Greg Laurie - A Blessing For You
I heard his story of a little girl that grabbed some crayons and a piece of paper, and announced to her family, "I'm gonna draw a picture of God". Her mother said, "Honey, nobody knows what God looks like". And she said, "Well, they will, when I'm done". And we wonder sometimes, what is God like? Is God a happy God, or is he a sad God? Is he a smiling God, or is he a frowning God? And how does the Lord look at you and me? Does he look upon us with approval, or disapproval? Well, that is answered right here in Numbers chapter 6. The answer to all those questions is found in this blessing that the Lord wanted the priest to pronounce upon the people. It's a familiar passage, you've heard these words before, no doubt, but it really shows you who God is, and how he feels towards you. And we learn six very important things about God.
So let's read it together, shall we? Numbers chapter 6 starting in verse 24, the Lord bless you. The Lord keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. And so shall you put my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them. I love that, don't you? This was written to the children of Israel, as they were making their way to the Promised Land.
As you know, we're in a series right now that we're calling "Water, Fire, Stone", and it's based on the life of Moses. And chronologically, we're in the wilderness. Moses has received the 10 Commandments from God, at Mount Sinai, and they're slowly but surely making their way to that land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey. So the Lord specifically says to Moses, to tell the priest, "You tell the priest to pronounce this blessing on the people, because I want them to remember it".
So they were in a wilderness and guess what? We're in a wilderness too, aren't we? We're passing through to another place. We all face our trials, and we all make our mistakes. And we all have danger around us, or are threats to us every day. Of course, the coronavirus, we are hoping now that the summer is here that it would be flattened, but we've had a re-eruption of it, in certain states across the United States. And we're all wearing our face masks, and we're social distancing. And we're concerned about this. There are dangers. Then there are the normal concerns of our lives, like our livelihood, our employment, our health, our marriages, our children, our future. We are fallen people, living in a fallen world, in need of a little help. Well, let me restate that. We're in need of a lot of help.
So, God instructs the priests, the spiritual leaders of the people, to pronounce this blessing. And in fact, the Lord says, "I want you to pronounce it on the people, over and over and over again. I want this thing ingrained in their brain. I want this etched on their hearts. I want them to be able to recite it from memory". Again, six truths about God, that every believer needs to know. Number one, God loves to bless you. Isn't that a great thing to know? God loves to bless you. Listen, the Lord is not stingy with his blessings. Jesus said, "It is your Father's good pleasure to give to you the kingdom".
It's like when I'm with my grandkids, I love to do things for them. I love to take them out to ice cream. I love to buy them a little toy. I love to spend time with them, and enjoy them, and tell them jokes, and tell them a Bible story. The other day, my granddaughter Allie, said of my wife Cathy, her grandmother, she says, "Namaw", that's what she calls her, she says, "Namaw, she cooks, and she cleans, and gives us food that makes us happy". And then she says to me, "But you, Papa, you provide the entertainment". I like that. And you know, this is the thing, God loves to bless you. And he wants to bless you.
Look at verse 24, the Lord bless you. But what does this word bless, or blessing mean? We throw it around a lot, "Hey, God bless you. Oh, you're such a blessing. Oh, wasn't that a blessing"? What are we even talking about? Sometimes we use the word to end a conversation. Maybe someone's talking too long, and we'll say, "Okay, we'll listen, I gotta go. God bless you", which means go away now. Well listen, blessing, this word, it's a spiritual word. Maybe the world will try to hijack it, but they really have no idea of what it means. It is something only the child of God can experience.
And how do you become a child of God? I'll tell you how, at the end of the program, but here's a sneak peek, you're not born a child of God. You're born actually in opposition to God. You become a child of God, by putting your faith in Jesus Christ. And they'll tell you how to do that in just a few moments. But this is something that's only for the believer, only for God's child. And it's worth noting that Jesus both began and ended his ministry on Earth, blessing people. Remember, he met two downhearted disciples walking on the Emmaus road, after he had been crucified. They did not know that he had risen yet. And we read that as he saw him 'em on the road, he blessed them. When little children came to him, he took them into his arms, and he blessed them.
After his resurrection, he lifted his hands, and saw his disciples, and blessed them, and he then ascended. Jesus loved to bless people. And who can forget those beautiful beatitudes that he gave on the Sermon on the Mount, where he said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled". Blessed, blessed, blessed he says.
And by the way, another way to describe the statements of Jesus, are the be happy attitudes. In other words, if you live by these teachings of Christ, you'll be a happy person. And that's another way to translate the word blessed, happy. So happy are these people. It comes from a root word makarios. No, not "Macarena", remember that song? Never liked that song, by the way. No, it's makarios. Makarios was the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Because of its geographical location, balmy climate, and fertile soil, the Greeks effectively felt that if you lived on the island of Makarios, you had it made in the shade. It was even called The Happy Island. So the idea was, if you live on Makarios, you live in a self-contained happiness. Everything you need for life is right there on the island. You don't have to leave the island to get it.
