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1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” NIV

I was speaking to my daughter today.  She was having trouble appreciating what others have done for her.  I gently started telling her of sacrifices that others have made for her.  From the time she was a baby, she never realized how much others have given her to make her life joyful.  Now, she has had pain and disappointment in her life, but she did not realize that it could have been so much worse.  She did not realize how fragile life is, but how much the Lord has worked in her life, directly as well as by using her father, brother, friends, relatives, strangers, and me to make her life what it is today.  She did not realize the pain that others have endured on her behalf.  She had not realized how people have put themselves between her and difficulties and pains that were too much for her.  She had not learned to appreciate what the Lord has done, how He has made her life one of the best I have seen anyone have.

We are all like that.  Even though I had had a much more painful childhood than she had, I did not realize until I was much older how much the Lord had protected me from a life of utter torment.  I believe that is part of the reason why it is so easy for us to develop OCD, anxiety, and panic, because we do not have to actually confront death and pain daily.  We become afraid of what “might” happen.  We do not literally have to battle our way through snake infested jungles all day.  We do not have to scrabble through trash for bits of half rotten food.  We are not shivering, naked in the cold.  We are not physically attacked every day.  In those cases, our brains would be too busy trying to survive to avoid cracks “just in case stepping on one makes something bad happen”, touching doorknobs, or fretting about what glass might be clean enough in the cupboard.

So our mind starts musing about what might happen, bad things that could happen.  We allow the “what if’s” to crowd our thoughts, hiding our blessings from us.  We have scales on our eyes, because, if we were honest, we go through most of lives with blessings abounding.  Even though we have some problems, we are sheltered enough to where our mind has the time to invent possible dangers to us.

Let me repeat that:

We are blessed enough that our mind has time to invent possible dangers.

If we were  facing real tigers, our minds would not care if our hands were clean enough.  If we were really in danger in a restaurant from a gang of bad guys, we would not be having panic attacks, because our fight or flight instinct would be necessary to help us get out of that bad situation.  If our child was actually taken away from us, we would not care if our dishes were super sterilized, or how many matchbooks we had stored away or how many times we had touched a doorknob.  If we were facing actual danger and loss, that would override our brains useless musings of “what if’s”.

Truthfully, we have pain in our lives, but we also have a lot of blessing, more blessing than pain.  However, we do not see our blessings–we listen to the inventions of our mind, and in doing so, we lose sight of our blessings that the Lord gives us.

Now we are going to change that. This is where things get joyful, where blessings abound!  At some point, you probably dreaded each day, fretted or worried about what the day would bring.  For me, I would have about 30 seconds of peace in the morning, but then the anxiety would hit.  Literally for one minute, I was calm, my heart did not pound, my stomach did not churn.  Then my brain would fully wake up, and I would be awash in severe anxiety and physical symptoms.

But we are going to learn a new way of looking at a day. We are going to learn that each morning is a time of praise and great excitement!  We are going to learn to be eager for the dawn, because we have joy in the morning.

Psalm 30:4 Sing praise to the LORD, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy {comes} in the morning. NAS

David knew what it was like to be saved.  He knew that the Lord’s favor is for a lifetime.  He knew that there was joy in the morning.

In Lamentations 3:21-36 we read:

21 This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, To the soul who seeks Him. 26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly For the salvation of the Lord.  NKJV

 The morning is a great time of promise.  We have been kept safe through the night, our sins of yesterday have been forgiven as we repent, and the Lord has many new blessings awaiting us.

Now, because each new day had been filled with fear for us, not with eager expectation of the Lord working in our lives, we did not praise the Lord, we were not excited about the new day.

We are going to learn how to change that today.

Today we are going to stop dreading each day and approach each day in praise as we eagerly look under and around each event that will happen to us today for the treasure that the Lord has hidden for us in that moment.

It might be a word of wisdom.

It might be a bit of correction.

It might be a cool cup of water.

