Lucia's Blog: 2020-11-22
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, November 28, 2020

FEAR - LESS

 
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.”
1 John 4:18



Lately, I have been meditating on 1 John 4:18 with all that is going on in our world today, from COVID-19 to our political arena.  Often, we are faced with worry and crushed with anxiety over the unknown, things such as the coronavirus.  There is no break in the news.  Our lives have changed completely, both socially, spiritually, and psychologically.  Everywhere I look, there is fear.  Our whole country and even the church is being driven by fear.  So what must Christians do during these times of uncertainty? How must we handle our anxieties and fears?   The remedy to anxiety and fear is found in the Word of God.  The Lord has urged us not to be afraid, for perfect love casts out fear.  God wants His children to face their fears and overcome them.  Think for a moment what we are telling God when we are afraid. Does Jesus not care about us?   Why not trust our Lord no matter what we are going through in life?  God knows what’s best for us and cares about what we are going through. 

You see, worry will not change anything but only increases our fear and anxiety.  Instead of being afraid, why not pray to God and lay our worries and fears at His feet?  With God on our side, we can have victory over fear.  God has promised to take care of us, and we must trust in His promises. When we pray, we are trusting God.  But when we fail to trust in Him, neglecting prayer,  stress rises, and we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances.  Anxiety is hopeless despair and is an illegitimate fear of the future that contradicts our faith (Matthew 6:25-34).  God commands us to fear Him and nothing or no one else.  He also encourages us in His Word not to be afraid.  

Did you know that the expression “fear not” is found in the Bible more than sixty times?  That means that we must choose not to be fearful but courageous.  To be worried and afraid about matters of life implies that one does not trust God completely.  When our focus is on the treasures of this earth, we fail to trust in God completely.  I Corinthians 16:13 exhorts us saying,
"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong..." 
 
God wants us to be courageous.  
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)   

Let us not be afraid.  God does not want us to be cowards. He does not want His church made up of scaredy-cats! He commands us to be strong and steadfast in mind. So let us consider God’s viewpoint about overcoming our fears and accepting His remedy. 


I.   "FEAR NOT."

In 1 Peter 2:17, Peter declared, 

“Fear God.” 

Throughout the Bible, from beginning to end, God has demanded reverential, godly fear (Deut. 10:12; Eccl. 12:13).  Fear is a powerful motivating force.  

  1. It caused Adam and Eve to run and hide from God’s presence (Gen. 3:8). 
  2. Jonah fled his country by sea (Jonah 1:9-10). 

All who sin against God will fear His displeasure (Heb. 10:27).   On the other hand, the fear of God compels many to obey Him.  In the Old Testament, we have many examples of men who obeyed God because they feared Him.   
  1. Noah (Heb. 11:7).
  2.  Abraham (Gen. 22:12).
  3. The midwives of Egypt (Ex. 1:17-19).
  4. The early church (Acts 5:11) and 
  5. All who are aware of God’s coming judgment (2 Cor. 5:10-11).   


Although we are commanded to fear God, we are also encouraged not to be afraid. We find the expression,Fear not,” more than sixty times in the Bible.  The Word of God teaches us to "fear God" (Ecclesiastes 12:13) as a positive blessing.  This type of "fear" involves respect, honor, and reverence to God and will lead us to do God’s will. This fear is illustrated by Noah (Hebrews 11:7). The Bible also teaches us not to allow our hearts to be filled with "fear" as a negative attitude.  

In John 14:27,  Jesus said, 
"Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." 

This type of fear includes anxiety, dread, apprehension, etc.  It must not be confused with caution.  Let us notice more carefully such words of encouragement: “Fear not.”

  • Reasons Why God’s Children Must Not Have Fear: 
    • God has promised to bless us throughout our journey in life.  

God appeared to Abraham and told him not to fear.  He promised to bless him and his future generations (Gen. 26:24).   When the Israelites battled with King Og at the battle of Edrei, God comforted Moses with the words, “Fear not” (Num. 21:33-35).  

    • God has promised to protect us when we are in danger.   
He declared in Genesis 15:1

“Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield.” 


Elisha told his servant, 
“Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:16).
    • God has promised to strengthen us when we are weak. 
Moses encouraged the Israelites and Joshua with the words, 
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not” (Deut. 31:6-8). 

God repeated to Isaiah several times, 
“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee”  (Isa. 41:10).
    • God has promised to be our companion in trials. 
David compelled his son, Solomon, 
“Fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD” (1 Chron. 28:20).

Isaiah prophesies of  God’s promises to the church,
“Fear not: for I am with thee”  (Isa. 43:1-7).
    • God cares for His children. 
Jesus declared in Matthew 10:31
“Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.” 

He also said in Luke 12:32
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
    • God has promised us that He will give us life beyond the grave. 
Jesus told John in Revelation 1:17-18
“Fear not…I am he that liveth, and was dead.” 

The angel told the women at the tomb,
 “Fear not ye… for he is risen”  (Matt. 28:5-6).

What a great comfort for God to reassure His children with the words “Fear not!”    

“[Fear not], for I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me”  (Heb. 13:5-6).


Thus, let us trust God completely in faith so that we “Fear not!” 


II.   TYPES OF FEARS:  

  • Terror or Practical Fear:  

This kind of fear is our emotional reaction to sudden trouble.  Emotional fear is a practical response.  When we understand the consequences of our actions, we avoid them.  People behave recklessly when they lack this kind of practical fear.  Our young often lack this kind of fear because they have not experienced many of the terrible things that can happen when we are careless. They do things without thinking about the danger and consequences of their actions.  The fool is fearless because he lacks knowledge or understanding of the consequences of dangerous behavior.  When one fears God, he understands the consequences of disobeying God.  He is not willing to test God with sinful behavior.  Practical or reasonable fear compels us to avoid sin and walk God’s level path of righteousness.

