I AM BLESSED
Today we are going to talk about blessing!
I don’t ever recall meeting anyone who doesn’t like blessings. Whether you are a believer or not, blessings are something that we all enjoy.
It’s important to enjoy blessings, to be thankful for them, and praise God for them, but we also look a bit deeper into what it is to truly be blessed.
I believe that during these times, God is calling us to reflect and to go deeper with Him and God is allowing us to do that through simple ways such as prayer, connection, and being in His Word more. He is also reminding us of how truly blessed we are.
So, to start. What is blessing?
In the dictionary, blessing can be defined as:
-praise; devotion; worship, especially grace said before a meal.
- God's favour and protection.
BLESSING IN THE BIBLE
God's intention and desire to bless humanity is a central focus of His covenant relationships. First, a blessing was a public declaration of a favored status with God. Second, the blessing brought power for prosperity and success. In all cases, the blessing served as a guide and motivation to maintain that life within the blessing that was given.
The history of Israel begins with the promise of blessing. The curse, which had dominated the early chapters of the biblical story (Genesis 3:14 Genesis 3:17; 4:11; 5:29; 9:25), was countered by God's promise to Abraham that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you" which is found in Genesis 12:3.
“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The institutions of society — the family, government, and religion were the means by which ceremonial blessings were received.
Within the family, the father blessed his wife and children (Genesis 27:27-29).
And he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him and said: “Surely, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which the Lord has blessed. 28 Therefore may God give you of the dew of heaven, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brethren, and let your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be those who bless you!”
In the government context, the ruler blessed the people (2 Samuel 6:18)
After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty.
Those who possessed a priestly role had the privilege of blessing (Genesis 14:19)
and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.
The parallels between the Old and New Testament usages of blessing are interesting. In the Old Testament, to be blessed is to be granted special favor by God with resulting joy and prosperity. In the New Testament, the emphasis is more on spiritual rather than on material blessings.
There are many key components or things to remember and consider when it comes to blessing for us today. Let’s look at 4 today.
The first thing we must acknowledge is that blessing comes from God and begins with God.
There is a beautiful song called, “10,000 Reasons.” The lyrics of the chorus are:
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before, O my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name.
Blessing always brings glory to God. He is worthy of all glory and deserves all glory because He is a good God. He first loved us and He first blessed us so it’s all about Him.
I remember when we had been praying and trusting God for the blessing of a child. So when we found out that we were now expecting a little one, we were so excited. We had so many ideas and plans in mind already and it was just such an exciting time in our lives.
A few weeks later, we had some unexpected news that the pregnancy was not viable and that the baby went to be with Jesus. It quickly went from a very exciting time to one of the most challenging times in our lives. It was hard, but God was faithful and we knew we were still blessed regardless of our situation.
With time, I realized that we were so focused on the blessing and not as much on the One who was the source of the blessing. Blessing begins with God and we need to always have that as our perspective.
God is so good and faithful and of course we now have our beautiful child who keeps us quite busy and whom we adore.
2. Blessing is generational
“Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in His commands. Their children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” Psalms 112:1-2
When we fear God and take delight in His Word, generations will be blessed.
Some of us may be first or second generation Christians in our family and it truly is such an honor to have.
I didn’t grow up in a Christian home so for me some of the norms growing up were: alcohol and substance abuse, violence, anger, and rage as some examples.
We believed in God and knew about God but there was no personal relationship with God and no transformation in our lives. We may have been blessed with a home to live in, plenty of food to eat, and all the latest clothing and shoes but we were not experiencing the most important blessings. The ones we cannot see.
We can’t do anything about our ancestors, but we know that as children of God other generations to come will also be blessed after us. The things which seem like set backs whether from our past or present can actually be setups for the greater God has in store for us. When we have this perspective, it makes all the difference.
Are there any setbacks in your life right now? I know you don’t see the blessing yet, but you ARE blessed and God has better in store for you. Keep trusting.
So no matter what upbringing we’ve had, if we choose to follow the Lord, we will be blessed that blessing will be available to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. What an amazing thing to be a part of!
3. Blessing is meant to be shared
“I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.” Genesis 12:2
We have all heard the verse that says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and that is so true. We are blessed to be a blessing- it is not meant to be for us only, but to be a blessing to others. There are so many ways we can be a blessing to others.
