Today we are continuing our look at our spiritual identity through a series I’ve entitled “In the Mirror.” And what we have been doing for the past couple of months is looking into the mirror of God’s Word and seeing what we look like from God’s perspective.
How many of you know that His is the only opinion we need to pay attention to? If He says that we are loved, chosen, holy, righteous, free, etc. then that is all that matters. People will not always choose us. They will not always value us. But if God has said that we are precious to Him and has decided to indwell us, then what difference does it make how others view us?
But it does make a difference how we view ourselves—for if we do not put faith in what this mirror says we are, then we will by default seek the approval and commendations of men.
And as we’ve learned, another benefit of us beholding what we look like in this spiritual mirror is that it will change us on the outside. Our kickoff Scripture out of Second Corinthians 3:18 teaches us this when it says, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
What this means is that, like Moses who radiated the glory of God when he came down from Mount Sinai from being in the presence of God, we too will reflect God’s glory when we get into the presence of God and see from His Word the glory within us! But as we have learned—it’s going to take us climbing this mount and spending time in the presence of God like Moses did, letting Him speak these truths to our hearts and revealing to us who this mirror says that we are! Glory, indeed!
So, what we have been doing in this series is beholding each week one of the things that this mirror says that we are as born-again believers. Thus far, you and I have learned that …
1.I Am Loved
2.I Am His New Creation
3.I Am Chosen
4.I Am Holy
5.I Am Righteous
6.I Am Free
7.I Am Healed
8.I Am Anointed
I AM BLESSED
So, let’s continue today by looking again at Ephesians chapter 1—because we see something else that God has made us when we look in the mirror of these powerful New Testament Scriptures.
In Ephesians 1:3, the apostle Paul begins this “love sentence” with— “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.”
Now the phrase “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” is just an old English way of saying that our Father God is to be praised. And how many of you know that is the truth!?! He is absolutely worthy to be praised because of all that He has done for us in Christ Jesus. Amen?
But notice what the first thing is that Paul says God deserves to be praised for— “…who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.”
So, the very first thing that the Holy Spirit inspires the apostle Paul to mention that Christ Jesus has done for us is that He “blessed” us.
Now, first of all, what does it mean to be “blessed?” To be blessed can be described as “divine empowerment.” It means to be favored, empowered, enabled and destined to succeed. The following are some ways that we can accurately identify God’s “blessing”: It is God’s protection, His favor, or His grace. It is a “beneficial thing” like an “advantage, benefit, or a bonus.” It can also be described as “approval or support” like when we say that someone gave a project their blessing. For example, when God called Abram to go to the Promised Land, He promised to bless him & make his name great, and through him, to bless all the families of the earth (See Genesis 12:1-3).
You see, this was God's original design in creation—for His creatures, including mankind, to experience prosperity, peace, and fulfillment. But that design was ruined when sin entered the world. Therefore, many of the things that we see in the world today are not here by “God’s blessing.” They are a product of the curse placed on this world through Adam’s transgression.
But being blessed is not a hard thing to define. However, religion has helped us in misunderstanding what is a blessing and what is not. They will call many horrible things that people experience in this life “blessings in disguise” when God actually called those same things that steal, kill, and destroy our lives, “curses.”
No, church, a blessing is a blessing and a curse is a curse. Let’s keep that straight. And if it comes to rob us and take life from us, it is not a blessing at all. Amen.
So, the first thing that we see in this awesome section of Scriptures that Paul says God has done for us is that He has blessed us! Glory to God!
HE HAS ALREADY BLESSED US
But notice that this does not say that God will bless us or even that He is blessing us; no, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to say that He has blessed us! So, what this means is that God has already done this for us. Yes, He has already put this to our account. We already are the blessed of the Lord because our God and Father has blessed us. Amen!
Again, this is another one of those examples of God revealing to us that something spiritual is already ours to where we are going to have to look in this spiritual mirror in order to see it. And like it is with many of the other things that we have learned in this series, we might not see it by looking in the natural. Yes, we might not look blessed, we might not feel blessed, we might not see any evidence of this blessing in our lives right now. But we must believe what we see in this spiritual mirror over what we see in this physical mirror.
You see, the blessing of the Lord that is on our lives will not always be apparent. I think of the patriarchs in the Old Testament, beginning with Abraham. They didn’t always appear to be blessed. They went through wilderness seasons on their way to the Promised Land that God had for them. We see this in the life of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and perhaps the best example of this is in Joseph’s life.
