We hit a muskrat with our Toyota Camry. Estimates are it has done about $800 worth of damage. Not fun. Christmas, taking a youth group to a big event in Florida in January and still trying to get a son through his senior year of high school – now isn’t a good time to cough up some of that green stuff to fix the car.
And while we are at it, why do we always get stuck with used cars? How come we had to get a real winner, a Camry with a damage title, and the stupid key fobs won’t work unless we invest hundreds of dollars to replace the car’s computer system? I could go on and on, but God stopped me.
It was like He was waving His hands up and down and jumping for emphasis. “Focus Woman, Focus! Look at what you do have.”
When our family needed a second vehicle and there weren’t many affordable options, someone hooked us up with this Camry for a very competitive price. The mechanic we usually take our vehicles to gives my husband a ministerial discount. I could go on and on – and this time God probably won’t stop me. I’m much happier when I’m counting my blessings instead of focusing on a few trivial bumps in the road.
It’s really simple, but it’s sometimes very hard. Choosing to count our blessings instead of dwelling on what’s going wrong at the moment isn’t the natural choice for us folks. But that’s okay, because I happen to know Someone in the supernatural business. Through God’s grace, He can transform my life and give me a character like Christ’s. The car will get taken care of eventually. Perhaps most important is taking my heart to God’s garage for a tune up.
These words can frustrate a sincere preacher of the Word faster than my psychotic relative’s mood can change (actually, I have more than one psychotic relative, but that’s just my opinion). Sure everyone is going to sign up for your religion because all you have to do is pray to God and the blessings come!
Want a shocker? That’s the Old Covenant. Now unless you aren’t familiar with all this Christianese, let me explain as best I can. God called a people to be His special people. He would give them His precepts and decrees and He would, by His grace, live out these precepts and decrees in the lives of His people. They would serve Him and He would bless them so much that other nations would come running – wanting to know about Israel’s God. That was God’s first plan of using one people to draw all others to Himself. The Old Covenant.
The funny part is, there are many Christians today who don’t want to have anything to do with God’s precepts and decrees. After all – they claim – those were nailed to the cross. We want the new covenant. We shouldn’t have to keep some outdated law. We’re post modern! Okay, fine, take the second covenant. You know the one where Jesus says, take up your cross daily and follow Me. Heard of that one? Kind of flies in the face of that fake prosperity gospel, doesn’t it?
So we have a bunch of folks out there that want to party like the 1st Covenant and not have to worry about the rules like in their version of the 2nd Covenant. Pretty crazy, right? What am I saying? God tried it the blessings way first. He tried to reach us in the pocket book. What did we do? The Bible says God’s followers began to think all these blessings were their own doing and sometimes even attributed them to other gods. So the blessings were taken away. God’s people repented and got back in line. The blessings came back. Over and over again God dealt mercifully with this stubborn people. That’s the Old Covenant.
The New Covenant? Since God’s people wouldn’t stay on the blessings train, He brought out good works, self-sacrifice and service. Die daily to self and follow Me. You won’t have the blessings of this life, but you will have the assurance of the life to come. Others will see your good works and glorify God in heaven. It won’t be untold riches now attracting the heathens into our ranks, it’s our good works of selflessness.
Here’s the amazing part – it’s still the same thing. It’s still grace. We can’t die to self daily and serve others any more than we could keep every decree and precept in the Bible on our own. It has always been and always will be by God’s grace. Folks before the cross had to have faith in what God said He would do and those of us after must have faith that what God did is enough to cover our sins. Either covenant, either way, it’s still saved by grace through faith.
A friend of mine cleans houses as a way to make a living. She has some interesting stories about some of the situations she has encountered as well as many great cleaning tips! Recently she was cleaning the home of a new client. Busily at work in the kitchen, she was surprised when all three of the owner’s dogs raced into the kitchen and stood at attention near her. What could this mean?
My friend soon realized what had taken place. In her efforts to clean the kitchen counter and wipe under various appliances, jars and canisters – she had moved the treat jar. Merely moving the jar that holds their precious treats, even just for cleaning, sent those dogs into action. Their ears so honed to the sound of that jar being touched or moved in any way meant something good was coming.
Today, I want God to have a treat jar on His counter. I want to learn by heart the sounds that are made when God gets ready to move His jar. I want to be ready when God is giving out treats of grace, patience, unexpected blessings, friendships, beauties of nature, a child’s smile, a family hug and so many more of the special treats that come from being His child.
Sometimes it seems the jar hasn’t moved in a while. Maybe the kitchen counter is cluttered and you need to let someone come in and clean it off and move the jar. Listen for it. That means something good is coming!