As we begin this week I want to remind you that it is very important for you to spend time in your journals, reading and studying the Word of God. These Sunday morning messages are intended only to highlight one or two aspects of the aspects of living the “Blessed Life.” You really need to read the book the power of blessing, do your daily journaling and participate in the discussions and watching the teaching video at one of the home meetings throughout the city. This way you will get much more out of the 40 Days of Blessing and have a much fuller understanding of what God would want to do in your life.
Turn with me to the Gospel of Mark 1 and let us read from verses 9-11 together.
9.One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and he was baptized by John in the Jordan River.10. And when Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open and the Holy Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11. And a voice came from heaven saying, "You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you."
Jesus began his adult life with His father’s blessing!
What a beautiful picture is portrayed for us here in the baptism of Jesus as we see two distinct elements:
1. Heaven opens up
2. Holy Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove.
Imagine what it would be like to live your life under “an open heaven!” A place where God seems so close to you. Where you can feel his divine presence. Where you have a confidence to Act because you know what the Father is saying to do. Where heaven backs you up when you pray and where God’s favor seems to rest upon your life on a regular basis. Not just visiting you once in a while when the service at church is good or when you are listening to your favorite worship CD.
Of course we can all readily see the result of the Holy Spirit descending upon the life of Jesus just by reading the Gospels.
But what about you? Today I want to challenge you to believe that you too can live your life under and open heaven will the anointing of the Holy Spirit resting upon you, and not only but that you can also open heaven over the lives of others, especially those of your own family.
How many of you remember Ephesians 1:3 from the begin of our 40 Days of Blessing.
How we praise God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we belong to Christ.
Now where the blessings we have received because we belong to Christ? Say it with me will you? in the heavenly realms
If we are going to receive these blessings down here on earth where we live and move, the we need to experience an open heaven! An open heaven is required for those blessings to get from heaven’s warehouse to your personal storehouse.
The Adult Blessing – Giving & Receiving Honor
Today we are focusing on one aspect of the “Adult Blessing” but it is a very important one. It is about Giving and receiving honor and how that is vitally connected with how much blessing will flow in your life.
· This is not about a personal spiritual power trip
o Too often “pentecostals” turn the dunamis of the Holy Spirit into some “Personal Dynamite” and all they do is blow things up and wreck spiritual havoc
· This is first and foremost about knowing and experiencing the Father’s heart. About hearing and knowing what is important to the Heavenly Father!
Understanding the Culture of Heaven – Rev. 5:13
13. And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: "Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever."
This passage gives us a little glimpse of what heaven is like.
What is it that every creature in heaven and on earth and under the sea and in the sea is singing? Oh, if you are looking for a worship chorus here is one for you this morning. What are they singing to the one who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb of God?
Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever."
These are four very important words. When we see God for who he really is, unmasked and unencumbered by these fleshly bodies we will begin to cry out and sing and shout these words too.
In Pentecostal circles you hear a lot about the “Glory & Power” but very little is ever said about “Blessing & Honor” but in the culture of the heaven these are very important words!
If heaven is to open and God’s kingdom is to come into our lives, we must learn their value and experience their effect in our lives here on earth.
Terry Bone says, “Blessing and Honor are first cousins – give one and get the other! When you bless someone they will honor you, when you honor someone they will bless you!”
The original act of rebellion by Satan was really an act of dishonor in that he wouldn’t acknowledge God’s sovereign place. The dishonor then manifested its self as rebellion.
To understand the importance of HONOR is in living under an open heaven and how dishonor can block the flow of the blessing and the Spirit in our lives, let’s look at Matt. 13:53-58
53. When Jesus had finished telling these stories, he left that part of the country. 54. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was astonished and said, "Where does he get his wisdom and his miracles? 55. He's just a carpenter's son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers ? James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. 56. All his sisters live right here among us. What makes him so great?" 57. And they were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Then Jesus told them, "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family." 58. And so he did only a few miracles there because of their unbelief.
Now most of the time we hear that the reason Jesus could perform no miracles was because of their unbelief (and that is biblically accurate- see vs. 58)
However, why did they not believe. Read the context of the preceding verses and you will see they did not beleive because they failed to properly honor who he was!
The lack of honor was why heaven was closed over that service! Their failure to honor Christ was offensive to the heart of God the Father, and even Jesus was unable to call down heaven’s power. Why? Because Jesus came to do the will of the Father and he can only do what he knows the Father wants to do.
You might also take notice that those were the friends, family and neighbors of Jesus who showed this lack of honor, right in the local “Church Service!” This shows that giving honor has an individual and corporate effect upon the presence and power of God that flows in the services, in our families, in our homes, and in our personal lives.
(ILLUSTRATION NEEDED HERE)
What Does Giving Honor Mean?
To give honor is…to ascribe a high value and worth upon a person.
