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Given, Found, Recognized, and Experienced

There are times in life when we just need to sit back and consider what we already have. Yep, we are so busy moving forward to get what we don't have that we sometimes forget about the importance or significance of what we already have.  This is never more important than we stop long enough to consider what it is we have in Christ Jesus.  This one takes a bit of time to think about - because we might not fully appreciate the many blessings we have received in Christ simply because we haven't discovered them fully yet!  In times of considering what we have in Christ, we might just discover we have something we never new we had! 

Think about what we have in Christ: the encouragement he has brought us, the comfort of his love, our sharing in his Spirit, and the mercy and kindness he has shown us. If you enjoy these blessings, then do what will make my joy complete: Agree with each other, and show your love for each other. Be united in your goals and in the way you think. (Philippians 2:1-2 ERV)

The things we can immediately think of are probably the things we are most frequently thanking him for - such as our good health, the ability to work, the food on the table, or the money to pay the mortgage.  The things we may not consistently associate with being in our lives and a blessing to us are those things we want to consider today.  Let's look a little deeper, shall we?

- In Christ, we have been given encouragement.  I like to think of this as "in-courage-ment". In other words, he comes alive inside each of us and in that process of bringing new life, he gives us a courage to reach beyond what we imagined or knew to be possible in our lives. He stimulates us internally to be or do what we have never done or been.  When facing difficulty, danger, or painful situations, we are enabled (in-abled) to respond according to his power, never wavering in the peace he gives us.  IN us, courage takes root and new life begins to bloom.  Take notice - it is not a courage which somehow gets mustered from within a man or woman.  It is a courage which is brought to us.  In essence, we don't possess what it takes - so he brings us all we need!

- In Christ, we find the comfort of his love.  I like a sweet poster I see now and again on social media with two love birds, nestling neck to neck on a branch high in a tree.  The caption simply reads, "Love isn't something you find.  Love is something that finds you." When this love is that which comes from God, it is like a heat-seeking missile - it just doesn't miss the mark!  There is comfort in being enveloped in love - not just emotional highs, but a deeply appreciated and deeply experienced  sense of well-being and honor.  God's love not only embraces us, it holds us.  This is why we find comfort in it - because it gives us stability and it builds us up like nothing else ever can.

- In Christ, we recognize we share his Spirit.  I like my pastor's simple explanation of the triune God (the Trinity).  For years and years I tried to make sense of the Trinity.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - three, yet one.  How on earth does that one work.  Well, as Pastor Chad says, we need to stop thinking of it as "one plus one plus one", but rather as "one times one time one".  The Spirit of God is alive within us - so the "three in one" God of the universe dwells within us, complete with all his power, grace, and love.  This means we have an igniting force within - something akin to that which began the work of creation years and years ago.  Stopping to consider that for just a moment, you and I have absolutely the greatest hope for change deep within our lives - the Spirit of the Creator!  Change is possible! It isn't too far away or too hard to reach.  It is right there resident within.  

- In Christ, we experience mercy and kindness.  Far outreaching any other mercy man has ever shown, or kindness ever expressed in our lives - his mercy and kindness are experienced on a deeper and more consistent plane than any other we may have known. Mercy is receiving what we don't deserve.  Kindness is the extension of the gentle and helping hand of God when and where we most need it.  These two go hand in hand, for God's grace (getting what we don't deserve) is really manifest in his hand bringing us into a place we didn't achieve in our own ability or strength.

I don't want us to miss four very important words:  Given, Find, Recognize, and Experience. We don't come to appreciate any of the things above apart from knowing what or who we have been given; finding what we most need; recognizing the significance of the one who indwells us fully; and experiencing the immensity of his grace.  Just sayin!

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