"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).
The Advent season is the time of the year to pause and reflect on our blessings. Of course, one of the greatest blessings you could ever receive is being in the presence of God.
We frequently use the word blessed in our daily conversations: "Have a blessed day" or "May God bless you." What do these phrases mean to you?
A truly blessed person is a person who has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and seeks God through His word. He is like a tree that was planted in the barren desert but has now been transplanted into an oasis.
The first three verses of Psalm 1 give a beautiful description of a blessed person:
1 "Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers."
Jesus used the Greek word Makarios in the Sermon on the Mount, which means "happy or blissful," and Paul used the Greek word eulogy, which means "to speak well of." Both are incredibly positive phrases.
Blessed can also be translated as "favored." The New Testament usually defines blessed as being "blessed by God." For example, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was "blessed among women" (Luke 1:42-45, 48). It was the Lord God who had blessed and favored her.
What are the spiritual blessings Paul spoke of in Ephesians 1? Paul lists several spiritual blessings in verses 4 through 13 in the same chapter.
The first spiritual blessing listed is God’s election of us as saints. Ephesians 1:4 says that He has "chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." God has chosen to make us holy and blameless, all because of His love, good pleasure, and grace. This blessing is even more remarkable when we realize that He made that decision before sin entered the world.
The second blessing which Paul listed is found in verse 5. It is our adoption as His children. Not only has God chosen us to be made holy, but He grants us full status as His children, with all the benefits thereof. John 1:12 says, "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." A child of God gives full access to the Father. You are His child—enjoy all the benefits of being His child.
Verse 7 says, "In him, we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's gracethat he lavished on us." Believers in Christ have been bought and paid for by Christ Jesus. He paid for us through His blood. Our debt of sin has been canceled. We are no longer slaves to sin, and we can go forth praising Him daily.
Verses 8 and 9 say, "With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure." God has given us wisdom and insight through His Word and has shown us His desire to bring all things together to glorify Christ. Then by aligning ourselves with Him by faith, we become part of His perfect plan and purpose.
Finally, in verse 13, Paul writes, "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed in Christ, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit." This mark of ownership on us guarantees our eternal security and is spoken of as a down-payment of our full redemption.
Being still is one way you can receive God's blessings: First, find a quiet place, pause, relax, take a deep breath, quiet the mind, and let the presence of God flow through you—feel His Presence. Then, let your thoughts flow with God's thoughts—be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). Listen for the still, small voice as you feel God's Presence. Then, experience peace, love, and joy in the Presence of God.
"Be still and know that I am God" tells us to let go. To let go of circumstances beyond our control. We certainly cannot control everything in this life.
Life becomes easier when we recognize that God is in control and trust in Him. Too often, we try to bear our burdens alone. Of course, we are children of God, and He desires to carry our burdens. But we must give our burdens to Him. Trying to do God's job just doesn't work for anyone.
Giving our burdens to God is an indescribable blessing. We are not alone; we have our Father with us.
When we are still and surrendered to God, we find peace even when life is falling apart around us. When life gets overwhelming, and busyness takes precedence, remember Psalm 46:1, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble." Run to Him, fall into His arms, and receive His spiritual blessings. Acknowledge that He is God and that He is exalted in the earth. Be still and know that He is God.