Have you ever had someone say “Bless you!”, after you have sneezed? What does that expression mean?
Long, long ago in the “Middle Ages” people who became ill didn’t have the medical technology or medicines to make them get well. They probably felt very afraid of catching viruses but they didn’t have doctors or leaders to tell them how to stay protected like we do during Covid-19. If someone sneezed, people from long ago thought that person might be ill and would say, “Bless you” so God would help them stay well. Today we know you can sneeze from allergies, or from a simple cold, but some people will still say “Bless you” as a form of kindness or good manners.
“Blessings” come from God, who stands beside us with His love and kindness. Through our prayers and our trust in God, His blessings for us are always there. Sometimes we receive or give a special blessing. At church our minister gives everyone a special blessing from God as we leave church to begin another week. That special blessing is meant to protect us with God’s love, and give us happiness through God’s Spirit so we can reach out to others with kindness and care. “Blessings” strengthen our relationship with God and others.
In Bible times, the oldest son would be able to look forward to two special gifts from his father. One gift would be a “birthright”. All the property, animals and other riches a father owned would be given to the oldest son. That would be a hard gift to wrap! The other gift a father would give his oldest son would be a wonderful “blessing” just before the father died. The father would say a loving message about how God would protect and provide for his son and family, comforting words that would be carried in the son’s heart and help him share God’s Love with others. What a wonderful spiritual gift!
Esau, in our story from last week was the first born of two twins and he was to receive these two gifts from his father Isaac. Jacob, the younger son, would have to rely on Esau to share the gifts. However, Esau often acted foolishly without thinking. He traded his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of stew that Jacob had cooked. Jacob knew Esau was careless and asked for the trade, knowing Esau would snatch the stew and give away the birthright. Esau said he didn’t care about a birthright but Esau forgot that God had made promises to Isaac and Grandfather Abraham, promises about becoming a great nation. Esau and Jacob were part of this family and would need to help God make this great nation.
Jacob Steals Esau’s Blessing
Would God want Esau to receive His blessing through Isaac after Esau had been so unfeeling about a birthright? A birthright and a blessing belonged together – sort of two family gifts in one. God could have used his power to scold Esau but He did not; God wants us to make our own choices. He already knew his plans for Esau and Jacob and would use their wise and unwise decisions to carry out His plan.
When Isaac was about to die, he called Esau to him and asked that he go and hunt game for him and make a special meal. Esau wasn’t a bad man, just unthinking. He obeyed his father, knowing Isaac was about to give him the gift of a blessing.
Rachel, Jacob and Esau’s mother grew anxious; she remembered that God had told her that Jacob, the youngest, would rule over Esau. There was no way Rachel was going to let Isaac bless Esau! She thought that blessing would give Esau power over Jacob, and Jacob was her favourite.
Rachel knew Isaac was blind; she had a plan to disguise Jacob as Esau so Jacob would receive the blessing. She made Isaac a meal and dressed Jacob in sheepskin and in Esau’s best clothes. Esau was hairy so when Isaac touched Jacob to give him the blessing, Isaac would think it was Esau’s skin. Also Esau’s clothes would smell like the fields where Esau spent a lot of time. Rachel talked Jacob into tricking Isaac and the trick worked! Jacob received the blessing. Esau came back and found out what had happened. He pleaded with his father to give him a blessing but Isaac could only bless Esau with freedom from his brother’s power when Esau thought the time was right. Esau was so angry at Jacob that he wanted to harm him. Rachel made Jacob go and live with his uncle, far away from Esau.
What can we learn from this story?
Rachel forgot that God always keeps His promises. Her foolish move to trick Isaac only brought anger and sadness to the family.
God never gives up on us in spite of our unwise actions. This story can bring us HOPE! Through the story of Jacob and Esau we learn that God allows us to think for ourselves. Whether we think wisely or unwisely He will wait patiently as we ask forgiveness and will take our actions and use them to make His plan work for us. When we fail we have God to reach out to for forgiveness, with faith that He will never abandon us. God is LOVE.
