What is a blessing?
22 The LORD said to Moses,
23 "Tell Aaron and his sons, 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
24 "' "The LORD bless you and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace."'
27 "So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them."
VERSE: May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
A blessing is a hopeful prayer.
A blessing was one way of asking for God's divine favor to rest upon others.
The ancient blessing in these verses helps us understand what a blessing was supposed to do.
Its five parts conveyed hope that God would
(1) bless and keep them (bless and protect);
(2) make his face shine upon them (smile);
(3) be gracious;
(4) turn his face toward them (show his favor);
(5) give peace.
When you ask God to bless others or yourself, you are asking him to do these five things.
The blessing you offer will not only help the one receiving it, it will also demonstrate love, encourage others, and provide a model of caring to others.
1. Seek God's Blessing
In what ways does God bless?
1 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.
2 "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.
3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran.
5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land.
7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
VERSE: I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3)
God blesses through his eternal plans.
God planned to develop a nation of people he would call his own.
He called Abram from the godless, self-centered city of Ur to a fertile region called Canaan, where a God-centered, moral nation could be established.
Though small in dimension, the land of Canaan was the focal point for most of the history of Israel as well as for the rise of Christianity.
This small land given to one man, Abram, has had a tremendous impact on world history.
God promised to bless Abram and make him great, but there was one condition.
Abram had to do what God wanted him to do.
This meant leaving his home and friends and traveling to a new land where God promised to build a great nation from Abram's family.
Abram obeyed, walking away from his home for God's promise of even greater blessings in the future. God may be trying to lead you to a place of greater service and usefulness for him.
Don't let the comfort and security of your present position make you miss God's plan for you.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love
5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--
6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace
8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment--to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,
12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory.
VERSE: How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ. (Ephes. 1:3)
Jesus is God's greatest blessing.
"Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms" means that in Christ we have all the benefits of knowing God-chosen for salvation, being adopted as his children, forgiveness, insight, the gifts of the Spirit, power to do God's will, the hope of living forever with Christ.
Because we have an intimate relationship with Christ, we can enjoy these blessings now.
The heavenly realms means that these blessings are eternal, not temporal.
They are from Christ's spiritual realm, not the earthly realm of the goddess Artemis.
Other references to the heavenly realms in Ephesians include 1:20; 2:6; 3:10.
They show Christ in his victorious, exalted role as ruler of all.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
VERSE: I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. (Ephes. 3:17)
Christian growth is a blessing.
The family of God includes all who have believed in him in the past, all who believe in the present, and all who will believe in the future.
We are all a family because we have the same Father.
God is the source of all creation, the rightful owner of everything.
He promises his love and power to his family, the church (Ephes. 3:16-21).
If we want to receive God's blessings, it is important that we stay in contact with other believers in the body of Christ.
Those who isolate themselves from God's family and try to go it alone cut themselves off from God's power.
But those who live within the body of Christ discover the blessing of Jesus becoming more and more at home in them.
2. Learn To Bless Others
In what ways can we bless others?
All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them, giving each the blessing appropriate to him.
VERSE: These are the twelve tribes of Israel, and these are the blessings with which Jacob blessed his twelve sons. Each received a blessing that was appropriate to him. (Genesis 49:28)
We can bless family members.
Jacob blessed each of his sons and then made a prediction about each one's future.
The way the men had lived played an important part in Jacob's blessing and prophecy.
There was a strong tradition at this time of a father passing on special blessings to his children.
These blessings were a heartfelt expression of a parent's hopes or vision for his children's future.
How often do you share with your children, spouse, or parents the wishes and prayers you make for their future?
34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against,
35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
VERSE: Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, "This child will be rejected by many in Israel, and it will be their undoing. But he will be the greatest joy to many others. Thus, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul." (Luke 2:34-35)
We can bless complete strangers.
Although Simeon was very old, he had never lost his hope that he would see the Messiah.
Led by the Holy Spirit, he was among the first to bear witness to Jesus.
In the Jewish culture, elders were respected, so because of Simeon's age, his blessing carried extra weight.
Our society, however, values youthfulness over wisdom, and potential contributions by the elderly are often ignored.
As Christians, we should reverse those values wherever we can.
Encourage older people to share their wisdom and experience.
Listen carefully when they speak.
Offer them your friendship and help them find ways to continue to serve God.
In this way you will bless and be blessed.
27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,
28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic.
30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.
31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them.
33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that.
34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full.
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.
36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
VERSE: Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.
We are commanded to bless our enemies.
The Jews despised the Romans because they oppressed God's people, but Jesus told the people to love and bless these enemies.
Such words turned many away from Christ.
But Jesus wasn't talking about having affection for enemies; he was talking about an act of the will. You can't "fall into" this kind of love-it takes conscious effort.
Loving our enemies means acting in their best interests.
We can bless them by praying for them, and we can think of ways to help them.
Jesus loved the whole world, even though the world was in rebellion against God.
Jesus asks us to follow his example by loving our enemies.
Grant your enemies the same respect and rights that you desire for yourself.