Summary: 1. We are blessed to be God's Chosen People 2. We are blessed to become His Holy and Blameless People 3. We are blessed to be receive God's Inheritance along with the reassuring presence of God's Holy Spirit.
Scripture: Ephesians 1:1-14
Title: Count Your Blessings
1. We are blessed to be God's Chosen People
2. We are blessed to become His Holy and Blameless People
3. We are blessed to be receive God's Inheritance along with the reassuring presence of God's Holy Spirit.
Grace and peace from God our Father and from His Son Jesus who came to save the world from sin and from the Holy Spirit who infills us, cleanses us and leads us into a life of genuine humanness.
Have you ever heard of a man by the name of Johnson Oatman, Jr.? He was the son of Johnson and Rachel Ann Oatman and was born on April 21, 1856 near Medford, New Jersey. Johnson's father was an excellent singer and one of the things that Johnson Junior loved to do was to sit by his father's side and listen to him sing. Junior especially enjoyed the times that his father would sing church music. Johnson Sr. had this amazing booming voice and was very much in demand as a gospel singer.
For years Johnson Junior thought that the LORD wanted him to follow in his father's footsteps as a great singer. There was only one catch. Johnson, Jr. did not have a great voice like his father so there was little demand for his singing.
Johnson Jr. then thought that perhaps the LORD was calling him to be a great soul winner but again, he did not seem to have either the call of the charisma needed for the task. For a number of years Johnson Jr. did serve as a local minister while at the same time working for his father in his mercantile business. He knew deep down in his heart that God had a special plan for his life. A plan that involved helping people come to faith and then helping them to mature in their faith.
Suddenly, at the age of 36, Johnson's life took a significant shift. While it was true that he was never going to be either a great singer or a great soul winner he discovered that he had this amazing ability to write songs. Finally, he had found his spiritual niche. In less than four years, Johnson's hymns were being sung in churches all over the world. By the time of his death, Johnson Oatman Jr. had penned more than 3,000 hymns.
Quiet a number of those hymns became immensely popular and many of them are still enjoyed in churches all over the world today. Some of the more famous ones include hymns like "How the Fire Fell", "No, Not One!", "Higher Ground" and "Count Your Many Blessings".
I think this morning of those four, "Count Your Many Blessings" might have been one that the Apostle Paul would have enjoyed the most especially in regard to our scripture passage this morning. Listen again to the first stanza and the chorus of "Count Your Many Blessings":
"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."
"Count your many blessings name them one by one. Count your many blessings see what God hath done. Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God hath done."
As we look at Ephesians 1:1-14 we can see that is exactly what our Apostle is actively doing. In the midst of his imprisonment, his difficulties and hardships we see that he is not only counting his blessings he is encouraging the people of Ephesus and the surrounding churches to do the same. Paul was well aware that his readers have had to endure a great many difficulties and hardships in their lives. Difficulties and hardships that possessed the power to shipwreck their faith. Difficulties and hardships that might tempt them to turn away from the Gospel and go back to believing in the false gods of Artemis and Diana.
Paul counteracts all of that by opening his letter to them with a prayer of blessing followed by a prayer of intercession (we see that prayer in verses 15-23). He wants his readers to remember all the blessings that are theirs to enjoy in Christ Jesus. He follows the normal pattern of a Jewish prayer. One's prayer begins with a time of blessing (called a Berakah) and then ends with a time of intercession and thanksgiving.
This morning, I would like for us to look at some of the wonderful blessings that Paul is sharing with in these verses. But before diving into them let's take a moment and focus on verse 3 - our Apostle wants to remind us of who God is and why He is to worshipped and praised.