We are blessed, and then we give the blessing away.
And in giving it away, we are blessed all over again.
So God blesses us, and we give it away.
He blesses you again, and you give it away.
He blesses you yet again, and you give it away. When God blesses, there is an outpouring that happens. This outpouring is meant to be spilled over to bless others. We need to share the blessing of Jesus and His salvation to others. This was never meant for us to hoard or keep to ourselves, but to share with others.
4. Blessing is undeserved
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24
We do not deserve God’s blessing, but by His grace He blesses us anyways. All the blessings that any of us receive from God are ultimately and only the result of the cross of Christ. God loves us and blesses us not because of who we are or what we can do, but because of who He is and how great His love is for us. It is not about us and all about Him.
Here is a short story that I would like to share with you that I found online:
-A Blessing in Disguise- [Short Inspirational Story]
A young man was getting ready to graduate college. For many months he had admired a beautiful sports car in a dealer's showroom, and knowing his father could well afford it, he told him that was all he wanted.
As Graduation Day approached, the young man awaited signs that his father had purchased the car. Finally, on the morning of his graduation his father called him into his private study. His father told him how proud he was to have such a fine son and told him how much he loved him. He handed his son a beautiful wrapped gift box.
Curious, but somewhat disappointed the young man opened the box and found a lovely, leather-bound Bible. Angrily, he raised his voice at his father and said, "With all your money you give me a Bible?" and stormed out of the house, leaving the Bible behind.
Many years passed and the young man was very successful in business. He had a beautiful home and wonderful family, but realized his father was very old, and thought perhaps he should go to him. He had not seen him since that graduation day.
Before he could make arrangements, he received word that his father had passed away, and willed all of his possessions to his son. He needed to come home immediately and take care things.
When he arrived at his father's house, sudden sadness and regret filled his heart. He began to search his father's important papers and saw the still new Bible, just as he had left it years ago. With tears, he opened the Bible and began to turn the pages. As he started to read, a key dropped from an envelope that was taped behind the Bible. It had a tag with a car dealer's name, the same dealer who had the sports car he had desired.
On the tag was the date of his graduation, and the words...PAID IN FULL.
See, sometimes the blessing God has for us in right there but we can’t see it because we are so focused on what we are expecting as a blessing.
How many times do we miss God's blessings because they are not packaged as we expected?
Sometimes when we have certain expectations and those aren’t met it can cause us to feel disappointment. So, our attitude is key when it comes to receiving blessing.
Many times God blesses us in ways we didn't think of and sometimes we don’t see the actual blessing because we are so focused on what we thought was the blessing.
We need to remember that God’s blessings are sometimes not packaged as we expected but those are the blessings that will bring us closer to God and that is what’s most important and significant. It’s those blessings that will take us deeper with God. The waiting a bit longer will bring us to where God wants to take us. Even and especially in the waiting, there is blessing.
Let’s begin to go a bit deeper together.
BLESSING A BIT DEEPER
We often hear statements such as, “I received the promotion that I’ve been waiting for…I feel so blessed!” or “We just bought the home of our dreams. We are incredibly blessed!”
But what happens when we don’t feel so “blessed” in your current circumstances? For example: Someone who has been out of work and is trusting God for a job. They get an interview with a great organization but are not offered the job after praying and trusting God.
Let’s think about this for a moment because we have all been through challenging and trying seasons.
Are we no longer blessed when things are challenging or trying?
The answer is no. God has a purpose and time for everything to be done according to His plan and what I believe God would like us to focus on here is that we often associate being blessed with positive circumstances, wealth, comfort, and the absence of problems or challenges. This tells me that we need to reflect and re evaluate what it truly means to be blessed.
So, what does it mean to be truly blessed?
Let’s look at some very powerful and profound words that Jesus shared.
The beatitudes come from the opening verses of the famous Sermon on the Mount delivered by Jesus and recorded in Matthew 5:3-12.
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and He began to teach them. He said:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
From a human perspective, most of these conditions would not indicate a blessed life. But from a heavenly perspective we know that we are blessed when we endure such things.
We know that we will inherit the kingdom of heaven, and that we will be with God forever and He will rule and reign in His Kingdom.
