Ephesians 1:3 reads,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,
Paul does not begin his letter by asking God for blessings, he instead chooses to bless God, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Isn’t this something we want in our lives, to bless God, to make Him smile, deliberately give Him happiness? I think too many of us forget this in our daily walk. Instead of praising God, instead of making choices to purposely please Him, we just act as if He is our blessings ATM and ask Him, even claiming faith that we will receive this or that from Him as some sort of approximation of a relationship with Him as a form of pleasing Him. Yes, faith pleases God; it is impossible to please Him without faith (Hebrews 11:6). But, how would feel about a relationship in which the other person was all about what you did for them and gave them? God loves you deeply and nothing can change that. I just want to encourage us to live a life that says we love Him too, to live in gratitude, glorification, and goodness. What is it that pleases God? In Hosea 6:6, God tells us what He desires.
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
He wants a relationship with us! He wants us to know Him and love Him. He is God! We are supposed to be in a relationship with Him in which we love Him with our entire soul and love others as He loved and loves us (Matthew 22:36-40). And read the next part of the sentence, He has already blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places! It is already done! We do not receive the gift of Salvation and peace with God only to no longer experience grace or mercy when it comes to being spiritually developed, He has done it. It is all Him and not us. He has blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. There is nothing in the Kingdom of Heaven that God has withheld from us. We do not have to “claim it” or believe extra hard or earn it, we only have to ask for it and receive it.
We can spend so much of our time, looking for God’s blessings, looking for provision, looking for what is going to make us happy in this life that we forget that He has already blessed us, provided for us, and given us every spiritual blessing. We can confuse our priorities. Rather than bless God, rather than pursue Agape Love, we chase blessings, fall into rituals, and lean on our own strength and understanding. One of my favorite passages from the Bible is Matthew 6:25-34 It reads,
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
We don’t have to chase after all the stuff, we only need to seek God first and everything else will fall into place. We don’t seek His Kingdom as the way to be blessed, we seek His Kingdom as the way to bless Him, to love Him back, to know Him more. He already loves us deeply, He has already blessed us. Before we took our first breath, before our parents came together, before He Created the earth, He loved us and chose us to be His very own. Verses 4-6 of the chapter read,
even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
For what purpose were we chosen? To be holy (set aside for a sacred purpose) and blameless. The word blameless here means without blemish. That reminds me of the sacrificial lamb without blemish, Jesus (Exodus 12:5, 1 Peter 1:19). And remember God has already given us that blessing! We are holy, set aside and He is making us into the image of Christ and at the same time has made us into the image of Christ through our relationship with Him by the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 says it like this
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
He took all the steps needed for a relationship with us. He chose us, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons and daughters through Jesus according to His will! He wants this. He wants you! He wants this. And the thing He wants from us is to be the praise of His glorious grace. What does that mean? It means that the way we live, will point toward His grace and exclaim His grace. That pleases God. It pleases Him to bless us, not because we are doing something to earn it, but because He is Gracious God.
When we walk around trying hard to believe that God will bless us with this or that, when we do what we do to earn those blessings, it doesn’t glorify God’s grace and love, it glorifies us, it glorifies our faith not God’s grace. It is God who loves so deeply, it is the Father who adopted us, it is Jesus’ work that saved us, it is the Spirit who transforms us, it is us who is already blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Verses 7-10 continue and tell us some of those blessings.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
The most wonderful blessing we have, the thing for which we should praise God every day and every moment is redemption! We have redemption, not through working hard, praying hard, whipping ourselves, or paying the price of death, but through Jesus’ blood, His death and resurrection, His work, His will, His glorification of The Father. We have forgiveness of our trespasses. All of our sins are forgiven, we can’t be accused of those things anymore. God is rich in grace. He lavishes us with that grace. He doesn’t have to scrimp on grace and forgive just some sins, He forgives according to the riches of His grace. And He doesn’t lavish that upon us blindly, but with wisdom and insight. He has a purpose, a reason for saving us and get this, He let’s us in on it! He makes His will and purpose known to us. Jesus described it this way in John 15:8-17
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
His will is a relationship, a friendship with us in which we love, agapao God and others. This relationship shows by the love we show, not the blessings we seek. He chose us for this friendship! The LORD chose you, He chose me! The One True Living God chose us! And He said, all you have to do is ask and boom it’s done. You don’t have to waste your time seeking the stuff, the blessings, and all that, you can spend that energy on love, on living in this relationship with Him. That is His will. His purpose is that you and I live in that love so that we are living in Jesus’ name, glorifying or reflecting Him, looking and walking like Him. Love one another as Jesus loved us, being willing to lay it all down, give it all up for them and for Him, so they too can be His friends.
I am cheering God right now! I am singing halleluiah; my soul is so joyful with this awesome and wonderful thought! And there is more! Can you believe it? Of course there is more. This is God! There is so much more! Verses 11-14 read,
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Remember, in addition to being His friends, we are also adopted as His sons and daughters. That adoption gives us an inheritance that includes every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. It also includes Heaven, His name and His nature. His Holy Spirit makes us over into who Jesus is, He creates a new identity in us. The identity of Agape Love, Jesus, described in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8 and Galatians 5:22-33. Why? Why does He do this wonderful thing? So that we can be the praise of His glory! So our lives can reflect that awesome love and relationship. So that we can be united with Him.
Listen, consider that if He wants people to look at us and see Him, don’t you imagine He will bless you, provide for you, and give you good gifts? Those things, they come, they are par for the course, wonderful yes, but not what we seek. We seek Him, we bless Him, we live and love in relationship with Him. Believer, I encourage you to seek the Kingdom of God first, to seek to know God more and love God with all you do, feel, and think, and to love others with the love He gives. Go ahead and give it a try and see if all that other stuff doesn’t just fall into place and find new places in your priorities.