Announcements included a reminder that there will be a council meeting Tuesday and a thank you from Agape House for the gifts from our children. Darlene transitinoed us into worship with a beautiful rendition of "‘Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus" after which we sang All Creatures of Our God and King, How Great Thou Art and How Great Is Our God.
Cheryl Borndal read Mark 10:17-32 and Brad led us in a time of prayer.
Pastor Brad's message was essentially an overview of how the Scriptures speak of blessing. Blessing is a gift of grace, undeserved. The word blessing appears over 400 times in the Old Testament alone.
The first time we see the word in the Bible is in the very first book, Genesis, on the fifth day of creation.
21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”
God creates, then blesses.
The next day, God creates man...
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then, on the seventh day God rested. He loved it so much He blessed the seventh day and made it holy.
In Genesis 9, after the flood God blessed Noah and his sons, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply..."
In Genesis 12 God talks to Abraham, saying, “I will bless you… and you will be a blessing.”
In this passage the pattern is clear: blessing begins with God and flows through us. God blesses us and we spread that blessing further.
Our aim is not the enhancement of our own blessedness. Sometimes we focus on getting blessed instead of blessing others. Our aim, in the pattern of our creator, is to be a blessing.
What is the good life? Is it money? Good looks? Health? Blessing is different from success. It's not about showing the world how blessed I am. Do people see you as a blessing in their lives? That is a good life.
Many people feel like damaged goods because they are living outside of blessing. Story of Jacob and Esau gives this a different perspective. It's the story of family disruption and anguish. The father loved one son, the mother loved the other and it resulted in family strife. This is the story of Isaac's two sons, each striving for the blessing. At one point, Esau the firstborn sells his birthright for a bowl of stew. The younger Jacob, whose name means heel-grabber, strove by cunning, deception and determination to obtain the blessing.
There was a desperate battle between these two boys, both desperate for blessing. Eventually, Jacob deceives father to get blessing and Esau vows to kill him so Jacob runs away. Esau gets wealth and power but can’t get what he wanted… the blessing of his father. Jacob after many years away returns home.
It's a well-known story. The night before he arrives home he spends the night wrestling with the angel of the Lord to be blessed by God. In the end he receives what he has striven for but also gets a broken hip in the encounter, a wound he will never recover from in this life.
Jacob has feared this meeting with Esau and on the appointed day he learns Esau is coming with 400 men. But when the moment arrives Esau runs to meet Jacob and embraces him, hugs and kisses him. Jacob’s brokenness touched Esau… Maybe Jacob’s wound is more of a blessing than his wit and good looks, Brad noted. Later, in Genesis 49 Jacob blesses each of his 12 sons… the blessing suited for each.
God doesn’t bless based on whether we deserve it. In the ancient world, blessing used to flow through firstborn, but God's way is not that way. In Abraham’s sons, Isaac is the blessed, not Ishmael. Again in Isaac’s sons and Jacob’s sons the blessing bypasses the firstborn. It's interesting that Joseph is one of the most famous stories in Genesis but blessing flowed through Judah. Blessing comes through people who are not first born. God’s blessing is to the damaged goods department.
At this point Brad brought forward two points he wished us to grasp.
1. God’s blessings should be received and we need to view ourselves as richly blessed by God.
You are blessed. Are you aware of how blessed you are?
Brad then shared various insights on prayer from Jewish culture including how they were historically committed to praying attentively, not mindlessly.
The New Testament also offers insights on blessing. Recall the hymn “Count your blessings, name them one by one…” It's interesting how sometimes the more blessing we have the more grumpy we become. We take them for granted.
2. Joyfully bless others.
Brad mentioned how people who experience meaningful touch ten times a day live longer. The younger generation is starving for a blessing.
Here's a graduate level blessing challenge: Bless those who curse you. Giving blessings will change lives.
You are blessed.