Count Your Blessings

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By , November 19, 2012 7:22 pm
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Through many Thanksgivings, I’ve found that counting my blessings has curative powers. Several years ago, when I was struggling to cultivate a grateful heart, God helped me find a way to be thankful that had little to do with my earthly circumstances. My year had been marred by the loss of a parent, strife with a wayward teenager, and consequent discouragement.
 
God enabled me to see that there is a heavenly fount of blessing that flows unceasing in times of feast or famine, bounty or bust, fitness or frailty. These eternal, invisible truths were so powerful that authentic thanksgiving began to spring up in me.
 
The spiritual blessings that helped me during that time eventually became a handout that I have given to many discipleship groups over the years. I am sharing this resource with you this Thanksgiving so that you may also experience a deep appreciation for the blessings in your life, seen and unseen.
 
TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES:                                                                         Spiritual Blessings

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ

Ephesians 1:3

 
No matter what issue you are facing, the spiritual blessings that are stored up for you in Christ Jesus can be your experience by faith. Here’s how:

  • Examine the list of spiritual blessings that God promises to you.
  • Choose one that ministers the most to your current place of need.
  • Look up the scriptures that accompany each blessing.
  • Pray, asking God to make these verses your experience.
  • Watch and wait for Him to fulfill His word in the days ahead.
  • Write it down each time you experience this truth in your life.

 

Blessing—Gen 12:2-3, Dt 11:26-27, Dt 23:5, Ps 31:19, Jer 17:7, Ezek 34:26-27, Jn 1:16

Comfort—Ps 91:1-4, Ps 147:3, Is 51:12, Is 66:13-14, 2 Cor 1:3-5

Completion—1 Cor 1:4-9, Phil 1:6, Heb 10:14, Heb 13:20-21

Forgiven Sin—2 Chron, 7:14, Ps 32, Is 55:7, Ezek 18:21, 1 Jn 1:9

Forgotten Sin—Ps 103:12, Is 38:17, Is 43:25, Mic 7:18, Heb 10:17, Jude 1:24-25

Hope—Ps 119:41-50, Lam 3:21-22, Rom 5:1-5, 1 Pt 1:3, 21

Joy—Ps 21:6, Ps 30:11-12, Ps 92:4, Is 61:1-2, Heb 1:9

Love—Is 54:10, Jer 31:3, Rom 5:5, Rom 8:38-39, Eph 3:18-19

Newness—Is 43:18-19, Rom 7:6, 25, 2 Cor 5:17, Rev 22:5

Peace—Ps 85:8, Pr 16:7, Jn 14:27, Rom 5:1, Rom 8:6, Eph 2:13

Presence of God—Ps 100:4, Is 12:6, 2 Cor 6:16, Heb 13:5, Jm 4:8

Promise of God—Gen 50:20, Ps 23:6, Ps 73:1, Rom 8:28-29

Restoration—Ps 40:2, Ps 51:12, Ps 71:20-21, Joel 2:23-27

Security—Ps 9:10, Ps 16:8, Ps 62:1-2, Pr 10:9, Jer 33:6

Significance—Ps 139:13-14, Is 43:4, Is 49:15-16, Eph 2:10, 1 Jn 3:1

Strength—Ps 73:26, Is 41:10, 2 Cor 12:9, Eph 3:16, 2 Sam 22:33-34

Victory—Psalm 60:12, Jn 16:33, Rom 8:37, Rom 16:20, 1 Cor 15:57, 1 Jn 5:4-5

Voice of Truth—Ps 32:8, Ps 37:3-4, Is 30:20-21, Jn 10:27, Jm 1:5

 

As you pray about your issue, ask God to give you other promises from His Word that are specific and personal. With an expectant heart, ask Him to fulfill these promises in His perfect way and timing.
 
Over the holiday season, I plan to post new entries every other week rather than weekly. I have stockings to stuff and so do you!

Beholding Jesus: He Fights For Me – 11/13/12

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By , November 14, 2012 8:36 am
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PRAISE: 1) Great by Josh Lopez 2) Same Love by Paul Baloche 3) What a Savior by Laura Story 4) Jesus Saves by Travis Cottrell

Martha finished out our semester strong, further expanding on Debby’s teaching from last week charting the breakthrough of the woman at the well and sharing her own example as well. She also shared the acronym “FIGHT WW3” as a strategy for handling the attacks of the enemy.

Just Desserts

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By , November 12, 2012 8:35 pm
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Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.

Proverbs 4:23 GNT

 
Jackson was a Senior, and we were well into the fall season. After 12 years of life according to an academic calendar, I had come to anticipate the usual sequence of events flying by at a rapid clip. Registration, Labor Day, that first crop of tests, Homecoming, and fall break had all made their appearance. Yes, National Honor Society was up next.
 
When Jackson was inducted the previous year, I had made a mental note that I would be expected to send food to the reception next time. So, when one of Jackson’s friends called, identifying himself as a student officer for NHS, I assumed that that was the reason for the call. Already running through a mental list of my best finger-food recipes, I was jolted by his next statement. “I’m sorry to inform you that Jackson has been expelled from National Honor Society.” I felt as if I’d been punched in the stomach. “What?! What did he do?” I asked. “He was caught cheating. That is grounds for immediate expulsion,” he said.
 
My mind reeled out of control. Alternate futures instantly replaced my dream of a joyous graduation day for my son. Instead, I had visions of Jackson, escorted by a security guard, cleaning out his locker, and warned to stay off school premises forever. Lawyers’ fees and possible incarceration loomed menacingly on the horizon. I could see him under the bridge with only a cardboard box to keep him warm.
 
