Count your blessings…

A text transcript of the message preached at Elijah Ministries on 11th June 2010

 

Good morning brothers and sisters.

 

I’ve been sick this last week with a nasty fever Virus, so I nearly didn’t make it today!

So it’s a wonderful privilege to stand before you this morning….

 

Shall we pray…

 

 

 

 

 

It’s been an interesting last few weeks with the World Cup being hosted in our beautiful country. From a secular point of view, it was nice to see the country being united with a common patriotism for a change. For a short while, there has been an air of pride and optimism amongst the people, rather than the negative tension that so often pervades our society.

 

Now, whether you enjoy soccer or not, it’s still the most popular sport in the world, with billions of people watching every day.  So it’s influence on society is not a small one. 

 

I’ve often asked myself does God care about sport, does He care about Rugby or soccer? It’s an interesting question because there are so many divergent opinions on the matter. What’s important however, is that even if God doesn’t care about sport or soccer, what we know for sure, is that He certainly does care about his own children. And some of His children happen to be famous soccer players.

 

And the Lord looks after His children…   And He blesses His children in His own Sovereign way. Very often, there is a spirtual reason why certain teams do better than others.

 

Consider the failure of Bafana Bafana to progress past the 1st round… we were the very first host nation team ever, in the history of the World Cup, not to progress past the first round. Why is this? Well, I believe the reason that this happened, is that before the tournament started, 300 Sangoma’s got together and blessed the stadiums that Bafana Bafana were going to play in…

 

my glory, says the Lord, I will not give to another…

 

Now I pointed this out in another sermon during the last World Cup in 2006, and I thought it would be relevant to mention it here again. The Brazilian team actually have their own pastor that travels with them, and what I found refreshing, was that the Brazilian team includes 7 or 8 devout born again evangelical Christians. One of them, one of the best midfielders in the world is a chap by the name of Ricardo Kaka. On his boots, Kaka has printed: I belong to Jesus. Kaka recently said in an interview that his team held Bible Studies and prayed before every match,­ not for victory, but rather that their team brings glory to God. He said We should always give Jesus the thanks and the glory ­in good times and bad".

 

The Brazilian team captain Lucio, another chap by the name of ze Roberto and Kaka have often in the past been photographed on the field with their team shirts off, and underneath wearing t-shirts saying: I love Jesus. This happened many times, until after the last World Cup, when FIFA banned the use of religious slogans during matches. That’s why you don’t see them doing this anymore.

 

But these men, along with many other superstars, many of them German, believe that it is their calling to win as many souls as possible over to Christ. Soccer evangelists as it were. In Brazil, where soccer is literally a national idolatory, the figures say that there are more than 2 million converts to Christ every year because of these men’s great testimony. For these men, it’s not all about winning matches, but rather about winning souls…

 

In such an unholy environment as the World Cup, with all the showmanship, the diving, the cheating and the lieing, I found that very encouraging…

 

To give thanks in good times and in bad… and to bring Glory to God in whatever you are called to do…

 

You see when we are grateful, when we give thanks, when we actually count our blessings, we very quickly find that our circumstances are not that bad after all… instead of always moaning and complaining, which seems to have become a National pastime for many of us here in South Africa… instead of always moaning and complaining, we can focus on the many, many good things in our lives. Our country is so filled with negativity and destructive sentiment, that perhaps we need a wake-up call to put things in perspective…

And that’s the title of this sermon this morning – Count your blessings…

There is a legend about two angels. Two angels who were sent to earth to gather up the prayers of men. One was to fill his basket with the petitions and requests of mankind. The other was to gather their prayers of thanksgiving. Sometime later they went back to the Father’s house. One had a basket heaped high and running over with the innumerable petitions and pleas of men. The other returned with a sad and heavy heart, because his basket was almost empty.

