Sowing & Growing

The Dead Sea is one of the most fascinating bodies of water on Earth. The water is so dense, due to the high mineral content, even a non swimmer can stay afloat. A human being can actually sit down in the water and read a newspaper without sinking. Bus tours of the area stop long enough for skeptical or adventurous tourists to take a dip. Problem is, when you come out of the water, nobody wants to sit next to you! The water reeks with a wretched smell.
Fed by Israel’s Jordan River, the Dead Sea has no outlet. All the fresh water flowing into it becomes stagnant. While it is interesting to look at and fascinating to study, the water is undrinkable, polluted, and putrid.
That is a good picture of a person who lives selfishly, who is a taker but not a giver. God did not create us to be a reservoir that only collects. He created us to be a river that’s constantly flowing. When we live self­ishly; always receiving, always taking but never giving, we become stag­nant and polluted. Putting it bluntly, our lives will start to stink. We’ll go around with a sour attitude; we’ll be no fun to be around, always ir­ritable and hard to get along with. And it’s all because nothing is flow­ing out of us. Yes, God wants to pour good things into your life, but it you want to live your best life now, you must learn to allow those good things to flow through you to others. As you do, your supply will be re­plenished and your life will maintain its freshness.
Stop hoarding what God has given you and start sharing it with others. Share your time, your energy, your friendships, your love, and your resources. If God has given you joy, share it with somebody else. Make someone else happy; cheer up another person; be a friend to somebody. If God has given you talent and the ability to make money, don’t simply accumulate more for yourself; share those resources with others. Don’t allow yourself to become stagnant. You must keep your river flowing. That’s the way to truly prosper in life and be happy.
“Joel, I have a lot of difficult issues in my life right now. When I get out of all these problems, then I’ll go out and help somebody else.”
You have it backward. Go help someone first, then God will begin to turn your situation around. Remember the fundamental principle: You must sow the seed first, then you will reap a harvest. If you want to get well, sow a seed by helping somebody else get well. If you want to be happy, help somebody else enjoy a little happiness. If you’re hav­ing financial difficulty, give some money to someone in need, help the poor, or sow a little extra in the church offering. You must plant some seed if you are hoping for a harvest!
When you go through difficult times, because of the stress it’s easy to focus only on your needs, on what’s wrong in your life. But if you want the best stress relief of all, get your mind off yourself and go help somebody else.
Something supernatural happens when we turn our at­tention away from our own needs to the needs of others. God’s super­natural power seems to be activated by unselfish gestures. When you have a problem, don’t concentrate on your need, think about what kind of seed you can sow to get you out of that problem.

