For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. - 2 Corinthians 4:6 (KJV)
This is the third article in a series of articles that will challenge readers to take action to better themselves so they can be a blessing to Baltimore.
Let me be the first to say that I don't have it all together. My life in all of its instability and debt is a testament to my own missteps. Over the years, I have made lots of bad decisions and a few good ones, too. I am now reaping the consequences of those choices - both good and bad. As can be expected, there are times in my life when the pressures are so intense that I feel like throwing in the towel. Yet, it is at my weakest point that God always demonstrates His strength. There are other times in my life, when the blessings of God are so evident that I am overwhelmed by his love and favor.
Recently, I heard a pastor on a Christian radio broadcast speak of the importance of understanding the true meaning of what it means to be blessed. The radio evangelist taught that to be blessed means that God has favored someone so that person can show favor to someone else. What a revelation! We live in a self-centered world where the primary concern of most Christians is asking God to extend favor in our lives to enlarge our territories so we can gloat over newer, bigger and better things. Although God has no problem blessing us Christians with new cars, big houses or large bank accounts, I believe He does have a problem when we don't use those "blessings" to be a blessing to others.
Let me be clear. I am not promoting Socialism or suggesting that Christians make a vow of poverty - unless that is what God specifically told you to do. I am suggesting, however, that we - Christians - strive to create a healthy balance in our lives and ministries that produce the boomerang effect of blessings and offer a more realistic idea of what it means to be blessed.
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things
We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we have faith to believe
'Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
Lyrics by Laura Story
Big and Small Deeds YOU can Do to make Baltimore a Better place to Live, Work, Play, Pray & Learn!
- Be a Blessing
Scenario 1: You run a ministry where many of the families are feeling the effects of a downward economy and experiencing lack. A large percentage of your flock has lost jobs, businesses and homes. As a result, the tithes and offerings at your church have decreased greatly. In an effort to counter the decrease in church income, you stand in the pulpit every Sunday and badger the congregation with tithing scriptures - coercing them to give money they really don't have so that they can be a blessing to the church and to you - their shepherd. As you look out at the faces of your flock, you remind them that you deserve to be blessed and you ensure that there are steady opportunities for the congregation to bless you and the church. Yet, the morale in your church is decreasing as your members become even more frustrated and disillusioned.
Scenario 2: You run a ministry where many of the families are feeling the effects of a downward economy and experiencing lack. A large percentage of your flock has lost jobs, businesses and homes. As a result, the tithes and offerings at your church have decreased greatly. In an effort to counter the decrease in church income, you seek God for direction and decide to be a blessing to your flock. You and the church leadership decide to use the church's nonprofit status to seek a grant to create a workforce development program that would train members of your church to work in certain vocational fields that could also benefit the growth and expansion of the church. As a result, you and your leadership team develop the curricula for a green cleaning/janitorial business training program, a technology apprenticeship, a child/daycare worker certification program, and a lawn/gardening business training program. Then, you work with the leadership team at your church to obtain a grant or contract to make the training programs available to members at your church and the general public at-large. You receive another revelation and decide to change the way you ask for tithes and offerings from church members. You ask the leadership team to install giving boxes in and around the sanctuary. You do away with the offering call during the regular service and trust that people will give and bless the church accordingly. Giving is still at an all-time low, but you notice an increase in morale and spirit in the congregation.
- Even the church has a responsibility to be a blessing to its members and the community at-large. In the scenarios above, discuss the mindset and actions of each ministry leader and what, if any, blessings might materialize as a result.
- Read The Holy Bible to find a scripture or set of scriptures that would support and/or rebuke the mindset and actions of the ministry leaders as described in the above scenarios.