In Deuteronomy chapter six we find what has been referred to as, "The Greatest Commandment." Moses exhorts Israel to hear God, and to keep His commandments, which consist of some simple, yet powerful exhortations, like loving Him with all your heart, not tempting the Lord, instructing your children to do the same. Israel was getting ready to leave a forty year trek in the wilderness, and now to enter into the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy chapter six there are a series of simple commandments that they were to follow.
Long ago, there ruled in Persia a wise and good king. He loved his people. He wanted to know how they lived. He wanted to know about their hardships. Often he dressed in the clothes of a working man or a beggar, and went to the homes of the poor. No one whom he visited thought that he was their ruler. One time he visited a very poor man who lived in a cellar. He ate the coarse food the poor man ate. He spoke cheerful, kind words to him. Then he left. Later he visited the poor man again and disclosed his identity by saying, "I am your king!" The king thought the man would surely ask for some gift or favor, but he didn't. Instead he said, "You left your palace and your glory to visit me in this dark, dreary place. You ate the course food I ate. You brought gladness to my heart! To others you have given your rich gifts. To me you have given yourself!" The King of glory, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave himself to you and me. The Bible calls Him, "the unspeakable gift!"
When we think about the birth of Christ we always associate it with the Christmas season. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, better to put the emphasis on Christ than just the Holiday Season. As I ponder the importance of Christ birth, I can't escape the ultimate end of His life, the death on the cross, and His resurrection. Isaiah, speaking hundreds of years before Christ appearance, reminds us of the true gift that He gave to all of mankind that would be willing to accept His forgiveness and salvation.
“For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him. :3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. :4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. :5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:2–5 NKJV)
Isaiah got it prophetically right, what was coming with the birth of God's Son, was the gift of forgiveness, salvation, spiritual freedom, and the healing that many so desperately need. WOW! Thank you Jesus.
I was reading in Genesis chapter one, and was reminded of a singular truth that often times escapes me. That is the fact that if I will simply let God be who He wants to be in my life that He can create in me the very thing He intended me to be. I was struck by the simple truth that God spoke all things into existence, Genesis 1:3, "Let there be light, and there was light." Genesis 1:6, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and there was." Genesis 1:9, "Let there be dry land, and there was." Genesis 1:11, "Let there be grass, and there was." You get the idea, God wanted things to exist not only for His glory, but also for our needs. In Genesis 1:26, "Let Us make man in our image, and He did." After all the creating was done, God looked at what He had done and declared, "...indeed it was very good." I am encouraged when I realize that God, through His salvation has made me into a new creation, and that this too is very good. My only responsibility is to yield to His will and allow the Holy Spirit in conjunction with the Word of God to transform me, make me if you will, into what He has designed me for.
As Paul wrote to the Romans, it was his desire to encourage them with the fact that God is for us. This was in the context of him explaining his own time of trials and suffering. In Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Notice that he didn't say, "...revealed to us" but "in us." This is a reminder that even in the midst of our trials and difficulties God is there to work in us a greater glory that brings glory to Him. This is further revealed through God's everlasting love for us. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:31–32 NKJV)
“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). I think we all have encountered a great many blessings from a worldly perspective, a job, a family, someone to love, someone who loves us, children, grand children, good health, financial stability, and the list goes one! But according to the Apostle Paul, God has blessed us in another way, spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. There is no earthly or temporal blessing that could measure up to those spiritual blessings from God. It begins with the new birth (salvation, John 3:16) and it continues with sanctification (being set apart, 1Thess. 4:3) and ultimately results in our glorification (transformed from this earthly body to a spiritual one in heaven, Colossians 3:4).
What Christ secured for us on the Cross and through the atoning work of His blood, was not just a place in Heaven, but more importantly, in the here and now and changed and transformed life. This is where the real immediate blessings come into play, free from the curse and penalty of sin, from from the strongholds of any type of addiction, free from the curse of the Law being under the new covenant of grace. All of this is what we should refer to as "Spiritual Blessings in the heavenly places in Christ."