How to be Blessed by the Lord

man standing on rockNo doubt, I bet that title alone will pique the curiosity of the average Christian. That is what we want to know, right? How do I get my blessings so I can live my life like a victorious Christian. In fact, I think in general, we are so hungry to gain earn God’s favor, to feel like we’re doing the right thing and rise above our circumstances that might hinder what God has for us. And we can become so motivated by this pursuit that we reject anything or anyone that contradicts it.

This is an observation I’ve made that comes with this type of pursuit. So I know I’m not speaking to all Christians. But if your interest is how to be blessed to live your Christian life, then you have overlooked some vital issues related to the Christian faith. Now I bet just saying that has turned you off. But before you check out, please hear me out.

Christians are already blessed by the Lord because of their relationship to Christ. Also, Christians do not have to earn favor. Favor is nothing but the undeserved merit called grace which the Father has poured out through Christ. The reason I know that is because scripture tells me so. Now you may find Bible reading only profitable for what you can gain out of it so you can be successful. You may even read it through your own lens and gloss over the parts you find boring that don’t satisfy your quest to be blessed.

But in doing so you are overlooking exactly what the Bible is, God’s breathed out word that ultimately and sufficiently speaks of the Son and those who are united to Him through faith (2 Timothy 3:14-17). It is not a faith that compels us to live in pursuit of blessings but to see how God has already acted and spoken (2 Peter 1:16-21). That is why it is vital to see the Old Testament as what would ultimately be fulfilled in Christ based on the promises of God, the Law and the prophets (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:10-14). That is why it’s important to see the gospels and Acts as showing how that fulfillment takes places. It is important to see the epistles as the testimony to that ultimate fulfillment. And finally, look at how everything will be wrapped up in the end through the book of Revelation.

So if you are only interested in Bible reading for formulas for your own gain, you are missing out on the riches the Bible has to offer. But more importantly, you are missing out about learning about God on his terms, to learn about Him what he did and accomplished in His Son. This is what the Bible is about, it is God’s story in which He is the actor and speaker through all the events and words that take place throughout the 66 books. If all you care about is getting your blessings,you’ve failed to understand that Christianity is about the will of the Father, poured out through his Son and lived by the Spirit so that Christ is exalted. And when I say Spirit, I don’t mean how to listen for a voice that tells you how to be blessed or feel good about your Christianity. I mean the Holy Spirit who communicates the will of the Father, which was accomplished in the Son. If you don’t believe me then read Ephesians 1:3-14 and notice what the Father has done in which we are mere recipients by faith.

It is also significant to note that the material blessings in the Old Testament were related to God’s selection of Israel as a light among the nations so they would know they gods they served were vain idols. The blessings and promises were related to God’s covanent promises and what He would fulfill in His Son. The Old Testament blessings do not give us a prescription of how to be blessed but were for the purpose of pointing towards the Son, who would come in flesh as Israel’s deliver and reconcile Gentiles as equal heirs of the promise (Galatians 3:6-29; Ephesians 2:11-22). That does not mean that God does not grant material blessings today but that was not the purpose of the material blessings in the Old Testament.

You may pursue blessings because the preacher says so. The preacher may say things that sound good regarding getting your blessings. He or she may deliver it an a compelling manner. But please know just because they are using the Bible does not mean they are preaching the Word. For the Word is essentially related to Christ, what he accomplished and what that means for how the body of Christ reflects this faith. The Church lives this out together through love and communion of its members, even through hardships, sufferings and loss. But the focus is on Christ. See the apostle Paul said “we proclaim Him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect [mature] in Christ (Colossians 1:28). And notice that he said this after he describes the mystery that was previously unknown, which was accomplished in Christ. This is not a mystery about your life and your blessings but about what God did through His Son.

