The Blessing, Part 1

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FAMILY DEVOTIONS - We begin a new series based on the book "The Blessing" by Gary Smallery and John Trent, Ph.D., exploring what a blessing is and how we can use it to pour love and acceptance into the lives of our families and friends.

MONDAY, April 15

The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life…” Proverbs 15:4a

Our church has become more familiar with the concept of a blessing since we started our Faith Legacy Series.  But perhaps you’ve wondered what a true blessing includes, or what its purpose is.  Our devotions for a few weeks are developed from the book The Blessing by Gary Smalley and John Trent, who share exactly what a spiritual blessing is, why it is so important, and what happens when the blessing of a parent to a child is withheld in a home.  We all long for the blessing, which at its most basic level is the acceptance of our parents of who we are.  We want to know that they love us.  We long to hear it from their lips in words of love and praise that have nothing to do with how we’ve behaved or what we look like or our hopes and plans and dreams.  The blessing communicates acceptance of and gives value to others.  Without the blessing, we may be like Brian, who knelt at his father’s bed, wishing for him to wake up so that he could hear him say that he loved him.  The only praise Brian ever received was a lecture on how he could have made that touchdown even better or performed higher on a good test score.  Words of tenderness or love just weren’t  allowed.  Or perhaps we feel like Nancy, who was denied her mother’s blessing because she didn’t fit into her mother’s social agenda, while her sister was heaped with affection and love.  Blessing others is important, and in the following days and weeks, we will explore why and discover how to give the blessing to others.

Pray our 1st graders who received a special blessing from their parents last month: Anna Wendt, Elijah Schlade, Jackson Hurst, Megan Taylor, Kara Schnitkey, and Brady Bacik.

 

TUESDAY, April 16

“I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12:2-3

The Blessing originates with God, who gives the first promise and blessing to Abraham.  Abraham passed it to his son Isaac, who passed it to his son Jacob, who gave it to his 12 sons, and on it went until Jesus was born.  This blessing included a very specific future, that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through their family.  This prophetic aspect of the family blessing is no longer present, but the familial, relational aspects are just as important.  When we see the blessing in the Old Testament, the father usually gives it shortly before he dies.  He calls his family together, places his hands on each son or daughter, and gives a personal, unique blessing to each one.  Each child is treated with respect and honor as a special future is envisioned for each one.  In the Faith Legacy Series for parents of infants, the first point is to “begin with the end in mind.”  In other words, start out parenting by focusing on the “end” – what do you want your child to be like when they are leaving your home as a young adult?  What do you want their relationship with God to be like?  The blessing conveys a special future that you have in mind for them, such as to be “strong and straight, brave and true” – the blessing of the author of the Faith Legacy Series for his sons.

Pray for the parents of the 1st graders as they try to guide their children in a relationship with Jesus Christ – Jeremy/Amy Wendt, Josh/Carrie Schlade, Jeremy/Jen Hurst, Mark/Sherry Taylor, Mike/Stephanie Schnitkey, and Jason/Kara Bacik.

 

WEDNESDAY, April 17

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor. Genesis 29:10

The blessing given in the Old Testament is different from today.  Then, the blessing included a specific future.  In the verse for today, we see that the Old Testament blessing includes a promise that the Savior – the ruling king – will come from Judah’s line.  That promise was fulfilled by Jesus.  We don’t know our children’s specific futures, and so the blessing today does not include this prophetic element.  Then, the blessing also pictured God’s sovereign choice.  Jacob received the blessing his older brother, Esau, should have had.  The same happened with Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.  God chose one for his specific plan instead of the other, and the blessing was seen as an indication of God’s choice.  Today, as parents give their children the blessing, they are not doing the same thing.  But parents still have the opportunity to communication parental love and acceptance.  Jewish families still use the same principles today.  As children of God, we know what it is like to experience unconditional acceptance and love.  We have all received the blessing through Jesus, our Savior.  No one is denied that blessing.  Now, though, since we have that blessing, we also are able to share a blessing with others, communicating that same acceptance and love, building close, connected relationships that help children grow and develop into healthy adults who can continue to pass the blessing on.

