Our pastor preached on being blessed yesterday. What does it really mean? How do we get blessed? What is the result of being blessed?
I grew up in tiny Nazarene churches in SC. We would often talk about being blessed. Grandma Simmons was the best at being blessed that I knew. She also was a great evangelistic motivator for me. I would invite my school friends to church just to see their reaction. I would make sure that we sat on the pew directly in front of Grandma Simmons. I knew that more often than not, sometime in the middle of singing “Victory In Jesus,” the “blessing” would happen. Grandma Simmons would start by raising her ever-present hanky. I’d catch that movement out of the corner of my eye and the hair would stand up on the back of my neck. The she would start a low pitch hum, just a tone or two above the air conditioner droning. My school friend would be aware of some new sound but have no idea that it was organic in nature. Finally, like the pent up release of a volcano, Grandma Simmons would give full voice to the blessing. She would allow a WHOOOOP to escape from between her lips. It sounded like something between a British police siren and the tornado warning horn that went off from time to time. She would jump to her feet, WHOOOP would triple in volume, windows would rattle in the little sanctuary, and my friend would feel the blood drain from the upper half of his torso to his feet.
Then Grandma Simmons would take off. She was about 75 at the time but she would give Usain Bolt a run for his money. She would lap the building two or three times, then take a turn right down the center aisle, out into the vestibule, do a loop around the water fountain and back down to the front again. Usually the blessing would go on for 10 minutes or so, about long enough for my school friend to come out from under the pew where he had been in a fetal position. About the time he was measuring the steps to the exit sign, she would slip back in her pew, not a hair out of place, and we would start into verse 4 of Victory In Jesus, as if Dorothy had just returned to Kansas and it was the most natural thing in the world.
In Deuteronomy 8, blessing looks far different from that. Moses says the blessing looks like occupying the land, having enough food to eat, and shoes that do not wear out. Now if I remember that I am assured of all those things I might do a little WHOOOP myself The blessing is not so much my emotional demonstration but rather God’s promise to provide, in all ways, spiritually, physically, relationally, in all ways.
Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will meet ALL your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things, at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.”
And Genesis 22:17, “I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand by the seashore.”
Sometimes God’s blessing is about our physical welfare, sometimes it is about our reputation and legacy, often it is about protection for our children and our children’s children. But almost always His blessing is in response to our specific obedience to Him and His Word. Look at Psalm 1:1-4, “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, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law, day and night. 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.”
So, if the History Lesson from Deuteronomy 8 is about blessing, how do I receive the blessings of God in my life today? Here are some pretty simple, practical is action steps.
Action # 1: Have an encounter with God. Whatever else was going on with Grandma Simmons, I believe she was experiencing God at that moment. Read Acts 9. It is one of the clearest accounts of an “encounter” with God. Paul is going to Damascus to persecute the church and then he has an unexpected encounter. I don’t know exactly what that looks like for you. It’s different for all of us. But I do know that you will never reach your full potential until you have a face to face, personal, intimate encounter with God. Let me give you 6 steps from Paul’s Damascus story to help with that.
Acts 9:3-9 “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” 5 “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. 6 “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.”
- STOP—take some time
- ASK—ask God to speak
- LISTEN—respond to the Spirit
- WAIT—be persistent
- QUIET—remove distractions
- LET GOD—just let God do whatever He chooses to do in you!
Action # 2: Focus on getting OBEDIENT! Deuteronomy 8 begins with, “Be careful to obey all the commands that I am giving you today.” What follows is maybe the most important word in Scripture, THEN. If you do this, then I will bless you. If you stay faithful, then you will see the reward. If you pray, then I will hear from heaven.
To often we have the emotional demonstration down pat, but the obedience part is a little different. My dad used to say, “I don’t care how high they jump as long as they walk straight when they land.” Obedience to God and His Word is always the prerequisite to knowing His blessings. Which leads me to number 3…
Action # 3: Learn to Pray. I do not know how to be obedient without prayer. I can read the Bible all day long but let’s face it, sometimes it is just not clear. Before I sit down for a significant quiet time I always pray, asking God to make Himself clear to me. Here is one of my favorite prayer outlines, the Lord’s Prayer.
- Hallowed be Thy Name—PRAISE
- Thy Kingdomcome—SURRENDER
- Give us this day—PROVISION
- Forgive our debts—CONFESSION
- Lead us not—PROTECTION
- Deliver us from evil—PURITY
- For Thine is the Kingdom—PRAISE
Then I am ready to open the Word.
Action # 4: Study God’s Word. Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” Joshua 1:8 says, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Action # 5: Become a walker. There is something to be said for just walking it out. I read, I pray, I study, I seek to be obedient, but when all is said and done, I just walk. Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks. To know the blessings of God, just live out those blessings each day. Live and talk and act and walk as if you are fully confident that He is blessing you in everything you do. When you do that He will! And other people will take notice.
Oh yeah, every once in a while, in a church service or on a crowded bus, just let out a good WHOOOP! I promise you people will take notice. And you will be blessed.