By Jim Allen
From a worldly perspective, the word "blessed" means to be endowed with natural beauty, a gifted mind, athletic ability, artistic talent, financial wealth, family and friendship, and much more. To be blessed is always a good thing.
In life, God's blessings surround us. They come in many forms. A person doing a random act of kindness is a blessing. A friendly hello, a smile, and a word of encouragement are blessings too. A warm embrace from a loved-one is also a blessing, touching the soul like no other.
While surfing the Internet I came across one quote that captures the essence of this article. Within a biblical setting it said, "Don't think of the things you didn't get after praying; rather, think of the countless blessings God gave you without asking." (Source) So true it is.
One of those blessings we didn't ask for is far greater and grander than all others. This past Christmas reminded me about the shepherds in a field hearing the good news that a Savior was born (Luke 2:8-14). This heavenly announcement of the Messiah would be a divine blessing given to all people of all nations for all time. A few were wise enough to hope for the promise of His coming and fewer yet willing to look for it (Matthew 2:1-2).
The significance of this announcement to lowly shepherds and all men including the generations to follow was (and is) God's greatest blessing. The epistle written by the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians says, "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..." (Ephesians 1:3).
Regrettably, the world fails to see the need or value in the blessings available in Christ Jesus. They do not see Jesus as a gift to the world, the one who is full of grace and truth (John 1:14). They do not see the One who is able to save all who call upon His name (Romans 10:13). They do not believe the angels sang glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.
Blind to the light and far from truth, men seek worldly blessings in dark places. They view Christianity as a fable, a threat to their self-serving lifestyles. They do not want their kingdoms diminished by those who preach peace on earth and goodwill toward men. For them, the Savior is an indictment on godlessness. To them, Jesus is not a blessed assurance.
They want freedom from behavioral limits and especially from the fetters imposed by Christianity. They see moral failure in the church as one more argument that Christendom is just another powerless religion run by wayward frauds. Of course, they are right about some but not all.
There is no need to name the church leaders who have woefully and irreparably damaged the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. You know who they are. They are rich. They have need of nothing (Revelation 3:1). They live in royal spender, far above the lowly and meek they claim to serve. They live thinking they are blessed, highly valued by God.
But, here's the thing. God has not blessed them even though they enjoy immense wealth and immeasurable pleasures. The grace of God, not His blessed assurance, allows these wealthy religious leaders to enjoy the wealth they've long sought to possess.
In contrast, a fervent believer working hard to make ends meet may be without affluence but never without the promise of heaven's blessed assurance. When compared to the world's wealthiest, we are highly blessed among men. About this heavenly blessing, described in Ephesians 1:3, Jack Wellman insightfully writes,
God the Father is our blessed God and He has blessed us in Christ and these blessings include "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." What does Paul mean by writing that we are blessed "in the heavenly places?" That is because we can "rejoice that our names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20), our "hope is stored up for us in heaven" (Colossians 1:5) and we have "an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for us" (1 Peter 1:4). Our names, our hope and our inheritance and "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" await us. (Source)Wellman says it perfectly. He reminds me to rejoice in the present and look to the future because the promises of God are in Christ Jesus, our blessed assurance.
A believer who passes without the benefit of worldly riches will step into a glorious kingdom where there is untold beauty, worship, love, and joy. The faithful will inherit a heavenly domain no amount of money on earth could ever purchase (Ephesians 1:1-3). While walking the courts of glory adorned in white robes, memories of earth will seem like a distant dream and slowly fade away.
A billionaire without hope breathing his last would give his entire fortune to have what we've been given, and a thousand times that amount if possible. The abyss between the unbelieving billionaire and child of God is too vast to imagine. For the believer who has eternal life, no worldly fortune could ever be enough to purchase this blessing (John 10:28).
Jesus Christ is our life and those abiding in Him have life and blessings beyond measure. His presence is a gift, a blessing to value. His love is our reward, a blessing to treasure (Romans 8:37-39).
In closing, faith in Christ is our story. Hope is our strength, and Jesus our song. Our names, hope and inheritance are in heaven. In the grand old hymn known as "Blessed Assurance", we find ourselves "...watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness and lost in his love."
2016 is the year to count our blessings, rejoice in the present, and look to the future! And while there will be things we do not get after praying, we can always rejoice in the numerous blessings God gives us without asking.
Image Credit: Steven Martin; "Colonial Revival Style Mansion, Swiss Avenue, Dallas"; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | Christian-Life | God-Father | Hardships
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