What would you say a ‘blessed life’ is?
Upon learning that Mary has been chosen to be the Mother of Our Saviour Jesus Christ she declares: “For He has looked with favor on the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed.” Luke 1:46
The blessed life of the Virgin Mary was a life of great sacrifice. It was a selfless life consecrated to God. It was a sacrificial life marked by great sorrow. Mary would have to witness the torture and crucifixion of her Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. She would have to witness the crowds mocking Jesus, spitting on Him, insulting Him, calling for His death. She would have to stand at the foot of the Cross watching her Blessed Son, Our Lord and God die for our salvation. Her blessed life was not defined by pleasure or wealth or status but by a total and complete surrender to the will of God. She lived a life of intimacy with God and she gave praise to God: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” Luke 1:46-47 Mary understood Our Lord’s mission of salvation and she embraced His mission as she accepted her fate as Mother of the Living, Incarnate God who would be sacrificed so that we could be redeemed.
Too often we think of ‘blessed lives’ as lives that are protected from any form of suffering. We hear people referring to their material wealth as a ‘blessing’ and sometimes it is and sometimes it’s not. If that wealth enables a person to be generous to the poor and needy then God is glorified in that providence that gives back to society. But if that wealth is only a source of personal gratification, is that life still ‘blessed’?
St. Peter was chosen by God. He was blessed to know that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” Matthew 16:17
St. Peter was blessed to understand that Jesus was Our Saviour, yet St. Peter still struggled to fully understand how Jesus would conquer evil. On the night before Jesus died, when the soldiers came to seize Jesus, St. Peter tried to defend Jesus: “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” John 18:10 “Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” John 18:11
St. Peter promised Jesus that he would not betray him: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Matthew 26:33 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter–this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Matthew 26:34
Ultimately St. Peter gives Jesus his entire life. Like all the apostles, St. Peter’s life is consecrated to helping people to know and love Jesus. His life is blessed by the Holy Spirit living within Him and he proclaims the wisdom of God: For “whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3: 10-11
The Virgin Mary, St. Peter and all the saints lived to give God glory. That is the essence of the blessed life –a life fully dedicated to God’s service.
We need to stop thinking of the “bucket list” – the list of things we want to do before we die and we need to consider what does God will for us to do before we die.
There are two different types of lives:
A life dedicated to SELF and the ‘selfish trinity’: “Me, Myself and I” – everything I do, I do to please #1 – ME!
A life dedicated to the Holy Trinity: “Father and Son and Holy Spirit” – everything I do, I do to please #1 in my life–God!
A life dedicated to self is not a blessed life, it is a carnal/sensual life devoted to the pursuit of pleasure.
A life dedicated to God is a blessed life, it is a spiritual life devoted to giving glory to God. It is a life defined by purpose, not pleasure, and it is a life that is dependent on God’s grace and Holy Spirit.
I spent most of my life, over 20 years working as a professional marketer. After my spiritual conversion at age 40 (yes, I am embarrassed to tell you how long God waited for me) I began to study the Scriptures. Ultimately I began to think like a ‘marketer’ about how to promote the Word of God. Let’s see I thought, Satan is promoting pleasure and God’s is calling for denial…Wow! What a challenge!
Ultimately I realized that God’s message could not be promoted like you promote a product because so many of the ‘benefits’ God wants to give us are future and eternal and faith relies on believing in that which you cannot prove and cannot see. But I realized there was also a difference between the pleasure Satan gives and the joy that God gives. Pleasure is something people keep pursuing for the thrill in the moment, but the joy that God gives endures beyond the moment.
“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved. Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 10:38-39
Faith is a gift from God and although we cannot see God with our eyes we know He is with us. Soldiers who are afraid of suffering choose another career, because what is the likelihood that a soldier will never get hurt on the front lines of battle? True disciples of Jesus are Soldiers of Christ committed to being trained by Jesus and to live for Him. Some of the training is usually painful as it awakens us to seeing the pain that we have caused God by our sinful choices.
St. Paul speaks about being ‘crucified with Christ’.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
The crucifixion we all need to experience is a spiritual one where our lustful passions are crucified and our ‘carnal/sensual self’ dies so that our holy desire for God’s will can be born as we become ‘spiritual beings’ dedicated to God’s service.
“The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.” Deuteronomy 30:6
“I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the LORD. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” Jeremiah 24:7
St. Paul spoke to the Jews about what this meant. He said, “a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.” Romans 2:29
A blessed life requires a blessing from God. A blessed life is not about avoiding suffering, accumulating wealth or enjoying a long list of pleasures. A blessed life is a life dedicated to serving God, to pleasing Him and to be constantly guided and nourished by His grace and Holy Spirit.
We are blessed to believe in God and to love God.
We are blessed to learn from God.
We are blessed to suffer for Him and to persevere for Him.
We are blessed to pray to Him.
We are blessed to give Him thanks and praise.
We are blessed to humble ourselves before Him to seek His wisdom and grace.
We are blessed to serve Him as we help one another.
We are blessed to live with Him and for Him.
We are blessed to come to His table to be fed by Him.
We are blessed to be a child of God and to give every moment to God for His good pleasure.
It is not enough to say “I am saved”, we must be willing to help save others. The soldier is not on the battlefield just to save himself. We must be ready to partake in the primary mission of Jesus which is to save souls.
Let us be humble remembering that only God can change the hearts of His people. Only God can circumcise our hearts. Only God’s Holy Spirit can help us to devote ourselves fully to God.
Let us pray,
Holy Lord Jesus, we believe that You are the source of every blessing. Help us to turn away from all that is evil and contrary to Your Holy Will so that we can pursue that which is righteous and just. Speak Lord, for we are Your servants and we are listening for Your guidance. Use us as You will and help us to imitate Your compassion, love, mercy and justice. Help us to be patient and to persevere even when we feel tired and discouraged. Help us to meditate daily on Your Passion Jesus so that our hearts can be circumcised by the greatness of Your love and that our old self that is carnal and lustful can die so that our new self that is spiritual and devoted to Your glory can be born and live. We ask this in Your Holy Name Jesus. Amen!
Friends please join A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ – a global peace movement that is giving glory to God by uniting Christians of all denominations in prayer daily at the time Jesus died for us, 3pm, in our local time zones. The Scriptures say “They will look on the one they have pierced.” John 19:37
Let us fulfill this Scripture by standing united at the foot of the Cross of Christ daily at the time Jesus died for us, 3pm (in our local time zones or another time zone that is convenient for you), and let’s remember how much Jesus suffered to save us and give us the gift of eternal life. Let’s pray for the mercy of Our Lord Jesus to be poured out so that our souls can be renewed by the grace of God. Remember to pray for those most in need of God’s mercy. Like a soldier on the battlefield let us bring souls to Our Saviour Jesus who can and will restore our souls and enable us to live a blessed life.
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