15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.
We have touched on this subject of blessings several times over the past year. Let’s take a look back.
The Blessing of Presence
We looked at how God is ever present in our darkest moments. This message kicked off our Series on Grace and Brokenness when we looked at how God continues to bring about his plan of redemption even when his people are broken and continue to make choices that deepen the wounds in their midst. The story of Jacob and Esau and the struggle between these two brothers revealed how their lives often mirrors our own family experiences and the realization that we need God to break our personal spirals of brokenness.
Jacob’s story brought more examples for us when we looked at how God blessed Jacob with prosperity even when he was at odds with his Uncle Laban. God blessed Jacob so that he could fulfill his promise to return to his home despite the lies and deception that have characterized Jacob’s life in so many instances. God is with us as well when the odds seemed stacked against us in life.
Most recently we saw the import blessing of God’s presence in the gift of his Son, Jesus. God gave us his Son to not only by with us, but to live within us and to work through us. This message reminded us that the God of the Scriptures is not some distant figure who once in a great while visits the earth. Rather, the God of the Scriptures is constantly present with us through his Spirit even though we may not always feel it or believe it. He has not abandoned us and we were challenged to live as though the God who is present, is actually present.
The Blessing of Purpose
God definitely has plans for our lives – often beyond the obvious – to give us a future and hope. In looking at several examples from the life of Joseph, we saw how God used a polytheistic, pagan, ruler who knew nothing of the true God through confusing dreams that Joseph is able to interpret. Through the important blessing of interpretation, Joseph provided a practical plan to address the challenges facing the empire that provided salvation for the land of Egypt, as well as the rest of the known world. In the midst of all the ups and down experienced by Joseph, he continued to have hope and believe that God was working out some greater plan that he was not always going to know or understand.
A couple weeks ago, we looked at how God not only had a specific purpose for his Son, but for creation and humankind as well. The fact that God has a purpose for everything is an important blessing because through Jesus, we can have a relationship with God. God’s purpose for humanity is to experience community, leadership, multiplication, growth, change, exploration, work and worship all throughout the world.
We were created for a purpose. What may seem surprising, is that the purpose for Jesus’ followers today is very similar to the original directions given at the beginning of the Story. We are still called to expand the presence of God throughout the world and multiplying the number of Jesus followers. We are called as men and women to be in community and live out our worship in every facet of life and provide leadership and hope for those who continue to live in the wilderness. Ultimately, our purpose is to be a light for the darkness that envelopes so much of the world today.
Blessings are important because they form a relationship between the giver and receiver – a mutual blessing of grace given and redemption received. Our hope and prayer is that you will remember all the ways God has blessed you this past year and will continue to bless you in 2018.