I have written about the hymn “Count your many blessings” here. Yesterday, I had several blessings to count, each one portraying the observable workings of the Lord. Here are eight pieces of gold I want to treasure:
- A sister delighting in how, after many years; many wild and rebellious years, a lady (the daughter of a friend) in her thirties had, the previous day, confessed Jesus as her Lord and Saviour.
- A sister, who had kept in touch with a younger sister in the Lord after she had long-moved on from Feltham, was being used to counsel the younger sister through some hard times.
- A younger sister, was rejoicing in how she had been rebuked by a brother in the church concerning an issue. Yes, she was rejoining and thankful. Rejoicing because the man had loved her enough to want to speak to her about the issue.
- A group of sisters getting together to study the Word.
- A lady who had never been to a prayer meeting attending the morning prayer meeting
- A younger brother from church spent the day involved in an apologetic ministry in central London
- I faced a situation with calmness and peace. This was something to treasure because it was a situation I had previously felt prone to go into with anger and frustration. The Lord does answer prayer.
- I received a sweet email telling me how i had misunderstood a matter. It was presented in such a gracious and encouraging way. A model for good email communication.
And I am led to praise the Lord and consider that the Lord is alive and working. And so i give Him all the praise. I want to pick up each piece of gold and treasure it and admire the Lord’s working in each.
I confess in my daily Bible readings I so often can read through a chunk of material and not take much in. Recently though as I was reading through, it was as if the Lord tripped me up, and said: “Look at this; this is for you”.
The verse was 1 Chronicles 28:20 which reads Then David said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous and do it. Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God, even my God, is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.
What golden good news that was to my weary beaten down soul. To know the Lord spurring me forward to continue on for Him.
One reminder here is the fact that it is not the starters who are the heroes; it is the finishers. And David encourages Solomon by promising him that the Lord God will not leave him or forsake him in his building work.
David speaks of “my God” and therein we notice all the personal character of the relationship with God in this scripture. And this God who is “my God”, according to David, gives every resource to move forward through the batterings and bruisings of life. So that with God and His resources we can know persevering joy.
There may be many enemies around who want us to be afraid and dismayed. If we look at ourselves we will succumb to fear and dismay. If we look to the Lord we can see things very differently. Let us by faith work out the assurance of 1 John 5:5-6:
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
So Philip keep going with strength and courage from the Lord in the task He has called you to. And perhaps you need to hear that for your situation today.
In Acts 4:26 we read of Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’), The apostles spotted in Joseph that he had a particular gift to encourage others. I feel it would be good to have more Barnabas’s around; those who are encouragers.
I, particularly want to focus on how we can encourage people at church. Think about who you could encourage this Sunday. There are no doubt various ones in your church who do lots of things in the background. They do important jobs so as to make the church function. There are those on the audio/recording, those arranging the flowers, those providing the refreshments, those cleaning the building, those taking care of the finances, those making sure the building is heated, those making sure the car park is tidy. There are no doubt many other tasks I have not mentioned.
Many people serve God in these ministries quietly and with little acknowledgement. We can easily say that they are doing it to serve the Lord and not men; that is true and all well and good. However, might we not be ministries of grace to them from the Lord to give them a little encouragement?
So this coming Sunday (or even before) why don’t you go prayerfully to church with a set purpose to encourage someone who is quietly serving with no fanfare. You never know, you may be the means of saving that person from giving up because nobody ever appreciates what they do!
I was on a bus journey recently from Manchester to London. Somewhat casually I was walking past the driver at the end of the journey and thanked him for getting us back safely to London. His reaction to those words was striking. He mentioned how much what I had said meant to him and how most people never said anything.
This lead me to ponder on the power of words of appreciation. How much blessing and encouragement can be brought into the lives of others by simply taking time to appreciate someone for what they have done.
So much of our lives is passed in taking things for granted. The meal provided, the rooms cleaned, the building opened up, the tables and seating arranged; the list could be endless. So many of things happen and we accept them and benefit from them without a word of appreciation.