Now, we have a church over in the island of Maui, It's called Harvest Kumulani. And I personally think Maui is the best of all the Hawaiian islands. There's even a saying, "Maui no ka 'oi", which means Maui is the best, and I think that's true. But we can't all live on Makarios. We can't all live on the island of Maui. So what does this mean to us? We learn two important truths from the very word. Number one, God wants you to be blessed and happy, because then the opening chapter of Genesis, we read God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them. And the next words are, in Genesis 1:27, and God blessed them.
So this blessing that God gives to you is something he wants you to experience, and secondly, it's independent of your circumstances. Let me say that again, this blessing, or this happiness that God wants you to experience, is independent of your circumstances. So you might be having great things happen, outwardly, or maybe you're going through a time of struggle, but you can still be happy. New stuff, a new car, a new house, new money, it's all fine, but those are an extra, a bonus. The biblical idea is if you're on the island, and you're close to the Lord, you'll be happy. So it's not saying anything about where you are geographically. It's saying everything about where you are spiritually. It's not about what you have, it's about who you know. The Bible says let your life be without greed, and be content with such things that you have, for he has said, "I will never leave you or forsake you".
Listen, if you have Christ in your heart, you can be a happy person right now. The Lord bless you. Now, some people might think that the Bible ought to say the Lord curse you. Now, it is a fact that certain people have brought, in effect, a curse upon their life. And I don't mean that in any mystical way. Sometimes people talk about a generational curse that's on a family, and you have to break the curse through prayer. I don't think the Bible teaches that at all. If any family had its share of problems, that would have been my family. And sometimes what you have is a cycle of sin, that's passed on from generation to generation. For instance if the parent is an alcoholic, chances are far higher that the child will also become an alcoholic. If the parents are divorced, the chances are far higher, that the children, when they get older and get married, will also be divorced.
Well, my mother was divorced seven times. She was an alcoholic, and I started down the wrong road, on the early years of my life, and I came to Christ at 17, and Jesus broke the cycle of sin on my life, and I'm happy to report, I've been married now for over 40 years, and the Lord has been good and faithful to me. And so my point is simply this, that if there's a curse on your life, it's because you've disobeyed God. We read that God cursed Cain, because of his constant disobedience. It says in Deuteronomy 27, there's a curse on a person who worships a false god. The Bible also says, in Deuteronomy 27:20, there's a curse on a person who lives immorally. So I'm simply saying that if you're living a sinful life, you're gonna experience the repercussions of that, the curse, if you will. You choose if your life is gonna be blessed or cursed.
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 says this, God speaking, "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses, now choose life, that you may live, both you and your descendants". And then it goes on to say that you may love the Lord your God, obey his voice, and that you may cling to him, for he is your life, and the length of your days. Listen, you wanna live a blessed and happy life, then you need to love God, obey his voice, and cling to him, boom, live it. Put it into practice, watch what the Lord will do. The Lord bless you. Then it goes on to say the Lord keep you, verse 24. The Lord bless you, and keep you. God wants us to be constantly reassured that he will keep us.
It's interesting, this word that is used here for keep means to watch, to guard, or to put a hedge around. Do you remember the story of the book of Job? One day, the Lord was bragging on Job in heaven, and the angels were there, and Satan was there as well. Don't forget, Satan's a fallen angel. And the Lord was saying, "Have you considered my servant Job, a perfect and upright man, one that fears God, and shuns evil". Satan says, loose paraphrase, "Give me a break. Do you think he fears you for nothing"? And then the Lord allowed a series of calamities to befall poor Job, that were orchestrated by the devil, because the devil correctly pointed out, "Have you not put a hedge of protection around Job, and everything that he has, you blessed the work of his hands". And that's true.
By the way, when I read what happened to Job after that, I feel like saying to the Lord, "Lord, if your even for a fleeting moment, feeling a little proud of me, please keep it to yourself. And don't say it in front of Satan". I'm kidding really, but the point is is that you too have a hedge of protection around you, as a follower of Jesus Christ. Satan cannot penetrate that wall. And if he goes in the front door, he has to face Jesus, because Jesus says in John 10:7, "I am the door". So the next time the devil comes knocking at your door, you oughta just say, "Lord, would you mind getting that"?
