Faith Church

Blessed to be Blessing | Sermon from 8/17/2014

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Twice we hear in Psalm 67 one of the most fundamental truths of God that is often overlooked.  God doesn’t bless us just to make our lives easier, good or prosperous – God blesses us so that we can bless others.  Look at Psalm 67:1-2, and now 67:6-7.  God blesses us so that we can bless others and help them understand and know for themselves God’s ways and salvation and glory.  God blesses us so that we can live our lives in such a way that the people around us can see God.  The truth is that this has always been God’s plan.

When God first called Abraham and told him that he was going to make him into a great nation it wasn’t just so Abraham and his extended family would know the goodness and prosperity of God – it was so that the world would see God in them.  Look at Genesis 12:2-3.  God blesses Abraham so that he and his family would be a blessing in the world and so that the world would be blessed through him.  God’s intent wasn’t just to take care of one family but to be known and honored and worshiped by all families in the world.

Through the prophet Isaiah God says the same thing to the people of Israel – his chosen people- look at Isaiah 42:6-7.  The people had been chosen and blessed by God so that they could shine God’s light to the Gentiles so that they would be able to see the heart and mind of God by how they lived.  The way God’s people lived was to help open the eyes of the blind so they could see all that truly mattered to God.  Even Jesus didn’t call people to follow him for the sole purpose of having their lives improved, the call to follow Jesus always came with a call to be a blessing to others.  Peter was called to be a fisher of people – to draw people to Jesus so they could find life.  The disciples were to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14a).  In other words, their lives of faith were to be lived with such power and love and clarity that people would be able to see Jesus and the blessing and kingdom of God in them and see the power of life that Jesus had to offer the world.

The great commission given to the church continues to make this our mission.  Look at Matthew 28:18-20.  The blessing of God’s authority and Christ’s presence with us always isn’t just for us but to be used by us to make disciples of all people.  We are blessed by God in order to be a blessing to the world so let’s look at three ways God blesses us and how we can use those same ways to bless others.

First God blesses us as he Gives and just think about all that God gives!  God gives us all that we need for life like food, shelter, clothing, and the resources to succeed and prosper.  Whatever wealth we have has come from God and whatever means we have to earn a living has come from God, but God gives more than material goods, God also gives grace, mercy and forgiveness.  When we confront the reality of our failure and sin we always know that there is one who will forgive us and give us another chance – God.  God’s grace is new every morning and his mercy is everlasting.  God gives forgiveness and grace and that blessing lifts up our lives and gives us the hope to keep going.

Because God blesses us by giving – we also need to bless others and give and the truth is that we need to give the same way God does.  First, we need to give our material goods and resources to help meet the needs of others.  We need to give food to those who are hungry, shelter and clothes to those in need, we need to give to the education and health of children in Bellefonte through our Blessing of the Backpacks and in Sierra Leone by helping support a church and build a school.  And we need to support and give and pray for our brothers and sisters fighting for their lives in Syria due to persecution and all across Africa due to disease.

One way to teach us how to give and bless others is through the offering and the giving of a tithe.  When we give on a regular basis we are blessing others.  Our offering each week goes to meeting the needs of people here in Bellefonte and in places around our community, nation and world and it helps us share our faith in Jesus with others.  Our giving gives knowledge and insight and the gospel of Jesus to others and so we need to learn how to give in ways that will shape our lives and not just give an offering here or there.  God never gives occasionally; He gives consistently, faithfully, generously and joyfully.  That’s the example God gives to us.

We also need to learn how to give grace, mercy and forgiveness to others.  Sometimes this is harder than giving money or time or our resources because forgiveness often calls us to give up our right to seek restitution.  Forgiveness means letting go of offenses and not seeking revenge and this isn’t always easy, but as we look at our world, forgiveness is needed.  Think of what forgiveness on all sides would do to the tensions we have seen this week in St. Louis between angry crowds and the police.  Think of what forgiveness and grace could mean to people who suffer with depression and what it might do to help restore marriages and strengthen families.  None of this is easy and for real life to be experienced through the process of forgiveness there needs to be truth and accountability and justice and change on all sides, but if we could begin to offer real forgiveness to others, think what a blessing that would be for our world.