The thanks of men were rarely heard on earth, even though the angel had searched diligently. I think this little story describes our society perfectly. This is a stark reminder to us not to forget our many blessings, to be grateful for what we do have and not to forget the thanksgiving side of our prayers.

It is amazing how people turn to God when they are in trouble, but when things are going well, God is conveniently forgotten. Instead of our continued negativity, ungratefulness and continued whining and complaining - if you truly examine your heart and circumstances, you will find that we have so much to be thankful for, so many blessings that they’re actually impossible to count.

 

We are all blessed to the extent that we should continually be counting our blessings, continually giving thanks – looking at the bright side of things, instead of continually finding fault with your circumstances and with your brothers and sisters. So it is my aim this morning to ask you to consider the need to count your blessings every day.

 

Proverbs 3:5  Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  (6)  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

 

We are called to acknowledge the Lord in all our ways, in everything we do… not only when we’re in trouble. In all our ways, in everything we do… and if you really did that, you’d find that you really have no place to complain.

 

Instead, when you acknowledge the part that the Lord plays in your life, you will get on your knees and praise Him for His tender mercies, for the many, many blessings you have in your life. And you will find that shortly after that, your Peace and joy will be restored.

 

We need to be continually reminded to count our blessings, because it is so easy to fall back on self-pity and to count our woes.

 

Turn to Psalm 103

Psalms 103:1  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.  (2)  Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all of His benefits; 

And how easy it is for us to remember the woes and forget the benefits. To forget the blessings. And I will show you just how many we do forget.

Perhaps the greatest blessing of all is found in verse 3.

(3)  Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;

What greater blessing is there than the forgiveness of your sins…? Without that blessing, that very great blessing, the forgiveness of your sins through the blood of Jesus, there would really be no point to life… for without it, we would all be doomed to eternal judgement.

Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all of his benefits.

When you are a thankful person, when you do count your blessings, when you actually realise how blessed you really are, you will have a change of heart, a change of attitude… and your joy will be restored because of it.

And when you have joy and thankfulness in your heart, it’s almost impossible to harbour any bitterness. If you walk around with an attitude of Thanksgiving, of gratefulness, it’s very difficult to become angry or upset. It’s a mindset of thankfulness, that gives you that great peace.

There is just something that takes place when thankfulness is a part of our lives. It’s called Grace. The grace that you have been given through your blessings allows you to be gracious to others.

The small things in life… there is just so much that we take for granted.

A pat on the back. A kind word. A loving word. A word of enouragement. A kiss behind the ear. A full moon. A hot bath. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. Hot soup. A good night’s sleep. Eyes that can see! Ears that hear. Fingers that can touch…. Now we can go on all morning…

But we are told: Don’t forget. Stop worrying about about missing the world’s grand rewards of fame, wealth and success. Rather focus on and enjoy its tiny delights. Because there are plenty for all of us.

The problem is, it takes grace, it takes love and compassion, it takes time to stop and notice. So often we get wrapped up in the troubles of our lives, that our complaining eventually becomes habit, a miserable part of our ungrateful existence.

It takes time, it takes an act of Grace to stop for a minute, to consider your priorities, to put things into perspective. The speed at which most of us live our lives is quite ridiculous… the hectic pace of life in Jozi quickly becomes an uncaring habit.

So I urge you this morning, to take the time, to stop, and smell the roses. Appreciate the good things.

Look around you, consider your circumstances, the people and family around you… and if you can see them with eyes that see, that alone is one of life’s great blessings… the miracle of sight! Can you imagine being blind? Without ever being able to savour the beauty around you? What an amazing blessing… the little things that we take for granted.

Stop, pause and appreciate the things around you… the people in your life, the wondrous Creation… change your attitude… look on the bright side… count your blessings…. stop and smell the roses…!

Here’s an attitude for you. Matthew Henry, the famous Bible scholar, was once mugged and robbed of his wallet. He wrote these words in his diary.

