“Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah” (Psalm 68:19)
Our Heavenly Father demonstrates His love towards us every day. These daily blessings are often not seen or appreciated by His children. Why is this? We often focus upon our past, instead of living out today. We often worry about the future instead of enjoying the blessings of today. God not only gives us blessings for today, but he gives them abundantly! What are some of these daily blessings? Will we enjoy these blessings today?
1. God gives us the gift of a brand new day to love and serve Him.
2. God gives us the privilege of opening His Word and hearing His words of truth, encouragement, promise and exhortation.
3. God give us the opportunity to speak to Him at any time during the coming day. He is never too busy to hear our prayers.
4. God promises to love us throughout the day regardless of what happens.
5. God’s Holy Spirit dwells within us. He brings guidance, comfort and spiritual fruit into our lives.
6. God gives us the confidence that whatever comes into our lives today must first pass through His loving hands.
7. God gives us His forgiveness . When we confess our sins to Him, He restores us to a right relationship with Him.
8. God gives us what we need for today not necessarily what we want.
9. God brings people into our lives each day to fulfill His plan for our lives.
10. God gives us the privilege of His presence throughout the day. He is always with us!
11. God gives us the strength we need to bear what may happen throughout the day.
12. God gives us His comfort when sorrow, rejection or pain may seem to overcome us.
13. God gives us the assurance of eternal life if die today. We are confident that death is an entranceway to heaven.
14. God is always available to hold us up when we seem ready to fall. Fathers do this for their children.
15. God knows all that is happening in our lives today. Nothing that happens today is a surprise to God.
16. God gives us wisdom to face whatever situation may arise in our life.
17. God gives us the opportunity to enjoy His creation.
18. God gives us the ministry of encouraging others and praying for others.
19. God enables us to escape the snares of Satan’s temptations.
20. God gives us a restful night sleep if we trust in Him.
“Dear Lord, I often forget the blessings that you give to me every day of my life. Yes, I see particular answers to prayer, but I often forget what you give to me every day. I thank you for all of your blessings that you give to me each day; however, the greatest blessing is that you sent your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to die for my sin. Help me to keep looking up to you instead allowing myself to focus on the past or the future. Today is the gift that you have given me. Help me not to forget how you have loaded me up with great blessings today. I love you, Lord. Amen.”
Do you remember as a child when you would cling to your dad or mom when you felt danger approaching? “My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Psalm 63:8) The words “followeth hard” have the idea of clinging unto the Lord. When danger, temptations and sorrows approach, the best response is to cling to Our Heavenly Father. He alone can carry us through the tough times.
The world is a dangerous place for every child of God. We face a variety of dangers, including temptations from Satan, the lusts of our own flesh, and pressures from the world to conform. Because of these dangers, we need to cling to our Lord each step of the way. When we let go of the Lord, we not only find ourselves being exposed to dangers from without, but also the dangers from within our hearts.
The first aspect of clinging unto the Lord is total dependence upon Him. We know that within ourselves there is no hope to face the dangers and pitfalls of this life. When crossing a very busy street, I would cling to my Dad’s hand. I was completely incapable of crossing the many lanes of traffic alone. The cars were large and moving fast. I completely depended upon my Dad to navigate me to the other side of the street.
All through the Word of God, we see people who forsook their own ability and completely depended upon God. David when he battled Goliath totally depended upon the Lord. Like David, no matter how big the danger before us, we can cling unto our Heavenly Father. He will never push us away.
Joseph continually faced pressure from Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery. The pressure was great to yield to this temptation, but Joseph continually depended upon God. Daniel could have compromised his faith several times while in Babylon; yet he depended totally upon God. Ruth could have lived a life of great despair, but she depended upon God in the midst of all the trials she faced. We have the same Heavenly Father that each of these had. We can and need to depend upon Him.
A second aspect of clinging unto the Lord is our complete love for Him. Peter’s denial of the Lord occurred when he placed his love for himself above his love for the Lord Jesus Christ. After the resurrection, Jesus emphasized this truth to Peter when He asked him three times: “Do you love me?” Jesus wanted Peter to know that there was great safety in clinging to Him in love. Peter would face innumerable trials, but he clung to the Lord in love.