Joseph was always blessed of the Lord and God even gave him a dream of how he would experience the fruits of that blessing. But before he reached the palace, he was in the pit. Yes, he appeared to be the least blessed person on the face of the earth at one point, but like that cork that always rises to the top, Joseph ascended to the second most important position on the earth.
So, while being blessed might have the promise of life being a bed of roses; we need to remember that there are thorns in there too. However, the beauty of the blessing is that even though there likely will be times that the enemy will try and suppress us, we are like the corks that will always rise back to the top when we embrace the blessing that is on our lives. Amen?
Church, I’m here to tell you that this same blessing that was on Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph is on our lives as well! It is a tangible thing that empowers us to experience increase, favor, prosperity, and everything else that is included in God’s best in our lives.
But someone might say, “Yeah, but doesn’t Ephesians 1:3 say that what God has blessed us with is every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places?” It sure does, and that is absolutely the most important thing we have been blessed with!
You see, this spiritual mirror clearly reveals to us that we have been blessed with all things that pertain to life and godliness (Second Peter 1:3). Therefore, we are RICH spiritually—nothing missing, broken, or lackin’ in our spiritual lives. But this does not mean that we cannot see the fruit of this blessing in our physical lives too—because when we study the lives of these patriarchs, they experienced physical, tangible blessings in their lives along with their spiritual virtues of faith, hope and love. My point is that it does not have to be one or the other. We can and should have both! Yes, the blessing that is on our lives is to be both spiritually and physically.
Isn’t this New Covenant described as a “new and better covenant” (Hebrews 8:6)? I believe what makes this covenant you and I enjoy today a better covenant is that, yes, while it now includes being born again, receiving the Holy Spirit, etc., these new blessings are not just a substitute for the promised blessings they had under the Old Covenant. No, I personally believe that what Jesus came to provide us with is these New Testament spiritual blessings and the Old Testament physical blessings! Yes, I’ll have that. Amen.
THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM
So, with that in mind, let’s look over at Galatians chapter 3 where the apostle Paul gives us a good word on what Jesus has done for us in this respect. Let’s begin in verse 7 …
Galatians 3:7-9 says, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, ‘In you all the nations shall be blessed.’ So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham.”
You see, the Jewish community has a whole thought that because they were Abraham’s physical descendants that they were children of Abraham. John the Baptist corrected this wrong thinking by saying to the Jewish religious leaders at one point, “Don't think you can say to yourselves, 'We have father Abraham!' because I tell you that God can raise up descendants for Abraham from these stones!” (Matthew 3:9) In another instance, Jesus said that if they were Abraham’s children, they would do the works of Abraham (John 8:39). Then he went on to tell Abraham’s natural descendants that they were of their father the devil (John 8:44). So, all of this adds up to the fact that natural lineage does not make one a son of Abraham. As Paul says here, only those who of faith are sons of Abraham. Are you of faith? Then you are a son or daughter of Abraham! And guess what else you are if you are a son or daughter of Abraham? Verse 9 tells us that we are blessed with believing Abraham!
Saints, believers are blessed! As Paul says, those who are “of faith” are the blessed ones. Which brings up an important point as Paul goes on to describe in verses 10-12—it is not those who place themselves under the works of the law that are blessed. Those people are doomed to live under the curse. Why? Because the blessing does not occur in one’s life by the things they do or don’t do. The blessing comes to those who believe in what Christ has done! Friends, we don’t want to be “under the curse.” I personally want to be “under the blessing!” Hallelujah!
But as Paul says in verse 13, Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law because He became the curse for us. And if you recall, we have looked at what this curse of the law entailed from Deuteronomy 28:16-68 and it was not a pretty thing. It basically describes the worst possible things that can happen to someone. It summarized everything from poverty, physical sickness, oppression, mental illness, all the way to physical death of themselves and the affliction of their children. It was horrible!
I encourage you to read through these verses, but what we must remember when reading it is that Jesus Christ has redeemed us from all of these things! So, if we find it in these verses, we know we have been redeemed from it and, therefore, the price has already been paid for us not to experience any of these curses in our lives. Amen!
So, let’s look at what it means to be “cursed” in general: The dictionary defines being “cursed” as being “damned, doomed, devoted to destruction, (We don’t want to get “D’s” in this class, amen? We want to get “A’s and B’s”- Absolutely Blessed!) afflicted or plagued.” In our modern-day terminology, we might say it is to be “jinxed or unfortunate.”
