Seeing the Blessings Right in Front of You

“And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him” (Ruth 4:15).

Naomi received this blessing from the women of Bethlehem when her baby grandson, Obed, was born to Ruth and Boaz.

I like this blessing because Naomi was gently reminded by the women of Bethlehem that she had a gem of a daughter-in-law in Ruth. Naomi experienced overwhelming grief and tragedy by losing her husband and her two sons, and no one can take away that grief. But sometimes in our grief, we focus so much on what we lost or what isn’t right that we fail to see the incredible blessings of God right in front of our faces.

Naomi may not have had a husband or sons anymore, but she had Ruth, who was better to her than seven sons. Ruth could not “replace” who Naomi lost, but Ruth was still an amazing blessing from God in Naomi’s life.

And now, on top of that, Ruth and Boaz bring little baby Obed into the world and he lays in the arms of his grandma Naomi (Ruth 4:16). Again, this wonderful blessing doesn’t replace who or what was lost, but this baby will “restore” her life and “nourish” Naomi in her old age.

It’s just a thought for us today, men, to take inventory of the blessings of God around us, especially in our families and churches. Since this is Friday, and we usually make some application regarding our relationship with our church families, let’s do that with Naomi and Ruth.

We are tempted at times to look at our congregations and find what is “missing” or what “isn’t right” or who “isn’t doing their part.” First of all we need to be careful that we first look humbly in the mirror and pray for God to help us see ourselves clearly before passing judgment upon others. But how about looking around in our congregations and seeing the “Ruth’s” that are better to us than whatever it is we think is lost or missing? I believe there are a lot more Ruth’s in our lives than we think, and we should be always in prayer with a grateful heart for the godly, loving and loyal friends in Christ that surround us.

None of this is to take away from the faith of Naomi. I believe Naomi was a strong woman of faith and she served God faithfully. She also showed great love and concern for her daughter-in-law Ruth. But we all need reminders sometimes, no matter how strong or mature we may be, to look around and see the blessings right in front of us.

Man-Made Climate Change

Lots of discussion and attention has been given over the years to man-made climate change. No, I am not diving in to that mess, I am just using that phrase to talk about a different “climate.” This climate is clearly under our control, and our behavior directly affects it. The climate we will consider today is the one in our homes, specifically our marriages.

Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works. Let your garments always be white, and let your head lack no oil. Live joyfully with the wife whom you love all the days of your vain life which He has given you under the sun, all your days of vanity; for that is your portion in life, and in the labor which you perform under the sun (Ecclesiastes 9:7-9).

Yesterday, we saw how God views complaining. It is a big deal to Him. He wants us to be thankful. Words of gratitude, blessing and praise should be regular parts of our speech. Christ set us free from darkness and sin so that we would be His kingdom priests, proclaiming His praises (1 Peter 2:9).

This is not to say that we never deal with problems or discuss them. It doesn’t mean we are never discouraged and hurting. Life has real pain and trials. Ignoring, suppressing or minimizing problems is not what God wants. Jesus wept, Paul despaired, and Elijah was depressed.

“Climate” by definition means weather conditions over a long period of time. That is different from today’s weather. Someone may have a bad day or week, just like it might on rare occasion snow in the South. I’m talking about our “climate” as men. What is our consistent pattern of behaviors and attitudes at home?

What I do want to focus on today is specifically our attitude and words around our wives. It becomes very easy to complain. Sometimes being negative and cynical is as comfortable as our favorite recliner. We can settle in to a really nice whine and grumble about all that isn’t right in the world. We can get tired and overwhelmed, and we begin to see problems everywhere. What the kids aren’t doing right. How the wife isn’t doing what she should. The house and car repairs. Health. Finances. Politics. My job and my boss stink.

Husbands, take inventory. Is there a critical, negative, cynical, complaining dark storm cloud over us? If we find ourselves in that negative mindset and we are grumpy about everything, how does that affect the climate of the home? What position does that put our wives in?

Man-Made Climate Change

If God advised us to live joyfully with our wives, and to “eat your bread with joy,” how do we accomplish that?

Try to smile. Really, I don’t mean to be flaky here, but just try to smile…at your wife. Even when all you want to do is gripe…look at your beautiful wife and smile. “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22).

Of course and always, pray! Lord, help transform this grumpy old troll. Help me Lord to see the joy and blessings you have showered me with.

Consciously look around for blessings. Force yourself to see what is going right, and verbally acknowledge it. We have to teach our mouths to do this, because it does not come naturally.

Consider the following Proverb:

The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:23-24).

