The Rev. Herbert G. Hand

Faith Anglican Church

Cordova, Tennessee

May 29, 2005

 

Title: Obtaining God’s Abundant Blessings

Series: Bringing the Blessing

Text:Deuteronomy 11:18-21, 26-28

 

I. Would You Rather?

Sometimes conference leaders begin a session with a little game called, "Would You Rather?" You have to make a choice and go to one side of the room or the other. They ask questions like:

Would you rather listen to country music or classical music?

Would you rather pull for Tennessee or the University of Memphis?

Would you rather wear formal attire or casual clothes?

Without getting out of your seat, this morning I’d like you to play a short game of "Would You Rather?"

1. Would you rather have a steak dinner at the Butchers’ Shop or a value meal at a local fast-food joint?

2. Would you rather drive a 2005 Lexus or a 1975 AMC Gremlin?

3. Reflecting on today’s reading from Deuteronomy chapter 11, would you rather receive a blessing or a curse?

How do you get the steak dinner instead of a value meal?

How do you get the Lexus instead of the 1975 Gremlin?

Either you have to work hard and save your money,

Or you receive them as gifts or an inheritance.

More importantly, how do you get God’s blessings instead of a curse? Two ways:

1) By obeying God’s commands.

2) By claiming God’s blessings by faith.

 

II. Receiving God’s Blessings by Obeying His Commands

Our reading from Deuteronomy chapter 11 correlates God’s blessings with obeying His commands.

Please either open your Bible or your bulletin to Deuteronomy chapter 11, beginning in verse 18.

He starts by emphasizing the importance of knowing God’s word. He says:

18Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds;

In today’s vernacular, glue God’s Word – both emotionally and intellectually – to your very being.


He says:

"tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads."

In other words, write them down, put them on index cards and sticky notes so you can memorize them.

He goes on to say:

19Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Parents, God has given you the awesome responsibility of passing the faith to your children. Take every opportunity to show your children how to apply God’s Word to their lives.

Why Glue God’s Word to your heart and mind? Why help your children glue God’s Word to their hearts and minds? Verse 21 tells us:

21so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the LORD swore to give your forefathers…

Deuteronomy 11:18-12 (NIV)

God was giving the ancient Israelites a conditional promise. As they learned and obeyed God’s Word, God promised to not only give them long life, but to give them the Promised Land as well.

The same is true today:

As you glue God’s Word to your heart and mind, and you obey His Word.

As you help your children to glue God’s Word to their hearts and minds, and obey His Word – God will bless you and them a long life and prosperous life.

Clearly God’s blessings are contingent upon obedience to His commands.

In Luke chapter 11 Jesus said,

"Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

Luke 11:28 (NIV)

In John chapter 14 Jesus said,

15"If you love me, you will obey what I command.
John 14:15 (NIV)

God’s blessings – both temporal and eternal – are contingent upon our obedience to His commands.

 

In verse 26-28 of Deuteronomy chapter 11, he clarifies this even more when he says:

26See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—

27the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today;

28the curse if you disobey the commands of the LORD your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known.
Deuteronomy 11:26-28 (NIV)

The choice is yours. Would you rather receive a blessing or a curse?

Most of us know what a blessing is:

Salvation, good health, financial provision, safety.

Not as many know what a "curse" is from a biblical perspective:

A curse is simply the opposite of a blessings.

It’s the withholding of God’s blessings.

(NIV Dictionary of the Christian Church, Vol. 1, 416)

 

III. Receiving God’s Blessings by Claiming God’s Blessings

What happens when you mess up? What happens when you clearly deserve for God’s blessings to be withheld?

Can you ever hope to receive God’s blessings again? YES.

Throw yourself on God’s mercy.

Ask for his forgiveness.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV)

 

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:9 (NIV)

Listen to the "curse" language used in Galatians 3:13:

"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 tree.’"
Galatians 3:13 (NIV)

Though we all deserve the curses of the law due to our disobedience, though we deserved for all of God’s many blessings to be taken away, Jesus removes the curse through His atoning death on the cross, opening the way for you to receive God’s blessings.

Some of God’s blessings come through obedience to His commands.

Other blessings are not based on obedience, but on God’s mercy.

The question is: How do you appropriate these blessings from God?

Claim them. Actively receive them by faith, by putting your trust in Jesus.

 

It’s Paid for!

Once there was a certain poor Polish man who lived back in the days of Ocean Liners and kerosene lanterns.

He wanted to come to America.

He was a poor uneducated laborer. Over a period of several years, he saved his pennies until he finally had enough to buy a steamship ticket to America.

The day he left his village, there were hugs and tears all around. Everyone was overjoyed for their friend.