"Let me be thankful first, because I have never been robbed before.
Second, because although they took my wallet, they did not take my life.
Third, because although they took my money, it was not much.
And fourth, because it was I who was robbed, and not I who was the robber. There but for the grace of God, go I."

An attitude of thankfulness, of seeing the brighter side of life, despite your circumstance, which automatically brings joy.

When you are thankful your vision improves.  Not your sight! But your vision.  Not your eyes, but your outlook, your attitude.  To be thankful will help you have an optimistic and hopeful outlook on life, something that is noticeably lacking amongst many of us.

 
You will begin to see the donut and not the hole,
you'll see the glass half full and not half empty. 
You'll see the potential and the opportunity and not the problem.

The problem with many of us is that we don’t have the grace to see the glass half full. When we look at the glass, we see it half empty, but we also see that it’s dirty, it’s the wrong size, the wrong colour and really not the one we wanted…

Optimist comes from Latin word "optimus" which means "best". 
Pessimist from Latin word "pessimus" which means "worst".  It’s our duty in the love of Christ to look for the best, not the worst. 

Look for things to be thankful for and you will find plenty, and your joy will be full.

 

But we're not very good at saying "Thank you," are we? It reminds me of a little boy I heard about. On his return from a birthday party, his mother asked him, "did you thank Mrs Smith for the party?" The boy answered:
"Well, I was going to. But the girl ahead of me said, 'Thank you,' and the lady told her “Don’t mention it”. So I didn't."

 

But to be thankful, to have an attitude of thanksgiving, you actually need to recognize what your blessings are. Sometimes we walk around in a state of oblivion, too wrapped up in our own self-centredness to even recognize how truly blessed we really are… As I said earlier, we take so many things for granted.

A man who owned a small property wanted to sell it. He asked an estate agent to write an advertisement describing the house and the land.
When the ad was ready, the agent took it to the owner and read it to him.
"Read that again," said the owner.
The agent read the description of the property once more.

Pondering this for a moment, the man said: "I don't think I’m going to sell it after all. You know, I have been looking for a property like that all my life. I just never took the time to realize how nice it was. "

So many things we take for granted. We need to Count our blessings. But we need to start by asking God to open our eyes to actually see our possessions in Christ. Begin by recognizing all that you have in Christ. That will change your entire perspective and enable you to praise and thank God for what you have.

 

But lets examine this from a Biblical perspective…

One of the major shortcomings of this generation is ingratitude or unthankfulness. It follows close on the heels of society today’s love for money and prosperity, for the things of this world. It’s a growing failing of the people of this era and is causing the Almighty to turn away from many a soul, not so much in anger, but in sorrow.

 

Turn with me to 2 Timothy 3…

In 2 Timothy 3, the Apostle Paul identifies the people living in the last days, the days that we are currently living in:

 

2 Timothy 3:1  This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  (2)  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers… and I want the youth to take note.... disobedient to parents, ……and then next, we should all note…… unthankful,….. unholy,  then onto verse (4)  Traitors, heady, highminded…… lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;  (5)  Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.  Then verse 7… (7)  Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

Notice that Paul equates unthankfulness with being unholy…. And that the Lord is ready to turn away from people who practice such things.

 

Notice too verse 7…. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

Are we becoming like this… ever learning, but never actually acknowledging the truth? How many of us sit here Sunday after Sunday, learning and receiving the Truth from our Pastor, but never come to the real knowledge of the truth –

Which is the application of what we learn in our lives. So seldom do we actually apply what we learn in church, in our lives…

Have we become sermon proof? Sermon proof Christians…

 

And this is another important example of how we take things for granted. The Word that we get here at Elijah from teachers like PJ, Jacob and Bill Randles… We are so incredibly blessed with the most outstanding Biblical teachings – yet how many of us have become blasé about this? Instead of appreciating the true value of this Ministry, we are quick to find fault and to complain.

