Words of Life ~ BLESS(ed)(ing)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings
in heavenly places in Christ:”
Ephesians 1:3

If our main purpose in seeking God is to receive a blessing, then our blessing will most likely be in vain. The blessings we seek for ourselves are usually selfish and without substance. True blessings will be returned to the sender from grateful hearts with the fruit of praise unto His name.

“The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Shorter Catechism

As God’s children, we live under His constant showers of blessings. We are continually blessed even ~ and sometimes more so ~ in our most dire circumstances. Let’s explore this word used extensively in the seasoned Christian’s vocabulary.

Here is the link to the 463 words BLESS, BLESSED, or BLESSING(S) recorded  in the KJV.

Old Testament H1288
bârak, baw-rak’; a primitive root; to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration), and (vice-versa) man (as a benefit);

If blessing begins with God, it must mean that He kneels ~ or should we say, He condescends to us ~ in order to bless us. He must, from His height of glory, look down upon us in pity and love. This is itself our blessing ~ that He has any interest in us as mere creatures. This is where our hearts are warmed to receive what He has planned and is willing to pour down upon us.

When we experience His blessings, it becomes our second nature to return the blessing to Him.

The first use of the word BLESS is found in Genesis 1:22 refering to God’s blessing Adam and Eve and His creation, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

In Genesis 2:3,  “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

In Genesis 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.”

Genesis 12:2 records God’s blessing for Abraham,“I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:”

Genesis 14:20 is the first record of God being blessed

“And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.

God blesses Sarah to give her a son in Genesis 17:16

Genesis 27:35 relates to Jacob’s deception in taking away Esau’s blessing.

Genesis 32:26 speaks of Jacob’s wrestling with God. “And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

The following is a well-known blessing we use for others.

“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
Numbers 6:24-26  

“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day:” Deuteronomy 11:26-27

The blessing refers to life.

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: Deuteronomy 30:19

One of the most familiar verses shows us in a negative way how a man is blessed. Then the next verse in the positive showing the connection of blessings and delight.

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord.” Psalm 1:1-2

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”
Psalm 32:1

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.Psalm 33:12

“The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.” Proverbs 3:33

“Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways.” Psalm 128:1

 Blessings returned to the Lord

“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.” Psalm 72:18

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Psalm 103:1

“The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted.” Psalm 18:46

“I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.” Psalm 145:1

“I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” Psalm 34:1

 The promise of blessing in our obedience of bringing our tithes to Him.

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10

New Testament G3107
makários, mak-ar’-ee-os; supremely blest; by extension, fortunate, well off:—blessed, happy(X -ier).

The word in Greek carries with it a greater meaning. We should understand this as relating to the greater blessing we have in Jesus Christ.

The most familiar are the blessings Jesus promised in the Sermon on the Mount ~ commonly called the Beatitudes. He taught that happiness is not based on the physical things of this life but in the spiritual life He came to give.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, they that mourn, hunger and thirst after righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness’ sake and when men shall revile you. The blessings that come after are recorded after each of these.

With the promised blessings is the command for us to bless those that curse us (Matthew 5:44).

Because our Lord has stooped to bless us, we are able to bless others as well as kneel before Him and bless Him for His work in and through us.

Blessings are promised to those who hear the word of God, who keep it, do His commandments, and endure temptation.

 “But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” Luke 11:28

“Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
Revelation 22:14

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12

  Jesus’ last blessing to them before His ascension.

“And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.” Luke 24:50-51

He is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords.

“Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” 1 Timothy 6:15

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” 1 Peter 1:3

As children of God ~ the blessed people of God living in His abundant mercy and hope ~ let us live daily in obedience to Him.

Dear Father, fill us with the Spirit of Christ today. In humility and reverence to you, let us  experience your blessings flowing through us to others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Divine Power to Know, Be, and Do

“Ignorance is bliss” — perhaps this is true for children of the world, but not for the children of God. Our Heavenly Father desires children, and sires us into His kingdom by the divine power of His Spirit. By the same power, He continues to show us, teach us, and lead us in the truth of His Word and will, as He is preparing us for eternity with Him ~ by His grace, for His glory and our joy.

 According as his divine power hath given unto us
all things that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him
that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
2 Peter 1:3-4

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus
throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Ephesians 3:20

Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: 
for thou art the God of my salvation; 
on thee do I wait all the day.
Psalm 25:4-5

 

The Mentality and the Centrality of the Christian Faith

This is not a second part to our last post but again, we can interchange “the Christian Faith” with “the Gospel.”

