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You may have wondered whether there was some sleight of hand going on in today's sermon. Today's texts were focused on God's blessings while your minister ended the sermon by talking about our call to be a blessing.

Two different subjects you protest!

But I'm not so sure. That child Isaac was a long-anticipated gift for Abraham and Sarah. And I don't doubt they enjoyed him, even if old Abraham was too old to run and play ball.

But the greater significance of this child is not that an old couple had their own son (finally sharing in the blessing enjoyed by friends and neighbours) but that through this child there would be born a much greater child of promise--Jesus. The gift to Abraham and Sarah ultimately had its sights set on the many others who would welcome Jesus as Lord.

Similarily those charismatic gifts (tongues, prophecy, healing) and leadership gifts (apostles, evangelists) listed in the New Testament are not described as private treasures to be enjoyed by the recipients but have a broader public aim "to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:12).

God certainly is interested in seeing individuals flourish. But God's purposes always go a step further. God wants the new life he brings to us to help others thrive. It is like we are a creek that runs through a valley. There is certainly an inflow but there is always an outflow. If the creek is stopped it will cease feeding all the vegetation and all the animals in its path.

We are blessed. And we are called to be a blessing.