We Christians often catch ourselves looking at other Christians and thinking, "He is sure a good Christian." or "He sure isn't a very good Christian." We take a lot upon ourselves without the authority to do so. It is a part of our flesh nature to make comparisons between ourselves and other Christians but it's not our job assignment. It is true that our works will someday be judged, but, not by other Christians around us. God the Father will someday let us know how He thinks we have done while we lived day-by-day here on earth. In the mean time I suppose He might be getting a bit annoyed with us for trying to do what only He can really do with any accuracy.
Therefore, please do not misunderstand what you read here as being some kind of measuring tool for who is, or who is not a good or bad Christian. I don't think Jesus would agree that He may have died for a bad Christian. He would probably tell us that there are no bad Christians, only sinners saved by his grace. And if we were to compare our lives with His we may all have to hang our heads in shame. Isn't it amazing that He loves all of us as much as He does.
It is true that some Christians receive more blessings than others receive. It is true that we can do things that prohibit God from being able to bless us. It is also true that we can not do things which prohibit Him from being able to bless us. But, I don't know of any Christian who wouldn't want to receive as many blessings from God as possible. So, how do we go about living our lives in such a way that we should expect to receive more blessings?
Let's begin by defining what the word, "blessed" really means, and, the difference between God's riches and man's riches. I can think of many times in my life when I felt like God didn't bless me. Then, later I discovered that He had really blessed me at that moment but not in the manner I had expected. You can probably think of times in your life when the same thing has happened. You felt like God was not answering your prayers only to discover that He was answering them, but He was answering them in such a way that made you much happier than if He had answered in the manner you expected.
God wants to bless His children. He wants to give us things that will make us truly happy. He also knows the future and how we will treat the things he gives us. So, He gives us only those things which will bring happiness in the future. These are His blessings - the things He delivers to us out of His great love for us. He provides His blessings to us from within the storehouse of His riches. Sometimes His riches consist of material objects, but not always. Many times His blessings take the form of situations and relationships. Under all circumstances His blessings are intended to bring joy and happiness into our lives here on earth.
So don't always expect God to bless you with material belongings. He may or may not pour out blessings that you can touch and sell for money. He may also bless you by restricting your material wealth. We are all created as individuals and He knows best what we need. Although He understands that material belongings may make us happy, He also knows our hearts and whether or not material belongings will truly bring us joy over the long haul.
He loves some people so much that He keeps them close to his side by making life on this earth difficult for them. He knows that they will spend much more time praying and searching for His presence if they have only a small amount of material belongings. He loves it when they come to him daily, asking for his guidance and blessings. Some of these Christians understand His purpose while, sadly, others miss the joy of His presence while they wish, in their hearts, that they could be living a life of ease. They actually envy their unsaved neighbors who temporarily possess many more material belongings than they possess.
So, if you are truly wanting to be blessed with the riches of God, here are some things to consider. And, remember, His blessings do not all show up as material belongings.
Begin by looking at the whole picture of salvation. Sure! It is a blessing that you have been redeemed and can look forward to spending eternity in Heaven rather than hell. That's a blessing that cannot be topped by any other. But, when you look at the whole picture of redemption you must also look at it from God's point of view. He's the one who was truly blessed when you accepted His son Jesus as your savior. When you said, "Yes!" to Him you allowed God the Father to reclaim what He already owned.
You were His creation from the beginning and Satan intervened in your life, stealing you away. When you trusted Jesus you returned your heart and soul to its rightful owner: God the Father. His love for you is so overwhelming that there is no way to express the amount of blessing He received on that day. Standing back and viewing the entire picture presents your salvation as a mutual blessing. You were blessed and so was He. God is so grateful for your decision that He not only promises you eternity in Heaven, but now wants to demonstrate His gratitude by blessing your life on earth.
To receive as many of these blessings as possible we need to know what He likes and dislikes. And, the first thing we need to consider is prayer. Prayer is how He stays in touch with us. It's how we stay in touch with Him. He will speak to us while we are speaking to Him. I've seen it happen many times and you may have also. In fact, the idea for this message came to me while I was speaking to Him. He doesn't mind interrupting us at all.
Every Christian should probably pray The Lord's Prayer at least once each day. Years ago I only spoke the words when I recited that prayer until I realized that reciting words is NOT praying. Once I realized my mistake and began speaking that prayer directly to God He began to make changes in my life. Now, not a day goes by that I don't pray the Lord's prayer at least once.
9 . . . Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.The most powerful part of that prayer, for me, and, maybe for you, is verse 12: Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Some translations replace the word debts with the word sins as well as changing our debtors to those who sin against us. This is the key to opening up the storehouse of God's riches. He cannot bless a Christian whose life is filled with sin. And, I'm sorry to have to admit this, but, my daily life seems to be a real struggle at times as I find myself (my sinful nature) returning to the sins which I cannot seem to dispel.
