Each day is a blessing, and every new year presents fresh opportunities. One of the opportunities I particularly look forward to is working with God to improve my character. Sometimes there are things I need to work on (okay, so that's pretty much all the time), but the amazing thing is that God is the One leading the way. He shows me my weaknesses, often to my great embarrassment, so that we may work on them together.
Now, this work isn't always easy. Most of the times it's the toughest challenge of my week. Or day. It's hard to look in the mirror and understand that I'm in the place I'm at and that I still have so far to go. That I am not perfect (and never will be on this earth). That my weaknesses and faults show themselves way more often than I'd like.
But God's grace is beautiful.
And in my weakness, He shines brightly.
If there is any good in me, it's solely due to Him.
So since the new year is less than a week away now, I was thinking on the beatitudes Jesus shared with His disciples in Matthew 5. If I'm going to make any progress on those pesky faults of mine, where else can I look but the Source Himself? Only God can show me which things He wants me to work on and which ones He'd rather use as-is. It's His wisdom I lean upon, for His plan for my life is divine.
Here are the beatitudes, as presented in the Holman Christian Standard Bible. I'm considering memorizing them during 2016. I think they'd be great to have on hand (or logged into my memory bank) whenever I'm feeling down in the dumps or confused or stuck in a rut with no forward progress. Seems like these verses might just be the encouragement I'd need during moments like those.
1. When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.
2. Then He began to teach them, saying:
3. "The poor in spirit are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
4. Those who mourn are blessed, for they will be comforted.
5. The gentle are blessed, for they will inherit the earth.
6. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.
7. The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy.
8. The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
9. The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.
10. Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.
11. You are blessed when they insult and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.
12. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
Did you notice how we have to do something before the blessings come? Guess we have to take a leap of faith and trust God before He fulfills His promises of blessings. It's such a joy to be in relationship with God. I really can't tell you how much I treasure His guidance. Have you found that nugget of joy yet? It's yours for the taking, you know. I hope you find it and nurture it every day of your life.
Friends, how do you count your blessings? What verses of the Bible do you turn to when you're feeling imperfect and at a loss for what to work on? How do you encourage others to seek God's direction for their lives?
Happy New Year!
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