The Blessings of the Lord
Throughout the ages Christians have desired the blessings of the Lord. In the Old Testament we see Jacob being so desirous of the covenant blessing that he was willing to deceive his father Isaac in order to obtain it. Later, after God established a covenant with Israel through the giving of the law, the blessings had to be earned by keeping the law. The blessings were proclaimed from Mt. Gerizim and the curses from Mt. Ebal.
Christians want God to bless their ministry, their crops, their plans, their church, their sermons, their missionaries, their tithes and offerings, etc. Why do we desire them? We know that without God's blessing there will not be a greater ministry, more miracles, greater prosperity, and better health and success in all our endeavors! So we ask God to bless our efforts in the work that we do for Him, as well as for the things that please us. Often we dress our selfish desires in clothes of religiosity, so we can hide our greed and desire for honor.
Have you ever wondered whether your definition of God's blessing matches God's definition? Do God's blessings always lead to what we call success? In spite of the fact that we use the word "blessing" or "bless" lavishly in our prayers and in our speech and in our writings, do we only have a foggy idea of its true meaning? We know it means something good, but do we know what good is?
As we researched its meaning, we were rather surprised to find that one of the Greek words from which our English word "blessing" is translated, is EULOGO. "It is made up of two Greek words, namely EU, meaning good or well, and LOGOS, meaning word. It means to bless or speak well of." The Greek word EULOGIA "refers to one upon whom God has acted or who has experienced His blessing." EULOGESO means, "I have done this for you and I will do it for the nations as well, through you." (Zodhiates) Our English word "eulogy" conveys the concept of speaking well of someone. Speaking well of others blesses them!
In Psalm 103:1-2 we are told to bless the Lord. " Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits." How can we bless the Lord? How can we bless Him who has everything? Although He is not in need of anything, it's so exciting to see that we can bless Him by praising Him and speaking well of Him! It blesses God when our hearts are completely filled with thanksgiving toward Him for all the benefits He bestows on us! God is not in need of praise, but it pleases Him when we speak truth! We need to realize that God is the source of our blessings!
We also bless others when we speak well of them. What a different world this would be if we would sing the praises of others instead of constantly finding fault with them! We do not praise that which is unworthy of praise, but we focus on the praiseworthy. In Phil. 4:8 we read that we are to ponder the good things. "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on (ponder) these things." We need to follow God's directives!
Humanity ignores God's directives, and dwells on the things that bring frustration and anger, and on people who irritate and humiliate them. What do we meditate on after we have been reproved, or wrongly accused, or when our vindictive spirit was revealed, even though we thought we had successfully camouflaged it? Instead of being thankful that we were being pointed in the right direction, did we get angry? When people are unkind to us, we can rejoice because this is another opportunity for us to practice the grace of God.
Do we believe that God is really able to make all things work together for good to those who love Him? Do we want God's grace for us, and His retribution for others? Do we keep the right attitude in unhappy situations, or do we add to the problem? Do we seek God's leading and solution to the problem, or do we spend our time criticizing the guilty party? Every situation provides an opportunity to learn something: we may learn how to do it or how not to do it. We may bask in our bitterness and resentments or receive the blessing that forgiveness brings. Disobedience will rob us of God's blessing (He will not speak good of us); obedience brings God's blessing (He will speak well of [eulogize] us).
We cannot live in obedience to God without His empowerment. In James 3 we read that no one can tame the tongue. "But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way." (vv. 8-10) Since no one can tame his tongue, no one is exempted! In our natural ability this is impossible. We need the power and love of the Holy Spirit to speak the words that please God.
When we invoke or pray for God's blessing on someone, we are actually praying for God's action and intervention in his life. This principle also applies when we ask God to bless us. Our intention may be quite different; we want God to accomplish our will in the situation for which we are praying. But God is not our agent to help us accomplish our will; He is the One who works all things according to His sovereign and perfect will! We are the ones who need to be aligned with His will. It is God's blessing on us and on others when He intervenes in our lives in order to bring our will into agreement with His will - thus accomplishing His will!
Many Christians claim they would be happy to do God's will if He would only reveal it to them. They are ignorant of the fact that God has already instructed us in regard to His will for us. Some instructions are: "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit…hold fast to that which is good…And we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now." (1 Thess. 5:16-22; 1 Cor. 4:12) These principles do not coincide with our human legalistic mind. No wonder God states that His ways are higher than man's ways! He wants us to invoke God's blessing upon those who malign and curse us. By praying God's blessing on them we are asking God to intervene in their lives so they can repent and follow God.
God wants us to pray for ourselves and for the welfare of others in the way that He perceives the need. This principle is expressed so beautifully in Acts 3:26: "For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways." God blesses us by intervening in our lives! His interventions turn us from our evil ways, and get us in line with His plan and purpose! We cannot be transformed into the image of Christ unless God intervenes in our lives. Without His intervention we will remain in the deadness of our sins and transgressions.
