In this series of posts on Acts 12, we have been trying answer the question: “How How do we count our blessings the right way?” I want to suggest some practical ideas that I believe could help you.
First, we have to say the right words, flowing from a humble, grateful heart. Not “I did it,” but “God did it.”
We need to tell one another about the good things God is doing in our lives, which means we need to first be able to pause and take time to self-reflect on the good. We need to train our eyes and heart to see God and his goodness in the midst of what is going on around us.
Next, counting your blessings the right way means celebrating God’s provision. It means having a regular practice of thanking God. It does not mean you don’t ignore reality when things are hard. As we saw in the previous post, James encourages us to train our hearts and minds to see God in the midst of the difficulty. We practice speaking both truths; the reality of the struggle, and also the goodness of God in the midst of it.
Third, I love how the church in Acts 12 gives us a very practical example of how to speak both truths in prayer.
Review that chapter again, and observe how the church reacts to their trial? Look at verse 5. The church was earnestly praying to God on Peter’s behalf. They admit that the situation is dire. James has just been killed, and Peter is in jail. Clearly, the ruling powers are coming for them too. Imagine their fear and desperation. But what do they do? They face it in prayer.
Then in verse 12, we read that many people had gathered and were praying. We don’t know for sure, but Peter’s escape could have happened in the middle of the night. If so, that prayer meeting might have been an all-nighter. Either way, those Christians are committed to prayer, and they give us a wonderful example to follow when life goes haywire. They are a praying church. In the middle of their trial, they knew that God was the source of good, and they acted on that knowledge by committing time and energy to pray. Prayer is vital. Prayer is a very practical way that we show how dependent we are on God, how thankful we are to him. The example of the church in Acts 12 shows us a people who were committed to prayer.
Not only does counting our blessings mean that we practice a regular habit of prayer, it also means that we make sure that Jesus gets the glory, like Peter did. We are not all given leadership roles, like Peter and Herod, but we are all given gifts and abilities. Whether we are up front, leading, or whether we are behind the scenes, we must point people to Christ.
Fourth, I would recommend that when people praise you for something good you did, it is polite and appropriate for you to say, “Thank you.” It can come across as odd, however, and isn’t entirely truthful, if we always say, “I take no credit, it was all God.”
God gives us all gifts, and we co-create or partner with him. So it is right to say, “Thank you,” and point people to God.
In the next and final post, I’ll share a story of a man who reached the heights of fame, and made sure to point people to God. Even if we don’t achieve that kind of notoriety, as most of us will not, we can learn from his example.