“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Ephesians 1:3-4 ESV
One day the Pastor of a medium size congregation arrived at the church building to be greeted by a grumbling janitor. The Pastor barely made it through the door when he was grabbed by the arm and taken to the nursery. The janitor began his rant about how the nursery had been left in shambles, how dirty diapers were everywhere, and how the garbage was overflowing. The Pastor quickly responded and said to the disgruntled janitor, “Do you see this messy room? This overflowing garbage can? These dirty diapers everywhere?” The janitor gave him a strange look. To which he continued, “Well, they tell me that we have children in our church and as long as we have children messing up this nursery, you have job security. So rather than complain about our blessings, let’s be thankful for their lives, and that because of them you have provision.”
How often do we grumble about what is actually our blessing? We get upset when the car breaks down, but the fact that it could break down says that we have a car. We murmur about how long or short a church service is, but the fact that we can murmur is an indication that we live in a society where we are free to express ourselves, and free to worship publicly at all. We gripe about a spouse being late, which indicates that we have a spouse and are not living a life of being alone. We get to be picky over tap water or bottled water, while many in the world do not even have clean drinking water. We moan about a meal in front of us, which indicates we are not really hungry, like so many throughout the world are. These are only a few small examples, but they are strong indicators of just how much we fail to see the blessings right in front of us.
As we continually demand more and more, could we as a society be missing many opportunities to celebrate our blessings and reasons to give thanks? Do you know that you are blessed? According to this verse, you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. This is truly a reason to be grateful.
Could something as simple as gratitude really change our lives? I believe it can. You see, l believe the janitor lurks in all of us, if we do not guard our hearts.
It might be time to do an inventory of our lives and choose gratitude over attitude.
Today, I am grateful for a warm home on these cold days. I am thankful for the sound of children running through the sanctuary, and wish I heard the patter of those feet more often. I am blessed to live in the Country that I do and am so grateful for the leadership God has given to lead this land. I have been to enough countries to know, we are blessed. Today, I pray for a sensitive heart to begin to appreciate the things I so often take for granted.
Sue Holmes says:February 12, 2015 at 10:45 am
There is so much to give thanks for in these verses. Paul starts off with blessing God. Why? Because He first blessed us. This reminds me of 1 John 4:19, “We love Him because He first loved us.” John & Paul obviously had the same mindset. To love in return, to bless in return should be the natural response to being loved & blessed.
Paul also goes on to state that we are blessed “in Christ” by the “Father of Christ”. Having taught children in Sunday school, I’ve often gone to the NIV Reader’s Version of scripture. Eph 1:3, referring to these blessings received, in this version reads, “They belong to us because we belong to Christ.” Our God had to give the earthly life of His Son in order for us to be in Christ and enjoy these blessings. And blessed with “every spiritual blessing”. Our God held nothing back that could be made available through His Son.
Paul is on a roll as he started this epistle to the Ephesians. In verse 4 he gives us another reason to rejoice & bless God. Our blessing wasn’t some random thing that happened by chance. God chose us, not before we were conceived but before the world itself was conceived. He had the plan for our redemption laid out before the first pebble was formed. Our Father & His Son knew what was going to happen & they loved us anyway. And blessed be God indeed that He didn’t think like we often do. He thought, planned & acted with mercy & grace on our behalf.
So, when I am tempted to take my blessings for granted I will choose to remind myself that my Father intentionally chose to offer His Son to make these same blessings available to me. He held nothing back … because of love. I will intentionally choose to bless, honour & thank “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” daily for His blessings to me. And as I am tempted to take them for granted my prayer is that Holy Spirit will bring to memory the price paid for these blessings.
Pat McRae says:February 12, 2015 at 3:47 pm
Do you ever read verses and think, “Ya, ok, now what Lord?” My reaction today, but as I wrote out the verses and look for what God was saying, I saw my life’s message right here in two verses! 🙂
When my daughter passed away five years ago I had a very hard time with praise and worship. Every song or hymn that spoke of angels brought back all the pain of my loss. One day I saw a beautiful young lady in a vision, and I thought it was my Patti. She was so beautiful! 🙂 A grown so white it sparkled, long wavy hair so blonde it glowed! She stood in a field of flowers, just stood there. I started to thank God for the vision and the thought that He had sent it to comfort me, so I would know all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called by His Name. But, He whispered to me, “That is not Patti, that is you!” Dumbfounded, shocked, elated man there just are no words to describe the way I felt in that moment. And if that was not good enough, He started to teach me I am waiting for what already is.
He asked me if I thought the robe of righteousness was full of holes and spots? The thought repulsed me and I said “of course not!” That one questioned asked in such love opened me up to understand that I stand as that vision before Him. Not because I have done anything great or even right but because Jesus has. When the devil,looks for me he can’t find me, he only sees Jesus because I am hid in Christ.