God blesses us as he gives and so we need to give but God also blesses us as he Loves.  God loves us and what this means is that God sees us as his children who at our very core have sacred value and worth.  God accepts us and that acceptance and love has the power to change everything.  Think about how the love of God through Jesus changed everyone it came into contact with.  Jesus offered love to his disciples by calling them and showing them that they each had value – even Matthew the tax collector who was hated by everyone.  Jesus’ love for lepers gave them new life.  His love for children gave them honor and his love for outcast women showed them they had value and that they were worthy of respect.  Jesus’ love changed people – it blessed them and it blesses us and as we reach out to love others it is a blessing.

As we reach out to love a community it is a blessing.  When we accept and love people who come to find Jesus it is a blessing.  When we reach out to love our neighbor or treat others with dignity, value and respect it changes their lives.  Our love for others is a blessing which is why over and over again God calls us to love others.  Love your neighbor as yourself – Jesus said.  The 10 Commandments that say, do not bear false witness, do not steal or murder or covet the things that belong to your neighbors are all laws showing that we need to respect and honor our neighbors and when we treat them this way it not only blesses them but it is a witness to the world that God’s love extends to everyone.

God blesses us as he gives and loves and we are a blessing when we give and when we love, but God also blesses us with Life (Live).  God is not only the one who gives us life but God gives us eternal and abundant life through the gift of Jesus Christ.  While we turn away from God and from the life God gives us through sin, God forgives us and through Jesus offers us new life once again.  When we accept this new life then we begin to experience the fullness of life here and now AND we have the hope of eternal life in the kingdom of God.  In John 10:10 Jesus said, I have come so that you might have life and have it to the full.  So when we accept Jesus and accept the grace and forgiveness God gives us through him, then we begin to really live.  And when we begin to live this new God given life it is the most powerful blessing of God we can receive and while we can’t give people give this life – only God can – we can live in such a way that people will see God in us and come to God to find this life for themselves.

We help God offer people life by living our lives with abundance and joy and passion and power.  I continue to say that faith and trust in God is more often caught than taught, which means that people will come to Jesus more by seeing Jesus lived out passionately in our lives day by day than by any teaching we have to offer.  It gets back to those principles of passion and courage where we learned that living with passion ignites passion in others and living with courage inspires others to be courageous.  Living our lives of faith is the blessing that helps other people come to faith, so the more we live for God, the more others will see God themselves and live.
God blesses us by giving, loving and filling us with life and so we bless others by giving all that we can to God and to those around us.  We bless others by loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves.  We bless others by living life to the fullest knowing that our lives will help others live fully.  God blesses us so that we can be a blessing so let us give and love and live to the fullest so that the world can be blessed.

Next Steps
Blessed to be a Blessing

GIVE:
Name 5 things you are thankful God has GIVEN you.

What 5 things can you GIVE to God? Your Family?  Others?

Ask God to forGIVE you and then accept His blessing of mercy.  Who can you bless by forgiving this week?

LOVE:
Name 5 people in your life that you need to tell this week that you LOVE them.

How has God’s LOVE changed your life?

In what practical ways can your LOVE change the people of Centre County?

LIVE:
Name 5 ways you LIVE differently today because of the values of God’s kingdom and the way of Jesus.

Does how you LIVE bless others?  If not – change how you LIVE.

Commit to memory John 10:10
I have come so that you might have LIFE, and have it to the full.  ~Jesus

 

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8:15 am: Traditional Worship Service with Nursery
10:45 am: Contemporary Worship Service with Nursery and Children’s Church

512 Hughes Street Bellefonte, PA 16823

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