May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance (God’s smiling face) upon you and give you peace.
Can you give someone you know a kind smile this week? That smile would be like sharing God’s blessing!
It makes a good picnic game when you have a large number of people. Two teams line up at either end of a long, sturdy rope. The stronger members are at the back of each team. Each member holds on to the rope and at the signal try to tug the other team to their side!
In our story today we are reminded of this game because their are two brothers who always seem to be tugging and tussling with each other. Esau and Jacob were twin boys belonging to Rebekah and Isaac. The mother Rebekah had waited a long time for a baby and now she would have two boys! Even before they were born their mother could feel them rolling and tumbling about; Rebekah asked God why this should be! God whispered to Rebekah that her babies would each belong to separate nations and at some point the oldest twin would have to obey the second-born twin! It seemed that the twins would always be struggling with each other like being in a game of tug-of-war!
Esau was born first. He came into the world with red hair and Jacob came after, not at all “hairy” like his brother; Jacob was smooth-skinned. He came into the world holding on to his brother’s heel! In fact, the name Jacob means “heel grabber”.
The Bible tells us Esau was an outdoorsman who loved to hunt whereas Jacob preferred to be a quiet shepherd, and enjoyed studying and cooking meals.
One day Esau came home from hunting and smelled a delicious stew that Jacob was cooking. He demanded a portion of the stew and Jacob slyly agreed, if Esau would sell Jacob his birthright. A birthright was a special agreement between a father and his oldest son. With the agreement Esau would have been given all of his father’s property and riches when Isaac died.
Esau’s reply to Jacob was a foolish one. His biggest mistake was not to think of God first. God had already promised that he would make Abraham’s family into a great nation. Through this great nation all nations would be blessed.
God always keeps His promises.
It would soon be up to Esau as the oldest to lead in the building of this nation. But what did Esau do? He was too hungry to care about anything except eating and agreed to Jacob’s deal, saying he didn’t care about a birthright. Birthright was a very special honour in Biblical times. Esau was careless to let “hunger” make his decision for him and so turned his back of God and his family.
And was Jacob right into tricking Esau? He knew his brother often didn’t think before acting. Certainly Jacob behaved poorly as well, so why didn’t God stop this struggle?
We need to remember as Christians that God is the one in control of us. He has designed a plan for each of us. Often we try to do things without His help. We are not patient. We cannot wait for God to reveal His blessings for us. God is the One who is patient. He gives us the choice of doing right or wrong in hope that we will turn to Him for advice. Sometimes we make poor decisions, forgetting that God wants to partner with us, always. But, God is our Light in the darkness. He takes the good and the bad behaviour we demonstrate; He works with both to keep His plan in place for us. He had already made a promise to Abraham and had told a worried Rebekah His plans for Jacob and Esau, even before they were born. God would be there for this family, just as He will be there for us.
Nest week, we will continue with Jacob and his family’s struggles. This is truly a family adventure!
Dear God, we know you are always by our side. Give us patience to trust Your plans for us. Help us to draw closer to You through our prayers for forgiveness and strength. In Jesus name. Amen.
“Wait a minute!” you say. “There is a mistake – this is Thanksgiving, not Thanks Living!”
Well, let’s think on what Thanksgiving Day is all about.
When someone does something nice for us we say, “Thank you”. Sometimes we even send a thank you card if someone does something extra special for us. It feels great to be appreciated and that’s why good manners, like saying “thank you”, are important.
How about having good manners when it comes to thanking God? When you think about it, God gives us everything! The Bible tells us God is ever-present, to help us when we need Him.
Psalm 100 is a TINY psalm with a HUGE message and its verses tell us to praise God with joy, for we belong to Him; that’s a great way to thank God! Maybe because this is Thanksgiving Day we can listen to or read Psalm 100 (remember it’s short) and ask to say a thank you grace to God for food, at the Thanksgiving dinner table!
But what about giving thanks to God tomorrow or next week or next month?