How many of you know that this should not be the testimony of a follower of Christ!?! We are not to live lives that reflect that we are jinxed, unlucky or unfortunate! In fact, the exact opposite should be true for a Christian! People should look at our lives and say, “Man, they are so blessed. Things just work out for them. They are always happy no matter what they are going through. Etc. etc. etc.”
Yes, our reality should reflect Paul’s words in Galatians 3:14— “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
So, what Paul was saying is that not only are we redeemed from something; we are redeemed unto something! And this is such an important point when it comes to the faith: Jesus did not just come to save us from not experiencing the penalty and punishment of sin; He came to provide a more abundant life (John 10:10). Yes, He has made the way for us to experience a new, blessed, resurrection life!
And here we see what Jesus died that we might have—the blessing of Abraham.
So, what exactly is this blessing of Abraham? Many read this to say, “the blessings of Abraham”—thinking that being blessed is just having a lot of stuff. But this is something that we need to renew our minds to because there is a difference between being “blessed” and having “blessings.” Being blessed is the empowerment to prosper and obtain blessings, but the blessings are not the root of the blessing. They are simply the fruit of the blessing.
We are told in Proverbs 10:22— “The Blessing of the Lord makes one rich and adds no sorrow to it.” Notice that in this Scripture, the blessing of the Lord is separated from riches. We, likewise, need to separate the two because the blessing is not wealth; it is the power to get wealth (See Deuteronomy 8:18).
You see, the blessing of the Lord is an intangible thing. If our house were to burn down today, we are still blessed. Abraham’s blessing is not a donkey, a camel, a tent, etc. It is the root of the things he possessed. So, the blessing of the Lord is an intangible thing that affects tangible things.
To the Jews, they understood the blessing because they grew up in it. We here in the United States do not understand this as well. We like to label blessings as things, but the Jews did not see it that way. Therefore, the blessing of Abraham is not his things; the blessing of Abraham was God’s favor, grace, protection, and empowerment to prosper that was upon Abraham’s life. And now that same blessing is ours as well! Glory!
So, what I would like us to focus on now is what this blessing of Abraham that we have been blessed with looks like. In other words, I want us to look at the characteristics and qualities of the Lord’s blessing which we can see described in Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
Now someone might say, “But this is the blessing of the law in Deuteronomy chapter 28, not the blessing of Abraham.” Yes, but the blessing of the law is simply more of a thorough description of the blessing of Abraham—for it was passed on to the descendants of Abraham, showing them what their forefather’s blessings were and still are.
Now as we begin looking at the different examples that the Lord used to describe how they were to be blessed, we need to understand that He was referring to the specific things they could relate to because they were primarily farmers and shepherds.
I AM BLESSED IN THE CITY AND IN THE COUNTRY
So, with that in mind, let’s look at this first example from that perspective: What does it mean to be blessed in the city and blessed in the country? (Deuteronomy 28:3)
This basically just describes whether we are in one kind of area or another, we are to be blessed. Now by understanding who this was that He was referring to, you can tell why He said this. Why? Because these farmers and shepherds by trade might have been able to see themselves as blessed “in the country,” but they might not have been able to see themselves blessed “in the city.”
You see, some people just seem to have a hard time if they are in a particular situation and cannot see themselves successful in something that is outside of their familiarity or comfort zone. While they might do well if they are in the “city” which is where commerce, people, technology etc. surround them, they don’t do well in the “country” where things operate a little differently. On the other hand, some people just seem to be “cursed” no matter what their situation is or where they are at. They fail in the man-made places, and they fail in the God-made places.
The Bible tells us that Isaac sowed in the year of famine and reaped a hundredfold harvest (See Genesis 26:12). This was in the worst economic situation imaginable, and he didn’t just “make it,” he actually prospered and prospered greatly!
I am reminded of the story of Abraham and his nephew Lot: When the strife came up between their herdsman, Abraham gave the choice to Lot which land he would take. Of course, Lot pitched his tent towards Sodom (i.e. the city) while Abraham took the lesser land. Do you know why? First off, because Abraham loved Lot and preferred him above himself (this is the way the blessed man or woman will act), but also because Abraham knew God’s blessing was upon him and it didn’t matter who had the better land. He was going to be blessed no matter where his “lot” was (pun intended). Amen!
Friends, as the blessed of the Lord, we do not need to have the right situation to prosper. I am blessed whether I am in the place that has the most or if I am in the place that has the least. No, we are not limited by our situation; we are only limited in our unbelief of this particular truth—that we are blessed no matter what and no matter where.
Someone will say, “Well, I just have a tough time if I work out of town where I don’t know people etc.” No, don’t say that! Rather say, “I’m blessed no matter where I am! I’m redeemed from failure no matter where I am positioned! Amen!”
