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God Bless You

by on July 1, 2014

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

– Numbers 6.24-26

We don’t always like to admit it, but words have incredible power. God’s Word is infused with the creative power that spoke our world into existence. Even the words we speak to one another often have the power to foster or harm life in others.

James puts it this way, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be” (James 3.9-10).

The Lord instructed Moses to have the priests of Israel give a blessing to the people. This blessing invites God to find favor with Israel and to treat them favorably. The blessing offers both words of hope for the nations, as well as invites God to respond accordingly to the words of the blessing – keep you, show his face to you, be gracious to you, give you peace. There was a high expectation that when the priests spoke, God would fulfill the words spoken.

Today, we still use blessings, although we perhaps with less weight. We bless the food we eat, or say, “God bless you,” when someone sneezes. Or we invite God to bless America.

The question is, do we expect God to respond to these blessings, or have they become mere formalities – words that we say, but rarely reflect on what we have invited God to do? When we ask him to “bless this food to our bodies,” what are we really asking him to do with it (depending on what we’re eating, it might be asking him to perform a miracle!). When we invite his blessing on our nation, do we also invite his blessing on other nations? Do we seek God’s favor for our neighbors, and the nations filled with persecuted Christians as well, hoping that God will reach the leaders of those countries with his grace and peace?

Or do we, as James says, both speak blessing and curses with our tongues?

Who can you speak words of blessing to this week? Who might you have been tempted to speak a harsh word of cursing about, who you can instead seek God’s favor for them?

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