The First Secret of Blessing What can we do to receive this special blessing from God? Is there a secret, and if so, what is it? Fortunately, there are clear biblical directions to guide us. The first obvious instruction from the Lord is that we are to ask in prayer for an outpouring of God’s favor. You remember what made Jabez stand out in his generation:
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ?Oh, that you would bless me . . . !'” (1 Chronicles 4:10). Jabez, it seems, could not accept the idea of living without the blessing of God. Please notice the emphatic words, “Jabez cried out.” His was no mere mental prayer, but the deep cry of a soul that could not live without an open heaven above him.
Jabez’s prayer reminds us of Jacob, one of the patriarchs of Israel, who also had a breakthrough time of prayer with God one day. One night Jacob wrestled with God-in-the-form-of-a-man and afterward uttered a sentence that has inspired many people throughout the centuries to fervently seek God for more. As the man sought to leave, Jacob responded, “I will not let you go unless you bless me”(Genesis 32:26).
This kind of passionate, desperate prayer is definitely out of vogue today. Maybe that’s the reason we experience so little divine blessing on both the church as a whole and her individual members. So often we seem content with the status quo rather than reaching out for more of God. Because of this, we seem to have little effect on the world around us. The sad truth is that most of our churches experience relatively few conversions. Instead, we grieve over large numbers of wayward children, a growing tide of divorce, and increased addiction to pornography. All these afflict the church itself — yet even this host of ills can’t seem to stir us up enough so that we cry out to God, even wrestling with him if necessary, to secure supernatural help from heaven.
The Second Secret of Blessing
Another vital channel of blessing comes from God’s precious Word, the Bible. I read a certain passage from Revelation many times over before I came to understand its critical significance: “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it” (Revelation 1:3).
Though this is the introductory passage to the book of Revelation, I believe this promise of blessing is a valid promise that applies to every line of Scripture. A tremendous blessing awaits each of us every day in the Word of God! When we read with a sincere desire to hear God and take his truth to heart by faith, we will receive favor from him.
Think of all the blessings we squander by allowing ourselves to become too busy to spend time with God’s Word. Though some believers are in such a woeful backslidden state that they have lost all desire for the Bible, many people want to read it but simply can’t find the time. Yet it’s more than just a matter of time. Reading the Bible on a regular basis involves engaging in spiritual warfare, because Satan doesn’t want us to read it. He knows God intends to bless us through the Bible, so he tries to make us think we are too busy. God helps us to defeat him and his crafty strategies to keep us from the blessing that God wants to give us every day as we come into contact with his Word.
Why not ask God today for fresh grace to read the Bible daily? No matter how many times you have failed, request God’s help so that a new love relationship will begin between you and the Word of God. Don’t let the devil rob you of the blessing the Lord has set before you! Remember, there is real blessing from the Almighty in reading and taking to heart every inspired word of Scripture.
The Third Secret of Blessing
Perhaps the most critical key in opening a channel for the blessing of God is the one we often find the most difficult: the matter of obedience through faith. Obedience, of course, is a first principle of spiritual life in Christ: “For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
Who are these righteous people who are surrounded and protected by the blessing of God against every weapon and attack of the enemy? They can’t be people who are morally perfect, for there are no such people. No, God’s blessing is reserved for those who long with all their souls to walk in his light and holiness. The righteous in this context are those who will not tolerate sin in their lives but who are always quick to confess their disobedience and seek mercy from the Lord.
On who else could a holy God pour out his blessings but on those who “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6)? Can our heavenly Father shower us with blessings if we cling to and practice the same sins that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross? Will we experience his favor if we continually grieve the Holy Spirit he has given to live within us? Such a thing is an absolute impossibility in the moral universe that God rules over.
To obey or disobey? This is the struggle so many of us lose, forfeiting as a result many of the good things the Lord intends. When God clearly reveals a certain path for us to follow, it can become a critical point of obedience upon which hang the blessings of tomorrow.
The Fourth Secret of Blessing
There is one more secret to obtaining God’s blessing. When Moses was giving his final instructions and farewell address to the Israelites, he gave specific instructions about something called “the third-year tithe.” Unlike the regular tithe, or ten percent annual offering, the third-year tithe was reserved for a different purpose.
At the end of every three years, bring all the tithes of that year’s produce and store it in your towns, so that the Levites (who have no allotment or inheritance of their own) and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied, and so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands (Deuteronomy 14:28?29).
It is important to see what God is doing here. Every third year, the towns of Israel became huge storage centers for the tithes of this agricultural nation. These offerings were not brought to the place where the Lord was worshiped in Jerusalem, but rather were given to supply the needs of the priests from the tribe of Levi, who supervised the official worship. Levites were not allowed to own land and have their own farms, so God insisted that the people provide for them in a special way.
But that was not all. The third-year tithe was also earmarked for the aliens, orphans, and widows who lived in the community. What was so special about these people that they were to receive the same consideration as the priests? For one thing, aliens were often excluded by others, sometimes becoming victims of discrimination. Orphans and widows were also vulnerable and in danger of all kinds of exploitation. Because of these unfortunate facts of life, even among God’s people, the third-year tithe was reserved for them.
What a marvelous, compassionate God we have! He always has a special place in his heart for the vulnerable, weak, brokenhearted, and rejected among his people. This provision was especially touching because aliens were not even part of the chosen people of Israel. Yet the Lord looked out for them! Compassion and concern for the downtrodden, then, is not merely part of a “liberal agenda,” but is rooted in the very heart of our Creator. However, there was even more to the third-year tithe than supplying the needs of Levites, aliens, orphans, and widows. Israel was to give generously “so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” It seems that the act of joyfully giving to others actually opened up the windows of heaven so that the people themselves could be blessed.
God still wants to do extraordinary things for followers who imitate him in compassionate giving. How many blessings have we missed out on through stinginess and having a “me-first” attitude? How much more might we receive if compassion and openhandedness characterized our daily living? What a profound and far-reaching truth the Lord revealed to the apostle Paul when he taught that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
Can you and I honestly say God is smiling on our life and labor? If not, why not? After all, the problem is never on the Lord’s side. God wants us to seek his blessings diligently, for “he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). Whenever we experience his fullness, God’s name is honored. He wants us to align ourselves with his own holy character by walking “in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7).
Adapted from Breakthrough Prayer by Jim Cymbala
Copyright © 2005 by Jim Cymbala, Published by Zondervan Used with Permission