How close are we to God? Have we left our first love like the church at Ephesus did? When our love grows cold God seems distant. We don’t speak to Him with words of affection. We don’t open His Word with enthusiasm. We live our lives as though God is not there. This lack of love creates greater opportunities to fall into temptations, to doubt God’s love and provision, and to live a selfish life before others.
Loving God means that we need to stay as close to Him as possible. We want to listen to His Word. We enjoy our times of communion with Him. We are not ashamed of Him, but we are proud to call God, Our Heavenly Father.
A third aspect of clinging to God is to recognize the dangers of this life. Last year, while in Australia, I came across a joey with its mother kangaroo. The joey was lying close to its mother; however when I came closer to the joey, the joey recognized danger. He immediately leaped to its feet and jumped into his mother’s pouch. The joey found complete safety in his mother’s pouch.
Do we recognize the dangers in our life? Jesus constantly warns His followers of the ways of this world. He knows that we can easily become apathetic and careless in our spiritual lives. We don’t see the need of clinging to the Lord because we have become insensitive to the dangers around us and within us.
God is always there to uphold us, as long as we are always ready to cling unto Him. He holds His arms out as though saying: “Come unto me, I will protect you. I will love you. I will guide you through this situation.” We mustn’t let pride, self-will, ignorance, and busyness keep us from clinging to our Heavenly Father.
“Dear Heavenly Father, I have crossed many dangerous roads in my life. Sometimes, I have chosen to cross those roads without you. This has created difficulties for me and others. Thank you for the many times, that I have clung to you and you took me through those dangerous roads. I know that in the future I can depend upon you regardless of what happens. Thank you for first loving me; so that I can love you in return. Amen”
I have never enjoyed being in the midst of a crowd. I like to have a bit of space. However, crowds are a fact of life. I have been a part of a crowd at churches, athletic events, airports, the streets of New York City, on a crowded expressway in Chicago, or a crammed subway in Lisbon. Crowds can make us lose our individuality. We seem to merge into the crowd as an unknown and unimportant face.
You can see this at an athletic event when somebody begins the wave. What do we do? We conform and stand up and wave our arms when it is our turn. Also, I have noticed this when you see a subway train pass the opposite direction, the people look like one massive block of humanity. The crowd seems to swallow up each person.
This crowd mentality has also filtered itself into our Christian faith. We want to belong to a large group. We want to follow the new trend in Christianity. If the crowd says, we dress a certain way to church, then we dress that way. If the crowd says a certain kind of music is better for today, then we follow the crowd. If the latest Christian celebrity makes a pronouncement, then we follow his words like the rest of the crowd.
Churches are looking for a crowd. They want to emulate the mega church that is in their city or on the television. A crowd equals success in the eyes of men. The church can easily lose sight of God and His working in the lives of individual people. The danger of this crowd mentality is that we can use people to build our ministries, instead of using our ministry to build people.
The Bible often shows the danger of the crowd. Joseph’s brothers were gathered together as their brother, Joseph approached. None of these brothers alone would have thought about killing him, but together they came up with their evil plan. Nobody was willing to speak out openly against the plan of the crowd. The crowd can make us commit evil deeds which we would not do alone.
When the nation of Israel was at the border of the Promised Land, the twelve spies had returned with their report of the land. The crowd said that it was too difficult and the people became disheartened. There were only three people who were willing to stand against the crowd, Caleb, Joshua and Moses. They were nearly killed for their courageous stand. The crowd can make a coward of us all.
In the time of Elijah, the crowd worshipped the false gods of the surrounding nations. The crowd had rejected the True God. Elijah went against this crowd in his great contest against the prophets of Baal. The majority said that Baal was god. They were proven false by the God of Elijah. The crowd can cause us to turn our backs on the true God, to follow their false gods of materialism, fame, pleasure, and self-centeredness.
When Jesus walked on the earth, he would often attract a crowd, but the crowds were very superficial in their dedication to Jesus. After Jesus feeds the five thousand, he teaches the people about His deity. As a result. the crowd walks away because their faith was based upon what they could get out of Jesus. The crowd can cause our faith to become quite superficial, because we no longer see the need to develop a personal walk with the Lord. Whatever our “crowd” says is what we believe. We become sheep following other sheep, instead of sheep following the Shepherd.
Jesus also warns us about the danger of the crowd when He says: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) The crowd has the idea that everybody is going to heaven. We can live as we please. The crowd has led many people to Hell because of their false notion of universal salvation.
