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05/20/2009

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hesselbern

What up Goff? If you're ever gonna end up at Sem you should just go ahead and buy BDAG, HALOT, and TDNT - it'll only set you back about $400-$500 but it will be well worth it (I bought BDAG and HALOT twice [hard copy for Bibleworks]!). That's where I'd go for a well rounded understanding of a word's usage/meaning during the first century but the point of this series seems to be clarifying the unclear, thus...

I think we typically think of blessed in a completely temporal, fortunate sense. You mentioned the Beatitudes and there every single blessing is future oriented in anticipation of how God will reward those who share His heart. I don't know that use the word "blessed" all that often except in a Beatitude sense. I guess when I mean lucky or fortunate I just say that...

I'm sorry to admit that typically have anxious thoughts about God bringing something on me for which Jesus would call me blessed. I know that the concept is insanely helpful in counseling and talking with people who are going through stuff. Nevertheless, when I reflect back on the "blessings" God has brought my way, I wouldn't trade a single one. I'd have liked to have learned some of the lessons an easier way, but each has been totally worth it. And at the bottom of it all I know that God would sustain me through w/e came my way. Wow, just contradicted myself! ah, call it a paradox....

hesselbern

After thinking about this a bit, I wonder if I need some correction for seeming to categorize temporal goodies as something less than blessings. I suppose we should think a bit more like Job in the give and take...

Ryan

I typically think first about the material blessings that are bestowed upon me. Not that material blessings are bad. But I sense discomfort that I am so cognizant of them. I think the Beatitudes lay out what a human should look like when transformed by Christ.

What encourages me is that God brings all things about for our salvation. So whether it is loss, violence or imprisonment, these can be a blessing. In Christ all things can be transformed. Mighty warriors of Christ have received evils done to them as medicine for their soul. So that during trials they lived a life of blessedness.

dgoffeney

Bern, I love how you externally process on here...and it's really insightful too. I do want to comment on your's and Murph's thoughts from my last post, but i'll do that a little later. In short, thanks for chiming in and helping to guide this conversation. I do want to learn Hebrew and Greek, and am starting to build my library of resources. First, i'm working on getting either logos or accordance (for Macs), then i'll move to that stuff. Regarding 'blessed' I agree with your thought process. The pendulum can swing and we look at possessions from a neo-platonic perspective and fail to recognize God's love and provision through material things. However, we can miss the point in the other direction and be so consumed with what we 'have' that we miss the greater picture of what it means to be 'blessed' by seeing and knowing God in the face of Jesus. Matthew 6-7 walks though this 'paradox':) incredibly well. In Matt. 6 Jesus says to trust for God's provision and not have our eyes focused on earthly matters (material things)...but in Matt. 7 he tells us to ask our Father in Heaven, as He is perfect (heavenly) and will give good things to those who ask. All of this flowing from the earlier verses I mentioned in Matt. 5. Break down any of those words if you want (from Matt. 6:19-7:14).

dgoffeney

Murph, thanks for these wise and brief words. Seriously, you captured so much here with just 2 paragraphs. Jesus does carry all things about for our salvation in Him, and we can be considered as "blessed" when we have all sorts of trials to face as a result of our faith and/or as a part of our sharpening/sanctification. I was thinking of a little persecution I faced a few years ago and how that was such a blessing. I faced some similar stuff last week and it had little affect on me (while it almost killed me in the past), because I saw the sanctifying process of establishing my identity in Christ, regardless of praises or tearing-down from others.

Kyra

I'm sorry to admit this is my first post on these topics! I have read all the words and am encouraged by the discussion going on here :)

I think blessed really has stuck out to me over the years as overused and under-rated. For instance, I sang in the gospel choir at Chico and we sang a song called, "God's got a blessing, with my name on it". I'll refrain from venting about the theology (or lack thereof) of the actual lyrics. But, I was really uncomfortable with this idea that a blessing is a tangible, profitable gift from the Lord. I think that we are "blessed" only because of God's redeeming grace that was bestowed to us---the sinful people. This is the truest and deepest form of a tangible blessing that we have received. I totally agree with you guys that the Sermon on the Mount points to something much higher and deeper than most of us would think of when we use this word on a daily basis. I wonder if we consider ourselves blessed (happiness as stated in the definition) when we go through trials, when we are weak (thus relying on Jesus), when there is no where to turn BUT to the Lord. This sounds to me a little more like the blessed that Jesus was talking about. We can have an attitude of blessedness with and without those tangible, material things that so often cause us to overlook the Giver for the gifts!

Paul N

Yeah blessed is definitely one of those words that you understand intuitively but struggle to define. Like i could use it in a sentence easily but would struggle to define it with a sentence.

Biblically it seems even more confusing because we are blessed by God and also called to "bless the Lord". So I might attempt a definition by saying a blessing can be anything that improves your situation favorably. So when God blesses he improves our spiritual situation- which is the only one that matters. But what then does it mean to bless God? We can't improve God's situation?

But if we internalize God's blessings as spiritual in nature we will more likely be thankful in all situations... knowing bad things are from God for our good and so are good things. We will hope in things unseen and view them as more treasurable than things seen. Viewing it this way I think helps me go through life much happier because things seen can be very depressing and very misleading.

dgoffeney

Hey Honey, you're a wise woman. Great question about considering ourselves as blessed amidst various trials. However, most of us, if honest, are able to see ways that trials were blessings in how they pushed us closer to Jesus and continued to form us into his image. Also, being content in Him whether we are in a season of material wealth or poverty, is a sure sign of one who is growing in what it means to follow Jesus and understand his gospel.

dgoffeney

Paul, great points in the final paragraph, and you definitely make some great observations about what it means to 'bless the Lord'. I have always struggled with this and I hope to dive into it more soon. In the mean time, Bernie, do you have any insights on this? It seems that it would be a 'blessing' to God as we recognize His glory (eg. the result of proper worship is God's glory realized, which is something that pleases Him). So, maybe to bless God is to recognize the truth, which He rejoices in.

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