 

My wife recently made contact with a long lost friend of hers that used to be her prayer-buddy at Rhema probably 15-20 years ago. Her friend now lives in America and they made contact through Facebook.

To cut a long story short, they complained of not being able to find a church, so my wife sent them some teachings from Jacob and PJ, and in the space of 2 short weeks, their lives have been changed forever, including everyone around them. From being in a famine with regards the Truth and Biblical teaching, their hearts have been opened in a marvelous and miraculous way, and they regard these teachings as manna from heaven. They are now so hungry for it, so passionate about it, that they just want more and more; they can’t get enough.

 

 

Have you forgotten the desert that you were once in? Where there was a famine for the true Word? Have you become blasé about the blessings of this Ministry? Have you forgotten how difficult it is to find a decent Bible based church in this day and age…?

 

We really need to be thankful for this Ministry, because the Truth that comes out of it, is truly a great blessing. We should never take the teaching we receive here for granted.

 

 

But Verse 7 says: (7)  Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

And what exactly is this knowledge of the Truth?

 

Keep your place in 2 Timothy and go back one book to 1 Timothy. 1 Timothy 2…

 

1 Timothy 2:3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior;  (4)  Who wants all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

And here he tells us exactly what the knowledge of the Truth is…

verse  (5)  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;  (6)  Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

 

And this is confirmed in 2 Timothy 2… Go back to 2 Timothy chapter 2….

 

2 Timothy 2:24  And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome; but be kind and gentle unto all men, able to teach, patient when wronged,  (25)  In gentleness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God perhaps will give them repentance …leading to the knowledge of the truth;  (26)  And that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him....at his will.

 

Notice that acknowledging the Truth involves repentance.

And repentance is … having true guilt and remorse before a Holy God, confessing your sin and turning away from it, leaving it behind….

 

 

The truth is… that Jesus Christ is real…. He is our Saviour…. He died for our sins.

The truth is… that if you don’t belong to Jesus Christ, then you belong to the devil. There is no in between.

Without Jesus, being a good and kind person means absolutely nothing in the eyes of a God Almighty.

The truth is…. that in Jesus and in Jesus Christ only, can we be saved and escape the prison of the devil.

And this can only happen …. IF we repent.

Jesus said in Luke 13 that unless we repent, we will perish, we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

Today I pray that we can truly acknowledge this Truth and apply it in our lives.

 

 

And the Apostle Paul says that being unthankful is as bad as being a homosexual… or a blasphemer… or just plain unholy…. And he also says that being disobedient to your parents is equally as bad… I hope my sons are listening.

 

 

Now, the Bible commands us to "Give thanks unto the Lord" over and over and over. In fact, the Bible mentions Give thanks unto the Lord 68 times! And it mentions thanks and thanksgiving another 100 times!

 

You’ll be thankful to know that I’m not going to go through all of them, but here are a couple of important Scriptures:

 

Psalm 106:1  says:  Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy.. endures.. forever.

What a great and comforting truth!

Psalm 100:4 says Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

 

You enter into the Lord’s presence, with thanksgiving and praise.

 

And yet, how is it that when the Bible says something just twice, we are ready to build an entire doctrine on it. But when it says something 68 times or even 100 times, like “Give thanks unto the Lord” – we often choose to ignore it, we are still so ungrateful.

 

Isn’t it amazing how quickly we forget the Lord’s mercy in our lives.

 

 

Looking back, before we were born again, we were worthless, buried in sin, on our way to hell. But through the Lord’s perfect grace and mercy… many of us were born again… and just take a long look at yourself now – each one of us more valuable than all the gold and money on this earth put together – as children and sons of God, we are more valuable than any human can even contemplate! There is no more valuable a possession than that!

The possession of the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen?

 

 

Turn with me to 1 Peter 2…

 

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light:

 

Now the words in the KJV “a peculiar people” are better translated by the words:
A people for God's own possession;

 

The knowledge that we are God’s very own possessions. Now isn’t that something to be grateful for? Something that we should count as a blessing… every day?

