Joel Osteen - Start A Blessing
I want to talk to you today about Start a Blessing. The decisions we make don't just affect our lives, they affect generations to come. The way you live can make it easier on your children and grandchildren, or it can make it more difficult. You can be a stepping stone for them to do greater things, or a stumbling block that holds them back. No person lives and dies unto himself. The favor and blessing that you're walking in today didn't just happen because of you, somebody went before you that sowed seeds so you could be blessed. A praying mother, a grandfather that honored God, a great great relative that you never met, but they gave, served, and helped others - now you're reaping a harvest on what they planted.
In the same way negative things that we're dealing with have been passed down: addictions, anger, depression - that didn't start with you. The good news is - it can stop with you. You can be the one to set your family on a new course, you can start a blessing, you can start freedom, you can start wholeness, you can start victory. When you make decisions that honor God, when you're generous, when you're faithful, your life is not only going to be more rewarding, more fulfilling, but that faithfulness, that obedience is being credited to your children's account, to your grandchildren, to future generations. Just as the negative gets passed down, how much more the positive?
We hear a lot about generational curses, but there's something called a generational blessing. God is keeping an account of every good thing you do: the times you forgive when you could stay bitter, the times you do your best when nobody's giving you credit, the times you help others, give your time to encourage that friend. That's not being overlooked, it's accruing blessing, favor, mercy in your family's account. Grandchildren that have not yet been born, great-great-grandchildren that you'll never meet, yet because of you they will be born with a blessing on their life, born with favor that they didn't have anything to do with. It's because you started a blessing, you took the high road, you broke the addiction, you resisted the temptation, you prayed bold prayers.
Not only are you going to see God take you where you've never dreamed, but generations later your family will be walking in the blessing. Your descendants will see favor and victory because of you. How this should challenge us to live a life of faith, a life of excellence, a life of generosity? I want my descendants to do great things because of me, not in spite of me. Our children have enough to overcome without adding our negative baggage. I want them to look back at you and say "He put me further down the road. She took our family to a new level. They're the reason God has blessed me so much".
Genesis 14, Abraham learned that his nephew Lot and all of his workers had been captured by these bandits. They came in and raided their camp, took their animals and possessions. Abraham called his men together to go help Lot. They chased after them, in the middle of the night they attacked them from all different sides. They rescued Lot, all of his family and possessions, plus they gathered up the enemy spoils, it was a great victory. As they were returning Melchizedek, the high priest, met Abraham to congratulate him. Verse 20 says "Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he recovered".
That's the first place in the scripture we see the tithe, ten percent of our income. Abraham didn't have to do that, it wasn't required, but Abraham was a giver. He recognized that every good thing came from God. He wanted to bless the priest with some of the spoils, to show how God was first place, how he was grateful for the victory. That seemed like a nice thing to do, just being generous, but it was more significant than that. Abraham had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had a son named Levi. Levi was four generations from Abraham. The scripture says in Hebrews 7:9-10m "Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek through his ancestor Abraham. For although Levi was not born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham's loins when he gave the tithe to Melchizedek".
This is saying: Abraham gave the gift, he honored God, and his great-great-grandson, a young man he never met was credited with paying tithes. Levi came out of the womb with a blessing he had nothing to do with. He was born with favor because his great-grandfather was generous. He had this advantage because someone in his family line, someone that went before him started a blessing. When Abraham gave it didn't just bless Abraham, he didn't just see favor and increase, but that obedience was credited to LevI's account. Four generations later God said "I still remember the good that your great-grandfather did. I still remember how he served me, how he was generous, how he helped others. Now I'm going to bless you because of him".
The scripture says in Malachi 3:10, when you tithe your income, when you're generous, when you put God first place, he "Will open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing that you cannot contain". That doesn't just mean that you'll have overflow, it means you can't contain it in your generation, it's going to flow down to the next generation, and the next. Your obedience, your faithfulness, your generosity is not just going to cause you to see God's goodness, but you're impacting future generations. Because you honored God, because you do the right thing when it's hard, because you, give sacrifice, God is crediting that to your account, and to your family lines account. Blessings that you cannot contain.
David put it this way (Psalm 23:5), "My cup runs over". Not just where I have abundance, but it runs over to my children, runs over to my grandchildren, born with an advantage because of you. You started favor, you started freedom, you started abundance. Every right decision you make is being accrued to your descendants. Don't get talked out of doing the right thing, keep honoring God, keep giving, keep taking the high road, keep being good to people, you are storing up blessings, storing up mercy, storing up favor.