  • Cowardice: 
This type of fear does not allow us to accomplish what must be done because we are afraid of the consequences. 

    • Fear of the Future (Anxiety):  
Anxiety is also another type of fear. Anxiety is stress which comes from not trusting God.  It expresses itself as hopeless despair and is often self-incriminating.  Jesus regards worry as an illegitimate fear of the future, which contradicts our faith.  In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus declared,  

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  28 'So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin;  29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  31 'Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

This kind of fear is difficult to identify since we tend to view it as natural or merely a simple concern for what we believe is essential.  But Jesus condemns this kind of fear, for it shows a lack of faithFear of the unknown or the future can freeze us and make us inactive and fruitless.  One example of this kind of fear is the rich young ruler of Matthew 19.  This young man was afraid to give all away.  His fear kept him from being Jesus’ disciple.  

    • Fear of Rejection:

Indeed, we all want others to think well of us and accept us.  But when we hesitate out of fear of rejection, "the fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe"  (Proverbs 29:25).  When we do the right thing, we often do things that others may not like.  Many are led into the path of sin and unrighteousness because of those leading the way around them.  One example is Peter, who denied the Lord because of those around him (Matthew 26:69-75).  And though many followed Jesus while He was on earth, they did it secretly for fear of others (John 19:38). However, Christians must be willing to take a public stand for the Lord to receive salvation (Romans 10:9-10). It is sad that so many esteem men more highly than they do Jesus!  Christ’s disciples must never fear because God is watching over us.  

    • Fear of Pain and Discomfort:

Clearly, we all want to be comfortable and not feel pain and discomfort at all.  However, some Christians will do anything to avoid confrontation. Yet, when Paul was thrown out of the city and stoned, he reentered the city (Acts 14:19-20). God wants us to be faithful, even to the point of death (Revelation 2:10). With God on our side, there is no need to fear what men can do to us (Psalms 118:6).

"The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?

    • Fear of Failure: 

In Jesus’ parable of the talents, He stresses the negative impact of fear.  

Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed.  25 And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’  26 'But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed.  27 So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.  28 So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.  29 ‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.  30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’’'  (Matthew 25:24-30)


The fear of failure immobilizes us. It is much easier to remain where we are than to try the unknown and fail.  This is exactly why God told Gideon to send away all who were afraid of battle (Judges 7:2-3). It is no army, the army of the fearful. Why?  Simply because the fear of failing is contagious and spreads rapidly (Deuteronomy 20:8).  Sadly, many do not obey God or become children of God because of fear.  Because of fear, many Christians do not grow and serve the Lord faithfully.  Because of fear, many will lose their souls!  

    • Fear of Death: 

Jesus died to release us from the bondage of the fear of death (Heb. 2:15). We cannot deny that we are by nature creatures who are afraid of the unknown.  We don’t know what lies beyond the grave.  But we Christians know that we must not fear death.  The death of our loved ones becomes a real test of faith in God.  The world is absorbed with the pursuit of living a long life.  They want to live forever because they fear the unknown, death.  But Christians know better, for they have Jesus as their answer to the fear of death.  

    • Reverent Fear or Respect:  

In the Bible, the word fear is often connected with God as reverential respect. It implies the idea of standing in awe of God, acknowledging His superiority and authority. It is referred to as the fear of the LORD.”

      • The Fear of The LORD:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever”  (Psalm 111:10).


From the beginning, God has always commanded His children to fear or respect Him and His Word.  Fear of God is the same as obedience to Him.  Fear of God’s wrath or judgment is essential to our salvation.  God’s children must be prepared to face God one day to avoid His wrath on us.   

"For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,' says the Lord. And again, 'The Lord will judge His people.'  31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.'" (Hebrews 10:26-31)

“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.”  (1 John 4:17-19)


Since the precious blood of Jesus has forgiven us, there is no need to live in fear or terror.  God’s love has made a way of reconciliation for us with Him and thus enables us to avoid His wrath.  

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  (2 Peter 3:9)

  • “No  Fear.” 

Fearlessness is often considered a positive trait.  Some fear is good, reasonable, and necessary.  The humanist is treasuring up for themselves the wrath of God. Men live in fear every day.   

“But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”  (Revelation 21:8)


We Christians must live without the fear of the world. We must live in the fear of God.   In Genesis 22:12, God told Abraham after his sacrifice of Isaac. 
“Now I know you fear Me.” 

Fear is equivalent to faith.  Why?  Because when we put our trust in God, doing what He commands us to do, we have nothing to fear.  In Psalms 33:18-22, we read, 

“Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, On those who hope in His mercy,  19 To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.  20 Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.  21 For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.  22 Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, Just as we hope in You.”


The fear of God is central to our salvation.  In Acts 10:34-35, Peter said, 

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”


The writer of Ecclesiastes 12:13 declares, 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.”


So, whom do you fear, God or man?

Consider some examples in the Old Testament, where God’s people were commanded to fear the LORD:  

    • Abraham:

 Abraham demonstrated the wrong "fear" in Genesis 12:11-13; 20:1-2“Fear" led Abraham to practice deceit.

    • Moses:

Moses called God’s people not to be afraid but to fear God. 

In Exodus 20:20, Moses urged the people saying, 

Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” 


Moses demonstrated his "fear" in Exodus 3:11, 13; 4:1, 10 "Fear" led Moses to attempt to justify himself before God while refusing to obey Him.

    • Before Israel entered the Land of Canaan:

In Deuteronomy 6:2, before Israel entered the Land of Canaan, Moses urged God’s people, saying, 

That you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son's son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long.” 

    • Joshua’s Death:

Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:14)


III.   SPIRIT OF FEAR?

Timothy was a younger preacher and traveling companion of Paul, who was like a son to him in the faith. As we read Paul’s last letter to Timothy, we discover a problem many Christians face. 

“God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”  (2 Tim. 1:7-8).  


