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The Power of Blessing

Peninsula Community Church 

The Power of Blessing

September 10, 2017

Numbers 6:22-26 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them, The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

I love this passage. It reminds me that we are blessed by our Heavenly Father. Today, we are here to pray a prayer of blessing for our children, their teachers, and those who impact their life. Before we do that, it behooves us to understand how blessed we are through God’s grace. The truth is, we can only bless others when we recognize how blessed we are as people of God.

In this passage, we understand just a bit about that blessing. Time does not allow us to give the time to this that it truly requires. So our focus will be on this passage as it shows us the blessing of God to Israel and subsequently to us as His people. What we find here is that Moses was commanded by God to have Aaron speak a blessing over the people. Culturally and historically these words were not just spoken but were lived out and manifested in their lives. In Moses’ day, a word of blessing was worth so much more than we can imagine. It was in fact worth more than land or money in many cases. These were not empty words but were also prophetic words. So let us take a moment and look at the words spoken by Aaron as directed by Moses through the inspiration of God.

First, Aaron was to proclaim “The Lord bless you and keep you.” As we have noted already, we are a blessed people. We have been given so much that we would be unwise to ignore or fail to acknowledge that truth. Here is a fact that you can take to the bank. God, wants to bless you. He wants to give you good and gracious gifts, and in fact, He already has given great gifts (James 1:17, 2 Peter 1:3-4). The problem, too often, is that we squander the gifts we have been given. It is sad that we have squandered so many of the blessings that God has bestowed upon us.

One reason for this is that we have pushed God out of the picture and have tried to live life on our own. But the fact is He, God, is the source of our blessings. He is the originator, the giver, and the keeper of our blessing. The word, to bless. literally means “to kneel in order to serve.” We see this manifested in Jesus when on the night of the last supper, He took a towel and washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:4-5). The blessing of God is in fact the goodness of God in action, by which a supply of His grace pours down to us from His good favor (Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 9:8, Ephesians 1:7, 2:8). Just think of the fact that He sent His son to give us eternal life (John 3:16). The result of His blessing is that we are preserved, protected, and kept for His purposes.

Secondly, Aaron proclaims “the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you.” In the first part of the blessing we find that He will bless us and will keep us. It is here that we see the manifestation of the favor and grace of God. We are blessed because we get to experience the grace of God. We are blessed to know that through forgiveness and His gift of grace that we do not always get what we deserve. What a blessing?

Listen to the words of Moses and his personal encounter with God. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7). He is a gracious God. He is a patient God. We are blessed by His grace.

Thirdly, Aaron proclaims “the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” The end result of God’s blessing is that it brings peace. Peace is that inner strength that comes in the midst of a storm. Peace is that settledness that comes as a result of a trust in one who is able to keep us, show us His grace, and empower us with peace. Through the blessing of God we get to experience His protection, His grace, and His peace. Wow! But as His people, we are not to just receive these blessings, we are to share this hope and life with others. We are truly blessed, but we are called to share this blessing with others. The great Winston Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

With that in mind let me give you a couple of ways that we can bless others today. John Trent and the late Gary Smalley have studied this idea of blessing and have produced five common means by which we can bless others. Let me share these with you. First, the blessing requires appropriate meaningful touch. In the Old Testament, before a word was spoken, there was the laying on of hands. There was a hug or other meaningful touch. We say meaningful because some are raised today as I was. The only touch received is one that is done in anger. It is a slap, a push, or an act of abuse, and is certainly not an encouraging touch. Meaningful touch is powerful in that it conveys in non-verbal ways that we love and affirm others. Meaningful touch in fact prepares others for our words.

Research affirms the many benefits of touch. Several studies conducted indicate the improvements in sleep and digestion among infants who are massaged regularly. Healthy touch releases endorphins such as the bonding hormone oxytocin and can calm the aggressive behavior of adolescents. Holding hands or giving and receiving hugs on a regular basis can lower blood pressure and calm a racing heartbeat. “Touch is without a doubt one of the most, if not the most powerful means of communication we have available to us as human beings” says James Smith, professional Christian counselor. “We may speak, express ourselves through words, tone and the volume of our voice, or body language, however nothing comes close to touch.”

Second, we have the spoken message or word. Words are important and what we communicate through our words is critical. Biblically, through the spoken word a child was not left to “fill in the blanks.” They did not have to wonder whether they were valuable to a parent or grandparent. The goal of the spoken word has always been to place unconditional love and acceptance into the heart of a child or loved one. By the way, it is never too late to do this for our children, no matter how old they are.