The Christian faith is the effect of “the gospel” on the mental state of a follower of Christ.

Every religion has its power over the human mind. We see this example in those who are willing to destroy themselves while destroying others.

The  Gospel ~ the good news of Jesus Christ ~ has the power to change the mind and enables a person to think differently. A person who is brought under the authority of the Word of God changes their direction from the natural state of destruction to a spiritual state of  an abundant life here and forever ~ a new life we desire for others.

The gospel  ~ read and preached from the Holy Bible ~ changes the whole mindset and fixes it on Jesus Christ.

Every religion has a figurehead, someone who instigated and orchestrated the religion according to his beliefs.

None make the same claims as Jesus Christ and they are too many for us to copy for this post. Reading God’s Word reveals these claims; and should the Spirit of God move in the heart of the reader or the hearer of God’s Word, their hearts and minds will be changed.

The same power of the Spirit that inspired its writing is the same power that works in the reader and hearer.

 “For prophecy never came by the will of man,
but holy men of God spoke 
as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” 
2 Peter 1:21

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might know the things
that have been freely given to us by God.”
1 Corinthians 2:12

It is the Spirit of God that reveals what was written centuries ago.

We have no power of our own to change our minds or our lives. We must have a new heart and a new spirit that accepts the new power of the Spirit of God that turns the mind and the life in a new direction.

When Jesus said, ““Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” he was drawing on the promises from the Old Testament.

 “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh
and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26.

“I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; 
and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Jeremiah 31:33

Reading from God’s Word moves the meaning of the words from the page to the mind. The mind then works to bring the actions of what is written.

None of this is new. What any person watches, listens to, and reads will shape their minds and their behavior. Their lives witness to what they know and believe.

Such is the mentality of those whose lives are shaped by the reading and hearing of God’s Word.

As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 2:13,

“These things we also speak,
not in words which man’s wisdom teaches
but which the Holy Spirit teaches,
comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

The Centrality of our Faith
The Christian faith is centered on Christ. The centrality of the gospel is Jesus Christ. Because He was the power of creation and in person revealing the kingdom of God, He is the power to reveal Himself and draw us to Him. Because He is now ruling in power at the right of God, He is the power to give us eternal life; to turn us from our own evil nature to follow Him.

Because He lives forever, He has the power to keep us now and forever with Him. His Spirit is His power here on earth to finish the work of redemption for, in, and through His people.

We cannot be too emphatic when we say that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is powerful to change our whole being. By the way we think, we live. When our minds are filled with the truths of Christ we become new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17)

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Roms. 12:1-2) and have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2). We have divine power to bring every thought in obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5).

We must read and pray for the Holy Spirit to move in our hearts to keep us in His Word, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly
above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,”
Ephesians 3:20

Dear Father in heaven, we praise you for the power of your Spirit to draw us to your written Word and through your written Word to reveal Christ your Son. Do your work today in the hearts and lives of your people. By your grace, make us a channel of blessing to others for your glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Suggested Reading: Free eBook First Things that Last Forever
The Garden of God’s Word ~ The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study
What the Holy Bible Says about the Word of God

 

The Immensity and Intensity of the Christian Faith

Or, we might use the title, The Immensity and Intensity of the Gospel.
They are the same.
There is no Christian faith without the Gospel.

The Gospel is the means to a life of faith. It is more than just words spoken by men. The good news of Christ is more than men can ask and more than men can imagine. It is the revelation of the kingdom of God by the Spirit of God within the spirit of men.

It is meant to be experienced within the mind, the heart, and the life of men ~ beyond our own doing.

The Christian faith is different than any other faith. It is the only religion that addresses, deals with, and resolves the issues of sin and death.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ promises more than any other ~ promises we can trust ~ greater than any man could plan for himself.

Its immensity is little known because man cannot desire what he has never tasted. We do not taste unless we are drawn to and search God’s Word. The kingdom of God is the kingdom of the Christian faith to which the Gospel brings His people.

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32

Who can describe such a kingdom?

The intensity of the Gospel and the Christian faith that excels through the Gospel is the working of the Gospel itself by the power of the Holy Spirit in the heart and life of men. Yes, I am repeating myself. The Gospel bears repeating even as preachers continue to proclaim the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 10).

It is not puny words of men that fall to the ground, but it is the power of God for salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16). It is power to quicken those who are dead in their trespasses and sin, awakening their senses to their sin and need of a Savior.

The power of the Gospel is the good news of Christ raising the dead to life in Him.