When he arrived at the port, he was mesmerized by the size and opulence of his ship. As if waking from a dream, he finally boarded the ocean liner.

As the horn blasted its thunderous refrain, and his ship pulled out of port, a smile spread across his face. He was heading to the great port of New York City!

He found a comfortable chair on the top deck.

He sat down with his old duffle bag and a blanket to keep him warm.

The other passengers wined and dinned all day and all night, but the poor Polish immigrant, was content eating his bread and cheese, knowing he would soon be in the land of opportunity.

The other passengers slept in their comfortable quarters, but he was content sleeping in his chair and watching the stars, for he knew he was going to America!

Near the end of his voyage, he met a member of the crew who spoke Polish.

The crew member asked him,

"So, why do you choose to sit out here in the weather and eat your own food alone?"

Embarrassed, he told him that he was just a poor laborer, fortunate to have passage to America. He couldn’t afford a room or the luxurious meals.

The crew member shook his head as he told the man,

"Sir, the room and the meals were included in the price of your ticket!

You simply needed to come in and it all would have been yours.@

 

Many Christians live the Christian life like that poor immigrant from Poland:

They are thrilled to be going to heaven.

They are thrilled to have a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

 

But, they do not enjoy the many blessings God has prepared for them.

How do you receive God’s blessings?

1. First, know God’s promises.

2. Second, claim his promises by faith.

 

Throughout scripture God gives us scores of promises.

Second Corinthians 1:20 says,

"For in [Jesus] every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’"

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NRSV)
The Blessings and the Curses of the Law

The curses of the law are clear from Deuteronomy chapter 28:

They cover everything from family to finances, from sickness to sanity.

Thanks be to God, Jesus has redeemed us from the these curses.

 

The blessings God promises are also found in Deuteronomy chapter 28. He says:

2All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:

3You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country…

6You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

7The LORD will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven.

8The LORD will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to…

11The LORD will grant you abundant prosperity—in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your ground—in the land he swore to your forefathers to give you…

13The LORD will make you the head, not the tail…

Deuteronomy 28:2-13 (NIV)

1. Know God’s promises.

2. Claim his promises.

"For in [Jesus] every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’"

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NRSV)

Standing on the Promises

A congregation was singing – with very very little enthusiasm – "Standing on the Promises."

Standing, standing,
Standing on the promises of God my Savior;
Standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

Obviously the people were not listening to what they were singing.

Finally, the song leader couldn’t stand it any longer. He stopped the congregation in the middle of the song.

He asked the people on what promises they were standing. After a long period of silence:

One said, "Lo, I am with you always."

Another quoted, "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Still another said, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst."

Soon a dozen promises had been quoted.

When they began singing again, the people sang with a newfound enthusiasm, for they truly were standing on the promises of God their Savior.

Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).

 

No More Asthma

Both my brother and I had severe asthma as children.

Before I turned six, I had pneumonia once, spent time in an oxygen tent, received an endless supply of painful allergy shots, and had bronchitis 3-4 times every year.

Steve and I were so sick, Dad finally decided to sell the family business and move us to Miami where the air was cleaner.

We inherited our asthma from both my parents and even as far back as from my great grandfather (H. L. Hand).

I desperately did not want my children to have asthma.

Twenty years ago when Mary was pregnant with Elizabeth, I remember claiming God’s blessing upon our unborn daughter.

I laid hands on Mary’s belly and prayed for the curse of the Law to be broken, for the asthma to not enter this next generation, for the "fruit of [Mary’s] womb" to be blessed, for our daughter to be protected from the "diseases" listed in the curses of the law.

I claimed Galatians 3:13, which says:

"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 tree.’"
Galatians 3:13 (NIV)

For the first time in five generations, my daughter was freed from that dreaded disease which plagued my childhood.

Her freedom from asthma reminds me of the third verse of one of my favorite Christmas carol: Joy to the World.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

nor thorns infest the ground;

he comes to make his blessing flow

far as the curse is found.

1. Know God’s promises.

2. Claim his promises by faith.

Like a College Scholarship

Claiming God’s promises is a lot like a claiming a college scholarship. Recently Ronald was offered a Dean’s Scholarship at the University of Memphis. He had a choice:

1. He could ignore it. He could even complain about not receiving it.

2. He could claim it and enjoy it.

The same is true with God’s promises:

1. You can ignore them. You can even complain about not receiving God’s blessings.

2. You can claim God’s blessings, putting your trust in Him.

 

Would You Rather

Would you rather?

Reflecting on today’s reading from Deuteronomy chapter 11, would you rather receive a blessing or a curse?

You receive God’s blessings:

1) By obeying God’s commands.

2) By claiming God’s blessings by faith.