One night last week, I had trouble sleeping. As the clock edged toward 1:30, I reluctantly woke John up and asked him for a pill — which took longer than it should have to do anything. As I lay there feeling exasperated, I thought of that Bing Crosby song about falling asleep counting your blessings. Those of you old enough to remember Bing Crosby will enjoy this clip from his movie, White Christmas, while you younger gals need it for a little context to this article.
All right, I decided to give it a try. Since my pastor has been preaching through Ephesians and I’ve been watching Susan Heck teach her series on Ephesians, however, I thought it would be cool if I counted my spiritual blessings that the Bible lists. Don’t get me wrong, I praise God for all the temporal blessings He’s lavished on me. But the sermons and teachings I’ve been hearing from Ephesians have given me an even broader perspective on His goodness towards me.
So I thought I’d take you through some verses in Ephesians 1 that reveal a few of the blessings that belong to every Christian.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. ~~Ephesians 1:3-14 (NASB95)
Time doesn’t permit me to comment on every spiritual blessing Paul mentions in this passage, so I’m going to walk you through the first few and then trust you to find the rest. Once you start seeing how Paul works these blessings into the text of his epistle, you’ll develop the skill of identifying spiritual blessings in other parts of the Bible. Are you ready? Well then, let’s get started!
Right away in verse 4, Paul says that the Father chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him. I could devote an entire blog post to that one verse without exhausting all of its facets, and doing so would only increase the wonder I feel each time I think about it. The fact that He chose me to belong to Him before He even created the world underscores the reality that I did nothing to obtain my relationship with Him. And you did nothing to obtain your relationship with Him. It was all settled in eternity past! This truth causes us to be thankful that He hasn’t abandoned us to suffer the eternal consequences of our sin. That kindness toward us is reason enough to overflow with thanksgiving, is it not?
Did you catch the second part of verse 4? The Father chose us before the foundation of the world so that we could be holy and blameless before Him. I certainly can’t claim holiness or blamelessness in and of myself. Can you? Didn’t think so. But He chose us to that end! Scripture elsewhere teaches that Jesus credits us with His righteousness, which means that He makes us holy and blameless before the Father, Because He has done this work in us, we can count this blessing.
Verse 5 adds the blessing that the Father predestined us to be His sons (or in our case, His daughters). This relationship has more implications than we can explore right now, but even the big picture should fill us with amazement. We’re talking about the Creator of the universe Who rules over all things. He deserves all glory honor and praise, which He will finally receive when He establishes His kingdom. He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The blessing that He would transform sinful wenches like us into His daughters astounds me!
Then we get to verse 7 — redemption and the forgiveness of sins. Perhaps this is the most exciting blessing for me, and the one I praise God for on a daily basis. For years, I took my redemption and forgiveness for granted, perhaps because the basic Gospel message seemed so familiar. But as the Lord allowed me to stray into sinful behaviors, He helped me see just how precious and valuable the blessing of forgiveness really is! We have been snatched from the grip of sin and spared the wrath that we so very much deserve. This blessing alone should be enough to astound us throughout eternity. It is even more precious when we realize that it came through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
There are so many other blessings in this amazing passage that I just don’t have time to take you through today, but I encourage you to read the passage yourselves and count the blessings that you find in it.
Counting these blessings did not put me to sleep that night; they got me so excited that it took a little longer for that sleeping pill to work. But I’m so glad that I counted my spiritual blessings and learned how to find them in Scripture. This Thanksgiving, take a little time to go through the Bible and find some spiritual blessings to increase your thankfulness to the Lord.