If someone who has studied scripture well, points out inconsistencies in your beliefs and focus of getting blessed with what scripture says, don’t ignore them. There might be something vital you’ve missed that has gotten lost in your pursuit of blessings and feeling good about your Christianity. You might think they are arrogant for pointing these things out. But not listening is more arrogant because it demonstrates that you are committed to your pursuits more than Christ.

If you’re still with me on this, I’d love to hear from you. I know this might sound like an admonishment but in a way it is. Because there is so much misguided teaching that sounds good and feels good, but is not consistent with the Christianity of scripture. So I write this because I care, about what God has revealed through His Word, through His Son and for his ultimate plan. And people get hurt with inconsistent teaching and many have gotten hurt. Let’s chat about Christianity and what it is about, apart from the feelings and desires to pursue blessings.

“For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever. And this was the word that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:23-24).

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About Lisa Robinson

Servant of Christ, DTS Grad, member of Town North Presbyterian Church (PCA), non-profit professional, anti-poverty advocate, writer, thinker, explorer of ethnic food, lover of good coffee and a good laugh.
This entry was posted in Christian living, scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to How to be Blessed by the Lord

  1. When many Christians talk about blessings, they are focusing on Old Testament blessings, especially those of the covenant with Israel: if Israel obeys God’s commands, God will bless them with the promised land, prosperity, and fruitful families. But if we are disciples of Jesus, our focus should be on the new covenant and its different blessings.
    You mention God’s promises in the O.T. being fulfilled in the N.T. An example is Gal. 3, where the blessing promised to Abraham–that all nations would be blessed through him–are now fulfilled in Christ, so that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles who receive the promise of the Spirit through faith (Gal. 3:8-14). Thus the blessing is not about what Israel (Abraham’s descendants) does, or what people do to Israel, but about what Jesus has done in giving his Spirit to all those (including Gentiles) who turn to him in faith.

  2. ljrobinson says:

    Great comment. I agree. Unfortunately, when the bible is read in a fragmented and self-focused way, this obvious connection can get missed.

  3. “You may pursue blessings because the preacher says so. The preacher may say things that sound good regarding getting your blessings. He or she may deliver it an a compelling manner. But please know just because they are using the Bible does not mean they are preaching the Word.” This is a point well taken. There are a lot of very popular tel-evangelists who primarily preach a feel good, self-help kind of a ministry which doesn’t focus on the Gospel message front and center on their respective stage of truth. This does not necessarily mean that what they are doing is without merit, as many people need to hear that kind of preaching. I for one am one of those persons who tend to view life with a pessimistic and often sarcastic bite. This is one of my many ‘sin issues’ going on, ergo, I need to hear an occasional message from the ‘cheer leader Christian preacher’ every now and then. Not everybody’s ministry strives for balance either, which idealistically we all should strive for. So the point that I am making is this, we all should strive for balance, but knowledge of the Word does not necessarily mean that we fully get it, or don’t have struggles with application in our personal lives. The Holy Spirit deal with us as individuals, regardless of what our corporate ideals are, or should be. It is all to easy to make Scripture seem cut and dry, yet we are all of a creation that was called good by God, but fallen by our own volition. I struggle with that a lot. There is only so much we can do and understand because realistically, none of us are all that on this side of Heaven. This will change when His Kingdom Comes, until then, I struggle, and leave many things in tension. It’s all good…

  4. ljrobinson says:

    “This does not necessarily mean that what they are doing is without merit, as many people need to hear that kind of preaching.”

    We do need to hear messages of hope and how God can and does move on our behalf today. But I don’t think that should come from distorted or unbalanced teaching. There are so many pastors/preachers who get how the Bible as God’s story is very relatable to us, that we should not have to rely on unsound teaching. So I don’t want to give the impression that I’m saying the Bible has nothing to do with us, but we should read it for what it is. Then we really do find out how much it has to do with us.

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  6. Susan says:

    “doc” I’m wondering if you hear the following sort of message at your church (?)

