This week Graham continued the preaching series on the book Surprise the World by Michael Frost. The presentation is attached after the sermon notes.
You can listen again to the sermon here:
1 ‘Be careful not to practise your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 ‘So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5 ‘And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Bless (B of B.E.L.L.S.)
B – Bless
E – Eat
L – Listen
L – Learn
S – Sent
Deciding on the habit of blessing
1 What is blessing?
The word comes from the old English “bletsian” and comes from the pagan practice of sprinkling blood on something to “hallow”. Hallow means to set apart or venerate/respect for holy use.
Christians would do this by touching an object or person and speaking over the object/person words of power pronouncing good things. Sometimes that may have been shortened to the signing of the cross (or sprinkling with water representing the blessing) as an unspoken prayer. An unspoken prayer or unspoken blessing still requires the appropriate stuff going on in the mind of the one blessing.
When we intend to bless someone we are especially valuing them.
When we bless we focus on the person as immeasurably special and valuable. It is a feature of our faith that we consider every human to be valuable regardless of shape, size, colour, gender, lifestyle, disability, etc.
In Hitler’s Germany the Christians went against the flow by caring for those that society wanted to discard. those that were not considered perfect by the prevailing culture.
From US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Nov 2015
“EEOC employees and applicants for employment are protected by federal laws, Presidential Executive Orders, and state and local laws designed to protect federal employees and job applicants from discrimination on the bases of race, religion, color, sex (including pregnancy, gender identity, and sexual orientation), parental status, national origin, age, disability, family medical history or genetic information, political affiliation, military service, or other non-merit based factors. These protections extend to all management practices and decisions, including recruitment and hiring practices, appraisal systems, promotions, and training and career development programs.”
Yes, but the church was there first. When we intend to bless someone we are especially valuing them, we partner with our trust in God as we give, along with God.
Wikipedia says that ‘To be blessed’ means to be favoured by God, the source of all blessing.
2 How do we bless?
As an act of faith and trust.
The ancient people of faith in the Old Testament show by the record of their practice what they believed about blessings. Blessings can be given by people but are really coming from God as they express their faith in him. A blessing is more than bestowing a wish on someone that they experience something good from God, it is a partnering, almost a prayer, that by faith and trust it will be acknowledged God who will bring it to pass.
A biblical damnation, or curse, is a negative blessing.
Isaac blesses Jacob
25 Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come here, my son, and kiss me.’ 27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said, ‘Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. 28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness – an abundance of grain and new wine. 29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you. May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.’ 30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, ‘My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’
Jacob blesses his sons
See Genesis 49.
3 I will bless three people
From the book, “I will bless three people this week – at least one of whom is not a member of our church.
If we do it for our own praise it is not authentic blessing. Such a so called blessing is no more than self-promotion. To bless is to add to a person’s life, to be a giver.
The AA “Just for Today” card contains 9 daily promises a recovering alcoholic is required to make as part of the programme. The fifth promise is, “I will do somebody a good turn and will not get found out. If anyone knows of it, it does not count.”
Question: Why do you think this is asked of a recovering alcoholic?
How to bless:
First, decide to love. Blessing is always going to be an expression of love.
Second, pray for ideas. Who and how?
The term “love languages” has been popularised as a way of summarising the different ways that couples in marriage can understand the needs of each other and love better. But this summary of human need can apply outside of marriage too.
The 5 love languages
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.