WORDS THAT HELP & HEAL - Part 2
This is what I taught at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, December 2, 2018. The focus is on speaking blessing into people's lives. We are blessed to be a blessing. The Bible passage for the day was Numbers 6:22-27.
INTRODUCTION: BLESSED TO BE A BLESSING
Have you heard the phrase, blessed to be a blessing? It sounds sort of cheesy, but it's actually true and it's really important. Let me show you how this works.
Ephesians 1:7 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."
Then, the passage goes on to list several of these blessings: God's love, adoption into his family, abundant grace, forgiveness and freedom from sin, the Holy Spirit, and more. Paul lists one blessing after another for three chapters of his letter.
Then, in chapter 4, Paul writes about passing those blessings on. For example: Speak truthfully, be generous, kind, compassionate, forgiving. We're blessed to be a blessing.
Here's what fascinates me, so much of blessing others has to do with the words we speak to them, into their lives. Listen to this:
(Ephesians 4:29) 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.
Your words have three kinds of power: To hurt - unwholesome. To help - build up. To heal - meet needs. Our words can speak curses and death over people OR our words can speak blessing and life over people (see Proverbs 18:21).
Today, I want us to learn how to use our words to bless: to bring life, to help and heal.
But first we need to know the history of "word-blessing."
THE HISTORY OF WORD-BLESSING
When God made man and woman, he blessed them:
(Genesis 1:28) God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
When God made covenant with Abraham, he blessed him, and the nation of Israel, and through Israel, through Jesus, the nations of the world:
(Genesis 12:2-3) I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
The priesthood in Israel were to bless the people (Numbers 6:22-27). We'll look at that in a moment.
When Jesus taught on blessing, he told us to bless our enemies and, by implication, all unbelievers:
(Luke 6:27-28) I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
When children came to Jesus, he blessed them:
(Mark 10:16) And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he blessed his disciples
(Luke 24:50-51) When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.
One thing stands out to me: God is a blessing-God, and he wants to bless EVERYONE, and he wants all of us to be channels of blessing to the whole world.
WHAT TO SPEAK IN BLESSING
You might be asking, what should I say when I bless people? That's a great question and there's a couple of answers. On the one hand, say anything that's true, helpful, healing, or encouraging. This doesn't have to be formal. Just speak in a normal voice, in the course of a conversation, as the Lord reveals it to you. "Jack/Jill, I see God at work in your life. He's pouring out his love into your heart. This is what makes you so compassionate towards people in pain."
On the other hand, God has given us exact blessing-words to say when we have an opportunity. You can say these over your kids, your spouse, your small group, when you visit the sick, wherever. The blessing is found in Numbers 6, in the blessing that every priest in Israel was to speak over the people.
(Numbers 6:22-27) The Lord said to Moses, 23 “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: 24 “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; 25 the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; 26 the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ 27 “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
From this, we gain three insights into word-blessing:
1. The source of the blessing is God. This is why his name, the Lord, is mentioned three times. And verse 27 makes it plain: "I will bless them."
2. The act of blessing is declaring what is or will be. It's not praying. We aren't asking; we're affirming, confirming. It stirs up assurance, confidence, faith and courage. We speak life, God gives life. We speak the blessing, God activates it.
3. The focus of the blessing is three gifts from the Lord:
His help - keep you. God claims us as his own. He's keeping his covenant promises, and protecting, providing for, and promoting us.
His hope - face shine, be gracious. God is pouring out favor on us. He is giving us all that Jesus is for us - our birthright.
His healing - face turn, peace. God is restoring the wholeness (health, abundance, wisdom, relationships) that sin and satan have stolen from us.
HOW TO SPEAK BLESSING
1. Bless freely. Every Jesus-follower is a priest. Therefore, We all have permission to speak the blessing over people.
(1 Peter 2:5) You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood ...
(1 Peter 2:9) You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation ...
You and I are authorized to speak blessing over people. It could be verbal, but it could also be in a note, an email, or message. These blessings contain a spiritual power far greater than the words alone. I can't explain it, but I've felt it in my own life and seen in others.
