Most weeks, we end our worship service with the familiar benediction that comes from the book of Numbers. It’s the blessing that God told Moses to tell Aaron to announce to the children of Israel: “The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.”
There is a lot to think about in that six-fold prayer for blessing. But I’ve been thinking this week about what it means for God’s face to shine upon His children and for Him to lift up His countenance upon us.
As parents, there have been times when the behavior or obedience of our children has caused our faces to shine. In fact, we often can’t help but beam when we see our children demonstrating their love for God and living lives of faithful obedience.
It’s the same with God. When we are living lives of faithful obedience to Him, it fills His heart with joy and causes His face to shine.
Aaron’s prayer that God would lift up His countenance upon His children was a prayer that God would bless them (us) with His careful, loving attention. That he would notice them and look their way. That He would not turn His face away or lose sight of them.
The point of the benediction is that the blessings of God follow the willing obedience of His children. We don’t earn His blessing by our obedience. Instead, God chooses to graciously bless us as a way of helping us learn that life works better when we choose to live it as He designed for it to be lived.
The history of the people of Israel records many times when God’s people rebelled against Him. And in the process, the Bible says God turned His face away or did not respond to their cries for help.
One of those times happened during the era when Isaiah was a prophet in Judah. In chapter 58, God’s people wonder “Why have we fasted, and you see it not? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?”
Isaiah answers that question. He says that God has turned His face away because of their religious hypocrisy. They claim to love God, but they don’t care for His people!
He continues in chapter 59 to explain that their fundamental problem is that the people of Judah want both the blessing of God and the temporary pleasures of sin. Isaiah says “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
Pastor David Guzik asks: In what way does sin separate us from God?
Sin does not separate us from the presence of God, because God is present everywhere (Psalm 139:7) and even Satan can have an audience with God (Job 1:6).
Sin does not separate us from the love of God, because God loves sinners (Romans 5:8).
But sin still does separate.
He goes on to say “How easy it is for us to blame our problems on everything except our iniquities! We will even blame God before seeing that the problem is with us! We will deny who God is before seeing that the problem is with us!”
Have you been through seasons where it seemed that God’s face was not beaming with delight toward you? A season where it seemed He was far away?
The first question to ask in those seasons is whether there are any areas in your life where you are knowingly living in rebellion against God and His ways? Pray and ask God to show you ways in which you are living independently from Him and instead doing what seems right in your own eyes.
And when God brings them to your attention, confess your sin. Turn from it. And see if in the process, God doesn’t restore to you the joy of your salvation as His face shines on you once again.
Did you know that Matt Gurney is blogging?
Check out his latest post on “God Shaped Leaders” here. And bookmark his blog so you can check it out each week.
We are two and a half weeks away from our baptism celebration at Tom and Nancy Arnold’s home. Please contact any of the elders or Matt Gurney if you are interested in being baptized. We need time to schedule an interview with you.
The baptism will happen on Sunday afternoon July 9. The pool will open at 4:00 and baptisms will begin at 5:00.
Following the baptisms, we’ll open the buffet. Here’s what you need to bring:
M-Z: Summer Dish (chicken salad, tuna salad, pasta salad, cold chicken (baked, smoked, grilled, BBQ, etc)
A-Z: Fruit or Green salad
Providing chips and bottled water
Here’s how to get to the Arnolds the Wal Mart on Highway 10: Head west on Highway 10 about two miles to the Ferndale cut-off. Turn left and go about four miles to the corner of Ferndale and Kanis. Turn right on Kanis and go 9.9 miles to Cave Creek Road. Turn left on Cave Creek and go 9/10s of a mile. Once you turn on Cave Creek, continue straight – don’t turn off anywhere. The road ends at the Arnold’s home. It takes about 20 minutes from the Wal Mart to get there.
With the busyness of summer and vacation schedules happening, out planned water park adventure for our student ministries has been postponed. Stay tuned for updates.
Have you found yourself recently thinking “I wish there was some easy, convenient way for me to serve others in our church and in our community to let them know how grateful I am for all that Jesus has done for me?”
I have just the thing for you!
We would love to have YOU sign up to serve in the nursery at Redeemer two or three times in the next six months. Did you hear that? Only two or three times in six months!
What would you be doing? Playing with babies and toddlers, reading books, throwing balls, doing puzzles, and teaching our little ones about Jesus.
Feel like two or thee times is too much? Would you be willing to serve just once? We’ll make it work!! And you’ll be blessed!
Please let Kelly Rackley know how many times you’d like to serve (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We’ll continue our ongoing study of the kind of faith that saved Abraham as we direct our attention again to Romans 4 this Sunday.
See you in church!
Soli Deo Gloria!