Blessed

Blessed: What It Means

In His first major sermon to the multitudes, Jesus began with one word… “blessed.”

What followed was a list of people who could consider themselves blessed. “Blessed are the poor in spirit… blessed are they that mourn… blessed are the meek…” and so on. The essence of the opening words of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 was that those who know the Lord, who reflect His nature in their very lives, are blessed.

The word blessed is the state of being. Those disciples to whom Jesus preached were not aspiring to being blessed, they already were blessed. The implied promise is that those who know the Lord and live by His Spiritual leadership will be blessed, but what does it mean to be blessed?

The word translated into “blessed” in Matthew 5 means to be happy. That makes sense, until you start to wonder what it means to be happy.

What does it mean to be happy?

Sadly, so many people in our world today struggle because they pursue happiness, but fail to grasp what it really is.

For some, happiness is a state of joy, and to maintain happiness, one must maintain a continual state of joy. This is unsustainable and impossible, and almost always leads to bad choices, sacrificing long-term blessings for short-term pleasures, and warps one’s sense of values.

For some, happiness is a state of accomplishment. The problem with this approach is that the satisfaction of accomplishments is usually short-lived. Ask any Super Bowl winning quarterback, and they’ll tell you.

No, happiness is a state of being confident and secure. To be happy is to realize that all of your needs have been met. To be happy means to have the human needs of love and esteem met. To be happy means to know that you are going to be okay.

With happiness being the confident and secure state, one can experience happiness regardless of emotional state. You can be happy and joyful at the same time. You can also be happy and sad at the same time. You can grieve while feeling confident and secure in God’s grace, so while you are expressing emotions of sadness and angst, you are still happy.

The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America declares that God created man with certain unalienable rights, among which are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have the God-given right to pursue a state of confidence and security, but where shall we find it?

For some, it’s in the finances. So long as they can accumulate enough wealth to provide for their families indefinitely, they think they will find happiness, that is, confidence and security. The problem with this approach is that those who work, or invest, for money realize how fleeting it is. If your hope for happiness lies in money, you will always fear losing it, thus will never attain to confidence and security, and thus will never be happy.

For others, it’s in relationships. The problem with people is that we each bring our own hang-ups, baggage, traumas and triggers to the table, rendering us incapable of providing confidence and security to others. When others seek to find their happiness in us, they are almost always left disillusioned.

No, happiness can only be found in the Lord. By trusting the Lord, we learn that, not only is our eternal destiny secured, but God has also taken note of our needs in this life, and has committed Himself to providing for those needs. (See Matthew 6).

Therefore, it can be concluded that the more we trust the Lord, the happier we’ll be, even if the emotion of joy eludes us.

May you find God’s blessing today.

Why happiness is so elusive…

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Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

-James 4:2-3

John D. Rockefeller built a fortune through his company, Standard Oil. Seeing a need for a reliable brand of kerosene that would not explode into flames as kerosene often did in the 1800s, Rockefeller set out to develop a safe way to refine the liquid fuel from oil, and then brand it so that anyone buying it would know they bought a safe product. Hence the name, “Standard.” As in, “This product lives up to our standards of safety,” and burns bright enough to illuminate our homes and offices to our standard. It elevated our standard of living.

Rockefeller’s shrewd business skills and ability to leverage service, money and volume built his empire. He built strategic partnerships with railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, eliminated competitors through hostile takeover and stock purchases, and never quit working to expand his empire.

To this day, the name “Rockefeller” is synonymous with wealth. Unlike many who inherit wealth, Rockefeller built his from nothing. Today, his family still benefits from his decisions.

Yet, when asked, “How much money is enough,” Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more.”

At the height of his wealth and power, Rockefeller basically owned America. Yet, even at the height of his wealth and power, Rockefeller neither found happiness nor peace. At least, he didn’t find it in his wealth and power.

The fundamental fact of life is that, if you can’t be happy where you are, with what you have, then having more will not make you happy.

That’s why James 4:2-3 says:

Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

James addressed discontentment among early Christians by pointing out two things. (1) They didn’t engage God in prayer about their needs and wants, and (2) their motivation was suspect.

The first situation addressed here is discontentment. The Christians to whom James wrote were not happy. They desired things that they could not have. They wanted more. They struggled for more, yet they failed. The harder they pressed, the harder the world pressed back.

The first reason those who read James experienced this torment dealt with their worldly attitudes. They wanted, and fought to have, but failed to obtain, because they didn’t ask God. They neither asked God for the blessings they sought, neither did they ask for God’s permission and direction.

These Christians lived a carnal, worldly existence. In doing so, they excluded God from their day-to-day lives. That’s an important detail to remember. When we live in the carnal, day-to-day world, without seeking God through prayer, Bible reading and meditation (deep thoughts on the scriptures), we are excluding God from our day-to-day lives.

These Christians, having excluded God from their lives, received no blessing from God. Why would He bless and reward His children who avoid His presence.

James then addressed another problem. Those who had approached God in prayer about their desires did so with impure motives.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Those who had gone to the Lord in prayer to request specific blessings did so for the sole reason of pleasing their flesh. They wanted that which they could consume, not that which they could use to bless God and others.

A good example of this would be the man who prays for the new convertible, the beach house, or for the winning lottery numbers.

So, while they did follow Biblical directives to pray, their hearts were not right. Instead of having a heart for God and His people, they were selfish. Therefore, their prayers went unanswered.

That brings us to a very pointed question. “What’s my motivation?” Are we self-focused, or focused on others? Do we see others? Or do we only see ourselves?

Happiness is defined as confidence and security. Do you feel confident that the Lord will do great things in your life? And are you secure, knowing that He will provide, protect and care for you? If so, then you are happy, whether you feel joyful or not. If you do not feel confident and secure, it might be because you are searching for confidence and security in the wrong things. At that point, nothing will provide happiness for you, regardless of how much of that nothing you have.

As for John D. Rockefeller, you might be surprised that amassing wealth and making money wasn’t his primary motivator, as he is quoted as saying, “I had no ambition to make a fortune; mere moneymaking has never been my goal. I had an ambition to build.”