I heard about an older gentleman that was known for his godly life. And he was asked what he did when he was tempted. And the old guy said, "Well, I just say to the Lord, 'Lord, your property is in danger'". You're God's property, you belong to the Lord. The Bible says you're not your own, you've been bought with a price. So listen, you're preserved, you're protected, and you're continually kept by the power of God.
So you might say, "Well, then I guess I could never fall away from my faith". No, you could, you could fall away from your faith. Any believer can, because later on in Jude, it says, keep yourselves in the love of God. Though God's love is unsought, undeserved, and unconditional, you can be out of harmony with God's love. What does it mean to keep yourself in the love of God? It means keep yourself in a place where God can bless you. And in the same way it applies keep yourself out of the place where you would not receive the blessing of God, perhaps through your disobedience. Keep yourself close to the Lord.
Listen, you don't keep yourself saved, but you do keep yourself safe. And there are things where we're all vulnerable, and we know we could fall into sin. Stay away from those places. And by the way, this phrase that is used here, "The Lord keep you", carries the idea of keeping you through something. Not necessarily from something, but through something. In other words, when you become a Christian, you will still go through hardships. In fact, there will be unique hardships and challenges you'll face because you're a Christian. But God never promises to airlift you over all of your problems. But what he does promise to do is be with you through all of your problems.
As David said, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me". So we've been looking at the Israelites, and you remember they were delivered from Egypt, and they made their way to the Red Sea. There was no way they could get across the Red Sea. And if that wasn't bad enough, the Egyptian army was in hot pursuit. They got so upset, they turned to Moses, and said, "So was it because there were no graves in Egypt, you brought us here, into to the wilderness, to die"?
Well you know the rest of the story. The Lord caused the waters of the Red Sea to part, and the Israelites crossed through on dry ground. And then those same waters closed on the pursuing Egyptian army. So God did not keep them from the trial, but he kept them through the trial. The same was true of those three courageous teenagers, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Remember, they were thrown into a fiery furnace, because they would not worship a false God. God could have delivered them from the furnace all together, but he allowed them to be thrown into the furnace. But remember, the king looked and he said, "Did not I throw three people into the fire, yet I see four, and the fourth is like the Son of God". Jesus was walking with his three friends, through the fiery furnace.
So again, the Lord kept them through the trial, not necessarily from it. The list goes on, Daniel was not kept from the lion's den, but he was kept through it. Noah was not kept from the flood, but he was kept through it. You might ask, "Well, what about when an accident, or a tragedy, happens in the life of a child of God? Where's the keeping power of God then"? You know, and asking a question like that, we're assuming that somehow we have the inherent right to live long, easy lives, and die peacefully in our sleep one day. But the Bible says our times are in his hands. And that means that the Lord's gonna walk with us through life, no matter what you're facing, and you'll never be alone. The Lord bless you, and the Lord continuously keep you.
Number three, God smiles on you. Verse 25 says the Lord make his face to shine upon you. Now we've maybe he said that, or we've prayed that, or we've sung that. But do we know what it means? Well, it's a beautiful statement that's really saying that when God looks at you, he smiles, he smiles. I raised the question a little bit earlier, is got a smiling God or a frowning God? Is he a happy God, or is he an angry God? The Lord smiles on you. He's actually described in the Bible, as the happy God. So he is smiling on you, and when you walk into the room, his face lights up with joy, so to speak. Not only is God smiling on you, but the Bible says he sings over you. Over in Zephaniah 3:17, it says, the Lord your God, in the midst of you, is mighty. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will quiet you with his love. He'll rejoice over you with singing. Can you imagine what it would be like to hear God sing? I think we'll experience that when we get to heaven.
Number four, the Lord is gracious to you. The Lord bless you, the Lord keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and the Lord be gracious to you, in verse 25. This is something we need to constantly be reminded of. We need to understand what grace is. Grace is God's unmerited favor. It comes down to this, justice is getting what I deserve. Mercy is not getting what I deserve. Grace is getting what I don't deserve. Let me illustrate, let's say I loan my Harley to someone, and they went out and dumped it, and destroyed it. They totaled my Harley. I said, "I want you to get me a brand new bike". That would be justice.
Let's say I dealt with them in mercy instead, and I said, "Okay, you don't have to get me a brand new bike, I forgive you". But let's say I dealt with them in grace. I would not only make them, not only would I not make them get me a new bike, I would take them out to dinner in a beautiful restaurant, and then I went buy them their own Harley. That would be grace, you see, God's unmerited favor. And the Bible says, it's by grace you've been saved through faith. Not of works, lest any man should boast. Why do we need God's grace? Because we sin each and every day. You sin more than you think you do.
You say, "Oh Greg, I don't even think I've sinned in the last two days". Hey, that thought was probably sinful, 'cause you're full of pride. The Bible says if you say you have no sin, you deceive yourself, and the truth is not in you. Know this, there are different kinds of sin. There's a sin of omission, and the sin of commission.