You see, life and death are in our words. we can build up or we can destroy in a matter of minutes (Deuteronomy 30:14-19; Proverbs 15:4, 18:21). There is power and death in our tongue. We can give life or death through our words. So, choose your words wisely. How many stories have you heard of people who have given up and have lived with brokenness because of the words spoken into their lives? It is not by chance that the Bible tells us that Jesus became the Word (John 1:1, 14). He is the living embodiment of the Word that was spoken and revealed to us. He attached value to His word by making it personal.

Third, we attach high value to others. The word “blessing,” itself, carries the idea that the person you are blessing is of incredible worth and value, even if they are an imperfect person. In short, you are helping others get the picture that you see things in their life that make them special, useful, and of great value. By our words and our actions we are adding value to the people we encounter.

There is so much in society that beats us down. There is so much that seeks to destroy our value. Our personal value is being threatened by a media that sets a standard of what one’s value should look like. Too often today our value is based on our Facebook posts, Twitter accounts, Snap Chat, and other media outlets. Our value is weakened through comparison and trying to achieve what others think we should be. If we do not give value, our children, our families, and our friends will get their value somewhere and it may not be the value we admire, necessarily.

Fourth, we show that each child or person has a special future. With our touch, with our words that attach high value, come a response in a child or loved one’s heart that can be nothing short of transformational. The light that is illuminated in their heart and mind about how God has made them, can do more than we think to help them to live out a God-honoring future. That is why Jeremiah’s words have so much meaning as he reminds us of the future we have. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

Fifth and finally, we establish a genuine commitment. Blessing a child in particular does not mean we never discipline or point out areas growth needed. But children “know at an incredibly deep level if they have their parents blessing. They will do almost anything to get that blessing and attention even if it is negative. But, they will know if that parent, grandparent, or other loved one really sees high value in them, even in the tough times. Genuine commitment is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person that says as long as I have breath, I will be there to seek to build these five elements of the blessing into your life and life-story.

So how are you doing? Are you blessed? Are you being a blessing?

For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14

Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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5 Commitments for 2014

Peninsula Community Church

5 Commitments for 2014

January 5, 2013

Philippians 3:12-16 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

In preparing for this message I began to consider the idea of making New Years resolutions. As you might guess, the idea of making New Years resolutions is nothing new but I wondered where the concept of making resolutions come from. In researching this, I found that the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. If you were the one who loaned an item that would be a great resolution for someone else to make. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry. (From Wikipedia).

I am sure that each of us has in some way considered the idea of making resolutions going into this new year. Perhaps you have considered losing weight which by the way is the most popular resolution made each year. For others, it could be the idea of being nicer. For others it could be the idea of doing more for others. It could be watching less TV and spending more time in the Word and in prayer. While all of these are good ideas it is interesting to note that 88% of all resolutions made end in failure. It has also been noted however that 22% more resolutions are kept when they are shared with someone else. 

For us as believers, who are passionate followers of Christ, the idea of resolutions can also be a part of our lives. To come to the end of one year and begin another year is very much a time of evaluation and renewal. For me personally, I try to use the week between Christmas and New Years as a time to reevaluate where I am. What are my goals? How did I do with my goals from the previous year? When I was growing up it was a common event to have watch night services where we would close the year with thanksgiving and a commitment to follow Christ with a renewed spirit of trust and faith. 

As I thought about this idea of resolutions, I would like to suggest a couple of commitments for you consideration. Now I will quickly say that this is not an inclusive list. In fact, if you were to be in my place and were sharing this message, you might share a different list and that would be fine. In fact, if I were to preach this same message at some point in the future, I might use a different list. The idea is that this is not an inclusive list but are simple some key commitments for us to consider.

The first consideration is to commit to seeing the miracles and blessings of God around you. This is important for us as we can get sidetracked by the circumstances and cares of life. A heart that looks for the miracles and blessings of God around us is one that is filled with gratitude and thankfulness. There is so much in our world that can pull us down and create in us a ungrateful heart. When we don’t look for the miracles of God around us, our hearts can be filled with grumbling, complaining, and ungratefulness. We see this in the life of the Children of Israel. It is amazing to me that there appears to be a huge cycle of gratefulness and then murmuring and complaining. You see God would meet their need and would provide for them. Miracles were happening all around them, and yet they would fall into a grumbling and complaining attitude. One day they are angry with God. On another day they are trying to get rid of Moses as their leader. But when we commit to see the miracles of God around us we will be less likely to complain and grumble. When we focus on God’s blessings and on what He has done for us, we are more likely to be filled with a heart of gratitude and blessings.

