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Ascension

44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” 50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:44-53, NRSV)

Jesus blessed the disciples and helped them understand that everything that happened was because of scripture and then as He was with them He was carried into Heaven.

Jesus left the disciples. And in history, this is before Pentecost. So the disciples at this point in Luke’s gospel have not yet received the Holy Spirit. They are without God. But not alone, for they are in the temple continually blessing God and worshipping.

What would we do if we were without God?

 

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Open Your Hand to the Poor

7If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. 8You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. 9Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. 10Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.” (Deuteronomy 15:7-11, NRSV)

If we have something and someone is in need of that we need to give to them. We should not withhold because it is about the time to forgive debts, or because we think they can not payback. We were given when we needed and we have been blessed and so we should be a blessing for others.

It is not our place to judge another heart or position but to love as God has loved us. When we did not deserve it.

Therefore freely give as you have been freely given.

 

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Bless the Lord, O My Soul

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits—
3who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
(Psalm 103:1-5, NRSV)

Every time I read this Psalm I think of the camp song.

God does so many wonderful things at camp and for us always. We should always bless the Lord!

So let your soul bless the Lord!

 

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The First Fruits

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, 2you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his name. 3You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.” 4When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, 5you shall make this response before the Lord your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. 6When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, 7we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. 8The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; 9and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O Lord, have given me.” You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. 11Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house. (Deuteronomy 26:1-11, NRSV)

When we were a nation in peril, God saved us. God asks us to, therefore, give him the first fruits of our labors.

We should give to God first and foremost, not secondary or as an afterthought.

God is to get the first fruits of our labors because God has blessed us with the labor we have and we only have what we get because God has blessed us. So in actuality, we are only returning to God what is already God’s.

 

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Care for the Vulnerable

17You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. 19When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. 20When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 21When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. 22Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this. (Deuteronomy 24:17-22, NRSV)

It is our job as those who have been blessed by God to help those who are less in need. Those who are pushed aside by society.

You see we have been blessed to be a blessing. We should allow others to get the overflow of our cup because we know that God will continue to refill us.

God has never left you nor forsaken you and helped you when you were cast aside, so we need to allow God to work in and through us.

Love the least, care for the vulnerable.

 

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Help Those in Need

Every seventh year you shall grant a remission of debts. 2And this is the manner of the remission: every creditor shall remit the claim that is held against a neighbor, not exacting it of a neighbor who is a member of the community, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. 3Of a foreigner you may exact it, but you must remit your claim on whatever any member of your community owes you. 4There will, however, be no one in need among you, because the Lord is sure to bless you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession to occupy, 5if only you will obey the Lord your God by diligently observing this entire commandment that I command you today. 6When the Lord your God has blessed you, as he promised you, you will lend to many nations, but you will not borrow; you will rule over many nations, but they will not rule over you. 7If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor. 8You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. 9Be careful that you do not entertain a mean thought, thinking, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” and therefore view your needy neighbor with hostility and give nothing; your neighbor might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt. 10Give liberally and be ungrudging when you do so, for on this account the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. 11Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.” 12If a member of your community, whether a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and works for you six years, in the seventh year you shall set that person free. 13And when you send a male slave out from you a free person, you shall not send him out empty-handed. 14Provide liberally out of your flock, your threshing floor, and your wine press, thus giving to him some of the bounty with which the Lord your God has blessed you. 15Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; for this reason I lay this command upon you today. 16But if he says to you, “I will not go out from you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his earlobe into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. You shall do the same with regard to your female slave. 18Do not consider it a hardship when you send them out from you free persons, because for six years they have given you services worth the wages of hired laborers; and the Lord your God will bless you in all that you do. 19Every firstling male born of your herd and flock you shall consecrate to the Lord your God; you shall not do work with your firstling ox nor shear the firstling of your flock. 20You shall eat it, you together with your household, in the presence of the Lord your God year by year at the place that the Lord will choose. 21But if it has any defect—any serious defect, such as lameness or blindness—you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord your God; 22within your towns you may eat it, the unclean and the clean alike, as you would a gazelle or deer. 23Its blood, however, you must not eat; you shall pour it out on the ground like water. (Deuteronomy 15, NRSV)

Basically if we have something that someone needs we should give it to them. Allow them to repay if they can but also be ready to forgive any debt because that is what God has done for us.