You see, this is why you see the strange consistencies in people who win the lottery going bankrupt within a short period of time. How is that possible? Well, it’s because prosperity is not just having more stuff; true prosperity begins on the inside, not the outside. So, until we see ourselves as blessed and act like a blessed person acts (i.e. being a wise steward, etc.), we will not keep it on the outside.
BLESSED IS THE FRUIT OF MY BODY AND THE PRODUCE OF MY GROUND
Verse 4 goes on to say, “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.”
The “fruit of your body” is a reference to your offspring. Did you know that just as our children could be cursed simply by the failure of the parents to obey all of God’s commandments under the law, our children can be blessed simply by the obedience of Jesus to go to the Cross for us? Amen! Yes, we can expect the fruit of our body to be blessed—to increase financially, to do well physically and to love and serve God passionately!
It doesn’t matter how far gone they seem, just let your confession be that of Deuteronomy 28:4— “The fruit of my body is blessed, and I’ll have nothing less!” This is yours, saints! And don’t let the devil lie to you, telling you that they can’t succeed because you didn’t raise them right, or that you didn’t teach them in the ways of God when they were young, etc. No, this promise is just as good for someone who gets a hold of the truth at middle age as it is for anyone else. God can reverse the curse upon your children—when you begin to mix faith together with these truths! Amen!
Then this verse says, “(Blessed shall be) the produce of your ground!” Now, again, the Lord was using the terms that the Israelites understood because they were farmers and shepherds.
Their “ground” was the place where their increase and provision came from. So, this would describe our workplace—the “ground” by which our increase comes from. Since this refers to our ground, this could also refer to our own businesses, etc. Regardless, the place where our provision comes from will be blessed! Amen!
Did you know that the place you work for is blessed simply because you work there? It sure is—whether you know it or not. We see this in the life of Jacob—how the Lord blessed Laban for the sake of Jacob. Laban himself said, “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the Lord has blessed me for your sake.” (Genesis 30:27) We also see this in the life of Joseph that the Lord blessed the house of Potiphar because of Joseph. (see Genesis 39:5)
Saints, this is the kind of blessing that we should carry into our workplace! He said that He would bless us in all that we set our hand unto (Deuteronomy 28:8).
But herein lies a very important principle concerning this blessing: You need to set your hand to something! If you do not set your hand to something—God has nothing to bless. The Lord said if you do not work, you do not eat (Second Thessalonians 3:10). Now I understand that there are people out there who are physically incapable of working, but there is always something that we can set our hands to.
Let me also take this from the standpoint of seeing God’s blessing in ministry: If you do not follow the Biblical mandate to lay hands on the sick, you won’t see many people healed. Sure, we can just speak the Word, but my point is that we need to get off our hands and start putting those hands on someone. Just sitting in our home asking God to bless, use and provide for us without getting out there and making ourselves available to be blessed, used, and provided for is not God’s best.
Hard work, diligence, integrity and faithfulness—these are marks of a blessed man or woman of God. And if we want to walk in the blessing to where whatever we set our hand to, will prosper and be blessed, our hands need to be working that which is good. (Compare Ephesians 6:5-8)
You see, saints, God’s will is for our lives to reek so much of the blessing that all you are seeing is increase, after increase, after increase. This is why Deuteronomy 28:4 goes on to say that He will bless “the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.” Amen! I don’t have to tell you what your herds, cattle and flocks represent, do I? This is your stuff! Man, my house is blessed! My yard is blessed! My car is blessed! My pets are even blessed! I am blessed, blessed, blessed!
BLESSED IS MY BASKET AND KNEADING BOWL
Notice verse 5 now: It says, “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.” Now I know that these two examples don’t mean a lot to us today, but let’s look at what they represent:
The “basket” was what they used to collect their harvest from the fields (i.e. it was what they used to contain and carry their increase). Amen! So what would this be for us? How about our bank account, investments, purse or wallet? That’s where you put your increase, right?
I can’t help but think of Jesus feeding the multitudes and how, after He had given thanks and blessed the bread and the fish, he gave them to His disciples to distribute to the crowd. Now I envision that if they were feeding thousands of people, the disciples distributed the loaves and fishes in something—maybe in the baskets that they used to collect the fragments, right?
But can you see what was happening here? These five loaves and two small fish actually began multiplying as the disciples were distributing them. Now I don’t personally believe that they even physically saw how they were multiplying; but that after they took some out of the baskets to give to people, it just seemed like more was there the next time their hand went to grab some more.
