An expansion on Doug Geyer’s Sunday sermon (download MP3 file or visit the CCOC sermons page) intended to spark thought and dialog at our midweek service.
Christians have a thing about blessings. On the extreme, people consider Christianity to be all about receiving material blessings. Joel Osteen tells you that with God you can have Your Best Life Now, Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuler told us over the years about the Power of Positive Thinking to change our lives, to bring us blessings. Televangelists call on us to put our hands on the TV, pray (and send in our check) and we will blessed by God.
Even more mainstream, everyday folks talk about the blessings that God has brought them. “God blessed me with a new Job.” “I’ve been blessed with good friends.” I’m blessed to have healthy kids.”
Certainly God blesses people with Earthly things. Satan accuses God of blessing Job with so much wealth & prosperity that there’s no way he’d turn his back on God. Joseph, through God, ends up the Pharaoh’s right hand man, overseeing his kingdom. And Abraham, as we saw in Sunday’s lesson, had more than enough gold, silver, livestock and family. In fact, he and his nephew lot had so much they couldn’t live together anymore.
So god gives us blessings. Let’s talk about blessings for a minute.
Q – What sort of blessings has God given you?

  • Good jobs
  • Loving spouse
  • Healthy kids
  • Friends
  • Church
  • house, car, etc.

God is good to us, he provides for our earthly needs. Yet, in spite of that, we sometimes only see what is lacking. Not enough money, old car, not married.
Genesis 15:1-5
Even Abram, who had every material blessing, and after hearing from God Himself that he was his shield, told God that more blessings didn’t matter, since he had no son. God had promised him earlier (Genesis 12:1-3) that he’d be made great, he’s have his back and the whole world would be blessed through him. In spite all that, Abram complains that he has no son to take care of his stuff. And God listens, taking him outside, clarifying the promise already made (that he’d be a great nation) and promises him a son.
Abram, surrounded by blessings, missed the blesser here, didn’t he? God says “I’m your reward.” or “I’m your blessing.” and Abram instead was thinking of the blessings he’d not received.
So, both a focus on material blessings and a missing blessing can take our eyes off of the blesser.
Q- How does that manifest itself in our lives?

  • Slaves to our possessions, or our striving for them
  • Our family becomes our God – kids activities eat up our schedule, pushing out church and relationships.
  • We only see what we do not have – If only my marriage was ____, then I’d _____. If I only had my bills paid, I’d ____.

Our blessings or our lack of blessings distract us from the blesser. God know this to be the case, and he longs for us to turn our eyes to him. What did God do for Abram in these situations? Let’s look:
Genesis 12:1-3
Genesis 22:1-2
Q- What did God do in each of these situations, one at the beginning of Abram’s walk with him, one nearer to the end?

  • He pulled him out of his comfort zone.

In Genesis 12 it was the homeland and family. get off on your own where it will be just Me and you. In Genesis 22, it was to the mountain. He couldn’t bring his silver and gold, Sarah would not be there. It was only Abraham, Isaac, God and that knife.
God called him away, into a place where he had room to work with him. Where there were no distractions crowding God out. Either the distractions of blessings received, or blessings longed for.
Q – What familiar surroundings do you think God might be calling you out of so he can work with you? What blessings or missing blessings might be keeping you from seeing Gd and following him completely?

  • Schedule – too busy, or too predictable.
  • Family – Too focused on having the perfect family, too many activities.
  • Leisure – pursuing our hobbies with fervor, leaving little room for God

The thing is, Abram was changed when he followed God out of his comfort zone, when he made room for God to work with him.
My comfort zone is in my home in front of the TV, on the computer or with a car magazine in my hand. I prefer email to the phone, because it’s easier to choose my words carefully and it just feels safer. I’m blessed to have a nice comfortable home, cable TV, high speed Internet, my own blog and a comfy recliner.
But I don’t meet God in those places as much as I do when I pick up the phone just to talk, have someone over for dinner or go out to meet family and friends. There, in the interaction between people, sharing my heart and listening to theirs, sharing victories and hurts, pain and joy – there I meet God. There I find Him working through me in ways I couldn’t have imagined sitting at home.
It’s less comfortable, less ‘safe’, more vulnerable. But just like with Abram, if I don’t step into that zone, there’s not enough room for God to work with me like He wants to.
Are you willing to push the ‘blessings’ aside to make room for the blesser?
How will you do that this week?
Who here can help you get out of the comfort zone and meet God in the open where there’s room for Him to use you?