Although Timothy knew the Truth, fear of his circumstances may have caused him to draw back from Paul.

Are you prone to stand for the Truth, or do you cower in fear?  

Consider a few Bible examples of men who stood for the Truth without “fear.”

  • Elijah:

Elijah was not afraid to take a stand for the Truth.  It is amazing how the prophet of God confronted Baal’s 450 prophets without fear, trusting God.  Elijah mocked Baal and his prophets for not sending fire to consume their sacrifice.  Paul’s words to Timothy described Paul well, for he was not ashamed of our Lord’s Testimony.  

  • Nathan: 

He was not afraid to stand up for the Truth either.  He confronted King David for the wrong he had done.  Remember that David hid his sins from the nation.  David lied and murdered his lover’s husband.  He had become an adulterous murderer. God’s messenger, Nathan, dared to face the king, who could have killed him just like he did others to cover up his sin.  It would not have made any difference to David had he murdered the only man who knew of his evil actions.  Yet, Nathan courageously told him, “Thou art the man.”  Do you know these four words could have cost the prophet his life?   Yet, Nathan was not ashamed of the Testimony of the Lord, just like Paul.  

  • John the Baptist:

He is another courageous man who was not afraid to take a stand for the Truth.  The Jewish people were aware of Herod taking the wife of his brother, Philip, to be his own wife. John courageously confronted the king. John did not hesitate to tell Herod that he had violated God's Law by committing such lawless actions.  The Greek translation indicates that John told him not just once but over and over. He reminded Herod of his sin repeatedly. His stand for the Truth cost him his life.  Again John was not ashamed of the Testimony of the Lord.  How about you and me?  Are we afraid to take a stand for the Truth, even if that might cost our lives? 

Take, for instance, 

  1. Our nation that has shamefully and openly chosen to redefine marriage and kill the innocent souls of babies in the womb.  
  2. Our nation has allowed ungodly men to lead us as our leaders.  
  3. Morals and values that were once sacred to us as a nation under God are now cast aside.  
  4. God’s laws and principles of righteousness are not only ignored but are passed by to allow men to mock God and His righteousness.  

Christians, how do you react?   
  1. Do you react with a spirit of fear?  
  2. Are you ashamed of the Testimony of the Lord, refusing to take a stand for righteousness? 
  3. I ask, “How long, O Lord, how long?” 
  4. Are we ashamed?


The following are a few Bible examples of great men who were overcome by fear at some point in their lives.  But God urges us not to be overcome by “fear.” 

  • Elijah:

He demonstrated his "fear" in 1 Kings 19:1-4.  "Fear" caused Elijah to become discouraged.

  • Job:

He demonstrated his "fear" in Job 3:25.  Job's "fear" became a reality.

  • Peter:

He demonstrated his "fear" in Matthew 14:30; Matthew 26:69-75.  Peter's "fear" caused him to sink when, by faith, he had been walking on water, and then later, his fear led him to deny Jesus.

  • The one-talent man:

He demonstrated his "fear" in Matthew 25:24-25"Fear" prevented this man from using what he had been given.


IV.   OVERCOMING OUR FEARS:

To overcome our fears, we must remember that God forbids “fear,” for fear is not of God (2 Tim. 1:7).  We also must remember what will happen to “the fearful” or "the cowardly" (Rev. 21:8).  We must trust God and not lean on our own understanding (Prov. 3:4-6).  We must get rid of anxiety and live one day at a time, forgetting tomorrow and acknowledging that God will take care of us today, for He has only promised us today (Matt. 6:34).  Love must fill our hearts (1 John 4:18). 

Fear is a serious problem in our society.  When we allow fear to control us, it will destroy us little by little.  It will rule our minds and bodies.  Many are afraid of things that are of the unknown, the future.  Some fear growing older or dyingThat is futile! Rather than worrying and being fearful of growing older and dying, why not start preparing for them the best we can? Death is not the end (Heb. 9:27).  It is a blessing to grow old (II Cor. 4:16). Moreover, people worry or are afraid of things that will never happen. The truth is, most of our fear will never happen, so we must understand this truth and stop worrying.  So, if worry and fear are ruling over your life, it is time to start conquering it today! The cure for fear and anxiety is simply to trust in God’s faithfulness, love, and providential care.  

In Mark 4:35-41, Jesus and His disciples are in a boat trying to cross the sea of Galilee.  But out of nowhere, a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat because they were so big. So their boat began to fill with water.  But Jesus was asleep, even as the boat was rising and falling as the water was splashing into the boat!  Notice what Jesus’ disciples said to Jesus in verse 38.  

“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 


Does that not sound familiar when we are afraid and filled with worry?  Do not we cry out to God saying, “God don’t you care? Do you not know what is going on? Do you not care that we may die?”  

Now let us pause for a moment and think about our questions to God. Stop and think about what the disciples were asking. Are we aware of what we are asking God when we are afraid?  Do we not acknowledge that our Lord Jesus cares about us and everything that is happening around us?  Honestly, stop and think about it.  Do you believe with all your heart that Jesus cares about you?  I hope that your answer is a big YES no matter what you are going through.  Yes, Jesus cares for you and about you. Jesus cares what you are going through. Jesus cares about your life!  

Isn't it remarkable what Jesus did afterward!  He spoke, and the wind stopped, and the sea calmed down.  So what was Jesus trying to teach and show His disciples?  He showed them that He had complete control over the earth.  There is nothing outside of Jesus’ power.  He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). Stop and meditate on this for a moment.  

  1. Is there anything impossible for our Lord?  
  2. Is there anything too difficult for Him? 
  3. Is He not capable of answering all our requests or supplications?  
  4. Is there anything that God cannot do outside of His skill set?  

This is precisely what Jesus was trying to show His disciples.  

Jesus asked next, 
“Why are you so afraid?” 

