Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What It Means To Be Blessed

By Kristen Leigh Evensen
I received an unexpected gift the other day.
And it came in the form of a hug from a complete stranger--as well as the words he spoke to me.

I was working at church and, as I made my way to the stairwell, I encountered a man attending our community care program. Before I could even utter a greeting, the man reached out, put one arm around me, and asked brightly, "How's your day going?" 

I responded, "Not too bad--it's been a great day...and how are you, sir?"

His response filled me with awe and, honestly, shocked me with its boldness: "You know, I'm going through some really hard times right now, but I could not be happier because I have Jesus Christ. Times have never been harder, but Jesus has freed me!"

With that, he strode confidently out of the church, leaving me utterly speechless. 

What did this guy have that I did not? The joy of his salvation was overflowing, outpouring onto me, as well as onto many others I am sure. And I guarantee you that he did not own half the material comforts that I do--yet, his soul was content in Jesus alone. He was truly blessed!

The fact is, we both know Jesus. But this man, despite his dire circumstances, was focused solely on the blessings of Christ, and not at all on the things of the world. And it seemed that Christ was altogether magnified and glorified in him because of it. 

This man was blessed. I am blessed. You are blessed. All because we are in Jesus Christ. But what is the deep essence of blessing? In what exactly do we find our blessings?

Psalm 84 describes a person who is truly blessed:
1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longs, yes, faints
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.
3 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise!
Selah
5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.

6 As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
7 They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion...
...10 For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
12 O Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!

According to Psalm 84, a person who is truly blessed:


DWELLS in the Lord and praises Him.
Finds STRENGTH in the Lord and focuses solely on Him.
TRUSTS in the Lord and chooses Him.

The attributes of the blessed person in Psalm 84 remind me of the man I encountered the other day. And I cannot help but wonder, do I see and understand what it means to be truly blessed? Do you?

Do we soak up our Lord, dwell in His presence and praise Him simply for who He is?

Do we focus singularly on the Lord, knowing that every battle and hardship is worth it because it leads us to Himself?

Do we trust the Lord and choose the treasures of heaven over those of earth?

If this is true blessing, then I want to be blessed! What about you?

Gracious Lord, Blessed is the one who dwells in You, who finds strength in You, who trusts You. We want to be truly blessed! Teach us to linger in Your presence, to find true contentment in You, and to store up treasures in eternity. We long for Your courts, and we delight that You have given us the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. When we focus on Your face, all else fades away in light of Your radiance. We bless Your name!

Amen.

What blessings can you focus on today? What aspects of God's character make you truly blessed?

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