I am always asking the Lord, "How can You continue to love me and forgive me while I keep tripping over the stumbling blocks of my own self-will?" Then, I remember the key: Forgive those who sin against me and He will forgive me for sinning against Him. Look at what He promises us in the verses following The Lord's Prayer.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Wow! What a powerful statement. If I'm truly willing to forgive those who wrong me I have the assurance that my daily mistakes will be forgiven. Whereas, if I am unwilling to forgive others I am in debt to my Heavenly Father. And, if I am in debt to Him it will be a long time before I can expect anything in return. To understand how it works, borrow some money from a bank, spend it, and go back for another loan. You may or may not get the second loan but as you continue to return again and again you will find that the resource will soon be cut off. On the other hand, if you are prompt in repaying the first loan your chances of getting a second increase greatly.
So, who is it that sins against us? They are all around. You may be able to think of someone right now who you know has sinned against you in one way or another. I can think of people in my life who have done me wrong. But to bring things closer to home, at least in my life, consider some of the day-by-day occurrences that you encounter like driving to work. How easy is it for that other driver to crowd into your lane and bring out the aggressive, hateful nature down inside. It happens to me all the time. I want to ram them from behind and push their car into the ditch. That would make me feel better!
But, that's not what the Samaritan did to the stranger he met along the road - a stranger that literally hated him and his race of people. Instead, he did all he could to help the stranger continue on with his journey - which wasn't to ram him from behind. Rather, he attended to his wounds and paid for his stay at a local motel. Driving to work in the worst traffic can become a time when you and your Heavenly Father draw closer than ever. It can become a time when you are cleansed of your sins. And, if your sins are forgiven you can expect more blessings.
Then, you arrive at work and have to put up with all of those other idiot supervisors that treat you like dirt. Your first inclination is to wish for their dismissal. But they seem to be there day after day, whether you want them around or not. Oops! There we go again, cutting off those blessings. Consider this: If you are a parent, how much do you love your children? Probably an un-describable amount. Now consider how much more God loves every one of the people His Son died to redeem. That includes all of the people with whom you work - even those idiot supervisors. Now, consider the heart-break He feels, knowing that they may be lost and headed for an eternity in hell. He is willing to forgive them of their sins. Wouldn't it be prudent for you to consider the same?
After work we return home to our family. Now we have an even greater opportunity to receive His blessings. How about that spouse! He or she is not the person they were when you were dating. Living with them day-by-day and trying to constrain yourself when you want to criticize is sometimes almost unbearable. It is much easier to open your mouth and say something unkind in order to put them in their place. It is so easy to hurt the person you once promised to cherish. Sure! They may be wrong and you may be right. But has there ever been a time when God forgave you for being wrong? The relationship between two married people is a picture of the relationship between Christ and His church. It is a picture of one serving the other. Being a servant is not always pleasant but it brings about more blessings than being a cruel, critical, hurtful spouse.
There is much more to The Lord's Prayer than what we have covered but, as you can see, it can be a powerful influence in your own life if you consider it daily.
The next step toward receiving the riches of God sounds pretty simple to most Christians. That is: Try to be like His Son, Jesus. Of course, we can never really be like Jesus because He was perfect and sinless. That goal is unobtainable to us, and is why only He could take our place on the cross. So, should we simply give up and go about our lives knowing that it is impossible to be like Him? No, because the key word is not to be like Him, but, rather, to TRY to be like Him. We can all TRY to be like Jesus. We will fail at it, of course, but we can at least keep trying.
Have you ever watched as a young child learned to walk? It seems to be something that all children want to learn to do at some point around their first year of age. If you have ever worked with a child as they tried to learn to walk you know how often they fall down. And, every time they fell down, what did you do? Of course, you reached out and helped them up again. Over and over and over and over, they fell and you reached out to help. That is a perfect picture of the life of a Christian who desires to be like Jesus. God is so pleased to watch as we give it our best effort - but our best effort will never be enough and we always fall back onto the floor of our sinful nature.
If you are like me at all, when that happens you feel terrible about yourself and wonder how God could ever forgive you for being like you are. And, at that very moment in time He is reaching out in His love to take hold of our lives and help us back to where we were. Over and over and over and over. Now, the young child has it easy: he or she finally learns to walk and spends the rest of their life on their feet. As Christians we continue to fall and be helped back up over and over until the day we die. All this time we are wishing we could do better, wishing we could stand on our own two feet - but wait! Throughout our life our Heavenly Father is blessed over and over each time we give it another try. And, when He is blessed by our efforts we can expect to be blessed in return.
So, here are only two suggestions to help you become blessed with the riches of God. But let me close with a simple warning: Don't practice the above methods in order to be blessed. You may find that you lose more blessings than you have now. Rather, try the above suggestions in order to become a blessing to your Heavenly Father as well as those around you, known as your neighbors. And, remember, as long as He is meeting your needs and you have the promise of eternity in Heaven, You Are Blessed!