Don't hold back. Be bold. Speak life and hope and confidence and vision into those around you. Pray to do it more and more with greater and greater impact.
2. Bless intuitively. We don't only see with our eyes, we also see with our hearts (Ephesians 1:17-18; Corinthians 2:9-13). The Holy Spirit reveals what he is doing and we speak that over people - not what we see with our eyes, but what we see by faith, by the Spirit. Parents, speak into your kids. "The Lord is working in you. You are faithful, you are kind, you are victorious, you are wise, you are courageous."
Paul did this. He spoke into Timothy:
(2 Timothy 1:6-7) I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Speaking blessing is the most effective way to move someone from where they are to where they should be, could be, will be with God's power. Why? Because it turns them away from self to God, to what he is able to do in them. That fills them with faith and courage and motivation to live for the Lord.
3. Bless redemptively. Blessing isn't giving people what they've earned. It's not a reward; it's God's gift, earned for unworthy sinners by Jesus' perfect life.
When Paul wrote a letter to the worst church in the world, a church he was not happy about, he did not do what we might expect. Instead, he spoke blessing into them - as a way to redirect their lives, to restore them:
(1 Corinthians 1:4-7) I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.
Paul wrote, "God's worked in you, so you're favored, smart, eloquent, anointed, gifted." All true! Just not the whole truth. Paul was wise. First he blessed, then he corrected.
We all know someone who isn't walking their talk. They say they love Jesus, but they're living like the devil. What we feel like doing is tearing them off a strip, condemning, criticizing them. That might makes us feel better, but it won't do them any good.
This is where we bless redemptively. "You are blessed and highly favored. Jesus loves you and died for you. His Spirit is living in you, working on you, filling you with supernatural life. He hasn't given up on you. You're a child of God and you're becoming like Christ. You're more than a conqueror and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. God is for you, so it doesn't matter who is against you."
4. Bless expectantly. Every stand-out hero of the Christian faith was propelled into greater faith and works by someone speaking into their lives. Someone saw something, felt something, enough to speak it confidently.
Sometimes, it was direct from God - such as, when God spoke to Moses the murderer who was hiding in the desert for 40 years, "Go back to Egypt. You're going to lead my nation to freedom." Boom! Everything changed.
Sometimes, it's a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a friend. "You know what I see for you ..." Those words of affirmation, confirmation, encouragement are like rocket fuel - they ignite faith and passion. They help someone, who might be fumbling for direction and full of doubt, to overcome their limitations and attempt great things for God.
I want you to have a vision for this, to believe in what God might do through you to launch someone into their calling and destiny. I want God to use our words of blessing to release people into all God wants for them. Let's be known as the blessing church.
Spoken blessing invites God's power into situations. Blessing releases his power to reverse the curse, to bring people up from the ashes of defeat and regret and failure, to heal deep emotional and spiritual wounds, to break the chains of sin and satan, to bring in a new day and a fresh start, to inspire confidence and courage, to renew faith and faithfulness, to unveil the Kingdom, to reveal God, to unleash the Spirit, to inject supernatural power and favor and anointing.
I believe all of us can learn to do this. Some of you are already masters at it. Keep doing it. The rest of us, let's make this the day we committed to be channels of God's blessing through our words.
It all begins by believing it's worth it, it works, it's a worthy use of our words. Jesus did it, Paul did it. I hope someone spoke blessing over you at least once in your life.
You were blessed to be a blessing. So, yes, it's worth it. Actually, it's fun in a serious sort of way. So simple, yet so powerful.
Now, agree with the Lord that you will step out in faith to bless with your words. Pray something like this: "Lord, I am blessed to be a blessing. Use my words to build, to heal, to help, and to bring hope. Open doors of opportunity even today. Amen."
Maybe you have never heard a blessing spoken over you. That is so painful. The good news is that you will be offered a blessing this morning, in just a few minutes. The question is this: will you receive it, believe it, live in it, see it manifest in your life?
Think about this: God wants to bless you with every spiritual blessing. That only happens when you turn from yourself to Jesus, the source of all the good things God wants for you. Turn to Jesus and experience God's love, acceptance, compassion, power, and help every day.