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WELCOME
Pastor Chris Paavola: Hey everybody, good morning once again. It is good to be with you. My name’s Chris Pavlov. I’ve got some friends on stage here with me to help me preach today, but really our whole campus is being transformed for our vacation Bible school. That is this week, the VBS or the scuba theme, but it’s not only VBS week, it is also the middle of our series greater than where we are looking at the life of this man named Isaac who lived 4,000 years ago. And as he discovers, so we also are discovering a life greater than we know with a God who’s greater than we know. And really, we’re reading the story of Isaac and then letting that tell the story and just letting the concepts from the story speak to us. So, we don’t set the agenda, we don’t set the narrative. It’s just we tell the story and then whatever happens in the story, that’s what we end up talking about.

GREATEST BLESSING
So in week one, because we talked about praying specific prayers because that’s what happened in the story, then in week two last week, we talked about trusting in God’s plan even when you don’t understand, because that’s what happened in the story. This week we are talking about blessings because that’s what happened in the story. As I was preparing this message, I always try to figure out how’s this relate to you guys? How’s this relate to me? And just reflect on my life and relationship to the text. I was reading the story about blessings, and I started thinking about my own blessings and just how God has blessed me. But then I started to think about the great blessings and hands down, one of the greatest blessings I ever received was from a friend named Ryan. Ryan. He’s a very wealthy guy. He owns all the AT&T stores and Cricket stores in St. Louis, Kansas City and Chicago. Basically, he owns all of these. If you drive by an AT&T store in Chicago or St. Louis is a very good chance that Ryan owns it or owned it at one point. So very, very smart businessman, very shrewd businessman, just savvy and very wealthy. And we were starting a church in St. Louis, my wife and I, and our kids at the time. We were going into kind of the downtown inner-city area of St. Louis and starting a church down there. And while we were down there, we’re like, okay, we don’t have a building yet, but let’s go ahead and start meeting. And so we started meeting for church in different homes and we’re meeting in homes all across the community, in community in one group became two groups became three, four. And when we got to around four or five groups, we said, we can’t all get together anymore. We need a building to be able to do this. So we decided to have a banquet, a fundraiser to raise money so we could figure out a long-term plan for the church. And that money was going to determine was I going to get a salary? Do I need to take a second job? Does Ashley need to take a second job?
What kind of a building can we rent out or can we construct something? And it’s like that all depended on how much money we were able to raise. And so we had this banquet and we invited people there to the banquet and we asked them to fill out a three-year pledge card so that we could collect funds and then make a long-term plan. And I invited all of my family and friends and loved ones, including Ryan, and I was very excited to see what Ryan’s gift might be. I think everyone’s gift matters, but then there are those big gifts that get the ball over the goal line. And I was just hopeful, hopeful that Ryan was going to be able to be generous towards us. So the banquet came and went and we left the banquet and we didn’t look at the pledge cards until we got home.

So there’s me and my wife Ashley, were sitting on the couch looking at these pledge cards and we were just overwhelmed and blessed by people’s generosity and we’re like, okay, I think I can take a salary this year. I think I’ll still work a second job, but I think we can. And I think we might have a little bit of money here. We could maybe rent out something. And we were just trying to do the math of three year pledges. It’s not easy. And we were going through all the pledge cards and I was like, oh my goodness, Ryan didn’t turn in a pledge card. And we were like, oh, man. It was a little disappointing. And I never want cast judgment. I don’t want to read between the lines. Some people aren’t in a season where they can give that. Some people are, you never know the reasons. Even if he’s got all these stores, maybe he’s on the brink of bankruptcy, something like that. I was like, oh man, I was really hoping for Ryan’s gift.

A few days later, Ryan calls me, he’s like, Hey, can we get together for coffee? And I was like, sure. And he’s like, let’s do it later in the morning. So we miss the morning rush and somewhere quiet. And I was like, okay, I know a place. And we went to this place and got coffee, and I don’t know why I remember this detail, but there were these big white ceramic mugs that you couldn’t use one hand. So we had to use two hands to drink our coffee. It was, I don’t know why that detail sticks out at me, but we were just kind of sitting for our coffee doing the thing. It was a cold winter day or something, I don’t know. And we wanted to warm up our hands. But anyway, so we’re drinking these giant mugs coffee, and he turns in his pledge card, he puts it on the table and it was blank.

