Count Your Blessings

 

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

       This week I have been studying Nehemiah 12 and have been reminded about our need to rejoice, to be filled with joy, and to be thankful for the little things in life.  Nehemiah leads the people to celebrate the rebuilding of the walls and their renewed commitment to the Word of God.  They call together the singers, choir, and those who played musical instruments to lead in the celebration.  I was surprised about the number of times rejoicing, singing, and thanksgiving were mentioned in conjunction with the dedication of the wall. 

       As I talk to people and even reflect on my own mindset, I realize how easy it is to become disillusioned by what is going on around us and what we hear and see on the news.  There have been a few times where I have felt some despair and I know the Scriptures tell us to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  I know that Paul exhorts us to “rejoice in the Lord always.”  If God tells us to do something, I know the Spirit empowers and enables us to obey.  Paul was in prison when he said those words.  If he can be joyful even while in prison, surely we can be joyful in our circumstances.

       I have often counseled others, and myself, to replace anxieties, frustrations, and fears with reflections of the blessings in life.  Yes, I mean “count your many blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”  When I start thinking about my personal blessings, so many begin flooding my mind.  I have been forgiven of all my sin (through faith in Jesus Christ) and clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  I have been adopted into the family of God and sealed with the Holy Spirit.  I can call God, “Father.”  I have an inheritance in heaven and will be forever with the Lord, who loved me and gave His life to redeem me.  WOW!

      I have been married to an awesome wife for 25 years.  I have two terrific children who both know and love Jesus.  My son just graduated from college, got married to a Christian young lady (Cierra), bought a house and is doing so well.  My daughter just bought a house, has a good job, is going to college and is also doing well.  I have just started my 20th year of ministry and I am so blessed by the privilege of serving as a pastor.  I get to study the Word, preach and teach the Bible, and minister and serve together with God’s people.  I’m just about to celebrate my first year of ministry with the awesome folks at Burlington Baptist.  I’ve been able to serve at three gracious and encouraging churches.  Jenny gets to teach 2nd Grade next year (she is excited).  We are blessed to live in a nice neighborhood with friendly neighbors.  Both Jenny and my parents are both still living. I could go on and on listing blessings. 

       I think about my blessings and I realize I don’t deserve any of those things.  I have pastor friends who are in really hard to pastor churches.  I have friends whose marriages have fallen apart and whose children are dealing with bad choices and addictions.  I have so many reasons to rejoice and yet it is so easy to focus on the negatives and forget all about the blessings. 

       Maybe you struggle with discouragement, depression, or despair.  You might be helped by just getting a piece of paper and start writing down your blessings.  If you have been saved and adopted into the family of God, you have a blessing that far surpasses any suffering that you may experience (not to minimize your suffering).  In addition to counting your blessings, take a moment to write a thank you note to somebody you are thankful for.  I have found that getting your mind off yourself and doing something for somebody else (as simple as a handwritten note) can help lift you out of your despair.  So, we all have many reasons for rejoicing and with the help of the Spirit, we can rejoice and live a joy-filled life.                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          Bro. Harold