We know that we will be comforted, there will be no more pain, no more suffering, tears, heart ache, loss, discouragement, fear, we will be comforted by the good shepherd Himself.
We will be satisfied and forever fulfilled. We pursue and keep striving on earth to find satisfaction, but Jesus says that we will be satisfied. He will truly satisfy us for all eternity.
Therefore, we are truly blessed because we belong to Christ Jesus and He is our eternal reward.
Though the world says we find happiness when we have the newest, biggest, shiniest, most advanced fill-in-the-blank thing on the market, Jesus says we find it when we demonstrate the true characteristics of Christian faith.
There is a key element to blessing that we must not forget- its the spiritual element, the things which are eternal and last forever.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3
We may not feel very happy some days, but that emotional feeling doesn’t take away the reality that we are still blessed.
We have the peace of God that passes all understanding, we have victory through Jesus Christ, we have been forgiven and set free, we are eternally secure, we are loved unconditionally, we have the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth, and so much more.
THE GREATEST BLESSING
Our greatest blessing is having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Great families, financial wealth, great jobs and homes, and good health are all wonderful gifts we can thank God for, but they are not his greatest blessings because they can make us delight, not in God, but in His gifts.
I do not put my hope in the substance of the blessing but my hope is in the giver of the blessing. My hope is in Christ, I am blessed because I have Him in my life.
God’s greatest blessing always rests in God Himself and when we focus on Him as our source for everything, we are truly blessed.
et us not keep our greatest blessing to ourselves. There are billions of people in the world who haven’t heard about Jesus and the hope He brings.
You can also share this hope with others by supporting OMS Canada. Blessings to you and your family.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn His face toward you
and give you peace.”
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we learned how to tell your story, your testimony, and how God can use it to save others.
In today’s post, we will learn about baptism.
Jesus said -- “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” Baptism - or “Baptizo" in the original language - means a drenching or submerging - like when you dye a cloth and it soaks in the color and comes out transformed.
Baptism is a picture of our new life, soaked in the image of Jesus, transformed in obedience to God.
It is a picture of our death to sin, just as Jesus died for our sins; a burial of our old way of life, just as Jesus was buried; a rebirth to a new life in Christ, just as Jesus was resurrected and lives today.
If you have never baptized someone before, it may seem intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. Here are some simple steps.
Find some standing water, deep enough to allow the new disciple to be submerged. This can be a pond, river, lake or ocean. It could be a bathtub or another way to gather water.
Let the disciple hold one of your hands with theirs and support their back with the other.
Ask two questions like these to make sure they understand their decision. “Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?” “Will you obey and serve Him as your King for the rest of your life?”
If they answer “Yes,” to both, then say something like this: “Because you’ve professed your faith in the Lord Jesus, I now baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”
Help them lower into the water, submerge completely and raise them back up. You’ve baptized a new follower of Jesus - a new citizen of heaven - a new child of the Living God.
It’s time to celebrate!
Have you ever baptized someone?
Would you even consider doing so?
If the Great Commission is for every follower of Jesus, does that mean that every follower is allowed to baptize others? Why or why not?
THREE MINUTE TESTIMONY
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we learned to tell God’s story from Creation to Judgement and the reason for telling this story.
In today’s post, we will learn how to share Your Story.
As followers of Jesus, we are “witnesses" for Him, because we “testify” about the impact Jesus has had on our lives. Your story of your relationship with God is called your Testimony. It's powerful, and it's something no one can share better than you.
“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things, (Luke 24:45-48).
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” (Acts 1:8).
Everybody has a story. This is a chance to practice yours.
Choose one or two followers to practice with and then pick 5 names from your List of 100. Make sure you choose people in the category “non-Christian” or “unknown spiritual status.”
Practice your testimony - your story of Jesus - by having your practice partners pretend to be 1 of the 5 people you chose from your list.
Practice shaping your story to make it specific for each of the 5. You should be able to share a short version of your story in about three minutes.
There are endless ways to shape your story, but here are some ways that we’ve seen work well with others: You can share a simple statement about why you chose to follow Jesus. This works well for a brand new believer.
You can share your “before” and “after” story - what your life was like before you knew Jesus and what your life is like now. Simple and powerful.