Do we just give thanks to God on Thanksgiving Day? Is that showing good manners to God?
That’s where “Thanks Living” comes in! When is Thanks Living celebrated? Jesus told us in Matthew 25:40. He said, “Whatever you do for the least of these brothers of mine, you do for me”.
That means when we bring food to the food bank, to help feed the hungry, it is the same as doing it for Jesus. When we help someone up who has fallen on the playground or make a card for someone who is ill, we are doing those things for Jesus. These every day things we do for others is called “Thanks Living”; we show our thanks to God every day by the way we think about and treat others. God blesses us every day and in thanks we can bless others in some small way every day.
Happy “Thanks Living” to you and your family!
Dear God, thank you for loving us and for giving us your blessings. Help us to give thanks to you every day by blessing others in some small way. Amen.
This quiet video clip has the most lovely message for you and old about ‘Thanks Living’
Do you remember the Prince in the story of Cinderella? The King thought it was time for his son to find a wife, so that when the king died, the son would have a family to help rule the kingdom. This was a very important plan on the part of the king because the same family would have all the power to make a great kingdom. Of course the part we like the best is how Cinderella, who was treated cruelly by her stepmother and stepsisters, was able to become the Prince’s wife through the help of her fairy godmother. Cinderella was also kind and forgiving and made room in the palace for her stepfamily.
There is a story in the Bible that is a bit like that of Cinderella. The story is about Isaac and Rebekah.
Isaac, as you remember from last week, was the promised, long-awaited son of Abraham and Sarah. God had made a Covenant or agreement with Abraham: Abraham would remain faithful and obedient to God, and God would send him a son; through his son, Abraham’s family would become a great nation.
Abraham was shocked to find out that God would give him a son in his old age, but Abraham surely believed with Isaac’s birth that God had the power to do everything! Abraham trusted God so much that he knew that when Isaac was old enough, a wife must be found for him in order for God to set plans in motion for a great nation to be made through Isaac’s children and descendants.
Abraham got busy when Isaac turned 40 years old. Just as the king in the story of Cinderella planned a way for his son to meet a wife, Abraham prepared by sending a trusted servant to find a wife for Isaac. It was common in biblical days for parents to find partners for their children. Abraham sent his servant back to the land where Abraham was born. He told the servant that Abraham’s family was there and that God would be with the servant.
Abraham sent lovely bridal gifts carried by camels and told the servant to bring the chosen girl back for Isaac.
The servant travelled to Abraham’s old home but wasn’t sure how to carry out Abraham’s wishes. He asked God for help. While he was praying a lovely girl named Rebekah came by carrying a jug of water on her shoulder. The servant asked for a drink and Rebekah happily gave him water. She then proceeded to give all the camels a drink which took awhile because camels can drink a lot of water! The servant knew that this kind woman would be the wife that God had chosen for Isaac. Rebekah was a “good fit” for Isaac, just like the glass slipper was a good fit for Cinderella. Rebekah’s family were part of Abraham’s family and knew of his great faith. Rebekah agreed to leave her family and go with the servant to Isaac, just as Cinderella left her family to become the prince’s wife.
What can we learn from this story?
Firstly, we need to realize that the story of Rebekah and Isaac is not a fairytale but a real story with real people that existed long ago. Abraham’s story was part of God’s plan to bring about a great nation who would help spread the message about God’s Word through the birth of Jesus. God loves people and wants to be part of their lives! Through His plans for Abraham’s family and Isaac’s family and all the families born over time (including Mary and Joseph’s family “who gave us Jesus”) the world would learn more about God’s everlasting love.
God loves us and has a special plan for each of us. We’re still learning about the importance of putting God first above anything else in our life and loving each other, no matter what our differences. And like the faithful servant in our story today, we can always rely on God’s help to guide us in spreading His Word.
God, thank you for loving us. We are thankful that you have grand plans for our lives. Help us to love and serve others in your name. Amen.
DAN slidingbar widget 1 This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.
This Is A Custom Widget
DAN 2 This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.