I Corinthians 1:26-28 (NLT)
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important.
Today is a day set aside to be thankful. Thanksgiving is to be a part of our everyday life as a believer. But honestly, I am not grateful in all things. There are days in fact that I am quite unappreciative of the circumstances that dominate my life and affect the people around me. Life is not fair. It is not a place of equality and seldom do the situations of society make any sense. “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) The day after my son was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer, I was in shock. Somewhere in the night, I am convinced that God’s Hand picked me up and began to move my feet step by step. All the life had been drained from my body. My son had cancer. Nobody wants such a diagnosis but as a mother it is a mortal blow that takes every ounce of our being to overcome. Standing in the hall, I was asked the pointed question that might be deemed the first step of faith in our journey. “How can you love a God that would allow this to happen to your son?” Hello Satan! That didn’t take long, huh. The night before through tears of desperation, I told the Lord that I indeed trusted Him. Now my faith demanded a response, all that I could muster was this – “Nothing that I can say will change your mind about the God I serve or His Plan so you are just going to have to watch Him save him.” We don’t always know and understand what is happening in our life let along how it all works together for our good. This is God’s Promise for our life. (Romans 8:28) Not just the entire situation but every single detail in between. He wrote our life out moment to moment because we are precious to Him. I want to be thankful for all the Lord has done. But more importantly learn to find the blessings in everything He is doing and about to do in my life. I must learn to count my blessings in order to be thankful in all circumstances as this IS God’s Will for my life.
Proverbs 10:22 (NLT)
The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich and he adds no sorrow with it.
For many years, the holiday season has been marked by looming depression. How could this be with a wonderful husband and a houseful of children? The blues would come around Thanksgiving not leaving until New Year’s Day. I struggled to “make” the traditional family traditions not even wanting to decorate a tree. I never remember having a bad time during the holidays just that somewhere along the way the depression started. But for the last three years, we spent our holiday season in the infusion room while our son received chemotherapy for recurrent cancer. Dinners were planned on Pinterest and gifts ordered online – we skid the Suburban marked “Sleigh” in the driveway the night before the holiday. Where is the blessing in times like these? Are you depressed this season? Are you going through hard times? Are you filled with meaningless sorrow? Overcome by the need to give yet no resources to allow you to do so? The blessing of the Lord makes us rich. If I am not rich, how can I count my blessings? Oh friend, you are blessed. Sometimes God has to take away what we call “blessings” that are not so we can see the true and authentic blessings in our life. If the world can take it from you, it is not a blessing. You can earn it back. As if in a Dickens story, this tells of holidays past.
Romans 4:3-5 (NLT)
For the Scriptures tell us, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.
Faith is a requirement for every blessing that God gives us. If you can earn it, and it doesn’t require faith then you can get it again with a little hard work and motivation. Blessing is something that the Lord gives directly to us as a result of our faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith in Christ is essential to counting our blessings. It opens our eyes to what God is doing in us and for us rather than focusing our attention on the temporal things in life. Anything manmade can be impacted by the enemy in his efforts to “steal, kill and destroy”. Attachment to these things will cause us to be destroyed with it. Faith is the thing that keeps our heart “rooted and grounded” in His Love (Colossians 2:7) so that when bad times do come, we have faith to hold us like an anchor. (Hebrews 6:19) A blessed person is a faithful person.
Back to my story, so after years of depression followed by three years of battling cancer – I am changed for the better. I know it does not make sense. I am not bitter but blessed. I am filled with unprecedented joy and thankfulness that overflows. It is not because we are out of the woods yet. It is not because we have been granted a reprieve from the hospital. It’s definitely not because my birth mother passed away less than a month ago. There have been so many hardships this year that didn’t make sense. Not to mention, the tragedies all around us. But at last, I am free. I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow holds but for the first time in my entire life I have complete faith in He who holds my future. We have just endured the most difficult year of our life, yet right now, in this moment – I only feel blessed. Abraham believed God before Isaac ever came. He believed God implicitly with His Life, God counted Him as righteous. People are counted as righteous one way – by faith in Christ. Everything else had to be stripped away for me to see this truth – now I believe it.
Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
It is by faith that we find life. (Romans 1:17) When we call on the Name of Jesus, we are saved. When we decide to make Him the Lord of our life, His Spirit takes over. The Spirit of God takes every surrendered area of our life and makes good on God’s Promises in it. The problem is that we expect God to meet the world’s standard of living but God has a glorious standard for our life. We find live in Christ by the process of elimination most of the time as fear keeps us from releasing our will to have His Will. So we experience failure, devastation, or tragedy and grab hold of God. In that moment, He releases blessing in our life not because we are broken but because we believed. God’s Promises are not based on our misfortune but His Predesigned Will for our life. You can do nothing to earn God’s Blessing – just maintain a position of receivership seldom taken when things are going well.
The Holy Spirit who lives in every believer gives us the potential to live in the abundance of God that will produce blessing and prosperity in our life. We will have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. All of these things can give us satisfaction and contentment that is indestructible and untouchable when the enemy comes calling. Our position of faith secures us in right standing and the anchor of confident hope keeps us from moving in the storm so the blessing of God keeps on coming. You may even find it was there all the time simply ignored in our lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to the things of God!
2 Peter 1:3-7 (NLT)
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see. So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
God’s Ways are so much higher than our ways. (Isaiah 55:9) His Thoughts more intricate and profound than my own. I do not know what God is doing in our life but I like it. It is producing a wellspring of blessing inside of us that gives us joy and peace in the outcomes. But isn’t that what a miracle really is? We don’t know how it happens. It cannot be explained naturally. It makes its way in our life supernaturally. This is how every blessing from God works. It comes from the inside out. Faith is the conduit to every single blessing God predestined you to have. Faith is the only way that it’s going to make it into your life. Blessings and miracles are not earned but giving by a Loving Father to His Precious Children. There is always something to be grateful for. Counting our blessings requires faith. Living in His Blessings is a life of confident hope that trusts the Lord no matter how things look. This is how we count our blessings day by day from the inside out. Freedom is found when we live just this way. It adds no sorrow with it. Today our family celebrates life. May the love, joy and peace possible in Christ reign in your life!
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 (NLT)
So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do. Then the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored because of the way you live, and you will be honored along with him. This is all made possible because of the grace of our God and Lord, Jesus Christ.