I was like, oh, okay. And he’s like, Chris, I don’t want to give you money for your church. I want to give you a building for your church. I was like, okay, say more. And he is like, well, I’ve got a few stores in your area where you’re talking about planting a church and you just pick one of them that works for you, and that can be where your store is or that’d be where your church is. And I’m trying to catch up. I’m going, okay, that’s great, but I don’t know how I will do church when a person next to me is trying to do a cell phone plan. I don’t know how this works. And he’s like, no, no, no, no, no. We will remove everything from the store and it’ll be yours. The church can have it. You said it’s a three-year pledge, right?

And he kind of winked at me and he’s like, okay, so it’ll be rent free for three years. And I was like, okay, this is awesome, Ryan. Thank you so much, but I guess we’ll have to figure out what we’re going to do. And I’m saying this out loud to him. I’m like, we’re going to figure out what we do. If we get to 50 people, we won’t have room in the store. And he’s like, no, no, no, no, no. I’ve got architects and general contractors on retainer. You just will just clear out all the walls. We’ll demo the whole thing and do a build out however you want, blank. Check blank canvas. Design a church in this building. I’m like, oh my goodness. It was unbelievable generosity. I don’t even want to know the dollar amount that he was giving. And I was getting choked up at the table.

I’m still getting choked up telling the story. It was just such remarkable generosity that he was showing to me. I was just like, man, you are amazing. And every baptism we had, we had about 50 baptisms, just over 50 baptisms in the next three years. And every time there was any kind of life change or great moment when we had our own youth nights or we had some kind of great story, I would always take a photo and print out the photo and mail a thank you note or text Ryan and just say, thank you for what you made possible. And every time he would respond by saying, you are giving me far more than I ever gave to you. And I was just so blessed and touched by that. The last story that happened there is there was a guy who was in the gang, he was addicted to drugs, turned his life around, and we made a video about it.

His name was Antoine, and we made a video of Antoine. He gave his testimony. It was so powerful. And I sent the link of the video to Ryan and I was like Hey, look what you made possible. And he responded This time was something, and it wasn’t like it was just the way he said it, and I was in a different head space as I heard it. But the way he said it and the way I heard it, it just touched me because he said in response, he goes, I’m just trying to be faithful with everything that God has blessed me with.

And the way he said that, it was a light bulb moment for me. I’m just trying to be faithful with everything God has blessed me with. And he taught me as a pastor that God doesn’t just bless us for us. There is a purpose in his blessing. There’s a bigger picture behind his blessing that goes far, far beyond us. It’s not about us, it’s about God’s purpose with this blessing. And then I started to reflect on that and go, well, what am I supposed to do with the blessings I received? And that’s a big question that I don’t think many people ask, but it’s a question that we’re going to ask today and find answers in part in the story today of Isaac. And so now with that kind of groundwork, we can look at again, 4,000 years ago, other side of the planet, the life of this man named Isaac.

ISAAC’S BLESSING
And in chapter 26 of Genesis, we start to hear kind of the setting where we can look and examine and consider blessings.

1 Now there was a famine in the land… and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. Genesis 26

Starting in verse one, it says, there was a famine in the land, and Isaac went to see Abimielek, king of the Philistines in Gerar. I know how we read the Bible. We see that and we’re just like, people, I don’t know place. I don’t know. Let’s get to the rest of the verse or the rest of the chapter. We’re just like, what am I supposed to do with this Abe Gerar Philistines? What? I don’t even know. Theres two important contextual concept things going on here that help us understand the rest of the story. And really in live in the text for us, put it in living color. One, there’s a famine in the land. Now, a famine 4,000 years ago is a terrifying thing and extremely unforgiving and harsh, right?

If it doesn’t rain, the crops don’t grow. Crops don’t grow. I don’t have food. I’m eating tree bark. That’s what ends up. I mean, it’s such a hand to mouth existence and just for almost everybody, it’s a brutal, unforgiving environment. So when there’s a famine, it’s scary. The second thing is that he’s in the land of the Philistines. This is the land of foreigners. He’s a stranger in a strange place. And that kind of informs some of the other things that happened in the text. So those two things, it’s a famine. And then two, he’s a stranger among the nations. We can move on to the rest of the verse, verse two.

