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October Newsletter

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Rev. Stephen Snodgrass

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Count Your Many Blessings

About six years ago, I wrote an article that was titled, Thanking God in the Storm. Little was I to know of the storms that awaited my family and me over the next few years. Knowing that God is with us in the storm, is the comfort of the Christian who is completely surrendered to Him. Today, my trust is still in Him!"And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat." Acts 27:35
Thanking God for the good things that happen to you is much easier than thanking Him when the storms blow in. Recently, while reading in the book of Acts, where Paul was being taken as a prisoner to Rome, I read the account where the ship ran aground. The sailors tried to abandon ship with a crafty scheme, and Paul advised the centurion to not let anyone leave the boat if they wanted to be saved. It was after this very tense moment, when the soldiers over-powered the sailors, that I find a very interesting thing happened.In Acts 27:34-35, Paul admonished all to have lunch and he bowed his head, "...and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat." In John Phillips book, Exploring Acts, he writes about this verse, "What a testimony! The sailors, angry, shamed, afraid, worn out, knowing better than anyone the fearful perils ahead, were brought by Paul through his simple, instinctive act of giving thanks for a piece of bread into the presence of the true and living God. The soldiers, furious at the sailors, worried about their prisoners, held in outward calm by iron discipline, willing to scale an enemy's walls in the face of every sort of danger but afraid of the sea, were brought into the presence of God by Paul's bowed head and uplifted voice. The passengers, worn out with sickness and terror, listening in horror to the booming of the breakers on the crags along the coast, were hushed and comforted by a sense of the presence of Paul's great and glorious God. The prisoners, the most fearful of all, their legs and arms weighted in irons, their lives not only at the mercy of sea and storm, but at the mercy of the soldiers who would not hesitate to kill them if occasion arose, were brought by Paul into the presence of a most merciful God, One able and willing to save the very soul."
Praising and thanking God in the midst of the storms defines not only the strength and the power of our God, but the trust and reliability of the Christian upon Him who deserves our trust. Paul was not parading his religion on that ship. To him, praying and giving thanks for a crust of bread was as natural as breathing.
Then we see the results of Paul's prayer in the very next verse, "Then were they all of good cheer." If you want to help those around you, begin to thank God. If you desire to testify to those loved ones that see the storm that you are in … thank God in the midst of the storm. Acknowledge His presence and others will sense His nearness.
Sometime ago, I read a story about a missionary who was working with lepers at a leper colony. He recalled that it was his last service to spend with these broken people. When asking for a song request from the patients, he saw a feeble hand begin to raise. He began to describe the individual who had been wounded from this terrible disease. She had no nose, nor ears. Her sight was gone and she only had a stump for one arm. Leprosy had made its mark upon her body. The missionary asked what the song request was, and he heard in feeble tones, "Could we sing, 'Count Your Many Blessings'?" Later, when recounting the story to others, someone commented to the missionary, "I'm sure that you will never sing that song again," to which he replied, "No, I will sing it again, but I will never sing it without realizing how blessed I really am."!- SRS

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