Being Blessed
A blessed state is more a state of mind and less about material possessions for it is an attitude of being a channel for God to let His love flow on to others than about grabbing and storing His gifts for what flows out creates space for more to come.

Being Blessed

        The meaning of blessing someone is generally perceived as from a superior to the one below and is about some improvement in some areas of his life. But in the Scripture a man is also commanded to bless the LORD God while everything flows to us from His Divine storehouses in heaven. Lord Jesus, on the other hand counted a blessed person to be the one who us ‘poor in spirit’ or having such qualities.  In actual fact what is a blessed state and how does someone  and how does one receive or seek blessings?

        King David talks to his own soul, mind, heart and body saying, ‘Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name’ (Psalm 103:1).  The Hebrew word ‘barak’ used here means to ‘bless, kneel, greet, bring pleasure’ and it is as a command. It is about praising God for His greatness and goodness. This is not only about outward but an inward expression of awe to praise God. The first of the beatitudes or teachings about happiness for humanity by Lord Jesus identifies a blessed person (Matthew 5:3). The Greek word used here is ‘makarios’, which describes a believer in an enviable state from receiving God’s provisions which enlarge His grace benefits. This happens through obeying the Lord’s words in faith thus linking faith and blessedness – pistis (faith) and makarios closely. Apostle Paul thus says, ‘Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute sin’ (Romans 4:8). Thus, a blessed person is a happy one who is envied by others.

         Every believer is a blessed person, for his sins are forgiven. From the least to the greatest will know the LORD and have a personal relationship with Him and His promise is ‘I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’ (Hebrews 8:11-12). The life of a blessed person becomes a testimony of the hand of the LORD on him for he becomes successful in all that he does. Joseph was one such person and even though his elder brothers, out of jealousy for his dreams, sold him as a slave, yet ‘The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand’ (Genesis 39:2-3).

          In the beatitudes all persons who display such humble state are blessed for the Lord makes those successful in all that they do. And we consider many people who are successful in their business or in their life as blessed by God. The common perception of blessedness is to receive good things from God. Lord Jesus has taught that the ‘Father in heaven makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust’ (Matthew 5:45). Thus all people on the earth receive certain good things from God’s irrespective of their spiritual state.

          But can we term material possessions as a sign of being blessed by God? God blessed Abraham and even promised to bless those who were kind to him and then the greatest blessing was pronounced upon him, ‘in you all the families of the earth will be blessed’ (Genesis 12:2-3). The exact meaning of this blessed state that was for Abraham and through him on others is explained by Apostle Paul. As per him, Lord Jesus became a curse on our behalf to redeem us from the curse of the law of Moses so that ‘the blessings of Abraham might come on the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Holy Spirit through faith’ (Galatians 3:13-14). The blessing in Christ Jesus is far greater than anything and that is the promise of the Holy Spirit.  

          But Lord Jesus has assured us of life and that too abundantly and this is in comparison to the devil’s role ‘to steal, and to kill, and to destroy’ (John 10:10).  What is the devil stealing and destroying in people’s lives, if not their material possessions and their joy and peace through that?

         Since the crowds were crowding around Lord Jesus while He was preaching by the Lake of Gennasaret, He got into Apostle Peter’s boat and used that as a pulpit position to preach (Luke 5:1-8). After finishing this, He took Apostle Peter into the deep waters, while asking him to cast his fishing net. He reluctantly did so for he was an expert fisherman and they had struggled the whole night and had ‘caught nothing’. But so many fish came rushing into his net that he had to call his partners and both boats were filled to the point that ‘they began to sink’. Lord Jesus is not only concerned about our spiritual state but also about all other aspects of our lives including the financial state, for the promised life of abundance is removal of all that the devil has brought into our lives; disease, death, lack, turmoil and broken relationship with God and also with each other.

         The paralyzed man who was lowered by his friends from the roof in front of the Lord first received forgiveness of sins and then healing also, for he got up and ‘departed to his own house glorifying God’ (Luke 5:18-25). To say that being blessed is only about one aspect of life would be wrong and we bless, praise and glorify God by giving thanks and telling others about the Lord to lead them to Him.

        What is a priestly blessing? Priestly blessing is firstly about what we have been praying about, for God answers our prayers through His priest or directly. If we do not desire to get close to God or are praying for mangoes, a pastor cannot give you kiwis or any other blessings. King David is supposed to have written  Psalm 37 in his old age, after a close relationship with the Lord that also was tested by his sins. He said, ‘Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart’ (Psalm 37:4). This delight is about a deliberate action to seek joy in the Lord under all circumstances. Apostle Paul and Silas while in Philippi were arrested, severely beaten with stripes and put in prison with ‘their feet in stocks’ (Acts 16:23-34). Despite their pain, at midnight they were ‘praying and singing hymns to God’ and there was a great earthquake and ‘all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed’. The keeper of the prison realized this as an act of God, took them to his house, cleansed their wounds and gave them food. The miraculous works of the Lord caused him and his household to believe and be baptized. The reason many do not delight in the Lord is that they hardly know Him. The word ‘also’ implies that there are acceptable forms of joy in life but we must rejoice in the Lord along with other pleasures of life.    

