Blessings: They Are Free

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I have striven to obey God all of my life. The past 47 years have been the years of real growth in understanding. Life has not always been the proverbial “bed of roses.” I have experienced the sharp reminder that roses bear thorns. We often are prodded to reach out to God when we run into a thorn, but we also need to learn to reach out to Him when we see the roses. As the old song says, “In every life some rain must fall.” The phrase, “But too much is falling in mine,” is also part of that song. Isn’t that the way it is for all of us? The scriptures tell us there will be times in life when we laugh and times when we cry (Ecclesiastes 3:4 Ecclesiastes 3:4A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
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). We sometimes emerge with scars or lost limbs (figuratively speaking) but that, too, needs to be understood in the right context. Jesus said that we were to pluck out our eye if it causes us to offend because it is better to move forward with one part missing than to lose everything (Matthew 5:29-30 Matthew 5:29-30 [29] And if your right eye offend you, pluck it out, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell. [30] And if your right hand offend you, cut it off, and cast it from you: for it is profitable for you that one of your members should perish, and not that your whole body should be cast into hell.
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). Jesus did not advocate removing an eye—He was speaking about doing whatever was necessary to enter eternal life. The ultimate reward is so great that no physical or mental suffering is too much to bear. God does not enjoy seeing our pain, but He knows that sometimes it is for our own good that we suffer. A drug addict must go through great pain to shed the addiction—but that suffering will save his/her life and the end result is only good. God comes to our rescue quickly if we let Him.

Along the path that leads to eternal life there are little piercing moments of great truth and light that cost nothing and seem intangible, but carry a greater worth that we can imagine. These are part of what I consider to be blessings. A short time ago, I experienced such a blessing. I am sure many readers have also experienced that, and if not, the day will come when blessings will be recognized. When we remove all the outer trappings of life, we are left with the understanding that the greatest blessings in our lives are often our children. God says it is a blessing for those who fear Him thatyou shall see your children’s children (Psalms 128:6 Psalms 128:6Yes, you shall see your children's children, and peace on Israel.
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). I can think of no physical blessing more important than this in our lives. It is especially true when you see your children living successful lives and their children laughing and playing together. I know what God meant when He inspired this Psalm. I have 14 grandchildren.

Blessings come in different packages and sizes. Often they are real surprises. One of my most memorable was an evening I spent listening to one of my granddaughters perform in a musical presentation. She played a solo instrument with such skill that the entire audience was left amazed and delighted. I nearly burst with pride as I listened and observed. I had known that she played, but I had no idea how well. That was a blessing. Before this audience of performers, teachers, and others, this young lady walked out with confidence. The complicated piece of classical music began with perfect coordination of piano and saxophone. What followed was an incredible performance. It was done flawlessly (in my opinion) and resulted in a spontaneous standing ovation. I sat dumbfounded for a few moments. So many emotions shouted for expression. I looked at my son (her father) and could scarcely imagine what he felt. 

Blessings may come unexpectedly and all too often go unrecognized for what they are. God often speaks in a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12 1 Kings 19:12And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
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). He also seems to use “still small blessings” to let us know He is there for us. When blessings are recognized, our response can only be one of thankfulness. It amazes me that people seem to skip over great blessings or simply do not recognize the big ones—let alone the small ones. Small blessings, which are all free, are constant reminders that God is there. What a great source of comfort they can be. I read of the ten lepers Jesus healed in Luke 17:12-18 Luke 17:12-18 [12] And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: [13] And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. [14] And when he saw them, he said to them, Go show yourselves to the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. [15] And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, [16] And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. [17] And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? [18] There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
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. I cannot imagine what these men had gone through in their lives. Leprosy is terribly debilitating and these people were shunned by others in Israel. These men stood far off (as lepers had to) and called out for mercy. Jesus gave them the free gift and blessing of being healed. Only one came back to thank Jesus and God. This blessing Jesus gave allowed them to “live” again. The miracle was physically impossible and would be classified as a wonder today. Perhaps the other nine men eventually realized what a blessing they had been given. Let us hope so. God loves to give blessings to mankind.

The best thing about a blessing is that it is free. God does not just indiscriminately pass out blessings. His favor is contingent upon obedience. But often God uses blessings to call people to Him and give them the opportunity to repent and follow His way. The ten lepers were healed because of Jesus’ merciful nature. Paul would enter Gentile cities and God would heal some who hadnever heard of Jesus Christ. They first thought their pagan gods had descended (Acts 14:9-11 Acts 14:9-11 [9] The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, [10] Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on your feet. And he leaped and walked. [11] And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.
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). In these cases, God was getting people’s attention and building the church. A blessing may be considered as a gift or some act that brings joy and happiness, or it may fill a need. People can be a blessing to others if their words and actions are properly considered and rightly given.

I do not believe we should be continually looking about us for blessings that God has given. We can become silly by overdoing that sort of thing. Some people are so emotional and in need of attention that they seem to require a long list of “blessings” to reassure them that God loves them. We can all find little things that have worked out for us and attribute everything to God. It is a little confusing when we see people, who we know do not believe in God at all, receiving blessings. Rain falls on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45 Matthew 5:45That you may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
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). Wicked people do prosper (Psalms 10:3-5 Psalms 10:3-5 [3] For the wicked boasts of his heart's desire, and blesses the covetous, whom the LORD abhors. [4] The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. [5] His ways are always grievous; your judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffs at them.
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). We sometimes want or expect God to give us things that we need or want without recognizing the part we have to play in being blessed. There are many facets to the paths we walk in life and God sees them all if we diligently seek Him. He knows when and how to give the very best blessings. We have no right to demand or even expect God to bless us.

I ponder the years of my life, and I have come to realize how blessed I have been all along this wondrous road. The times of pain, sorrow, and loss have been fountains of education and learning. Experiences, though sometimes painful, have born fruits in understanding and enlightenment that I cherish. I realize that I have become a better person over the years because of the times God did not answer my prayers with a “yes.” I have also come to appreciate the really meaningful blessings He has given—such as my children and grandchildren. Having said all of that, it is clear that the greatest blessings are yet to come. To spend eternity with God the Father, Jesus Christ, and all of my loved ones is more than I can fathom.

God gave His Son to atone for our sins. Without His mercy we would not even know what blessings we actually need and we would not come to know the meaning of the sacrifice of His Son. We come to see thatHis blessings are not only free, they are limitless and much more than we could ever desire. Let us live with joy and hope in our hearts and come to see God in all we do. He is our Father and is preparing eternity for us. Thank you, Lord! 

To find out about God’s greatest blessing for you, read our Bible study aid, The Gospel of the Kingdom.