What kind of “man-made climate change” are we producing in the home?

Our soul loathes this worthless bread

Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died (Numbers 21:4-6).

God provided manna, bread from heaven, for the children of Israel. Every day was a miracle. Their food was miraculously provided for 40 years. Do the math. 6 days a week (extra manna provided on Friday for the Sabbath day) for 40 years. That’s a myriad miracles, and a gazillion tons of manna. They called it “worthless.” On top of that they said, “our soul loathes” it.

I was reading 1 Corinthians 10 yesterday where Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians about the Israelites in the wilderness. The sins they committed were recorded for us as examples, Paul explained, so that we do not repeat them. One of those sins Paul specified was complaining.

It just reminded me of how serious God takes complaining. If you haven’t done this lately, look through the Bible and do some word searches for words like grumbling, murmuring and complaining. See what God says about it. Look at the consequences. Lots of people died at God’s own hand because of it.

Our soul loathes this worthless bread

So, here we are, living under Christ, walking in His grace, and Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10 to remember how God views complaining. It is still a serious thing to God, just as serious as sexual immorality and idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:1-12). Sometimes we are tempted to think that the big sins are sexual immorality and murder, but complaining is just a little sin. We would be well served to take a walk through Exodus through Deuteronomy with the children of Israel to refresh our memories of God’s view of complaining.

Today, let us take a moment to thank God.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

If we recognize that we are living an ungrateful life, and have a complaining spirit, we should get down on our knees and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness and mercy. We also should ask the Lord to teach us to be more thankful. May God help our hearts to be content, and may our words express that daily. It is helpful for us to take regular inventory of how richly God has blessed us. That old song still rings true, “Count your many blessings.”

Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Hebrews 13:15).

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits (Psalm 103:2).

Thank God for Kids

Today, I want to share the lyrics to a song by the Oak Ridge Boys called, “Thank God for Kids.” I thought it was fitting for Thanksgiving week.

“Thank God For Kids”

If it weren’t for kids have you ever thought
There wouldn’t be no Santa Claus
Or look what the stork just brought
Thank God for kids.
We’d all live in a quiet house
Without Big Bird or a Mickey Mouse
And Kool Aid on the couch
Thank God for kids.
Thank God for kids, there’s magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile.
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to heaven is a child?
Daddy, how does this thing fly?
And a hundred other where’s and why’s
I really don’t know but I try
Thank God for kids.
When I look down in those trusting eyes
That look to me I realize
There’s love that I can’t buy
Thank God for kids.
Thank God for kids, there’s magic for a while
A special kind of sunshine in a smile.
Do you ever stop to think or wonder why
The nearest thing to heaven is a child?
When you get down on your knees tonight
And thank the Lord for His guiding light
Pray they turn out right.
Thank God for kids.
Mmm, Thank God for kids.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate (Psalms 127:3-5).
Be back on Monday…Happy Thanksgiving!

Favor from the Lord

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD (Proverbs 18:22).

Take time to be thankful for the good relationships, especially if you are married to a godly and loving wife.

When we are thankful for each other, we see each other in a very different light. Even when we are fussing with each other, if we keep in mind how thankful we are for each other, it helps to deal with that disagreement and tension in a better way.

Let’s take a piece of paper and physically write down all the reasons why we are thankful for our wives. We do this for our kids sometimes when they are complaining and fussing, we make them write down good things about each other. Big people need to do the same sometimes.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers, but a prudent wife is from the LORD (Proverbs 19:14).

Enter His Gates With Thanksgiving

A Psalm for giving thanks. Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! 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. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations (Psalms 100:1-5).

why is it so important to be thankful?

It is foundational to our relationship with God. We “enter His gates” with thanksgiving. Can we really even have the right mindset to enter into a relationship with God, worship Him, and live for Him if we are not truly thankful for what He has done for us? When we become unthankful, our thinking becomes futile and we will be led away from God (Romans 1:21).

Having an attitude of thanksgiving is a sacrifice we offer to God. Being thankful for God and all His blessings is a great way of getting our minds off of ourselves (Hebrews 13:15-16).

Praying with thanksgiving helps us tremendously when we are stressed and anxious (Philippians 4:6-7). When you start thinking, meditating and thanking God for all that He has already done for you, it helps to settle your mind on what God is doing now and will do for you later.

Eating with thanksgiving helps us to remember the source of all our rich blessings (James 1:17). For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

History.com has a good video on first Thanksgiving in America and the development of the Thanksgiving tradition.

“In all things give thanks…” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).