February 8, 2019 • Life for Leaders
Praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD.
who minister by night in the house of the LORD . . .
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who is the Maker of heaven and earth.
The life of faith is a circle of blessing. It begins with God, who blesses us (134:3). This means that God bestows goodness upon us, giving us material, relational, and spiritual benefits as an expression of his grace. As James writes in his New Testament letter: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
What do we do when we receive God’s blessings? Well, in part, we simply receive them, enjoying the gifts he lavishes upon us with open arms. We pause to reflect with gratitude upon what the Lord has given to us: our life and our faith, our families and our friends, our work and our world, our rest and our sleep.
Also, when we receive God’s blessings, we steward them wisely and well. If God blesses you with a family, then you help the members of your family to thrive in relationship with God. If God blesses you with particular talents, you use them for God’s purposes in the world, working for God’s glory and for the love of your neighbor. Blessings lead to a life of stewardship.
Beyond receiving and stewarding God’s blessings, we also are motivated by them to bless God. This is abundantly clear in the original language of Psalm 134. Verse 1 in our translation reads, “Praise the LORD.” The Hebrew verb, barak, could be translated more literally, “Bless the Lord.” That’s the same verb that appears at the beginning of verse 3: “May the LORD bless [barak] you from Zion.” God blesses us and we bless him.
Of course, we don’t bless God in the same way God blesses us. We have nothing material to give to God. We can’t give God talents or opportunities. We can’t give God people to care for. We can’t improve the quality of God’s life. But we can bless God by offering our words of thanks and praise. We can proclaim God’s glorious grace, both within the gathered community and in the world. And we can give to God that which he does not have apart from our act of blessing: our love, devotion, and life lived in service to him.
When I think of our blessing of God, I remember times when my children were young and gave me a present for my birthday. They had no money of their own, and, in actuality, spent money I had earned to give me a gift. Though their “blessing” of me in this way didn’t add to my net worth, what I loved more than words can express was the cards they made to accompany the gifts and the devotion those cards communicated. They blessed me in a way I could not otherwise receive and it gladdened my heart.
So it is in our relationship with the Lord. When we thank him for his blessings, when we lift our voices to praise him, when we live our lives for his glory, God is blessed. God’s heart rejoices. And we live in the circle of blessing.
Something to Think About:
How has God blessed you recently?
How have you blessed God recently?
Do you ever think that your praise actually touches the heart of God?
Something to Do:
Take a few minutes, or more if you can, to consider ways in which God has blessed you recently. Write them down if you are able to share them with someone close to you. Then, in response, bless God. Give him thanks for his blessings and praise him for his generous grace to you.
Gracious God, how richly you bless me. Day by day you fill my life with good things, including life itself! How thankful I am for the bounty you pour out upon me!
Your blessing comes first, Lord. You don’t bless me because I bless you. It’s the other way around. Your grace initiates and sustains our relationship. Your blessings begin the circle of blessing.
So, I bless you today in response to your blessing. I bless you with my words, lifting up your glory, exulting in your goodness, proclaiming your grace. I bless you with my actions, seeking to live in all moments for the praise of your glory. May all that I do this day bless you, O God of all good and perfect gifts! Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Do We Have to Lift Our Hands When We Pray?
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.