Jesus walked upon this earth amidst many crowds, but he didn’t develop a crowd mentality. He kept His focus upon His Heavenly Father. If we are to fight the crowd mentality, we need to keep our eyes upon the Lord Jesus Christ. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:3)
“Dear Lord, I feel pressure to conform to the crowd. This is not only the crowd of the world which would turn me from my faith, but also the crowd within Christianity. This crowd would have me to conform to the latest trends and the latest pronouncements of some Christian celebrity. Lord, I need you. Help me to keep my focus upon you. Help me to walk with you and not worry about what others are doing or saying. Thank you for calling each of your sheep by name. Thank you that I can have a personal walk with you. Amen”
Growing up my Dad gave me a love for travel. Every year, we would plan and then execute a trip. One year we went to the New England states. The next year, we went down to Tennessee and then to New Orleans. Another year, we travelled to the Grand Canyon. Every trip had its difficulties, but I don’t regret any of our travels. These trips gave me an opportunity to learn new things and enjoy new experiences.
Our life on this earth is also one great journey. Our journey begins at birth and continues unto death. We may encounter different experiences and roads in our journey. We will face joys and heartaches, pain and pleasures, companionship and loneliness. However, this journey is not to be travelled alone. Where will we find help in the difficulties of our journey?
God gives to His children (those who believe on Jesus Christ, as their Lord and Savior) five great promises to help us in our journey. God’s promises are only effective in our lives when we believe them and act upon them. The road ahead is unknown, but if we know God and His promises, we will successfully navigate the road ahead of us.
God’s promises are seen in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not; for 1) I am with thee: be not dismayed; 2) for I am thy God: 3) I will strengthen thee; yea, 4) I will help thee; yea,5) I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
1, When I am lonely, God promises his presence. God will never leave me. “I am with thee.”
One of the most lonely experiences in life is at the airport. There are people everywhere and yet you are all alone. Everybody is hurrying to catch their flight, sleeping, or catching up on their reading. No one seems to care about others.
Life is much the same way. Everybody gets caught up with what they are doing. No one seems to care. We face our trials alone. We face our heartaches alone. We face our decisions alone. Does anybody care? Yes! God assures His children that He will never leave us. He is walking life’s journey with us. He will guide us when we are making decisions. He comfort us when we have sorrow. He will give us the strength to endure our trials. God’s presence enables us to continue on our journey with confidence, hope and joy.
2. When I am discouraged, God promises a personal relationship with Him. “For I am thy God.”
Discouragement means that we have lost heart. In the midst of our journey, we just want to quit everything. We may want to quit our walk with God. We may want to quit serving God. We may want to quit our work or even our family.
God knows how His child can easily lose heart in the difficult times of life. He assures us that we will always belong to Him. Our circumstances may change. We may change, but God will always be Our God. He will always be Our Father. He will always take a personal interest in our lives. He will encourage our hearts through the most trying times by saying to us: “I will always be your Father. I am going to get you through this. Trust me no matter how dark the journey may seem. I will bring light to this darkness.”
3. When I am weak and feel that I can’t continue, He will strengthen me. “I will strengthen thee.”
Life is much like a race. There are times when we feel strong and then there are other times when we feel as though we can’t do any more. We have nothing left in us spiritually, emotionally or physically. We just can’t go any further. However, our Heavenly Father gives us His strength to continue on. Paul understood this when he said: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) When we feel that we can’t go any further, we can always lean hard on His Everlasting Arms. He will carry us.
4. When I am in need of spiritual, emotional or physical help, He will help me. “I will help thee.”
In my travels, I occasionally find myself lost. I don’t know where I am and I don’t where I am going. My natural response is to try to resolve my situation on my own. This only makes the problem worse. I lose time and become even more lost than before.
Likewise, we often find ourselves needing help in our journey of life. However, pride keeps us from calling out to God. We want to resolve the difficulty ourselves. David, the Psalmist, understood the need to call out to God when he said: “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34:6)
We may think that our problem is insignificant to God. Perhaps, we think that God isn’t interested in us. God is our Father! He does want to help us, because He knows that His children need help every day. When we need help, we must never hesitate to run to the waiting arms of Our Heavenly Father. He will never hesitate to help us.
5. When I stumble or fall, He will pick me up. “I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”
Many years ago, I experienced my first car accident. I don’t know how it happened, but it did. The front of car was totally smashed. The car looked as though it would never be driven again. However, I had the car taken to a body shop and after two weeks time, it looked as though the accident had never occurred.
In our life’s journey, we also have accidents. Most of these accidents are self-inflicted because of our sin. We have fallen in a ditch filled with guilt, pain, and sorrow. How can we get out? God assures us that when temptations come, He is there to bring deliverance. When we sin, He assures us of His forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Dear Lord, I thank you for my great salvation through your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank you for this journey called life. Yes, I have experienced loneliness, pain, weakness, and discouragement; yet you have always been there with me each step of the way. You have brought joy in my sorrow. You have brought encouragement in my times of discouragement. You have brought hope in my despair. You have brought strength in my weakness. I have cried out to you, and you have answered. Thank you for taking a personal interest in my life’s journey. May I always glorify you each step of the way. Amen.”
Hurt and discouragement are realities in every person’s life. We have felt the painful arrow of someone’s words. We have experienced being misunderstood or betrayed. Discouragement settles into our lives as an unwelcomed guest. Even our friends can do nothing to relieve us of our painful hearts. We don’t know where to turn.
King David had these very same experiences in his life. He had enemies who were out to get him. His few remaining friends pushed him into a deeper despair by saying that God had abandoned him. He shares his experience in Psalm 3. This Psalm begins with David expressing the helplessness of his soul: “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah.” (Psalm 3:1-2)
The words: “There is no help for him in God.” cry out for an answer. We have all faced discouragement because of circumstances, people who don’t like us, and our own actions. However, when those who are closest to us give up hope for us, what are we to do? We often crawl into our shell and nurse our broken heart alone.
In the midst of the darkness of his soul, David looks up to God. Has God abandoned him? No! He finds his hope and encouragement once again in God. He reaffirms his faith and trust in God: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.” (Psalm 3:3)
God is his protector (shield) in spite of his enemies.
God will be glorified, in spite of his circumstances.
God will lift up his soul unto joy and encouragement in spite of his despair.
After David reaffirms his trust in God, he then cries out for God to act in his behalf. “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah” (Psalm 3:4) God is waiting for us to cry out to Him. Our Heavenly Father knows all about our enemies, pain, trials, and discouragement; however, He chooses to wait until we humble ourselves before Him. Our crying out to Him is saying: “Lord, I have no where else to turn. I desperately need you. Please come and deliver me.” God will hear our cry and respond.
David’s situation has yet to change, but he has changed. He knows that God is working everything for His glory. David no longer faces sleepless nights turning his bed. “I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.” (Psalm 3:5) We don’t have to lie awake at night worrying about our enemies, future and tribulations. Sleep comes when we remember that the Lord is our shield. Nothing can enter our lives that doesn’t first pass through his loving presence.
The dread of each day would no longer be a part of David’s life. “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people, that have set themselves against me round about.” (Psalm 3:6) We don’t have to wake up in the morning filled with fear of what will happen. God is in control. He is the One who restores our confidence and hope. Each day is a new opportunity to bring glory to God who has lifted up our soul
David concludes with confidence that God will show His justice upon his enemies. “Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God: for thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone;thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly.” (Psalm 3:7) When we turn to God, we are free to allow Him to deal with those who have committed evil, whether it be against us, or others. We are free from bitterness when we commit them completely to the justice of God.
Turning to God has caused a transformation in David’s life. In the beginning of the Psalm, David’s soul is downcast and hopeless, but at the end of the Psalm, he proclaims that he is greatly blessed by God. “Salvation belongeth unto the Lord: thy blessing is upon thy people. Selah.” (Psalm 3:8)
God transforms our despair into joy, peace, comfort, courage and blessing. God’s ears are always open to our cry. Are we ready to cry out to Him?
“Dear Lord, I have a heavy heart. My life seems hopeless. Those around me say that I am beyond your help. Yet, I know that you hear my cry unto you. Your Word tells me that you are my Protector. Help me to hide behind your shield. Give me the grace to live for your glory. Thank you for lifting up my soul no matter how low it may go. You alone can restore my hope, my joy, my courage, and my purpose in life. Thank you for hearing not only my cry, but the deepest sighs of my soul that I can’t express outwardly. Amen.”
