January 13, 2002
Genesis 48:1-16 (p. 42)
Matthew 3:13-17 (p. 837)
Before the passage:
Theme - The word "blessing" - a common religious word
Gen. 48 uses it several times. (note, Jacob = Israel)
Matt. 3 - Bapt. of Jesus - note the Trinity - God the Fr. speaks to Son & sends HS
I'd like to speak to you this morning on the subject, "Living a Life of Blessing."
"Blessing" is a word we use a lot, and we
use it in many different ways.
- "That was such a blessing."
- "God has really blessed us."
- "Praise God from whom all blessings flow."
- "Reverend, would you offer the blessing?"
- "God bless you."
- "Parents, do you add your blessing to the marriage of these two people?"
- "The Lord bless you and keep you."
Webster's Dictionary of course, gives us
the variety of its meanings.
1. A blessing is a gift bestowed by God. - as in "Count your blessings."
2. A blessing is a prayer offered before a meal. - to give "the blessing."
3. A blessing is also an invocation of God's favor. - asking for God's favor & mercy. "God bless these children." "God bless America." "God bless you."
4. To give one's blessing also means to give one's approval.
"Do you add your blessing to this marriage?"
These are common words for religious people
and not so religious people - "Blessed." "Blessing"
"Bless." We use them in religious and nonreligious contexts.
The Bible uses these words a lot as well. So I thought it would be helpful to study what it means in the Bible to Live a Life of Blessing.
Ephesians 1:3 - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places."
One way we are to Live a Life of Blessing is to begin to realize and celebrate the spiritual blessings we have in Christ.
Sometimes we underestimate our faith and our Savior. Paul wrote in Ch. 3 to the Ephesians, "I pray that Christ would dwell in your hearts by faith, so that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have the power to comprehend what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ . . . so that you may be filed with the fullness of God."
In other words, the Gospel was huge for Paul! It had height and depth and breath and length. It wasnít just having a little religion. It was like Jesus said - finding a treasure in a field so valuable that you sell everything you have to buy the field so that you could have that treasure! The Good News is that precious and powerful.
We have been so spiritually blessed in Jesus Christ!
Itís like being incredibly thirsty and finding a Spring that will never run dry. Itís like being lonely and finding a Friend who will never leave you or forsake you. Itís like needing to be accepted and finding One who knows you better than you know yourself, and yet loves you and accepts you wholly and completely. Itís like needing some guidance and finding the Good Shepherd. Itís like needing some comfort and finding the Prince of Peace.
Living a life of blessing begins by realizing how much we have been blessed. I think one of the main purposes of church, worship, and beautiful buildings like this, is to remind ourselves of that and to thank God for "every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Another important concept for leading a life of blessing is found in the very first Psalm, Psalm 1- "Blessed are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they medicate day and night." In other words, "Bless are they that follow God."
When the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, five times God said to them, "Follow me and you will be blessed." Deut. 11 - "I set before you a blessing and a curse, the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I am commanding you this day, the curse if you turn aside from them." I interpret "the curse" to mean the natural consequences of going against Godís ways. Leading a Life of Blessing involves obedience to God.
My pastor, Rev. Armand Weller taught this
same truth using these three points.
1. God made you and me.
2. God made this world.
3. Since God made you & me and God made this world, therefore the best way for us to go through this world is Godís way.
When Weíre on our summer youth mission trip I always make this point to the youth group. I tell them, "Sometimes in your life you will wonder if you are in the will of God, "Should I go to this school or that school?" "Should I marry this person or not?" And you will sometimes have to wrestle with finding Godís will along the way. But this week will not be one of those times! Because this week you can know that you are in the will of God. You are doing what God wants you to do. And that is a beautiful thing, when your life is aligned with the will of God."
There are a number of passages in the Bible
that tell us exactly what Godís wi
ll for us is and the type of actions that God favors and blesses.
Blessed is the one who takes refuge in the Lord.
Blessed are they that have regard for the weak and the poor.
Blessed are those who maintain justice
Blessed is the one whose sins are covered, blotted out by Godís forgiveness.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.
Blessed are the pure in heart.
Blessed are the merciful.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness.
All of these and more are actions &
attitudes that God naturally blesses - God favors and honors these ways
because they're Godís ways! When we align our lives with the will of God,
we are (at least in those moments) leading a life that God delights in
and blesses. In those moments we bless God!
Thereís one other type of blessing in the Bible. There are spiritual blessings that are found in Christ. There are blessings we gain from obedience to God. And there are blessings that we give & extend to others.
Genesis 48 is a beautiful example of giving a blessing. Jacob blesses his grandsons - Ephraim & Manasseh. Some people call this The Family Blessing where you tell someone that you are so glad "that you are my son, my daughter, my father, or mother."
Jesus' Baptism is a beautiful example of a family blessing, as God the Father says to God the Son - "This are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
A friend of mine had a most amazing talk
with his father one day. It lasted about 30 seconds but it was the best
talk they ever had. The son said, "Dad, I thought you were a bit hard
on me growing up. It bugged me." The father responded right away, "I was, and I'm not really sure why. But . . I'm so proud of who you've become." "Thanks Dad."
About a month before my Mother died she said to me, "You're going to have a good life." She spoke a word of blessing over me.
The Jacob's blessing is a good model to
follow. It includes the following.
1. Words of love and affection.
2. Physical closeness and touch - he kissed & embraced them.
3. a Confidence in a positive and blessed future.
4. The expression of faith in a loving, partnering God.
I read recently of a Congregational church that did a powerful thing on Sunday, September 16 (5 days after the terrorist attacks). For the children's message, the pastors invited the children to come forward for a blessing. And the pastors placed their hands on their little heads and spoke words or blessing - "The Lord will bless and keep you." I can't even put into words why that's such a beautiful thing to do.
Live a Life of Blessing
this week. Do it by soaking in the spiritual blessings of God - the unconditional love, the joy and friendship of God - live in these blessings & in obedience to the will and ways of God. And then . . . . . be a blessing to someone else. Live a life of blessing others. When you get up in the morning & you say grace before your breakfast - "Lord, help me to be a blessing to someone today?" When you have a meeting or an appointment with someone, ask yourself, "How can I bless them?"
Have you ever heard that expression, "Some people give you joy when they're coming, and some people bring you joy when they're leaving." The difference is being focused on other people and blessing them. Live a life of blessing.
Thank you for the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ. Thank you for the many ways you have blessed us and given us gifts far beyond what we deserve. In gratitude, let your blessing overflow through us this week. Amen.