When times are tough, it is easier to dwell on the negative. God commands us to rejoice. While we don’t want to pretend nothing is wrong, we should easily be able to find a way to rejoice. A friend of mine took this picture of a sunflower field. I can easily smile when looking at something so bright and cheerful. God made sunflowers happy.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for providing ways to rejoice. Thank You for beautiful flowers to brighten my day. Thank You for friends who send me pictures to brighten my day. Thank You for the many blessings You send my way. I praise Your name and rejoice in who You are.
I am thankful to see a little bit better news these days, although sadly much negativity is still circulating. The reality is that bad things will happen. We live in a sin cursed earth (read the book of Genesis to see the origins of that). However, even though we see ugly, hard things around us there are many blessings.
I have heard a saying, “Blessings come to those who notice.” There is Biblical truth in those words. We can get too focused on the negative and miss the positive. I’m not saying that we pretend the bad things never happen, but I think we need help to keep a proper perspective.
I love to tell stories – positive stories – stories of blessing. I have told several in my blog. God sent me some more this week. The picture behind Psalm 34:8 was sent to me by a friend who was thinking of me. #heartwarming! Another day I saw a friend at the grocery store. I had a big grin on my face as I waved through the window to get her attention. We talked for a few minutes. I was smiling for a while after our conversation (especially when she waved at me at the next store). That evening God painted the sky yellow, orange and pink as the sun was going down. I love the beauty of sunset. All of these happenings were hugs from God – blessings God sent my way.
I am still processing the negative things that God allowed in my life this week. He is using those to perfect me (James 1:2-4). However, I want to notice and claim God’s goodness to get me through each day. Blessings hold great power when we allow God to work.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessing you send my way: friends who know and love You, all the beauty in Your creation. Please help me to keep a proper focus on the blessings in my life and encourage others to do the same. Please give me the strength to view the challenges correctly and not let them weigh me down.
You are just, O Lord, and Your judgments are fair. The rules You impose are just, and absolutely reliable.
Psalm 119:137-138 NET
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that your rules are like You: fair, just, and reliable. This fills my heart with joy.
My zeal consumes me, for my enemies forget Your instructions. Your word is absolutely pure, and Your servant loves it!
Psalm 119:139-140 NET
I am excited to follow Your rules. Why do some forget them?
I am insignificant and despised, yet I do not forget Your precepts. Your justice endures, and Your law is reliable. Distress and hardship confront me, yet I find delight in Your commands. Your rules remain just. Give me insight so that I can live.
Psalm 119:141-144 NET
I am no one special, but I will follow Your ways. They are consistent and they last. When hard times come, Your ways are a comfort to me and bring joy. I love You, Lord.
Your hands made me and formed me. Give me understanding so that I might learn Your commands. Your loyal followers will be glad when they see me, for I find hope in Your word.
Psalm 119:73-74 NET
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for making me in Your image. Please help me to learn understanding of Your commands. I want to say with the Psalmist that Your loyal followers are glad when they see me. Your Word brings hope.
I know, Lord, that Your regulations are just. You disciplined me because of Your faithful devotion to me. May Your loyal love console me, as you promised Your servant. May I experience Your compassion, so I might live! For I find delight in your law.
Psalm 119:75-77 NET
Your regulations and discipline are evidence of Your love. Please remind me of the safety and comfort of Your love. Your law brings joy!
May the arrogant be humiliated, for they have slandered me! But I meditate on Your precepts. May Your loyal followers turn to me, those who know Your rules. May I be fully committed to Your statutes, so that I might not be ashamed.
Psalm 119:78-80 NET
Please hold the
arrogant accountable. They harm Your
loyal followers. I will continue to turn
to Your law. Please help me to give my
full commitment to Your Word.
Psalm 119 is filled with statements about God’s commands. I fear even in our churches that we are losing the perspective of how good God’s ways are. We think our own ways are better, but we label our ways as though they are God’s ways. May God help us to remember His ways.
How can a young person maintain a pure life? By guarding it according to your instructions! With all my heart I seek you. Do not allow me to stray from your commands!
