Count Your Blessings by Ken Damstrom

THANKSGIVING 2020 is unlike many past Thanksgivings, as we find ourselves
contemplating Covid 19 and all the changes bringing us to a “new normal” in our living. We seem to be surrounded by a sort of fear which has caused drastic social behavior and personal confusion. However, as we turn to God’s Word we find hope in I Thessalonians 5:18, as the Apostle Paul encourages us: ” …give thanks
in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV) In his final
instructions to believers, Paul is strongly encouraging all of us to not put out the fire
of the Holy Spirit, but to realize that through it all exists supernatural power and manifestations.
When D.L. Moody was once reading the 103rd Psalm, and came to the verse, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,” he stopped short in his inimitable way, “You can’t remember ‘ em all, of course, but don’t
forget ’em all. Remember some of ’em.”

At times in America, we all too often, fall into a state of ingratitude, taking for granted all of the blessings and comforts we enjoy. Self-satisfaction sets in, and we expect peace and happiness to always be with us. During such times we should surely “count our blessings!” Johnson Oatman Jr., lived in Lumberton, New Jersey, where his dad was a local merchant, in 1856. His Dad was a powerful singer in that town, and Johnson wanted so much to be like him. He began to study for the ministry, and after finishing his studies God directed Johnson to begin writing songs for other Christians to sing. He wrote over 200 songs each year, among them ” No, Not One” and “Higher Ground”. Another song that people quickly adopted and began to sing everywhere was, ” Count Your Blessings”, written in 1897. ” 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.

Chorus:
Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God hath done! Count your blessings, every doubt will fly.
And you will keep 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.”

When we read the above words to the hymn we are struck with how the words describe just about all of us, at one time or another. This is a great time of the year, and of our lives, to THINK and thenTHANK our God Who has brought us up out of the miry clay, and sets our feet on the Rock Jesus to stay. He has never left us or forsaken us, through the good days or through the bad days. The very least of us can find blessings to count. Paul points to the marks of a genuine
Church in I Thessalonians 5, when he offers three marks: 1) A genuine Church is a HAPPY CHURCH; 2) A genuine Church is a PRAYING CHURCH; 3) A genuine Church is a THANKFUL CHURCH. (William Barclay)

I have lived through 8 decades of Thanksgivings, and I can tell you I have many, many blessings to count today! In tough times He gives us strength to make it through. In dark times, He gives us light to see our way. In discouraging times He gives us power by His Spirit to lift our eyes unto the hills to see the splendor of His beauty. Times are tough but Jesus Christ is tougher, and He has conquered and brought us the victory.

In 1863, during the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the first Thanksgiving Proclamation, in which he said, that Thanksgiving should be “… a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Please take time to COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS this Thanksgiving in the midst of your situation and all of our surroundings.

1954, the popular simple song by Irving Berlin, helps to focus our attention where it needs to be at Thanksgiving:

” When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep, and I fall asleep counting my blessings.
When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all, and I fall asleep, counting my blessings.
I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads, and one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds,
If your worried and you can’t sleep
Just count your blessings instead of sheep And you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings.”

Paul never had the blessings of wonderful hymns, or cute little songs to charm him to sleep, yet deep within his soul there was the music of God’s Presence, and the dynamic tunes of the Holy Spirit to motivate himself to keep on COUNTING HIS BLESSINGS! Through it all, Paul learned to trust in Jesus, no matter what his circumstances.

Let us encourage each other in the same way, for we are blessed!
ONLY THANKSLIVING IS BETTER THAN THANKSGIVING, however, it all begins with giving thanks with a grateful heart.

HAPPY THANKS-giving and remember, “the One Who calls you is faithful and He will do it….” (I Thessalonians 5:24)

In Jesus, Pastor Ken

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