 

And if we really were grateful, we would want to follow the will of God, right? Surely, everyone wants to know what God’s will is in their lives…

 

Keep your place in 1 Peter and turn with me to 1 Thessalonians 5…,

where it tells us, what the will of God is, in our lives:

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16  Rejoice evermore.  (17)  Pray without ceasing.  (18)  In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning …you.

 

1 Thessalonians 2:13 says that we are to thank God without ceasing, and
Ephesians 5:20 says… Give thanks always.. for all things..  unto God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

 

It is the will of God that we rejoice forever and that we pray without ceasing. But it is also the will of God, in Christ, that we give thanks at all times for everything.

 

Of course, it’s very easy to give thanks when we get what we want. But Scripture tells us to give thanks at all times and in all circumstances. This is difficult to do, but it’s not impossible.

 

And it only becomes possible when we understand that God will allow tests and trials to come our way in order to improve our faith and our relationship with Him.

 

Go back to 1 Peter 1….

 

1 Peter 1:6  In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,  (7)  so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ….

 

Greatly rejoice in your trials because the Lord is refining you….

 

Go forward to 1 Peter 4…..

 

1 Peter 4:12  Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;  (13)  but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  (14)  If you are reviled or insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

 

Remember that if people mock you or insult you for your faith, you are blessed! – it’s called persecution. Do you count your persecution as a blessing? The Bible says blessed are those who are persecuted for my name’s sake.

 

You see, nowhere did Jesus say that Christianity would be easy. Instead He says Pick up your cross and follow me. The Bible promises that if you call yourself Christian, you WILL be tested. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you’re not being tested, then perhaps you’re not following the will of God in your life.

The Bible says all Christians will face tests and trials, and sometimes those tests are almost unbearable to overcome.

 

But know that those tests are put there for a reason. They are put there for your own good. Just as gold is refined in the fire, so our faith is refined by being tested. And if you don’t overcome the test, know that the Lord is very, very patient. Know for sure that He will test you again, and again, and again, until your faith is refined, until you pass the test.

 

You see, the Lord knows what’s best for you – your plans for your life and His plans for your life are very often, very different. So when the Lord tests you, He knows what you need, He knows what’s best for you. 

He wants you to pass the test.

 

And He wants you to be thankful while you are being tested. He wants you to rejoice, during your trials – because then you are following His will.

 

Turn with me to Philipians 4…..

 

Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  (5)  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.  (6)  Worry about nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with ….thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

 

Prayer with thanksgiving.  And when you do this, when you give thanks to the Lord for your tests and trials and during your tests and trials, you will find that something absolutely amazing happens. Verse 7…

 

(7)  And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

By giving thanks during your trials, the peace that surpasses all understanding comes upon you! Your spirit is so filled with God’s peace and contentment, that you cannot even hope to understand it. It is a peace that we cannot even describe, it’s beyond comprehension. And this is one of the great things about Christianity that separates it from all other religions.

 

Notice too, that this peace, it guards our hearts and minds from anything that causes us to worry. No worries. No anxiety. What more could we ask for and be thankful for?

How often have you been in a dire situation, where people around you are panicking and falling apart, yet you, as a Christian, have had that strange, unfathomable, comforting peace… that knowledge that the Lord is with you, no matter what! The peace that surpasses all understanding…

 

 

Who counts that as a blessing?

 

Turn to Psalms 139

Some scientists a few years back did some fancy calculations… what man is worth chemically and electrically.

Chemists computed the chemical content of your body and estimated your worth at about 98 cents. So chemically, if we had to boil you down, we get 98 cents worth of value. Not much value in us, is there?
Better than nothing, but still not much.

But then, another scientist figured that the energy within the atoms of the body would produce 11,4million kilowatts of power per kilogram, if they could be harnessed. According to this computation, a 75kg man’s atomic energy is worth about 85 billion dollars.