And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,
and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Even when we were dead in sins,
hath quickened us together with Christ,

(by grace ye are saved;) 
Ephesians 1:19-20; 2:5

No minister, worth his salt, will throw out a dry bone to his congregation. Dead men need the meat of God’s Word to live. Those who have been revived ~ made new through the new birth of the Gospel ~ need the continual Gospel to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for the promise of eternal life in Him.

The man of God digs deep into the treasury of God’s Word and presents those treasures to his hearers.

The Gospel works its immensity within the hearts of the ministers of the Gospel.

They must be overwhelmed with the greatness of God’s redeeming love.

They must know the reality of a heavenly Father who, in the covenant of redemption, planned to sacrifice His own Son to secure our place with Him for eternity and the reality of His Son, in agreement with this covenant to sacrifice Himself.

What love! What sacrifice! ~ immensity of grace greater than can be comprehended by mortal men.

This should bring forth an intensity of the Gospel which the man of God cannot keep to himself.

He should be zealous, always ready to present the Gospel wherever He is called, to whoever hears.

Are there such ministers in the world today? Yes! I would not be writing on this subject if it were not so.

Our own pastor, Chris Strevel, is such a minister of the Gospel and the Christian faith. Preaching for thirty years, he holds Christ in the center of every sermon, continuing to unfold the treasures of His kingdom. My heart is weekly quickened, opened and enabled to receive the Good News of Christ ~ His grace and His glory. You can listen or view all his sermons on Sermon Audio. He is presently preaching through the Gospel of Luke and Exodus.

Another pastor, Ryan McKee, in Northern Ireland, is younger, but also preaches the immensity of the Gospel with the intensity of Christ. I began watching these services in 2016 when we were unable to attend church for ten months. Five hours ahead, their morning worship is at seven. Their evening worship is at two. Ryan is preaching through the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel.

We have one among us here on WordPress from California. Check Jim’s blog here.

I mention these who are devoted to Christ and His Gospel as they serve God’s people. The Gospel and the Christian Faith are too valuable to take for granted ~ too precious to keep hidden. If you know other local pastors, please let me know.

We should pray for a revival among the ministers of God’s Word in our local churches. Some preach to the masses in conferences, etc. but we need daily, weekly oversight of pastors who shepherd God’s people in the name and power of Christ.

Gracious heavenly Father. Lay it upon the hearts of your ministers to draw near to you ~ to seek the face of Christ as never before. By your Spirit, draw them to your Word, fill their hearts with the zeal for the power of the Gospel. Enable them to proclaim your Word to your people. Open the hearts of your people to hear and to live the Christian faith Jesus died to give. In His name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

Five Lessons for Preachers  Charles Spurgeon

Love Your Enemies


“O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.”
2 Kings 6:17

The king of Syria is perplexed as to how the king of Israel is evading him and his army. When he learns that the prophet Elisha is foiling his attacks, he sends his horses, a great army, and chariots at night to surround the city of Dothan, where he plans to capture Elisha.

The next morning, when Elisha’s servant saw what was happening, he said to Elisha, “Alas, my master, what shall we do?”

Elisha is not bothered at all by the situation and answers his servant with assurance, “Fear not; for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 2 Kings 6:15-16

Elisha then prayed the prayer that revealed God’s presence and power. He said, “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see.”

The Lord answered Elisha’s prayer and opened the servant’s eyes so that he saw a “mountain full of horses and chariots of fire” around them.

Elisha prayed again, but this time for the Lord to blind the army. When the Lord answered this prayer, Elisha led them to Samaria.

Again, Elisha prays – this time for their eyes to be opened. When this happens, they see that Elisha has brought them to the king of Israel, who could have killed them; but Elisha tells the king to give them food and water.

“So he prepared for them a great feast, and when they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. And the Syrians did not come again on raids into the land of Israel.”
2 Kings 6:23

This story reminds me of three references in the New Testament. The first is of Paul’s words in Romans 12:20.

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Then the words of John come to mind, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

But, more than these, we have an example of Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, from Matthew 5 and Luke 6 to “love your enemies.” (See related article and sermon links below.)

We do not have prophets like Elisha in the world today. The prayers he prayed were for a different time. Now we have the Spirit of Christ to assure us of His love, His protection, and His wisdom. We don’t see the supernatural work of our heavenly Father with human eyes, but our eyes are opened spiritually to see and to know that He is always with us and how He works through us to respond to our enemies.