Sister Clarke had such a sweet example of this hiding in Christ yesterday that really spoke to me. A little child looks around and sees way too many people for his comfort, so under his mother’s skirt he goes. He peeks out every once in a while to see if the territory has cleared. NO! Not yet so right back under he goes. Hid in mommy, he feels safe! 🙂
How is this possible? How can I stand holy and blameless before a Holy God? I can’t in of myself, but Love hung a tree for me! Love endured hell for me! Love remained there until the debt was paid in full for me! And then HALLELUJAH! Love arose!!! 🙂 The grave could not hold Him down! Today because of this One whose Name is above all names, this Jesus I am blessed with every, all spiritual blessings. I am seated in heavenly places in Him, where the devil can not find me. I stand before my Daddy holy, blameless, pure looking mighty fine! 🙂
Today I am thankful God can use the tragedies of life to teach us His ways and about how much He loves us. I am thankful that my home in heaven is secure, purchased at great cost. I am thankful that God wooed me to Himself and that I had the wisdom to say “yes”. I am thankful when they nailed Jesus to the cross they nailed my sins past, present and future there too. I am thankful that although I still have not figured everything out and I still hold on to untruths about my God, He is patient, loving and willing to continue to lead me out of darkness into His marvellous light!
What an awesome God we serve! 🙂
Susan Craig says:February 12, 2015 at 7:17 pm
Approx 13 years ago, my eldest son at 20 years of age came back to our home in NB with my husband after being in Alberta working for 9 months. I immediately knew there was a change in him-he shone with a radiance that was evident for all to see. As he shared his story of a moment in Alberta when he was extremely discouraged and in his brokenness, he cried out to God to forgive him and save him and that he was now a Christian. After him being a very difficult teenager and as his mother, there were many moments of grief, I have to admit I was a bit skeptical at first. Was his conversion genuine? It was difficult for me to believe at first, so I waited for more evidence before being fully convinced by his words.
It didn’t take me long to be convinced that it was genuine and I can not even begin to describe the joy in my heart. The first of 3 sons-the most difficult one to raise- I prayed for him all of his life-finally without a doubt he was a believer-my prayers for him answered!! In the years that have followed I have witnessed his highs and lows-his journey since has been as difficult as his entire life has been-that did not change for him after he became a Christian. He began a deep struggle between his old habits,the lies of the enemy tormenting him and consequences of mistakes overwhelming him. This whole process of getting the world,the flesh and the devil out of him has been difficult for his mother to watch. He often has cried out in frustration that he just wished that God would have taken him to heaven just after He was saved because his struggles since then have been so hard for him to endure. Knowing he has Jesus with him and the Holy Spirit within him is somedays all he can cling to as he fights his battles. The Lord gives me bible verses that I share with him-words to comfort and help both him and I,as we are in this journey together. It seems to me that I pray for him more now than I ever did and there are times the battle seems too much to bear. The process of sanctification and being conformed to the image of Jesus can be difficult but these verses are wonderful reminders for both him and myself that the God who began this work in both of our lives-planned it before the foundations of the world even- does not leave us alone in our battles and that His plan for us is for us to be blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Every spiritual blessing-the question always comes back to this-do we have to wait for these blessings until we actually reach heaven or are they available now? What are the actual spiritual blessings referred to here? Are they holiness and blamelessness as this verse seems to say? Or are they what so many of todays’ preachers are dishing out to vast audiences? The messages of the prosperity gospel preachers have both him and myself and I am sure many others confused as to whether it is material wealth that is promised or spiritual wealth. My son knows the Bible inside out-he practically has it all memorized-so when it was made perfectly clear to him by the Word of God and the counsel of myself and other leaders, that material bleassings is not what is promised, he is angry at what is being being presented as a false doctrine. He has taken every ‘christian’ book that he had(other than the bible) and burned them because he does not want anyone else being as deceived as he was by the false teachings in them. The Christian life is not an easy road-it is the road less travelled-it is a difficult road we are travelling to heaven-there are many dangers, toils, and snares along the way. But we are both learning that we are well equipped for the journey and never completely alone-the presence of Jesus with us ,the bible,the spirit,the body of christ,the angels are the blessings which we are learning to be so thankful for. I have also been seeing the blessings in the difficulties as well-but I have travelled on this road many more years than my son has, so he is not at the same spot in his journey as I am, but we do help each other keep our eyes fixed where they need to be at all times-on Jesus-always on Him-because as soon as we lose that focus, it becomes very apparent that we cannot keep going without His help and Presence with us every second of the day. We are holy and blameless before God only because we are hid in Christ-not because of anything we are or deserve or of anything we do-Christ is the Savior,the Redeemer,the holy one,the sacrificial lamb, and our blessings are in Him-not in this world-in Him alone. Such a difficult concept to grasp by our puny minds but truth is often difficult to really know and accept when there are so many versions of it being presented as truth in the churches and in the world. Thanking God today once again for Jesus,the way,the truth and the life-without Him we are lost and without hope in the world that is full of lies and deceit. Thanking God for His Word-the Bible- that is the ultimate authority on truth and is the truth. Thanking God for the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin,guides us into all truth and brings to rembrance the very words of truth when we need them. Thankful for the armour of God which equips and protects us from the attacks of the world and the devil. Thankful for salvation most of all because the older I get,the more I realized how lost I would be without God’s plan, His call and His intervention in this world. Praying for a thankful heart and for being more aware of all the blessings God has given to me both now and those yet to come.