5 thoughts on “Midweek Lesson

  1. I wonder about this thing we call a comfort zone. Just how biblical is that concept?

    2Co 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
    2Co 1:4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
    2Co 1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
    2Co 1:6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.
    2Co 1:7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

    Unless I missed it, God doesn’t instruct us to get out of our “comfort zone”, whatever that is. He calls on us to love him with everything we’ve got, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, and then do what naturally follows. Or something like that…
    Nobody has to tell me to get out of my comfort zone to meet the needs of my wife and kids. I love them and so I serve. It’s the natural response when there is love.

  2. BTW I do understand what you are saying and I think you make a great point. The terminology just brings back some unpleasant memories of people being pushed by other people to do things when their own heart was not in it.

  3. I guess, to me, there’s a difference between zoning out every evening in front of the tv, etc., vs. being focused on your family. A long time ago, in one of my college Bible classes, the professor addressed the class. He understood that because this was a Christian college, a great many of the students were one day going to be preachers, elders, wives of such, etc. He said it’s very easy to confuse equating putting God first with putting ‘church’ first. He said the correct order of things were God first, then your family, then church. He said many a church leader had damaged his family by putting duties at church as a priority over his/her family. I think our past in the ICOC tended to do the same. So, I too, tend to be a little leary when I hear someone start telling Christians they shouldn’t focus on their family. They need to focus on their family. Part of that focus will be connecting family with God and connecting family with the body of Christ.
    But I do agree that as a culture we have become focused on external activities – kids with so many extracurricular activities that their schedule rivals any corporate executive’s. And those schedules should not be at the exclusion of the more important things -ie God, church. We do a disservice to children by replacing nurturing and other internal focus with external activities.
    ttk

  4. I too am leary because of my past. I see this and don’t see some one concerned with where I’m putting God but where I’m putting church. As ttk “it’s very easy to confuse equating putting God first with putting ‘church’ first.” It has the familiar formula too. Start off focusing on God and how we don’t give Him the glory. Then bring it back to how our “Schedule, family and Leisure” take us away from Him? Whenever some one in the past talked to me about those three things usually it had to do with not enough time spent on church stuff.
    Anyway, I too agree with the first part that we need to give God the glory for everything..even blessings. Most of the time I remember to pray for a blessing but I’ve had to train myself to thank God for the blessing once it happens.
    Alan, great ‘comfort zone’ scripture. That’ll make me think for awhile.

  5. I hear you guys about the call out of ‘our comfort zone’ This was certainly abused in the past, the assumption was that if you’re a Christian you can’t relax and be comfortable.
    But there’s a difference between being secure and content and comfortable in God and being selfish and inward focused. It can be a fine line, and hard to see. It’s easy to look and think we know what’s going on in a person’s heart (or even our own), but we have to be have to be careful. In the past we moved quickly from analysis to assumption to judgement. The reality is that it takes a lot of discernment to get into the heart and even get close to understanding what’s going on there.
    But the point here isn’t really moving from sin to righteousness. I’m not necessarily convinced that Abraham would have been in sin if he hadn’t followed God away from his family or if he had not gone to the mountain with Isaac. The point is, look at what he gained by trusting God and moving out into the open with him. He might have been Godly and righteous back home, but stepping out made him the father of faith.
    I can worship from my home, in my recliner, but stepping out I gain so much more. I see more of God, I am better used by God, I am more fulfilled and frankly, more deeply content and comfortable.
    Does that make more sense?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On This Day

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Categories

Archives

Meta