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Archive for the ‘Blessing’ Category

Updated About Page

I updated my about page. I now thank God for my wonderful wife and four beautiful children. Noah Dustin was born on September 8th. I hope in the coming weeks to write some posts about the prophet he is named after and about his name’s meaning (rest). For now, enjoy this picture:

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I Love This

Lest you think I only hate things, I wanted to post something I love. Ali Elhajj is an Arab follower of Jesus who founded The Bethlehem Christmas Project: Bringing Israelis and Palestinians Together on Christmas.

They are bringing people together. They are blessing others. They are tearing down walls. They are making peace. I love it.

“I saw the joy and the love and it’s very unique to see all the people together giving gifts to Palestinian children and I was amazed to see their smiles,”Alex, an Israeli. Alex had never been to the West Bank before. He had never been on the other side of the wall. Understandably he was a bit afraid. I had tears in my eyes as I listened to him. Not only did he bring joy to the children he met, but he returned to Israel a changed man.

You can also read an article from a couple of years ago in Christianity Today. Here are some key quotes from it:

“When you come to Christ, you have to understand that he died for me to reconcile me to God,” Elhajj said. “How am I as a Christian, as a citizen of the kingdom, supposed to act? As a peacemaker.”

Elhajj told CT he believes that stereotypical perceptions of evangelicals being close-minded is just as unfounded as some evangelical stereotypes of Muslims. “If you’ll just engage people, you’ll find a wide range of beliefs and motivations. You try to find folks who are open, are ready to learn, and want to do the will of God.”

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I mentioned last week that for our 12th anniversary I made 12 lists of 12 things. I thought I would share one of the lists with you. My hope is that you will be encouraged to trust in Jesus Christ as you think about the ways the gospel can and should impact all aspects of your lives, including marriage.

12 Ways Ephesians 1:3 Should Impact Our Marriage

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

1. Jesus Christ is our Lord and therefore he is Lord of our marriage. All we do should be in submission to him.

2. God has already blessed us (it doesn’t say “he will bless us”). Therefore, we should cultivate grateful hearts.

3. This blessing is in Christ, therefore we should diligently seek to be found in him by resting in him and trusting him alone for salvation.

4. Because the blessings are in Christ we should not seek the “blessings” found apart from him, which the world falsely promises.

5. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He isn’t holding out on us. There aren’t other blessings we need but don’t have, therefore we should be content.

6. Because God has given each of us every blessing we don’t need to (and should not) seek our ultimate happiness in each other.

7. Because God has given us every blessing we are free to return good for evil. We are free to give grace when sinned against.

8. Because God has given us every blessing we can be confident that he has given us all we need to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3) and therefore we ought to.

9. Because we have every spiritual blessing we can be generous towards others knowing that we won’t lack anything.

10. Because we have every spiritual blessing we can trust God and continue to follow him even when he takes material or physical blessings from us.

11. Because we have every spiritual blessing we can be confident we will have unceasing joy in his presence and therefore seek this joy in Christ even now.

12. Our blessings are from and in the heavenly places and thus we will most fully enjoy them there. Therefore, when one of us dies the other will grieve, but as one who is full of hope knowing the other is experiencing the fullness of the blessing.

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Merry Christmas!

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace
among those with whom he is pleased.
Luke 2:14

My kids Lucy and Elias

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24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:22-27

In the first post we pointed out that it was Aaron and his sons who gave this blessing to the people and they were the ones selected because they were the priests. Unfortunately, many of us today and have learned that pastors have taken the place of priests, meaning that the role of the priests before Christ is now carried out by pastors after Christ. That is dead wrong. First of all Jesus is the great high priest. The whole priesthood did not foreshadow pastors; it foreshadowed Jesus. “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17). But he was a high priest who truly atoned for our sin and brought us to God. “And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:11-12).

But not only does the idea of pastors taking the place of priests fall short because Jesus is our high priest; it also falls short because there is something radically new about the people of God after Christ. All followers of Jesus Christ are priests. Peter says, “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5) and “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

And John tells us in Revelation that by Christ’s blood he has “made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Revelation 1:6). My point is this: It is the priests who give the blessing to the people so that the name of God will be set on them. All believers in Jesus Christ are priests. Therefore each one of us is to bless others.

So here is the simple summary. 1) God wants to bless you. He wants to do good to you. He wants to encourage you. He wants to give you grace and peace. He wants to show his glory and declare his pleasure to you. 2) This blessing that God wants to give you only happens because of Jesus Christ – who he is and what he did. And 3) as believers in Jesus Christ we are priests who ought to be blessing one another.

Here are some blessings you can share with others:

1. 1 Kings 8:57-58
The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

2. Psalm 20:1-4
May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you! May he send you help from the sanctuary and give you support from Zion! May he remember all your offerings and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans!

