? God has grown us up, deepened our faith, our awareness of our great need for Him as a Savior, daily. We knew it before, but we didn’t see it.

I hope you are as blessed by this song as I continue to be.  Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things

Chorus:
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

 

Taking Care of God’s Stuff, pt 2

Standard

Micah 3-10Yesterday I wrote about taking care of God’s stuff in a really simplistic manner.  I even said that I didn’t want to get into a discussion about original sin, free will and the evil in this world.  After I slept on it I thought, why not?  Why not go into the reasons we have so much trouble with this subject?

Our free will got us in trouble from the start.  It’s the Adam and Eve thing.  God wanted us to be with him but to also be free in our decision.  To freely love Him without any problems.  So God created the evil (serpent) and the Tree of Life.  We were to choose Him over the Tree.  But that free will thing got in the way and Adam and Eve got curious…

When I was writing the blog yesterday I could almost hear everyone going “But…”  I agree, this is a really hard thing to do.  We need to take care of everything and everybody.  Do we do that?  No.  And now more challenges have come our way; Puerto Rico, Houston, Florida and the evil that happened out in Las Vegas.  These are large things that are happening.  Many people are there, right now, to help.  If I jumped on a plane to go help I don’t think I would have much to offer, but I would if I had the means to do it.

So we give money to the church or to an organization like Samaritan’s Purse to help.  I’m not knocking that, I wouldn’t be able to go to the corners of the earth to help and they do.  Do we give that magical ten percent? Some do and some don’t.  It really doesn’t matter as long as we give.

But then, what about your neighbors? They weren’t effected by flood.  But they have other needs.  We need to be actively looking around at the needs that surround us.  We need to be asking “Lord, what can I do?”.

In the Old Testament God made it a law that ten percent of the first-fruits should be tithed to Him.  I have one of the scriptures up in the meme at the head of this blog.  God wants us to test him.  But I don’t think that he only means our income.  Yes, we can give of our income and support our church, organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, the local christian radio station, the homeless shelter down the street; the list is endless.  We also need to give of ourselves.  Help our neighbors, friends and others through the needy times.  Be there for them.  Give them hope and encouragement.  Pray for them and for all these other organizations that are the hands and feet of Jesus.  Then we need to get up to join them.