Have we American-ized "Blessings"?

As a lead-in to our Mt. of Beatitudes post, we wanted to share you some real-time life ponderings in the world of Jitney...

I (Whitney) confess that until lately, have been terribly guilty of considering material things as blessings. Yes, I blame it, in part, on the American culture and even a little on the Southern culture. "Why, bless your little heart!" ;)

My sweet husband approached me the other day with a simple thought: Why do we consider a nice house or a hefty sum of money in the bank a blessing? What about people in Africa who have no shelter to sleep under but still praise Jesus for their blessings?

We ran to Matthew 5 - the documentation of Jesus teaching the multitudes about the Beatitudes.

Side Note: I always pronounced "Beatitudes" as "Beautitudes" until I was about 20 years old. It made sense that these teachings made one beautiful, right? Please tell me you've made that mistake too...

Basically, Jesus is saying that those who give of themselves for His glory, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who are merciful, who are persecuted for His sake, who are pure in heart - those people are blessed. And what are they blessed with? The kingdom of heaven, comfort, satisfaction, mercy, the honor of being called the sons of God... a great reward in heaven. We don't see God promising a massive house, a super nice car, or even clothes (unless it's clothing of righteousness).

You are probably thinking: Well, what would you call my house? Or clean water? Or an overflowing bank account?

We're not sure. In fact, that's where we're at a standstill.

I personally think they are merely things that God has entrusted us with so that we may use those gifts in order to bring Him glory and declare His name. For example: If you have a house with lots of rooms, host a DNow weekend, adopt children to fill the rooms or serve as foster parents.

JD feels a little differently about it but our disagreements lead to some incredibly healthy arguments, so we're OK with that.

However, I was sharing our hearts with my friend and mentor Barbara here in Huntsville. She pondered on it for a couple of days and this is where God led her. It's a question / answer session with Billy Graham and we all agree that he hits the nail on the head with the ideas of "blessings"...

Question: My neighbor claims that God wants to bless us, and therefore if we just have enough faith He'll make us wealthy. Is this what the Bible teaches? If so, I must not have much faith. -- Mrs. H.G.
Answer: God certainly does want to bless us -- but the blessings He promises us aren't material, but spiritual. Nowhere in the Bible does He promise to make us wealthy if we'll just have enough faith. Remember: Jesus Himself was poor, and so were His first disciples. 
What are the blessings He promises us? The first is the blessing of forgiveness. Because of our sins we are separated from God and deserve only His judgment. We also live under a burden of guilt, because down inside we know we haven't lived the way we should. But when we come to Christ and trust Him as our Savior and Lord, God blesses us by taking away our sins and our guilt. The Bible says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" (Psalm 103:12). 
But God also promises us the blessing of new life -- new life right now, and eternal life in heaven. When we come to Christ, God Himself comes to live within us by His Holy Spirit, and He promises to begin changing us from within as we submit our lives to Him. Even when hard times come, we know He is with us and wants to help us. That is good news! 
Have you asked Christ to come into your life? If not, do so today. Then thank Him that He is with you every day, and that no matter what problems come your way, you can turn to Him for the wisdom and strength you'll need to meet them.

What are your thoughts on blessings? 

And, honestly, have you ever thought beatitudes was pronounced "beautitudes?" Please say yes. :)