3. Romans 15:5-6
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

5. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

6. 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

7. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

8. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

9. 2 Thessalonians 3:16
Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

See Also:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
Numbers 6:22-27

Jesus Fulfills this Blessing

The Lord bless you

Jesus also wanted to bless, for in the gospel of Mark the children come to him and it says, “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them” (Mark 10:16). Even more, it is in Jesus that God’s blessing comes. “So that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith” (Galatians 3:14). Paul sums up the blessing that is in Christ in Ephesians 1:3, “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.”

And keep you

Jesus is the Good Shepherd and as our good shepherd he keeps us. “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). No one will snatch us out of Christ’s hand because no can. He is too strong and he is keeping us safe.

The Lord make his face shine upon you

When Jesus is seen in his glory, his face shines. “1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light” (Matthew 17:1-2). “In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:16).

And it is in the face of Christ that we behold the glory of God. “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). It is by seeing this light that we are saved.

And be gracious to you

Jesus is full of grace as John says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). It is through the grace of Christ that we are saved, “But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will” (Acts 15:11). And God’s grace only comes through Jesus, “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:4). “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5-6). The very last verse of the Bible says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21).

The Lord lift up his countenance upon you

God lifts up his face and looks favorably upon us because Jesus suffered, died and removed the wrath of God against us. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things” (Romans 8:31-32)? Because of Jesus Christ, God now works all things together for the good of those who love him.

And give you peace

Hundreds of years before he was born, Jesus Christ was called the Prince of Peace (see Isaiah 9:6). He is the one who brings peace. He is the one who makes peace. He is the one in whom we have peace. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We can have peace because Jesus has overcome the world. He has defeated our enemies and is Lord over all. Therefore, we can have peace free from anxiety. But best of all, he has brought us peace with God by his death and resurrection. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1).

This whole blessing hinges on Jesus Christ because it is through Jesus Christ that we get any good thing. God created us in his image, but we have rebelled against him. We disobey him and refuse to submit to his authority. We dishonor him daily. God is holy and must deal with our sin. But rather than merely destroy us for our treachery, he sent his only son to take our punishment for us. Jesus, the eternal son of God, came from heaven and put on flesh. He became man. He lived a holy and righteous life and ultimately went to the cross in order to remove the wrath of God from us. He died in our place and then rose again so that all who believe in him would have eternal life. Any good that we have is owing to the grace of God in Jesus Christ because of the cross of Christ. It is Jesus who gives this blessing in Numbers meaning.

See Also:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 4

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The Lord Bless You, Part 2

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.   – Numbers 6:22-27

The second line of the blessing says, “The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you” (v. 25). I’m going to skip over the first part for now and come back to it. But the second part of this second line is a request that the Lord be gracious to us. Grace is God’s unmerited, free love that does good things for us we do not deserve. You cannot earn grace because once it is earned it is no longer grace. Grace is free and as sinful creatures we don’t deserve anything good from our Creator. Imagine a kingdom with rebels seeking to the overthrow the king. If in the midst of their war preparations and attack on his throne the king feeds and clothes them and promises them clemency if they renounce their rebellion, that is grace. They don’t deserve to be fed. They don’t deserve to be clothed and they certainly don’t deserve clemency. But the king gives it because he is gracious. In this blessing we are seeking God’s grace – that he would do good things for us we do not deserve.

The third line says, “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (v. 26). Again I will skip the first part and come back it to it. The final request of the blessing is for the peace of God. This is peace with others – freedom from war and conflict. This is peace with ourselves – freedom from anxiety, worry and guilt. And it is peace with God – freedom from wrath and the privilege of being sons and daughters of the King.

Now let’s come back to the first part of verses 25 and 26. “The Lord make his face to shine upon you” and “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you.” I pair these together because the word for “countenance” and “face” is the same word. So it literally reads, “The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face upon you and give you peace.” So what does it mean for God to make his face shine upon us? And what does it mean for him to lift up his face upon us?

God shining his face upon us is connected to salvation. “Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love” (Psalm 31:16). “Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved” (Psalm 80:3, also v. 7, 19). God’s shining face brings salvation because it means that we see the glory of God: the goodness of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God and the love of God.

Verse 26 isn’t very different than verse 25. Instead of making his face shine, it requests God to lift up his face upon us. They almost mean the same thing and there is much overlap. But in this case we are not merely asking to see the glory of God’s face, which will save us, we are asking that his face be turned toward us in such a way that we would feel his pleasure. This is more than God saving us; it is God taking pleasure in us, enjoying us.

We can see this sense of God being pleased with us when we see that for God to hide his face means that he is angry. “Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods” (Deut 31:17-18). When God lifts up the light of his countenance, that is, his face, upon us it shows that he is not angry with us, but is pleased. He is looking on us for our good.

God wants to bless you. He wants to keep you. He wants to make his face to shine upon you. He wants to be gracious to you. He wants to lift up his countenance upon you. And he wants to give you peace. Look at verse 27, “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” By blessing the Israelites, the priests were putting the name of the Lord upon the people of Israel.

The name of God symbolizes the whole of who God is. And by putting his name upon the people, he is declaring that these people belong to him. They are his. We see the culmination of this in Revelation 22:1-5.

1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

See Also:
Part 1
Part 3
Part 4

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