Posts Tagged ‘blessings’

The Appearance at the Ascension

May 10th, 2017

And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:50-51 NKJV)

The eleventh resurrection appearance of Christ recorded in scripture was in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Acts 1:12 states that it was on the Mount of Olives and Luke 24:50 clarifies that it was on the Bethany side of the mount, which lays between Jerusalem and Bethany.

His words to the disciples are found in the first chapter of Acts – which we will examine tomorrow. Today I simply wish to examine Luke’s gospel account where it states that Christ blessed them. To bless is to ask for divine favor and protection; it is also an act that consecrates and dedicates one to God so that that person, or persons, may enjoy God’s favor. No blessing exists in scripture that runs counter to the principle of submission to God’s will and consecration to God’s purposes.

For Christ to have blessed the disciples was another way of consecrating them and the entire church movement as people doing the will of God on this earth. It was in line with the commissionings, being part and parcel of them. Just as there can be no blessings without consecration, so there can be no consecration without blessing. As Matthew recorded, when Christ commissioned the disciples to make other disciples, He also promised that His presence will abide with them throughout Church Age.

The role of blessings in the life and ministry of Christ. There were two words spoken by Christ in the early days of His public ministry that reveal the two-fold nature of the Christian life. One of those words was “repent” and the other one was “blessed.” The first taught us what God requires of mankind, how we are to respond to Him, in what spirit we are to draw near to Him, and what is to be our overall attitude throughout our life toward God. The second tells us what God will do within us when we repent, that He will be stow His favor and His protection on us, that He will consecrate us for His purposes of calling the world back to Himself.

When Christ began His preaching ministry His message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). And when He first preached His great “Sermon on the Mount” He began it and ended it with enumerating God’s blessings. It was an essential element of Christ’s ministry that those who repented and believed in Him would be encouraged through the blessings that come to them.

The first part of the Sermon on the Mount is what we call “The Beatitudes.” Eight specific blessings are explained and then a ninth was added to stress their surety. The end of His sermon refers to the man or woman who hears and obeys the commands of Christ, that he shall be like a man who builds his house upon a rock. He shall endure the storms and floods and problems of life.

The role of blessings in our life and ministry. If blessing others was so important to Christ, it should also be important to us. We should preach and teach that people might be reminded of God’s blessings to us. Anyone who repents and follows Christ will receive the favor and the protection of God.

In the Old Testament the Levites were to always bless the people of God following the sacrifices. They were to send the people away with the assurance of God’s favor. The command was:

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. (Numbers 6:22-27 ESV)

If under the Old Testament dispensation the people of God enjoyed such blessings and could possess such confidence, how should we in this age of grace consider them? We should take these blessings to heart personally, and be confident in God’s good intentions toward us who believe. We should share these blessings liberally with one another. Biblical faith consists of not only the element of faith and repentance, but also in the belief that God “rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

Today, seek to believe this truth: God blesses those who repent with His favor and protection. Seek also to share this message with someone else for their encouragement.

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Guilt-free Blessings

November 15th, 2016

Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. (2 Thes. 3:16-18, NKJV)

If I were known for only one thing in my ministry I would hope that it would be to bless and encourage people.

There are times when we all need a word of reproof, a word of challenge, a word of correction – the Word of God is useful for these things (2 Tim. 3:16-17) – but these should never become the aftertaste of our encounters with God. The final word of Paul in this letter was one of blessing, and he ends all of his letters like this, as did other New Testament writers.

Christ began His Sermon on the Mount with pronouncing rich blessings available to people from God – for the spiritually poor, for the mournful, for the meek, and so forth.

I am often tired of guilt-inducing Christianity that tries to pressure someone into feeling bad. I am tired of those who try to motivate through guilt, or to challenge others by guilt. I am tired of mean and angry people who find fault with everyone and everything and do so in the name of Christ. Our Christian faith should offer people more hope than despair, more love than hate, more grace than guilt, and more joy than sorrow.

What is the aftertaste of your encounters and experiences with God? Embrace His grace! Grace is our only hope anyway.

This really is a question of faith – do we believe Christ when He says that He will forgive us, that our sins are erased from His ledger by His sufferings for us? Do we believe that the Christian life and message are centered in blessing, on the curse of sin being lifted, of the believer being set free and receiving the gift of life? Will we surrender to this incredible love of God and His divine desire to bless us? The blessing of confidence in His love is not an optional part of the Christian life, but it is an essential part of the message, an integral and indispensable element of the gospel. Until we believe that “He rewards those who earnestly seek Him” (Heb. 11:6), we have not really believed the gospel. Faith is a surrender to divine love.

James S. Stewart, in his classic book Man in Christ, described the reality of Paul’s conversion. Some questioned if Paul’s experience was normative of every Christian, or if some may be “Christian” who have never thought or believed as he did. Stewart answers affirmative that Paul’s conversion, though, like all of our stories, had its own unique aspects, was normative for all. Paul was saved by realizing the reality of who Christ is and what He offered. He surrendered his heart to grace.

This leads us to the consequence of the encounter with Jesus on the road – the man’s surrender to the divine love which now stood revealed. That Jesus Christ, whose name he had maligned, whose followers he had harried, whose cause he had striven to bring down to destruction, should nevertheless have come to meet him, and to lay His hands upon him, was a thought at once gloriously uplifting and terribly subduing. For him, then, blasphemer and persecutor as he was, Jesus had been seeking! For him, grace and mercy had entered the field! … Gone was the stern, inexorable God of Judaism, watching His creatures toiling for a justification He knew they could never win. Now there revealed a Father yearning for His child. Face to face with that seeking grace, that reconciling love, Paul’s whole being went down in uttermost surrender. With all the passion of his soul he responded. He gave himself to God. He worshipped Christ. Grace on the side of God had met faith on the side of man: and from the white-hot crucible of that experience there emerged a new life. (James S. Stewart, Man in Christ, pp 140-141.

Blessings to you. Live in the peace and joy of the Lord.

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