Have you considered lately how blessed you are? On a recent trip to visit with my in-laws, I had some time to reflect.

We are blessed to be able to travel. Visiting my in-laws takes some time. They live in north Louisiana. This trip we flew, but other trips we’ve driven (14 hours in a car). In any case, I got to thinking how blessed we are to be able to make five state trek to visit family. Whether driving or flying, we are blessed to be able to travel.

We are blessed to have family. One of my wife’s constant refrains is “Appreciate the time we have.” Her dad died suddenly of a heart attack almost twenty years ago. There’s not much she wouldn’t give for another conversation with her dad. We are blessed to be able to care for my dad, to visit my wife’s family, to have two boys of our own. Family is one of God’s greatest blessings.

We are blessed to have our daily bread. Jesus taught his followers to pray in Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.” Jesus’ socioeconomic culture was agricultural and built on daily provisions. This was a real prayer of trust and need. God has abundantly blessed so many in our nation to not have to worry about where their daily bread will come from. Having abundant food is one of God’s blessings.

We are blessed to have health. The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for some, and many others I know are going through health crises. But just about two weeks ago I was able to get my second vaccination. And there are so many who have been vaccinated who feel a freedom and peace that’s been lacking for a year. We are so blessed in the US to have the health care opportunities that we do have. Any way you look at our situation, we are blessed.

We are blessed to have real life. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus gives us life, real and abundant. The life Jesus gives is not virtual or lived through Facebook or in a fantasy. Jesus gives us life to the full that begins at conversion and lasts forever. The life that we have through Jesus is both real and eternal.

I could list dozens if not hundreds or thousands more blessings. If you really think about it, you could list many as well. Consider your blessings, and thank God for them.

On the recent trip I referenced earlier, I got some time to read. I was able to finish a book entitled Centered: Trading Your Plans for a Life that Matters by Jason Brown. Jason played Center on the UNC Football team a number of years ago, was drafted, and played a few years in the NFL. At the height of his career, he sensed God calling him to leave football and become a farmer. He and his family now own First Fruits Farm in North Carolina where they give away nearly everything they grow to food banks and other agencies for those who are hungry. Their story is fascinating and convicting.

In one instance Jason sensed God saying to him, “I haven’t been blessing you this whole time so that my blessings could stop at you; I’ve been blessing you so that my blessings could flow through you” (p. 96, emphasis mine).

Jason and Tay’s story reminded me of this all-important truth:

God doesn’t bless us just for us; he blesses us so that we can bless others.

How has God blessed you? Has God blessed you with financial resources? Has God blessed you with gifts, talents, and abilities? Has God blessed you with health, energy, or free time? Has God blessed you with empathy, compassion, and a concern for the less fortunate?

If you’re reading this God at least blessed you with eyesight and some free time. I would like to commend four specific actions you can do to reflect on your blessings.

  1. List your blessings. Write down some of the ways God has blessed you. Journal them. Think on them. If you’d like, take the comments section below or the social media post you read this on and list some of your blessings there.
  2. Pause and thank God for your blessings. Nothing you have is totally yours. We are stewards of what God has given. Thank him for your blessings, your ability to work, your freedoms, your time, and anything else you are blessed with.
  3. Find a way today to bless someone else. Encourage someone, take someone to lunch, buy a neighbor a gift, serve at a food bank or homeless shelter. Just bless someone today.
  4. Ask God how he might want to use his blessings to you to flow through you to someone else. This is a challenge. God may ask you to sacrifice time, money, career, or something else. But when God uses you to bless someone else, you are sharing a little bit of eternity in a temporal world.

If you want to read a challenging and encouraging story about God’s call to bless others, order and read Jason Brown’s book. You will be encouraged and convicted. And I’m positive that you’ll be blessed.

Photo by Ann on Unsplash

Election is sometimes debated and misunderstood. And no, I’m not discussing the election of public officials. I’m referencing the doctrine of election as it is found in the Bible.

According to the Lexham Bible Dictionary, election is “God’s choice of a person or people group for a specific purpose, mission, or salvation.”

To be elect means that God has chosen us out of this world, to journey through this world as exiles, in order to find our home with him in the next world. 

The doctrine of election is associated with Calvinism or the five points of Calvinism. Without going into much detail here, election is more than a term used by a theological system. It is a biblical concept. Election refers to God’s choice of a nation (in the Old Testament) and a people (the church in the New Testament) as his own. Election is important as it underscores the importance of God’s sovereignty and work in salvation.

Several passages of Scripture refer directly to the doctrine of election:

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 

Deuteronomy 7:7-8, (emphasis mine)

“You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.”

Amos 3:2 (emphasis mine)

 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia,Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,  who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

1 Peter 1:1-2 (emphasis mine)

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. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 

Ephesians 1:3-6 (emphasis mine)

These passages are but a sample, but they make it obvious that election is a biblical doctrine. It did not come from the minds of men, but rather from the plans of God.

Election in this biblical sense is unconditional. God did not choose Israel because they were good. Indeed, the prophet Amos above reflects that God would punish Israel because as his chosen people, they had rebelled. God did not choose Israel because they would be good. They never really were good. God chose them to reveal his grace and kindness in redemption.

How does election work? God elects according to his foreknowledge. See 1 Peter 1:2 above. This is another oft misunderstood term. How does God foreknow? The term foreknowledge implies intimate, personal knowledge. See God’s statement to Jeremiah below.

God knew us before he formed us, and God’s knowing of us formed the basis for his election. God knows us in a personal sense. So according to God’s foreknowledge, he elects us to be part of his family.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Jeremiah 1:5 (emphasis mine)

I realize that divine election as an aspect of salvation is a thought-provoking subject. It has also spawned much debate over the centuries. But it is not a fatalistic doctrine. Rather it is a doctrine that encourages the greatness of God’s work in our salvation. Robert Letham helpfully observes the following in his Systematic Theology:

Election cannot be understood biblically and theologically in abstraction from Christ. It is a Trinitarian decree, bears an inseparable connection to the person and work of Christ, cannot be severed from the gospel, and is the root of all the ways union with Christ is worked out in the life experience of the faithful. It is as far from fatalism as could be imagined.

Robert Letham, Systematic Theology, 409.

The doctrine of election should encourage us in our faith.

  • The doctrine of election reminds us that our salvation was in the mind of God before our lives began.
  • The doctrine of election encourages us to give God the appropriate glory for our salvation.
  • The doctrine of election inspires us to thankfulness for the Father’s planning of our salvation, the Son’s accomplishing our salvation, and the Holy Spirit’s bringing us to salvation.
  • The doctrine of election motivates us to share the good news of Christ’s salvation to everyone we can.

The doctrine of election should not divide us. Rather it should encourage us that God has acted in salvation to make us a part of his family.