The Joy of Advent: Day 17

Joy (2)

In the first verse of his song, “Count your many blessings,” published in 1897, Johnson Oatman, Jr., tells us,

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

“Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

This is a wonderful, life changing practice, as Ann Voskamp demonstrated aptly in her book, “One Thousand Gifts.” This Advent season we reflect on the truth that, of all the blessings God has given us,  nothing compares to this, “… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:5, NIV, emphasis added). Our redemption was all His doing, and His doing only.

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law] , so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. (Ephesians 2:8-9, AMP).

Prayer

Father, this Advent season, let us hear and read and experience this truth as if hearing and reading about and experiencing Your amazing love for the first time. Noel.

 


Other posts in the Advent 2017 series can be found here.

Still desperately needed: His Light. His Love.

HIS LIGHT. HIS LOVE. (2)

With the goal of determining if there was a blog post that I could repost this week, I searched my blog using “June 2016” as my search criteria. The post, “His light. His Love,” was the first to appear. The following paragraph grabbed my attention, “In every season of life, the world needs His love and His light. And this need is, perhaps, never more glaringly evident than during seasons of darkness and pain, ushered in by tragedies like the mass shootings which occurred in Orlando, FL, in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12, 2016.”

An internet search highlighted the truth that tragedies have continued unabated since June 12, 2016. They include several natural disasters. Among them were the following: flooding in Louisiana from August 12-14, 2016, which resulted in 13 deaths and an estimated 30,000 people displaced; three earthquakes in Italy in three months, which killed hundreds of people; hurricane Matthew in October 2016, that resulted in an estimated 1,600 deaths and damages in excess of $10.5 billion. The start of the new year brought no relief. In January 2017, more than 130 million people were affected by humanitarian crises such as disease outbreaks, natural disasters and conflict. It is believed that 58 million people are displaced worldwide and terrorists attacks continue, with the people of England experiencing multiple attacks in less than 14 days.

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world” we are told in Matthew 5:14. “God’s love has been abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit,” Romans 5:5, informs us. What was true in June 2016, remains true in June 2017 – “In every season of life, the world needs His love and His light. And this need is, perhaps, never more glaringly evident than during seasons of darkness and pain, ushered in by tragedies…” We are His light to the world and His love has been “abundantly poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Father God, the world still desperately needs Your light and Your love. The heavens tell of Your glory but You have purposed that Your light be seen and Your love be shown through us, Your children. We acknowledge that our ability to reflect Your light is too often impaired, and instead of love, what is seen in us is condemnation and self-righteousness. We confess our weakness. Our sin. Cleanse us, Father, so that Your light in us can be clearly seen. Help us let go of everything we need to and allow You to remove that from which only You can free us, so that Your healing, transforming love in us can constantly overflow to others. And Abba, help us love, not just in word but in deed. In Jesus Name.

Five Minute Friday: Dream

GO

I dream of being braver than I am
Not every now and again
But every time courage is called for

I dream of being faithful to God
Regardless of the circumstance
Regardless of how dangerous being faithful to Him might be
For my reputation
For my hopes of promotion

I dream of being loving
To love as He loves me
To allow the love that He has poured into my heart by the Holy Sprit
To flow out of me
In every waking moment

I dream of always being the first to reach out when a relationship is ruptured
Even when I cannot identify any specific injury I have inflicted
To forgive quickly
To stop holding grudges

I dream of being compassionate instead of judgmental
To stop trying to change people
But recognize that only God can do so
That I can only control my own behavior and can only do so with His help

I dream of being more generous
To live, as one minister said, not with the fear of running out
But faith in running over

I dream of becoming the person He created me to be
And I am thankful that this is not an impossible dream
Because even right now, He is at work in me giving me both the ability and the desire to please Him
I am dreaming

STOP
But Father, let me also act

Joining Kate Motaung and a group of courageous writers for Five Minute Friday. The prompt is “Dream.” To learn more about Five Minute Friday (and perhaps join us?) click here.