Thursday, May 26, 2016

Every spiritual blessing - Ephesians 1:3

"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)
One of the translations for the word "blessed" is to be adorable. This verse could be read, "Adorable be the God and Father..." Paul is trying to get us to re-envision God. When we only know God through His laws and commands, then "adorable" is not often how we see Him. Because of His demanding requirements, exacting rituals, and His rigid standard of righteousness, we often view God as being harsh, austere, and impersonal. For many enslaved by religion around the world, this is the image they retain in their minds of God; a God who demands their obedience, but who does not elicit their love. However, when we know God for who He really is and come to understand the plan He has planned for us, the work He has worked for us, and the benefits with which He has benefited us, then God begins, once again, to become blessed and adorable in our sight. Our cold and impersonal obedience to God begins to be replaced by warn and open affection and love for our heavenly Father. We begin to desire and relate to our Father who is God rather than to a God who claims to be our Father,

One of the things Paul urges us to do to effect a change in our esteem and appreciation of God is to consider our new found position with God and the benefits that such a relationship accrues towards our lives. Paul says that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places. This word for "bless" means to "speak well of". It speaks of the verbal blessing as well as, by extension, the blessing received when the verbal pronouncement is realized. Thus, a blessing is when one speaks well of the good qualities and praiseworthy traits they see in someone else's life. However, and even more importantly, a blessing can be used to speak and impart to someone's life the good intentions and plans that God has for them. The second part of the Greek word for "blessing" is the word "logos" and it refers to both thought, reason, and a verbal message. God blesses us when He extends his thoughts, reason, and words over our lives to create in them good things emanating from Himself. When God says to us, "You are mine!", "Your are loved!", or "Your are righteous!" His words not only comfort and cheer us by their warm greeting, but they also produce something within us; some real change and transformation, that causes the reality of those words to be birthed, nurtured, and brought to fruition in our lives.

The practice of speaking a verbal blessing over a child for his or her future was not an uncommon practice in the Scriptures. We see God blessing our first parents, "God blessed them, saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.'" (Genesis 1:22) We also see Abraham mistakenly blessing Issac over Esau, "he blessed him and said, '... Now may God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and an abundance of grain and new wine; may peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you; be master of your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you.'" (Genesis 27:27-29) And, later on we see Jacob blessing the two sons of Joseph, "He blessed them that day, saying, 'By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, "May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!"' Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh." (Genesis 48:20-21)

One of the most important aspects of blessings that must be understood is their often prophetic nature and the need for patience and faith to receive them. In the blessings sited above, and many more in the scriptures, the blessings pronounced took years of faith, patience, and endurance to see their fulfillment. Even in this verse we are considering, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, yet much of that blessing is in the form of a promise which we have yet to receive. That's why the writer of Hebrews encourages us not to be, "sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Hebrews 6:12) It should also encourage us that, just because we don't always see the reality of the blessings of God in our lives, doesn't mean their not present. They are just as real as you or me, but merely faded away from our view, thought not from God's view for us.

Furthermore, it is important to realize that, these blessing from God, are spiritual. While God does often bless us with material things for our sustenance and enjoyment, far greater are those spiritual blessings that benefit us both here, in this life, as well as in the life to come. They are eternal blessings whose benefits start now and last for eternity. They are blessings that effect the very nature of who we are and touch us at the deepest levels of our soul. As such they don't often manifest themselves immediately but their reality is often shown over time as our life is being continually changed and perfected by the force and working of these blessings in us. Therefore we must not be too willing or quick to give up for, as Paul encouraged us "[do] not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." (Galatians 6:9)

Finally we must remember that these blessings are heavenly. This should first remind us of the source of those blessings;  that all good things have one source in our life, our Father. James reminds us that, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." (James 1:17) When we look for blessings from anywhere other than heaven, we are looking amiss. While this world has many things to offer us, they all pail in comparison to the blessings of heaven. In our need, in our wants, and even in our dreams, we should look up and seek them from our Father in heaven who is able to give us the things we need and want rather than looking for them in the world which only has disappointment to offer. In addition, we must be careful as to the things for which we are solicitous for and desire to obtain for ourselves. If we are desiring the things of this Earth, then we are desiring the wrong things. Certainly they can provide a measure to temporary pleasure and satisfaction, but it is short lived and often comes with a price. It is those blessings found in heaven that are of real and of lasting value, pleasure, and enjoyment in our lives. We must be careful when looking at others not to desire the outward things of their lives, their riches, position, and power, but to look deeper to the real condition of the soul. We must learn to desire the things that can truly satisfy us and that can truly heal and nourish our souls. These are those spiritual and heavenly blessings that really matter.

David Robison

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