Sunday, September 6, 2015

Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow (Ephesians 1:3a)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who….” (Ephesians 1:3a, NASB95)

When reading verse 3 again I really did not get past the first words for a few days. What does it mean to say “Blessed be”? Does it mean that we can bless God by enhancing Him in some way as when we say that we are blessed? When we speak of blessing in this way we focus on favor being shown to us in a gracious way. But God has no need of being blessed by us in that way. He is infinite in all things and He Himself is the source of all blessing. James wrote, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17, NASB95)

I’ve spent some time in the past looking at this word, and in doing this I went and looked at the various words translated in the Bible as “blessed” as well as some of the variants of the words and the context in which they were used. This was truly a rich time, and before moving forward with this post I took time again to do a similar study as well as reflect on how I have seen this recently in my life or in the lives of those I have been around.

The Greek word translated here “blessed” is the word “eulogētos.”  Looking at this I immediately thought of our word “eulogy” which is a term that we often hear related to the good words said at a person’s funeral or retirement. It is the praising of a person either verbally or in writing. While we find a closely related variation of this word in this same verse, this particular construct is only used eight times and each time it is used in relation to giving praise back to God for the blessings He has bestowed.

And this is the sense that I see this word “blessed” is used here in the beginning of verse 3. Paul wrote “blessed be … who….” He was giving praise to God because of who God is and what God had done. Paul was turning the eyes and ears of his readers to the special nature of the One of whom they were called to serve and who had blessed them all in very tangible ways which Paul would proceed to review.

Equating this word “blessed” with giving praise to God, I thought of a benediction which has pronounced and sung in churches for hundreds of years. Thomas Ken (1674) was credited with writing, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow” using an older piece of music attributed to Louis Bourgeois (1551). Look at the relationship between the praise and the reason for the praise in this song which has not only endured the years, but had grown as so prominent that it is known as the “Doxology.”

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

It is so simple in its words. Praise God because every blessing comes from Him. There is no other source, and He in all His fullness as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Spirit) is the only one worthy of praise. I know I struggle greatly at times with challenges in life, and moments like this are an incredible reminder to take those opportunities of struggle and turn them into opportunities to trust God as I turn them back to Him who has called me as His own and He has so richly blessed me. It is in these times that I am challenged to complete the sentence, “I bless (or praise) God who (because)….” How about you?

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