Go Tell It on the Mountain: Day 4

Count Your Blessings

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Today's Text: Psalm 40:4-5, Psalm 107:23-31, Psalm 136:1-26, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Scripture Reading: Psalm 40:4-5, Psalm 107:23-31, Psalm 136:1-26, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

No doubt many things got started in 1892. One of the many was the hymn-writing career of Johnson Oatman, Jr.

He wrote 5,000 hymns during his lifetime, a handful widely regarded as standards: “Higher Ground,” “No, Not One!,” and “Count Your Many Blessings.” That final example was first published in a songbook for young people. It is considered to be Oatman’s opus. One critic said: “Like a beam of sunlight it has brightened up the dark places of the earth.”

The Sunday nights of my childhood were spent in church, hemmed in among the waistlines of good Baptists. The feeling was laid back, no strict order of service like the morning. Often the song leader would loosen his tie and ask us for our favorite hymns. We Baptists didn’t bet, but some voice crying out “Count Your Many Blessings” was a sure thing, every time.

On those easy-like-Sunday evenings, the last half of that hymn’s chorus held a temptation too great for a song leader to resist: congregational participation. He’d always surrender. He would gradually slow us during that high E-flat “Count your blessings,” followed by the descending “name them one by one.” Then he’d bring us up full stop, still as sheep. He’d grin and say, “Now I know one of you has a blessing to count.” A grateful voice would rise, followed by another, and then another. And we would name them, always surprised at what the Lord had done, every time.


Count Your Blessings
by Johnson Oatman, Jr.

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.

Refrain:
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.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be 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.

SRT-Hymns7-Instagram-4

John Blase preached for over a decade but then he thought he’d go where the money is, so he started writing poetry. He’s a lucky man with a stunning wife and three kids who look like their mother. He lives out West but he’ll always be from the South. His books include The Jubilee: Poems; Know When To Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood; and All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (co-written with Brennan Manning). He ponders faithfully at johnblase.com.


Sources:

Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings my Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2012.

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  • Atalie Jones

    Lord, thank You for Your enduring love. I am so undeserving, but You shower Your love over me anyway. Grow my confidence in Your saving grace, unmerited love, and Your free gift of salvation.

  • Allison Joy

    I love Psalm 136. And I love the line “His steadfast love endures forever.” Reminds me of the song “The Steadfast Love.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlIwcRXdbGM (Still can’t find a version I really like. But this one is pretty good. :) )

  • Melanie Bisson

    I am loving these lessons!! I often find myself critiquing the old hymns at our church because I love the new Christian songs and it’s difficult to learn the words of the old ones during the songs themselves, but learning the background of these hymns gives me a new appreciation and even excitement to hear them weekly! I have been blessed enormously this year – I was saved in December, God restored my marriage after I asked for divorce and sinned incredibly a few years back, and we just bought our first home. It’s a great season to be in and I pray often that I don’t forget what he’s doing.

  • Just thinking about how many people who heard this hymn for the first time were living through the Industrial Revolution which brought wealth to some but poverty to many. The wealth of this world, the perceived greatest blessing on earth, is not only temporary, it can be lost in an instant. Unlike what God has promised us for eternity: a place in his kingdom.

  • Great messages in today’s bible verses.

  • Ashley BB

    This hymn is a beautiful reminder to continuously seek out the hand of God in our lives. He is in every detail, big and small, good and bad, and His blessings are even in the parts of our lives that bring grief.

    It is in my trails and struggles that I can see how close God is and how He loves and blesses His children. I compare myself to others so often that it comes naturally and without thinking about it. Today, with each thought, I will turn my eyes to Jesus, calling out and appreciating all the ways He is present in my life.

  • The verse about money hit me in the core today. Money is what puts food on the table, allows us to live in a certain place, and ensures that I have enough to care for my toddler. It’s easy to look at others who are way ahead of you in the ‘money’ game and envy their homes, their income, their lifestyle. ‘If only I made what they made, I would certainly be more generous. If only I had their paycheck, I would definitely tithe more. If only I had that home, my family would be happier.’ Lately I have become driven by it, in the guise of trying to provide a better life for my family.

