Affirming the Blessed

It has been a fair few centuries since He said it, but I wonder if the church He died for would recognise and affirm those He referred to as the blessed.

Those 8 characteristics are as counterintuitive and countercultural now as they were when He shared them with His disciples way back then. Sometimes in the bid to be people-pleasing and attractive to the eye, much is said to sell Christianity as something worthwhile because it’s like wish fulfillment, where all your wildest dreams come true and phrases about having the best in this life are appealing and gratifying, especially as they often coincide with what the world and the flesh suggest would be the best in this life – security, comfort, material benefits and happiness.

It’s jarring, then, to hear Him once more make the clarion cry that the blessed pursue something of far greater worth than security, comfort, material benefits and happiness. Indeed the blessed turn a lot of what others would deem that which truly makes us happy to that which ultimately makes us holy – not for our sake but for His Name’s Sake.

Yet how do we actively affirm what He referred to as the blessed?

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 128 – Basis of Being Blessed 

It sells really well. How to get rich quick. How do find Mr/Miss Right and enjoy true love forever. How to be a great parent. How to live without sickness. 

Those kinds of promises have people rushing to get the latest books, watch the latest videos, attend the latest conferences, buy into the latest craze and jump on the latest bandwagon of whatever is promising your best life now for just £xxxxx or $xxxxx. 

Religion is not immune to that way of appealing to followers. It’s almost a sales pitch to buy our product because it’s better than the others and all your wildest dreams can come true. Unsurprisingly you could read this Psalm and think this is the ticket to the best life ever. 

If that is the motivation then it misses the point. The basis of the blessed life is relational. A relationship so wrapped up in the other involved in the relationship, knowing Him and delighting to do His will that nothing else matters. Acknowledging and giving due reverence to the One who reveals Himself as the Great I Am. Creator and ruler of the universe. Majestic, mighty and holy. As such the appropriate response is to ever be pursuing Him and His way. 

Making that your life’s all consuming passion is the only basis of the blessed life. Are there benefits to that? Sure. But jumping in for the benefits and not embracing the basis is not an option. 

It’s intriguing how one of the benefits is to eat the fruit of the labour of your hands. That benefit is illuminating in a day and age where people truly enjoying the fruit of all their hard work is becoming more and more rare. Working for hours and hours and never getting to enjoy what you’re working for. Having so much but never getting to enjoy it out of anxiety or that gnawing sense of never being satisfied however much we have. Contentment and satisfaction don’t come with the guarantee for the latest consumer goods because they are qualities that come from someone who really knows what contentment is. 

That all consuming pursuit of right relationship with Him opens us up to experiencing the soul deep satisfaction of genuinely enjoying all that we work for, because we work for Hs glory. 

It’s something worth considering to discover what it really means to be blessed. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 112 – The Blessed Brother 

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Familiar question, right? 

In many responses, underneath is the desire to be rich, secure and happy. For many parents it is the underlying desire for their children. Some even would go as far as to say they are reflecting the desire of our heavenly father which has lead to some pursuing as a priority a prosperous life. 

That’s a pity, really. It’s a pity because that pursuit of prospetity misses the point of what it really is to be blessed. Someone who would have a good idea of what it is to be blessed shared his own experience in this Psalm. What he discovered was to be blessed is sourced in a right relationship with God. Loving Him and reflecting His character. Prioritising that pursuit turns the priorities from wanting to have lots of stuff and be the centre of all good things there is a greater desire to want to be a blessing to others – generosity, mercy and righteousness are not self-seeking behaviours, these are the characteristics of someone who has engaged with a generous, merciful and righteous God. 

These characteristics are not dependent on what we have, these are reflections of who we are. As we prioritise pursuing Him, there we find the path to experience what it is to be blessed. Are there benefits? Of course there are, but even those are a byproduct of keeping the main thing in focus at all times. 

What do you want to be when you grow up? If you want to be blessed, it pays to keenly follow what this Psalmist suggests. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

December Thanks #01: Family

Blessed.

What a word. What a thought behind the word. What a delight in the thought behind the word.