Everything that we have was given to us by God so that we can bless others. So let us take the blessings we’ve been given and bless others.

 

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Joseph to the Rescue

25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams are one and the same; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind. They are seven years of famine. 28It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt. 30After them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land. 31The plenty will no longer be known in the land because of the famine that will follow, for it will be very grievous. 32And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about. 33Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.” (Genesis 41:25-36, NRSV)

Because God had blessed Joseph to be a blessing and for this moment, Joseph was able to help Pharaoh understand his dream.

7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine. And if you are not wise in your planning the famine will tale you out.

But if you are wise and prepare the 7 years of plenty will give you enough to make it through the 7 years of famine.

We all need to plan ahead and store for tomorrow. Sharing what we have so all have enough for the day.

How do you store today for tomorrow and help those who are in need?

 

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Pharaoh’s Dream

22Then God remembered Rachel, and God heeded her and opened her womb. 23She conceived and bore a son, and said, “God has taken away my reproach”; 24and she named him Joseph, saying, “May the Lord add to me another son!” 41After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and there came up out of the Nile seven sleek and fat cows, and they grazed in the reed grass. 3Then seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4The ugly and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5Then he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6Then seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them. 7The thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Pharaoh awoke, and it was a dream. 8In the morning his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them to Pharaoh. 9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my faults today.10Once Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard. 11We dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning.12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each according to his dream. 13As he interpreted to us, so it turned out; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”14Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was hurriedly brought out of the dungeon. When he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not I; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Genesis 30:22-24; 41:1-16, NRSV)

Joseph was an answer to prayer for Rachel, and he was an answer to seeking from Pharaoh.

Pharaoh had a dream no one could understand, fat cow and skinny cows, fat ears of corn and thin ears of corn what does all of this mean?

No one understood, but Joseph was a blessing to Rachel for this very time.

All of us are gifted for something, to play a part in God’s plan.

What is your part?

 

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Jacob Wrestles

[9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’“ 13So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau,] 22The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” 27So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” 29Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” (Genesis 32:[9-13] 22-30, NRSV)

Have you ever wrestled with something at night?

It seems when the darkness comes and closes in on us and we are alone the demons come out to haunt us. We think about all the things that could happen, everything that could possibly go wrong. We mull over events of the day and wonder how we could have done everything better.

We want to do everything right and have things turn out the way we want.

Jacob was worried about meeting his brother, who he took everything from. Jacob was worried about what would happen.

So he wrestled with it all night, and as the day was breaking Jacob wouldn’t let go unless he was blessed.

So the man blessed him and changed his name because Jacob did not give up.

Do we give up too easily?

 

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The Scheme Succeeds

18So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?” 19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” 20But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” 21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.28May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. 29Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” (Genesis 27:18-29, NRSV)

Have you ever tricked someone for gain?

We were out to eat with friends the other day and my wife and I paid the bill and the other couple gave us cash to cover their portion, and they gave me way to much and I said nope let’s figure this out again because that is too much. Now I could have just said thank you for covering more than you needed to, or not said anything at all, but I couldn’t.

But here clearly Jacob lies and Isaac hears the voice of Jacob, but because his eyesight is bad and he feels the hairy skin and smells the animal smell from the flesh on Jacob Isaac thinks this is Esau. So Jacob tricks Isaac into blessing him, and like yesterday I wonder why this is here, why did this happen.

It happened to show us that even at our lowest God is with and every action has consequences. Jacob must face Esau in the future and it is an anxious time for him. But even through that God is with us.

So who have you tricked and what was the follow up?

 

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