Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Blessing Part II...God blesses us (A)
The Bible opens with God's blessings upon creation.
Genesis 1:22 tells us that God blessed the creatures of the water and the birds of the air. He also tells them to be fruitful and to increase in number.
Likewise, God blessed the man and woman whom He created in His image. "God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.' And it was so." In creation, God's blessing is linked to fruitfulness, multiplication, the giving of a purpose for life and work, and God's provision for man and animals.
The state of being blessed has been defined by some scholars as the state of being in a right relationship with the Lord. In the beginning, man and woman enjoy the sweetness of walking with the Lord and talking with Him face to face. Man and woman bear God's image and serve as God's agents on Earth. Everything in creation is good. Everything works in harmony with God's good will.
Satan tempts Eve with the lie that God has withheld certain blessings from Adam and Eve. Sadly, Adam and Eve try to obtain these supposed blessings for themselves. They cross the one boundary the Lord has set for them. They vainly look for blessing outside of God's loving care and outside of fellowship with Him. This breach of faith on their part introduces sin and its destructiveness into the world. Sin brings with it barriers to a relationship with a Holy God, as well as spiritual and physical death.
God, in His righteousness and holiness, pronounces penalties for man's sin. Mankind will now experience the opposite of being in a blessed relationship with the Lord; he will experience the curse of living in a fallen world. Man's work will be harder, for the earth is no longer so harmoniously ordered and no longer yields its fruits easily. Woman's pain in giving birth will be increased. Physical death becomes inevitable. Only by God's grace can man be saved from spiritual death.
Mercifully, however, God mitigates the curse with His gracious blessings. He promises that He will send a Savior, who will bring redemption and restoration. He continues to love fallen men and women, and He continues his covenants with them, despite their unfaithfulness. In His grace, He still bestows blessings even to the undeserving.
All of this leads to the pivotal point when God calls Abraham. "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go forth from your country and from your relatives and from your father's house to the land which I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great. And, so you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those who bless you and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed." Genesis 12:2
From that point, God works with Abraham and his descendants. Through Abraham's lineage, He brings Christ into the world. By this incredible gift, all of the families of the world are indeed blessed, just as God promised. Though we have all sinned just as Adam and Eve did, we all have an opportunity to respond to Christ's offer of grace, redemption, restoration, and entrance into the kingdom of God. This is made possible by Christ's sufferings on the cross, in which He paid the penalty for our sins. Christ accomplished what we cannot, He saved us from sin and spiritual death. Those who answer the call to "the obedience that comes through faith" (Romans 1:5-6) in Christ dwell in God's grace and are supremely blessed, both now and in the age to come. "And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." I John 5:11-12
Monday, December 28, 2009
Bless; blessing; and the Keeper at Home...Part I
I've been inspired recently by a lesson I heard someone do to study out the concept of blessing in the Bible. What a huge and important subject this is! God blesses us, and He wants us to bless God and others -- even our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) The keeper at home has many opportunities to enjoy God's blessings, to bless God and thank Him for the blessings that He showers on us through his grace; to live the kind of life that God considers blessed and the kind of life that blesses others; and to shower her family and neighbors and others with blessings.
Here are just a few verses to start us thinking about the concept of blessing:
"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech." I Peter 3:8-10
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Proverbs 31:28
...but He blesses the home of the righteous. Proverbs3:33
The memory of the righteous will be a blessing. Proverbs 10:7
Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. Proverbs 11:11
He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy. Proverbs 14:21
Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD Proverbs 16:20
The righteous man lives a blameless life and blessed are his children after him. Proverbs 20:7
Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble. Proverbs 28:14.
Here's a bonus question for you: Which of the American Presidents names' means bless, blessing, or one blessed by God and is similar or equivalent to the Hebrew word for bless? (This is not a political question -- just an interesting study of a name.)