One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: February 21
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A Prayer of Blessing
What is the most powerful thing in the universe?
Of course, God is the most powerful being in the universe! However, our tongue has great power too. And like most things of power, it can be used for good or bad. It can dish out curses or it can pour out blessings. It can be a weapon or it can be a healer. Our words matter. And God wants us to say prayers of blessing on the people around us. And a prayer of blessing can be the most powerful thing in the universe!
A prayer of blessing
As God’s Children, we are encouraged as we experience God’s Sovereignty over our lives. Beyond what our eyes can see, God has blessings in store for each one of us. We are children of the Most High God. We are His People and the Sheep of His Pastures. The power of prayer will transform our families, loved ones, our communities, our state, our nation, our world.
In Numbers 6, God gave instructions to the priests to share God’s blessings upon God’s people. God intended for their words to change people’s lives, their families, and their futures – for the good. He instructed them to say:
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make His face to shine upon you; And be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (RSV)
Asking for God’s blessing calls on the power of our sovereign God
As believers, we can know that God is sovereign and strong. We can believe that His plans for us and the people we love are for our good and that He has blessings in store as we follow after Him. However, in difficult times we can forget that the very God who created this entire universe, who holds the stars in place, and knows the exact number of hairs on our head, also knows what we are going through. It can be hard to see that His favor rests on us.
The stresses of life experienced during these unprecedented times can have one feeling challenged, overwhelmed and broken. However, in all of this we recognize that God is not blinded to our situations. God is all powerful and “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we may ask or think.” When we ask for God’s blessing, we are calling on the power of our sovereign God.
The greatest blessing often come from times of testing
However, often the greatest blessings come after the greatest times of testing. In fact, this prayer of blessing was given to the priests just before God punished Israel for refusing to go into the promised land by wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. This priestly blessing would remind them of God’s presence with them in the wilderness and that he would provide for them during this time. The Lord alone established the nation of Israel and He would continue to preserve His people.
Over and over through Scripture, we see story after story of when God turned around for good the difficult pathways of those He loved. And He still works the same today, for He never changes. It is in times of trials and testing when we experience God turning things around.
So, we need to be reminded that God makes every crooked path straight. He is a ‘Way Maker, Miracle Worker, light in the darkness.’ He turns our mourning into dancing and our trials into triumphs. God holds the power to cause things to happen in just a moment that would otherwise take us years to do. He can line up our paths to cross with others He wants us to meet. God can open doors that leave us in awe at how they open. He can close doors that He knows are not the best for us. He has a plan for us, in the good times, and in every difficult thing we face.
What does this blessing mean?
The blessing of God is the goodness of God in action. As His children, God’s blessings are unlimited. He keeps us in the palm of His hand. And He sustains us, guards us and guides us. His favor and grace rests on us and He is gracious to us beyond measure. He shows us kindness and love – even when we are unkind and unlovable. God is compassionate towards us. He smiles down on us like a doting Father. And He gives us peace.
Important note about this blessing:
It is important to note who does the blessing. The subject of this priestly prayer is the Lord. Each successive line in the priestly blessing starts with the words “the LORD”. The passage specifically focuses on God, as His Name is the subject of the blessing. The Lord, not the priest, was the one who blessed His people. The priest merely declared the blessing to the hearers. It is the Lord who blesses, keeps, makes His face to shine upon His people, acts graciously, turns His face toward His people, and gives them peace. He is the central focus and subject of the blessing.
God blesses us with all spiritual blessings, including electing, adopting, sanctifying, justifying, and pardoning us. It is his grace that redeems, regenerates and calls us. It is his grace that perseveres us for eternal life. God is the one who blesses us.
Let’s break down each line of this priestly prayer of blessing.
The blessing: “The Lord bless you and keep you.”
In English, the word “bless” carries the idea of receiving special favor, gifts, or endowments from God. But the Hebrew word “barak” used in Numbers 6:24 has a different and much deeper meaning. Barak is a Hebrew word, which acts as a verb in this verse. Interestingly, according to Strong’s Concordance, no. 1288, the word can mean kneeling before someone. So, the word has the idea of people worshiping God by kneeling to Him and God bending down toward man in a relationship. Therefore, barak or bless specifically means God’s special presence with His people. God is the blessing the Israelites received and he is the blessing we receive as His redeemed children.
Not only was the Lord their blessing, but the Lord was to keep them. Although many translations, including the NIV, ESV, and KJV all translate the verse as “keep you,” there are other translations of the word. For example, the NLT says, “protect you,” while the ISV translates the word as “guard you.” Similarly, the GNT version says, “take care of you.” All these translations are based on the Hebrew word “shamar.” This word carries the idea of keeping, caring for, and protecting (Strong’s Concordance, no. 8104). When the priests declared the blessing before the Israelites, the priests were affirming that God would protect them. He would keep and guard Israel.
Psalm 121:7-8 says, “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. “
In tying the verse all together, Yahweh promised to be present with the Israelites, divinely protecting them. They were not helpless, alone outcasts, for the Lord God was with them.
The blessing: “The Lord make His face shine upon you.”
This statement was a request for God to grant them His favor. God’s favor, or grace, is God giving us the ability to do something which is humanly impossible for us to do. The “favor of God” can be described as a divine kindness, or an act of true compassion on the part of God Himself toward needy and undeserving human recipients. Often in Scripture this act of God toward unworthy men or women is referred to as God’s “grace” – which means “the unmerited favor of God,”
It also implies that God does not shine His face on everyone. It shines on His chosen people, Israel. But He also causes His face to shine on those who seek His face and proclaim Christ as their Savior.
