Blessed

Matthew 5:1-12

First, what does it mean to be blessed? This word is spoken to mean, always, “God’s favor be upon somebody.”

A child sneezes and the parent says, “Bless You.” A godson kisses the hand of his Ninong for a blessing. Many greetings wind up in a “God-bless”.

But what does it mean? How are we blessed? The “who-blesses-us” may not always be expressed, but is there anything or anyone else associated with these words?

“To Bless” is God’s exclusive favor. We are blessed only by God and by no other. And when we say, “God bless you,” we are praying God’s favor to fall on somebody. These words may have become highly trivialized by those who’ve come to use it as a mere expression, but still it is a wish for the best to come into one’s life. And this “wish”, to reiterate, can only be granted by God.

Second, what is this blessing that should come upon us? In Matthew 5:1-12, Jesus is speaking to His disciples – or as The Message puts it – “to the committed,” who climbed with Him, “His companions.”

Is it possible to experience God’s blessings if we don’t even know who God is?  When we are “at the end of our ropes” and we don’t know God, who do we call? What do we resort to? But if we know God, then, there is our blessing, only more apparent, at least to us, who may have forgotten that it is available – MORE OF GOD – since it is to Him we run to, we give Him the reins of our lives, we submit to His rule.

It is the same as when we, for example, lose a loved one, when we are stripped of everything we hold dear and realize we have the very things that we may have taken for granted but are essential to keep our hearts at peace and our eyes sparkling in contentment.

If we know God, we understand that His hand is upon us, and this is our blessing – knowing He is around, He is present, He is Immanuel. He is our sustenance. We are blessed when we have stopped being indifferent and started looking and caring for others. This means that God has given us a wider plane of existence – we are not here merely for ourselves, for our survival, for our prosperity; we are here for others: that they too may live, may survive, may prosper, but from God’s perspective.

We are blessed as we have been given inner peace, that peace that only God can give because “He has conquered the world.” Conquering the world means being victorious over whatever evil this world may use to entice and trap us. It is victory over sin – becoming holy – not in the sense of getting ordained or awarded a memorial statue for living a life of great righteousness – but in the sense of understanding and accepting the truth that Jesus has indeed given his life in exchange for our sins, therefore we have been cleansed – and thus – blessed.

And we are blessed if we know that God’s peace means that our role on earth is to make known the way and rein of peace. This peace is our task to keep in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our communities, in our countries, in this world. This is our role only because WE BELONG TO GOD’S FAMILY.

So we, the committed, the Jesus-followers, the Christians, His companions, are blessed in these ways, because WE KNOW that God has promised these blessings upon us. Even all the  mocking we receive as a response to our KNOWING GOD and LETTING HIM KNOWN make way for more blessings upon us. So this is the reason why we are ready or should be ready for these persecutions.

Blessings are precious favors to those who know they can claim these favors. You are blessed because God is your God and You Know It, and Live it, and Breathe it, and Share it. 

May all His blessings be completely yours even as 2013 promises us no easy ride. 

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Animated

“Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit. Then you won’t feed the compulsion of selfishness.” Galatians 5:16, The Message

Three words grab my attention in Eugene Peterson’s version of Galatians 5:16. Freely, Spirit, Compulsion.

Freedom defined is disentanglement from any bondage – and in the modern sense, this also means “unaffected” by forces other than “God’s Spirit.” To be animated and motivated by God’s Spirit is to consciously move, and live, and have our being in Him. We can only be “slaves” to God’s Spirit if we gain complete freedom from anything in this world – love of money, friends, desires, influence, power, prestige, lovers, food, body, wants and even charity and good works. These are in fact our source of “compulsions” because we are naturally selfish and want to satisfy every whim and will to either prove or affirm our existence.

To be free is to be “born again” literally, so that our “natural” selves can be changed. Only God’s Spirit can accomplish such change. God’s grace is that we realize how much we need God in the process and His unconditional forgiveness frees us even from the pangs of our own conscience. We are “normally” unrighteous, but as we move, and live, and have our being in God, this normalcy changes and we begin on a journey to reformation.

Critical Situations

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Dear woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied, ‘My time has not yet come.’ This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.” (John 2:1-11)

Was it time for Jesus to reveal his glory? He made the answer very clear to Mary. 4“Dear woman, why do you involve me …My time has not yet come.” But Mary knowing that this is the Son of God attempted to involve him in a critical situation. “They have run out of wine.”

Jesus said that it wasn’t yet His time, and yet, he responded to what was the actual need of that moment. He responded out of recognition of a critical need which could embarrass the bridegroom. In His changing of the water into wine, only the bridegroom was given the credit. The master of the banquet who tasted the wine didn’t even know that the host had run out of wine.

Jesus alone can override his own time line. He has his own time but time is also in his hands. In this passage, Jesus could have simply stuck with his time line – and reveal himself when he should. But it seems to me that in solving a critical situation, He risked his own time line. This is one more a demonstration of how much he cares.

About a hundred yards

But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. John 21:8

Peter simply went out to sea again, gave it another try, because somebody says “go out to sea again.” Why didn’t he debate the command? He is a fisherman. He should know better. What could have made him tow the net once more?

“It is the Lord,” John said, and Peter’s heart burned. This is the Peter who betrayed his Lord three times. What could be going on in his head during the interval, between Jesus death and the events of his resurrection?

The same impulse which made him take to the sea again is now driving him to hug the source. His blessing is not just that they finally caught fish, but that he finally becomes the fisherman that God intentioned him to be.