Here are the four laws of God's blessing:
1. Our blessings should flow to others. The Bible teaches us that we are blessed not just so that we can feel good, not just so we can be happy and comfortable, but so that we will bless others. God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2, “I will bless you ... and you will be a blessing” (NIV). This is the first law of blessing: It must flow outwardly.
How do you bless others? By serving a need, whether it is physical or emotional support, financial help, or practical advice. "Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand" (Philippians 1:4 MSG).
The unsaved see believers as hypocritical, and no different than themselves. Here’s how to live an authentic faith that stands out from “normal” American Christianity.
I hesitated to accept the gospel in college because of the behavior of people who claimed they were Christians. They were not much different than me. Their language, actions and behaviors weren’t so special that I viewed what they had as a better life. Why would I want what they had? What was so special or different about it?
When it comes to our culture, it’s more of the same. The music industry feeds our youth with profanity and sex, but then those same musicians stand up and thank “the man upstairs” at awards ceremonies. Our sports heroes party, use performance-enhancing drugs and get into fights, but then they kneel down and thank God the moment they score a touchdown.
What is the world supposed to think of this? Would the real Christians please stand up?
What better time than a recession to pool your resources and minister to the needy?
It started with a bag of groceries to meet a serious need in our community. From there, our benevolence requests went from six a day to more than 40 a day, and 15 percent of our congregation were out of work. At the peak of the economic recession, our community was hurting and needed real assistance. In response, Saddleback Church launched a food pantry.
People came to our doors the first day we opened them. Today we have fed more than 80,000 people in south Orange County, Calif. Our Food Pantry provides fresh and nonperishable grocery items to families in the community. Pick-ups are available once every 30 days and walk-ins are welcome on select days and times every week.
Within two years, our pantry turned into The PEACE Center, where we also provide free legal aid, immigration help, tutoring clubs, ESL (English as a second language) classes, medical services and many more services.
And the most amazing part is that more than 1,600 people have given their lives to Jesus because of the work done through the center. People come not just with hungry stomachs but with hungry hearts as well.
Our hearts continue to grieve over the horrific evil that was unleashed against precious, helpless children last week at an elementary school in Connecticut. In the midst of the pain we also remember that hope rises and prevails over darkness through the Advent of God’s eternal Son.
There are many questions. Answers are complex and elusive. As we try to process such unspeakable atrocities, trying to make sense of the senseless, trying to reason out the irrational, let’s walk through this against the backdrop of what we do know. Here is what we know with certainty.
Sin always brings tragic consequences. The Bible is clear that all rebellion against God will exact payments. “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). No matter how troubled the shooter was, there is no way to begin to understand such events without an acknowledgement of sin, evil, and the activity of the devil and his minions. Jesus called the devil “the thief” and said his intent against humanity is to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10).
One of the most difficult things a pastor has to do when a tragedy occurs is to try to find the words to comfort a grieving family and explain how God can allow such a horrible thing to take place. While I do not purport to have all the answers for such situations—sometimes it's best just to be there for grieving families and offer prayer for them rather then give explanations—these instances do highlight the existence of evil in the world.
On the day of the shooting in Newtown, Conn., I was shocked to hear both a prominent television news anchor and the governor of Connecticut use the word evil several times when referring to the heinous act of the shooter. Where doe evil comes from?
Jesus said that the thief (Satan) comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). He also called him a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). Rather than cause me to doubt the existence or goodness of God (like Satan wants), heinous acts like this should remind us that there is a real devil in the world who revels in destroying human life while seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
Amid the "most wonderful season of all" comes the tragic news of a deranged young man entering an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., killing 27, including 20 children. Tragically, Christmas for these families will likely be the darkest of many dark hours to come. The days when parents could send their children off to school with confidence that they would be cared for and protected seem long gone.
Just this summer we watched a senseless shooting spree in a Colorado movie theatre take the lives of 12 people and injure another 59. The national premiere of The Dark Knight Rises had Americans clamoring for tickets to be entertained by violent behavior. When tragedies like these occur, why do we respond with such shock and awe? Psychiatrist Keith Ablow said, "This kind of shock registers with people—because it seems like the unthinkable keeps moving into the sphere of our reality."
The "unthinkable" first surfaced in mankind thousands of years ago when Cain killed his brother Abel out of mere jealousy and rivalry. God had warned Cain, "Sin is crouching at your door," but Cain ignored God's word and committed murder. God punished Cain for taking innocent life but the violent shedding of blood has continued for centuries. Why?