I've seen this in my own life. I didn't get to where I am by myself. People that went before me honored God. In one sense I was born with an advantage: not with wealth, not with influence, but I was born with a blessing, born with favor. My grandmother on my mother's side was a godly woman, so kind and loving, she always prayed for me. My grandfather, her husband was a giver, he lived to help others. He was raised very poor, his father died when he was eight, and he wasn't treated right by the people that took him in, but he never complained. He was a hard worker. He spent his whole career working at the refinery in Baytown, never missed a day of work. When he retired he would come to church during the week and do repairs. I would see him under the portable buildings working on the plumbing, fixing some kind of problem.
When he passed at the age of 96, we found a book that where he kept a record of all of his giving, all handwritten. It had the date, the amount that he gave, and where he gave it. "Thirty dollars to Lakewood, twenty dollars to Central Baptist, twelve dollars to the building fund". Decades of giving listed in this book. No wonder I'm blessed, no wonder I've stepped into houses that I didn't build, vineyards that I didn't plant, people that went before me honored God, now I'm walking in the blessing in part because of them. My grandfather couldn't contain it all, his generation couldn't hold all that God wanted to do, his cup ran over and spilled onto me. That's what happens when you're faithful, when you're generous, when you keep God first place, you start a blessing that you can't contain. What God has in mind is much bigger than what you have in mind. It's not going to be limited to your generation, it's going to get passed down to future generations.
Not long before my grandfather passed, he came over to our house one night for dinner. Victoria and I had been married for a few years, and we were living in this two-story house that we had just built. He looked around, it was so hard for him to take it in, he built his house for 2700 dollars back in the 1930s, they lived there their whole life. It's very comfortable, but very small. He was so amazed that we had a two-story home, how there was plenty of room. At one point he came to the back window and he looked out and saw our garage. It was detached from the house, about 20 feet away. He said, "Joel, who lives there"? I kind of laughed and I said "Granddaddy, that's our garage, that's a part of our house". He said "My goodness, Joel, you have another building". That's what happens when you start a blessing: your children, your grandchildren are going to step into blessings, favor, influence, like you've never dreamed. What you can't contain is going to spill over unto them.
Let me show you how powerful this generational blessing is: Levi made mistakes in life. His sister was taken advantage of by a man named Shechem that lived in another city. Levi was so angry, he wanted revenge. Against his father's advice, he went with his brother and killed all the men in that city. His father Jacob was so upset. Years later when Jacob was about to pass, instead of pronouncing a blessing on Levi, Jacob declared a curse. He said because you were hot-headed and shed so much blood, you and your descendants will always be cursed, you will live a hard burdensome life. It looked like he had lost the blessing, lost that favor because of his poor choices.
Years later Moses came down the mountain after receiving the Ten Commandments. He saw the Israelites worshiping a golden calf, partying, doing all kinds of wrong things. He was so upset, he shouted "Who is on the Lord's side"? He was saying "Who's going to take a stand for what's right? Who's going to honor God"? The scripture says "The sons of Levi rose up and said: we are on the Lord's side". After being cursed by their grandfather, after their father Levi made mistakes, you would think they had too much going against them, too much to overcome. But five generations back their great great grandfather Abraham honored God, he gave, he sacrificed, he obeyed, that was all credited to their account.
Moses said to them "From now on you will be the priest. You will have the highest positions". In the book of Genesis they were cursed by their grandfather, but in the book of Leviticus the Levites were the most blessed honored people. This generational blessing will override mistakes that you've made, it will supersede negative things that were said about you, it will put you on a course for blessing, for favor that cannot be stopped. In the generations to come because you started this blessing, your family line is going to see God's goodness in ways that don't make sense, favor they didn't deserve, mercy when they made mistakes, good breaks that they didn't have anything to do with. It's because of how you lived, the choices you made to honor God, to put him first place.
Maybe you have children, grandchildren that are off course, family members that are not making good decisions: don't worry they're coming back. The scripture talks about how you can store up mercy for your children, and for future generations. Because you're doing the right thing, mercy is going into your family lines account. Every time you sing in the choir, you serving the kid's life, you take care of that elderly neighbor, you just deposited mercy. When you go the extra mile at work, you have a good attitude when things aren't going your way, you sacrifice to give when you could use those funds for something that you want, that doesn't go unnoticed by our God. You're not only going to see a harvest, but you're storing up mercy, favor, blessings for your children and grandchildren.
