As we look back to the beginning of 2022, many of us may recall making one or more New Year’s Resolutions.
Resolution is an interesting word. Do any of you know what it means exactly? Merriam-Webster defines the word in the following way:
- The act or process of resolving: as
- The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones
- The act of answering: solving
- The act of determining
- The passing of a voice part from a dissonant to a consonant tone or the progression of a chord from dissonance to consonance
The one that particularly stands out is “The act of determining.” I looked up one definition of the word determine: “a firm decision to do or not to do something.”
Do any of the following look familiar?
- I have resolved to lose weight (the most common).
- I have resolved to get another job or a promotion.
- I have resolved to be a nicer person.
- I have resolved to find a boyfriend or husband.
- I have resolved to ask that person to marry me.
The list goes on and on.
When we make these decisions, what is their basis? Do we consider consulting anyone about them? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong; most people, I presume, would make resolutions that are beneficial. At least, that’s been my thought process. Usually, these decisions revolve around improving ourselves, our situation, our loved ones, or our friends.
I don’t think that on January 1st, someone would say, “Okay, this year, my goal is to rob ten banks or beat up the schoolyard bully.” Mind you, I haven’t read any actual studies—This is an opinion.
Some people might face the New Year with a great deal of despair. “How can I live without my wife?” “How can we continue to make this house payment?” “Why did she break up with me?” “I just don’t think I can face another year of rejection or being alone.” “I hate my job!”
These are truly challenging situations. And they don’t apply just to January 1; that’s for sure.
As Americans and Christians, we have much to be thankful for. We do have tremendous blessings in our lives. Sometimes we just can’t see them. The view gets a little narrow and foggy, and we just can’t discern which direction to look. Satan loves to cloud our view; sometimes, we don’t even realize that he’s the cause.
Blessings—let’s take a look at this word. I googled the question, “How many times is the word blessing used in the Bible?”
The search engine came back with over 24 million results. I did not read them all. The top result said words like “bless” and “blessing” occur over 400 times. I’m going to run with this. The bottom line is that the word appears a lot.
Quite often, a pastor ends his church service by saying to the congregation, “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Or some version of that blessing)
This passage is found in Numbers 6:24-26. The Lord instructed Moses to have Aaron and his sons, the priests, bless the Israelites this way. Verse 27 says, “So they will put My Name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
On top of that, the Bible includes many descriptions of God’s blessings where the actual word bless or blessed or blessing doesn’t appear.
A good example is the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. Hannah desperately wanted a child! But God, as always, had a plan. In His time and because of Hannah’s willingness to give back to the Lord, He blessed her with a son, Samuel. Samuel served God faithfully ALL his life. You might think that Hannah’s story would end with the birth of Samuel, but 1Samuel 2:21 records that the Lord “visited” her. He continued to bless her, and she had three sons and two daughters. I like the NIV’s version: “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah.”
Visited, was gracious to, blessed—just ponder these words.
The Book of Psalms is full of God’s blessings, starting with Psalm 1:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (KJV).
Psalm 2:12 “Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (NIV).
Psalm 32:1-2 “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them.”
Psalm 40:4 “Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who does not look to the proud, [or] to those who turn aside to false gods.”
Psalm 127:5 “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them [children]. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”
Proverbs 3:13 says, “Blessed are those who find wisdom.”
Proverbs 28:20 teaches that “A faithful person will be richly blessed.”
Isaiah 30:18 says, “Blessed are all who wait for him!”
Malachi 3:12 speaks of those who do not rob God but bring in their tithes and offerings: “All the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land, says the Lord Almighty.”
Matthew 5 contains the Beatitudes:
- Blessed are the poor in spirit.
- Blessed are those who mourn.
- Blessed are the meek.
- Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.
- Blessed are the merciful.
- Blessed are the pure in heart.
- Blessed are the peacemakers.
- Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness.
- Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
WHOA! Wait a minute, time out, back up! What does that mean? Are we actually supposed to consider ourselves blessed when people are ridiculing our belief in Christ? Well, Jesus completes the thought with these words: “because great is your reward in heaven for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (This verse will have to wait for a Bible study.)
In John 12:7 the people in Jerusalem shouted, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!” A few days later, they shouted “Give us Barabbas!”
In Acts 20:35, Paul quotes Jesus as saying “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
In Titus 2:11-13 Paul tells Titus, a Greek believer who was mentored and taught by Paul himself: “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
The rest of that sentence says “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”
Are you eager to do good so that you can receive the blessings of God?
James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Revelation 1:3 says, “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the word of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near.”
Even in the last chapter of the last book of the Bible, God reminds us of his blessings.
Revelation 22:7 says, “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.”
This is just a “smattering” of the many times a form of the word blessing appears in scripture. Clearly, we need to take the blessings of God seriously.
When I look at these scriptures, what I see is that God wants to give us His blessings! He is waiting to pour out His grace on us. So why don’t we see His blessings in our lives? A few reasons come to mind.
- God defines blessing differently from the way we define it.
- What we want in our lives may not be part of His perfect plan.
- In that case, we may feel that God is withholding his blessings from us when actually He is protecting us from our own folly (mistakes, pain, and heartache).
- We aren’t content to wait for God’s timing on certain blessings.
- Have you ever wanted something badly, and when you didn’t get it, you griped and complained that God closed the door or put you into a waiting room? Then you go around with an attitude of martyrdom. Joyce Landorf calls it “Stoop-shouldered, foot-dragging, sighing resignation.”
- Then, suddenly, something better comes along, and you’re praising God and calling everybody on the phone, saying, “Look at what God did”?
- It is true—God did move in your life, but do you think that God was pleased with your attitude before you received that blessing?
- We don’t recognize a blessing when it appears. To me, this one is huge!
- It could be a person; it could be a job; it could be something as simple as a piece of furniture; it could be something that you perceive as a burden.
- When God helps me see this blessing, I wind up saying to Him, “You are so wise! Forgive me for not recognizing this blessing for what it was!”
Then there are times when we receive a blessing that reminds us how little we deserve His favor and grace. When this happens, we need to rest in God’s love and let Him have the praise and glory Himself. Acknowledge His gift, thank Him, and tell Him what a great, loving, powerful God He is.
I love these times because they remind me of how small I am, how great He is, and that He loves me.
We cannot orchestrate those times when God chooses to bless us, but we can receive those blessings with gratitude. Just because God is God, we shouldn’t think He’s distant and doesn’t want a close relationship with us. Though He doesn’t need me at all, He loves me so much that he died for my sins. His wondrous love deserves respect and as close a relationship to God as possible. I thank Him. I am in awe of Him, and I praise his great name.
Do you have any blessings you’d like to share? Put them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you, and I want you to know that I am praying for you, my readers.
In the meantime, let’s try to focus on His goodness, His gifts, and His blessings, both in the past and even now; and God bless and keep you all.