One of the reasons I’m always so encouraged by what Mark Batterson writes, is that he has a way to inspire readers in every area of life, including reminding ourselves of the blessings we have, the blessing we are, and how we can use that truth to make a difference in other people’s live. His second children’s book, co-written with his daughter Summer Batterson Dailey, reminds both our children and our adult hearts that we are a blessing and can bless any we encounter. In honour of Children’s Books Week, it’s a grace to welcome Mark to the farm’s front porch today….

guest post by Mark Batterson

What is the first thing God did after creating us in His image?

“Then God BLESSED them,” Genesis 1:28.

Before original sin, there was original blessing! That sequence is significant. In fact, it absolutely alters the way we relate to God. If we get that sequence wrong, the entire algorithm is off. Why? If we doubt original blessing, we second-guess the goodness of God, and we relate to God for all the wrong reasons.

“God has blessings in categories you cannot even conceive of.”

“What comes to mind when you think about God,” said A.W. Tozer, “is the most important thing about you.” That begs the question, what comes to mind when you think about God? Is He smiling or is He frowning? Are His arms open and outstretched? Is He trying to catch us doing things wrong or doing things right? 

In other words, what is God’s posture toward us? From the beginning, God’s posture has been one of blessing.

Blessing is God’s most ancient instinct. It’s who He is. It’s what He does. God won’t bless pride or greed or laziness. He loves us too much to do that. We certainly have to position ourselves for His blessing, but of this I’m sure: God wants to bless us beyond our ability to ask or imagine.

Some of us have a hard time believing that and I’ll tell you why. If you feel cursed rather than blessed by your family of origin, it’s very hard to conceive of a good God whose deepest desire is to bless us. If that’s true, if that’s you, you need to rediscover the God of original blessing! God has blessings in categories you cannot even conceive of.

Blessing is God’s most ancient instinct, which means that blessing is our oldest memory as a human race. It’s also our deepest longing! Remember Esau? His brother, Jacob, stole his blessing, stole his birthright. Esau cried out to his father: “Bless me—me too, my father.” Genesis 27:34 We long for blessing, just like Esau. It is our heart cry!

As a parent, one of my primary responsibilities is to bless my children. How? It starts with unconditional love. I don’t love my kids because of what they do. They are my flesh and blood. I can’t not love them!

“The biggest blessing is you. It’s blessing others with your time, your talent, your treasure.”

One way we mirror the heart of our Heavenly Father is by pronouncing blessings on them. Remember the baptism of Jesus? “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” When was the last time you spoke those words over a son, over a daughter?

I have a prayer of blessing that I have prayed over my children thousands of time: “May you grow in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with man.” Luke 2:52

My job as a parent is to pass along a generational blessing to my children, but that’s just the beginning when it comes to blessing. I live by a little maxim: FLIP THE BLESSING. When Lora and I receive a blessing, we take inventory. Then we try to bless others in the same way we’ve been blessed. If you give me a gift card, I’m going to return the favor to someone else! Why? “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

Few things are more than fun that flipping the blessing. It turns blessing into a game. And here is a lesson I’ve learned: you cannot out give God. When you flip the blessing, it opens the floodgates of blessing! That is a lesson I want my kids to learn at an early age. Yes, sharing is caring. But it goes beyond material things. The biggest blessing is you. It’s blessing others with your time, your talent, your treasure.

As Christ followers, we lead with blessing. And it’s not just when others bless us. Jesus taught us to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and bless those who curse us. In other words, flip the blessing even when you feel like flipping the bird. Why? That’s how we shift the atmosphere. That’s how we stand in the gap as peace makers, grace givers, and tone setters.

And it starts in the home. It starts with our children. As parents, we have a sacred responsibility to bless our children. But it doesn’t end there. Even children are meant to be conduits of blessing!

If you’ll open your eyes to the joys all around,

So many blessings wait to be found.

Then look in the mirror.

What do you see?

You are the blessing!

I hope you’ll agree.

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers CoffeehouseThe Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center.  Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including Win the Day, Chase the Lion, and Whisper

Mark’s newest children’s book, The Blessing of Youis co-written with his daughter Summer and helps young children recognize signs of God’s generosity and goodness in their everyday lives and encourages them to pass on those blessings by being their own wonderful, God-created selves.

[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]