By Jim Newman
Sometimes it seems a bit too easy to grumble and complain about what’s going on in our lives. But wouldn’t it be better if we all just took a little time each day to be more thankful? What if we followed the advice of the old hymn which exhorts us to “count our many blessings” instead of our troubles? And as we “name them one by one” it might surprise us what the Lord has done.
This past week I was reading Psalm 84 where I counted three blessings from the Lord. We can easily miss out on them, but they are available to all who are desiring a closer walk with God.
The first blessing is seen in verses 1-4. It is the blessing we can experience when we learn to live our lives each day aware of and acknowledging his presence with us. Verse 4 says, “Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise.” To me that speaks of God’s presence, where the deepest longings of my soul are satisfied. It is there that one finds fullness of joy (“singing”) and where all are welcome to draw near. How can we learn to dwell in God’s presence? It happens when we learn “to practice His presence” with us, like Brother Lawrence did as a monk working in the monastery kitchen during the 1600’s. In his little book, The Practice of the Presence of God, he said, “The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.”
The second blessing I believe the Lord wants us to know is described in verses 5-8. We will experience it as we learn to find our strength for living in God; strength which he alone provides for us. Verse 5 says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, in whose heart are the highways to Zion (a metaphor for prayer).” Even in the “Valley of Baca” (a place of weeping), one finds that times of sadness and sorrow can become “a place of springs” where one is refreshed and regains strength. To quote Brother Lawrence again, “There’s no greater lifestyle and no greater happiness than that of having a continual conversation with God.” He cares about each one of us and He hears our every prayer and heart cry. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear…”
In verses 9-12 I find one more blessing from God. It comes as the result of trusting in the Lord for all our needs. Verse 12 says, “O Lord of Hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” He is our provider and ever so willing to bestow his grace and goodness upon us. Every good thing comes from Him. He is our protector (“our shield”) and lights our way (like the “Sun”). The more we trust Him and draw near to him, the more we will get to know him. A day in His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere, (v.10). For as we trust, really trust in the Lord, we’ll find that we have all that we need for life and godliness. No good thing will he withhold from us when we walk with him. We will be truly blessed. By the way, how many blessings can you count in your life today?
I close with the blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 which says, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.