Why do I find it difficult to believe in the person and promises of God? Yes, I believe in my head, but my heart has a lack of complete trust in Him. Recently, God brought this to my attention while reading the account of the man whose child had an unclean spirit.
“And he said, Of a child.And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:22-24)
The father is in a desperate situation. He has no hope for his son; however, he pleads with Jesus that if He can help, please do something for his child. Jesus catches the doubt in this man’s heart as he said: “If thou canst do anything.” This man was speaking to God in the flesh; and yet doubted His ability to heal his child.
I have fallen into this same trap. I believe in who the Lord is, but deep down, I don’t think, He is able to do what seems impossible to me. I can’t see how he can save a loved one. I don’t see how He can change a person’s life. I don’t see how He can help me in a very difficult situation.
After the man speaks, Jesus encourages him to have faith: “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Jesus is saying that there is nothing too hard for Him. How often, I have looked at circumstances, at others or at myself, and felt overwhelmed. My heart says: “Can God handle this?” Doubt brings torment. Yes, I know in my head that God is All-Powerful, but doubt fills my heart. James says that “A doubleminded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)
In this story, God speaks to my doubting heart. He is saying: “Don’t look at the difficulty in front of you, but look to me. I am God. I am All-Powerful. I know what I am doing. I do have compassion upon you. Your mind says you can trust me, let your heart trust me as well.”
The man responds in tears with words that resonate in my heart: “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” These words could come right from mine own mouth. At times, my head says: “I believe.” However, my heart says: “I can’t believe”. God wants me to be open about my doubts; so that He can change my heart into a heart that believes in all that He is and all that He says.
I am not the only person who is double minded when it comes to trusting the Lord. The disciples once came to Jesus and made this important request: “Increase our faith”. They saw their need in light of their doubts that were overwhelming their hearts. Likewise, I need to constantly pray with the disciples: “Lord, increase my faith.”
In the end, Christ honors the man’s wavering faith and heals his son. This man’s struggle with doubt brought him to a greater faith in Christ. His struggle also helps me to see that Christ understands my struggle with trusting Him with my heart. There is great peace, comfort, and strength when I trust Him with both my mind and my heart.
“Dear Lord, I believe in all that you are in my mind. I know in my mind that you are All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Wise, and All-Loving. I believe your Word from Genesis to Revelation. I believe in the miracles that you have done. However, when times get tough, when people don’t seem to respond to you, I begin to doubt in my heart. Please forgive me for my unbelief. Bring me to a belief not only in my head, but also in my heart. Thank you for your patience in all that you are doing in my life. Amen.”
“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.”
(1 Peter 2:7)
The word “precious” means of great value or of high price. It also means to be dear or beloved in the eyes of the beholder. Peter makes it clear that believers in Jesus Christ should naturally have a great passion for Christ. He should be pursued with all of our hearts, because there is nothing more precious than he.
Is Jesus Christ precious in our eyes today? Perhaps, the world no longer sees Christ as being important, because believers have slowly lost sight of the preciousness of Jesus Christ. When Peter wrote the words: “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.” (1 Peter 2:7), he was writing to believers who were facing great persecution. These believers had a great passion for Christ, in spite of the great persecution they faced. They understood there was nothing of greater value in this life than having Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The Bible clearly shows us the preciousness of Christ in many ways.
1. Jesus Christ is precious because He is God in the flesh. The Book of John shows Christ’s deity in his works, his words, and his holiness. John wrote:
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) His Deity means that He has all the attributes of God the Father. Our worship, our words, our attitudes and actions should reflect our love and submission to Christ, who is God in the flesh.
2. Jesus Christ is precious because He is the only way of salvation. Mankind is under God’s condemnation. We are all born in sin and in rebellion to the Holy, Righteous God. However, God the Son came to earth to satisfy the Father’s justice. He took our sins upon Himself when He died upon the cross. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is the object of our love because He took the punishment of our sin upon Himself.