Before leaving His disciples, Jesus said to them:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20

Throughout the Old and the New Testaments, God promises to be with us. Elisha’s first words to his servant are, “Fear not.” Many of the books of the Bible quote these words from the Lord. In Isaiah 41:10, KJV, we read,

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the prayer you gave Elisha so that his servant could see your marvelous work on their behalf. Give us faith to believe, and not fear what man may do to us. Thank you for bringing us into your presence, and opening our eyes to see the King of kings – not to receive your wrath upon us, but heavenly food and drink, and eternal blessings. Keep our eyes focused on the wonders of your great salvation in and through your Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  And enable us to love our enemies as you  have loved us. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Fran (Excerpt from PRAYERS That Bring the House Down)

Related article and sermons: From Daily Thankful Tough Love
Love Your Enemies Matthew 5:25 ~ Ryan McKee ~ Northern Ireland
Love Your Enemies Luke 6:27 ~  Chris Strevel ~ Georgia, USA

A Sinner’s Prayer

In 2014, at the age of 75, I wrote this hymn as a witness of how, over many years, the Lord brought me to Himself. I set it to a tune to be sung as a solo but I plan to use a  familiar tune, instead, so that it can be sung in corporate worship. It is a hymn all true Christians should be able to sing.

I share only the text in this post. I will share the musical version when it is available.

A SINNER’S PRAYER

He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them. Psalm 145:19

1. LORD, be merciful to me, a sinner.
What have I to bring to you?
I am poor, and lost, and helpless;
Show and teach me what is true.

Hear me calling, gracious Father,
I am deaf and cannot see.
I am hopeless; I am dying.
No one here can answer me.

2.  Lord, you said that you would save me 
If I trust in you alone.
What is faith; what is believing?
It is your work, not my own.

Hear me crying, dear Lord Jesus;
Hear my pleading; see my tears.
In my sin and in my anguish,
I have struggled through the years.

3. All my trying, all my labor
Are but vanity to you.
I am dust in need of Spirit.
Breathe in me your life anew.

I confess Lord, that I need you.
I repent of all my sin.
By your Spirit, live within me.
Be my strength and be my Friend.

4. Lord, you promised life abundant
When you came and bled and died.
Let me see and hear you clearly —
Jesus Christ, the crucified.

O, I can see you, I can hear you.
You have opened eyes and ears.
You have covered sin and sorrow;
You have banished all my fears.

5. Lord, let this poor, ransomed sinner
Know you, love you, and obey;
With your guidance, daily leading,
Showing me your will and way.

Hear me calling, blessed Redeemer,
In my nights and in my days.
I am helpless, but your grace, Lord,
Will lift these weak lips to praise.

© Fran Rogers 2014

The Anatomy of a Book

As I am in the process of formatting our next book, Beyond a Mere Christianity, I am thinking of an analogy.

If you get down to details, you know there are many parts of a book. If you are an author or a publisher, you have many facets to consider.

To make this a simple analogy, let us look at three main components. The Cover, The Contents, and The Conclusion.

The Cover

The cover is the first thing that is seen. An old adage is that we should not judge a book by its cover; but that is not practical. If you want someone to read your book, you need a cover design that will pique a reader’s interest so as to look inside.

The Contents

The contents are the meat of your book, the reason for giving it a cover and putting it together. Your introduction will give the main points that you will unfold. Chapters break down your thoughts in ways that carry your reader to the end.

The Conclusion

The conclusion sums up what you have written in the contents. The reader should have something to take away; hopefully, he is advantaged from reading your book. If so, he may write a review and recommend your book to others.

How Do People Read You?
We all have a wardrobe, clothes designed to present an image to those we want to know. Sadly, some either unknowingly mislead others by how they dress or are dressing to please others. Those who see them do not really care what they have to say but are looking with selfish desires. Our expressions are also an outward image of what is inside.

What is the intent and contents of your heart? What do you want to say to others?
Can you speak graceful words of kindness? Do you encourage and witness of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who are looking for godliness and hope from you?

What conclusion do you leave with those you meet?  Do you share God’s Word and memorable truths? Will they want to talk to you again? Will they recommend you to others? Will they give you a good review before God and others?

“For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;”
2 Corinthians 1:12-13

Dear Father in heaven, we pray that your name will be hallowed in us. Open our eyes to see ourselves as you and others see us ~ from the way we dress to what we speak ~ the words and message we maintain in our own hearts and minds. Let our final words and actions leave no doubt as to who we are and whose we are. Through us, make your kingdom known, as your will is being done.  For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran

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