Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14
Will next year be the best year of our lives or the worst? Will our health improve, decline or will we die? Will the country succeed or stumble? Only God knows.
This verse appears at the end of the Book of Revelation, where the new, mystical Jerusalem descends from heaven. Whether it is accurate or symbolic, the question is, “Who gets in?” Jesus has repeated told us that He is the only Way, Truth and Light – no one comes to the Father except through Him – not Buddha, Mohammad or Krishna. We only need to believe and be saved, His blessings next year will be bold and quiet. Try not to miss them!
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: It is more Blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
Jesus isn’t into Christmas, He’s into people. It’s easy to lose sight of that in the mist of the glitter. His gift is the ultimate one: eternal life.
Imagine spending our life savings on a present that’s rejected or ignored. That would almost certainly destroy the relationship. But that’s how we often treat Him. Yet despite either our rejecting Him outright or ignoring His blessings, He still loves us and gives us even more. The miracle of Christmas isn’t the baby in the manger; it’s the mercies He showers on us daily. We need to open our hearts wide and receive those thankfully!
The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Blessed is He who comes in the name for the Lord!” Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9
Jesus enters the scenes described in the Bible purposefully. Sometimes He is very subtle, like when He entered Jerusalem secretly because His time hadn’t yet come. Usually, His entries are dramatic: the angels announcing His birth, the Spirit appearing at his baptism and here, when He’s entering Jerusalem days before His crucifixion.
How do we announce Jesus to those around us? Subtlety may work, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for cowardice. Boldness may be wise, but obnoxiousness doesn’t win converts. We need to pray for wisdom – and courage. Smart people are willing to be led, and our job is the show them the perfect Leader.
“Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also Bless me.” Exodus 12:32
In this climatic scene, Pharaoh finally agrees to free the Israelite slaves and let them leave Egypt. He wouldn’t have done it on his own, but God’s plagues left him no choice. And after bitterly agreeing to this, he asks for Moses’ blessing.
Christians believe different things about God, which is why there are so many denominations. But even those who don’t believe He exists ask for prayers in a crisis. Pharaoh had felt the pain of God’s wrath, and knew he needed a blessing. People we work and live around have pain and don’t know how to get a blessing. Jesus send us to be their blessing. He wants us up and out to help others experience His love for them – and us!
“May you be Blessed for your good judgment and for keeping me from bloodshed this day and from avenging myself with my own hands.” 1 Samuel 25:33
God described David, as a man “after His own heart.” He was full of God’s wisdom, intensity and sensitivity.
Here, God’s protecting David from himself. David’s mad because he’d been humiliated. He’s on his way to take revenge when God intervenes, and keeps him from tragedy. God’s always doing that for us too. We’re our own worse enemies. Often our impulse to lash out at others stems from nothing more than a bruised ego. God avenged David and He’ll protect us too. He’ll fight our battles and rescue us from others – and especially from ourselves! We can have a heart like God’s but only if we’re wise, courageous and faithful to Him too.
Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly called Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my Blessing!” Genesis 27:36
Life’s an endless series of choices. Most are trivial, but others just look trivial. Many of the biggest decisions we make didn’t seem important at the time but later had monumental results.
Esau is experiencing the effect of choices here. He voluntarily gave up his inheritance, his birthright, for a bowl of stew. Jacob deliberately decided to steal his brother’s blessing; both men’s choices had life-long consequences for them and their family. We only have two real decisions to make. Do we accept Christ as our Savior or are we going to inwardly deny His promise of salvation. Take your pick.
And without a doubt, the lesser is Blessed by the greater. Hebrews 7:7
Status plays a subtle role in our lives. Most countries don’t have formal ranks like those with monarchies do, or a caste system where birth determines everything about the future. Western cultures, though, still have plenty of haves and have-nots. Fortunately, our culture allows movement between classes. Hard work and good ideas matter.
Here, Abraham’s being blessed by his spiritual superior, the mysterious Melchizedek. Jesus isn’t mysterious and He’s more than our spiritual superior; He’s God! He introduced the revolutionary concept that all people are equal in God’s sight. Women, who had been perpetually oppressed in ancient times, were just as entitled to receive God’s blessings as men; slaves were spiritually the same as their masters. Through faith in Jesus, we can all have all His Blessings now!
Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Luke 13:35
God doesn’t pick the people we would; we’d always go for the smart, attractive ones. He takes the rejected things and makes them into jewels, like He did with us!
Unfortunately, the people of Jerusalem were looking for a smart, attractive Messiah, a warrior to overthrow the Romans. What they got was a man without any physical characteristics to attract people to Him. He was both meek and powerful. They rejected Him, their real Messiah. And God rejected them. God doesn’t wrap up salvation like a Christmas present. It’s wrapped in love, pain and faith. When we open His gift, we begin a celebration that lasts an eternity.
While He was Blessing them, He left them and was taken up into heaven. Luke 24:51
What a scene! Forty days ago the apostles saw Jesus crucified. Now He had been resurrected and was ascending into heaven. What happened?
Everything happened. His resurrection proved that He was God. His ascension was His way of telling the apostles that He was going home, to heaven, to His Father and ours. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide them, but that wouldn’t happen for ten long days. They needed faith. They had to wait, and ask: “Would God be faithful?” He was, but even then He didn’t make it easy. They had to be courageous, consistent and wise. So do we. God said wait. For Him. That takes faith, and having faith is all we’re asked to do. Wait and Pray.
“Blessed be Your glorious name, and may it be exalted above all Blessing and praise.” Nehemiah 9:5
Bruce Springsteen made the term “Glory Days” famous. His song is about people in early life who were at their peak, but never moved beyond that phase of life. The glory days are what’s already happened. In that past world, life doesn’t get better, it just gets glorified.
In this verse, Nehemiah is glorifying God for blessing His people despite their sins. We all sin. Some sins are more significant than others, but through the death of Jesus, God will forgive us if we ask Him. We don’t have to be trapped in our past. He lets us open the doors and escape the life we’ve had, and breath in the aroma of hope – hope in Him. Our glory days are ahead, not behind.