Friday, October 26, 2012

Counting our Blessings

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. (Job 1:21b NAS)

Count Your Blessings
I remember a time when I was without a job for five years, yet throughout that period of struggles and waiting, God never for once failed to sufficiently provide for me and my household. Whenever our finances reached near rock bottom, a freelance assignment or something else would come by to tie us through for that period.

When the time of waiting was over, God granted me six happy years of meaningful work in a job I like as a technical and corporate writer. Sadly, however, the job was taken away from me during a corporate restructuring last year and I was back in the mode of waiting and praying. Thankfully, God granted me another job after several months in a whole new role treading on unfamiliar grounds, though writing is still part of it. I cannot be sure whether this job is to tie me through on short term or intended for long term as it is in a small startup without any guarantee of success, but I trust in God.

During trying times such as mine, we often find it difficult to feel blessed. Yet when we reflect, we know without a doubt how blessed we have been even amid struggles. Blessedness is never about how we feel, but about the assurance of our complete trust in God—the confidence we have knowing that God is in control.

When Job of the Old Testament was told of the disasters that happened one after another—including the death of his sons and daughters—he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” Through it all, Job did not sin nor blame God (Job 1:21-22).

What about us? Are we spending too much time complaining about the difficult times we are going through or are we counting our blessings? Are we blessing God for the many times He has taken care of us or questioning Him for events in our lives which seemingly were not to our favor or to our understanding? Are we thankful that God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)?

What a blessed people we are to be counted worthy to receive God’s salvation! Let us therefore sing as Mary had sung:

“My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.” (Luke 1:46-49 NAS).

Like Job and Mary, let us bless the name of our Lord, for we are truly blessed.

Dear Lord, thank You for counting us worthy to receive Your salvation. We are so blessed O Lord because You have been mindful of us in good and bad times, and especially when in need. Help us Lord to be grateful to You forever, regardless of circumstances. We know Lord You are in control of all things and in You we put our complete trust and confidence.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; (1 Corinthians 15:33-34a NIV)

Moisturizer & Toothpaste
I saw a photograph posted by a friend at Facebook recently that tickled me. In the picture were two container tubes of similar shape and size placed next to each other, one of moisturizer and the other toothpaste. In the post, my friend wrote “It's probably a good idea to make sure I'm wearing my glasses when brushing my teeth, huh?”

What came to mind immediately was of my friend struggling in the early morning without her glasses on trying to differentiate the toothpaste from the moisturizer. That thought was such a laugh!

Mistaking a thing for something else or a person for someone else is not uncommon. What's important is that we correct the mistake and set things right whenever possible upon discovering it, or in the case of a mistaken identity to apologize. If we choose to ignore, cover up or condone a mistake and continue to go in the path that is incorrect, then we need to come back to our senses and stop persisting in doing wrong (1 Corinthians 15:33-34).

Balaam is an example of one who persists to do wrong despite knowing what should not be done. God had forewarned Balaam not to put a curse on the children of Israel, yet he invited the Moabite officials to spend the night so he can find out what else the LORD would say to him (Numbers 22:12, 19). When Balaam saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials, God was very angry and sent an angel to oppose him. What turned out next was a conversation with a talking donkey, yet Balaam chose to go his own way and assisted the Moabites in causing the children of Israel to sin. For that error in judgment, Balaam was remembered for life—not as a funny or an unwise man—but as one gone astray for his love of unrighteous gains and a warning to others (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11; Revelation 2:14).

Are we at times like Balaam, easily swayed to go the wrong path or direction because of the promises of bountiful rewards? Are we making erroneous decisions because of a lack of knowledge of God’s word and His will? Are we influencing or influenced by the company of people we mix around with?

Be not deceived, the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). If we choose to follow their ways and continue in sin after we have received the knowledge of the truth, we should also expect the fearful judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Hebrews 10:26-27).

Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of our God: sternness to those who fall, but kindness to those who continue in His kindness. If we do not persist in unbelief, our God is able to graft us in again (Romans 11:22-23). Whatever hinders us, therefore, let us throw it away alongside the sin that so easily entangles. Pursue with perseverance the race that is marked out for us and fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Dear Lord, help us to always fix our eyes on You that we may not go astray in continuing with our mistakes. Correct and discipline us Lord when we go the wrong path that we may continue to walk in Your kindness.  When making decisions between right and wrong or between two that is neither right nor wrong Lord, lead us in Your perfect will. Guide us by Your Holy Spirit to come back to our senses when misled, deceived or mistaken. Remove from us Lord whatever hinders us from having a closer relationship with You. You O Lord are the author and perfecter of our faith, and in You alone we put our complete trust.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Delay Doesn't Always Mean Denial

Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (John 11:6 NIV)

Delay is not Denial
I don't know about you, but I like immediate answers. I like to have things on my time-table. I guess a good way to describe myself and most of humanity is that "I want what I want, when I want it!" Of course, we all have to grow up and out of this toddler-like mindset, but every once and a while it surfaces.

Most likely, when the messenger went back to Mary and Martha with the message that "this sickness will not end in death", Lazarus was already dead. Therefore this message had to have been hard for them to understand and could have possibly even caused them to doubt who they believed Jesus was. Most likely, they would have believed that Jesus and therefore, God had denied their request to save their brother's life. However, they were wrong.

A lesson that God has taught me in the last week is that delay doesn't always mean denial. Sometimes we have to wait for God, but we can rest assured that God hears us and always has our best in mind. But, even more than our best, He has His Glory in mind. Everything He does is for His Glory. He allowed Lazarus to die so that He could raise him from the dead and bring glory to God. Sometimes He allows us to wait because there are eternal things at stake that will ultimately bring Him glory.

When the nurse was looking at the tests results of my son Caleb and would not tell me what they were because the doctor had not seen them, I obviously thought the results were bad. I waited for his phone call all day and at 6 pm the nurse called to tell me the results were normal. The first thing out of my mouth was "Praise the Lord!" I spent the entire day praying and relying on God. If I had found the results out earlier, I might not have spent the day with Him. He is teaching me daily that He is my refuge no matter what happens.

Next time you are waiting on God, number one, please know you are not alone. And number two, know that just because He doesn't respond on your time table does not mean He is denying your request. Continue to seek Him, His will, and ultimately His glory. Elaine R. Price

Friday, October 5, 2012

Playing with the Pastry

Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19 NIV)

Playing with Pastry
There is a very cute advertisement on TV. I think it’s a Sainsbury’s ad. It features a father and son making a pie. It begins with each of them sprinkling the table with flour. Everything the father does from rolling out the pastry to tapping fingers on the counter, the son copies. The father places the rolled out pastry on top of the pie and carefully cuts away the excess, and the son completes the pie by adding the trimmings on top. The pie looks delicious as it comes out of the oven.

I don’t remember ever being in the kitchen and being given a bit of pastry to roll out while mum made the real thing, but that doesn’t mean to say it didn’t happen. When I think of learning how to cook I think of Domestic Science in school. Watching a demonstration and then doing it myself rarely led to any kind of success—except for bread. It is the one thing I ever made that turned out better than the teacher’s.

I suppose that I like the advert because it is a father and a son rather than a mother and daughter. It is all too safe to present the predictable images to sell products.

The son does what he sees the father doing. In the advert the father and son work together to make the pie. In the Kingdom the Father and the Son work together, with the Holy Spirit, to make something better than a pie!

Every member of God’s family is encouraged to join in—to work with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to build the kingdom.

… the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. (Isaiah 60:21 NIV)

The title of the chapter is ‘The Glory of Zion.’ How much of the work is the ‘work of My [God’s] hands’? How much of it is my work and not really God’s work through me? In the advert, the pie was really the father’s work—not much was the son’s. Did the father secretly scrape off the trimmings the son had put there, because the pastry, after the son had played for it a while, was just a little bit too grimy?

When I think of myself as a work of God’s hands—fearfully and wonderfully made—I begin to wonder sometimes if I haven’t really messed up Gods’ work, “myself”, with the grimy trimmings that I try to add. I begin to wonder whether God is able to really display His splendor through my life.

I don’t think the boy’s pastry trimmings were grimy because he had watched what his father was doing and copied him. He knew that he wasn’t just playing with pastry but making a pie. He watched his father’s every move—not just what the hands were doing, but the expression on his father’s face—the encouragement and approval. The father so desired for the son to succeed.

I will not spoil what God is doing in my life if, working with Him, I watch my Father’s every move, if I seek by faith to see the expression on His face and I am convinced He wants me to succeed.
I need to stop playing with the pastry. Melanie Kerr