This is demonstrated so beautifully in the apostle Paul's life! God's intervention in his life transformed him from a legalistic Pharisee to a grace-filled follower of Jesus Christ! This was a tremendous blessing for Paul, for the Christians of that day, as well as for us! God's intervention brought him in line with God's purpose for his life. We too need God's interventions to get us in line with His thinking!
The life of Abraham is another beautiful illustration of God's frequent interventions in order to bring him into alignment with His will, and to make him a man of faith in whom all the families of the earth will be blessed. God intervened in his life so that he would not become an idol-maker like his father. God gave him a promise, and then intervened in his life in order to show Abraham that the fruit of self-effort does not inherit the promise, thus showing us our need to cast down all the monuments and edifices we have built for self-glorification by self-effort! Our works cannot replace faith! Even family ties are not allowed to interfere with obeying God's known will for us! God taught Abraham that faith is counted as righteousness.
We have a wonderful promise in Gal. 3:8,9: "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, 'All the nations will be blessed in you…So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.'" As we walk by faith we are blessed together with Abraham!
God's purpose for us is given in 1 Peter 3:8. "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing." If we are in doubt as to God's purpose for our life, we have the answer here in a nutshell. We have been called to be "harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead." Meditate on each one of these attributes and let them be integrated into your very being! They express God's nature - the very nature He has given us.
By demonstrating God's nature to the world, we inherit a blessing. Notice that we do not earn a blessing; we inherit a blessing - and an inheritance is much greater than a wage! Servants earn their wages, while sons receive an inheritance because they are sons! Sons have their father's DNA; therefore they can demonstrate the Father's nature! Servants are unable to do this.
"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." (Eph. 1:3) We do not have to ask for this blessing because He has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ! Christ is the great blessing from God. Every spiritual blessing is resident in the Christ whom he has given us! We need to discover what is ours in Christ, for only then can we enjoy His spiritual blessings. Christ is the truth, so when truth is revealed to us and we receive it by faith, we are blessed. Receiving the revelation of Christ's nature, and letting it become our nature, is truly a blessing. For example, God's love has been poured out into our hearts in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5), yet we pray for His love because we don't realize that it is already ours. If God's love is not flowing out of us, the barriers that are keeping it locked in, need to be removed.
Our natural mind cannot receive or understand spiritual knowledge, because it always opposes the Spirit. For this reason it has to come to us by revelation. In reply to Christ's question of who the disciples thought the Son of Man is, Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt. 16:16) Jesus then told Peter that this knowledge had come to him by revelation. Natural knowledge interprets the scriptures according to the seen realm and the understanding obtained from historical and natural events; revelation knowledge gives us the understanding and relevance of the unseen realm, and what the events in Revelation signify, and how they relate to the revelation of the Christ in us.
Revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ also brings us the revelation of who we are in Christ! Without this knowledge we will walk in the deception of our carnal mind, in the legalism of the law, and in the hardship and futility of self-effort. Revelation knowledge of Christ brings us the spiritual food we need for spiritual growth, so that the fruit of the Spirit will be in evidence in our lives. Even as fruit refreshes and blesses those who eat it, so the fruit of the Spirit refreshes and blesses those who receive it.
The knowledge that God always works according to the kind intention of His will and to our advantage because He loves us, gives us the faith to trust Him in trying situations! God cannot and does not act contrary to His nature. Everything He does comes out of His great love! All His interventions and actions in our lives are motivated by His love for righteousness and His desire for us to walk in righteousness. We may interpret His interventions as rejections, difficulties, problems and disasters, as demonstrated in Job's life. Yet all these interventions brought Job to the place where he could see God! Before all these disasters struck, he only knew God by what he had heard of Him, but now he knew God personally. (Job 42:5-6) What a blessing there is in the realization that all of God's interventions are necessary for us to be changed into His likeness, and be made holy and blameless before Him. They are His blessings on us! Since Christ is the truth, we can safely trust Him and His ability! He is in control of every situation, and He has the solution for every problem.
The scriptures also contain many examples of people blessing people, that is, they spoke well of them or informed them of the good things that God had in store for them. Heb. 7:6-7 refers to the time when Melchizedek blessed Abraham. "But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham, and blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute, the lesser is blessed by the greater." Heb. 11:20 refers to the time when Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau by speaking of the good things that would take place in their lives. In Mark10:16 Jesus took the little children "in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them." In so doing, He demonstrated His good will and action toward children.
It's also interesting to note that there was an increase in the loaves and fish after Jesus gave thanks and blessed them. "And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food and broke the loaves." (Mark 6:41) God blesses according to the existing need. The bread increased as it was broken. Symbolically speaking, God increases our fruitfulness as we are broken and walk in humility. When we ask God to bless the food, we are asking God to use the food to bring health and strength to those who consume it, and that they in turn may praise or bless God, and be a blessing to others.