3. Jesus Christ is precious because His love never ends. As Jesus was preparing to leave the earth, his disciples felt lonely. Despair had overcome them; yet Christ encourages them with words concerning His eternal love. Christ’s love for us isn’t based upon our performance, it is a love that never ends. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35)
4. Jesus Christ is precious because He is the Good Shepherd. Life presents many challenges. We face important decisions, immovable obstacles, sicknesses, and loneliness. Do people really care? Jesus says: “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14) Jesus knows our hearts. He leads us in the way we should go. He carries us with tenderness when the path seems impossible. He takes away our fears. He walks with us even in the valley of the shadow of death. “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:11)
5. Jesus Christ is precious because of His great promises. Christ not only gives us promises to encourage and exhort us, but He also keeps all of His promises. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4) Reflect upon His promises and know that Christ is more precious than anything else in this life. Here are just a few samples of His promises.
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” (Psalm 91:15)
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
“And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” (Isaiah 46:4)
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)
With our finite minds, it is impossible to completely comprehend the preciousness of Christ. He is precious in all of His attributes, words and deeds. The more we know Him, the more precious He will become to us. When others see how precious Christ is to us, perhaps, they will start to take the claims of Christ seriously in their own lives.
“Dear Lord, I often take you for granted. I know that you are my Lord and Savior; yet, I don’t treasure my relationship with you. You are precious beyond all of my understanding. Help me to gaze upon you and see how precious you are to me. Amen.”
What can you learn from a six-week old baby? I would have never thought about this question until I met Aubrey Joy Oberlin. I met her for the first time a bit over two years ago. when I heard about her plight. She was born with a genetic disease called Junctional EB (Epidermolysis bullosa). This disease was painful as it affected all parts of her body. Her parents, family and friends did a great job of loving her and taking care of her for her six short weeks of life. Aubrey’s life on this earth ended on November 17, 2010. However, she is far from being forgotten.
1. The first lesson that I learned from Aubrey is contentment. When I visited Aubrey, she always had her eyes opened. I knew she had trouble breathing and she was in pain, but in all my visits I never detected a complaining or angry spirit. Her eyes were saying: “Could you please help me. I don’t feel well.” Her eyes convicted me of how easily I complain when things don’t go my way. Though she didn’t say it with words, her eyes showed me a form of contentment that I need to experience more often in my life. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:11-12)
2. A second lesson that I learned from Aubrey is my need of dependence upon God. “I just want to hold her one last time. Aubrey loves to be held!” As I heard these words from Aubrey’s grandma the day of Aubrey’s entrance into God presence, I couldn’t help but feel sorrow and compassion for a dear family who would never again be able to hold their beloved daughter in their arms. It also brought to remembrance a verse in the Bible that has brought comfort to many people: “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:” (Deuteronomy 33:27)
Aubrey’s loved ones had a great desire to hold her in their arms and show their great love for her. Likewise, Our Heavenly Father loves us and longs to keep us close unto Himself. His arms are all-powerful arms, yet His arms are also tender. His arms bring great comfort and protection through whatever trials and pains that we face. His arms will never tire in holding us.
Aubrey did love to be held in the arms of those who loved her. She felt the love and comfort from those loving arms. As I thought about this, I realized that at times I haven’t longed to be held by Our Heavenly Father. I choose to go my own way. Yes, His arms are reaching out for me, yet I often resist those loving arms. May I learn to rest assured in the arms of Our Loving Heavenly Father, even as Aubrey rested so comfortably in the arms of those who love her.
3. A third lesson that I learned from Aubrey is priority. Being with Aubrey during her last day on earth was very difficult. She would labor to breathe. This went on throughout the day until finally later in the evening her heart stopped beating. Aubrey showed me that truly I need to remember to place the things of God first in my life. Life is brief. Every day is a gift from God. Will I live each day for God’s purpose and His Glory?“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand ofGod. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
4. A fourth lesson that I learned from Aubrey is gratefulness for God’s salvation. As I would speak to Aubrey’s loved ones, I was glad that I could share Bible verses about Christ’s love for the world and how he died on the cross for our sins. Aubrey never had an opportunity to believe (because of her age), but the Bible does make it clear that she is present with the Lord. David expected to see his baby in heaven. “Then said his servants unto him, What thing is this that thou hast done? thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. And he said, While the child was yet alive, I fasted and wept: for I said, Who can tell whether GOD will be gracious to me, that the child may live? But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” (2 Samuel 12: 21-23)
Two years ago, we said goodbye to Aubrey. She is now in God’s presence. I can’t always understand the ways of God, but I am thankful that I had the opportunity to get to know Aubrey. She was an excellent teacher while she was with us!