For example : Young Adults
We honor them when we recognize and release them to be who they really are in Christ. Jesus was barely 30 yrs. old at the time of his water baptism. He received His Father’s unconditional approval (You are my beloved son in whom I am very pleased) and he hadn’t even performed a miracle, or taught anyone.
The question here is, “Have we withheld this from our children?” Have we only praised them when they do what we want? It is God’s intention that every young adult receives the blessing of “Parental Affirmation” upon their person.
Husbands and Wives
Do we talk behind our spouses back about what they do?
Do we criticize them in front of others, in front of the children? Do we put them down?
These actions will “CLOSE” heaven over our lives, over our homes and families.
We honor one another when we learn to recognize and affirm the GIFT of God in our spouse. To praise and value what is good in them, inspite of any weaknesses.
Men dishonor their wives when they talk about them as being “emotional” as though it were a weakness. If the wife cries at a “touching moment” she isn’t weak, she is sensitive. It’s really the weakness of men that we are too often “insensitive and unfeeling.”
Wives can also dishonor their husbands through their idle gossip telling their friends about things that bother them about their spouse, rather than speaking to their husband and to God about it.
What is the spirit weather forecast of your marriage and home like? Is there a clear sky – an open heaven, or have the clouds moved in an closed up the heavens?
Blessing and honor is not “Pie in the Sky!” It is learning to walk practical on earth with our feet firmly planted in the Word of God and keeping step with the Spirit! Honoring and blessing someone is not like “Waving a magic wand!”
It’s all about learning to value and esteem them as God would have us to.
The Role of Ceremonies
Ceremonies sometimes get a bad rap in our culture. Often, ceremonies are seen as being too “Old Fashioned,” “Ritualistic,” and without real value – just Pomp for the sake of Pomp!
But ceremonies play a major role when it comes to giving honor.
How many can remember the ceremony when they retired #99 – Mr. Wayne Gretzky
There were a lot of speeches, gifts, stories.
The Moffats – a platinum recording group, and much music band of the year – were to sing. As they were introduced to the crowd – they booed them. But then one of the band members said these words, and the crowd went silent.
He said, “ Kids can’t grow up in a vacuum. We need input and guidance and most importantly, we need heroes. People to look up to and to tell us it’s ok to believe in our dreams. Mr. Gretzky you provided us and everyone we know with pure inspiration – this one is for you.”
They then proceeded to sing a song in his honor that said,
“When God made you he had something else in mind,
When God made you, he took a little extra time!”
The ceremony wasn’t just about honoring his accomplishments as a hockey player as great as those were, but about his character and who he was as a human being.
When ceremony is simply for the sake of ceremony then it will be hollow and empty but when it is genuine and heartfelt it is deeply moving and affirming.
I remember another ceremony that took place several years ago. I sat and watched and listened as a congregation honored one of their pastors. Different members of the congregation from various departments spoke about the pastor and his wife, their contribution and their character. Fellow ministers on staff shared as well as those of the surrounding congregations. It was all done in sincerity. It wasn’t a show or put on. Then as though that wasn’t enough a huge receiving line was formed so everyone could greet them and share their personal words of appreciation. The receiving line lasted nearly 2 hours. I know what that ceremony meant to that couple and how it moved their hearts for you see, my wife and I were the recipients of such kindness and affirmation from the church of Fabre before we left to come to Ossington nearly 6 years ago.
Are there any kinds of ceremonies that we can use today in sincerity to bless an affirm others.
How about birthday parties… instead of being about the cake and gifts why not use them as times of blessing where we affirm the identity and destiny of the individual A time of expressing the character that see God has placed within them.
How about Graduation ceremonies when your son or daughter graduates. Could you use that as a special time to affirm the high value you have for them?
How about the Wedding celebrations. Speeches are a common part of weddings. Instead of just trying to stumble through thanking people for coming, why not use it as an occasion to reinforce the high esteem and value you have for the very special person God has made your son or daughter to be. Turn it into a time of Blessing where heaven can be opened over both their lives and that of yours.
How about Retirement Parties when someone retires, or how about Anniversaries? Seniors especially need our affirmation. In the culture of today seniors are often devalued and pushed aside. But the Word of God would teach us to highly regard them as they leave the fields (of the work force) to take their rightful place in the city gates as men and women of honor and whom we look to for wisdom.
· Could you imagine if what would happen if the words of Romans 12:10 became our modus operendi! Where as the scriptures say we would “ Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.”
· What would church be like?
Living under an open heaven and experiencing the fullness of his spirit IS Possible, and not only for Jesus but for you too.
If we would receive the heavenly blessings that God has stored up for us in Christ then we must learn to walk under and open heaven
When we practice honor in relationships, we open heaven over our lives and the lives of those we honor.
When we do this corporately, we will see a noticeable increase in the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit among us as we gather together.