What it Means to be Blessed

(audio sermon by Gary Sampson)

Old Testament material blessing is a sign post to New Testament spiritual blessing. Jesus, Mary, Paul, the Twelve had little materially, but much spiritually.

Speakers notes follow –

What it Means to be Blessed

Psalm 1.1- 6

Blessed is the man – whats it mean to be blessed?

Sneeze – Bless you – strange? Bubonic Plague 590 AD – first sign -Pope Greg got sick to stand in line to receive blessing in hope of healing – now our blessing is superficial – thoughtless

Not the only frivolous way ‘blessed’ is used – ‘How are you – I’m blessed brother’ – said without thinking

So whats it mean to be blessed?

Most common OT word – baruk (SWA: barak) – state of happiness – but meaning grew – Psalm 1 its happiness due to prosperity (flourishing tree)

Adam prospered in ideal garden – all he touched blessed

Abraham fruitful – possessions, victories, descendants

Job cursed in losing descendants, possessions, health – blessed in gaining them back

Joseph fruitful – blessing on him blessed all Egypt

Blessing conditional – council of wicked (Adam – snake, Solomon – wives) – delight in law (Joseph – resisted Potiphers wife)

Abraham, Joseph, Solomon were blessed – they had money, power, multiple descendants, long life! Are you blessed too?

Lost Dog – 3 legs, 1 eye, castrated – called Lucky – feel like him? Little money, no car, no kids, health issues – called Blessed! Let me help!

Things change in the NT – have you noticed?

Most common NT – makarios – also state of happiness – but used for happiness due to spiritual property instead of material

Mary – Elizabeth says ‘Blessed are you among woman‘ (Lk 1.42) – not due to money, power, multiple descendants, long life but calling to mother the Messiah – she was quite poor (Luke 1.48 humble state, Luke 2.24 poor persons offering – pair of doves & two young pigeons)

Jesus considered most blessed – due to wealth? No, only had clothes on his backwoman cared for basic needs (LK 8.3) coin from fish (Mt 17.27) borrowed donkey – no descendants

John B – Jesus: Among those born of woman there has not risen anyone greater than John – lived desert, locusts, no wife, kids, beheaded – out of all OT prophets pointed most clearly to Messiah

Twelve – most executed – Paul testified: Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless (1 Co 4.8.11)

Does all this contradict Psalm 1that those delighting in Gods law prosper?

Big question – was Jesus prosperous or not? He has more descendants than Abraham, more wealth than Solomon, more victory than David – but spiritually speaking – longer lasting!

Clearest teaching on blessedness in NT is Beatitudes (Mt 5.3-10)

Poor in spirit [those who lack confidence], those who mourn [who have lost something], meek [who have nothing to boast about]

Jesus addressing those with humble status, lacking material blessing compared to rulers & religious leaders who were rich – lists their rewards – but ‘in heaven’ (12)

Gary Thomas, founder of Center for Evangelical Spirituality tells the story in the Discipleship Journal.

Have you ever considered the possibility that I wanted you in that neighbourhood to minister there rather than to bolster your financial equity?”

Does obedience obligate God to bless us (financially), or can obedience call us to sacrifice?’ finishes saying, ‘Think about the cross before you answer that one.’

Why does OT emphasize material & NT spiritual? shadows, sign posts

Animal sacrifice points to Christ, Passover deliverance to Christs, Sabbath days to kingdom rest – see Col 2.16-17

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Likewise material wealth & natural descendants in OT point to spiritual wealth & spiritual children in Christ – God always intended we focus on eternal blessings

Much teaching today focuses OT shadows instead of NT reality

Its okay to have wealth – but its not our focus

Jesus was clear – Seek first the kingdom (Mt 6.25-33) and all – and it doesnt mean you’ll be rich – just he’ll care for your needs as Jesus

When Jesus needed things he did not have – a donkey, food for 5000 his father made a way – do you like that?

So what does it mean for the Christian to be blessed? It means having relationship with God, being plugged into his kingdom – having the eternal wealth and family of Jesus Christ

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