    Lisa, It seems that you are addressing what Trevin Wax identifies as the “therapeutic gospel” in his book, Counterfeit Gospels. He says the following:
    One version of this false gospel is the ‘Fill er’ Up Gospel’
    “..imagines that our problem is like a car running low on gasoline. We are empty and need to be filled. Our self-image is poor, and we lack self-esteem. We wallow needlessly in feelings of guilt and unworthiness. God is there to fill up our depleted reservoir until we are restored to full emotional health. The church is like a gas station where we are recharged and refueled.

    In this version of the therapeutic gospel, the concept of sin refers to anything that would make people doubt their inherent worth and beauty. Sin is our lack of self-esteem. So pastors are there to encourage us with statements like:

    ‘There’s a hero within you waiting to be awakened.’
    ‘The real problem is that deep down we feel we’re not good enough to approach a holy God’
    ‘Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another of his or her self-esteem’

    Instead of understanding that our sin may lead to lack of self-esteem, sin has BECOME low self esteem….classic case of confusing the symptom with the cause.

    The therapeutic solution is to minimize the biblical understanding of sin (rebellion against God) by saying, “Let’s focus on the positive!” Sin and judgment shouldn’t be our message. People already feel bad. Why beat them down with words like “sin”.

    The underlying message is clear: God will fill you up, but it isn’t your job to change!” This message sounds positive on the surface but underneath is a negative, unmerciful message…. “Just snap out of it!”….offers people burdened with sin and guilt MORE reason to despair…telling people the magic medicine will help, when it’s in fact, speeding up their demise.”

    OK…enough quoting Wax 🙂 There’s much more that’s relevant to your post in this chapter, Lisa. He does hit on the concept of blessing (OT) as you have done as well! I appreciate that you are addressing false teaching that is prevalent in your city (from a couple of big pulpits?), as well as some things you’ve heard personally from the pulpit. We become particularly alert to the counterfeits we hear the most…hopefully!

    Counterfeit Gospels should be required reading for all seminary students!

  7. Renju Philip says:

    This passage is most commonly misunderstood in this regard and this is frequently quoted for material blessings. Matt 7: 7-8 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

    But if we look at the immediate context of chapter 7 (or context of 5, 6, 7) We move on from our relationship with our fellow men to our relationship with our heavenly Father, as for us to do the following not judging others, not casting pearls before pigs, and being helpful without being hypocritical is much difficult without God’s divine grace and we need our Heavenly Father’s help. So this famous passage is not to use for material desires but to pray for the character of the kingdom in our lives.

    As children of God we need to persist in desiring that character, ambitions, attitudes, and behaviour that Jesus called for be shown consistently in our lives. Yet we realize how impossible this is given our weaknesses, our susceptibility to sin, and our lack of power to obey. So our Lord tells us to call upon the God of the impossible! In other words, what Jesus has commanded in attitude, ambition, behaviour, and deed cannot be done apart from persistent, ongoing, regular, faithful prayer.

  8. renjuphilip says:

    The following passage is most commonly misunderstood in this regard and this is frequently quoted for material blessings. Matt 7: 7-8 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

    But if we look at the immediate context of chapter 7 (or context of 5, 6, 7) We move on from our relationship with our fellow men to our relationship with our heavenly Father, as for us to do the following not judging others, not casting pearls before pigs, and being helpful without being hypocritical is much difficult without God’s divine grace and we need our Heavenly Father’s help. So this famous passage is not to use for material desires but to pray for the character of the kingdom in our lives.

    As children of God we need to persist in desiring that character, ambitions, attitudes, and behaviour that Jesus called for be shown consistently in our lives. Yet we realize how impossible this is given our weaknesses, our susceptibility to sin, and our lack of power to obey. So our Lord tells us to call upon the God of the impossible! In other words, what Jesus has commanded in attitude, ambition, behaviour, and deed cannot be done apart from persistent, ongoing, regular, faithful prayer.

  9. Pingback: TheoThoughts 2013 Top 5 Posts | Lisa Robinson

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