Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keep the Blessings Flowing

Dear Friends,

Descanso Gardens in La Canada-Flintridge is a sensational, verdant oasis in our valley foothills. The Rose Garden is amazing in the Summer as is the Camellia Garden in the Winter and the Lilacs in the Springtime. Year-round the evergreen Oak Tree Forest and the lush gardens are green. Green trees, green landscaping and a green lake... A green lake? Yuck! 

For years the lake has been choked with a thick, green layer of rotting algae. Once pristine blue, you could stand on the observation platform and see hundreds of brightly-colored fish and large colonies of turtles swimming and sunning themselves. The lake was known for its variety of birds and ducks. It’s been over a year now since I visited the lake. My favorite place in the gardens had long ago turned into a cesspool. The only fish present seemed to be the floating dead ones that had suffocated under the thick layer of stinking algae. The turtles had survived by being able to stick their head out of the slime, but the few left were coated with green sludge. What happened? New environmental laws no longer permitted the lake run off into the county storm drain system, and the inflow from the natural springs had been restricted to a trickle to just maintain the water level. With a blocked outflow, this once healthy body of water teeming with life, was now a stagnant pond of what could have easily been mistaken for industrial waste with its dead and dying wildlife.

Have we restricted the inflow of God’s blessings into our life because we’ve blocked the outflow? We desire and pray for God’s blessings to flow into our lives every day, but have we robbed ourselves of what He wants to give us? The Lord calls us to live unselfishly and generously. But can we do that if we are unwilling to give to others what we receive from Him? Will God reward us if our only focus is on what we can get from Him?

God has a bigger purpose in our lives than just stamping ADMIT ONE on our golden ticket to Heaven. When we become a “Christian,” meaning a follower of Jesus, we also become His ambassador. We become His personal representative to a lost and hurting world. He has assigned us this temporary home we call “earth” in order for us to minister to His loved ones and we are to follow His example. Jesus said, “I am among you as the One who serves.” (Luke 22:27). The life of a Christian is far more than just a few hours on a Sunday in church. It’s a lifestyle of service and giving. It’s blessing others with what God has blessed us with.

You have a unique gift mix of talents, abilities and gifts. You can make things, bake things, read things and do things. You know the computer, medical needs, how to fix an old car,  do financial planning or how to program a TiVo. You have at least one spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit has given you for the use of others. (1 Cor 12:7) Note that our God-given abilities, gifts and talents have not been given to us for our own selfish enjoyment. Blessings that God has released into your life are to flow out of you and into the lives of others. Are you using those abilities, talents and gifts to be a blessing to others? 

A mind-set of selfishness also makes it difficult for us to give financially for the needs of others. Fears of our future compel us to bank or hide what we have instead of allowing our finances to be used for His glory. Unselfish giving is about our lifestyle – our finances – everything...

God blesses you so that you can be a blessing to others. And the more you give to others, the more you will receive from Him. Don’t choke off the outflow of His blessings and become a stagnant lake. Let His Living Water flow through you. Give of yourself generously and be a blessing to others!  Amen?

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