Are you feeling blessed today?
Some people think, when they see the scale of misery in the world, that God must be reluctant to bless. But the Bible shows the complete opposite. In a world ruined by human sin and rebellion against God, Psalm 145.16 says, “You open your hand and you satisfy every living thing with favour.”
From Genesis to Revelation, God delights to bestow his blessing.
The very first words spoken over Adam and Eve after God gives them life and breath are words of blessing. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number’.”
When God called Abraham he said, “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
When God instituted the priesthood to point to a Messiah who would save through the shedding of blood, he said to Aaron, “This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: ‘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 towards you and give you peace.’ So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
The first Psalm begins with blessing. “Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on it day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither – whatever they do prospers.”
The first recorded public teaching we have of Jesus’ ministry is the Sermon on the Mount - and the very first word on his lips is the word “Blessed...”
There is in fact a golden thread of blessing throughout the Bible, which continues until the very last chapter of the last book which says, “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city [of God].”
But there is a vital key to receiving God’s blessing that is not always understood or appreciated. We may say, “Well, I don’t feel blessed at all. Have missed something?”
Terry Virgo tells of a time when he was guest speaker in a church in the USA. It was a great meeting and the congregation seemed very appreciative. After Terry preached, the service host asked the congregation, “How many of you have been blessed this morning?” Hundreds raised their hands to indicate that they had been. But he then surprised the congregation by telling them they were wrong. Everyone was taken aback - including Terry who had just preached a blinder! But the host pointed out that Jesus said, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” Our thinking is skewed if we think we have been blessed merely by hearing.
Washington DC church leader Mark Batterson goes further; “God will bless the church in proportion to its giving to missions and caring for the poor.”
According to a 2019 report by The Cinnamon Trust, local churches in the UK delivered 220,000 social action projects (such as food banks, debt counselling, hospital visiting etc.) serving 48 million people. In as much as they did this as an expression of faith and love, not out of pride or a seeking to earn favour from God, according to Jesus they can expect blessing to follow.
How are you going to orient your life today to optimise the conditions for living under God's beautiful blessing and favour?