This is God’s question to His disciples and us as well. Why are you so afraid? Now, stop and think about how His disciples should have answered His question.  They could have easily said that they were afraid and in danger because the boat was almost sinking and they were going to drown!  It is foolish to doubt who Jesus is and His care for us.  Jesus cares, and that must calm us when we are afraidJesus has total control over the affairs of this earth!  So why are we so afraid?!  

In verse 40 of our text, Jesus continues saying, 

“Have you still no faith?” 


In Luke’s account  (Luke 8:22-25),  Jesus asks, 
“Where is your faith?”  (Verse 25)

Can you grasp what Jesus is trying to show us?  Fear comes from lack of control. When we lack control, we fear.  That is why we see so much chaos all around us.  When people start realizing that they have no control, they panic.   Of course, we like to believe that we have control, but the truth is we do not.  We forget that we have zero control, especially over a virus like COVID-19.  Our lack of control generates fear.  That is exactly what we are seeing now!  But do we acknowledge that  God is in control and not us?  Where is our faith and our trust in God?  We must believe that our Lord cares and is in control over all.  True faith does not panic but instead turns our fear over to God.  

So how do we overcome our fears and worries?  Why not read Matthew 6:24-34 It is a very rich and encouraging passage that we can hold on to during our hard and difficult times.  

We must not worry about the physical things of this world. It is about our focus and mindset. When we worry and are afraid, we are focusing on the wrong things, and it will be impossible to defeat fear and anxiety.

The best way to defeat fear is to acknowledge that we are valuable to God (Matthew 6:26, 28-30).  We must be mindful that God does care for us and what is happening to us.  We are so valuable to God that He sent His only Son to die for us.  Jesus’ cross demonstrates the depth of God’s love and care for us!  And though God cares for the smallest sparrows, feeds them, and knows when they fall from their nests, we are worth more than sparrows to God, for we were made in God’s image. He made us to have a relationship with Him.  

Feeling fearful because of worry is worthless (Matt. 6:27).  We waste our God-given time worrying about what we watch on TV, the news, or any other source of media.  We are constantly reminded of our present Coronavirus and how many people are infected and dying.  But do we have control over a virus such as this?  Only God has control and can change it.  So, what can our fears and worries amount to?  Why do we spend so much time in fear and worry over things that we have no control over and cannot change?  Thus our fear and worry are worthless! 

Our heavenly Father knows what we need (Matt. 6:31-32).  God has shown us repeatedly in His Sacred Book how He took care of the nation of Israel throughout their journeys in the wilderness.  God was aware of what they needed, and He took care of them.  He knew they needed food and shelter, and He provided for them.  God knows what we need, for He cares.  So stop worrying and start trusting God more!  Where is your faith?  

Do you want to know the answer or the remedy for fear?  Seek God first and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).  Turn to God instead of turning away from Him, ignoring Him and His precepts.  

You may rest assured that if you seek God diligently, He will take care of the rest.  Worry and fear show our lack of faith and trust in God to provide for us.  We worry and are fearful because we refuse to believe that God will provide for us.  Trusting in self and others to provide what we need will only bring worry and fear.  God has promised us that He will take care of us if we seek Him first. Instead of worrying and being afraid, why not allow God to show you that He cares and loves you?  Why not show God that you truly believe in Him and that He will take care of you today, not tomorrow, for today is all we are promised?  

Let go of tomorrow (Matt. 6:34). Why do you worry about tomorrow?  Jesus commands you to stop worrying about tomorrow.  He wants you to give tomorrow to Him.  He wants you to give your future fears and future worries to Him alone.  Why not thank God that He has given you today?  Learn to live for today and let tomorrow go!  Don’t place your hope in this world but on God.  I must choose always to be fearless and trust my Father in heaven no matter what may come my way!

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (Philippians 4:4-7)  

Paul's words compel us to be fearless and anxious about nothing.  When Paul wrote this letter to the brethren in Philippi, life was not easy for them.  They were encountering many problems for proclaiming Jesus as the king rather than the Roman emperor. As we read this letter, we can observe these problems. 
"Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have." (Philippians 1:27-30)


Paul is urging these brethren to stand firm in the faith. 
“Not frightened in anything by your opponents.” 

They were suffering for the sake of Christ because they were engaged in the same conflict as Paul. Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned when they came to Philippi (Acts 16:23-24).  These brethren were undergoing severe persecution and suffering. But notice Paul’s words again:

“Do not be anxious about anything.” 


Do you suppose Paul wrote those words because things were going well?  What do you think?  Not at all! Notice that Paul was imprisoned when he wrote this letter. When Paul wrote this letter, these Christians were being beaten and arrested for proclaiming Jesus and standing firm for their faith.  What do you think these Christians were experiencing?  How do you feel when you’re told not to be anxious about anything considering the suffering and distress you are experiencing? 

Paul simply asked these brethren to rejoice!  But how are we to rejoice and be fearless when things are dark and awful?  When Paul commanded these brethren to rejoice, he did it for various reasons.

  1. These brethren were supposed to appreciate what they had in the Lord and what He had given them.
  2. They were not supposed to look at their circumstances because it is almost impossible to rejoice when we focus on them.  Rejoicing requires looking past our circumstances, for it is the Lord who rules over our circumstances. 
  3. They were supposed to look past their circumstances and focus on their hope, their salvation. 
  4. Nothing must separate us from the love of God:  distress, famine, persecution, danger, and difficulties. If God’s love does not leave us, our love must not leave Him.   
  5. It is much easier to rejoice and be fearless when considering what God has done for us and how He continues to bless us.  When we consider how valuable we are to God, nothing will shake us or move us from our hope.  


One of the main reasons we Christians must behave graciously amid our panics and fears is because people are watching us.  In Christians, people must see something different from what they see in the world in our times of chaos. Thus, we must avoid becoming irrational when our world becomes irrational.  We must not behave like the world, for they do not know the Lord.  We must rejoice and be reasonable when our world is upside down because the Lord is near us. Knowing God is near us must compel us to handle our fears and anxieties in a manner worthy of God and the Gospel.  

