Episode 1. Blessing from the Beginning
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They say that God is a God of Blessing. Is He? I mean – does God really want to bless you and me and if He does, how does that happen? Join Berni, as he takes a look at God’s blessing – from a …
They say that God is a God of Blessing. Is He? I mean – does God really want to bless you and me and if He does, how does that happen?
The words “God” and “Blessing” somehow seem to go naturally together. In fact, God is a God who wants to bless us … or is he? Each one of us can look back on our lives and point to some times of great joy and blessing, and times of hurt and disappointment and sorrow and loneliness. When it seemed that if there is a God who blesses, well he must of deserted us or at least that’s how it can feel. What do you think?
If God is God, is He a God of blessing or is that just some unbalanced kind of secular view of God that’s crept in? Or is God a god who really doesn’t care about us? For me at least getting a real handle of what God’s up to in my life, what his plans are, is kind of where the rubber of faith hits the road of life.
Why is this whole thing of God’s blessing so important? I think, at least I see a lot of misunderstanding about God and his heart and where He stands on blessing us. There seems to be two extremes, two opposite ends of the spectrum where people take extreme views.
At one end it goes something like this, “God wants to bless me therefore I should believe him for the next new Mercedes and the next million dollars and the next bigger house”. In effect, “God is some sort of sugar daddy, it’s all about me, I am at centre stage, I name it and I claim it”. And you know something? Lots of Christians teach it and lots more believe it!
The problem I have with that is, when I compare that on the one hand to Jesus on the cross – He lost everything for you and me, even the clothes on his back; beaten and brutalised, he lost his life. And this sort of ‘God is a sugar daddy’ end of the spectrum really jars with the cross, doesn’t it? And it leads to some of the worst excesses – the telly-evangelists pressuring people for money and flying around in private jets. Is that where this understanding of blessing should end up, do you think?
Now the other end of the spectrum says you have to be poor to serve God. Money is evil! We just had someone ring up at midnight the other night and leave a message on the phone to say, “How dare you sell a CD and then how dare you ask for support for your ministry. Money is evil; people who have money are evil.” I was talking to a man in India recently and of course India is a land of huge extremes; you have the very rich and you have many, many very, very poor people. And he was very critical of this particular Christian leader who just had a nice house in a nice suburb, he believed it was wrong.
You see, I look at that end of the spectrum and I go to the Bible and I read about Abraham. Abraham was the man that God chose to engage with first. Abraham was rich, King Solomon one of the wisest men that ever walked the earth, he was very rich, he was full of God’s wisdom.
You can see the problem. At the one end you can have people getting these extreme prosperity views in their heads. Thinking it’s all about them and their material wealth and it plays right into the hands of the world – me, me, me! The next plasma TV; the next big car; if you don’t have that then well … obviously you don’t have enough faith. On the other hand this perception that you have to be poor to be a Christian, well if that were the case, who would ever fund the work of the Lord on this planet.
I mean, God has always chosen to fund his work through his people. I know some very, very wealthy Christian business people who do an enormous amount to fund the work of the Kingdom of God. Talk of the pure monetary thing is the reality of tragedy and pain and suffering and a lot of times it’s indiscriminate. Earthquakes, tsunamis, a young person who loves Jesus and dies at the age of eighteen with cancer, car crashes and divorce and retrenchment, all that stuff of life, we all experience those things, are you with me?
So what’s Gods plan? Does God want to bless you and me or not? Is it okay for us to ask for his blessing? Is it okay to expect his blessing or is that just presumptuous? This is an important question because it is where the rubber hits the road. You get up in the morning and you maybe pray and you look forward to the day, how do you pray? What do you give thanks for? What do you ask for? Is it okay to ask for God’s blessing in this difficult situation that’s going to happen at work this afternoon? God, where are you in all of that?
That’s why we’re having a little series this week on the program that I’ve called ‘Blessed to be a Blessing’. I’m a simple man. I just open the Bible, I see what God’s saying on the subject, get it in balance. God’s Word empowers us and the problem that I often see when people look at this subject of God’s blessing is that you can take just one verse and say, “Oh, that’s it.” And you end up with one of those extreme positions that I was talking about before. But over the course of this week, on the program, we’re going to get to look at the whole thing from God’s perspective.
Is God a god who blesses? What does blessing mean? The main connotation is God’s divine favour – God intervening to make something better or to give us something that will bring joy or happiness. There’s financial blessing of course, there’s spiritual blessing, there’s physical blessing like healing, anything and everything, God’s divine favour, his blessing becoming active in our lives. Question is, is God in the blessing business?
When I see the word “bless” or “blesses” or “blessed” or “blessing”, 358 times in the Bible and the very first time it appears is in the first chapter of the Bible, Genesis chapter 1, verse 22. Let’s go there and have a bit of a look. This is where God creates all of creation. He makes light out of darkness and the heavens and the earth and the oceans and the dry land and the plants and the first time he creates a living creature, this is what He says:
So God created the creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teams according to their kinds and every winged bird according to its kind and God saw that it was good.” Now look at this, “God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water and the seas and let the birds increase on the earth.
And the second time the concept of blessing happens in the Bible is just a few verses on in that same chapter, that first chapter of Genesis, verse 26:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female, he created them.
God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish in the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
And then God said to them, “I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They’ll be yours for food and to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground – everything that has breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food. And it was so.
Let me ask you something: Do you think God is in the blessing business? The whole creation thing, the whole idea of creation is that God created this wondrous, wondrous universe and then he kind of comes along and makes you and me and he makes us part owners, joint owners in the whole of his creation. He gives the whole thing over to us and says, “Look it’s yours, you own it, you subdue it, you use it, it’s my blessing to you.” But as we’ll see tomorrow on the program there was something we did that interrupted that blessing, that broke that blessing. And even after we do those things, even after we rebel and turn our back on God, you know something, it doesn’t change who God is.