I heard a story about a Sunday school teacher who was speaking to her class, and she was gonna speak on the topic of sin. So she announced, "Today, kids, I'm gonna talk about sin. Now, who knows what the sin of commission is"? A little girl sitting up front, raised her hand, and the teacher called on her, and said, "Yes, honey, what is the sin of commission"? The little girl said, "The sin of commission is when you do what you should not do". The teacher said, "Excellent answer. Now who knows what the sin of omission is"? Little boy in the back of the room is waving his hand back and forth. "Yes, son, what is the sin of omission"? He says, "Those are the sins you wanna do, but you haven't got around to yet". No, not exactly. A sin of commission is when you do what you should not do. A sin of omission is when you don't do what you should do. And the Bible says, to him that knows to do good, and does not do it, to him it is sin.
So we think sin is when we think a lustful thought, or we lose our temper, or something like that. Yes, that could be sin. Or that is sin, I should say. But sin can also be when the Lord prompts me to open his Word and read it, and I say no. Sin can also be when the Lord leads me to pray, and I refuse. Sin can also be when the Lord directs me to share the gospel with a nonbeliever, and I say, "There's no way I'm gonna do it". A sin of omission, you know what you should do, and you don't do it. So we need God's grace, each and every day, don't we? The Lord taught us to pray, our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom, come your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Just as surely as you need daily bread, or provision from God, you need daily forgiveness as well.
Point number five, God is attentive to you. He's attentive to you. Look at verse 26, the Lord lift up his countenance upon you. Beautiful, but what does it mean? It actually means to lift up his face, or literally to look, to see, to know, to be interested, to have one's full attention. I touched on this on my message last time, where the Lord is looking at you, he's watching you. You have his full attention. The Lord's effectively saying, "I watch out for you each and every day".
Sometimes we might wonder if God is really paying attention. Does the Lord know what we're going through right now? Has this whole coronavirus caught God by surprise? Absolutely not, he knows all about it. He knows what you're experiencing right now, in your life. He's in control of your life right now. This brings us to our final point, the Lord give you peace. The Lord bless you, The Lord keep you, the Lord make his face to shine upon you, the Lord be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up his countenance, or be aware, of what you're going through, and finally, and the Lord give you peace. I mean, knowing all this about God should bring peace to your life.
Are you in turmoil right now? Just know this, he loves you. He's in control of your life, and rest in him. One final thing in this blessing of God to us, verse 27, the Lord says, "Put my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them". So the Lord is effectively saying to the spiritual leaders, "Listen, you guys, you have spiritual oversight. I want you to pronounce this blessing on the people, and I'm gonna live up to it, in their lives". In other words, don't make excuses for me. Don't soft sell this, don't be afraid, I'm not going to back it up. You tell 'em, I'll bless 'em, I'll keep 'em. I'll make my face shine upon them. I'll give them peace. You tell them, and not only tell them, I want you to tell them over and over and over again.
So I'm telling you right now, wherever you are, God is smiling on you. He's gracious to you. He's attentive to you. He wants to give you his peace, and you can take that to the bank. But as I said earlier, this promise is only for the child of God. Hey, thanks for watching our TV program. And I wonder if you yourself have accepted Jesus Christ? You know, a lot of times people tune into programs like this who aren't believers, and they're kind of checking it out. Maybe you're laughing at it at first. Maybe you think it's not real, but something that's happened, and maybe something that's been said, you've suddenly discovered you need Jesus Christ.
You know, the day I accepted Jesus, let me tell you, it was the last thing I planned on doing. I didn't plan on becoming a Christian that day, but that was the day that was appointed in eternity, for me to believe in Jesus. I wonder if this is not that day for you. You've been eavesdropping, you've been checking it out, but now God's speaking right to your heart, and you realize you need Jesus Christ. Would you like to have your sin forgiven? Would you like a second chance in life? Would you like to go to heaven when you die? Would you like your guilt removed? Listen, it can all happen, because Jesus Christ went to a cross and died for your sin, and then rose again, three days later. And he'll come into your life right now, and be your Savior and your Lord, and the best friend you've ever had. Let's pray together. Pray this after me:
Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner. But I believe you died on the cross for my sin. And I'm sorry for that sin. And I turn from it now, and I ask you to come into my life, and be my Savior, and be my Lord, and be my God, and be and my friend. I choose to follow you from this moment forward, in Jesus name I pray, amen.
If you just prayed that prayer, I want you to know, on the authority of God's Word, that Christ himself has come to live inside of you. The Bible says these things we write to you that believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. But let me say, God bless you, and welcome to God's family.