Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! (Psalm 103:1 ESV)
There is an old hymn that should serve as a reminder for each of us. The words of the hymn go like this:
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
The root of a lack of obedience is a lack of understanding (and response) to God’s great love for us. When we begin to grasp the truth of God’s love for us, it is not burdensome for us to keep His commandments (see 1 John 5:3). In response to God’s love, we demonstrate our love through obedience (John 14:15). Though this is not perfect obedience, our spirts are willing and seeking to know and follow Jesus.
So, what does counting your blessings have to do with obedience or worship? I believe that a deep part of our lack of understanding of God’s love stems from an ignorance concerning the countless (literally) blessings from God in our lives. When you begin to count your blessings, literally naming them one by one, “it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”
I’d like to try an exercise with you to illustrate this point. Over the next 60 seconds list a dozen or so blessings from God in your life? I’ll start:
1. You have vision to read this devotion
2. You have internet access that enables you to access this devotion
3. You have a device that enables you to access that internet
4. You have learned to read
5. You have access to the Scripture
6. You are learning to comprehend God’s Word
7. God knows your name
8. God gave everything so you could have a relationship with Him
9. God is calling you into a deeper relationship with Him
10. God invites you into His presence
11. God promises to give you mercy and grace in your time of need
12. God has promised to never leave or forsake you
David continues on in Psalm 103 this way: Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2-5 ESV) The hymn Count Your Blessings continues:
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.
Worship is our response to the goodness of God. It is our acknowledgment of His supreme worth and the surpassing greatness of His character, nature, and faithfulness. Often it is our ignorance concerning God’s love that leads to a lack of devotion and obedience. Remember, Jesus never changes (Hebrews 13:8), so if God feels far away or distant it is us, not Him, who has moved away.
I don’t want to minimize the things that have occurred in your life that have led you to where you are. I have personally experienced deep tragedy and suffering that left me broken, confused, and discouraged. As bleak as things may seem right now, I need to share a challenging truth with you, God is still good. His blessings, grace, and mercy are still overwhelming in your life. As a man who has experienced the death of a spouse and a child, I can tell you that God is good even when life is hard.
Stop for a minute and answer this question, did you really stop for 60 seconds and make a list of all the ways God has blessed you? Or are you just ready to get done reading today’s devotion to put a check in the box? I’ll end today’s devotion with a personal story. As a dad of five beautiful children, I know a thing or two about ungrateful hearts. If you have kids you’ll have to agree, there are times where children can completely ignore the ways you try to bless their lives. At times, the exceptional seems casual to them. I know I’m getting some amens out there.
Often when my kids begin to complain, I have a little exercise with them. Some of us (myself included) need to learn to practice this same thing. When we get ready to complain or get frustrated with some trial or hardship in our life, we should stop and immediately begin acknowledging God’s blessings in our life. One day one of my children was complaining about something and I made them stop as I took them through this process. I shared things like these:
• Look around you, you have eyes to see (blessing #1 – sight)
• You can hear my voice and understand my words (blessing #2 – hearing)
• You can feel the gentle breeze on your face (blessing #3 – a sense of feeling)
• You are standing on your own two feet (blessing #4 – mobility and walking)
• Your limbs are intact and functional (blessing #5 – no deformities or amputations)
• You have clothes, socks, and shoes (blessing #6 – basic material needs met)
• You have clean water and food to eat (blessing #7 – physical nourishment)
I could go on, but you get the point. Can I be honest for a minute? We (you too) can be pretty ungrateful. For me, in the moments where I acknowledge God’s countless blessings the least is when I’m least likely to worship. When I am not worshiping God, it is because I don’t sense His love. When I fail to sense and acknowledge His love, I am less likely to be obedient and follow Him. Can you see how it’s all connected? So, it’s time to start counting some blessings.
Father, please forgive me when I minimize, ignore, or disregard the incredible blessings You’ve provided in my life. Lord, please forgive me for questioning or diminishing the great love You’ve shown for me on the cross. Jesus, please help me to keep my eyes and heart focused on You. Holy Spirit, please forgive me when I’m ungrateful. God, please open my eyes and mind to sense and see the incredible blessings all around me. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.