Forget not all His benefits”.   The United Kingdom has a tremendous benefit system for those in financial need and also with the national Health Service for their physical needs.  However, there is no comparison with the benefits we receive from our Heavenly Father and His kingdom.  Psalm 103 reminds us of some of them, and yet, in our busy lives, we can lose focus on the Lord and get distracted and overwhelmed by circumstances and relationships………and forget to stay thankful and focused and find God in the mix.

Psalm 103: 1-6   “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name…..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 tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.  The Lord executes righteousness and judgement for all who are oppressed”.

If we go on to read Psalm 107 we can easily reflect and compare our own lives with the record of the children of Israel illustrated by the Psalmist.  He records how, so often, they have been in distress, they cried to the Lord and He delivered them in His love and tender mercy.  But if you read the Psalm from God’s viewpoint, you hear His heart cry.  Four times in this Psalm it is declared:  “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men”, (Psalm 107: 8,15,21,31).

God often delivers us in His mercy and love, but His heart cry is that we would praise Him in the midst of our trials, not just when they are over.  He is our ever-present help in times of adversity and longs that we stay focused on Him, not the trial, keeping a thankful heart, seeing God in all things and “not forgetting all His benefits”.  It is in these trials we can prove that God is who He says He is.  Here we learn to trust in His providence and discover the joy of His presence in the midst of adversity.  Our roots go deeper into God and we are strengthened by the resurrection life of His beloved Son.  “Christ in you, the hope of glory”……all praise and glory to the Father.

Your trial may be persecution.  Persecution will always come for anyone having to do with God.  It is the devil’s ploy to rob you of your fellowship with the Lord.  Don’t give him a foothold!   It is imperative to know that we are being “persecuted for righteousness sake”, (Matthew 5: 10), and not because of our own transgression or stubbornness.  Make sure that the criticism has not come because we have supplied the opposition party with ammunition.  If criticism comes, we need to examine both sides of the offense, under the light of the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  It is a misconception that humility is a weakness.  It is a godly strength that enables us to stand in adversity, knowing who we are in Christ.  Our strength and standing is in Christ alone and He will vindicate the truth a man stands for.  He will provide His strength for the trial and produce His gold tried in the fires of adversity if we keep our hearts right, stay thankful and forget not all His benefits.

Jamie Buckingham wrote a book entitled “Coping With Criticism”.  In the book he relates how his family, living in Florida with the hot climate, owned a big dog called Red.  Red had the family trained to “his needs”.  His favourite place was by the refrigerator, as every time its door was opened, he would receive a good blast of cold air to cool him.  When he needed to relieve himself, he would move himself to the back door and purposefully place a large paw on the door.  On observing him, one of the family members would rush to open the door for him.  He would plod slowly and purposefully into the street and along the road to a selected lampost where he would cock his leg, and relieve himself.   As soon as he appeared in the street, all the little, neighbourhood dogs would rush around him yapping.  Red totally ignored them, fulfilling his mission.  When he had finished he would slowly make his return, continuing to ignore all the little yappers.  Arriving home, he would place his large paw with a thud on the back door again and some obliging family member would open it.  He then proceeded to his favourite position by the refrigerator, and slumped down to rest there again.

The Lord taught Jamie a lesson through his dog.  That dog knew where he came from, knew where he was going and refused to allow any “little yappers” to deter his purpose!  Selah.

Nehemiah had been called of God and commissioned to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem with others.  As usual, the enemy comes in with opposition in the form of Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem, (Nehemiah 6:1-4).  These three rogues with their iniquitous accomplices, endeavoured to lure Nehemiah away from the work they were doing.  Nehemiah wisely replied, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down.  Why should the work cease whist I leave it and come down to you?”.  (v 3)  The enemy will try and use any person, (even  misguided fellow Christians), any situation to oppose God’s purposes, but God’s divine purpose will not be thwarted and He will have the final word.

If we are focused on what God has said, and is saying, we must not heed the “little yappers” the enemy sends to deter us from fulfilling God’s divine purpose and calling on our lives.  It is also needful that I keep my heart ruled by Christ Jesus and ignore any little yapper from within my own being.

LET GOD BE TRUE…….refuse the enemy’s lies and the lie of my own heart when it is out of order.  Let God be true……we always must choose.  Keep a thankful heart and forget not all His benefits.  As we walk through the valley of adversity, let us swing wide the gates of praise and let the King of Glory in.  God inhabits the praises of His people.  We can stay thankful, give Him praise and discover the joy of His presence at any given moment in this position.

Let us not be found guilty of withholding thanksgiving and praise to our wonderful Saviour during our trials.  May our Father not find opportunity to lament over us as He did over the children of Israel: “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men”.……  Finding God in the midst of adversity produces the divine “treasures of darkness”  (Isaiah 45:3) that nothing can compare with.  The darkness of any day can never extinguish the eternal light of Christ.  His presence is our eternal treasure within us (2 Corinthians 4:7) in dark and light.  It is not based or founded on how we may feel, but on believing His promise in His Word:  “…….I will never leave you nor forsake you”, Hebrews 13:5