Christians must not allow fear to overwhelm them under any circumstances.  Period!  Why?  Simply because the Lord is always near us when we seek Him, especially through prayer.   God commands us to pray and not worry about anything.  Our worrying does not accomplish anything but makes our fear and anxiety increase.  Instead of worrying and stressing, why not choose to pray with thanksgiving as we have been commanded?

“But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”


Anxiety shows our lack of trust in God’s care. On the other hand, prayer shows our trust in God’s care (1 Peter 5:6–7).  So throw all your anxieties and fears on God because He cares for you.  Humble yourself before His mighty throne of Grace and give Him your worries and fears.  


CONCLUSION:

The best remedy for worry and fear is to make known our requests to God so that His peace will guard our hearts and mind. There is no peace when we are anxious, worried, and fearful.  And though God might not fix our troubles when we cast them on Him, He will indeed give us His peace.  Another good remedy to help us eliminate our fears is to think on God’s spiritual thingsWe must exchange our thoughts of fear for thoughts that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. Worry and fear arise when our thoughts are out of control.  Do you want to know what raises fear?  Watching tv, the news, the internet, and social media.  So stop participating in such things that rattle your faith and start focusing your thoughts on the things of God!  Read your Bible more and pray, pray, and pray.  Do not allow the things of this world to dominate you and cause you to obsess on worries and fears!  

We must trust God so that we may rejoice, be fearless, and be reasonable.  We must not fear the future or fear the unknown, but instead fear the LORD.  When we fear God, He protects us, giving us hope, joy, and peace.  Remember, God commands us to have joy, not fear.  Our failure to fear God is what cripples us, but the fear of the LORD makes us truly fearless and immovable.

Likewise, it is wise and reasonable to spend more time in prayer when we are worried, anxious, and afraid to allow God's peace to guard our hearts and minds.  Remember that God is near when we humbly draw near to Him in prayer.  Finally,  look past your circumstances and instead look to God.  Remember, the Lord has commanded multiple times saying,  “Fear Not.”  

  • Fear not, God is with us.  
  • Fear not, God is our God.  
  • Fear not, God will strengthen us.  
  • Fear not, God will help us.  
  • Fear not, God will uphold us.

Let these thoughts be our constant reminders, God’s pillars, and promises when we face fear in our daily lives that we must overcome. 

“Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God.” 


Yes, we must believe in God!  We must trust God!  We must allow God to be our Helper and our strength.  He will uphold us with His righteous right hand.  Thus fear not, seek the LORD, and put your trust in the One who created it all.  

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  (Isaiah 41:10)


May we fear not but instead trust God always amid our panics and fears.  May we allow God to be our Helper and strength when we are afraid and worried.  May we draw nearer to the throne of God in prayer when we are worried, anxious, and afraid to allow His peace to guard our hearts and minds.  And finally, may we always look past our circumstances and instead look to God for help.

Luci


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!

 
“You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!  I will proclaim and tell of them,  yet they are more than can be told.”
Psalm 40:5



This week we are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday to give thanks for all the blessings that we enjoy.  We are indeed blessed!  The song “Count Your Blessings” reminds us of God’s blessings toward us at all times.   We have an abundance of reasons, especially as God’s children, to give thanks at all times, even when life is hard, and we are struggling.  We must be careful not to become ungrateful, taking for granted the numberless blessings God bestows on us. We must be grateful and count our blessings!

The song “Count Your Blessings” compels us to see the goodness of God in our lives, even amid troubling times.  Yes, we must name God’s blessings one by one.  Sadly, we often neglect to count our blessings, forgetting to thank God for them.  How often do we lose sight of God’s blessings to us in Christ?  It is not enough to simply say, “thank you, God, for every spiritual blessing.”  Why?  Because we also must completely appreciate those spiritual blessings.  The apostle Paul reminds us that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing.  

“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


God had told Abraham,

 “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”’ (Genesis 15:5)


God told Abraham that his seed or descendants would be as the multitude of stars in the sky, and just as the stars in the sky are a multitude, so are the blessings that God abundantly bestows on us. Why not pause for a moment and meditate on this truth, and count our blessings when we are discouraged?  Why not pause and count the many blessings our Father in heaven bestows upon us when we feel self-sufficient?   

James wrote, 

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17)


God is the source of all blessings:  physical and spiritual.  God is the source of all life, the breath of life. God breathed the breath of life into Adam, and the man became a living soul (Gen 2:7).  God gives to all mankind  “life and breath, and everything” (Acts 17:25).  May we always thank God that we are able to breathe without help!  The ability to breathe without help is indeed a blessing that many don’t have.  There are those on life support or that need an oxygen tank to walk around.   Thus let us stop and be thankful for all that we have and give God the glory for His abundant blessings in our lives.  We are blessed beyond measure!  

Not only have we been blessed with every spiritual blessing, but God has blessed us abundantly.   Let us consider the abundant spiritual blessings we have in Christ. 


I.   COUNTING OUR ABUNDANT BLESSINGS

  • The first stanza of the song reads:  

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.


In stanza 1, we are encouraged to count our blessings, naming them one by one, especially when we are discouraged and troubledIndeed, life is not easy here on earth!  We are always facing challenges and hardship.  Because of these challenges and troubled times, we become discouraged and believe “all is lost.” Yet during those difficult times, we must slow down and turn to our Lord, acknowledging how truly blessed we are.  God declares,

“Be still, and know that I am God.”  (Psalm 46:10)


Although our lives are frantic and fast-paced, God commands us to slow down and turn to Him.  Often we deceive ourselves, thinking that we do not need God, but it is at that moment that we must acknowledge that we need Him the most. 
"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.'  But you were unwilling."'  (Isaiah 30:15)


May we never be unwilling to rest, repent,  be quiet, or unwilling to trust in the Lord’s strength. May we never be reluctant to count our blessings!  

