Welcome to Thursday’s podcast from STC Sheffield. Our Bible reading today is Galatians Chapter 3 vs1-9, and I’d like us to reflect on verse 9 which says:
“So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.”
In years to come we will tell stories to our children and our grandchildren about this current situation.
Our children will say to their children, “Don’t you complain about going to school. I remember the Coronavirus crisis in 2020, when I didn’t go to school for months, and I missed my friends and teachers so much. You should think yourself lucky that you get to leave the house each day and don’t have to be taught by me!”
I have spoken before in podcasts about the importance of story. Of the power that comes through not only knowing the story of the Bible, but understanding that we ourselves are part of the continuing story of God’s love for his people and his desire to have a relationship with us.
In today’s Bible passage Paul uses the story of Abraham and the promises that God made to him, to make a powerful connection to the situation that the Galatians found themselves in.
However, what is so amazing about the Bible is that it is always fresh, always new and always relevant; and so it should be no surprise to discover that this great story – Abraham’s story – also connects directly to the situation that we find ourselves in today.
Let’s take a quick look back at what that story was.
In verse 8, Paul reminds the Galatians that God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him.
This blessing is first given in Genesis Chapter 12 vs3 and is repeated in verse 18 of both chapters 18 and 22.
In God’s blessing to Abraham we see the beginning of His rescue plan for the whole world – to bring blessing through a relationship with God that is based on faith.
Abraham was not blessed because he had kept the law, or because he was circumcised. Circumcision did not come until Genesis Chapter 17, and the Law does not arrive until Moses climbs Mount Sinai in Exodus Chapter 19.
All that Abraham had was faith. He trusted God entirely. He took God at his word.
And, as God saw Abraham’s faith, so he promised to bless him.
In the Genesis Chapter 12 passage, God speaks blessing to Abraham four times.
- Abraham himself would be blessed,
- he would be a blessing to others,
- those who blessed Abraham would be blessed
- and through Abraham all the families or all the people of the earth would be blessed.
And it was this last part that was so powerful and so releasing for the Christians in Galatia. Because Paul was reminding them that people were not recipients of God’s blessing due to lineage – because they were flesh and blood Jewish descendants of Abraham – but that Gentiles, all people, from all families, from all nations, could receive God’s blessing because of the Abraham-like faith that they had shown in Jesus. Blessing didn’t come through the law; it came through trusting God entirely and taking him at his word.
And this is where the story of the Bible connects right into our situation today.
We too can inherit the same blessings promised to Abraham.
In Abraham we see a man who, in faith, abandoned all earthly things to God; even his son.
In this current situation, when all the earthly things that we might normally put our faith and security in – our health, our finances, our freedom of movement, our weekly routine – when all these are stripped away or totally removed, all we can do is trust God entirely.
When we struggle to know what is fake news or real information, when politicians can’t give us answers to the questions, when what we read and understand changes daily, all we can do is take God at his word.
And by doing this our faith will grow, and we will come to experience all of the blessings that were first promised to Abraham, but which now, through Christ, are freely given to us.
God will bless us, he will make us a blessing to others, he will bless those who bless us, and he will bless our families.
What an amazing promise to hold onto in such a time as this.
The worship song, ‘The Blessing’ was released by Elevation Church in America on March 8th this year. It had 2 million views on YouTube within 5 days, and has already been covered by the pop star Selena Gomez, who has 171 million followers on Instagram. I know many of us at STC have been listening to it as well.
Kari Jobe, one of the song’s writers, said: “In a season of such fear and awareness of viruses, loss, disappointments, I’m so thankful we can sing straight scripture and feel a shift in the atmosphere of our hearts and over our homes. This is THE BLESSING from God over us.”
It is a powerful and moving experience to sing out the scriptural promises and words of blessing that make up the lyrics of this song – lyrics that have their roots in the promises first given to Abraham.
As we sing this song we join the chorus of Christians who, for thousands of years, have held onto the promises of God in times of trouble and come through them trusting God entirely and taking him at his word.
And as we read today’s Bible passage, we are reminded again that we are part of the continuing story of God’s love for his people, and that through faith in Christ all the blessings that God gave to Abraham are also promised to us.
In the years to come, we will all have lots of stories to tell about these weeks and months; but let us ensure that the main narrative running through them is one of faithfulness and blessing. Let us tell our children and our grandchildren how our faith in God grew and developed. Let us speak to them about God’s blessing upon our own lives, how we were able to be a blessing to others, that those who blessed us were blessed themselves, and of how God used us to bring blessing to our families.
Heavenly Father, thank you that you promise to bless us. Help us to see and experience this today, and give us eyes to see how we can be a blessing to others. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Galatians 3:1-9
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain – if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? So also Abraham ‘believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’
Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.