1-1-13-Sharing a Blessing 1-1-13-Sharing a Blessing (Num. 6:24-26) "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace." A blessing was one way of asking for God's divine favor to rest upon others. The ancient blessing in these verses helps us understand what a blessing was supposed to do. It's five parts conveyed hope that God would (1) bless and keep them (favor and protect); (2) make his face shine upon them (be pleased); (3) be gracious (merciful and compassionate); (4) turn his face toward them (give his approval); (5) give peace when you ask God to bless others or yourself, you are asking him to do these five things. The blessing you offer will not only help the ones receiving it, it will also demonstrate love, encourage others, and provide a model of caring to others. Application As you meditate during your quiet time, ask God to "make His face to shine upon you" (Numbers 6"25), to let His light shine through you an all the people you meet. Ask Him to use you to help lighten a burden, relieve someone's loneliness, solve a problem or make God's ever-present Spirit real in someone's life. Lord, help me to show Your loving concern to the people around me. (2 Kings 4:6) "When all the jars were full. she said to her son, Bring me another one." God's provision was as large as their faith and willingness to obey. Beware of limiting God's blessings by a lack of faith and obedience. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine. Miraculous interventions are just one way God expresses compassion to those he loves. Though people sometimes misunderstand God as harsh and judging, he has a loving nature and shows concern even in the small details of our lives.The car gave a violent lurch and came to a stop. "What was that!" the children cried. Tip looked down into the deep draw below us. "I think we've gone through the bridge," she said. It was true. As soon as I stepped out onto the narrow log-and-dirt bridge straddling the steep gully, I saw that our rear wheel had plunged through the rotten timbers up to the axle. Tib took the three kids back to solid ground. Gingerly, I jacked up the car, intending to fill the hole, then let the rear wheels back down and drive off. But searching that barren landscape produced nothing but small twigs and pebbles which fell right through the break in the bridge. Nowhere could we find rocks or logs big enough to plug the hole. Since we hadd come to Africa we had never been in clearer need of guidance. We were still fifteen miles from the village where we planned to spend the night. Behind us were miles of empty bush; all afternoon we had met one car on the winding dirt track we were following in this little traveled district of Uganda. Thunder clouds were building up over the Nile, and night would be upon us in half an hour. We couldn't spend the night in the car for fear the rest of the bridge would go. We couldn't stay out of the car: this was Lion country. A mile back we had passed a fresh hippo carcass. And so in this emergency we did what we had done frequently since arriving on this unpredictable continent. We asked God what to do. We used a principle we had used before, thanking Him ahead of time for the answer which we confidently expected would come. Then we simply waited. And in the strange calm which follows this attitude, the answer was there simple and perfect. I got out the spare tire, slipped it beneath the jacked up wheel and found that it straddled the hole exactly. I let the car back down and, to the cheers of the children, drove off the bridge. Just in time too, for with nightfall came the first wave of a driving tropical rainstorm. Now it would be possible, of course to say that we had not received guidance at all, we were just using common sense. Once I would have been inclined to agree. But not today. For our African year, from beginning to end, was above all else an adventure in guidance. There were so much was strange, we found ourselves daily, hourly, sometimes minute-by-minute asking God's direction. (From Glimpses of His Glory by John and Elizabeth Sherrill)Are you convinced of God's love for you - enough that you expect and trust that he will intervene when you need him to? Are you facing a difficult situation? Find the courage to bring it to God in faith. Ask him to help you in the way he knows is best; then wait and see how God intervenes. Goals Participants may: 1. Remember God's control of their lives and the world. 2. Practice with class members the skill of constructing a blessing. 3. Gain familiarity with the variety of blessings available to Christian trainers. 4. Experience Christian community with the class. Opening Prayer God, our merciful Father, your hand is on our head as you bless us with love and exude concern for our needs. Help us become instruments of your blessing to others so that in the end, we may come to the fullness of your glory and see with our eyes what we now believe in our hearts. Amen. Lead-In The Exodus, the ark, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, the stilling of the storm, feeding 5000 people with almost no food, the death and resurrection of Jesus - all of these events and many, many more are sources of strength and blessing to us. When we recall them. we are reassured of Goal's faithfulness, of his loving and wise rule in the world. Sharing a benediction is one way of linking a person with the whole history of God's saving acts. It is a means of helping individuals find the faith they need to carry on. It is a wonderful tool of Christian ministry. Sharing a Blessing In a previous lesson I noted that you might not always want to use prayer for ending a visit. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, however, there is another distinctive technique that more aptly applies to such occasions - a blessing or benediction. The Latin root of benediction simply means "well-saying." In this sense, benedictions also abound in the secular world. "have a good day." people say. "Take it easy." "Keep your chin up." These are all benedictions of a sort. When taking leave. they are ways of wishing that all might go well with the other. One of the more commonly used "benedictions" has religious roots. To say "good-bye" is to use a contracted form of "God be with you." There is an important difference, however, between secular benedictions and religious ones. "Take it easy." "Hang in there." and "Keep your chin up" all imply action on the part of the person to whom the farewell is extended, as though that person were responsible for the day going well. Christian benedictions, on the other hand, contain no such demand. They are professions of faith that the outcome of the day is in the hands of God. God's action is the foundation of the Christian benediction "The Lord bless you..." "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ..." "The peace of God...". These are all expressions of grace. God blesses you; you don't bless you. A benediction proclaims that God has you in his care and is responsible for your well-being. In this sense benedictions are remembering tools. They remind the bestower and the recipient alike that God is present and He is in control. Christian benedictions carry greater impact and bring comfort because you are acting in God's place, assuring people that God will continue to be at their side. In offering a benediction you can make the presence of God even more real to the other person. In essence, you are saying, "I am leaving you, but God will continue to be with you and in control."