2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said… 3 “Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed. Genesis 26

Then the Lord appeared to Isaac and said, and by the way, this is the first record of God speaking to Isaac up until this point. He’s only learned about God by proxy from the other people who got indirectly from the other people whom God has spoken to. God spoke to Abraham, and Abraham tells Isaac about God. God speaks to Abraham’s servant and tells Isaac about God. God speaks to Isaac’s wife and she speaks. Rebecca speaks to Isaac about God. But this is the first time where God, that we have record of God speaking to Isaac, and he says, stay in this land for a while. I’ll be with you, and I will say it, bless you.

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 He became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. Genesis 26

Now, that word blessing, I touched on this last week, but for the purpose of today, I should touch on it again. The word blessing, bless to bless means unearned, undeserved, unmerited. That’s what makes it a blessing. You cannot earn it. You cannot compel or coerce God into giving you a blessing. If you did earn it, it would be compensation, it would be a wage, it would be a reward for all of your hard work. What makes it a gift? What makes it a blessing is that you don’t deserve it. And the rest of the story don’t read God’s blessings as a sign of Isaac’s holiness. It’s not despite what the late-night televangelists on TV tells you, when you give a blessing to God, he is not compelled to give a blessing back to you. You cannot twist his arm into blessings. That’s ridiculous. That’s a wrong reading of scripture, period.

In fact, in the verses just before that, follow this, we didn’t have time to get into it. Isaac lies to Abimielek. He cheats, he swindles and he deceives. He’s not being a good dude, and yet God blesses him anyway. And the same is true for you. The blessings you have from God, you have not earned and you have not deserved, in spite of a week where you frolicked and wallowed in sin, God still blesses you. That’s the picture we get here. And so it’s not a picture of his holiness. All these blessings that we’re about to read about. It’s just God’s favor. He’s going to bless Isaac for to you and your descendants. I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. And then he gives the oath that, but it’s like a little bit of a paraphrase of what he spoke to Abraham.

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 He became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. Genesis 26

He now speaks to Isaac. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your offsprings, all nations on earth will be blessed, as he says in Genesis 12 to Abraham, “you will be a blessing to all nations.” Now, we know on this side of Jesus that he’s referring to Jesus, that Abraham and Isaac as your lineage. It’s your descendants as your children’s, children’s children that the Messiah will come and he will die to save the world. And now all nations will be able to come to heaven, the sweet by him, by not just you, the Jewish chosen people, not just you, the descendants of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. No, all nations will be able to enter into paradise because of your descendant Jesus. That’s what he’s referring to there.

However, verse three, we see that word confirm. Confirm these blessings are not just spiritual blessings. It’s not just celestial blessings. It’s also terrestrial ones. It’s not just eternal blessings, it’s also temporal blessings. It’s not just spiritual blessings, it’s also material blessings. He confirms his oath of the spiritual blessings by blessing him in the present. And so here is how God bless Isaac. Verse 12, Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundred folds of what he had planted because the Lord say it blessed him a hundred-fold. So, he plants a seed. And what sprouts is from Monsanto, just a hundred-fold of what he planted, a hundred-fold, so like a hundred times more than what he was expecting to receive, he planted a seed and he received a hundred-fold because God’s favor was upon him. God’s blessing was upon him.

This is you imagine your salary or your retirement or your social security check, whatever it is you receive every month. Let’s say you make or annually, let’s say you make $50,000 a year. He didn’t just double it to a hundred thousand dollars a year, which would be nice. He didn’t just go 10 times to $500,000 100 times what he was expected to receive. He now has $5 million in the bank and he’s living at a $50,000 salary and all of a sudden, boom, there’s $5 million in this bank. That’s the magnitude, the obscene, the ridiculous amount of blessing. God just pours on Isaac in spite of Isaac’s wickedness. Insane.

And then he continues. Isaac became rich, I’d say so his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. Soon he had so many flocks and herds and servants, the Philistines, uh-oh, envied him. So, all the wells that his father’s servant had dug in the time of his father, Abraham, the Philistines, stopped them up filling them with anything they could find. Earth is the word there. Dirt sticks, rocks. They blocked the blessing. God was pouring out on Isaac. They blocked the blessing. You know why? Because Isaac missed the memo. He did not understand the assignment. God said, okay, Isaac, I got all these spiritual blessings for you. I’m going to bless the nations through you, and so I’m going to also bless you. So all nations, wink, wink, will nod, nod will be blessed through you as you live among all nations. And Isaac’s like, great.

