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Background Text: Colossians 1:13-14

Devotional Text: Romans 10:12

The blessings of God are found throughout the Holy Bible, from the Old Testament (Genesis 12:2, 3) through the New Testament (Revelation 22:7, 14).

Meanings of the word “blessings” include: to sanctify at a religious event, such as to make holy; to bestow good on another; to give a special favor, mercy or benefit; to invoke God’s favor upon a person.

When we think of what it means to be blessed by God, we are in essence being thankful for something God has done for us. The most holy and sacred blessing from God is the giving up of his son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation.

Let’s take a look at some of the New Testament Scripture concerning our blessed Savior:

Matthew 21:9 gives us the shouted greeting by the people in Jerusalem as Jesus rode into the city on a donkey (as prophesied in the Old Testament book of Zechariah 9:9). The joyous shouts of the people found in the Matthew verse are ones that give praise to Jesus: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

All four of the Gospels share the story of the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples before his arrest. During the taking of the bread and the wine, Jesus offered thanks to God before sharing the elements. He called the wine “his blood, of the new covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Following his death and resurrection, Jesus’ words at the Last Supper came together for his disciples. They finally understood the times he spoke to them of his coming death, and the plan of God. Following his resurrection, the disciples began their mission of spreading the good news about believing in Jesus and accepting salvation through him.

As we turn to Paul’s reference to the sacrament of communion in his first letter to the Corinthians, we find the “Cup of Blessing” — referring “to the cup of blessing which we bless” as followers of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16).

In Romans 4:7-8, Paul writes about the forgiveness of sin through Christ, and the blessing we receive for sins that have been forgiven: “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”

Also, in Romans 10:12, Paul makes the statement that as believers there is no difference between Jew or Gentile: “the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.”

Summing up the blessings we have received from our belief in Christ, Paul further acknowledges our inheritance in the kingdom of God by becoming heirs with Jesus Christ: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sin” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Some of the blessings that Christ has lavished upon believers can be read in Ephesians 1:3-14, when Paul greets the Ephesians with these words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”

The blessings Paul speaks of in these verses include redemption, forgiveness of sin, wisdom and understanding, hope in Christ, and being sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Going on to his letter to Titus 2:13, Paul talks about living a righteous life, saying “no” to “ungodliness and worldly passions,” to live upright lives and to be self-controlled (using the fruits given to us by the Holy Spirit), as we wait for the blessed hope of Christ’s reappearance.

Hebrews 6:13-20 offers to us hope in God’s blessings, as our encourager, “an anchor for the soul,” and the knowledge that Jesus is the one, our high priest forever.

The book of Hebrews 13:5 concludes with words on which to build our confidence in Christ. It tells us to keep from “the love of money” and “to be content with what we have,” and to have our confidence in the Lord who “will never leave you nor forsake you.”

As we continue on toward the end of the New Testament, we find in 1 Peter 3:8-9 these words: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic; love as brothers (and sisters); be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil for evil, or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.”

Finally, in Revelation 22:7 and 14, in the last chapter of the New Testament, we read the words of Jesus: “Behold, I am coming soon. Blessed he who keeps the words of prophecy in this book” and “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.”

“To wash one’s robes” refers to keeping oneself purified from living a sinful life. This refers to us and all believers as we remain aware and ready for Christ’s return in glory.

There is a popular hymn that was written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman Jr. He began writing hymn lyrics at the age of 36 and is said to have written 200 hymns a year during his lifetime. A Methodist-Episcopal minister, Oatman wrote 5,000 hymns in all and said he found hymn-writing to be an excellent way to preach the gospel.

His 1897 hymn “Count Your Blessings” rose to popularity right away and is still being sung today. Its joyous tune, with words based on 1 Thessalonians 5:18-24, helps to remind us of God’s blessings each day.

A hymn of four verses, it takes us through difficult times by counting our blessings “one by one,” burdens become doubts that fly away, others who have land and riches become nothing compared to our heavenly home, and whether we become discouraged or suffer conflict, we can trust in God’s help and comfort to the very end.

The chorus reminds us of what counting our blessings can do for us: “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.”

Each new day offers blessings from God. It’s not always something big to get our attention; sometimes the blessing may be a small thing that brightens our day. An unexpected card or gift or phone call can be the subject of a blessing, as well as an unexpected moment that brings joy to your heart.

God has blessed us with salvation through his son, Jesus. God blesses us each day with life and a chance to serve as well as be served as we receive God’s never-ending love.

The Rev. Kathy Brumbaugh is the pastor of the Schenevus United Methodist Church in Schenevus, New York.