Count Your Blessings

boy star counting_FotorHave you counted your blessings lately?

If you are a follower of Jesus Christ there are many blessings that are given to us. If you are not many await in the person of Christ. But if you are His and are either unaware or are not overwhelmed by the magnificent blessings that are yours then maybe a look at some of them will show you just how much God loves you and has blessed you.

As I read through a portion of chapter one in the book of Ephesians I was awakened to a glorious truth. A truth which the apostle Paul spoke of as spiritual blessings. Unlike material blessings, (and these are from the Lord as well) spiritual blessings enlighten the mind and lift the heart.They never fade and last forever.

In this passage of scripture I counted twenty blessings, maybe you’ll find more. One thing is sure, after you read these verses you cannot come away without a feeling of extreme joy and blessing. So let’s move through these verses and discover what these blessings are and what they mean for us as believer’s in Jesus.

EPHESIANS 1: 3-14

1) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ 

The blessings that follow come from the gracious hand of God the Father from whose right hand are pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). These spiritual blessings are not just for anyone. They are for those who are in Christ. Be careful not to miss this first blessing- the blessing of being in Christ. It is from this union with Jesus Christ that all the other blessings are bestowed upon us.

2) with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

The nature of the blessings are spiritual. They are not physical or material blessings. We most certainly know that God blesses us with the things we need: food, shelter, clothing, etc…But the blessings that are mentioned here are spiritual and concern those things which are heaven borne for us who are heaven bound. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). His desire is to give us every spiritual blessing.

3) even as he chose us in him

The apostle reveals a marvelous truth. If you are in him (Jesus Christ); that is, you are a Christian, then He chose you and I. As Jesus said we didn’t choose him, he chose us (John 15:16). The apostle, speaking to the Thessalonian church said the same thing: God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13). What did he choose us for? To be the recipient of His love and salvation to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:14). This is a staggering realization. It is a wondrous thought to realize that we were chosen by the Lord for so great a salvation.

4) before the foundation of the world,

If knowing we have been chosen by God is not enough to blow our minds, we also learn that when we were chosen is beyond the reach of anything we could imagine. Before God laid one creative brick in the universe he sovereignly chose you to be his (Romans 8:28-30).

5) that we should be holy

Holiness is not an effort we do after we come to Christ. It is something we become because of Christ. The blessing of holiness is that God removes us from a life where the world has shaped and influenced us according to the pattern of corruption, and instead sets us apart for his workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), sculpting us into a vessel for his honor (2 Timothy 2:21).

6) and blameless before him.

Sin has ruined us entirely. We are anything but blameless before God. We can bring nothing meritorious in and of ourselves to God and so think, because of what we’ve done we are now blameless. Our sins have made us all guilty not blameless (Romans 3:9). We have no appeal at the throne of One so holy and perfect. The blessing is that it is God who makes it possible for us to be blameless before him. If we are in Christ then we have been set apart (holy). Because of our faith in Christ it is the blood of Jesus his son [who] cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Every sin has been taken away by the cross of Christ and now makes us blameless. There is now no condemnation before a just and righteous God (Romans 8:1), nor can there be any charge brought against us- God’s elect (Romans 8:33).

7) In love

It was by God’s love that we were chosen into the Triune circle of fellowship. His desire was for us to be partakers of the divine nature ( 2 Peter 1:4). God’s pure and holy love is the basis for our salvation. There is nothing in us that would cause him to choose us. He didn’t choose us because he thought I like this or that about him or her. The choice was completely from his nature of love alone. For God so loved the world… (John 3:16). Why he chose me or you, I don’t know. The only reason why God chose any of us is because he wanted to- because his love is so lavish and infinite he wanted us to experience his love in all it’s fullness in Him for all eternity.

8) he predestined us

God’s love was the cause for Him to predestine us for salvation (Romans 8:30). Our destiny as Christians, that is- to be chosen to be in His heavenly family was fore-planned by God.

9) for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,

The ninth blessing is adoption. Once more, the idea of being chosen is apparent. The word adoption carries with it the idea of belonging to a family (Romans 8:15). A heavenly family. Our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 6:9). Adopted children are chosen by their parents. There is a special sense in which a parent adopts a child. There may be many children to screen, but ultimately the choice is made by the parent and not the child. He or she joins the family, takes the family name, receives the blessings of the homestead and becomes an heir in the family. (Galatians 4:5,6).

10) according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace,

This is a striking verse. We were chosen not because we made the decision to be chosen by our will, but according to the purpose of his will. It was God’s will to adopt us into his family. The apostle John makes it clear that our receiving and believing in Jesus Christ was not by our will (the flesh), our parents will (by blood) or the will of any other person (of man) (John 1:13). But by the will of God alone. God chose us. He predestined us. He adopted us. We can claim no credit of any kind for being adopted into the family of God. This is what grace is all about. As the apostle states in this spiritual blessing- to the praise of His glorious grace. In this way all praise is directed to the Lord who sovereignly elects. We have been saved by grace, through faith, and not of ourselves so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8,9). Any boasting we may have for our salvation is wrapped up in our praises to Him for his glorious grace. He bestowed upon us a grace that could only be measured by the size of his infinite love for us; that is what makes it glorious. Our salvation and all God did to set it in motion was by his sovereign will.

