What is the blessing of God? How does it happen that some seem to have His blessing and others don’t?
I’ve always wondered about this. Does God just look down from heaven and choose to bless some and not others? Or is there even such a thing as the blessing of God and if so, how does one acquire this blessing.
God does bless His people who follow Him in obedience but not so they have “stuff” or fame or power or any of a million things we perceive as blessing.
Take the instance of Abraham, known to many as the father of the Jewish nation. He is also known as a man of faith and obedience. God told him to leave the land he knew and go to a place he’d be shown.
Abraham was “a man the Lord set aside for Himself, who would be separate from the world and worship the Lord alone,” according to Jeremy Risner, pastor of C2 Church. “He was called out of sin-centered Canaan to a God-centered nation God Himself would establish.”
He chose Abraham to bless, but his life of blessing did not start until he became obedient. He had to take the first step and leave his father’s country. “A life of blessing starts with obedience,” Risner said.
God told him to leave his country and go to a land he would show him. ““I will bless you … and you will be a blessing.”1
Even though blessing started when he stepped out in obedience, Abraham did not earn the blessing of God. “Obedience secures the blessing because it is always available,” Risner pointed out.
I have seen this in my own life. For years God told me to stop eating processed sugar. I didn’t listen to Him until I had exhausted every resource to fix the problem myself. Then, I listened. I laid my desire for processed sugar and gluten-containing items on the altar. With His help I have walked away from these things and straight into the waiting arms of my Father God.
His blessing was there all the time, but I couldn’t take advantage of it until I started obeying Him. Then, it was as if all the windows of heaven opened. Most important has been the closeness I feel with Him.
It is a cyclical thing because as I am obedient, I no longer feel guilt and shame. That propels me to spend more time with Him. As I spend more time, I am better able to discern His direction for my life. The blessings flow because I’m closer to Him and understand more what His desires are.
The key to this is to understand what God wants. Many times we are stymied in this area. I’ve said before, “If God had given me the blueprint for the ark then I’d go build it.” The truth is, I was too afraid to get in His presence and ask because invariably the area I was being disobedient in would come to light. No, I’d rather not, thank you.
Spending time with the Holy Spirit and listening to the thoughts we understand are His helps. Testing these thoughts with the scripture to see if it is congruent is also a good test. Another test is to get advice and confirmation from believers within the Biblical community.
Ask, is there a discernible pattern where the Lord said something and then said it again? Journaling or writing these things down is very helpful.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.”2 Risner pointed out that it is difficult to go wrong when we are really seeking God. Our hearts are in tune with His, not our own.
“We must seek God first in our relationships, life choices and finances,” Risner said. “He establishes a covenant with us that when we follow Him completely as our God, He will provide and sustain.”
In the final analysis Abraham understands and has faith in God’s protection, promises and provision.
In fear he lied to the Egyptians about Sarah being his wife, but in courage he rescued Lot. In fear, he tried to fulfill God’s promise for a son on his own by sleeping with his wife’s maid and having a son, but in courage he trusted God that even when he was old he would have a son of promise by Sarah.
In courage he trusted God and took his son, Isaac to be sacrificed. He trusted God to make a provision.
Which comes first? The blessing or the obedience. As Risner said the blessing is always there but it is the obedience that begins to secure it.
At times, obedience to God may not seem rational, like Abraham being told to sacrifice his only son when God promised him he would be a father of many nations.
“It’s a mystery,” Risner said. “He may ask you to sacrifice the thing He promised you. He may lead you to places that scare you. Trust God no matter what. Believe in His goodness beyond your understanding. His wildness may take you to uncomfortable places. Stay the course. Don’t give up. Don’t let go. Keep believing that God is supreme.
I can see in my life where God’s blessing seems to be in direct correlation with my obedience. I’m doing things and going places I never dreamed of going. There’s too much to describe in detail, but I know this fact is true: blessing follows obedience.
One final thing, Abraham didn’t see all of God’s promises come to pass in his lifetime. The promises may be for those who come behind us as our lives leave legacies of blessing.
This is true in my life as my father broke the mold of generations of alcoholics and instead became a minister. He started a legacy of blessing for our family.
Obedience blesses us, our children and future generations.
Next time, it seems God is speaking. Listen, obey and watch the unique blessings that follow.
1 Genesis 12:2
2 Matthew 6:33
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