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Blessings With A Difference

1 Peter 4:14
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (NIVUK)

Most Christians assume that blessings are like candy sticks: sweet, long lasting and satisfying. In a way they are, but blessings are more than that.  A blessing is a spoken promise of good things to come.  Yes, such a proclamation will bring immediate joy, but it is the joy of promise and not yet the greater joy of fulfilment.  When God speaks blessings over those who are obedient, we may be confidently joyful now as we anticipate the greater tomorrow.  

This is particularly true for Christians who are persecuted.  Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  ‘Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.  Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12).  Stephen, when being stoned to death, “… looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” (Acts 7:55-56).  Joy always focusses on everything though God’s eyes.
But what about the malicious words of those who are resisting the grace of God, and despise us for being followers of Jesus; surely that cannot be a blessing?  They are!  Because if anybody accuses you of belonging to Christ, they have announced your destiny, an inheritor of the Kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:10).  You also have the blessing of Jesus with its promise of eternal reward: even Peter who denied Jesus remembered that promise (1 Peter 3:14).  In addition, there is the Father's blessing (Matthew 10:32) and the Holy Spirit's blessing (John 16:12-15) speaking of what is to come.
So, the paradox is that when the Jesus-resisters speak evil of your association with Christ, they are actually pronouncing a blessing that is confirmed by God, Father Son and Holy Spirit.  The promise of God's blessing should be a great encouragement in the hard times.  It looks to a reward that the world cannot take away (John 16:22).  So, do not fear those who speak badly of you because of Jesus; pray for them (Luke 6:28) because Matthew 10:33 says, "But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven."  This may really help you to listen to insults with God's ear, and to win for Christ, those who want you to lose.

Dear Lord God. Thank You for Your promises of blessing. How I need to revise my views about those who make my life a misery because I belong to You. Forgive me for my fear. Help me to hear Your commendation as people accuse me of loving Jesus. May I accept that Your blessing is upon me as I am ridiculed for my faith; and help me to believe that You will fulfil every promise to those who love You. Keep me true and faithful to You; and prayerful for those who as yet cannot see Your love, and who do not fear Your wrath. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams