Summary: The Blessing we are referring to is not that of some outward sign of health and wealth that we need to claim, but the blessing of God as Father.
Today we’re beginning a new series. We’ve entitled this series “Living in the Blessing.” The Blessing we are referring to is not that of some outward sign of health and wealth that we need to claim…. but rather something more foundational to life. It is the blessing that Jesus bore and came to bring to every life. It is that blessing of God as Father desires to give to every life who will return and choose life with Him.
A defining moment for all who saw Jesus emerge as the savior of the world came when he walked out to the Jordon river and the Spirit of God came upon him with a voice declaring ‘this is my son whom I love and with whom I am well pleased.’ That is the blessing out of which Jesus lived… and more profoundly… that is the blessing which he came for all to be reconciled to and enter. Over the next ten weeks we are going to engage how this blessing is what binds us together in community… how the challenges of staying centered in this blessing can be overcome by the patterns of life that we learn from Jesus… how the Holy Spirit empowers this blessing… and how we can develop lives that really are a blessing to others. Many of us would like others to experience us as a source of blessing… and of course that is what God is intending… so we are going to focus on how we can truly bless others.
But it all begins with engaging the blessing that God gives to life… as that Father of all life.
Time magazine recently had an article that noted something of the root of what effects us. It noted that two of the problems that have long been growing in the midst of all our progression as a culture… are crime and teenage pregnancy. Studies show that the most reliable predictor of these behaviors is not income. Nor race. It is the lack of a father’s love.
Bill Glass was a top player in the National Football League, playing on the 1964 champion Cleveland Browns and making the NFL Pro Bowl four times. In 1969, long before many began to minister to prison inmates…he began a ministry that invites professional athletes to speak to prisoners, following up with trained volunteers who commit themselves to building lasting relationships with juvenile inmates.
After three and a half decades… he knew intimately that the greatest issue in life… was the lack of a father’s love.
“I was in a prison in Texas recently where they've got 300 boys ages 10 to 15. These boys have committed every crime you can imagine. I asked the warden, "How many of these boys got a visit from their father in the past year?"
He said, "One, and he only stayed 15 minutes, got into a fight with his son, and stomped out mad."
He also describes… ‘On the day before Father's Day, I was in North Carolina in a juvenile prison. I ate lunch with three boys. I asked the first boy, "Is your dad coming to see you tomorrow on Father's Day?"
He said, "No, he's not coming."
"He's in prison."
I asked the second boy the same question and got the same answer.
I asked the third one why his dad wasn't coming, and he said, "He got out of prison about nine months ago, and he's doing good, and I'm proud of my father. He's really going to be a good dad to me, and he's going to go straight."
I could tell he was protesting so strongly because something was still wrong. So I said, "How many times has he been here to see you since he got out nine months ago?"
He said, "He hasn't made it yet."
"Well, he lives way, way away."
"Where does he live?"
"He lives in Durham."
Durham was only two hours away. I had come 1,500 miles to visit the boy. His dad couldn't come two hours.
The truth is that before this boy was cut off from society behind bars… he was cut off from life within…. In truth when our own existence is not living in relationship to the blessing of our ultimate Father who created us in his image …. we are all are cut off from life… locked up within our self-existence. They didn’t know the blessing of a father.
So what is this blessing that is so vital? The word ‘blessing’is often used to speak of something as simply being lucky or good. If someone has a great experience or a great family … we may say… ‘Wow, they are really blessed.’ But the most fundamental meaning does not refer to simply experiencing some good fortune… it is something more foundational than that… it refers to consecrating something to fulfill it’s divine will and greatest potential… to pass the power of that potential to another. The blessing of a life is that which affirms that it good… that one belongs … that one is bound to that which desires them and gives them a place and identity. .