It might be a “burning bush” type of miracle.

No matter what, though, the Lord has treasure in our hearts and in our days for us that we have not even begun to understand or even think of. You have treasure there inside of you that you did not know you had, that the Lord put there.  He will show you how to open those presents, find that treasure.

Write them in your notebook.  These are important for you to see, to start to notice.  When you feel yourself getting frightened or discouraged, you will be able to flip in your notebook to your blessings pages and see what the Lord has done for you.  It will also train you to look for good, not “might be bad” in your day.

Remember, the Lord deserves our praise!  He has plans to help us grow in faith and righteousness (Jer 29:11).  He has grace that is sufficient for us in our time of need.  Every day we have the opportunity to see the Lord’s provision. But we have to look for it.  We cannot be staring at our fears and see the grace of God.  We are not lifting prayers of true praise if we are frantically begging for help from a non-existent threat.

Understand that you are His child, holy and dearly loved (Col 3:12).  He knows the plans He has for you and they are not to make you miserable and afraid, but to give you hope and a future.  Every single day He is working in your life, for your good.

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  NIV

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  NIV

 Instead of dreading each day, we need to start looking at each day like a holy treasure hunt—where we awake in the morning, and before we even move, we pray to the Lord in grateful anticipation of what He has for us.  In humility we give our day to Him, with the assurance of the promise that He will work all things to our good when we trust Him.  We praise and thank Him for the blessings we know are coming that day, even though we do not know what they are yet.  Even if that day brings trouble, we praise Him because we know that He works all things out for our good.  Even if that day brings temptation, we praise Him because He never lets us be tempted beyond what we can bear, but has left a way out of temptation for us (1 Cor 10:13).  Even if that day brings sorrow, we praise Him because any sorrow we feel is not wanton, we do not sorrow like those who have no hope.  We know that He is with us.

Romans 8: 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  NIV

1Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it NIV

Hebrews 2:18 For since He Himself was tempted  in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. NAS

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment–to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession–to the praise of his glory. NIV

 And we know that most of our days will not be filled with sorrow or trouble!  We know that He provides grace, love, forgiveness, provision, mercy, kindness, ability, talents, peace, rest, joy!

So we will train ourselves to get into the habit of looking at each day like a Holy Treasure Hunt, where we look for all the wonderful things that the Lord does in our lives!  Some of those things will be “mundane miracles”—food, clothing, shelter.  Some of them will be emotional and mental happiness like laughter, friends, family.  Some of them will be miraculous salvations from sins, troubles, and fears.

Wake in the morning, praise God, then watch every minute for every blessing He bestows on you.

Spend your day in eager anticipation and then in delighted praise as you realize how much the Lord is working in your life!  At first it might be hard to recognize all the blessings…you are not used to looking for them, but rather for dangers.  Your eyes are still stinging from staring at the fire.  But soon your vision will clear and, if you are diligent, you will see that your blessings are piling up and running over.  Take the time to recognize each one and praise the Lord for them.  If you can praise Him out loud, do so!

Write down your blessings!  Count them!  Count them until you are bored, then refocus (because if you are bored with counting blessings, instead of filled with increasing joy and gratitude, then your focus has gone off from actually appreciating your blessings), and count them some more!

Your brain is going to work on something.  You probably have one of those minds that “never shuts off”.  It probably boggles your imagination if someone says that they are actually thinking about “nothing”, and in fact, even if you tried to think about nothing, you would think about it as if it was something, right?

This will give your mind something to work on besides the silliness of “what if’s” and “yeah but’s”.  Your eyes and brain will be as engaged as they would be if you were looking for a diamond in the grass—too busy concentrating on its task to get diverted.  You will be looking for diamonds in your life, and every time you find another one, stop and praise the Lord for His provision.  You will delight Him, confound the enemy, protect your mind from foolishness, provide a great witness to those around you, and do great work towards your healing.  Amen.

 

 

 

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