The second consideration is to be less judgmental and more understanding of others. I have been reading a couple of books here lately. One of the books is by Pastor Jack Graham, the senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas Texas. In his book, Unseen, Jack makes an observation about his life as he is getting older. He stated that as he is aging, there is a tendency for him to be more judgmental. He commented that he can begin to judge the way others act, what they say, how they dress, and so on. I too have recognized this tendency in my own life. As we get older, we have the potential to believe that we have arrived and can develop “a know it all attitude.” I am sure that I am not the only one with such a mentality as they get older. When we experience a judgmental attitude we can miss out on seeing others for who they are or from understanding where they are coming from and why they do what they do. For me, I never want to become John and Max from “Grumpy Old Men.” These two men are played by Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. John and Max have habitual complained and argued so much in their life that they do not know how to live without arguing and fighting and trying to one up each other. While they fought you also realize that inwardly they are miserable and unsatisfied with life. They are grumpy old men. May we never become grumpy old men.

The third consideration is to have a greater commitment to sharing your faith with others. Studies have shown that those believers who share their faith are happier and more grateful for their own relationship with Christ. To clarify, this applies to those who have developed a commitment to share their faith as a lifestyle rather than a legalistic need to accomplish some task so they can check that action off of their spiritual list of things to do. Sharing our faith can come in many styles, ways, and ideas. For example, sharing an encouraging word to one who is discouraged is one way we share our faith. Sharing our faith has as much to do with our attitude as it does our words. When we share our faith with others we are more appreciative of our own relationship with others. There is a principle that applies here that says as we give away to others we understand the value of what we have. We also appreciate what we have in Christ even more.

The fourth consideration is to determine to live as one forgiven and as a forgiver of others. A second book I have been reading highlights this idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness initiates healing and right focus. The story is of Abraham Lincoln who attempted to walk in forgiveness to the best of his ability. Secondly the author rehearsed a story from the civil war that has always been a powerful story in my mind. When the war was over and the surrender documents had been signed, there were a couple of actions taken by the northern army that changed the course of American history. Because of the pain and death exhibited by the civil war, Grant and those under him could have been antagonistic and demoralizing to the southern army. 

After the signing of the surrender documents by Lee and Grant, we see Grant do something that expressed honor and forgiveness to General Lee. As Grant stood on the porch of the McClain home, Grant tipped his hat to Lee as Lee mounted his horse. In those days this was a sign of respect and honor. Even though Lee had been the enemy, Grant recognized that a greater result would come from moving forward with honor more than dishonor. Grant realized that the nation could only heal as forgiveness was given freely whether Lee and the army of the South would ever receive the act of forgiveness or whether they deserved it for that matter. By accomplishing this act, Grant not only released Lee from the past but Grant himself was releasing himself from the burden of the past experiences and the past hurts of the war. Grant was also an example to his troops, as well. For example, John Chamberlain, commander of the 20th Maine, who stood against the charge of the Alabama troops at Gettysburg also showed great honor to Lee and his men. As Lee was retreating from the McClain house, Chamberlain without a thought and in a spontaneous manner called his troops to attention and a salute. It was these acts that began to bring to healing to a divided nation. For us too, the act of forgiveness can begin that process of healing broken lives and broken hearts. Remember, forgiveness is always about the one doing the forgiveness (Matthew 6:12-14). Jesus Himself says that when we forgive we too are forgiven. When we forgive there is a reciprocal spiritual act of forgiveness in us. You see when we forgive others, we are released from our own issues of failure, regret, and guilt. With that said, it is often harder to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. We are driven by our guilt, fear and failures than by the wholeness we have through forgiveness. But, forgiving others is the start to forgiving ourselves.

The fifth consideration is to commit to renew or deepen your love for God. As we read the Book of Revelation, we see in the letters to the Seven Churches that one of the complaints against the Church of Ephesus was that they had lost their first love (Revelations 2:2-4). They were no longer motivated by love and by the gifts that God had given them. They were motivated more by legalism and a regimented fulfillment of the law than by God’s love as a motivator. Their actions were not aligned with the love that had been given them and that should be the motivator of their heart. The result was that they were good about keeping the law but the growth of their heart was stunted. They were much like the Israelites in the Old Testament who were condemned for offering sacrifices without the heart to back it up (Isaiah 29:13-14 and Matthew 15:8-9).

Are you ready? Do any of these resonate with you today? Are any of the above doable for you? Are there other prospects for change to make your life more effective for Christ? You can do it. You can change. You can be an effective warrior for Christ.

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