10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10–12, NKJV)
Early Christians faced threats, deprivation, imprisonment, violence and death for their faith (Hebrews 10:32-34). It may be hard for us to envision the blessedness of being persecuted. Yet, our perspective changes when the blessing of persecution is understood in the context of being citizens of the kingdom of heaven. Enduring persecution for the sake of righteousness produces patience and perfects faith (James 1:2-4). Devotion to things above will bring persecution, but it also helps the persecution seem as “light affliction” in comparison to the “eternal weight of glory” to come (2 Corinthians 4:17). Because we trust His word, the Lord’s promise of eternal reward replaces the fear of persecution with confident hope (1 Peter 3:14). Jesus showed us the blessedness of suffering for what is right, and because of His suffering we obtain an eternal blessing (1 Peter 3:18; 2:19-24). Persecution is not seen as a blessing when viewed from a “this world” perspective. But, eyes of faith see the blessing it brings. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven will suffer for righteousness’ sake, and are blessed for it.
Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. (Psalm 128:1, NKJV)
What does it mean to fear God? Some mistakenly define it as cowering fright. Others, as weak timidity. However, Scripture reveals fearing God to be reverential deference and dreading to displease the Almighty (Psalm 89:7; 111:9; Matthew 10:28). Both knowledge and wisdom begin with fearing God (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). Today’s passage gives succinct insight into what fearing God is and what it causes in one’s life. The person who fears the Lord submits to His will by walking in His ways. Fearing God is about actually living in humble, yielding obedience to the will of God. Defiance in the face of God’s word will never be rewarded with heaven’s blessing. On the other hand, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with the whole heart! They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways” (Psalm 119:1-3; see Psalm 128:2-6). The purpose of life on earth is to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Are you fulfilling your life’s purpose? If not, now is the time to start fearing God and walking in His ways.
Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3, NKJV)
Regular Bible reading is very important. But, reading without listening to its message gives no lasting spiritual profit. One may have bragging rights to say, “I read through the Bible every year,” but without actually understanding and following its teachings, such a boost is vain glory. Without keeping the words of divine revelation, reading alone cannot prepare one for God’s purposes. God’s blessing is assured when we read and listen to God’s declarations, and then conform to what is written. This assurance is given throughout the Scriptures (see Psalm 119:33-35; Ephesians 3:3-4; 1 Timothy 4:13-16). Spend time with the Bible. Listen to what God has said by His Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). Keep His words in your heart and obey them in your life. God fulfills all His purposes, and by following the inspired guideline in today’s verse, you will be ready when He does all that He has promised.
3 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, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,” (Ephesians 1:3–5, NKJV)
Notice in this wonderful passage the unsearchable riches granted Christians. God has “blessed us” (v. 3), He “chose us” (v. 4), and He “predestined us” (v. 5). All of these spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” None of these spiritual benefits are possessed without Christ, and unless one is “in” Christ. Every blessing is spiritual, existing in the “heavenly places” in Christ. Christians are not promised “health and wealth” in this material realm; our treasures are found in the “heavenly places.” Because He laid the foundation of the world, God chose those in Christ as His own heritage. He thus purposed that Christians be holy and blameless in His sight. Before creation, He determined that those in Christ would be adopted into His family. The children of God are not so due to flesh, but faith (Rom. 2:28-29). All flesh shall see the salvation of God (Lk. 3:6; Isa. 52:10). Believe and obey the gospel of Jesus, and all these rich blessings of forgiveness will be yours. Ah, “seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19; 2:38)!
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 (Ephesians 1:3, NKJV)
Several important truths are found in today’s text, and they cause us to pause and praise God for His wisdom, love and mercy toward us in Christ. (1) The source of our blessings is God the Father. The One who blesses us with every spiritual blessing is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Man does not bless himself with eternal blessings. The blessings we have in Christ are not given through the Roman Papacy, or a Watchtower Society, or a so-called Latter-day prophet. God the Father is to be praised as the Giver of all our blessings in Christ. (2) Jesus is the Lord and Christ, by whom our redemption is obtained (Eph. 1:7). God has gathered together everything that pertains to our redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10). (3) The nature of our blessings are spiritual, not of this world. Prosperity theology (the “health and wealth gospel”) perverts the nature of the blessings obtained in Christ. (4) Our fellowship with Christ is “in the heavenly places.” The worldly-minded person does not perceive these great spiritual blessings; they elude his closed heart (1 Cor. 2:14). But, our redemption is very real, reaching into eternity. (5) All spiritual blessings are “in Christ.” Spiritual blessings will never be found in Buddha, Mohammed, human philosophy or reason, or any other source (Acts 4:12). Come to Jesus; He will save you.
Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, (Psalm 146:5, NKJV)
Where do you set your hope for your happiness and blessedness? We are tempted to set our hopes on plans for the future – a career, a home, a family. These are good things, but, as James said, we must say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (Jas. 4:15). God is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psa. 46:1). Our hope is not misplaced when our hearts depend upon the Lord God. The spiritual fortune He gives, the blessed help He provides, sustains us in days of gladness and in days of gloom. There is an abiding favor given to all those whose hope is in the Lord God. Be sure your hope is anchored in the Lord and not on the shifting sands of this temporal, fleeting world.
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:1–2, NKJV)
Happy and fortunate is the person who positively decides to avoid the influences of sin and sinners, whether they be subtle or blatant. This person knows the ungodly have their counsel, the sinners have their path and the scornful have their seat. Let us learn from this wise one and not follow the counsel of those who are unconcerned about following God. Sinners find many ways to sin, and every path they take must be refused. Loitering in the way with sinners brings you into sin’s presence and even greater temptations. The scornful are those who mock at sin and at God. They are settled in their impiety and must be avoided. Take joy in God’s law and its righteous rule. Always have God’s law on your mind and let it direct you away from spiritual dangers. By doing so you can find contentment, peace and the blessing of God’s favor.