|artwork by Tamara Peterson|
When I saw Tamara Peterson’s beautiful work of art, I immediately thought of this inspiring video by the Gaither Vocal Band and the Gatlin Brothers Band filmed at the Gaither Homecoming Tent Revival outside the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC, in 2011, performing Greatly Blessed, Highly Favored…Counting my Blessings, Great things He has done, Fighting the good fight with the Blessed Assurance that the battle is already won, Greatly Blessed and Highly Favored, Imperfect but Forgiven Child of God.
These words led me to a word study of the word “blessed” found in Matthew 5:3 , and Ephesians 1:3 , Scripture passages that I wrap around my heart, like the Loving Arms of my Savior Jesus Christ, when I feel discouraged.
NASB: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are the poor in spirit - In Scripture, there are two words translated "blessed", makarios and eulogetos (from eu = good, well + logos = word), the latter meaning that we speak well of someone (as when we hear a eulogy at a funeral, the eulogy speaking well of that person who has passed on from life to death). In contrast, makarios is not to speak well of someone, but defines a condition that exists. In other words, makarios describes something that is true about someone, not something that someone says is true about them. Makarios is a reality, an inward state of truth no matter how you actually feel. In other words, to be "blessed" as defined by makarios, one does not have to feel "happy" to be blessed. You can still be blessed and act as if you are not happy. Makarios defines one's state of being in relation to God, independent of how one feels about it at a given moment in time. There are many times I don't personally feel very "blessed" but the Bible nevertheless declares that regardless of my untoward circumstances, afflictions, and trials, I am still "blessed" by God.
Blessed: (makarios from root makar, but others say from mak = large or lengthy) means to be happy, but not in the usual sense of happiness based on positive circumstances. From the Biblical perspective, Makarios describes the person who is free from daily cares and worries because his every breath and circumstance is in the hands of His Maker Who gives him such an assurance (such a "blessing"). Makarios was used to describe the kind of happiness that comes from receiving divine favor.
Most people are interested in being happy. The pursuit of happiness is the driving force of our affluent western culture. However, when you look at the list of ingredients Jesus gives for happiness, there is a big shock in store. This is a strange list to say the least, and many of these qualities appear the very antithesis of what most of us are looking for. The major difference in this list is that Jesus is not talking of qualities in the physical realm (the area in which most people look for happiness), but in the realm of the spirit. The myth of our day is that happiness is found in satisfying our physical desires, comforts and appetites. Those desires may be entirely legitimate, but the engine room of each human being is the spirit which is designed to be inhabited and governed by God. Satisfying the body is never the source of true happiness for it is not the seat of our true appetites. Our true appetite is expressed in the famous prayer of Augustine,
"You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you."
NASB: 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,
Notice that in a single verse Paul uses the entire word family -- the adjective (eulogetos), the verb (eulogeo) and the noun (eulogia) and the sentence still makes supernatural sense.
I remember reading years ago about an old Navajo Indian who had become rich because oil had been found on his property. He took all the money and put it in a bank. His banker became familiar with the habits of this old gentleman. Every once in a while the Indian would show up at the bank and say to the banker, "Grass all gone, sheep all sick, water holes dry." The banker wouldn't say a word—he knew what needed to be done. He'd bring the old man inside and seat him in the vault. Then he'd bring out several bags of silver dollars and say, "These are yours." The old man would spend about an hour in there looking at his money, stacking up the dollars and counting them. Then he'd come out and say, "Grass all green, sheep all well, water holes all full." He was simply reviewing his resources.
Tennis superstar Arthur Ashe died of AIDS, which he contracted from a blood transfusion during heart surgery. More than a great athlete, Ashe was a gentleman who inspired and encouraged many with his exemplary behavior on and off the court. Ashe could have become embittered and self-pitying in the face of his disease, but he maintained a grateful attitude. He explained, "If I asked, 'Why me?' about my troubles, I would have to ask, 'Why me?' about my blessings. Why my winning Wimbledon? Why my marrying a beautiful, gifted woman and having a wonderful child?" Ashe's attitude rebukes those of us who often grumble, "Why me? Why is God allowing this to happen?" Even if we're suffering acutely, we must not forget the mercies God pours into our lives—such things as food, shelter, and friends—blessings of which many are deprived.
The Mount Morgan gold mine in Queensland, Australia, is one of the richest in the world. For many years, though, the original landowners lived in deep poverty on the mountain's barren surface. Even though the vast wealth was out-of-sight, it was beneath their feet all the time. Many Christians live in a similar situation. They plod along and struggle through their spiritual lives, laboring every step of the way. They are unaware of the vast riches God has promised them, and therefore they do not claim them.
Grace, forgiveness, strength, wisdom, direction, the power to resist temptation, reconciliation, protection, lightened burdens—all these riches and many more are ours. But how do we become aware of them and claim them? The answer is: Prayerfully read the Bible and pay close attention when the Word of God is preached or taught.
An elderly Scottish woman stood in the doorway of her cottage and basked in the light and warmth of the summer sun. According to author J. R. Caldwell, she shaded her eyes as she looked up and exclaimed, "I've got a whole sun to myself!" Caldwell commented, "I could say the same. This is just one of the beautiful things in nature that you have as much as I have. Likewise you and I and millions of the redeemed have individually the whole heart of Christ—There is room for all.
“The Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have begun thinking less of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you get neither.”
Pastor Martyn Lloyd-Jones states: “There is no more true test of our Christian profession than to discover how prominent this note of praise and thanksgiving is in our life.” To what extent do you find praise, adoration, thankfulness, and joy in God welling to the surface in your daily life? If it is not as frequent as it ought to be, spend time meditating on Scriptures such as Ephesians 1 or Romans 8, which tell of the spiritual riches that are ours in Christ. Meditate on the Psalms, which are filled with the praises of God in the midst of life’s difficult trials. Allow your trials to drive you to a deeper experience of the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ for your soul. Make it your life-long quest to “count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus [your] Lord” (Phil. 3:8).
Being blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, bless the God who has so blessed you.
We are recipients of every spiritual blessing, great favor, and a great inheritance. We are the righteous—those in right standing with the Father by virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection—the Lord’s own inheritance. Because we belong to Him and are His heirs, God blesses our lives with deliverance, direction, and continual access into His presence. Because of His unfailing love for us, we can enter His throne room and receive His grace. When we ask Him to tell us what to do, He will show us which way to turn and will always lead us on the right path. To top it all off, He encompasses, or encircles, us with the shield of His love, which means that He covers us with His favor and with the approval that He bestows on the righteous. This is a wonderful thing to petition the Lord for, on behalf of your loved ones and for your own life.