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Blessed to Bless

Blessed to Bless

We are wrapping up a fun sermon series entitled, “Family Matters,” where we look at God’s design for family, including marriage, parenting, and more. Below, you can listen to today’s sermon from Keith Welton by itself or watch our full service on YouTube.

Blessed to Bless: Our Family Identity

We were recently in Charlotte and stayed with some good friends that we have not seen in a while. While we were there I had to go get something from the car and went out the garage door. All of their cars were in the garage and I noticed a plaque on the wall. It had a few reminders on it. In big letters it said, “Don’t forget” and then it had a few things under that. “You are a child of God… You are forgiven… You are a Roberts.” 

I just smiled as I saw it. Great reminders you want to think about as your identity. I loved that my friends wanted to instill that in themselves and their girls every day as they head out the door. 

As we think about family, there are different things to instill. I want to look at one of those today. I want to look at a passage dealing with family and the core of our faith. God is calling a man named Abram to himself. God is going to make incredible promises to Abram and bless him in incredible ways. Abram will have to trust God in many ways. This passage establishes a key identity for God’s people. Identity also establishes purpose. They will be blessed by God and their blessing is not just for themselves but for all others. 

We need to remember who we are in God. We need to know what we have in him so that if or when the world and critics and everyone else pushes us, we can stand strong. But we also need to know that God does not bless us just for our sake.

We can idolize our own plans, our own families. One of the things that gets us out of that is to see God’s purposes going farther than our personal enjoyment of his blessings. God has an expanding desire for others to share in his blessings, and our hearts should reflect his too. 

Sermon Text: Genesis 12:1-9

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, 6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.”

So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the LORD and called upon the name of the LORD. 9 And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb. (Genesis 12:1-9 ESV)

1. God Calls and Blesses

This passage begins a dramatic turn in the book of Genesis. Earlier in Genesis, the good world God created turned on him. The people God made as his image bearers, the apple of his eye, rejected his rule to establish their own kingship, and then judgment came into the world. God promises to restore what was lost but there is also a rising tide of evil and sin culminating in the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11), where people build towers to make a name for themselves rather than for God. The spread of sin is on an ascending scale, increasing in both intensity and its affects. 

The world may seem to be falling apart and yet in that God calls a man to follow him. This man will escape the evils of the world. Though he will falter and fail, and even get singed by the world, God is doing something for this man that will affect all people and the families of the earth. 

God calls to Abraham to leave his people. This is the journey that Abram’s father had been on but did not complete. 

‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods. (Joshua 24:2)

God is reestablishing the blessing that was lost in the Fall of Man.

Abram is to walk with God as did Noah. But there is also now a clear promise that God’s blessing can be regained. 

Genesis 12:2, “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

In this passage, the word “blessings” is used five times, and “you” a dozen times.

Bless

To bless is to empower someone. Horst says, “Blessing brings power for life, the enhancement of life, and the increase of life” (waltke 205). Everyone wants God’s blessings. You’ll fill up a room if you promise people they will be blessed. The problem is if they understand what God is promising here they may not be that interested in it. It’s more amazing than most imagine, but it is also not what most people hope for. 

Make your name great

A great name would certainly have financial connotations, but in Hebrew it also revealed something about their character. An upstart millionaire whose finances grew faster than his character is not in the ballpark here. Great name is to be a great person, great in character and in dignity. Remember that if you read the rest of Abram’s story, because you are going to see him being stretched and tested, and in each trying experience he is learning to rely on God. 

People

God promises to make this 75-year-old man with no children into a great nation. He will have a people. He will be a leader. 

Land

God is providing a place for his people. They had a place in the garden but were removed from there for disobedience. A new place is being mentioned. This promised land will play a central role in the unfolding of God’s plan. It will be fulfilled in the new heavens and new earth when all the earth is God’s kingdom. 

God obligates himself to Abram.  Assigns himself a task. Abram accepts it by faith. An example to the covenant people. I will… seven times. 

Abraham will be blessed in every way, a holistic blessing.

Despite human rebellion God never abandons his plan to redeem the world that was promised in Gen 3:15

*New movements in redemptive history always begin with acts of God.*

He is the first to move. When things seem to be at their worst– God moves. When there is no way out, God provides a way. Ephesians says we were dead in our sins and trespasses… but God being rich in mercy, made us alive (Ephesians 2:4-5). 

Abram could have been the president of the universe, but if God did not call him, then Abram would be as lost as can be. 

What God is doing here will be what defines his children and grandchildren. This story is preserved. You should make sure your family knows this story. But even more, does your family know how God has worked in your life. Do they know how he called you off the path of destruction. Do you have any excitement at all for that story?

*We are those to whom God has had mercy, not those to whom God owes a blessing* Identity in family as those who are humbled by God’s grace. 

2. God Blesses to Be a Blessing

God promises an incredible blessing. The blessing is not just for Abram. It is that. But Abram will in turn be a blessing to others. He is blessed, and part of that purpose of blessing is to extend blessing to others. 

Verse 3: “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The word for “families” there in Hebrew means family or nation. You can see how at this stage of history the nations were families. They are going to grow. But it is also a promise that what God does for Abraham will be so powerful and great it will be capable of having an effect on every family and person in world history. 

