In Genesis 12:2 God told Abraham that He would make him into a great nation and bless him and make his name great SO THAT Abraham would be a blessing. Abraham was blessed so that he could bless others.
And I think its fair to say that we are still being blessed today so that we can bless others. Sometimes we sort of forget that. We store up blessings and cling to them. We live as if we deserve these blessings. Like they're our right. We often get so used to them that we fail to even recognize the variety of blessings that have been poured out in our lives.
I was reminded this past weekend that I have been richly blessed. I grew up in a great church. Not a perfect church, but a church that offered me more spiritual blessings that I can even recount. The name was Providence Baptist, and it was through the ministries of this church that I first learned how to have a quiet time (or devotional time) with the Lord. It was through this church that I went on many state-side and overseas mission trips. The ministries of this church taught me how to study God's Word for myself as well as how to teach and lead others. Through this church countless women prayed for me and poured into me. Several pastor's wives invested in me in ways that still impact my life, marriage, parenting and ministry today. When I was in college this church even gave me a job working with the youth ministry...a job that would help me understand to a small degree some of the pressures and responsibilities Jon would face as a student pastor in year's to come. The internship program at this church allowed me to meet and work with a young intern from Georgia who would one day become my husband. The pastoral equipping ministries of this church gave Jon immense opportunity to grow and learn from wise and godly men who served as mentors and encouragers to many seminary students. I could go on and on. I do believe one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was exposing me to the ministries of a great church.
And this month the pastor who planted this church 37 years ago retired from his leadership position at this church. On Sunday night Jon and I sat in a celebration service recognizing the incredible work God has done through the people at Providence and the ministries of Pastor David Horner. It felt like a reunion, getting to see many people who (like us) have moved to other places and other areas of ministry. It was such a joy to worship alongside this great family of faith and to think about how many people have been blessed by God through this church and sent out to minister in all parts of the world. It was so fun to sing a few of the worship songs we used to sing years ago and to hear of the many ways God has been glorified by this particular body of believers. It was so encouraging to reflect on the ways God has used Pastor Horner over the years...the pastor who baptized me when I was 9, performed my wedding fourteen years later, and then connected us with the first church Jon served at as a full-time pastor just a few years later.
As I was sitting there (in the row right behind Anne Graham Lotz), I thought about something I frequently remember when I'm visiting PBC. I didn't grow up there just for my own personal edification. I wasn't poured into by so many people and exposed to so many ministry opportunities just to fill up my "church experience" resume. I didn't work there for three years just to have a job or just to meet my future husband.
I was blessed to be a blessing. I frequently think of the passage in Luke 12:48: "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required." I've been given alot...am I pouring that out on others?
What about you? Maybe you didn't grow up in a "good" church. Maybe you weren't taught how to study the Scriptures or even that the Bible is the infallible Word of God. But let's look around us. We live in a country and in a technological age that is overwhelmed with spiritual blessings. We have access to just about any pastor's sermon we want to hear via websites and podcasts. We have so many Christian bookstores and seminaries and ministries and resources that we are in danger of becoming spiritually fat and lazy if we just sit around and eat it all up for our own satisfaction.
Let's look for ways to pour our knowledge, our experiences and our gifts out for the benefit of others. After all, we've been blessed for a significant reason. We've been blessed to be a blessing!
(By the way, if you clicked on the link above to check out the celebration service, you saw it was pretty long! It might take a moment to load, but my favorite songs were at 29.11 minutes in, 43.35, 109.16 and 121.50 minutes into the feed. Check those out...I think you will be blessed!)
(photo credit: top photo from http://churchsermonseriesideas.com/blessed-to-be-a-blessing/)