23 years after David died, his son Solomon was on the throne. He wasn't making good decisions. He married foreign wives and started worshiping their idols. He knew better, but he let his guard down. This could have been the end, we never hear any more about him, but God said in 1 kings 11:12, "Solomon, I would normally take this kingdom away from you. You've done wrong in my sight, however, I will not do it, for your father David's sake". David started a blessing, and even after he died his children were walking in that blessing, they received mercy because of how he lived.
305 years after David was gone, one of his relatives king Hezekiah was on the throne - this was eight generations later. Jerusalem was surrounded by a huge army about to be attacked. It looked like Hezekiah was done, no way. But God sent an angel that destroyed 185.000 of the enemy's troops. In a split second the army was defeated, Hezekiah's life and city was spared. I can imagine Hezekiah saying "God, what did I do to deserve this kind of mercy, this kind of protection"? God said "Hezekiah, it wasn't anything you did, but there was a man in your family line named David. He honored me with his life, he started a blessing, he stored up mercy, now 305 years later you're walking in the favor, the protection, the blessing that was deposited into your account".
There are people in your family line that are going to see mercy because you started a blessing. You're the David, you're honoring God, he sees you taking the high road, he sees you going out of your way to be good to that friend, he sees you resisting the temptation, he sees you getting up early being here at church, early to thank him. He's not only going to show you blessing and favor, but that blessing you're not going to be able to contain it, it's going to spill over to your children, your grandchildren, to people in your family line. They're going to be born with a blessing because of you, born with favor because you're a giver, born with mercy because you showed mercy, born with an advantage because of your faithfulness. You started a blessing, now your family line will rise higher, they will go places they couldn't go because of you.
I met a man after the service a while back. When he was in his early twenties he had lost his way in life, he was discouraged and didn't know what to do. One evening he was walking around downtown with no purpose. My father was going to an event and saw him across the street, he felt compassion toward him, so my father went over and started talking to him. He told him how God had a plan for his life, the dreams he'd put on the inside could still come to pass, and how he had a bright future. It was like something woke up on the inside. His passion and purpose came back to life.
My father handed him a hundred dollar bill, he hugged him and he walked away. That young man began to weep. He told how that night was a turning point in his life. He got back on his feet, he went back to school, and finished his college education. He went on to medical school and became a surgeon. Today he's very successful, a leader in his field. He said "Joel, I never got to thank your father, but I at least wanted to thank you". He handed me a check for the ministry, many times more than the hundred dollars that my father gave him.
How many times have I looked back and said "Thank you daddy, you made my life easier. Thank you granddaddy, your sacrifices put me further down the road. Thank you grandmother, thank you mother, your prayers, your devotion, your love has thrust me where I can't go on my own". I've had a lot of people put good things into my account, I had anything to do with. Now I'm going to make sure, I keep that blessing going. I'm not going to compromise and take the easy way out. I'm not going to live selfishly and only think of me. I'm not going to be average, I'm going to be exceptional. I'm not going to settle for mediocrity, I'm going to believe big, I'm going to pray bold prayers. I want to live my life in such a way, that years from now my children, my grandchildren will look back and say "I'm better off because of Joel. He was a giver, he was excellent, he was faithful, he set new standards".
How this should challenge us to be our very best, not getting sidetracked by petty things, offended, trying to pay people back, compromising, giving into the same temptations, mediocre "I don't feel like being my best job, I'm tired". No, start a blessing, make your life count - you are affecting generations to come. You can pass down blessings, favor, generosity, faithfulness. Or you can pass down dysfunction, bitterness, mediocrity. That may have been passed to you, you may not had a lot of good things put into your account - that means you're the one to start the blessing, you're the one to start the favor, you're the one to start the freedom. God is counting on you to raise the bar, to take your family to a new level.
In the scripture Isaac's wife Rebecca was dishonest, she manipulated her children, had her son Jacob dress up like his brother Esau to try to trick their father. She deceived her husband to get her way. Her son Jacob turned out just like her, he was deceptive, dishonest, he tricked his brother out of his birthright. Jacob's uncle, a man named Laban had the same problem - he deceived Jacob. He told him to work for him for seven years and he would get his daughter Rachel in marriage. They all agreed, Jacob did that, at the end of the seven years Laban said "You can't have my daughter Rachel, I was talking about my other daughter Leah". That was a spirit of deception that kept getting passed from generation to generation. Wasn't a coincidence that the mother had it, the son, the uncle. It will continue until someone makes the decision that they're going to start a blessing, they're not going to keep passing down the dysfunction, the addictions, the bitterness.
