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Subtitle: Have You Stopped Long Enough To Count Yours Lately?

Since the last two articles have been on the subject of suffering (p180.htm and p181.htm), we now want to look at a subject most would feel is at the opposite end of things. Surely, they reason, suffering and blessings are poles apart. But as strange as it may seem, that is not always the case! It all depends upon how we look at it. For instance, if you were really sick--spending many days in the hospital--and this sickness prevented you from taking a trip in which you would have been killed, would you not agree that the sickness was a blessing in disguise? It was bad and it was painful, but compared to death and the anguish it would have caused your loved ones, the sickness actually seems mild by comparison.

Our God knows the end from the beginning (Isa.46:10) and works everything after the counsel of His own will (Eph.1:11). He loves His children to a degree beyond our comprehension and, as we would expect from a loving parent, will always do what
is best for us. Young children seldom understand the love behind stern discipline or the giving of distasteful medicine or painful injections, but they are necessary. And many adults forget that they are still but children in the sight of God and, as such, occasionally require painful blessings! (Try to remember that the next time life hands you a setback).

Some of the illustrations used by my former Pastor that I liked the most, involved sheep and shepherds. And of course the Lord often used them because many of the people to whom He ministered knew about sheep as part of everyday life. But a point we want to stress--a point people familiar with sheep know without being told--is that sheep are quite possibly the dumbest and most vulnerable animals on the planet! Without the shepherd, they will soon die as a direct result of their own stupidity! Chickens, for the most part, are dumber than a sack full of hammers, but can survive quite nicely on their own in the wild. Sheep have to be closely tended and are a lot of trouble--the shepherd has to find pools of water for them to drink, because they refuse to drink from streams with swiftly flowing water! They have to be led to pasturage and led to shelter--constantly being protected by the shepherd. They have no natural inclination to self-defense and are easy prey for most any animal hungry enough and big enough to take one down. That is why you are never likely to see a flock of sheep without a shepherd being nearby. So when the Lord refers to His children as being the sheep of His pasture (Jer.23:1 and Ezek.34:31), we must not fail to catch the full significance of that statement! His constant presence is a tremendous blessing and source of comfort.

One of the illustrations my Pastor related involved a lost sheep. The shepherd searched and finally found it lying on a narrow ledge, just over the edge of a steep cliff. But rather than trying to lower himself down to the sheep, so he could rescue it from its precarious perch, the wise shepherd backed away and did nothing. He knew from experience what the animal would surely do if he tried to help. It would stand up, try to run, and fall to its death. So he left it alone and watched for many long hours, waiting until it was so weak from hunger, thirst, and exhaustion that it could not possibly move and thereby harm itself. Then and only then did the shepherd rescue his valuable animal.

Another involved a sheep that just would not follow the shepherd and insisted upon running off, thereby endangering itself needlessly. Everything the shepherd did to remedy this hard-headed tendency proved fruitless, because the sheep just would not learn a different pattern of behavior. Then, as a drastic measure, the shepherd intentionally broke one of the sheep's legs by hitting it with his staff. He carefully splinted and wrapped the broken limb, immobilizing it until the bones could heal properly. Of course this meant that the sheep could not walk on its own and had to be carried everywhere the rest of the flock went in search of grass. Day after day the shepherd cared for the animal and met its every need. And finally, after several weeks of this daily routine, the time came to take the splints off and see if the leg was healed. It had healed properly and the animal was once again able to walk and follow the flock. And due to the length of the imposed close relationship, the sheep rarely ever strayed far from the shepherd again. Yes, the shepherd truly knows His sheep!

I trust that we can see ourselves in these illustrations and hopefully gain a better understanding about why certain "bad" things happen to us. Our heavenly Shepherd is pouring blessings upon us, if we will but recognize them as such.

A book that I highly recommend is entitled "A Shepherd Looks At Psalm 23", by Phillip Keller, Zondervan Publishing, IBSN 0-310-26790-0. It is out of print but you may be able to find one somewhere. It is a heart-warming look at the 23rd Psalm through the eyes of a veteran shepherd and will be a blessing to you as well as educational.

As I ate my lunch today and truly savored the wonderful taste of a small piece of left-over char-broiled rib-eye steak, lightly flavored with garlic, and crunched the baby carrots dipped in ranch dressing, I found myself thanking God for the priviledge. I had already thanked Him for the food and asked Him to bless it for the nourishment of my body prior to eating it, but the sheer enjoyment of such good food is not a blessing everyone in the world shares today. (Which reminds me of the bumper sticker I once saw on an old and battered pickup truck. It said, "Dont cuss the farmer with your mouth full!") Have you stopped to consider what a blessing it is to have enough to eat? Or a roof over your head? Or clothes on your back? Or live in a country--imperfect as it is--that is without a doubt the greatest and most wonderful country on the planet? What about the freedom to come and go pretty much as you please? Or the opportunity to work and advance as far as your sweat and talents will carry you? What about a good night's sleep? A lot of us older folk would love to be able to sleep like we did when we were young. But a lot of people can't sleep because of worry or a guilty conscience. What a blessing it is to be able to go to bed without a head full of problems and a heart full of pain. What about the blessing of modern medicine and dentistry? Even poor and indigent people in this nation have access to far better health care today than do fairly well-off people in places like Russia. As a matter of fact, the overwhelming majority of so-called "poor" people in the US would probably be amazed at the millions of "third-world" citizens who would gladly walk through glass barefoot in order to trade places with them! What about the labor-saving devices--washers, dryers, automobiles, planes, trains, etc., etc.--that most of us largely take for granted? What about stores filled to overflowing with every conceivable type of "consumer goods"--with prices that are affordable by all but a very few? This computer with which I am writing is quite literally a "window on the world" and enables me to share the truths of God's Word with you. What a blessing it has been! Have you ever thanked God for yours? No? How would you like to try to get along without it? Or the electricity that runs it? Or the air conditioning in your home? Or the clean, cool, or warm, water that flows so freely from the tap?

I do not advocate a "Pollyanna" attitude--like the girl in the famous story who found something good about everything and everybody--just to avoid being negative. But I highly recommend that we as Christians open our eyes to reality and change our way of seeing things. Rather than crying out, "Why me, Lord?," when distress interrupts our comfort zone--we should realize that Romans 8:28 means exactly what it says. And I quote:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (KJV, emphasis mine)

Beloved, all things means all things. Our webmaster, invariably ends his emails with Romans 8:28 as a constant reminder to others of God's blessings.

In closing, I leave you with the words--the poem--from the hymn "Count Your Blessings."

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 hath done.

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 be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings--money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

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.

Count your blessings--name them one by one;
Count your blessings--see what God hath done;
Count your blessings--name them one by one;
Count your many blessings--see what God hath done.

If you have been born again and received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order—Kingdom of Antichrist—in their daily news.

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Finally, we would love to hear from you. You can write us at:
Cutting Edge Ministries, C/O Pastor Ron Riffe
P.O. Box 26
Gordo, AL 35466

You can also E-Mail  Pastor Ronald Riffe  regarding questions or comments about this article.

God bless you.