Psalm 119:9-10 NET
Dear Heavenly Father, I want to maintain a pure, clean life. Thank You for giving instructions to follow. Please keep me close to them.
In my heart I store up your words, so I might not sin against you.
The only way to live right is to keep your word in my heart.
You deserve praise, O Lord! Teach me your statutes! With my lips I proclaim all the regulations you have revealed.
Only You are worthy! Your laws are worthy of praise. I want to share that with others.
I rejoice in the lifestyle prescribed by your rules as if they were riches of all kinds.
I take joy and pleasure in what You want for me. You only desire the best. Thank you for Your generous gifts.
I will meditate on your precepts and focus on your behavior. I find delight in your statutes; I do not forget your instructions.
I commit to focusing on what You want. I take joy in Your way. You keep reminding me of Your instruction.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, thankfulness does not pretend that nothing is wrong. We must be honest about what is difficult in our lives. Some situations just stink. Our issue is that we get tunnel vision and focus on the difficulties. We need to balance talking about the truth of both the difficult and positive pieces of life. If we understand what God has done for us through His Son, Jesus Christ, I think we can much more easily find the positives in life.
Jesus gave His life. He suffered for us in a way we cannot fully understand. He suffered to give us the chance for eternal joy. Once we place our trust in Jesus, no one can take that eternal joy away from us (John 10:28-30).
So allow yourself to be honest about the challenges, but don’t forget the joys. God gives many good gifts (James 1:17). He gives us the strength of joy to make it through the trials.
With the Thanksgiving holiday coming soon (3 1/2 weeks), I have been thinking ahead to my traditional Thanksgiving week posts. I have been challenged to come up with a philosophy or thankfulness statement. This has been a thought in my mind for at least a couple of years. I am still working on it, but plan to post it on Thanksgiving Day. Praise and Thanksgiving can get lost in the midst of the difficulties, but God is still good.
Friends, how often do we truly seek God’s way? How often do we seek our own? I can assure you, God’s way is the best. His way gives the most satisfaction, joy, comfort, security and every other positive that can be had in this life.
Life is full of various challenges. We face the trial of living in a sin cursed earth which includes our own sin nature as well as that of others. I find as I wade through the muck and mire of difficulties that I can feel weighed down with negativity. As God teaches me to pray, He sends many hugs. The hugs don’t get rid of the effects of sin, but they help me through.
One hug God has sent me this summer is through hummingbirds. I have a hummingbird feeder on my deck. I don’t often see them, although the sugar water levels have consistently gone down. A few times in the evenings and on the weekend I have seen a hummingbird come up to the feeder and take a drink. One night the hummingbird even flew towards my back door where I was standing and watching. It was amazing.
God often sends blessings through people. One such blessing came from friends of mine. I was chatting with a couple of friends while one member of the household was working on a car. When he brought in an old license plate from one car, I joked about the Vikings license plate cover on my car. I wanted to remove it, but hadn’t gotten to it. I’m not into football and I didn’t want to look like I was a Vikings fan. About 5 minutes after the conversation, he comes back into the house with the Vikings license plate cover. This is one of those “little things” that may seem silly, but is still fun. I like my car much better without the Viking logo on it.
Friends, I know life can weigh us down and blessings seem few and far between. However, the more I watch for blessings the more I believe God shows me. If I am willing to receive as God chooses to give (knowing what is best for me), I will gain more. I pray you see the many blessings (hugs) that God sends.
We had a normal winter in Minnesota, but after several mild winters this year felt colder, darker and longer than before. I have to admit, I do not enjoy temperatures well below 0 on a January morning. However, this is where God has me and He has given me many blessings in the land of frozen tundra.
One big blessing is the joy when spring finally arrives. We had a mid-April snow which gave us several inches of wet, white mush. That has finally disappeared and warm weather is here.
While there can be beautiful sunsets during the cold winter, I enjoy taking pictures more when the weather is warm. On Wednesday night, I was excited to see beautiful colors in the sky. God is a master painter. He takes the sun and sky and creates a masterpiece. Here are a few pictures of His work. The pictures never fully show the beauty of God’s work, but I will relish and enjoy them anyway.