Jacob came to a point where he was tired of living this way. His whole life he had been a deceiver, tricking people, being dishonest. He wanted to make things right. He went down to the brook to get along with God. That night an angel came and said "God is changing your name. You will no longer be called Jacob, which means trickster, your new name will be Israel, which means prince with God". He left there with a new attitude and a new passion to do the right thing. He knew he needed to ask his brother Esau for forgiveness, they had been estranged for years. When Jacob stole his birthright, Esau was so angry that Jacob had to flee for his life. Now years later Jacob wanted to return home. The only way to get there was to go through the land owned by Esau.
Jacob sent messengers with gifts to ask Esau if he would see him. Esau said he would, and so he started coming toward him with 400 of his men. Jacob thought that means one thing - revenge, "He's going to pay me back". Jacob sent more gifts, hundreds of animals to give Esau. Finally this big moment arrived, Jacob saw Esau coming with all of his men, he was about to meet the brother that he had cheated and took the double portion from the inheritance that belonged to him. I'm sure his adrenaline was flowing, he was on edge, wondering how Esau was going to respond?
Jacob had someone take his family over to the side, including his young son Joseph. As a little boy Joseph was watching all this drama play out. He had no doubt heard stories about how his father had cheated his uncle, how Esau was upset and how he wouldn't speak to them. You can imagine how fearful little Joseph was. When Esau was a couple hundred yards away, Jacob bowed down seven times in humility. Esau took off running toward him. Jacob thought "That's it. I'm done", but when Esau got to him he grabbed Jacob, and hugged him. The scripture says "He threw his arms around Jacob and they kissed, they both began to weep". I can imagine Esau looking over and asking "Who are all these people with you"? Jacob said "That's my family". "Well, who's that little boy"? "That's my son Joseph, that's your nephew". I can see Esau walking over and giving Joseph a hug. What Jacob thought would be strife and contention turned out to be an incredible act of mercy, an incredible act of kindness.
Fast forward many years later, now this little boy Joseph is a grown man. He's been betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and put in prison. After 13 years he was vindicated and promoted to the prime minister of Egypt. There was a great famine in the land, but because of the blessing on Joseph he had great wisdom. He helped the Egyptians to store up the food, they had plenty. One day Joseph's brothers, the same ones that threw him into the pit showed up at the palace looking for food. Joseph walked out to meet them, they didn't recognize him. They hadn't seen him in years. They bowed down before Joseph in respect, in humility.
Suddenly Joseph's mind flashed back to that time as a little boy, when he saw his father bowed down before Esau. It's the same scenario playing out, but this time he's not the little boy he's in Esau's position. He remembered how Esau had mercy on his father, how Esau treated them with kindness and respect. And Joseph looked at his brothers: when he could have paid them back, when he could have gotten revenge, instead he treated them like Esau treated his father. The scripture says (Genesis 45:14-15) "He threw his arms around his brothers, embracing them and kissing them".
Notice what God passed down: mercy, forgiveness, kindness. If Esau would have tried to get even and paid Jacob back, this scene would have been completely different. If he had passed down anger, bitterness, dysfunction, that's how Joseph would have responded, it would have gone from generation to generation. What made the difference? Esau started a blessing. Esau said "I am not going to live angry, offended, paying people back, I'm going to show mercy. I'm going to model for my children, my nephews, my family love, kindness, forgiveness".
You may have a good reason to live offended, angry, dysfunctional - it's what you've seen modeled, somebody did you wrong. You can be an Esau, you can set your family on a new course. The decisions you make will affect generations to come. It just needs someone to start a blessing, to start forgiveness, to start freedom, to start excellence, to start abundance. Why don't you let that be you you? Wouldn't be hearing this, if you weren't called to help your family come up higher in some way.
Let's start passing down good things. Like Abraham let's live generously, let's make it easier on those that come after us. Like Esau let's break any generational curse, and let's start the generational blessing - let's deposit good things into their accounts. If you'll do this, I believe and declare: not only are you going to rise higher and see God's favor, but like with Levi, your children and future generations are going to have an advantage. They're going to be born with a blessing. Because of your faithfulness, your obedience, your generosity, they're going to go further, they're going to accomplish more, and they're going to leave their Mark, in Jesus name.