So God pours out these blessings a hundred fold more than he could ever contain and use himself. It is a good measure. Press down, shaken together and running over Malachi the prophet Malachi, talking about how there is, I will pour out so much blessing for you. You will not have enough room for it. Psalm 23, my cup runneth over in the King James and he doesn’t have enough room for it. It’s not even enough. It’s so much more than he needs. It’s more than his kids need. It’s more than the servants need, his household needs. It’s more than his kids’. Kids need $5 million in one crop. God blessed him and he’s like, thank you very much. And meanwhile, everyone around him is starving in a severe famine. That’s where verse one is so important. They’re starving. The famine is severe, and he’s got a hundred-fold.

And he’s just like, give me, give me, give me more and more, more, more. And by all indications, he shares none of it because they envied him and they tried to stop his prosperity. And we see in the verse of the Father wouldn’t have time to get into it, but they started fighting and back and forth, and Isaac would dig a new well, and the Lord would bless him. And then they would block that one or they’d steal it from him. He’d dig another well and they would steal it from him and he’d dig another well on and on and on. It wins until they finally sent him away. Leave us, get out of here. We cast you out. You are banished from this land because he never shared his blessing.

And all of that could have been prevented if he just shared well, God had given him. Now, let me ask you, okay, hold on. Isaac, do you think he appreciated what God gave him? Yes. Do you think he was glad God gave him 5 million? The problem was he’s driving around a Tesla while everyone else is starving. I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again. Gratitude felt, but unexpressed expressed comes across as ingratitude. Gratitude that you feel in your heart, but never demonstrated comes across as ungratefulness to everybody else. That’s why the Philistines envied him. He didn’t spread the wealth. If he had done so, if he had blessed the nations that he was living among, it would’ve been a tremendously different story. And we see this principle in the life of Isaac that I’ve seen in my life again and again and again. It’s so easy to think of how you would give a blessing if you just won the lottery. Every time I buy a Powerball ticket, pastor just said he bought a Powerball ticket. Every time I buy a Powerball ticket, I dream about what I would do with all that money I do.

I dream. I mean, it’s a game. I’m playing a game. And I don’t known. Anyway, you can come at me with scripture about how I’m sitting when I buy. I don’t know. I’m not sure I am. But anyway, especially when it’s like 800 million a night. I mean, come on. Anyway, but it’s easy to think about what you would do with all the blessings. If I had hundreds of millions of dollars, well that’s when I’d buy my parents a house. That’s when I’d pay off my kids’ college. That’s when I build an extension on the church. Obviously, that’s when I would be generous. But right now, I have a hard time doing that. And I’m not saying you don’t have a hard time doing that, but you can always afford to be generous. Always. The joy of giving and what you receive back from giving is not something reserved for the ultra-wealthy. I mean, what we see in the parable of, or the story of Jesus watching the poor widow, give two coins. You can always afford generosity. And by the way, by the way, this is why we collected an offering before the sermon today.

YOU ARE BLESSED
I didn’t want to talk to you guys about generosity and then pass the offering plate while you just feel like tremendous guilt. I did not want to do that. And this is not just about money. You are blessed in a lot of ways. And what we see in this story and what we see played all throughout scripture over and over and over is that you are blessed to be a blessing. In the words of Ryan, you are blessed to be faithful with everything that God has blessed you with.

YOU ARE BLESSED
TO BE A BLESSING.

It’s not just about you. It’s not just about you getting as much as you can for you. It’s about all of the people living in the land with you. It’s about others. It’s about giving back to God. You are blessed to be a blessing. And really this poses two questions on this. One question I think people ask all the time. And then the other question, I think people fail, the step that people fail to take and why so many of us just don’t live lives of generosity that we want for ourself. The first question is, how has God blessed me? How are you blessed? And you just kind of do an inventory, and I think all of us could answer this question. Okay? So I sat there and I was like, I think all of us are blessed in different ways, but there’s just kind of some universal categories that we’re all blessed in.