Additionally, as His children, we ought to reflect Him. When Moses returned from the mountain after meeting with God, his face shown bright enough that he had to wear a veil to cover his face. He reflected the glory of God. In John 8:12, Jesus says that He is the Light of the World. But then in Matthew 5:14, Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” Because Christ lives in us, His light should shine through us into the darkness of the world so that the world can see Him in us and come to know Him.
The blessing: “And be gracious to you.”
To be gracious means ‘to favor,’ ‘to show kindnesses’ to an inferior, and ‘to be compassionate.’ It is God surrounding you with His steadfast lovingkindness. In Isaiah 30:18 it says, “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion.” God is gracious because He is love. It is His character to love even if love is not returned to Him. He will give us good things because of His goodness. He extends favor, mercy, and kindness on whoever He pleases because it is who He is.
We do not deserve anything but God gives us everything, and when we consider His loving and kindly dealings with us, how is it that we are not more gracious? Sometimes we are filled with unkind thoughts, we speak unkind words, and we give unkind looks and we engage in unkind actions. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” In other words, just as God is gracious to us, showing us favor, kindness, and compassion, so we should be to others.
The blessing: “The Lord lift up His countenance upon you.”
This is is a picture of a father smiling and taking pleasure in his child. When the Lord lifts His countenance upon us, it shows that He is looking on us for our good. It is him turning His face towards with with divine approval. He looks on us with a cheerful and pleasant countenance, as one that is well pleased with us.
As His children, we have the smile of God resting upon us. God is not frowning or looking angrily at us. He is showing His favor. He always hates our sin, but how greatly He loves us. Jeremiah 31:3 says, “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.”
The blessing: “And give you peace.”
The Hebrew word is shalom, which expresses “peace” in a fuller and more holistic sense than we may use it today. This peace is not simply the ceasing of war, but total well-being, full flourishing. In other words, a tranquil heart and life – even in the midst of trails and the storms of life. Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.” The key to true peace is to keep our eyes on Jesus and fully trust God regardless of the circumstances.
A blessing not for vain repetitions
It is important for us to understand that these are not just words to be repeated like “God is good, God is great, let us thank him for our food.” These words were given by God to the priests to say to the people – words that would bring God’s literal protection, favor, love, approval and peace. It is a prayer for asking that He mercifully forgive our sins, supply our needs, console the heart, and prepare us by his grace for eternal glory; these things form the substance of this blessing, and the sum total of all blessings.
Is this prayer of Blessing only for the Priests in Israel?
Were these words only meant to be used by Aaron’s sons, the priests? Today, we are a priesthood of believers as followers of Christ and we have the power and wonderful privilege to bless others with the words we say. By saying words of blessing over another person, we are in fact sending a supernatural blessing to the person over whom we speak those words. Who can you bless today?
You Can Trust Him
We are children of the King. He is Sovereign and He reigns Supreme, giving favor, guidance, and blessings to all those who seek after Him. He is good all the time and we can trust Him in all circumstances.
Don Moen’s Track “You Can Trust Him“
Don Moen describes our Sovereign King as unparalleled and unprecedented, the centerpiece of civilization, the superlative of all excellence, the sum of human greatness, the source of divine grace, the only one able to save, and His blood is the only power able to cleanse.
His ears are opened to the sinners’ call, his hand is quick to catch a fallen soul. He is the eternal lover of us all – everyone! He supplies mercy for the struggling soul, sustains the tempted and the tried, sympathizes with the wounded and broken, strengthens the weak and weary, and He guards and guides the wanderer.
Jesus heals the sick, delivers the captives, defends the helpless, and binds up the brokenhearted. He is the key to all knowledge, the wellspring of wisdom, the doorway of deliverance, and the pathway of peace. He is the roadway of righteousness, the highway of holiness, and the gateway to glory.
Jesus is enough! He is the all-sufficient King. He is the King of righteousness and he is the King of the ages. Jesus is King of heaven, King of glory, and King of kings. He is the Lord of lords. He is a sovereign king.
There is no gauge to measure His limitless love, no barrier to block his blessings out poured. He is enduringly strong, entirely supreme, eternally steadfast, immortally faithful, imperially powerful, and impartially merciful. He is indescribable, incomprehensible, invisible, and irresistible.
You can’t out live him and you can’t live without him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand him when they found they couldn’t stop him. Pilate couldn’t fault him. Herod couldn’t kill him. Death couldn’t conquer him and the grave couldn’t hold him. He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. He is the God of the future and the God of the past. And we raise to speak His name again and again. Jesus! He is Jesus and He is for us. And we can trust him. (Listen to this powerful narrative on YouTube with the link below).
He is always there
Our prayers are powerful words. When we pray, God listens. Whether our prayers are for ourselves or on behalf of our families and friends – or even our enemies! We may not be able to be with them every moment of every day. But He is. We can’t see every struggle, every worry, every burden that may weigh them down. But He does. And He is always there, carrying them, and us, through every moment of life – good, hard, or bad. He is a safe place. He is our Rock. And He is Mighty to save.
Our Words Have Power
What if because of the words we say, someone didn’t fulfill God’s plan for their life because we said it was an impossible dream? What if because of the words we say, we make a child, friend, staff person feel like a failure? Or what if, because of the words we say, a lost person rejects Christ?
Our words have power.
What if when the crazy driver cuts you off you say words of blessing over them? What if when your spouse says something hurtful you say words of blessing over them? Or what if when your children leave for school you say words of blessing over them? What if your tyrant boss makes you feel like an idiot and you respond with words of blessing?
What will the words you speak today bring to others – curses or blessings? Will you speak life?
#ReadYourBible #Leviticus #Mark #powerofwords #PrayerofBlessing #TheLordblessyou #SpeakLife #TobyMac #TheBlessing #KariJobe #Waymaker #YouCanTrustHim #DonMoen
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