Count Your Blessings

Count Your Blessings

2020 started out as a promising year. and many were looking forward to milestone events when our hopes were dashed by a microscopic virus. The whole world came to a stop and a “new normal” slowly evolved. There were some very real losses – of loved ones, sports and awards, graduations – once in a lifetime events. We are all feeling the emotional weight of trying to adjust to this new reality and there is a lot of fear, sadness and stress. The Scriptures remind me to look back and remember His faithfulness and it encourages me to look forward in faith and with hope. God is Sovereign and in control. This pandemic knocked us off our feet but God was not surprised and He wants us to trust Him.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.2 So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea……The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble!….. Be still, and know that I am God! Psalms 46:1-2, 6, 10a (NLT)

When we are feeling disappointed or experience a great loss it is easy to focus on what we don’t have. Our sadness can over shadow our thinking and darken our hearts. We need to make ourselves still and focus on His promises.

 He provides: And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others 2 Cor 9:8

He is faithful : The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease.23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!” Lam 3:22-24 (NLT)

We can trust Him: Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. John 14:1 (NLT)

He gives real peace: I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 (NLT)

I grew up going to a small Baptist church that loved singing hymns. There is often a story behind the hymns and the words convey deep meaning. I remember feeling such joy when we would sing a peppy favorite like Count Your Blessings. These words ring true to our situations today.

Do you feel tossed around by life- Are you discouraged thinking all is lost- Are you burdened with your load of care – Do you look around you thinking life’s not fair –  If  this is true: “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 ‘til your journeys end.   Count your blessings, Name them one by one Count your blessings, see what God has done! Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your many blessings, see what God has done!”    (song by Johnson Oatman Jr. & Edwin O Excell)

This holiday season will definitely be different! Gatherings will be smaller and you may even find yourself missing the familiar clamor and drama. God is not finished with you yet! This is not the end of your story because every day, week, season holds a new chapter. No matter what situation you are in these ending days of 2020, be grateful for the blessings.

To Walk Where Jesus Walked-Bethsaida

To Walk Where Jesus Walked-Bethsaida

For me as Christian, visiting the Holy Land was a “bucket list” wish – to walk where Jesus walked. I wanted to see the places I had heard about in Sunday school as a child and read about over many years. Somehow the reality of the topography, richness of the culture and land had been lost on me all these years. Over this summer I will be sharing a six-part series on several of the places that came alive, “off the page” so to speak, during my recent trip.

Bethsaida is part of what is called the “Evangelical Triangle” with Capernaum and Chorazin. Jesus warned the cities of their unrepentant hearts because He did most of His miracles in this area north of the Sea of Galilee. (see Matt.11:20-24)  It was a fishing village and home to the apostles Philip, Andrew and Peter.

bethsaida_map

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

10 On their return the apostles told him all that they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a town called Bethsaida. 11 When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. 12 Now the day began to wear away, and the twelve came and said to him, “Send the crowd away to go into the surrounding villages and countryside to find lodging and get provisions, for we are here in a desolate place.”Plain-of-Bethsaida-13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 And they did so, and had them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.           Luke 9:10-17 (ESV)

The Sea of Galilee lies in the depression of the Jordan Valley – approximately 686 feet below sea level. This explains a lot of the terminology of “going up” and “going down”. Many times Jesus would have stood down the mountainside preaching upwards, as the landscape made a natural amphitheater.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man at Bethsaida

22 And they came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. 23 And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men, but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.    Mark 8:22-25 (ESV)

BethSaida3sroadStanding on actual stones that Jesus would have stepped on whisked me back in time. The road was not wide between houses and other buildings. If people laid their loved ones in the road, Jesus could not pass by without stepping on them! Instead, He lovingly bent down and healed each one.

The people of the village of Bethsaida had witnessed many miracles. They were fed from a boy’s tiny lunch. They witnessed the healing of a blind man and many others yet their hearts were cold. They wanted full stomachs and to listen to stories and watch the show – reaping all the benefits yet not accepting The Giver.

How about you my reader? What blessings has God given you that you take for granted? Have you witnessed the healing of people you prayed for and yet you have lost the awesomeness of God? Are we truly grateful for our daily bread and all of the creature comforts we enjoy?  Stop whatever you are doing and do so today.