Father, open my eyes to see the blessings that I have received from you, especially through your son, Jesus, my Savior.  Enable and strengthen the parents in our church to bless their children and pass on Your unconditional love and acceptance.

 

THURSDAY, April 18

Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come a little closer and kiss me, my son.”  So Jacob went over and kissed him. And when Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he was finally convinced, and he blessed his son. He said, “Ah! The smell of my son is like the smell of the outdoors, which the Lord has blessed!” Genesis 27:26-27

Every blessing has 5 basic elements.  The following is a picture of how they work together: “A flower cannot grow unless it has the necessary elements of life.  Every flower needs soil, air, water, light, and a secure place to grow (one where its roots are not constantly being pulled out).  When these five basic ingredients are present, it is almost impossible to keep a flower from growing.  The same thing is true when it comes to the basic elements of the blessing… These five elements, blended together, can cause personal acceptance to blossom and grow in our home today… A family blessing begins with meaningful touching. It continues with a spoken message of high value, a message that pictures a special future for the individual being blessed, and one that is based on an active commitment to see the blessing come to pass.”  Each of those five parts is unique, and each one is needed in giving the blessing.  Many of us may have experienced some components of the blessing, or you are aware you give (or gave) them to your own children or grandchildren.  We will later explore each one further so we can better understand the importance of each one in the lives of those we love as we give them the blessing.

Pray for the “flowers” in your life – those people whom are entrusted to you to care for and nourish.

Quotes from The Blessing by Gary Smalley & John Trent, Ph.D.

 

FRIDAY, April 19

Esau prepared a delicious meal and brought it to his father. Then he said, “Sit up, my father, and eat my wild game so you can give me your blessing.”   But Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

Esau replied, “It’s your son, your firstborn son, Esau.”  Isaac began to tremble uncontrollably and said, “Then who just served me wild game? I have already eaten it, and I blessed him just before you came. And yes, that blessing must stand!” 

When Esau heard his father’s words, he let out a loud and bitter cry. “Oh my father, what about me? Bless me, too!” he begged.  Genesis 27:31-34

Many people go through life without the blessing, and it can cause serious emotional and relational harm long into the future.  In the reading today, Esau is devastated to learn that his younger brother Jacob had just stolen the blessing from their father who could no longer see and had been deceived.  Esau had already sold his right to a double portion of the inheritance for a bowl of soup, but he was not so willing to give up the family blessing.  He cried out for his father to bless him, too.  In those times, once a blessing went out, it was irretrievable, and the same blessing couldn’t go to two sons.  Esau got a blessing of sorts, but it wasn’t the words of acceptance and love that he longed to hear.  Not receiving those words of love proves detrimental to us.  We might pull away when relationships get too close because we believe we won’t be accepted or that we aren’t worthy of love.  Perhaps we are unable to pass on acceptance to our own children because we never received it.  Perhaps you never received the blessing from your parents, and you know the pain it has caused.  Take your pain to God, and allow Him to redeem it with His own love and power as He enables you to forgive and empowers you to love.


SATURDAY, April 20

“The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” Numbers 5:24-26

A true blessing begins and ends with God, the giver of all good blessings.  Every Sunday in church, we leave with a blessing that the pastor bestows on us; yet it is not his own blessing that he imparts.  The pastor raises his hands over us and says, “The Lord bless you and keep you…”  We are sent in the peace and safekeeping of the Lord, placed into His hands for the week that we are apart.  We go forth in joy and peace not only because we have just received God’s gifts of His Word and His sacraments, but because we have the blessing going with us.  This same aspect of our worship can be applied to your own family life.  Blessing family members with touch, meaningful words that attach high value, and a commitment to follow through develops emotional security in your home.  Blessing your spouse and children is a spiritual act of love.  We have explored some of the basic elements of “The Blessing,” and in the following weeks we will explore each of the five elements of the blessing.  We will break them down so that you can know what each one is about, and are able then to speak words of blessing to your own family members and friends.  As we do this, we point our children, spouse, and friends back to God, who is, as we have said already and experienced in our own lives, the giver of all true blessings.  

Father, help me learn what it means to bless my spouse, children or friends with touch, words and commitment that uplifts and encourages them.  Let Your blessing overflow from my life into others’ lives, that they may taste and see that You are good!  Amen.

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