    Money brings lies to our heart and tempts us to forget the blessings we have already been granted. Life is beautiful, even without a house or the means to give money away. I just love the wording in this hymn-

    “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.”

    Right now, I hear my little girl in her bedroom, chanting ‘dad dad daaad.’ Such a blessing. My husband is next to me, studying his own devotion today and pursuing God’s presence. Such a blessing. I have sweet friends who accept me despite my sin and quirky conduct. Such a blessing. And then, there’s this free, online community that studies the word together, prays for each other, and pushes each other towards Christ. Such a blessing.

    My heart is rejoicing – how generous is our God! We may not have everything this earth offers, but in Christ don’t we truly have *everything* we need?

    Share with me, sisters- How has Christ blessed you today?

    • Jami

      Through your comment here! I, too, struggle with comparison – my focus needs to be on Jesus alone. Then I will be able to see only all I have been given, which in reality is too much to name- instead of what I don’t have. Thank you for this sweet reminder!

    • Amanda

      And the hymn lays out how “simple” refocusing ourselves can be. By simply taking the time to think of our blessings and thank God for giving them to us, it changes our focus from comparison to gratefulness. :)

  • GramsieSue

    This is a delightful study. I must admit, I was not excited to study old hymns. Two of my grown children play in the praise band at our church and I absolutely love the music they play! I was raised on the hymns and I am nostalgic about them but I couldn’t think how this study could compare to the others we have done. I am pleasantly surprised ❤️
    Each morning brings new blessings and I’m even sharing this with friends, daughter-in-love, my high school girls small group that I teach….
    It amazes me that so many women around the world, in all walks of life, in all ages, nationalities, skin colors, health states….the list goes on-and we all have the same desire: to grow closer to Christ and become women who represent His love to the world in which we live! I am so blessed! And yes, I will be counting my blessings today because it’s all from God so it’s all good! Love and blessings to all you wonderful ladies! ❤️

  • Say it with me my sisters, I AM BLESSED ❤️

  • Hailey T.

    I find my heart called to praise in nature. Especially bird song. He finds me in the wilderness and lifts me up with the beauty and grace surrounding me. oh, how blessed we are to live this life He wrote out for us. Surely we have a wonderful inheritance!

  • DebbieinAZ

    This is one I didn’t know, so I went in search on you tube. Such a sweet hymn. Love it. Here’s the link https://youtu.be/vohlRrPAIXM.
    Have a blessed day sisters.

  • Gina Glennon

    As I thought about all of God’s blessings in my life, and by His grace there are so many, I was reminded of God’s abundant, beautifully overwhelming blessings of relationships–first and foremost with Jesus, my Lord and Savior, and the blessing of almost 40 years of Christian marriage, our children and grandchildren, our church family, numerous brothers and sisters in the Lord, and on and on it goes. Oh Praise the Lord, for His goodness, mercy and faithfulness all the days long! Singing! Singing! Singing! This study is simply delightful!

  • This is so timely. I just got home from a week long mission trip to West Virginia. We took 23 of our senior high students to WorkCamp. It’s a week of working on homes. My crew built a wheelchair ramp. The area we worked in was devestated last summer by a flood. Most of the people we worked for lost everything in that flood. The thing that amazed me was how gracious these people were. There are so many problems in that area that I sometimes felt like I was trying to put a band-aid on a hemmorage. But, for the people of Clendenen, just having a fresh coat of paint on their home was amazing. That coat of paint gave them the energy to do the next thing.
    I came home with two things. First, I am so fortunate. I have so much and most of it I take for granted. The second thing I came away with is that I need to hold on to things very loosely. They aren’t mine to begin with. They are gifts from God. I don’t know why He choose to put me where I am, but I want to use what I have to give back to Him and to those around me.
    Count your blessings!! For me they are numerous. I pray that God will keep my eyes fixed on Him. Lord, break my heart for what breaks Yours. Use me and use my stuff.
    Have a blessed day, sisters!