HOW HAVE YOU BEEN BLESSED?
These are things you didn’t do to earn. These are things you did not deserve or we’re merited. God just gave them to you. You are blessed with these things. And so here you go, you are blessed past tense with things like loved ones. This is the one, all the grandmas in the room are sitting there. When I say you’re blessed, all the grandmas in the room instantly think about what grandkids. It’s just like the last service. My mother-in-law was there, and she’s just kind of nodding her head when I said, you’re thinking about grandkids right now. And she’s like, yep. Grandkids, loved ones in your life, your kids, your friends. I hate to break it to you, but you don’t deserve them. There was a couple that was celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary at the first service. I said, Lance, look at Sue. You don’t deserve her. Sue, look at Lance. You don’t deserve him. In fact, the worst relationships or the worst people are the people who think that they deserve the people around them. But when you go through going, I just don’t deserve my kids, I don’t deserve my spouse, that’s where you demonstrate just that disposition of gratitude towards them, right? Amen.

It’s loved ones. You’re blessed with loved ones. You’re also blessed with skills. Skills that you have. And you’re like, well, I worked hard at what I can do. Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. You worked hard for what you can do, but who gave you the capacity to do that thing, that innate ability? God, you could take two people, two high school students, right? Same height, same weight, same strength, and give them the same coach. And one’s going to be a better soccer player than the other. One’s going to be a better diver than the other. Though all the measurables are identical, one’s going to be a better golfer than the other. Why? Because there’s just something in us. This God-given capacity to do things. These God-given skills that you’ve been blessed with.

Shelter the roof over your head. I’ve seen some of your homes. Some of you guys have gorgeous homes, beautiful views of the lake that is a blessing that you don’t deserve health. There are people watching us right now from hospital rooms, nursing homes, or just recovering from home or wherever that would do anything to have the health that you have to be able to be here today. You’re blessed with strength and health, breath in your lungs, and then money. You are all extremely wealthy, all of you. And if you don’t think so, ask a kid in Bangladesh, so wealthy, the food, the food, the access to food that we have, it blows my mind.

HEALTH MONEY WISDOM
SKILLS LOVED ONES SHELTER
POSSESSIONS FOOD PRESENCE

Yesterday I was at Chick-fil-A driving through the drive-through, and I’m pulling up and I’m just marveling at the wonder that I just give them a piece of plastic and then open my mouth and they put chicken nuggets in it.

It is just unbelievable to me. And I’m in this long line of cars and we’re all like, ah. And we’re eating it while we sit in a car, like our air conditioning. We don’t even walk to the door. They just put it through the window. We’re the animals at the zoo. But it’s the other way. It’s crazy at the feeding zoo. But as I’m in the line at Chick-fil-A I’m looking and I’m waiting for my chicken nuggets, and across the street is a gentleman begging for food. You’ve seen them at Walmart there at the exit. You’ve all seen ’em, right? Right, right. Yeah. Okay. And the disparity between me and everyone in the lion and that person. And I was like, I’m blessed. I’m blessed. And then wisdom like the things that you’ve learned, possessions, things you have, the cars, the TVs, the cell phones, the clothes, the collectibles, all of these things or possessions that you are blessed with that other people are not privileged to have. And then your presence, or maybe a better word would be time, but you are blessed with the time to be able to do the things you want to do and things that you can do. All of those things are insane, absurd, obscene, hundredfold blessings that God has lavished upon you. You are so incredibly and possibly and beautifully blessed. You are so blessed, my friends.

WHY ARE YOU BLESSED?
And that’s where most of us stop. That’s where Isaac stopped. But there’s another question, if we are blessed to be a blessing, then the second question would be the question Isaac never asked. And it’s the question Ryan did ask, and it’s the question I want us to ask today. Why am I blessed? Why are you blessed in the way that you’re blessed? Like he said to Abraham, you will be a blessing. Why are you blessed the way that you are? So, let’s go back to that list. Now, here’s the list. Look at this list. Which one are you the wealthiest? In which one? Do you have an absurd amount of blessing in that thing and no one else does?

Which one on that list makes you go, oh yeah, I am pretty well off. Keep looking. Find that one. That’s the area of wealth. And now ask the question, how can I bless others with that thing? And the two groups of people would be God. And then the people near you, if we look at Isaac’s life, they were close to him. They just never noticed them. So who is near you that needs what you have? Okay, loved ones. Let’s start there. Loved ones. If you have an insane amount of just family and great relationship with your grandkids and friends out the wazoo, and you could pick up the phone and get together with a dozen people at the drop of a hat, think of somebody who’s lonely that you could include in that friend circle. The next time you have a family dinner, call them up and say, Hey, your family want to come over.

