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Monday, November 21, 2011
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"Counting Your Blessings"
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
Counting your blessings can be a challenge at times. Rather it's so easy and natural to focus on losses. Several weeks ago we mentioned our friends Tommy and Nelma Carpenter from Arkansas who visited us in mid October. A week later Nelma, along with one of their grandsons, was killed in a car accident. We've been praying for Tommy and the family and called last week to assure him of our continued prayer support. Certainly this will be a hard Thanksgiving for the family so soon after such a life altering event.
But during our conversation Tommy exuded faith and assurance of God's steadfast love and care. In the midst of devastating loss he was counting his blessings as he saw God's hand at work.
We believe that's the attitude God wants for us as we view life here on earth. It comes naturally to rejoice in the celebratory times but God also wants us to acknowledge our blessings during times of testing. After all, we're instructed to give thanks in everything, for this is God's will. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:18)
Do you have an attitude of entitlement or an attitude of blessing?
Which attitude would you rather be around?
We are often politely asked, "How are you today?" At this question we may tend to either provide the expected "I'm fine, thank you" without really giving it much thought, or we may immediately begin to consider our present physical condition or material provisions. At this we may still realize how blessed we are or we may consider negative aspects to our present circumstances such as our health, a family concern, finances or world instability. Jere, a friend of ours often states "Better than I deserve." An elderly woman in a nursing home always responds, "Too blessed to be stressed."
But there is a constant blessing that we do well to focus on, even though we do not experience it with our physical senses. Notice the phrase in the daily text speaking of the Father "who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." The apostle Paul wrote this from prison. He surely was experiencing little of what we so easily characterize as "blessings" today.
But his focus was on the spiritual blessings originating from the heavenly realms. These blessings, though unseen, are absolutely real. In the next several verses Paul rejoices in them and so can we, no matter what our external circumstances may be.
Take a moment and reflect upon one little phrase in our daily text. Notice the words "every spiritual blessing". Paul reminds the believers in Ephesus, readers throughout the centuries, and right up to our present day that this is how we've been blessed.
Today, as you go about a routine workday, it will be so tempting to look upon the physical realms, to assess our "blessings" or "headaches". When this happens get your focus back on the heavenly realms and your spiritual blessings in Christ: His forgiveness, His care and His discipline. These are but a few of our spiritual blessings in Christ. In the verses that follow Paul elaborates on these spiritual blessings one after the other.
With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God
For such a Redeemer as mine!
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, You have poured out Your abundance on us from the heavenly realms in all manner of blessings. You forgave our sins and broke the chains that once enslaved. You brought fulfillment in our lives as You gave us a sense of purpose. You provided for us a roadmap through the Holy Scriptures that leads ultimately to heaven. You've promised us eternal life. We experience peace that surpasses human understanding and the list is unending. For this and so much more we are eternally grateful. We deserve none of Your blessings and yet we receive them all, not only in this life but we lay hold of future blessings in the life to come. Prompt us to focus on our blessings since they far outweigh our troubles. Even when shadows darken the view of our blessings may they visibly surface as the indwelling Holy Spirit brings them to our remembrance. May it be our heart's desire to refresh others whom we meet from day to day in life's journey as we walk in the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Today we want to share music related to our message as well as songs with a theme of Thankfulness which we will leave up through the week.
"He Hideth My Soul" Video Haven Quartet This is the song that has the verse we concluded the message with and has the wonderful phrase "numberless blessings". We dedicate this song to our friend Tommy Carpenter.
"Count Your Blessings" Video The Martins (One of Brooksyne's favorite groups)
"Count Your Blessings" Video Smoky Mountain Hymns Instrumental (This the tune we are familiar with. We closed our service with this hymn yesterday.)
"I Want To Thank You" Video Karen Peck and New River This is a song expressing thankfulness to the many people who impact our lives and also reminds us of the blessing of seemingly insignificant expressions of faith. From the Gaither Homecoming series.
"In Everything Give Thanks" Video Charlotte Ritchie, Jeff & Sheri Easter
"Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me" Video Gordon Mote & Jason Crabb
"When I Thank Him For What He Has Done" Video The Cathedrals
"I Still Cling To The Old Rugged Cross" Video Lenexa Baptist Church This song is not necessarily related to our daily theme but it sure blesses my heart! Great graphics as well.
Karen Peck and New River We enjoy this group and here is a playlist with 11 songs.
A highly recommended read: We both are reading this book and would commend it to our readers. We will share a brief review in several days.
Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
By Billy Graham / Thomas Nelson
Special Thanksgiving Resources
We want to offer these resources to families and church leaders to enrich the spiritual impact of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will post these resources through this Thanksgiving Day here in the US (Thursday, November 24).
"Thankful For The Thorns": A family reading and exercise that is a wonderful way to give a thoughtful focus around your Thanksgiving Table. The Thanksgiving celebration typically includes family coming together for a huge meal and hopefully a heartfelt prayer of thankfulness. However it can often be difficult to have a spiritually oriented conversation. Why not add some stimulating discussion about the ways God has worked in your life over the past year! Some of you are not in charge and are only visitors at your Thanksgiving gathering, but if it is possible share together around the table the theme of "Thankful for the Thorns" (printable webpage).
"A Thanksgiving family exercise" (pdf). We have used this questionnaire as a stimulus for discussion among family members in the past in our home. We encourage you to share results around the table at Thanksgiving before or after the meal.
A Thanksgiving prayer: Written by Joe Sherer, a pastor friend of ours and shared as the benediction at our community Thanksgiving Eve service several years ago. (printable webpage) For those who enjoy written prayers this would be a beautiful prayer to read together at the Thanksgiving table.
A Thanksgiving Scripture reading: A selection of Old and New Testament readings dealing with thankfulness appropriate for church, family and personal readings. (pdf) (Suitable for printing out and copying.)
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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