Thoughts on Being Blessed, Post-Thanksgiving

As I’m changing out my fall-themed coffee mugs for those reflecting the Christmas and winter season ahead, I work around the single autumnal-themed coffee cup kept in the cupboard year-round.  It is not creative in shape or size, but amidst a background of rust-and-yellow-leaves and fanciful flourishes the word BLESSED scrolls across the front of the mug three times.  Once for each Person in the Trinity, I think to myself.

BLESSED.

Blessed – by the love and guidance of the Father.

Blessed – by the Life-instilling, reconciled-with-God work of the Son.

Blessed – by the indwelling Presence and daily ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life.

That coffee cup is a visual a reminder of this truth – a truth that needs constant reinforcement as I go about the inroads and outroads of my daily life.

Merriamwebster.com shares general definitions of the word, separating out the category of “religion”:  venerated, hallowed, beatific.  The rest of the descriptions include “of or enjoying happiness; bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune.”  Vocabulary.com   includes the context, “highly favored or fortunate (as e.g. by divine grace); if you say you’ve been blessed, you feel lucky to have something—health, love, fame, fortune, talent, etc.

Feeling lucky to have something; enjoying happiness or contentment:  while not necessarily inaccurate, these are perceptions that can be stripped from us like sheets from a bed.  Perception and feeling are as passing as are shadows with the movement of the sun…so we find the truest clue of the word’s meaning within the parenthesis, those three little words:  by divine grace.

“Blessed” is not in celebration of what we feel, things that can be unceremoniously removed, not “livin’ the life,” “rolling with the good times” or even experiencing a temporary 14-er height of ecstacy in God’s Presence.

It is a truth about us which He has created and sustained.  I believe we are to tenaciously and persistently seek, walk, live, and breathe in the amazing awareness that He has made us something we were not, and instilled upon us His favor, extended His divine grace into every fiber of our being.

God blessed Creation in Gen. 1:19-22, transforming what was “formless and void” into what was His sovereignty and creativity actively manifested and grand, spectacular and awe-inspiring; He blessed the creation of Man, male and female, in Gen. 1:27-28; and “of dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:7) completed the physical creation of Man, “made in Our Image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).

Likewise, He takes those formless and void areas of our lives, the areas which have been reduced to dust, and blows the breath of Life into them, that they may live.

Paul greeted the saints at Ephesus by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:3-6)

Blessed, indeed…so that we, like, Paul, may proclaim “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10).

There is much in this world that afflicts, perplexes, and persecutes.  Because we are blessed, the abundant life of Jesus is ours to embrace as well as release to others, to strengthen us and provide the breath of life to those around us.

We are the Elect in God’s Elect-ion

November 6:  Election Day.

I have linked to a really interesting article I chanced upon while researching Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote that the government created for America was “A Republic, madam, if you can keep it.”  The article was written in 2010 so the 2008 survey it quotes is a little dated – but from listening to the current political discourse among various groups of people over the last year, I would guess the statistics that indicate “what people don’t know” have expanded since 2008, not decreased.

As the article highlights, a majority of people no longer can define the differences between a Republic and a democracy.  I would say I’m surprised…but the truth is, I’m not.  I am finding that many of our future government leaders (aka, today’s young people) are even hard-pressed to explain the differences between democracy and socialism.  Let alone the points of difference between socialism and communism, nor why any one of them is preferable to governance than any other.  My opinion:  this is a truly dismal situation that needs desperately to be corrected.

However, this is not a political blog, so let me move on to my “spiritual” point:  the clear parallel I see between great masses of self-governing people not understanding the difference between republicanism and socialism, and great masses of people created in the image of God having no understanding of Who God is, any of His attributes/characteristics, nor the difference between the ways of this world and the ways of His Kingdom.

And that’s a problem.  No good will come to either group of people found to be in such a state.  It is a problem in both national self-governance just as it is a problem in representing the body of Christ in a local fellowship.

One of Thomas Jefferson’s well-documented quotes states, “God…has formed us moral agents…that we may promote the happiness of those with whom He has placed us in society, by acting honestly towards all, benevolently to those who fall within our way, respecting sacredly their rights, bodily and mental, and cherishing especially their freedom of conscience, as we value our own.” (1814)*

When I ponder this quote from one of our Founding Fathers, it brings me a new dimension in appreciating Paul’s teaching in I Timothy 2:1-2:  “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” (NASB)

Too often, I believe this is a prayer spoken with fear, as if taking a preventative medicine.  We do not want to find ourselves in a perpetual whirlwind of tumult, not tranquility; of traumatic events rather than quietness; and with nonstop assaults on both the concept and embodiment of godliness and dignity.

Though Jefferson wrote these thoughts in a letter to a friend, I find it powerful and thought-provoking to present it as a prayer:  Lord, increase our influence for good as we stand as Your moral agents, promoting honesty, benevolence, and freedom of conscience among those who view life differently than we; Give us wisdom and insight to vote in, and support, those leaders throughout our country who use their morality to cherish individual rights, promote harmony and well-bring, walk in integrity and honesty, protect and defend our personal ideals and dignity, and honor You as sovereign God; for these things we give You thanks and offer You our country, to guide and protect, and through which You pour out your blessing of wisdom and uprightness to all nations, cultures, ethnicity, and peoples.

Six times in the New Testament (NASB translation), we who have come to known Jesus are referred to as “the elect.”  On Elect-ion Day, I find it both tremendously uplifting and humbling to remember that before the foundation of the world, the Father, Son and Spirit elected to create a family for fellowship, indwelling, and impact on the world.  He – all Three! – elected to adopt us.

I Peter 2:9:  “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light.”  (NASB)

Selah.  We have a great calling and there are masses of people who need to hear that  message.

* https://famguardian.org/Subjects/Politics/ThomasJefferson/jeff0200.htm