Sermon Follow Up - Week 18, 2021
As a church we are committed to a principle that what we do when we gather AS the church matters. We believe that our Lord Jesus has ordained that certain aspects and expressions of worship be included in a church’s worship either every week or with some regularity and consistency—and THAT is why we do them:
- Singing praise, confession and lament
- Scripture reading
- Physical expression (like hand-clapping or hand-raising or kneeling)
- Pastoral preaching
- Sacrament (like baptism and communion)
We do these things both because our hearts long to do them AND because God tells us to do them!
Another part of biblical church life that MANY may be familiar with—because they’ve seen and heard it—but NOT because they realized the Bible taught it, is the practice of benediction—or blessing. In this sermon, Tim Shorey shares the why's and how's of being a church family who practices "blessing and benediction."
The Sermon Text
“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. “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”” (Numbers 6:22–27 ESV)
The Main Point of the Sermon
We need to say hello and goodbye with blessings and benedictions that impart grace to others.
Sermon Points, Additional Scriptures, and Quotes
The LORD GOD OF HEAVEN is the AUTHOR…the GIVER…and the PRIMARY SUBJECT of this benediction/blessing!! GOD IS A BLESSING GOD!
In THIS particular benediction-blessing, what is it that is prayed for and bestowed upon his people?
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
This is a prayer for God’s keeping protection.
This is a “KEEPING” that implies ACTIVE CARE AND ATTENTION—and a preserving of something or someone that BELONGS…someone who is held…cherished…
It’s the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 2 when God told Adam to “KEEP the garden”. That meant a lot more than STAND GUARD TO MAKE SURE veggie-loving critters didn’t get in!! It meant: WATCH over it with care. Observe it to attend to its every need.
It is a prayer that he would:
- WATCH over us diligently
- Watch over us with care and attentive heart.
- preserve us by his hand and mercy and provision.
- attend to our every need.
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
What makes a person’s face SHINE? A smile along with alert and expressive eyes.
God says: “Pray this blessing over my people—that my FACE will light up when I see them!
…AND… that I would Be gracious: that I would be forgiving, merciful, pardoning, understanding, charitable, kind
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
A prayer for God’s attentively-bestowed Shalom; attentive, face to face, eye-to-eye blessing! SHALOM is peace in fullness and wholeness… This is God’s heart for us—even if we are in a wilderness! He wants us to pray for shalom.
Present and Future
This is a prayer that a MEASURE of SHALOM will be felt now…AND IT IS a PREDICTION that it will one day be felt PERFECTLY AND FOREVER!!
In effect it is a prayer that we will have little TASTES of heaven…moments when shalom touches down on OUR little plot of ground on planet earth!
Conclusion: the Benefits of a Benediction-Filled Life
- We put God’s name on others. To place His presence and power and particular LOVING attention. It seems to imply that when we bless others, something happens: the name—referring to his person and authority and power and saving grace and love—is placed up the one blessed! It appears to mean that that person is MARKED for blessing. And notice that this is a blessing that is put on people who didn’t necessarily ask for it!!
- IF we BLESS people, we are less likely to curse them. (Negatively—if we sincerely BLESS people we will not so quickly CURSE them!) It is HARD to bless people at the beginning and end of a conversation—and then curse or diss or belittle or bully them in between!! And POSITIVELY—if we BLESS people, we will be more likely to actually SEEK the blessing that we pray for them. If I pray over you: “The LORD bless you and KEEP you”—I become more likely to try to KEEP you in my heart, and GUARD you from all harm. If I pray over you that the “Lord would make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you”—I will be more likely to be gracious to you! And if I pray that the Lord would lift up is countenance upon you and give you peace—I WILL BE MORE likely to lift up MY countenance upon you and live for, and protect, and enhance YOUR peace and shalom in this life! If we pronounce a blessing over people when we greet them and when we say good bye—it will affect our relationship WITH them. Incorporate this into your life and relationships—for it will PLACE God’s name on others AND it will encourage peace and reconciliation with others! In other words it’ll do more than just keep you from cursing each other: it will create a culture of nurturing blessing and grace!
- It will remind us of Jesus is our great High Priest. While he was ascending he was praying a blessing—and it wouldn’t surprise me—though I cannot say for sure—if it was THIS one! And I am confident he is praying it still as our great high priest in heaven today. And let us be reminded Most of all this benediction is fulfilled and guaranteed in Jesus; that EVERYTHING JESUS did while on earth was an answer to this prayer on our behalf! He accomplished peace and shalom for us through the cross—AND he atoned for our sins so that God might make us his OWN to keep, and so that he might be gracious to us and give us shalom.
Take time to write out some answers in your journal/notebook
- How can we grow in "blessing" people this week through our words?
- Make a list, pray about it, and follow through on it as you interact with your family, your co-workers, your friends, etc....
RESOURCES FOR THIS WEEK
Consider Reading the Section Entitled...
The Purpose and Mission of the Church
SONGS TO CONSIDER
Song - "The Blessing"