God blesses those who walk in the obedience of faith! This requires a listening ear and a willingness to do God's will. Without the obedience of faith, it is impossible to be led by His Spirit. Obedience to the Spirit keeps us from obeying the desires of the flesh; it brings us into an intimate and working relationship with the Lord, and we are transformed into the likeness of His nature.
Our transformation includes our thought life, and this will affect every area of our being. We will love our enemies and bless them and forgive them even as Christ did. To take on the name of Christ means to take on His nature. If we say we are Christians, yet walk in unbelief, egotism and self-reliance, we are taking His name in vain. Those who come in the name (nature) of God are blessed! (Matt. 21:9)
God's words to us energize us and release the faith and energy needed to do His will. If we refuse to receive His ability, we will walk in disobedience and miss out on God's blessing. Obedience brings us His blessing, and He will act for our good according to His good judgment. It is important for us to recognize that His good judgment does not necessarily correspond with our desires. He blesses us by keeping us on track with His desires!
In Matthew 5 Jesus earmarks those who are blessed. In this discourse He used the word, MAKARIOS. "To be Makarios blessed is equivalent to having God's kingdom within one's heart." (Zodhiates) " The kingdom of God is not one that we enter after death. It is a present possession; it is in the unseen realm! Many Christians are still waiting for Christ to come and establish His kingdom because they do not know that it was ushered in when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost! His kingdom is now within us! "For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." (Rom. 14:17) God's government in us brings us His righteousness, peace and joy!
God's kingdom is eternal, for there is no corruption in it! Every kingdom governs according to its laws, and God's kingdom law is the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus! Since His life does not contain any corruption, we come into permanency. Corruption is inherent in all that is temporary; incorruption is inherent in all that is eternal. Residing in God's kingdom is a state of blessedness because we have Christ, and He satisfies us completely!
Our satisfaction in Christ is permanent because Christ is eternal! It is not dependent on external factors such as favorable circumstances and perfect health. Our satisfaction depends on the kingdom in which we are functioning. Living in the kingdom of God while we are on planet earth means that we are under God's government. We are in submission to the Holy Spirit and enjoying the benefits! His peace and joy cause us to be completely satisfied, even in the midst of afflictions, persecutions, trials, troubles and hardships! Jesus said, "Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me." (Matt. 5:11) The phrase, "because of Me" also applies to each of the preceding beatitudes. Paul understood this principle; that is why he could write that he had "learned to be content in whatever circumstances" he was in. (Phil. 4:11)
All spiritual blessings come to us through faith and revelation. We cannot earn them nor can we work for them. Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness! All self-effort to achieve righteousness is useless! "Just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works." (Romans 4:6) Faith in God's promises makes us righteous! "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Cor. 1:30) Knowing that Christ is our righteousness does away with all self-effort, worry, guilt and fear!
The beatitudes (Matt. 5:3-11) reveal God's favor and blessing on those who reveal the kingdom of God by the way they live. Our attitude in every situation is right when we live in obedience to the "Christ in us," for He lives His life through us. God's divine nature in us is the work of God. We become partakers of God's nature through faith in Christ. "For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust." 2 Peter 1:4) Here we see that the Makarios blessing is on the one who is in the world yet not of the world. What a blessing it is to be completely free from the desire to receive honor from people, and have our complete satisfaction in God's approval, even as Christ had! The obedience of faith in God's promises causes us to live in His divine nature!
A careful reading of the beatitudes in Matthew 5 shows us that some rewards are in the future and some are already ours at this present time. In Matt. 5:3 and 10 the promises are in the present tense. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven…Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." These verses tell us that the kingdom of heaven is theirs now! It is a present possession! The favor of God is on those who are humble and willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness. These attributes are only present in God's kingdom.
In Gal. 4:15 Makarismos is used in the form of a question: "Where then is that sense of blessing you had?" The joy of the Galatians was not dependent on perfect conditions and perfect health. They joyfully received Paul in his physically weak state. Their joy was due to the fact that the Holy Spirit was dwelling within them.
God's blessings come to us in the natural realm and in the spiritual realm. Our human nature wants the natural blessings, like an easy comfortable life, friends, health and financial prosperity. We may even become very adept at seeking these blessings. In Matthew Jesus gives us the recipe for receiving His blessing. He said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Our treasure is in the spiritual realm! An intimate relationship with Christ far exceeds material wealth! The prosperity the Israelites enjoyed when they followed the Lord foreshadowed the spiritual blessings a life of obedience brings. Do we want the shadow or do we want the reality? Were you satisfied with the shadow of our lover when he came to see you? Did you run out and embrace the shadow? Of course not! The shadow merely confirmed the presence of the lover. Our lover is Christ, and all spiritual blessings are in Him!
In Christ we are taken out of the Adam man who sins, and we are put into the second man in whom there is no sin! We are taken out of the kingdom of ME, and transferred into the kingdom of GOD! We are taken out of corruption and given incorruption! These are the true blessings! Let's focus on them and let the Lord take care of the additions!