Saints, this is how the blessing works, glory to God! Your basket is blessed! So, as you become this “distributing disciple”—that is, that believer who sees themselves as a sower—God will supernaturally multiply your account’s bottom line, Hallelujah!
Saints, if you are living in such a way that seems like you have holes in your basket and it disappears just as quick as it you put it in there, that’s the curse—and you are redeemed from that! Jesus paid the price for you to be redeemed from having holes in your pockets! Amen!
Now for the kneading bowl: This was the device that was used by the women of their day to knead dough for the purpose of making bread. So, our “kneading bowl” would be described as the thing that we use to make our bread. No, I am not necessarily talking about that thing you use to make natural bread; I’m talking about your money maker, or you could say our “kneading bowl” is the thing that creates our increase. Amen!
So, our basket and our kneading bowl describe the things we use to carry our increase and the things we use to create our increase.
BLESSED COMING IN AND GOING OUT
Deuteronomy 28:6 goes on to say, “Blessed shall you be when you come in and blessed shall you be when you go out.” (Compare Psalm 121:8)
This means that we are blessed when we start out, and we are blessed when we go out—from beginning to end, we are blessed!
Now, again, being blessed does not mean that we will not incur challenges—where it does not seem like we are blessed. You will have times and seasons where you will have to operate by faith and not by sight. Job did.
The Scriptures teach us that he was the greatest of all the people of the East, living in the land of Uz. And the Bible describes his “greatness” as him, first of all, being “blameless and upright, one who feared God and shunned evil.” (Job 1:1) But then it goes on to describe his possessions—7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys and a very large household. (Job 1:3) Yes, this man was super blessed coming in!
But then everyone seems to get hung up on the trials of Job and miss one of the greatest historical points of his story: Although he suffered more than any man should have to suffer—losing his family, his health and his possessions, the Bible tells us in the last chapter of the Book of Job that “the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before.” (Job 42:10) Also, verse 12 said, “Now the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning; for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. (Sounds like He was blessed going out, huh?) He also had 7 sons and 3 daughters (Job 42:13). Lastly, we are told— “After this Job lived 140 years, and saw his children and grandchildren for 4 generations. So Job died, old and full of days.” (Job 42:16-17). This verse reminds me of Psalm 91:16— “With long life I will satisfy him, and show him my salvation.” Saints, we should become so old that even old people call us old—living out fullness of days and experiencing the fullness of His salvation all the way!
We should be blessed coming into this world and blessed going out of it too! Amen!
And there are many other blessings the Lord goes on to describe in verses 7-13—blessings which include being the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath, lending to many nations but not needing to borrow. This is what God’s blessing on His people looks like.
THE TRULY BLESSED MAN
And in conclusion, the key to all of this is seeing ourselves this way. Not basing this on our past or recent experiences, but like it is with all of these things we’ve been learning, looking in this mirror and letting it tell you what you look like. Amen?
One of my favorite examples of this is found again in the life of Joseph: In Genesis chapter 39, after Joseph was sold by his brothers, it starts off by saying, “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there” (Genesis 39:1). Have you felt like you are “down there” too? At some point in our life, I’m sure we’ve all felt like we are lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut. But again, that is not where the blessed man or woman of God stays. Like cream, we will always rise to the top! Hallelujah!
So, picture what was happening here with Joseph: He was in his lowest state. He had just been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery for 20 shekels of silver (Sound familiar, huh? Wasn’t Jesus sold for 30 pieces of silver by Judas?). Now Joseph, being stripped of his tunic of many colors, was standing stripped of his coat that represented his favor, being sold into slavery. So, for all intents and purposes, Joseph looked as though he had been stripped of all favor and had hit rock bottom being sold into slavery. But then in Genesis 39:2we are told that the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a “successful” man! Most translations say that he was a prosperous man, which is a more accurate translation when you look at the Hebrew word being used.
Now, mind you, this statement that Joseph was a prosperous man was on the heels of him being in the lowest place of his life. And it was before verse 3, which goes on to tell us how Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and made all he set his hand to prosper.
But notice that this mirror called him a successful, prosperous, and blessed man before anyone saw the evidence of it. That is where we need to see ourselves—as blessed before we see any evidence of it. Amen?
Church, this mirror reveals to us that we have been blessed, and it is up to us to stand up in our situations and circumstances that might not reflect that we are blessed, and say, “I am a successful man! I am a blessed woman!” We say it because that is what we see in this mirror. Amen and amen!