I am challenged once again about seizing the initiative to show appreciation to someone. And as for yourself, why not get thinking and praying about who you can appreciate. You don’t know how much blessing you will bring thereby!
Children can be very demanding. Knowing that God has given you these precious gifts necessitates that you give your lives for their benefit. However, in all of this giving for the welfare of children, which is right and proper, a couple need to remember to nourish their own relationship. In fact if they start to drift apart and not be together then they will not be able to serve and benefit their children as they should.
So parents need to make sure they keep their relationship strong, fresh, vital and joyous as they move through the demanding task of bringing up children. How do they do this?
Time Together. It is vital that they spend time together. This might mean going to a quiet place in the home, if such a place can be found. More likely it means going for a walk together or “a coffee” at the local coffee shop. Taking a night or two away on your own might mean you have to take time to arrange things for the children to be cared for, but is well worth doing to give you time and space together.
One practical thing to think of is to make sure you have a lock on your bedroom door. This will give you opportunity for that quiet place. It will also mean that your times of intimacy are not threatened by one of the children barging in. A locked door means you can relax together and be for each other. An unlocked door means you are always on edge.
Encouragement. A mother can often feel she is of little use and is not being productive as she relentlessly goes through the drudgerous routine of home life. Changing nappies and preparing meals can seem endless. Husbands can feel that the responsibility they have in leading their family is just too big. Given these scenarios each must take time to encourage and appreciate each other. Failure to do this can lead to a cycle of despair.
So make sure that you take time to encourage each other. Perhaps at the end of each day stop and think have I encouraged my wife/husband today? If not make sure you do so before you go to sleep.
I am not fully sure why, but have felt somewhat “off” this week. Two things, though, specifically came from the Lord, I feel, to brighten me in the Lord:
- I was at the annual homeschoolers concert on Wednesday and there was a beautiful musical contribution of “Oh Love that will not let me go”. Here is a beautiful sung rendition. Oh such a rich hymn. There is a love that will not let me go.
- I listened to most of a sermon by John Piper preaching on Romans 8:1; there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Here it is. There is a great part about what are our experiences in this world of hardship, sufferings and difficulty when compared to an eternal bliss ahead. And all “in Christ”. Oh what a great Saviour.
So through these helps Lord please keep me for you Lord. Give me strength wisdom, sensitivity and bravery for today. I need you Lord. Oh may I know you Lord through all the ways of life until glory dawns: Yes, and I see my Saviour in “Immanuel’s land”
It is an interesting observation that when Jesus was giving instructions to His disciples pending His departure for glory, among those who were there (and it is very possible the 500 of 1 Cor 15:6 were there) there were some who doubted (see Matt. 28:17). The meaning of “doubted” is that they wondered which way they were going to go in the future; they wondered what the future was going to hold.
The important thing for us to grasp about these disciples is that they had not got everything sorted. There was some perplexity in their lives. However, Jesus did not write them off. He did not even say that they needed to be in a better place before they could do anything for Him.
Rather, it was to such that he presented the great commission. It was to such that He said that, as they went forth, they should be making disciples (see Matt. 28:19). It is as if he was saying: “you don’t know exactly the way to go. Well, don’t concentrate on that decision rather just get on and go and concentrate on making disciples. And as you make disciples you will be assured that you are on the right path.” That message encourages us today, that amidst the perplexities of life, we can be assured that we are in the right place in the Lord’s purposes, if we are concentrating on making disciples.
Oh, and don’t forget between v17 and v19 there is v18! And v18 tells us of one who is in control of all things. Jesus is in control of all things. As we move forward and seek to be involved in the biggest of businesses – that of disciple-making – we trust ourselves to the One who is in control of all things.
So here is good news for doubters everywhere:
- Jesus does not write you off.
- Get on with life and in your “getting on” focus on disciple making.
- And as you do so remember that Jesus is in control.
- So do not focus on your own perplexities, rather focus on working for Him and be a disciple maker and trust Him and obey Him as the mighty King.
(Thanks to Margaret Lee for the initial prompt in this musing)
(Originally posted at Venabling 08/09/2014)