I had a lovely surprise this very afternoon as I opened up the post to find a beautiful cheque with my name written on it from the tax office!
What made this wonderful gift even more pleasing was the fact that only hours earlier I had been reading something on the provision of God and how we should always be expectant that God can (and will) provide outside of our normal revenue streams, and that when He does we should not only be thankful for the overflow but also take the opportunity to be a blessing to others.
I personally believe that the resounding message of stewardship that flows through both the Old & New Testaments is that God blesses His people, not only because He loves them but also because He wants them to be a conduit of His blessing to the surrounding people, and as they do so they are not to point to themselves but point to Him as the giver of all good things.
My observations of the Western Church in general is that it can be at times both a blessing to it's community in the way it engages with and helps to solve the problems of social and economic degradation within it's locality, but also that the Church can at times also be a cold, hard and irrelevant place that has no interest in reaching out from within it's stoney walls and presenting life giving opportunities in both word and deed to a hurting and confused world.
As Christians it is vital that our individual and corporate hearts are positioned and inclined towards being a blessing rather than to be blessed. That our intentions are always focused away from ourselves and towards the multitudes that Jesus came to reach. That our rhetoric (both private and public) reflects a genuine inward & heartfelt motivation to reach outward without concern for the personal cost. That our lives don't just speak of but also display through sacrificial service that the great grace of God is not only at work within us but also through us and that it enables a new manner of living that is no longer constrained by the external expectations of the world and it's influences.
When God saturates the dry and lifeless hearts of men, women and children He does so in the hope that they too will reflect His life giving nature and direct their newfound life towards those that need refreshing, comforting, uplifting and restoring.
A pool that stays still gets stagnant, and stagnant water doesn't bring life but death. At first appearances it may appear to be refreshing but when you get close enough to smell or taste it the stench of inactivity is unmistakable - It's offensive!
But not so with Jesus Christ - He keeps pouring out blessing over blessing as He gives good gifts to His brothers and sisters, but these gifts are primarily intended for the building up of others, not the recipients. So it is with every good thing that God gives to His children. They get to benefit from the gift but it is never given solely to benefit the receiver, but always with a broader purpose of bringing glory to the gift giver and bringing forth a testimony to an onlooking world of the goodness of God towards those that love Him.
My challenge to you today would be to spend some time identifying and opening up the doors of Gods blessing in your life. Do not hold fast to the blessings that God has invited you into but rather make a conscious decision from this day forward to reposition yourself so as to be a blessing and an encouragement to those in your life with whom you have influence and favour that they too might taste of the life giving waters that Christ Himself promised to a dry and thirsty world.
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.