The more I consider the word, the more I appreciate it as a relational thing. Someone blesses me – that says something about the person and their connection to me. Being blessed is no even so much about the thing with which you are blessed as to the benefit it can have on other relationships.

So the first area of thanks I consider, is for the blessing of family. I recognise that I am extremely blessed to have loving earthly parents who are still alive. I have siblings that grew up with me and with whom I have a deep bond that is significantly meaningful and informs me to this day.

I am blessed in being a husband. That for me means being connected to a woman who devotes her life for my betterment. Sacrificially, wholeheartedly and compassionately, she does a great job at being a helpmate. She’s a friend and a companion and more. She is with me on the journey of life and for that I am hugely thankful.

God has then seen it fit in His wisdom to give us three daughters as well as my privilege of knowing her son. These children are incredible. Their different personalities, their love, their hearts and the deep link we have with each other that means there’s an unspoken understanding. The household is warmer and richer for their presence and such is their character that they also bring with them their friends who soon become fixtures in the home too much to our delight and joy.

Just when I thought the family thing couldn’t get any better, then God surrounds us with church family. At varying stages of closeness there are brothers and sisters in Christ who really are siblings. We really are family not just in a nominal sense. We share life together, we get deep, we get personal, we share laughs, we share meals, we share tears, we are free to be as real as we can and when that gets bare-bones transparent and vulnerable there is such a palpable sense of the richness of the grace of God among us.

Which neatly leads into the greatest family connection. The heavenly Father through the love of His Son and the power of His Spirit would choose to call me His own. That’s more than awesome. That’s more than brilliant. That’s more than words can convey. Material substance and financial wealth may not be something in which I physically roll in at present, but to know that I am blessed with every spiritual blessing because I am connected to the Father through the Son by the Spirit is something I value to a much greater degree.

My ongoing desire is for these blessings to be valued and cherished and used to invite others into this relationship with the loving, gracious, compassionate and forgiving Father. A Father who reminds me that every day there is something to be thankful for.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Resting in Blessing 

It occurred to me recently that there’s something immensely relaxing about being blessed.

Knowing how God has blessed me and continues to bless is something that takes a great deal of pressure off. It takes it off because He is more interested in me being a blessing to others to reflect His character. He provides everything needed for that to happen. He does it out of love and He is intensely committed to seeing that come to fruition. My part in that is believing that is the case and going on to behave in line with the belief.

That affects me more as I join my spiritual family in praying for others. It affects me more as I work with my brothers in engaging with others and seeing how we can serve, support and be a blessing to others. These efforts are not made in our own strength to show off any abilities or skills we may have. These efforts are done in cooperation with God who shoulders the heavier part of the burden, but invites us to learn from Him how we can reflect Him in the world. Every provision has been made for us, by grace. It’s just to get on the same page as Him and get excited about Him being up to something – and that something is people responding to His love in then becoming channels of blessing.

It’s on Him, it’s for us to join Him and watch Him do what He loves to do. That is very relaxing.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Confessing About Stressing: When It’s Hard To Be A Blessing

What’s inside tends to emerge outside under pressure.

It is one reason why tough times come to see what’s inside. To be honest, sometimes what’s inside is a whole heap of stressing. Stressing about outcomes that may happen. Stressing about how I will look after things. So to help protect myself I ensure that there’s no room for stressing or no appearance of stressing.

The protective mechanism, however, makes it very hard to be a blessing because the energy used to be such a thing is already taken up on the protective mechanism.

Speaking to a friend recently reminded me that to put aside falsehood is often about getting rid of the protective mechanism. That mechanism puts up someone that isn’t me instead of releasing whatever is stressing me in prayer to God and in conversation with a trusted mature brother in Christ. That act of releasing things in both settings is a real big help, because in being vulnerable I am reminded that the presence of God lives in me to ensure that His grace can absorb the stressing and replace it with peace and assurance to flow in being a blessing.

I appreciate the friend and the environment that can be cultivated to promote that degree of transparency and vulnerability that leads to  relying on God so that others can blessed. That in itself is a tremendous blessing. Thank God.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden