I preached at Grace Baptist Church yesterday, a church pastored by one of the students in our class. I have been there before and confessed my sin of this being one of my favorite churches to attend. They are such joyous believers, dancing, singing, and enjoying each other and their God. I slipped in the back and so I was able to really enjoy this with them not even knowing I was there. There is a great mix of old and young in this church and they really exude a love for the Lord. Emmanuel Simuyemba, the pastor, is a great man and so I am not surprised that if his flock models him, they will turn out solid. I preached on blessing. But before I share my message in this blog, I wanted to share a funny little story. I printed out my message and then realized I could just email to my kindle. So, I did. And grabbed my kindle and off I went. The only problem was that I didn’t turn on my kindle to download the email. So, when I got to the church and turned on my kindle, there was nothing there. And I didn’t bring the printed paper. So, what did I do? Well, I turned on my kindle app on my Iphone. But, that didn’t work either. I then opened up gmail on my Iphone, opened the desktop version, and went to sent mail and YES!!! So I copied the email to my Iphone notes program and voila, problem solved!
Anyway, Pastor Simuyemba wanted me to speak on giving, so I did, in kind of a sneaky way.
I asked if they wanted blessing and they all said yes... I told them that I also like blessings. In Zambia, the prosperity gospel is very, very prosperous leaving many souls impoverished and empty bank accounts even emptier. I recognized how we normally think of blessed as being a big house, big car, and lots of money. But, I said, that is not a biblical definition of being blessed.
I then told a story of a woman who was unlawfully pregnant, called a prostitute, her son a bastard child his whole life and her fiancé wanted to leave her. And she said, "I am most blessed." BLESSED? I then said, that was Mary! She wasn't blessed according to the world, but she was blessed because she was full (literally) of God.
I then asked, "What is blessing?
The greek word is Makários which means Blessed, possessing the favor of God, that state of being marked by fullness from God.
I like that definition... being marked by fullness from God.
Here are some more definitions.
The believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit because of Christ and as a result should be fully satisfied no matter the circumstances.
Makários differs from the word “happy” in that the person is happy who has good luck (from the root hap meaning luck as a favorable circumstance).
Makários is the one who is in the world yet independent of the world. His satisfaction comes from God and not from favorable circumstances.
Hmm... So I said, “You can be blessed without looking blessed and those who look blessed might not be blessed. In fact, financial “blessing” can often keep people from experiencing true blessedness. In the Old Testament, blessing was material. Here in the new testament, it is the ability to be blessed apart from external circumstances.
2. Where does blessing comes from?
Romans 4:7-8 - 7“Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.”
Blessing comes from being forgiven of your sins and having your sins forgiven in such a way that they will never be counted against you!
John 20:28-29 - 28Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Jesus said that those who believe even when they do not see God are blessed.
Luke 11:27-28 - 27As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
Jesus also said, those who hear and keep the word of God are blessed.
1 Peter 3:14 - 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
If we suffer for what is right we will be blessed.
James 1:12 - 12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
And if we persevere in trials, we will be blessed.
Luke 6:22 - 22Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.
We are even blessed when men hate us because of Jesus.
That is quite a different way to look at blessing then most preachers here in Zambia seem to preach (and Americans seem to read, alsoJ)
I then told a story a pastor’s wife who in one year lost a grandson, a daughter, almost her own life and her husband’s entire capital and tools to theft. I saw her at the end of that year and asked how she was doing. She said, “I’m blessed.”
To live a blessed life is different than what we think of when we are wanting to be blessed.
A blessed life is one where rewards are eternal, secure and independent of earthly life...
Giving – if blessing is not getting, than where do we find blessing? After all of that teaching on this word “blessed” I then busted out the kicker!
Acts 20:34-35 - 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
We get blessing when we give.
I then read them these passages:
2 Corinthians 8:9 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 - 6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
In the Old Testament, they were commanded to give 10%. But in the New Testament, no such figure is given. Instead we are commanded to so generously, cheerfully, in our own heart. And when we give, we are promised that God will give us back more so that we are able to give more. By faith, we give, get and give some more, and all the while, amassing BLESSING! Why do we cheerfully give? Because we are blessed!!! Who doesn’t want to be full of God!
If you want to be more blessed, give away your money, your time, your faith...
Of course there was more in there than just that, but that was the gist of the message. I think they appreciated the challenge. I know I did.