We continue in our focus for the month on Loving Our Neighbor.
Let’s begin by recapping a few points:
- Our Neighbor is someone who breathes the same air as us
- We must love God, first, in order to love our neighbor
- We must love in/with our actions
- We must love with our words
Today, I want to continue last week’s discussion.
Last week we looked at psalm, 34, in which David blessed the Lord and invited others to hear and to join him in his blessing of God.
We concluded by looking at Paul’s word to the Ephesians in that they should
- not speak in a non-wholesome manner,
- but instead to build up others.
- He warned that we can grieve the Holy Spirit by tearing down others.
Today, I want to talk about blessing others.
As David said that he would bless the Lord, so the Bible teaches us to bless others.
In the Scriptures, we see that the greater blesses the lesser
(yet in our worship, it is the opposite).
Blessing someone is a wonderful aspect of the Christian life.
I believe that as we consider the value of blessing in our lives not only as recipients but as distributors of God’s blessing, [then] we will find even more reason to rise in the morning and move through our day.
Let’s look at Romans 12:14-16.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited. Romans 12:14-16
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14
Let’s bless God in prayer and in our lifestyles,
but let’s also bless others.
With our mouths we can curse or we can bless.
There is power in our words.
I can remember negative words that have been spoken to me, and I can remember positive words.
I can remember times of using my mouth to bless people and using it to curse.
The power of blessing and cursing affects the one who is speaking as well as the one who is hearing.
Many years ago, I was helped a Christian medical center.
My colleague had founded it and practiced there twice weekly (and three days he served at his private practice).
He offered me the opportunity to be available to pray with patients who were interested.
All of the physicians would have a brief time of prayer with their patients, but they also informed them that a pastor was available to listen with them, pray and even provide spiritual counsel if they would like.
I loved this. I was on duty for one afternoon each week, and it was a great opportunity to meet people.
Sometimes I would ask people to return for follow up.
When people would come into my office for the first time, they often looked unsure of what to expect.
I hope I am correct in saying that they went away better than they were when they came in.
One day, this very petite woman who was about 35 though she carried herself like an 80-year-old, walked in.
Her eyes were sunken with very dark circles under them, she walked with difficulty.
Her clothing just hung upon her like she was a mere clothes’ hanger.
She was distraught. She was overwhelmed with life.
I don’t meet with women, alone, and I had an interpreter helping me with the difficult terms in Russian at that time.
I asked her what her problem was, and why she had come to me.
She answered, “I’ve been under a curse for 15 years. An Uzbek man looked at me in the bazaar one day, and he put a curse upon me.”
Now, some pastors approach such a statement one way and others another.
Some try to discredit the curse as imagination (and truly our imaginary worries can destroy us) while others look at the curse and try to break it.
Honestly, in my theology, I am not convinced that there are no such things as curses or not.
So, I asked this woman about her faith.
She was a Muslim from an ethnic group in the Caucus mountains of Southern Russia.
Her people group is called the “Inguish” and they are in the same area as the Chechens, whom you have heard about in the news.
When we lived in Kazakhstan, we had many Chechens and other people from the Caucus regions living around us.
I told this Muslim “neighbor,” that Jesus came to break the curse of sin and death.
I showed her a passage of Scripture:
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Galatians 3:10-14
This was the first time she had heard the gospel.
Her sunken eyes seemed to awaken as she heard this word from God, and she began to sit straighter in her chair, she wanted to know more.
I shared with her that in Jesus, she not only can be freed from curses greater than that Uzbek man had put upon her, and she would be free.
The Holy Spirit was in that room on that day, as I and my interpreter and this woman bowed and prayed.
The very real curse of sin fell off of her shoulders as she put her faith in Jesus for the first time.
We talked for about an hour and I gave her a Bible in Russian and a list of verses to read. I connected her with a church and gave her homework.
She walked out of my office that day standing a few inches taller than when she came in. She was rejoicing, and the miracle was incredible to see.
Think of the power of words.
And the Power of God’s Word.
I want us to think about those who have cursed us and are even cursing us, today.
Think of whom we have cursed, or at least not built up with our words, but torn down.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Romans 12:15, 16
We need to not only be those who bless God and bless others, but we need to participate in the blessings of others, and in their struggles, too.
Our flesh wants to do the opposite.
It wants to be jealous of those who celebrate.
It wants us to ignore those who mourn.
The enemy of our souls doesn’t want us to live in harmony, but in disunity…look at our nation, right now, the lack of unity is overwhelming at times.
God calls us to bless this world.
When He called Abraham, God blessed him and said that he would bless those who blessed him and curse those who cursed him. And that all nations on earth would be blessed through him.
Truly, through Jesus, the Son of Abraham, all nations can be blessed with the breaking of the curse of sin and death in our lives.
Jesus died for us and for the whole world.
The most famous verse of Scripture is John 3:16
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
It doesn’t say that God so loved part of the world, or the Jewish world or the Christian world, but the whole world.
It doesn’t say that God LOANED Jesus, but that he GAVE him.
**** **** ***
Justin and Sally Torres are overseas Christian workers.
I want them to share a little about their ministry, today
Justin & Sally Torres
Visions of Africa
As a church, we are able to bless the people in South Africa with our prayers and with our finances. We want to help Justin and Sally to serve.
[Faith Promise Card]
[Explain Faith promise]
When we help overseas Christian workers, we bless those whom they are serving, too.
Remember the woman who came to my office at the medical center in Kazakhstan?
The following week, she walked confidently into my office to show me her homework. She was transformed. She was even pretty. She carried herself as a person who had been freed, and it was amazing to see.
I did not recognize her at all.
Remember the verses I shared last week:
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
- Love God
- Love Our Neighbor with our Actions
- Love Our Neighbor with our Words
- Inviting them to Worship God with us
- Asking God to bless them and not to curse them.
God wants to see us speak His good word to others.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14