COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND COUNT YOUR WAY OUT OF TROUBLE

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COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS AND COUNT YOUR WAY OUT OF TROUBLE

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”

What an uplifting hymn, is it not? But cynics will look at this hymn and say that it is a ‘cup half empty, cup half full’ idea. It’s like the other song, made famous by Monty Python, ‘Always look on the bright side of life.’ It is just a comforting illusion; something we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better about the situation.

But beloved, for us who believe, it is very different. It is certainly is comforting, but it is not an illusion. Our Father’s blessings are real. And what is more comforting and more important for us to realize is, for all that our Father has blessed us with, there is plenty more where that came from.

Yet, you are sitting there thinking very hard, looking long and deep into your life, and you cannot, for the life of you, find one thing that our Father has blessed you with. Well, beloved, do not lose heart. Let us turn our eyes away from ourselves for a moment and consider these three stories; and let us see if we can identify any blessings in the situations.

“So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions.” Daniel 6:16

Wow, thrown in the lion’s den. Cannot really find much blessing in this, can we? To compound this, here is why Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den.

“Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any charge against this Daniel unless we find it against him concerning the law of his God.”” Daniel 6:3-5

He was thrown in because other people were jealous, scheming and evil. And because they had strength in numbers, they were able to win over the king’s ear. Sound familiar? Been there before? Sure you have. No blessings there right?

How about the fact that Daniel had an excellent spirit in him; in the same way that you have an excellent spirit in you? Beloved, you have the spirit of Jesus in you, for He has said,

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.” John 14:15-18
And what does the Spirit of Truth do?

“But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.” John 14:26 [AMPC]

You know that little voice that keeps you on the straight and narrow? Saves you from trouble from time to time? That is the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby who is acting on Jesus’ behalf. Now is that not a blessing?

But Daniel’s story does not end there.

“Now the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; and no musicians were brought before him. Also his sleep went from him. Then the king arose very early in the morning and went in haste to the den of lions.” Daniel 6:18-19

The king’s heart was moved. So moved in fact, he did this.

“Then King Darius wrote:
To all peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth:
Peace be multiplied to you.
I make a decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel.” Daniel 6:25-26

The king got saved. Daniel, through his faith in our Father, won for Christ the king’s soul. Is that not a blessing?

How about Daniel then? Of course we know that, like a bad Hollywood movie, nothing would have happened to Daniel; and indeed, nothing did.

“Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you.” Daniel 6:21-22

But before you pass this off as just another story, remember this,

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;” Hebrews 13:8

In the same way that He delivered Daniel, He stands ready to deliver you.

Now, another story.

“Then Nebuchadnezzar was full of fury, and the expression on his face changed toward Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. He spoke and commanded that they heat the furnace seven times more than it was usually heated. And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace.” Daniel 3:19-20

Not Daniel this time, but his friends. What grievous sin did they commit?

“Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?”” Daniel 3:14-15

They got thrown in because they refused to worship any other god except our Father. Sound familiar? Sure, we are no longer forced to bow down to crafted deities in our modern secular day and age. But there are other things that the world seeks to use to usurp the rightful place of our Father in our lives; things like money, status, power. And if we do not bow to these ‘deities’ the world does not take too kindly to that and puts a pressure on us that is so great, it is not unlike going through the fire.

Yet, their story did not end there.

“Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”” Daniel 3:24-25

Jesus was in their midst. When the heat was the greatest, literally, Jesus, the Son of God, Himself, was with them, walking in their midst, protecting them, preserving them. Now if ever there was a blessing, this was it. And beloved, in the same way, when you were going through the fire of your persecution, if you are true to your heart, you will find that Jesus was there, every time, every step of the way, leading you, walking amidst your situation, just like He will be when you next face your next furnace, because

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever;” Hebrews 13:8

So in the same way that He delivered Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, He has and still will always stand ready to deliver you.

The final story.

“One day, on our way to the place of prayer, a slave girl ran into us. She was a psychic and, with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. She started following Paul around, calling everyone’s attention to us by yelling out, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!” She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up with her, turned and commanded the spirit that possessed her, “Out! In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And it was gone, just like that.
When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square. Then the police arrested them and pulled them into a court with the accusation, “These men are disturbing the peace—dangerous Jewish agitators subverting our Roman law and order.” By this time the crowd had turned into a restless mob out for blood.
The judges went along with the mob, had Paul and Silas’s clothes ripped off and ordered a public beating. After beating them black-and-blue, they threw them into jail, telling the jailkeeper to put them under heavy guard so there would be no chance of escape. He did just that—threw them into the maximum security cell in the jail and clamped leg irons on them.” Acts 16:16-24 [MSG]

Paul and Silas were thrown into jail for doing nothing more than silencing an annoying pesky public nuisance. They actually did her a favor, since she was demon possessed. Sound familiar? Did a friend a favor yet got misunderstood because things did not turn out the way your friend wanted it to be?

Well beloved, this is what Paul and Silas did in prison.

“Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears.” Acts 16:25 [MSG]

They certainly were living out this stanza.

“Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.”

So where is the blessing in this one? Remember the jailer?

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” Acts 16:30-34

The man got saved, they got medical attention and they got fed. Not only that, Paul had it in him to be obnoxious at this point and rightfully demanded that their dignity be restored to them and so in the end,

“And the officers told these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Romans. Then they came and pleaded with them and brought them out, and asked them to depart from the city.” Acts 16:38-39

So if you were wronged, Jesus rights your wrongs and restores your dignity.

Beloved, for us who believe, our Father gives us many benefits.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-5

“So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.”

Now look back on your life again. Then count your blessings, and for every one that you see, see His love for you in it and know that there is plenty more where that came from, so much in fact, that they will overwhelm any circumstance you can ever face.

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