Maybe David did that calculation when he said in Psalms 139:14

I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvellous are your works, and my soul knows it very well.

You are fearfully, wonderfully and marvellously made. Everything in you strives to live. Everything in you and me strives to stay alive. Not to die. We are made that way. To repair and to heal.

Do you count your ability to live, and your ability to heal, and your health as a blessing?

 

 

Biblically, counting your blessings and giving thanks is actually a Sacrifice offering. In the Old testament days, on the day of atonement, the High Priest entered into the Holy Of Holies to be in the presence of God, so that he could make a sin offering for the sins of Israel.

When Israel’s sins were forgiven, they offered another sacrifice in Thanksgiving. How thankful they were is described in Psalm 116.

 

Psalm 116:17  To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the LORD.  (18)  I shall pay my vows to the LORD, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people,  (19)  In the courts of the LORD'S house, In the midst of you, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

 

And Psalm 100…

Psalm 100:1-5  Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.  (2)  Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing.  (3)  Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  (4)  Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.  (5)  For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.

 

This is how thankful the Israelites were when they knew their sins were forgiven. But we are so much more blessed than even this… we don’t have to bring sacrifices of blood, or offerings of silver and gold for atonement – Jesus has done all of that for us already, completely… and perfectly…., once…. and for all.

Instead, He wants us to bring him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving from our lips. He wants us to count our blessings…

 

Turn with me to Hebrews 13…

 

Heb 13:15  Through Him then (that is Jesus), let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.  (16)  And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

 

If you want to please God, then offer Him thanks continually with the fruit of your lips.

 

A great example of an offering of thanksgiving can be found in the book of Jonah.

Turn to Jonah 2.

 

We can learn a lot from how Jonah behaved during his tests and trials.

 

Jonah 2:1  Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from the stomach of the fish,  (2)  and he said, "I called out of my distress to the LORD, And He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of hell; You heard my voice.  (3)  "For You had cast me into the deep, Into the heart of the seas, And the current engulfed me. All Your breakers and waves passed over me.  (4)  "So I said, 'I have been cast from Your sight. Nevertheless I will look again toward Your holy temple.'  (5)  "Water encompassed me to the point of death. The great deep engulfed me, Weeds were wrapped around my head.  (6)  "I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever, But You have brought up my life from the pit, O LORD my God.  (7)  "While I was fainting away, I remembered the LORD, And my prayer came to You, Into Your holy temple.  (8)  "Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness,  (9)  But I will sacrifice to You With the voice of… thanksgiving. That which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the LORD”

 

Just listen to Jonah’s words: " From the pit of hell, he cried for help….You cast me into the deep... the current engulfed me… Your waves passed over me... Water encompassed me to the point of death… The great deep engulfed me... The earth was like a prison around me forever."

 

Jonah had hit rock bottom, drowning in the belly of a whale. He was in a battle for his life, close to death. Filled with despair, shame and guilt, and on the verge of losing consciousness, he was literally as low as a person could get. He even thought that God had abandoned him by saying: 'I have been cast from Your sight. Do you sometimes feel like that?

 

When you feel like you just can’t carry on, follow the path that Jonah took. Jonah passed his test!

 

Verse 7 "When my soul fainted within me… I remembered… the Lord... and then what did he do..?

he prayed and in verse 9: I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving...".

 

Jonah was in a hopeless situation, with everything about him pitch black with gloom. He was ready to give up…. and in the throes of death…. he gave thanks to the Lord. 

 

In the midst of all his troubles, Jonah entered into the Lord's presence by giving thanks!

 

And the result of his thanksgiving is in verse 10, "The Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land".

 

Do you want deliverance from your trials and tribulations? Then do the right thing and give thanks unto the Lord, not only afterwards, but during your trials and tribulations.