You can share your “with” and “without” story; what your life is like “with Jesus” and what it would be like “without Him”. This version of your story works well if you came to faith at a young age.
When you finish sharing, let your practice partner take their turn. Keep going back and forth until you’ve both finished your five.
Want to make an even greater impact? When sharing your story, it’s helpful to think of it as part of a three-part process:
Have you practiced your testimony before?
Do you have someone with whom you can practice?
If not, would you consider practicing with us? Give us a call at 289-812-0661 and let’s get started.
CAN YOU SHARE THE GOSPEL?
Welcome back to the Discipleship blog series. If you haven’t read the previous posts, you can find them here.
Last time we discovered the impact of changing the focus of activity from teaching to training.
In today’s post, we will learn how to share God’s Story - the Gospel - from Creation to Judgement, from the beginning of humankind to the end of this age.
There are many ways to share God’s story. The best way will depend on the person you’re sharing with and their view of the world and their life experiences.
God uses hearts willing to share to work on hearts willing to hear. It’s His work. He just invites us to join in.
One way to share God’s Story is by explaining what’s happened from God’s Creation to His Judgement at the end of this age. When we tell God’s story in this way, we can make it long or short, detailed or just broad strokes but always connected to the culture of the one who hears.
To help tell His Story across different cultures and world views, you can also use hand motions that make it easier to learn and teach.
Here is God’s Story of Good News.
In the beginning, God made the whole world and everything in it. He created the FIRST MAN and the FIRST WOMAN. He placed them in a beautiful garden. He made them PART OF HIS FAMILY and had a CLOSE RELATIONSHIP with them. He created them to LIVE FOREVER. There was no such thing as death.
Even in this perfect place, man rebelled against God and brought SIN and SUFFERING into the world. God BANISHED man from the garden. The relationship between man and God was BROKEN. Now man would have to face DEATH.
Over many hundreds of years, God kept sending MESSENGERS into the world. They reminded man of his sin but also told him of God’s FAITHFULNESS and PROMISE to send a SAVIOR into the world.
The Savior would RESTORE the close relationship between God and Man. The Savior would RESCUE man from death. The Savior would give ETERNAL LIFE and be with man forever.
God loves us so much that when the time was right, He sent His Son into the world to be that Savior.
Jesus was God’s Son. He was born into the world through a virgin. He lived a perfect life. He never sinned.
Jesus taught people about God. He performed many miracles showing His great power. He cast out many demons. He healed many people. He made the blind see. He made the deaf hear. He made the lame walk. Jesus even raised the dead.
Many religious leaders were THREATENED and JEALOUS of Jesus. They wanted Him killed.
Since He never sinned, Jesus did not have to die. But He CHOSE to die as a SACRIFICE for all of us. His painful death covered up the sins of mankind.
After this, Jesus was buried in a tomb. God saw the SACRIFICE Jesus made and accepted it. God showed His acceptance by raising Jesus from the dead on the third day.
God said that if we BELIEVE and RECEIVE Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins -- If we TURN AWAY from our sins and FOLLOW Jesus, God CLEANS US from all sin and WELCOMES us back into His family.
God sends the HOLY SPIRIT to live inside us and make us able to follow Jesus.
We are BAPTIZED in water to show and seal this restored relationship. As a symbol of death we are buried beneath the water. As a symbol of new life we are raised out of the water to follow Jesus.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 days on earth. Jesus taught His followers to go everywhere and tell the good news of His salvation to everyone around the world. Jesus said - Go and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and TEACHING them to obey all I have commanded. I will be with you always - even to the end of this age.
Jesus was then TAKEN UP before their eyes into heaven.
One day, Jesus will COME AGAIN in the same way He left.
He will PUNISH FOREVER those who did not love and obey Him.
He will RECEIVE and REWARD FOREVER those who did love and obey Him. We will LIVE FOREVER with Him in a New Heaven and on a New Earth.
I BELIEVED and RECEIVED the sacrifice Jesus made for my sins. He has made me clean and restored me as part of God’s family. He loves me, and I love Him and will live with Him forever in His kingdom.
God loves you and wants you to receive this gift, as well. Would you like to do that right now?
What do you learn about mankind from this story?
What do you learn about God?
Do you think it would be easier or harder to share God's Story by telling a story like this?
Let us know in the comments below.