God desire all nations to be blessed through this man. God’s plan comes through the agency of humans. He acts, he ordains, he uses people. And he desires not just Abraham but many other through Abram to be blessed through his work. Abram is blessed and he is to be a blessing to others. 

The new testament makes clear that this promise is fulfilled in a descendant of Abram, Jesus Christ. He is the one who God’s promises are fully realized in. All families on earth will be blessed through Jesus.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (Ephesians 1:3 ESV)

Abram is called to instruct his family (Genesis 18:19). This is a crucial issue today. Abram is to pass his faith on to his kids. They are to know the promise God made to him to redeem the world. They are to know about Adam and Eve and their fall from grace.

“For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” (Genesis 18:19 ESV)

*What God has done is the thing most important to pass on to those he loves.*

God will bless his people. The incredible blessing you see of God’s people through the book of Genesis is a tracing out of this promise. Despite Abram’s failings, God continues to bless him. Even though Joseph’s brothers will sell him into slavery it could not prevent God’s blessing coming. It is a powerful reminder that we rest in God for our blessing, and we know that blessing is our in Christ. We are not seeking more things in this world to call ours. We are looking for God to call us his!

People want God’s blessing not realizing our greatest blessing is in Jesus. 

People want God’s blessing not realizing there is a responsibility to steward that blessing.

Steward God’s Blessings

Want the big house-what are you doing with that house? Is it just for you? Are you using it for others? Or the big job-what are you doing with that? God is blessing us abundantly- but how are we doing stewarding that? Is eternity any different because of what you have done with what God gave to you?

He is not to hoard God’s blessings. God is making Abram a conduit, not a reservoir. Conduit channels things from one place to another. A reservoir holds things in place, stagnant. He is to be a life-giving stream that flows into others. We want God’s blessing to spend on ourselves. We don’t even think about helping others. 

The attitude today is, “What are you going to do for me today? Are you going to give me what I want? If not, I will move on to someone else.” People come in seeking to be served rather than seeking to serve. People are here and gone. You like this guy at work but he quickly moves on. Athletes and coaches move from team to team. There’s no loyalty. It’s an attitude that everyone is out for the next thing. God changes our mindset. He is going to bless us. I can’t outgive God!! Abram’s descendants will be oppressed by many people. Those people will not thwart God’s promise. They will not thwart God’s purposes. They may make it harder, but do not change the course. 

We are blessed in Jesus and are called to share that blessing with others. We are to share the good news. Many people are just going to have a more comfortable journey to hell and separation from God. We have a missional purpose to our families. Who are we seeking to be a blessing to? Are there families we are seeking to help? Is it even a thought in your mind? God calls this pagan man into a relationship with himself and makes great promises. Now by faith you are grafted into this family. This is your lineage. Are there any pagans in your life that God may be calling you to?

Give this to your kids. The push to disciple kids… 

The one who is with you is greater than the one who is in the world!

Are you trusting in God’s promise or your ability? Are you prioritizing the things of God or the things in the world?

This is essential to live a missional life. It’s similar to the commission Jesus gives to make disciples to help those in need. How are we doing that? Do you see the needs of the people around you?  

3. Cost of Following God

The summons to Abram is a summons to a series of separations. He is to leave his family, his land, his people. Everything he knows. The call is to abandon all natural connections, to surrender social customs and traditions, to leave land, clan, and family. These are all the things that would have been thought to provide ultimate personal security. 

*Following God always comes with a cost. It may cost you a job. It may cost you a boyfriend. If following God costs you a boyfriend, that is one you do not want. 

God calls Abram to Leave. The word used is an expression of determinedly dissociating oneself. Literally to leave by your self. Calvin paraphrased “I command you to go forth with closed eyes, … until having renounced your country, you shall have given thyself wholly to me.” (Waltke 205)

He left. He went. The first word describing Abram’s response is in response to the first command God gave him. God gives us commands and expects us to follow. We know we can’t do it perfectly, but we must guard against pushing them away completely. 

10 years beyond the age of modern retirement, Abram finds the greatest calling of his life. 

*Abraham is in a land he does not know and a people he does not know. But he knows his God!* He travels through the land of Canaan and builds altars. These people do not worship his God. 

Verse 6: “Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh.”

The oak of Moreh was probably a large tree that was the center of worship for the Canaanites. Abram builds an altar to God. Abram is in the world but not of the world. All around people are worshiping other gods. Worshiping their God through strange immoral fertility rituals. Abram is to follow God. 

This is what his focus is to be on. He is to pass this on to his children. 

Serving God is never without cost. We are all called to make disciples. It is not easy. It comes at the expense of much. Jesus said the same thing. “He who loses his life will find it. He who saves his life will lose it.”

**Too many people are trying to hold on to Jesus and their old life too.** Trying to hold on to Jesus and keep the American dream. Trying to hold on to Jesus and still be liked by everyone. There is a cost. 

Faith is a muscle that must be exercised or it grows weak and anemic. It must be exercised. How are you building this into your family? Are you praying for people to come to faith. Are you praying for ways to help others? Are you seeking to share the blessing God has given you with others? People become blind to the needs of others because they are so fixated on what they personally need.

God will call you to hard things. You will have to trust him. God is able to provide for you. God is able to bless you even if others are trying to curse you. That will be the story of God’s people. The kingdom of God is growing through ups and downs. What began with two people in a garden ends with a countless multitude in perfected city of God. 

Don’t think he can’t take care of you. 

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