Speculation became my next mental task. I made numerous attempts to explain away this new and frightening reality. Blaming the academic pressures of a competitive school seemed plausible. The problem with that theory is that my son is honest to a fault. Maybe he was helping a fellow student, and the teacher mistook that for cheating, I thought.
 
All my rationalizing and reasoning was interrupted as the caller began to chuckle. Other voices, including that of my son, cackled out in full-blown laughter. Jackson and his friends were delighted that I had fallen for their little prank. “That was just a joke, Mrs. Girardeau. Jackson made me do it. I’m really calling to find out if you’d send a dessert next week.” The relief I felt allowed me to swallow my irritation. “Sure, Daniel. Now that I’ve got my heart back in my chest, I’ll make a note to do just that.”
 
What I remember best about that phone call was the way my emotions changed on a dime. I went from nonchalant to panic-stricken to limb-buckling relief in just a few short minutes. And all that emotional energy was a response to a single bit of news.
 
This little incident provides a dramatic example of how our thoughts determine our well-being at any given moment. The phone call delivered false information to my mind, but that did not alter its impact. Our brains are like the hard drive of a computer, and our minds act as the software. We can only operate on the information that is programmed into the system. No wonder that one of the most important maxims of computer programming is “Garbage in, garbage out.”
 
All of us are inundated with mental garbage. As with my example of NHS, we make assumptions about what the events of life actually mean. We attempt to predict outcomes without all the information. We speculate about things we may never fully know. In our reasoning, we assign meanings that are not ours to define.
 
We cannot predetermine the events of life or how we feel about them, but we can choose how we think about them. I decided a long time ago that the word of God would have the last word in my life. How amazing that God offers to share His infinite wisdom with me! I used to waste so much mental and emotional energy with fears and speculations. Now, when I get carried away by an avalanche of thoughts, that is my signal to turn to Jesus. I can trust Him and simply take Him at His word. How sweet it is!
 

“These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.”

Matthew 7:24-25 MSG

Success

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By , November 5, 2012 10:08 pm
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I simply adored my career in the pharmaceutical industry. My days were filled with visits to doctors’ offices all over northwest Alabama or sales meetings in fun cities. I had a company car, an expense account, and constant interaction with a wide range of fascinating people. I couldn’t imagine a job more enjoyable or better suited to my personality and preferences. The generous salary I received was gravy.
 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, my company announced a new incentive program to boost sales. Employees that exceeded their sales quotas and showed signs of leadership were in the running. Those chosen for this high honor would be acknowledged before the whole corporation. Winners not only received a nice paycheck bump, they also got to attend the National Recognition Meeting at a plush resort. The promised rewards got my wheels turning. I began to plan my work and work my plan. I intended to be at that meeting.
 

When the recipients were announced, I was delighted when they called my name that first year. Those extra sales calls had paid off. The taste of success left me hungry for more, so I put my competitive streak to work. To make sure that I won again, I delivered special care packages to my best customers. I ruthlessly guarded my much-prized Prozac samples so that they got me the biggest bang for my buck. The result was that I was chosen again and again for five consecutive years.
 

Even though my achievements were unprecedented in company history, and they made valiant efforts to give me special recognition, the law of diminishing returns began to set in. The firm continued to get increasing sales from me and I received very attractive perks from them. But it started to dawn on me that the exhilarating feelings didn’t last very long. More troublesome was the pressure I felt to somehow hold onto that top spot. I had to find a way to do even more than I was already doing to stay in the lead.
 

These fears were confirmed for me in a very memorable way on my fourth National Recognition trip. A significant moment happened during the awards ceremony. Each winner came to the platform to collect a gold pin, a plaque, and a handshake from the president of the pharmaceutical division. We moved forward in ranks, first time achievers first, followed by second timers, and so on.
 

I was the only woman in a tiny group of fourth-time winners. When I crossed the stage, instead of a standard congratulatory remark, the president greeted me with an unexpected question. “So, how are you doing on quota this year?” he wanted to know. There it was. He actually said it! My hard work of the past didn’t even merit a comment. The message was clear: Only the lead dog gets a change of scenery.
 

Someone captured this moment with a Polaroid camera. I found the picture when I was rummaging through a box in my attic this summer. I thought it very telling that such a groundbreaking accomplishment was forgotten in a hot, dusty attic for more than a decade.
 

That snapshot depicted the fleeting nature of my career pursuits. At the same time it raised questions about the true nature of success. As has been my practice since adolescence, I turned to the Bible for answers. What God has to say about success has little to do with fame or fortune.
 

We find God’s definition of success in the first chapter of Joshua. It comes at a pivotal point in Joshua’s life. He has just been appointed as successor to Moses and he has some tough shoes to fill. God addresses this issue in verse 5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” What a fantastic thing to say! It totally took the competition out of it. God guaranteed Joshua that he possessed the exact same secret that kept Moses thriving for forty winning seasons – His very presence.
 

God reveals the game plan for good success in verse 8. His basic strategy for us is to listen to Him and follow His instructions. If our life’s ambition is to wholeheartedly follow God, He says that we are a success!
 

A prosperous future awaits those who follow God’s plan. In my case, that meant that my days in the corporate world were numbered. God’s new assignment for me would include being a ful-ltime mom and leading a discipleship ministry. What I lost in earthly glamour has been replaced by priceless glimpses of God’s glory.
 

Whether we are conquering enemy nations like Joshua or seeking to make our lives count in the workplace, home, or community, God measures our achievement in ways that cannot be seen. His timeline is eternal. The rewards we reap will be beyond compare. We can have the joy of knowing that our lives have been well lived as we reach for the heavenly prize that awaits us.
 

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.

Joshua 1:8

 

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