Hey, we’re all getting together at the restaurant after we play a round of golf. You want to join us? Include somebody who doesn’t have the wealth of loved ones that you have, bless them or money. This morning you gave an offering to the Lord. By the way, God gives a directive to give first, give back first to God, and then enjoy the rest. So when you give, it’s called a first fruit. Give the first of your herd, the first of your crop. You’re blessing God with that money, but you can bless other people with that money. You can pick up the bill. You don’t have to have alligator arms when the check comes out. Oh, I’ll get it next time or presence. Presence. You can just simply be available to somebody. There are people who are lonely and depressed and you just being in the room with them while they hurt is blessing them.

Blessing them. Or I’m surrounded right now by people who gave their skills. It didn’t take a lot. Well, actually, some of these took a lot like, okay, none of these VPS decorations just appeared. Somebody sat there and was like, okay, if we take blue sheets and we hang them on the ceiling of the hallway and then we cut out the shapes of fish and kind of have them above, it’ll look like we’re underwater and they’re above us. And that took creativity, an insane amount of skill that we could turn an umbrella into a jellyfish or make a yellow submarine on the stage. And then there’s people who decided to get together and like, okay, we’ll cut all the pool noodles so it looks like coral and we’ll glue together all of the cupcake wrappers. So it looks like sea rocks kind of stuff. And there’s somebody who took time off of work to paint all the creatures on the front door that gave their skill. And this week there is going to be an army of volunteers, some of which have taken time off of work using their vacation time to play games with 240 kids to do crafts with 240 kids to read to 240 kids. Come on. Reading is the most basic skill. I mean, it’s like basic. Anyone can do it.

And they’re blessing the kids and they’re going to discover what Ryan discovered. They’re going to receive back far more than they ever gave because of what they’ve done and how they’ve blessed us. Kids are going to experience Jesus. Kids are going to experience Jesus because they cut out Bible buddies with a hot knife and glued them onto foam core. The same is true for you. You are blessed to be a blessing. It’s not about you, Isaac. It’s about all the needs around you as well. Enjoy God’s blessings. Yes, but bless others because you are blessed to be a blessing.

JESUS’S BLESSING
Now, Paul the apostle Paul reminds us of something. He talks about how we love because he first loved and we give because he first gave. And we blessed because he first blessed in Ephesians one, he writes that we are blessed in the heaven realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. And he points us back to Jesus. So, look at this list again. God has blessed you in all of these ways, but he’s not asking you to do something when he says be a blessing, he’s not asking you to do something that he already hasn’t done himself, that he’s not willing to do himself. God in fellowship with himself and all the company of heaven, with all of his loved ones wanted to include you.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Ephesians 1:3

And so, as we sing in the song so often, you didn’t want heaven without us or you brought heaven down. God wanted to include you among his loved ones. And so he left heaven and dwelt among us. And when he came, he demonstrated his power, his skills among us. He performed miracles and he healed us and gave us health. And he taught us He could have let us just wallow in our own limited understanding, trying to figure out life ourself, trying to set our own moral compass and trying to navigate the complexities of life. But instead, he teaches us and gives us his wisdom, the wisdom of God, so that we may use it.

And then he pays the ultimate price, a priceless sacrifice, not just his life, but the most precious life. It dies on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins that you may be with him in the shelter of his father’s house forever, enjoying and sharing in all of the blessings and possessions of heaven where you may feast on the wedding feast. And in just a moment, we’re going to celebrate communion where he will once again feed you with food that he is prepared for you, where he gives you his body and blood and the bread and wine is his true presence.

So, as you come forward and receive that meal, just another, a hundredfold blessing of God being poured out on you as you receive it, remember that you are blessed to be a blessing. Lemme pray for us, heavenly Father, first of all, we confess to you that we have been like Isaac, far too stingy and tight-fisted with the blessings you’ve given us. Forgive us, forgive us. It’s hard to ask you for something else. And yet we do. We ask you that you would forgive us, and we open our hands to not only receive your forgiveness and your blessings, but to share them with those around us who are less fortunate than us.

PRAYER
God, help us to be a blessing. I pray for every person in this room and every person who can hear the sound of my voice, that you would come over them by your Holy Spirit right now. We are only limited by our creativity. So, would you show us by your Holy Spirit what it is we can do with the blessings we’ve received to bless others? What does it look like to share our wealth and all types of wealth with you, with your church, and with the people we know who are in need? Bless us so Lord, to be a blessing. And we pray now the prayer your Son taught us to pray, saying together, our Father, who arts in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. And give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.