Being tempest-tossed symbolizes our life’s trials and tribulations.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness."  (Jas. 1:2-3)  

It is easy for us to be discouraged during these times—even Paul was discouraged. 
"For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself."  (2 Cor. 1:8)

Yet, while Paul was in prison, he prayed.  I am pretty sure his prayers included thanksgiving.

"But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. 20 And when they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, 'These men are Jews, and they are disturbing our city. 21 They advocate customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to accept or practice.' 22 The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates tore the garments off them and gave orders to beat them with rods. 23 And when they had inflicted many blows upon them, they threw them into prison, ordering the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Having received this order, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.  25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.'"   (Acts 16:22-25)


  • The second stanza reads:
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.


Worry ruins our lives.  On the other hand, when we count our blessings, doubt and worry will fly, and we can sing as the days go by.  Indeed, we all have a cross to bear, which at times can be very heavy to carry.  It is the burden that Jesus commands us to put aside.  He wants us to trust Him and bear His cross (Matt. 16:24-28).  Because of God’s promise to us, we can count our many blessings, and thus every doubt and fear will fly.
"Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"  (Heb. 13:5

 As we trust God’s promises, our hearts will greatly rejoice, and we shall be singing.
"The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults,  and with my song I give thanks to him."  (Ps. 28:7)  

God wants us to put aside our personal interests so that we can crucify the old man of sin of death and follow Christ with our whole heart.

“As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, 'I will follow You wherever You go.' And Jesus said to him, 'The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.' 59 And He said to another, 'Follow Me.' But he said, 'Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.' 60 But He said to him, “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.” 61 Another also said, 'I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.' 62 But Jesus said to him, 'No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”'  (Luke 9:57-62)


Since God has blessed us abundantly through Christ, we must put aside the cares of this world, putting our spiritual blessings first and above everything else in life.  Our heart must follow Him completely.  We must bear His cross as we go through this painful and difficult life. In Galatians 2:19,  the apostle Paul declares, 

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  


So, we must truly be crucified with Christ.  Our self-reliance must also be crucified.  Why?  Because if we refuse to do this, doubt and the cares of this life will overcome us and won’t fly away.  As we crucify self and rely on our Lord completely, our hearts will be full of joy and love.

  • Stanza 3 (not in HFWR) states: 
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings. Money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.


When we count our blessings, we discover that money can never buy God’s wealth untold.  The Bible warns us about the love of money and its danger.  It also urges us to be content with what God provides and abstain from the desire to be rich with lands and gold.  The love of money is the soil for all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:9-10).  Our Lord has promised us that if we lay up heavenly treasures, we will inherit a far greater wealth (Matt. 6:19-20).  When we count our blessings, we are reminded of God’s daily benefits that money cannot buy (Ps. 68:19).

  • The fourth stanza reads:

So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.


Counting our blessings reminds us that God is in control over all whatever may come our way.  Thus we must trust Him and never get discouraged.  

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written, ‘For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”’  (Romans 8:31-39)


The word “conflict” in this stanza refers to our spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12).  And though we are engaged in a spiritual warfare, we are not alone, for God is over all (Ps. 103:19).  Therefore, we must acknowledge that God will help us, for He is the giver of every good gift (James 1:17).



II.   OUR ABUNDANT BLESSINGS IN CHRIST:

  • Abundant Mercy and Grace:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…”  (1 Peter 1:3).


God has shown abundant mercy toward us. He has not given us what we deserve because of our sins, for He is a merciful God.  We all were dead in our sins, and we absolutely deserved to remain in that condition and be separated from God. We deserve to be cut off from God.  We deserve the outcome of Uzzah, Ananias and Sapphira, and Nadab and Abihu.  God has every right to punish us, for we have violated His commands and have committed wickedness toward Him.  Because of His abundant Mercy and Grace, His wrath has not consumed us. We do not receive what we deserve because of our transgressions!  Instead, God has extended pardon to us in His mercy (Eph. 2:1-10; Isaiah 55:7).

I cannot fathom how God would want to pardon us from our sins so abundantly!  Why would He do that for us? Why would He be so merciful to us?  Isaiah gives us the answer.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.”  (Isaiah 55:8


I can assure you that none of us would have had such mercy toward someone else with the many violations against God.  But God, out of His abundant Mercy, has pardoned us.  Because of God’s abundant Grace, we can receive the gift of salvation.  He can pardon our sins even though we are not worthy of such a gift. 

“If, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ”  (Romans 5:17). 


We do not deserve God’s gift.  But because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God has extended Grace to us, instead of giving us what we deserve for our actions.  These concepts of God’s Mercy and Grace are linked together in Ephesians 2:4-9. Because of God’s abundant Mercy, He has saved us by the immeasurable riches of His Grace. We receive God’s gift through faith in Jesus.

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  (Ephesians 2:1-11)


  • Abundant Goodness:

“O how abundant is your goodness that you have laid up for those who fear you, and accomplished for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of everyone!”  (Psalm 31:19


God’s goodness is laid up for those who fear Him.  His goodness works in those who turn to Him for refuge.  The word “goodness” indicates God’s desire to do good things for His children.  God is abundant in His goodness toward His children. God gives His children everything they need. 

“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3). 


Everything that we need to live and be in God’s likeness has been granted to us.  Because of this, we can do what God has laid out for us.  He does this for His glory and great goodness.  Jonah, the prophet, acknowledged this truth of the character of God. God’s love is so great that it compels Him to act in goodness toward His children.  Jonah said, 

“He prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity”’  (Jonah 4:2). 


Jonah knew that because God is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness, God would not punish them when he preached to Nineveh, and they repented in sackcloth and ashes.  The Psalms declare,

“The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Psalm 33:5). 


