Count Your Blessings

It is a song from my childhood and even into my adulthood but probably half of the population has never even heard the song entitled, “Count Your Blessings.”  It seemed to have always been sung around Thanksgiving, but in the churches where I grew up, I remember singing it much more often than just once a year.  The refrain says, “Count your many blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”  But it seems of great value to every one of us to pause for a few moments and reflect on the many blessings that God has given us – great and small.  Now, somewhere in your journey of life you may have been at a Thanksgiving get together or maybe even in school when the challenge before you was to take the word “Thanksgiving” and see how many different words you can make with the letters from just that one big word.  But today’s challenge is to find you a piece of paper and just write down the left side the word “Thanksgiving” and for you to fill in the blanks of things for which you give thanks that begin with those letters.  If you do, you will end up with a dozen reasons to give thanks that are shaped just for your life and offered to our God.  Here is my list for right now.

Talk– Talking is a wonderful thing.  As you well know, some people talk more than others and you also know that talk has different significance connected to it.  Just one word can bring joy and great delight when the question is asked, “Will you marry me?” and the young lady says, “Yes!”  But you know, if you stop and think about over the journey of your life, you will probably remember one moment after another where someone said something that came to your heart as a great word of encouragement or hope or even correction.  I am well aware that talk can be hurtful and laced with barbs and inflict pain.  Today, forget all that and focus on wonder and power of a word God used in your life when someone talked to you.

Happiness – In the founding documents of our country our leaders of that day concluded this new found country would hold on to the pursuit of happiness.  While some people look down on happiness, I have never known of anybody who enjoyed unhappiness and I’ve never met anybody who did not want to be happy.  I guess the problem is how do you stay happy and in reality, what is happiness?  Well, for sure it is a wonderful state of mind and emotions and it seems as though some people have a lot more of it than other people do.

Associates – Here I’m giving thanks for all of those folks that God puts in my life day after day that bring enormous blessings to me, friends and family, kids and characters, and wonderful people at work.  Your mind may revert to all those people who weren’t in your life.  Well, just do a U-turn there and look at the ones who do make life worth living.  If there’s not but one, pick him or her out and focus on it.  Years ago I read a question that has stuck with me and frequently becomes a part of my look at life and the question was, “What if you had everything in the world, money, fame, ability, intellect, everything you can imagine and no one to share it with?”  You would not only be alone but lonely beyond description.  So today, I must say, “God, thank You, for the incredible people who have encircled my life year after year through the entire journey of my days.”

Nothing – It may sound strange that you would thank God for nothing but if you will pause and look back over this past year at all of the things that could have happened and didn’t happen, you would have to say, “Thank God.”  Generally, we focus on the bad or difficult things that did come our way and do not even consider the multiplicity of things that didn’t happen – wrecks and flat tires, flu or broken bones, hurricanes that didn’t come and families that did not break up.  If you and I could sit down together for about an hour, we could probably fill up several pages of things that did not come our way this year.  So thank God for nothing.

Knowledge – Knowledge is a wonderful thing.  I am aware that it can also be a dangerous thing.  It can puff you up; it can make you arrogant.  Like the temptation in the garden to Adam and Eve, “You can be as wise as God.”  No, but having knowledge can enable you to be more capable, more helpful, a greater blessing to others.  I realize that I have been on a lifelong journey of seeking knowledge and seeking to acquire knowledge only to find out the more I know the more I realize how much I don’t know.  But I am thankful for knowledge and for all of the facilities in my life that enabled me to read and write, study, think and retain some knowledge.

Savior – Right here toward the center of Thanksgiving is the source of all of our glorious and eternal gifts the Lord Jesus Himself.  The One who said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  Oh, give thanks to Him.  He alone can forgive your sins.  He alone can set you free.  Jesus alone, our Savior, can give to us life led by God and life overflowing with blessings and life that never ends.  He is my Savior.

Gospel – The announcement came from heaven that a Savior was born.  The Good News spread everywhere and the news continues to resound today, the Gospel.  The Good News from God that we can be saved is a note of thanksgiving that should be sung by all of us.  If you know Jesus as your Savior, pause and think about the day, the place, the experience when the Good News from heaven rang in your heart and ears.  What a day that was and it was all because of the Gospel.

Immortality – In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says this mortal, talking about us and our bodies, will put on immortality, talking about us living forever.  Every person will die.  Those who know the Lord will pass through death to live eternally with the Lord.  Those who have rejected Him die passing through death to eternal death, separation from God.  A good friend of mine years ago said he didn’t fear death; he just did not like the process you have to go through to get there.  He was facing some days of pain because of disease and sickness.  He knew eternity was his in Christ Jesus.  Immortality is a glorious thing to pause and give thanks to God for.

Vision – I believe it was Helen Keller who remarked one day how sad it was that some people have eyes but cannot see.  It is true.  She was not talking about that they lacked 20/20 vision, but they were insensitive to see the needs around them or the work of God above them.  Vision is a precious thing.  Give thanks.

Insistence – For me, I’m referring to the fact that God does not give up on us.  He doesn’t get frustrated and walk away, angry and stop loving us, peevish and play games of punishment with us.  No, He keeps on loving us, reaching out to us, encouraging us, nudging us, sometimes and how thankful I am, pushing us to keep on walking in His ways and in His will.  He is insistent.  He wants us to be blessed, but He wants us to be made into the image of His dear Son.

Nation – In an imperfect world plagued with people who are not everything we want them to be or they themselves want to be or God wants them to be, a nation is formed and we become a part of this incredible experiment and expression of freedom and justice.  The nation itself may not be perfect, but oh, what a blessing it is to live in this great country.  Whatever difficulties we may be going through the truth is that people around the rest of the globe would give anything to swap places with us.  Indeed, we need to give thanks and pray for our leaders and for us as participators.

Grace – The entire list above is yours and mine by the grace of God, the unmerited, undeserved favor of God.  Look at your list and not one thing on it is deserved by you regardless of how much good you have done or how hard you have wanted to be perfect.  God has blessed you and it is by His grace that we have life and hope and future.  So thank Him, for by grace you are saved, for by grace do you walk and live and have your being.

Have a great Thanksgiving and stop and count your blessings.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer
directions@mbcb.org

11-13-14