11) with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.

We are, by virtue of His purpose and will, brought into a very intimate union with the Lord. There is a way (theologians call it common grace) in which the Lord loves all people (John 3:16). But the special way he addresses those who are in the family of the redeemed he calls Beloved. Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved… (Colossians 3:12). This is a word that is used when expressing the love between two lovers- a bride and a groom. More than thirty times this word is used in exactly that way in the Song of Songs. I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine (Song of Songs 6:3). The blessing of being His beloved is to be the object of a special, relational love. One that brings us into familial relationship and makes us recipients of His saving love and eternal grace.

12) In him we have redemption through his blood,

The twelfth blessing is: we have been redeemed, or purchased by the blood of Christ. The adoption payment was high. It would cost God the Father the sacrifice of his son on the cross in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:14).

13) the forgiveness of our trespasses,

The value of forgiveness cannot be overstated. Even among people, the issue of forgiveness has major consequences whether in the reconciling of friendships or else in the bitter residue that embroils the heart from unforgiveness (Matthew 6:15). To know that all (1 John 1:9) our offenses against our Holy Father are forgiven by him sets the heart free and clears the mind of guilt. Trespasses- plural, that’s every sin that we have ever committed, no matter how heinous or hid away in the heart, they have all been taken away. Forgiven, forgotten (Isaiah 43:25), and removed as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).

14) according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight

When the bible speaks of grace, we are made to realize the manifold goodness of God toward those who don’t necessarily deserve such goodness. His graces are of such worth, here they are called riches of his grace. God in his wisdom and insight has lavished these riches upon us. Paul, I believe, is making reference to the lavishness of some of these riches in these very passages- calling them spiritual blessings. The blessing is we are the objects of his unfathomable riches of grace (Ephesians 3:20, Psalm 84:11).

15) making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

The things of God seem mysterious. Much is hidden from us (Deuteronomy 29:29). Before conversion to Christ many things in the bible were hard to understand. We were puzzled by the statements and couldn’t grasp what it was saying or what relevance it had for us. That’s because God had not yet revealed it’s mystery to us. He kept it secret (Romans 16:25). The workings and the purpose He had ordained from the beginning for humanity remained a mystery. But His ultimate plan for the gospel in sending his Son has now been made known to us.

16) In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

We have received the blessing of an eternal reward, which is the inheritance (Hebrews 9:15) of eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Old Covenant promise was the inheritance of the promised land- a physical land grant. The realized New Covenant inheritance is life everlasting in the heavenly places. “According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,…” (1 Peter 3: 3,4)

17) In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him,

This next blessing speaks of the blessing of belief or faith. The ability to believe is also a gift from God. The apostle expounds on this in the next chapter of this letter. He states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9). Believing in Christ is God initiated, not self initiated. The faith required to believe in Christ is a gift given by God. Why? To leave no room for self-boasting or to claim that we had anything to do with the gospel of our salvation.

18) were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,

This is the King’s seal. The stamp of authorship and declaration. The Lord seal’s us with the signet of the Holy Spirit. We bear the mark of the Holy Spirit and our life therefore declares our allegiance to Heaven’s King and who it is that authors and owns our lives.

19) who is the guarantee of our inheritance

In earthly matters, guarantees are written agreements that whatever it is that we have purchased or acquired will perform or be executed as promised. God’s guarantee of our future inheritance is written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).

20) until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”

The last spiritual blessing in this passage is that one day we will have possession of a God-granted eternal inheritance. A place that we can call our own. A better country than the one where we now live. A heavenly dwelling, where we shall see Him face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12, Revelation 22:4) and enjoy fellowship with the countless number (Revelation 21:24,26) of those who have been chosen for such a glorious destiny. This will be the consummation of the final blessing of a heavenly city wherein we shall, in awe and thankfulness, offer eternal praises for the wonderful plan of salvation which end is joyous communion with God and all the saints (Revelation 19:6,7).

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:8,9,16)

Here are our spiritual blessings in summary:

1) We are blessed in Christ
2) We have received spiritual blessings
3) We have been chosen by God
4) Before the world was created God determined our salvation
5) We are blessed to be holy
6) We are blessed to be counted blameless
7) We are loved by God
8) We were predestined by God
9) We were adopted by God
10) We are blessed to have been chosen because of His will
11) We are in the Beloved
12) We have been redeemed
13) We have been forgiven
14) We have received the lavish outpouring of his grace
15) We have been shown the mystery of His will
16) We have an inheritance
17) We have been given the gift of faith to believe
18) We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit
19) We are guaranteed a future inheritance
20) We are blessed in the future possession of God’s heavenly city.

Of all people we have much to rejoice about. The apostle Paul has named twenty spiritual blessings that all Christians can be thankful for. When we stop to think about the blessings in our lives, let’s not forget the heavenly ones. Because when all is said and done these are the ones that will have the greatest effect on us now and in the future.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” Ephesians 1:3,4

copyright © Steve Covarrubias 1/26/2015

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