An Offer You Can’t Refuse – Genesis 17:1-2

offeryoucantrefuse“When Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him, saying, I am God Almighty. Live in My presence and be blameless. I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you greatly” (Genesis 17:1-2, ESV).

Thirteen years after Ishmael’s birth, God again appeared to Abram, whom He renamed as Abraham during this appearance. In these verses God calls Himself “El Shaddai,” for which the meaning is unknown, but its translation as “God Almighty” is based on a tradition going back more than two thousand years.

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Pay It Forward – Malachi 3:10

pay-it-forward2“Bring the full tenth into the storehouse  so that there may be food in my house. ‘Test Me in this way,’ says the Lord of Hosts. See if I will not open the floodgates of heaven for you and pour out a blessing for you without measure” (Malachi 3:10, HCSB).

The prophet Malachi accuses the people of Israel of robbing God (vs. 8) because they did not pay their tithes. The tithes were used to support the priests and Levites, whose ministry was essential if Israel was to be faithful to God in its calling as His chosen people. Because their land was cursed by drought and pestilence (vs. 9,11), they felt justified not giving their tithes.

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Blessing You Right Where You Are – Jeremiah 42

cat-dog“They said, Please pray to the Lord your God for us. As you can see, we are only a tiny remnant compared to what we were before. Pray that the Lord your God will show us what to do and where to go…Whether we like it or not, we will obey the Lord our God to whom we are sending you with our plea. For if we obey him, everything will turn out well for us… And today I have told you exactly what he said, but you will not obey the Lord your God any better now than you have in the past” (Jeremiah 42:2,3,6,21, NLT).

Following the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, King Nebuchadnezzar appointed a governor over Judah. The new governor encouraged the people of Judah who had fled to neighboring countries to return to Judah and farm the land.

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Quality of Life Checklist – Ephesians 1:3-14

QualityofLifeThere is a quality of life that Christians enjoy that results from being a believer and follower of Jesus. Jesus referred to it as abundant life: “I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10, HCSB).

The Apostle Paul expounds on the spiritual blessings that God supplies His people in the opening chapter and verses of the book of Ephesians.

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The Biggest Catch – Luke 5:9-11

fishingnet“For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed. Jesus replied to Simon, Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people! And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus” (Luke 5:9-11, NLT).

In this story that is the first call of disciples recorded in Luke’s gospel, Peter, James and John had just fished all night with no results.

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More – Leviticus 19:23-25

moneyfromheaven“When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you are to consider the fruit forbidden. It will be forbidden to you for three years; it is not to be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way its yield will increase for you; I am Yahweh your God” (Leviticus 19:23-25, HCSB).

The prohibition from eating the fruit of a newly planted fruit tree may have had to do with the fact that the fruit of a young tree was not well formed and did not taste good in the early stages of its life.

Since the firstfruits belonged to God (see Numbers 18:12-17), the fruit of the fourth year was consecrated to God as a praise offering to indicate that the Israelites recognized that God was the One who gave them the good things the earth produced and blessed them with increased production.

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Fortunate Misfortunes – Psalm 66:10-12

“For You, God, tested us; You refined us as silver is refined. You lured us into a trap; you placed burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but You brought us out to abundance” (Psalm 66:10-12, HCSB).

The Psalmist indicates that refining is a process meant to purify God’s people.

And if these verses allude to God’s deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage, the Psalmist seems to apply Israel’s experience personally to us.

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Be a Blessing, Share the Gospel – Genesis 48:20

“So Jacob blessed the boys that day with this blessing: The people of Israel will use your names when they give a blessing” (Genesis 48:20, NLT)

Before Jacob (Israel) died, he blessed Joseph and his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.

First, he adopted Joseph’s sons, which entitled them to part of the inheritance of the promised land. Then he gave Ephraim, the younger of Joseph’s son, the right-hand blessing, which was the right to inheritance entitled to the eldest son.

Centuries later when God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and they possessed the land of Canaan, the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh each received a portion of the land distribution.

Ephraim eventually became the leading tribe in the northern kingdom of Israel and the Old Testament prophets sometimes referred to the entire northern kingdom as Ephraim.

Blessing was used in the Old Testament to describe the conditions of covenantal relationships.

God, who is the ultimate Grantor of blessing, uses people to channel or convey His blessings. Thus, Abraham’s call by God to be a blessing was a missionary calling meant to convey God’s blessings to all the nations of the earth (Genesis 12:2-3).

When Jacob blessed Ephraim and Manesseh (and his other sons in vs. 49:3-28), he was conveying God’s blessing to the nation of Israel.

The nation of Israel, which was the successor to the Abrahamic covenant, was intended to be the channel for God’s blessing to all nations.

Declaring the gospel is the New Testament expression of the Old Testament blessing.

When Jesus commissioned His followers to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20), theirs was a missionary calling under the new covenant.

Just as God called Abraham to be a blessing to all nations, Jesus called His disciples to be a blessing to all nations by proclaiming the gospel.

So, be a blessing, share the gospel!

“For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16, NLT)

Our Beautiful Inheritance – Psalm 16:5-6

“Lord, You are my portion and my cup of blessing; You hold my future. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5-6, HCSB)

These verses use language that is usually reserved for describing the land promised to Israel. Instead, the Psalmist proclaims that it is God Himself, not the land, that is the true inheritance.

This declaration is rather like the promise made to Aaron, the brother of Moses, and his progeny, the succession of high priests over Israel.

The priests had no inheritance of land in Israel!

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Be the Blessing – Genesis 12:1-2

“Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous and you will be a blessing to others.” God called Abraham from Mesopotamia to a new land to become the patriarch of God’s people. God gave Abraham two commands: 1) leave your native country; and 2) be a blessing to others. Abraham obeyed God in both cases. Abraham moved with his family from Ur to Haran and he eventually departed from Haran for the land of Canaan. Abraham traveled from one end of Canaan to the other, built altars to God, and proclaimed the Lord’s name in a pagan land. The command of God to Abraham to be a blessing to others was also a promise: “You will be a blessing.” In other words, God wanted Abraham to be the blessing. God wanted Abraham to be the means through which He could bless (or not bless) others. In the same way, God wants you to be the blessing by the way you live your life and by proclaiming the name of the Lord so that others will be blessed by God.