Shortly before his death, my father said to one of his grandchildren, “I love you so much; I wish I could give each one of you $10,000.”
The young person’s reply was perfect, “Grandpa, you have given us treasures that money cannot buy.”
This leads to my sermon theme: Would you like to be a blessing to someone? God has made this possible. Let’s turn to our text.
Four thousand years ago, God entered into a covenant with a man whose name was Abram. Here are God’s words: “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. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:1-3).
What a promise Ð “All the people on earth will be blessed through you”!
The Bible says, “Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there” (Genesis 12:4-5).
You can be sure that, in comparison to life at home, these were difficult days. Abram must have had second thoughts, wondering what he was doing. “Then the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: ÔDo not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward'” (Genesis 15:1).
Then Abram felt free to share his feelings with God. “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir” (15:2-3).
And God replied, “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” God took Abram outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars Ð if indeed you can count them. So shall your offspring be” (15:4-5).
“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (15:6).
God gave Abram other signs and ended their conversation by saying, “You will go to your father in peace and be buried at a good old age. And so Abram continued his walk with God, holding on to the promises he had been given.
Look at the blessings God gave to Abram. Here is one: “I will make your name great.” In his home country, Abram’s family was well known. In this strange land, he was a nobody. Yet God said, “Just wait, Abram. The day will come when you will be known by many.”
Here we are, four thousand years after God promised Abram that blessing. Today we know Abram as the father of the people from whom our Savior was born. This leads us to understand what God meant when he promised Abram that he would be blessed and then he would pass that blessing on to the world.
Think of it, friend. We too have received this same blessing from our heavenly Father. In Christ, we will be blessed and be a blessing to many. If Christ is our Savior, we have been granted the forgiveness of our sins, which restores us into a personal relationship with God for all eternity. We live with peace while we walk on this earth. We will have a clear sense of values as to what is important in life, and he will direct our paths.
As sure as the blessings God gave to Abram were true, so is his word to us. However, God makes it clear why he blesses us Ð “You will pass the blessing on to others.” God has given us the potential to be a blessing to many. It is difficult for us to completely understand how God can use sinful people, but Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 5:20 that we are ambassadors for Christ and God makes his appeal through us.
Do you wonder how your Heavenly Father will use you? Let me suggest four ways right off the top of my head.
1. Teach a Sunday school class. I have often wondered why committed Christians do not line up waiting for the opportunity to teach a child what Jesus Christ has done for him or her, and how he will bless them. Why do people have to be begged to teach the children? Is it because they don’t understand what a difference Christ is going to make in that child’s life? Or perhaps we would rather not be bothered and so we hide behind the excuse that we don’t know how to teach. Don’t let Satan discourage you. I know a man who has a brilliant mind and will be studying soon at one of America’s most prestigious universities. He will point to a factory worker with no teaching qualifications as one of his most effective Sunday school teachers.
2. Enter the theological seminary to prepare for the parish ministry. Think of it! Each week you will have the privilege to stand before a congregation and point people to the Savior. There should be a waiting list of young people wanting to be admitted to one of our evangelical seminaries, wanting to be admitted to stand before a congregation and point people to the Savior. And yet these schools plead for students.
3. Take an interest in that child in your midst. First, that son or daughter in your home, and then those who are being raised in families that live in spiritual darkness. Often I hear a dynamic Christian give his faith story. He tells how, although his father and mother were not Christians, a neighbor introduced him to Jesus. Blessed to be a blessing.
4. Tell the older people about Jesus. They live in our communities. Soon they will die and enter eternity with no faith in Jesus Christ. These people often have hearts open to the Gospel. They are afraid of death. Once they laughed at the Word of God and had little time for the church, but now things have changed. Believe me, they are waiting for us to come and tell them the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Great spiritual things are happening in our world. Let me tell you the story of Tony Dungy, whose book, Quiet Strength, I recently read.
Tony Dungy is the coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He is a mature Christian who speaks openly of his faith to players, coaches, the media, and anyone else when he has the opportunity. Obviously, he and his wife, Lauren, had a strong Christian home. However, tragedy can come to any home, and theirs was no exception. Their son, Jamie, took his own life. The family was heartbroken and asked the age old question, What went wrong?
Two years earlier, Trent Dilfer’s five-year-old son, Trevin, had died. Trent was the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. At that time, Tony called Trent to let him know he was praying for him, and that he appreciated his witness and the strength of his faith. Now that Jamie had died, Tony writes in his book, “Trent was such an encouragement to me. I told him once I was certain I wouldn’t be able to handle the death of a child with the kind of grace and courage Trent had shown. Trent’s answer was, “You could, coach, if you had to. The Lord will give you the strength at that time to go through it, because you can’t do it alone.”
When his son Jamie died, Tony realized that Trent had been so right. That is what it means to be blessed to be a blessing.