            God never hid Himself from mankind and even when we sin and turn away from Him, He comes looking for us while knowing full well our fallen state. He called out to Adam, ‘Where are you?’ though He knew where He was but in His love, He still sought them (Genesis 3:9). Lord Jesus seeks the one lost sheep, that has turned away from Him in sin, to forgive and bring it into His protection and care (Matthew 18:12-14). The only way this fails is, if the sheep decides not to turn to Him and be saved. I was presented the Holy Bible in 1978 June, but I did not make any effort to read and get to know the Savior Lord through His Word or otherwise. But He patiently waited for years till my eyes were opened and I sought Him, this despite the fact that I was not a sheep of His fold, but He desires to get them also to be with Him (John 10:16). The Lord is merciful and waits patiently for the one He has chosen to turn to Him to be blessed.

           God not only specified the way the people are supposed to worship and bring offerings in to His Tabernacle but He also provided the way for Aaron and his sons, the kohanim or the priests to bless His people. ‘The Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘Thus shall you bless the Israelites. Say to them “May the Lord bless you and protect you; May the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; May the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”’ Let them set My name on the Israelites, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:22-27). In 1979, outside the walls of Jerusalem, two very small silver scrolls just about an inch long, were recovered and it took three years to unroll them so that they did not disintegrate. These were found to be of sixth century BCE, more than 600 years before Lord Jesus’ coming as Man. This record of the Aaronic blessing is the oldest Biblical texts found yet.

          In all the three verses of blessings, there is a unique rhythm in Hebrew and have 3, 5 and 7 words respectively and each second word is ‘the Lord’. In all three verses the first part is about an activity on God’s part- ‘bless’, ‘make His face shine’ and ‘turn His face toward’; while the second part is the effect of the blessing on us, giving protection, grace and peace. These blessings turn inward, where the first verse ‘to bless you and protect you’ is about material blessings; sustenance and physical health etc. The second is about moral blessing, ‘His face shine on you and be gracious to you’, where grace is what we show to others and they to us. It is interpersonal and God’s grace helps us live together without strife and envy. The third verse ‘turn His face toward you and give you peace’ is the most inward.

           There is a story about a large crowd that gathered on a hill to see a large ship pass by and a young child was waving with great joy. Someone asked him the reason and he told that the captain of the ship can see him and wave back. On being asked how could the captain see him from so far in such a large crowd, the child replied ‘because the captain is my father and he will be looking for me in the crowd’. When we pray as taught by Lord Jesus, ‘Our Father in heaven’ we wave to Him from among billions of people and He turns His face towards us for He cares and loves us. We are not just a face in the crowd on the hill, for God, our Father, turns His face toward us with a close relationship. This fills me with great peace and I can be at peace with others for I know and believe that He cares for me.

           In my faith, then, the priestly blessings become longer and deeper from external material goods to the interpersonal blessing of grace and peace between me and others. Finally, it goes to the most inward parts, giving peace of mind, since God sees us, hears us, holds us in His loving arms. To bless, we must love and to be blessed we must know and fully realize that the Creator of this universe loves us and turns His face towards us as a loving Father to a beloved child of His. The child may falter sometimes but He does not ‘forsake nor abandon’ us and blessings of a pastor or anyone can only happen with this faith.

           What is the best offering of a believer? The command is clear, ‘Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High’ (Psalm 50:14). Since everything belongs to God, our attitude of being thankful for His bounties is the most important and then is the fulfillment of all your vows, if you made any. Again we are told, ‘Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing’ (Psalm 100:2). The details about Lucifer, the devil reveal about his being the worship leader in heaven for ‘the workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created’ (Ezekiel 28:13). The three archangels, Lucifer for worship, Gabriel for the Word of God and Michael as prayer warrior define the three aspects of life and way for blessings for a believer.

         The opening lines of the Book of Psalms state the life of a blessed person, reflecting four prominent traits (Psalm 1:1-2). First, he ‘does not walk in counsel of the wicked’, where walking is about active personal involvement. Second, he does not ‘stand in the path of sinners’ and this is waiting and preparing to walk in step or  to accept their deeds without participating personally. It is like watching a film but this will always initiate wrong desires and lead to eventual fall. Third, he does not ‘sit in the company of the scornful’ and this gives the message of being party to their evil deeds. We are to meet with sinners in love, to witness them without being part of them. A blessed person, thus, not only avoids evil but rather ‘his delight is in the law of the LORD’ and he meditates on it day and night. What we think, we dream about and that leads to our doing it, with our repeated actions turning into a habit.

          In the Garden of Eden God blessed Adam and Eve and then gave them their task on the earth (Genesis 1:28). In the fallen world every redeemed believer must present his body as ‘a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service’ (Romans 12:1). The one who diligently tries to follow this is indeed blessed, for God is pleased with such a person. The Jewish patriarch, Judah or Yehudah, contains within it the four letters of the name of God (YHWH). Thus, while Moses, a Levite, led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the kingdom was established by David and the final kingdom by Lord Jesus, both from the tribe of Judah. The one who is chosen by God is blessed from before his birth, like John the Baptist, and then continues to walk in that state. But our obedience to the Word of God leads us into that blessed state and anyone can attain this.

          God is love and He wants to bless each one of us but He is also holy and just and thus judgement is as much a part of His as grace and mercy. In His grace He continues to lift us up when we fall but our repeated sinful deeds cause affliction also to come on us. The way to blessedness is paved with obedience, thankfulness and a close walk with God. The one who does this is really blessed in life on the earth and also eternally! 

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