Spiritual Blessings

“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.” Ephesians 1:3

This post is actually a continuation of last month’s discussions on the Holy Spirit.  During one of the studies at our church, we talked about the blessings that come from the Spirit.  If you read further in the first chapter of Ephesians, you will find that those blessings include:

  • We were chosen by God for salvation
  • We have been adopted as children of God
  • We have forgiveness for our sins
  • We have been given insight into God’s Word
  • We have been received spiritual gifts
  • We have the power to do God’s Will
  • We will live forever with Christ

These gifts from “the heavenly realm” are not temporal, but eternal.  Because of our unity with Christ through the Holy Spirit, we enjoy them now.  In addition, the Spirit is at work in the church providing us with the spiritual blessings offered in the means of grace –Word (proclamation) and Sacrament (baptism and communion).

All people benefit from common graces which also comes from the Spirit of God–things like music, art, beauty, nature, marriage, community, creativity and more.  We have each been richly blessed — how should we respond?

For more about blessings see these posts:

Blessings

Martin Luther on Heavenly Blessings

Thankful for Spiritual Blessings

 

Are You a Spiritual Person?

What makes a person spiritual?  Too often these days “spirituality” is associated with New Age or Eastern beliefs, and some even insist that “I am spiritual, but not religious.”  For Christians the true meaning of spirituality is inexorably linked to the Holy Spirit, who indwells all believers.  In our most recent class on the Holy Spirit we learned how the Spirit works in the lives of individual Christians.  The Spirit convicts us of our sin, brings us into fellowship with God and others, and works through our sanctification to make us more Christlike.

According to the Bible, there are three types of people:

  1. The natural person — this is how we are born
  2. “People of the flesh”– people who know Christ, but are still living as spiritual infants
  3. Spiritual people– those who are led by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:11-12); who are spiritually minded

Every believer receives spiritual gifts for the building up of the church (1 Peter  4:10-11) as well as spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3).  Believers are meant to be spiritual stones, built into a spiritual house where they dedicate their lives fully to God. (1 Peter 2:5).

Herbert Lockyer, (1886–1984) a minister and best-selling author of more than 50 books, lists these characteristics that identify a truly spiritual person:

  • They are misunderstood by most people
  • They show signs of development in their faith life (spiritual growth)
  • They accept the truth of Scripture
  • They are discerning, able to correctly understand spiritual truth
  • They are compassionate, putting their faith into action
  • They live a life that is confident in the knowledge of victory in Christ

Take a close look and evaluate yourself.  Are you a spiritual person?

For more about spirituality see these posts:

Streams of Living Water by Richard J. Foster–Book Review

Developing Spiritual Habits

What Damages our Spiritual Life? (according to Hannah Whitall Smith)

 

 

 

The True Blessing

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

Most of us in the United States grow up looking forward to achieving “the American Dream.”  That means all manner of material blessings:  a nice car, a beautiful home, a stylish wardrobe, exciting vacations and more.  All those things are blessings, although we would do well to remember that they come from God, not as a result of our own merit.  The big problem is, they don’t last.  I love to go to thrift stores and it’s amazing to see all the things, some very nice things that end up there.  I imagine many of them are collections and treasured belongings that were once important, but are no longer;  the person who owned them has died, moved on to another interest or hobby, or possibly had to “downsize” and couldn’t afford to keep them.  So the question is, why invest our time in acquiring all these “things” in the first place?  Why not spend our time and money on treasure that is real and permanent?

I’m no different.  I spent a lot of my life acquiring things that I’ve now lost, things that wore out, became outdated, or that I had to sell or replace.  In retirement I look back and see that many of them weren’t as important as I imagined.  So what is?  Relationships, for one– our relationships with our parents, children, friends, and most of all God.  The Bible teaches:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Luke 10:27

and

“Love never ends.  1 Corinthians 13:8

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the rich young ruler is told that loving God and his fellow man is the way to eternal life with God.  That’s the true blessing and the only treasure that lasts.

Thankful for Spiritual Blessings

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Ephesians 1:3

Our sermon last Sunday was about giving thanks for our spiritual blessings.  When we give thanks, we most often think of how God has provided for our material and emotional needs.  Things like food, shelter, health, family and friends are definitely on our “thank you” list.

But what about spiritual blessings?  Too often we take them for granted, we forget that they are even greater gifts from God.  So take a minute to read the first chapter of Ephesians, giving thanks for each of the spiritual blessings the apostle Paul enumerates.

  1. God chose us before the foundation of the world
  2. God adopted us
  3. God redeemed us through the blood of Christ
  4. God forgives our sins through his grace
  5. God makes His will known to us
  6. God gives us hope
  7. God sends us the Holy Spirit

You might close your thank you devotional time with the doxology, which was written by Thomas Ken, “England’s first hymnist.”

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;  Praise Him, all creatures here below;  Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;  Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”