Blessed Beyond Measure

Thanksgiving for Spiritual Blessings
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Nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all people life and breath and all things.—Acts 17:25 {FOOTNOTE: All Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise indicated.}

Jerry Moore

Acts 17:25 attests that God himself gives life and breath to all people and ..all things. He gives us temporal blessings such as food, drink, and clothing: “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:32). He gives us temporal blessings to sustain life: “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).

To some he also gives spiritual blessings: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3, KJV). “We received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God” (1 Corinthians 2:12, ASV). “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV).

Peter received a wonderful spiritual blessing when God revealed a great truth to him: “Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 16:16, 17).

Our heavenly Father gives us spiritual blessings so that he may have a special relationship with us, and we with him. He says: “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me” (2 Corinthians 6:18). John tells us that we who have received God’s spiritual blessings are children of God (1 John 3:2). God, speaking of Israel as his children, says: “But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and he who formed you, O Israel, Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you” (Isaiah 43:1,2). Just as God provided for the temporal needs of the children of Israel, he provides for all of our spiritual needs. And for these, we should be thankful.

A Blessing to Know the “Unknown God”

The first spiritual blessing for which we are thankful is that we know God, a blessing not given to all: “For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:23). Our heavenly Father has revealed himself and his marvelous plan to us: “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Jesus said: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted … But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:11,16,17).

We are privileged to know many things about God. We know he desires to have a family: “Simeon has related how God first concerned himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for his name” ( Acts 15:14). We know that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We know that a gentle and quiet spirit is precious in his sight (1 Peter 3:4). We know that he delights in the relationship he has with his son and with all of his children (Matthew 3:17; Proverbs 8:30,31). We know God’s plan is to pour out his spirit on all (Joel 2:28) and to teach everyone about himself through the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:33,34). Importantly, we know that God brings blessings to those who are his: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this, says the LORD Almighty, and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it” (Malachi 3:10, NIV). We also know what God hates (see Proverbs 6:16-19).

How do we show our thankfulness for this wonderful spiritual blessing of knowing God? We should become his outspoken ambassadors, defending his name, proclaiming his plan, and rejoicing in the knowledge he has blessed us with: “But let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).

Jesus as Our Advocate

Another spiritual blessing for which we are thankful is to have Jesus as our advocate: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate [Strong’s #3875: an intercessor, consoler] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1).

To fully appreciate what this means, consider the life of Moses. God had a special relationship with him, similar to what he has with us. God overruled the affairs of Moses’ life so he could become a great deliverer. We experience similar training. God gave Moses wilderness experiences to develop his character. He does the same with us. God showed Moses wonderful things to come. He does the same with us, but through his word recorded in the Bible. “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, Moses, Moses! And he said, Here I am” (Exodus 3:4). “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). However, Moses stumbled at the rock at Meribah; he had no advocate and was not allowed to enter the promised land of Canaan.

James wrote: “For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well” (James 3:2). Paul said: “We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin … What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:14,24, NIV). Unlike Moses, when we stumble we have someone to stand up on our behalf. We have an advocate who sympathizes with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15) and stands with us before our heavenly Father: “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). We can show our thankfulness for this amazing blessing God has given to us by being sympathetic, merciful, and kind to those around us whenever we have the opportunity: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Fellowship with Our Brethren

A third spiritual blessing is our relationship with each other. The apostle Paul tells us how we should view this blessing: “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as he desired. … so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:18,25). It is no accident that we each live where we live and we each meet with whom we meet (John 17:6, 20,21). Our heavenly Father knows we face many challenges in the narrow way and he has brought us together to encourage one another, nurture one another, and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).

 “And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24,25). Our heavenly Father takes pleasure in the meeting together of his children as we read: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1, KJV). He admonishes us through the apostle Paul: “So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (Romans 14:19). He also wants us to “be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” (Romans 12:10-13). He wants us to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (verse 15).

We can show our thankfulness for this blessing by “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you”(Colossians 3:13). “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3, 4). We are to “let this disposition be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, Emphatic Diaglott).

Spiritual Blessings Beyond Measure

After considering these spiritual blessings—knowing our heavenly Father, having an advocate in Jesus, and having a spiritual family—we see how we have been blessed beyond measure. Peter tells us why we have been called: “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit” (1 Peter 3:8). “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” (Hebrews 12:28, NIV).

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!