It is hard for many to fathom the working of God’s providence in their lives!   Why do I say that?  Because they often attribute that which must be attributed to God’s providence to luck, fortune, and destiny.  We must acknowledge that the earth is full of God’s goodness! Everything that exists is because of God’s goodness.  
  1. Why do we live? 
  2. Why is there a universe? 
  3. Why do we have plants, animals, celestial bodies, and so forth?  

Because of God’s goodness.  God created all things for our benefit and because of His goodness. Thus we must give thanks for God’s goodness, for it is through His goodness that we exist and are sustained.  In Psalm 107, the Psalmist declares repetitively God's goodness four times in this Psalm.

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8)

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!"  (Psalm 107:15)

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!"  (Ps. 107:21)

"Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!"  (Ps. 107:31)  

 

  • Abundant Power:

“Great is our LORD, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure” (Psalm 147:5). 


God’s abundant power is vital in developing our faith.  When we acknowledge God’s great power, we begin to surrender our lives to Him.   When we are facing difficult times, we can let God have control of our lives because we acknowledge that He has all power.  But God’s power is not the kind of power that a tyrannical dictator exercises.  God does not abuse or use His power to force His will upon us in a selfish manner. Instead, He uses His power to help us.

Listen to the thrust of Paul’s words in Ephesians 3:20

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to His power that is at work within us.” 


According to Paul’s words, God’s immense power is at His disposal.  God is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we ask for and even beyond what we can imagine. Thus, we must let those powerful words sink into our hearts to know God’s power in our lives. Isn’t it marvelous that God can do far beyond what we can even ask or think!  Nothing is impossible for God, for He is all-powerful. God uses His power in our lives for our own good.   Listen to what Paul said, 

“According to His power that is at work within us.” 


God’s immense power is put to work in our lives.  Knowing God’s mighty power in our lives, we are compelled to pray more and fervently.  God's way is to work His power in us. God’s power works in our lives through His Divine Word.  God has given us everything that we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of His Word (of Him who has called us).  We know God through what He has revealed to us through His apostles and prophets who wrote down what we have today through the Scriptures.  Thus we must turn our lives over to God’s power.  
  1. Are we allowing God’s abundant power to work in our lives? I am afraid we are simply a weak light bulb on top of a lampstand that can administer power as strong as the sun. 
  2. Why are we neglecting the power of God in our lives?  
  3. Can we not fathom how many abundant blessings we have available through Christ?  Yet we only allow God the very minimal requirements such as attendance, giving, and the Lord’s Supper. We have not even begun an intimate relationship with our Creator, our Father, to see His lovingkindness and mighty power working in our lives. 


  • Abundant Joy in Life:

Since we are disciples of Christ, we Christians must have joy.  Those who are outside of Christ have no joy.  Christians must be joyful always because of who we are in the Lord and what we have in Him. One of the fruits of the Spirit is joy, Galatians 5:22.  That joy must be abundant in us. Peter urged us saying, 

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:8-9). 


Paul commanded us to be joyful at all times. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice”  (Philippians 4:4). 


Notice that the apostle Paul commands to be joyful while he was in the pits of his own despair since he was imprisoned and suffering.  We must remember that Paul gave that command when he could have given up in despair, as he was imprisoned and suffering. Yet, he urged us to rejoice always.  We Christians must have an inexpressible joy in our hearts at all times.  We have plenty of reasons to rejoice always because of the abundant life we have in Christ. Jesus said,

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly”  (John 10:10).


Sadly, this is not always the case.  And though we are commanded to rejoice inexpressibly in all circumstances since the fruit of the Spirit includes joy, many Christians lack this joy.  Why do I say that?  Because some have a hard time finding joy while they serve the Lord.  Joy is only found in selfish gain.  Instead of joy, many Christians find it easier to complain, whine, and grumble.  They seem to never find any good or hope in any given situation.  Their outlook on life is always negative and pessimisticThe glass is always half empty.  They always find something to grumble about. 

Is this the life that glorifies our Father in heaven?  What do you think?  Does this ugly attitude show the new man in us, the new self in Christ?  Absolutely not!  Why?  Because we are selfish and living for self and nothing else.  We reject the abundant life that Christ promised to all who serve Him.  We are still living to satisfy the desires of the flesh, the physical, and not the spiritual.   All that matters is me, me, and me and all the physical world that surrounds us.  Thus we complain, for we think we have every right. Our hearts are ungrateful with a fleshly attitude in the heart, looking at ourselves selfishly.  We are ungrateful for what God has done and is doing in our lives!  

We must change the selfish and ungrateful attitude in our hearts.  We must renew our minds!  Life is not about serving self but about serving God with all our might.  The greatest joys in life are found in serving God and then others.  There is no better joy than knowing that we have nothing to worry about or be anxious because God will take care of us.  But when we complain and whine, seeking the negative in life, we have lost our primary focus, and thus we are not living the abundant life that Jesus promised us. 


  • Abundant Entrance to Heaven:

One of the most magnificent joys we have is the hope of eternal life in heaven with our Lord. Listen to Peter’s word, 

“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”  (2 Peter 1:10-11). 


We are promised an abundant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord.  Our Lord has provided every possible opportunity so that we may enter into the kingdom of God. Peter’s statement sums up all that God has done for us, which is exactly the main point of this valuable lesson.  
  1. God sent His beloved Son to this world of darkness to become a sacrifice for our sin. God did this for us because of His Mercy and Grace.  
  2. He continues to show His lovingkindness and goodness to us by providing everything we need to live and to be godly.  
  3. God’s power is freely available to us.  
  4. He is working in our lives for our good through His providence. 

Indeed, our God has blessed us and continues to provide for us abundantly.  He is abundantly providing for each of us an entrance into His everlasting Kingdom.  His blessings are beyond measure!


CONCLUSION:

We have so many reasons to be thankful to our God. Of course, our main appreciation is for all our spiritual blessings.  Nothing is lacking in our lives because God has richly provided every need for us.  

“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus”  (Philippians 4:19). 


God has met every need for us:  Our emotional,  spiritual, and personal needs. God satisfies every need we may have.  But when we don’t allow God to fill the void in our lives, we lack everything.  When we try to fill those voids in our lives, we often come up empty.  We forget that we must seek God to satisfy our yearning and not be empty.  God also meets our physical needs. Paul said, 

“Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life”  (1 Timothy 6:17-19). 


God will take care of us as long as we put our trust in Him and acknowledge our need for Him, not in this world’s riches or ourselves.  All that we have in life comes from our Father in heaven.   God wants us to serve Him with the things He has blessed us with.  Let us always be thankful, not just on Thanksgiving Day.  And let us never forget that God is the source of all our blessings and all we have.  

The song “Count Your Blessings” reminds us of the 23rd Psalm, for it describes the vastness of God’s provision for us.  David said,

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. ” 


Our cup does indeed run over with God’s bountiful blessings. Our cup runs over so abundantly that it is almost impossible to pause and count every blessing.  It would be wise to stop and be mindful of the many ways God is good to us.  We must think of God’s blessings and name them, count them one by one.  To understand God’s grace and goodness, we must pause and particularize each of our blessings.  It will allow us to understand our utter dependence on God.  God holds all things together, the whole universe, by the power of His Word (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3).  It will surprise us to see how immensely God has blessed.  But to do this, we must give ourselves completely to Him (Luke 14:26; Matthew 16:24; 2 Corinthians 5:8). The wealth of God’s blessing will astonish us (physically, spiritually, and thankfully) when we realize how much He has prospered us! (Luke 6:38; 1 Corinthians 16:2).

 “Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to   the children of men” (Psalm 107:8)!


Since God has done so abundantly for us, we must remember to give Him the glory!  Can we not stop for a second and appreciate what He has done in our lives? Both physically and spiritually? Have we thanked God for giving us the fullness of the earth?  Do we thank Him without ceasing for His tender care and the hope of eternal life, made possible by His beloved Son’s sacrifice?  

I see a big problem: we want to hold on to all that we have, believing that it is ours by our own power. We fail to see the goodness of God, who has shared with us what belongs to Him.  Why do we give ourselves praise, honor, and glory for what we have, not God?!  We must examine our hearts and change our carnal attitudes toward God’s blessings.  We must rid ourselves of selfishness and pride to appreciate and be thankful for all that we have.  So why not take a moment to thank our Father in heaven for His love and mercy?! Why not love God in return by our obedience to Him?! (John 14:15). Be thankful and faithful to Him, for He is worthy of our complete devotion!

We take so much for granted!  We take for granted the blessing of hearing.  Let us be thankful for our hearing!  We likewise take for granted God’s blessing of speech.  Do you know that to be able to declare God’s Word is a blessing and a privilege (1 Cor. 2:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:2)?  To speak for Jesus is a blessing (Acts 8:4).  To use our tongues to edify and tell others that we love them is a blessing that should never be taken for granted.  To have good health is a blessing.  Do we even pause for a moment to thank God for good health?  Do we take our health for granted?  But when we lose our good health, we immediately realize that we need God’s blessing to restore our health. We must be thankful every day for God’s blessing of health!  These blessings are just a few among the abundance of blessings that our God bestows upon us day in and day out.  For that abundance of blessings like the stars in the sky, we must bow our knee in thanksgiving to God always.  

Let us be mindful of all our spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3). Consider a few of these blessings that we must never take for granted:  Forgiveness is definitely at the top of our spiritual blessings.  Paul wrote, 

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”  (Ephesians 1:7)  


The burden of sin is one of the heaviest loads that man can carry.  David cried,

“For mine iniquities are gone over mine head: As an heavy burden they are too heavy for me.” (Psalm 38:4


When one is baptized into Christ, his sins are washed away (Acts 22:16; Rev. 1:5).  When we continue to walk in the light of God’s Word faithfully, the blood of Christ continues to cleanse us of our sins (1 John 1:7).

Prayer is another spiritual blessing we enjoy in Christ.  

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12


God, the Father, hears the prayers of His children.  Our heavenly Father hears His children’s cries.  We must be thankful that we can approach God’s throne through our Mediator, Jesus our Lord.  Paul wrote, 

“And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6


Fellowship in Christ is another wonderful spiritual blessing.  The word fellowship means “joint participation.”  It is a state and an action.  It is our participation in the worship and work of the church. Fellowship is our participation with the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, when we assemble every first day of the week to sing songs, pray, hear the Word of God preached, the Lord’s Supper, and giving (1 John 1:3-7).  Luke wrote,

“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42


We can add to our list an abundance of more blessings, both physical and spiritual.  Therefore, we must be thankful, not only on Thanksgiving once a year, but every day of our lives for what God has done for us. 

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!  2 Serve the LORD with gladness!  Come into his presence with singing!  3 Know that the LORD, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!  Give thanks to him; bless his name!  5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”  (Psalm 100


Our song “Count Your Blessings” stresses in the chorus the importance of counting our blessings.  When you find yourself being tossed about by the cares of this world, burdened with care, or when you feel His cross is too heavy to bear, slow down and count your blessings, name them one by one, see what God hath done!  It will surprise you what the Lord hath done.  His blessings are beyond measure!

Chorus,

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

May we always have a heart of gratitude and never take for granted the innumerable blessings we have through Christ Jesus. When we give our hearts completely to Him, He will guard and protect us.  

“The blessing of the LORD makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.” (Proverbs 10:22)

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God,  your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you!  I will proclaim and tell of them,  yet they are more than can be told.”  (Psalm 40:5)





Luci