Friday, February 1, 2013


                There are many ways that we can experience blessing. Being enriched in some material way usually tops the list in our minds. An unexpected windfall of money or a promotion at work is viewed as a blessing.  Being able to purchase a new house or car is also often seen as a blessing. Indeed these things have the potential to truly delight us.  

                In the Old Testament, God showed his favor on certain people in just this way. He blessed them with increased material wealth. For example, God blessed Jacob by increasing his flocks. (Genesis 30) Throughout the Bible, the people of Israel measured the blessing of God primarily through the amount of material wealth a person accumulated.

                But we know that material things are not the sole evidence of blessing. Family is another way that God showed his blessing to His people. In the Old Testament, every couple longed for a large family. The more children they had, the more they felt blessed by God. A large family was the Social Security of the day. The expectation was that your family would care for you until the end of your life. In fact, the father was the head of the family even after his children were grown and married. Large extended families were the norm. In the book of Proverbs, Solomon extols the blessing of a large family.

                Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. Psalms 127:3-5 (NIV)

                Couples who were unable to have children were viewed as cursed by God. We see it with Abraham and Sarah. God promised Abraham great blessing, but because he did not have a son (or any child) he felt hopeless. Hannah pleaded with God to give her a son, in 1 Samuel 1, to take away her disgrace. Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1) prayed earnestly that God with give them a child.

                Family is still viewed by most people as a blessing. Couples who want to have children, and cannot, go through much pain. Unfortunately, many people take family for granted. Instead of embracing the blessing that God has given them, they resent and sometimes abuse their spouse and children.

                Close friends are also a blessing in some people’s lives. With all of our advancements in technology, we live in a lonely society. Many people have no close friends that they can count on. The closest that many people get is a circle of acquaintances. There is a longing, deep within each of us, to be connected with others in meaningful ways.

                I have been truly blessed over the years to have several close friends. They have walked with me through the good, the bad and the ugly. They are a constant support and encouragement to me.

                All of these things are a form of blessing, but there is a different kind of blessing that we often miss. It is not material or tangible in the way these other blessings are. It is deeply spiritual. Most of the blessing that I have mentioned will one day pass away. Money runs out, material things wear out and sadly people die. But Jesus has promised us blessings that will transcend the temporary world we live in.

                The greatest blessing He offers us is the blessing of salvation. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, we literally move from spiritual death to spiritual life. We are set free from the judgment that is required for our sins. Instead we are made eternally new in Christ. Look at these promises that God makes to all who trust in Jesus.
- 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
- Romans 6:23 (NIV) For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 8:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

                The blessing of salvation opens us a host of other blessings from God.
- We have been adopted as God’s children. 1 John 3:1-2 (NIV)
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

- We are included in a forever family. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (NIV)
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

- We have hope for eternity. John 3:16 (NIV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

- We can have joy and peace that is not bound by our circumstances.
John 14:27 (NIV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 15:11 (NIV)
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

                Sometimes I allow my vision to get clouded. When I am not experiencing the material blessings that I want, I begin to think that God does not care about me. During those times, I need to be reminded that the lasting blessings of God are not material but spiritual. They are not temporary, but eternal. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

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