  • Heather Kulaga

    I’m really enjoying this series – singing along at the end of the readings. One note — I love how the Scripture readings are chronological – no flipping back and forth in my Bible. It’s a little thing, but I like it. Counting my blessings today.

  • I can’t imagine writing 5000 hymns. I like to dig a little deeper on the life of songwriters. For more info on Johnson Oatman Goodman look at this link.

    http://www.gaffneyledger.com/news/2012-11-02/Other_News/Stories_Behind_The_Hymns.html

    • Cara S

      Very interesting. Thanks for the link! I was struck by the fact that he had always planned/expected to be a singer or preacher, and these dreams didn’t pan out. It wasn’t till the age of 36 that he found his personal calling. I know this feeling! I know what it feels like to grow up on dreams and expectations, and then hit a point where you need to reevaluate and redirect your life. During these times of “identity crisis,” it’s especially helpful to count our blessings!

  • Gema Muniz

    Oh go great is the lord! and what a beautiful reminder to count our blessings. One of my biggest blessings today is knowing that I am pregnant with our second child and even though I’m nervous about my pregnancy I’m walking by faith knowing that God is in control. Sisters please pray for a good pregnancy, prior to having a successful pregnancy with my son I had a miscarriage. I fear that maybe I might deal with the same situation since my body doesn’t produce enough progesterone to strengthen the uterus. Counting my blessings today and resting on Gods will for my life. God bless you all sisters.

    • Tina

      Congratulations Gemma. What a blessing…
      As the Good book says…
      Children are a gift from the Lord, they are a real blessing…( psalm 127:3)
      Pray ing God continue to bless you in the wonder, that is the little person growing in you.. ..
      Xxxx

    • Gina Glennon

      Praying for you Gema, especially for rest and peace in our faithful and loving God who is knitting that precious little one together in your womb. (Psalm 139:13)

    • Veronica

      Praying for you today to have courage! I had a healthy first pregnancy with my daughter, but my second pregnancy dramatically ended. I understand your fear and your pain. But our God is great- our God is love, the very opposite of fear. Cling to his love. Sending you happiness and prayers.

    • Gema Muniz

      Thank you ladies for all your prayers, they strengthen me and encourage me. God bless you all.

    • Amanda

      I just said a prayer for you and your family. :)

  • churchmouse

    Are my praises more numerous than my prayer requests? The answer reveals whether I am cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Or not. Today dear sisters, let us go on a holy hunt: counting every blessing, determined not to overlook a single one. In each one is the caring hand of God. One, two… Thank you Lord. Three, four, five, six…

    • Ashley BB

      Reminds me of Ann Voskamps’ book 1000 Gifts :)

      • truthseeker

        Yes, that is such a good book and gives you great perspective. Sooooo many blessings all around us and we do not see or hear or acknowledge them until . . .. we become still and KNOW that He IS GOD !!!!!!!

  • They don’t make them like they used to!

  • This passage made me appreciate all the little blessings in life I take for granted. I am a bit nervous for a test tomorrow (as I’m in high school) and I was loathing waking up and going to school. Now however, I realized that I am blessed with a good education that many unfortunately do not have access to. Thank you God for blessing me with this wonderful life! I wish for all my sisters to have a blessed day!

  • I woke up this morning.
    A blessing! Hallelujah!

    I got out of bed, put my feet to the floor. I walked to the kitchen…
    A wonderful blessing!

    I filled the kettle. I switched it on. I am sitting with a cup of hot drink.
    An absolute blessing!

    With every breathe, there is a blessing, with every movement of my body, there is a blessing…

    The gift of children, grandchildren and family
    Dear Lord, What a blessing! Thank you so much..

    In everything I take for granted comes a blessing… I haven’t even got to the great blessing of prayers answered and it’s only 6.30 in the morning…!!!

    Counting my blessings one by one and thankful for all I have, am and God has in store for me.. Thank you God, thank you…

    Yet another blessing is YOU dear sisters, to be able to share and grow together in the Word…
    A great great blessing..

    Praying your day is blessed abundantly in the little things as well as the big… with love.. x

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