 

It’s important therefore, to give thanks for your salvation, for it is the greatest gift, but we need to remember to give thanks in good times and in bad. We need to remember to count our many blessings.

 

Philipians  2:14  Do all things without grumbling, murmuring, complaining;

 

But even with so great a gift as our salvation, we still grumble and murmur, we still complain…despite all our blessings, we still want more….

 

if only I had this, if only I had that, then things would be different…

If only I had more money… then things would be ok…..

If only I had a better job…if only I had a better boss…. if only… if only… if only.

 

Isn’t it amazing how we humans are never quite happy with what we’ve got? That despite all our blessings, we still want more. We are quick to forget the Lord’s mercy in our lives.

 

And you might even say that you’re quite thankful.

But let me put things into perspective for you:

 

·        If you woke up this morning, (how many of you are still awake?), you are more blessed than the million people who didn’t survive last week.

·        Did you eat something yesterday? During the last breath that you just took, the last breath that God just lent you, 2 children just died of starvation. Every day, more than 16,000 children die from starvation in the world. ………How blessed are you?

·        If you are healthy enough to be here, you are more blessed than the 11 million children, who will die this year, from preventable diseases, before they reach their fifth birthday.

·        If your parents are still alive, you are more blessed than 20 million children, who were orphaned this year in southern Africa due to AIDS .

 

·        If you earn more than R200 a month, you are more blessed than one third of the world’s population. Approximately 2 billion people currently live on less than $1 per day. Can you survive on R7 a day?
So I ask you, how blessed are you?

·        If you have a bank account with some money in it, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthiest people. I think I can safely say that everyone here has a Bank account – that makes you richer than 92% of the entire world! How blessed are you? And yet…… we still want more…

·        If you have food in your house, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are more blessed than 85% of this world’s population who don’t have these things.

·        If you can worship God without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are ahead of 25 million real Christians around the world, who face these threats on a daily basis.

·        If you own a Bible and can read it, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that never even had the opportunity to learn how to read.


 

So I ask you again, How blessed are you?

 

All of us sitting here are more blessed than we will ever know. But what’s more important is… how thankful are we?

How often do you count your many blessings?

How often do you stop for a moment to smell the roses and give thanks for the many precious little blessings in your life?

 

And what about the really major blessings in life? Do you count those as blessings?

How often do you remember the Lord’s mercy in your life and give Him thanks for your Salvation?

 

Of the roughly 7 billion people on this earth, it is estimated that there are about 600 million Bible-believing Christians; in other words, less than 10% of the world's population are truly saved. Think of what this means….

 

The vast majority of people on earth do not know or believe in Jesus.

 

Every time you draw a breath, at least four people enter eternity who have never heard the name of Jesus. That is almost 200,000 people a day! How blessed are you?

 

Here is a question for you:
What is 1,2 million kilometres long, reaches around the earth 30 times, and grows by 32 kilometres longer each day?

 

Answer: The line of people who are without Christ.

We are privileged, so unbelievably privileged, to know Christ.

 

How often do you give thanks for the spouse who loves you?

For children who love you?

For children who are saved?

 

These are major blessings… for which we need to give thanks everyday.

 

For the most perfect act of thanksgiving in the Bible, turn with me to Luke 22….

 

Luke 22 :17 And Jesus took the cup, and…. Gave… thanks ... and v 19 And Jesus took bread, and ….gave… thanks ...

 

Jesus was perfectly aware of what these symbols stood for.

They represented His blood and His broken body.

They represented His suffering and His death. And yet - wonder of wonders! He gave thanks at a time like this.

 

The attitude required for such an act indicates a height of perfection that we can only aspire to. But it also tells of a truth that we can all understand.

 

It tells us that no matter how difficult our circumstances,

no matter how painful the prospect,

no matter how bleak the future,

we can - and should - give thanks unto the Lord, at all times, for all things...

 

Count your many blessings…

 

Amen and thankyou for your time.