Count Your Blessings!

What is our first thought as we open
our eyes in the morning?  Is it the first
cup of coffee, the job, the kids, or a never-ending list of ‘to-do’s”?  Or perhaps pain, the dread of coming
separation from loved ones or an impending change in life?  The author of One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp says, ”The secret to joy is to keep
seeking God where we doubt He is!”
         In a new town, my Mother’s life changed
significantly with no close friends and days to fill with activities.  She confided in me one day, “When I wake up in
the morning, I ask God what He has for me to do today!” Mother continued to
teach me until her death at ninety-one years old.  Her vibrant faith was her strength then and
mine now.
         After a Bible Study in our home church,
(Rogers Christian Church), our Pastor Jack asked for prayer requests.  They poured forth for fifteen minutes like a
waterfall.  Pastor Jack asked, as the
flow slackened, and how about praises? An awkward silence ensued until one lady
spoke almost apologetically, “My honeysuckle bush is beautiful and its scent is
glorious in the early morning while I pray.” 
         A praise is an everyday happening, God-given,
blessings we may have not noticed. He gives us blessings every day. Are we
aware? Poets wax enthusiastically about the sunsets and the sunrises.
Honeysuckle bushes, too.
            It’s a Honeysuckle Day
         …The sun shines and breezes rise
         …The clouds play peek-a-boo in the skies
         …I give God all the praise
         …For each gift in all my days.
         It’s a Honeysuckle Day when…
         …My family is all around
         …And God’s joy abounds.
         …I sit as quiet as can be
         …And all His glory I see.
         …It’s living for Jesus
         …Serving Him, with Him I stay
         …Though darkness clouds my way
         …I give praise for my Honeysuckle Days. (EAC – Thank you, Phyllis Bishop)
         It’s not the miracle-praises, but the
everyday day things such as the chorus of the birds in the morning, the warmth
and the cold that enhance the season, the food we eat, the shelter we enjoy as
we lay our heads down in slumber. 
Laughter with loved ones, the feeling of belonging, and the sweetness of
being able to talk to God all day and into the night.  Unexpected interruptions turn into
blessings.  The sweetest joy I know is
seeing a friend or loved one grow in the grace and joy of the Lord with a
changed heart and a zest for Jesus. And I count my blessings!
         As I read about Johnson Oatman, Jr,
born April 21, 1856, near Medford New Jersey, I ‘find’ a boy eager to be like
his father.  His father possessed a
booming singing voice and preached eloquently. When Johnson, Jr. was still
young he often stood on the pew to see his father’s hymnbook when the
congregation stood to sing. Johnson, Jr. had a love for church music, and
studied for the ministry and was ordained to preach.  He wanted to preach, and he continued to seek
God’s will for his life through prayer. 
When he was thirty-six years old, he realized he could not sing like his
father, nor preach.  This is when he
picked up a pen to write his first lyrics of praise to God.  In five years he wrote an average of two
hundred hymn lyrics a year – resulting in over five thousand hymns.
         Some of the hymns he wrote are, No, Not One, Higher Ground, He Included Me,
I know He’s Mine, Lift Him Up, My Home is on the Rock, The Last Mile of the Way,
Alone with God,
and in 1897 – Count
Your Blessings
.  The composer of the
music for Count Your Blessings is
Edwin Othello Excell, born in 1851.  His
father was also an excellent singer and preacher. 
         What is Johnson Oatman’s legacy?  Did he become great singer and a preacher during
his lifetime?  No. One writer wrote about
the hymn, Count Your Blessings
“It is like a beam of sunlight that has brightened up the dark
places of the earth.” Another suggested that Johnson Oatman reached more
through his sermon-hymns than he could have through singing and preaching the
Word during his lifetime.  His daughter,
Miriam, wrote music for some of her Dad’s hymns.  Johnson’s great grandson is also a
writer.  God truly answered Johnson’s
prayer seeking the will of God for his life.   
         When we are young, our mothers often nudged
us after we receive a gift with, “What do you say?”  This is our blessing – to
thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ
 I Thessalonians 5:18.
our blessings from God with thankfulness, not complaints or angry words. Giving
our hearts wholly to our Lord Jesus is our way to a flood of blessings and joy
in this life and we have the assurance of His everlasting love in the next.
         For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty
  He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm
all your fears. 
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
         But you are not like that, for you are a
chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own
possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called
you out of the darkness into his wonderful light
.  I Peter 2:9
         All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who
has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we
are united with Christ.
  Ephesians 1:3

         The Lord sits
enthroned over the flood;
 the Lord sits
enthroned as king forever.
the Lord give strength
to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!  
Psalm 29:10-11

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