How Can I Count My Blessings?
Sermon shared by Larry Wise
Summary: Keeping my perspective when times get tough.
Audience: Believer adults
KEY: Zechariah 13:9 "They will come through the fire...they will call on my name and I will answer them and I will say, "they are my people" and they will say, "the Lord is my God." If your trials donít bring you to the point of learning to trust God, then you arenít learning the lesson God has in mind when he sent that trouble to you.
These verses each have a message to us about our attitude about our troubles. Look at them and see what attitudes we need to maintain in order to draw the greatest benefit from the troubles that come into our lives.
1. Donít be surprised vs. 12
"Strange" is the same word as back in vs. 4! They donít understand you or your change of lifestyle. You donít understand sufferings or why you have to go through them.
cf. I Peter 2:21 He told them this would be their vocation/calling
Cf. John 15:17-16:4 Christ told us to expect it.
Cf. John 16:33 "In this world you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."
2. Keep on rejoicing vs. 13
Cf. James 1:2 Consider it all joy...
Cf. Philippians 3:10 I want to share in His sufferings.
3. Consider yourself blessed vs. 14
Here and now, not just later when we get to heaven.
Cf. 3:14 "even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed."
A. We are blessed because Christ is with us in the furnace of persecution
Isaiah 41:10; 43:2 I will be with you.
Daniel 3:23-25 The Three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace
Matthew 28:20 Lo I am with you always...even to the end of the age
B. We are blessed because God will use suffering and turn it into glory
Christ was talking about grieving and pain. He used the illustration of Childbirth (John 16:20-22). Christ said, "The same baby that gave the mother pain will also bring her joy.
II Corinthians 12:7-10 the same thorn that gave Paul pain also gave him Godís power and grace to face that thorn.
We are blessed when we understand the concept of postponed pleasures. We pay a price today for enjoyment in the future.
ILL: Practicing piano scales and exercises now will enable us to play fluidly later.
C. We are blessed because Godís spirit and the spirit of glory rests on us now. We donít have to wait for heaven for a reward.
4. Make sure about the reason for your sufferings! Vs. 15
slanderers accused Christians of all kinds of atrocities: cannibalism (eating the flesh of Christ), drinking blood (this is my blood, drink ye all of it), child sacrifice, immorality, etc.
Notice the descending order of probability: Murderers, thieves, evil-doers, meddlers.
Cf. 2:20 Itís one thing to be do what is right and be persecuted, but an entirely different thing to do something wrong and be punished for it.
I Peter 3:16 Make sure your life is above reproach so that they slander you for doing good--which will only make them look foolish.
ILL: for example. Pastors face criticism--thatís not at all unusual. But I remember one time in the past when I was accused of being too biblical. The accusation was that every time I wanted to back up an argument, Iíd use the scriptures. As much as that criticism hurt, I was also complimented by it. Such an accusation came for doing good--and it only makes the other
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