Sow a Seed in Your Time of Need

Some first-century Christians were struggling to survive in the Greek town of Corinth. The Bible says, “The people were in deep poverty and deep trouble.” What did they do in their time of need? Did they com­plain and pout? Did they say, “God, why do we have so much trouble coming against us?” Not at all. The Scripture records, “In the midst of their great trouble, they stayed full of joy and they gave generously to others.” Notice they sowed a seed in their time of need. They knew if they would help to meet other people’s needs, God would meet theirs.
In your times of difficulty, do just what they did. Number one, stay full of joy. Number two, go out and sow a seed. Help someone else, and you will be helped.
If you lost your job, don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself, go volunteer someplace. Sow a seed while you’re waiting for that next door of opportunity to open. If you are believing for a better car, instead of complaining about the one you have, sow a seed by giving somebody a ride. If you are believing for your business to be blessed, help somebody else’s business to grow. Do something to get some seed in the ground.
I read about a woman who wanted to start a new business—a mo­bile pet grooming shop. She thought, I can’t really afford to advertise, but I need to groom some dogs if I’m going to get this business going. What kind of seed can I sow to bring in some clients? She decided to go down to her local SPCA dog shelter and groom the dogs for free so they would be more likely to be adopted. She did that month after month, and her business began to grow. Today, she has more clients than she can handle. Her business is so blessed, her customers have to book appointments three to four months in advance!
If you will sow an extraordinary seed, you will reap an extraordi­nary harvest. I’m sure when that woman first showed up at the SPCA wanting to groom the abandoned animals, people must have thought her a bit odd, or that she was an obsessed pet lover, but she didn’t care. She knew she had to get some seed in the ground, so she was aggressive. She put some action behind her prayers. She didn’t merely pray, “God, please prosper my new business.” She rose up in faith and sowed a seed in her time of need, and God supernaturally increased her.
You may say, “Joel, I sure wish God would do that for me.”
He can, but the question is: What seed are you putting in the ground? Are you giving God anything to work with? If not, start plan­ning and start planting!
The Bible says, “Give generously, for your gifts will return to you later. Divide your gifts among many, for in the days ahead you yourself may need much help.” Notice, God is giving us a principle here that will cause us to have our needs supplied during those tough times that occasionally come. Give generously right now, because in the future you may need some help.
Picture it this way: When you give, you are storing up God’s goodness and His favor so in your time of need, you’ll have a great harvest out of which God can “draw” to meet your need. You may not have any pressing needs today. That’s great! But don’t let that stop you from giving. You need to prepare for the future. When you do have a need, God will be right there to help you out. Giving is similar to taking a preventive medicine. You are storing up God’s goodness.
One fellow said to me, “Joel. I’ve given and given, but I don’t ever seem to reap a harvest. I’m always on the giving end, never on the re­ceiving end.”
“Even if you don’t see anything happening right now, don’t get dis­couraged,” I told him. “Don’t quit giving. You’ve got to understand that you are storing up God’s goodness, and God has promised that your generous gifts will come back to you. One day when you need them the most, they will be there to help you out.”
I mentioned earlier about my dad’s encounter with a young man who had been stranded at an airport in a foreign land. Daddy helped that young man by giving him some money to make his way back home. Daddy understood this principle of storing up God’s goodness, and he knew if he would help somebody’s child in their time of need, God would make sure that somebody would be there to help him and his children in a time of need.
A few years later we were in India, traveling by car. It was late at night, and we had been traveling for a couple of hours on our way back to the hotel when our car broke down. We were stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Although it was one or two o’clock in the morn­ing, a crowd quickly gathered. Before we knew it, we had about fifty or sixty people surrounding us and staring at us. It was a rather tense situation since American “tourists” in that section of India were not a common sight, nor a welcome one. Worse yet, we didn’t speak their language, so we were slightly nervous and concerned for our safety
Suddenly out of nowhere, we saw another car approaching, a large, luxury car, an especially unusual car for that part of India. We hadn’t seen another car the whole time we had been waiting. The driver spot­ted us along the side of the road and stopped. When he found out what was going on, he came over to us, and we were surprised that he spoke English. In a kind, gentle voice, he said, “Don’t be afraid. I’m going to take you where you need to go.”
We had never seen that man before, but we got in the car with him. He drove us all the way back to our hotel, a five-hour drive! When we arrived safely back at our hotel, we wanted to pay him for his time and trouble, but he wouldn’t hear of it.
I couldn’t help but think about that young man my dad had rescued in the airport a few years earlier. Daddy had made an investment; he had stored up God’s goodness. Daddy had sowed all those seeds. Now his generosity came back to him when he needed it.
God is keeping a record of every good deed you’ve ever done. He is keeping a record of every seed you’ve ever sown. You may think it went unnoticed, but God saw it. And in your time of need, He will make sure that somebody is there to help you. Your generous gifts will come back to you. God has seen every smile you’ve ever given to a hurting person. He’s observed every time you went out of the way to lend a helping hand. God has witnessed when you have given sacrificially, even giving money that perhaps you needed desperately for yourself or your family. God is keeping those records. Some people will tell you that it doesn’t make any difference whether you give or not, or that it doesn’t do any good. But don’t listen to those lies. God has promised that your generous gifts will come back to You. In your time of need, because of your generosity God will move heaven and earth to make sure you are taken care of.
One day I was thinking about all the seeds our church has sown down through the years. I don’t say it arrogantly, but the church has given an enormous amount of money to help hurting people. There’s no telling how many lives we’ve touched. Beyond that, for nearly half a century, Lakewood has been a lighthouse, not only to our own city, but beaming a message of hope and encouragement to people all over the world.
In June 2001, the Houston area was hammered by a tropical storm that resulted in devastating floodwaters covering much of the lower-lying parts of the city Lakewood Church was one of the few areas not underwater, and almost immediately, rescue workers began transport­ing people to the church as an emergency shelter. We had never planned to house hundreds of people on our church property nor were we set up to do so, but the need was there and the people were com­ing, so members of the church worked round the clock to accommo­date the crowds of people who had been forced out of their homes by the rapidly rising floodwaters.
A television network covering the flood did a “live” report from our parking lot, and during the course of the interview, the reporter asked a Lakewood staff person what we needed. “Food, clothing, blankets, and supplies,” the worker replied.
Within hours, all sorts of supplies began pouring into the church from members of our own congregation, and others around the city as well as the nation. As a result, we were able to feed, house, clothe, and take care of thousands of temporarily displaced people in our community. I’ll never forget seeing the cars and trucks lined up for miles bringing supplies, food, blankets, and all kinds of things to the church to he distributed to the uprooted families. We finally had to ask peo­ple to stop bringing supplies. We didn’t have any more room for them! The materials were piled all the way to the ceiling. For several weeks, our church’s main job was to serve the flood victims in our community. Later, we were able to help many of them rebuild their homes and get their lives back on track once again.
The spirit of our church has always been to give. Is it any wonder, then, that God was there for us in our time of need? All of our gifts, all of our generosity; all those seeds that we had sown down through the years had been stored up. And when we needed it the most, God just reached over and out of our own harvest. He met our needs.
When God reaches into your harvest, will there be anything there? Are you sowing any seeds of kindness? Are you keeping God first in your finances? Are you living to give, or are you living to get?
A skeptic once said to me, “Joel, it sounds to me like you’re saying that if 1 don’t give, and if I don’t ever do any good deeds, then God won’t ever meet my needs.”
“No, you must understand. God’s love is unconditional and His grace is unmerited favor,” I replied. “God gives us all many things that we don’t deserve, and could not possibly earn, no matter how many good deeds we do. But I am saying that our gifts, our acts of kindness, get God’s attention in a special way.”

Disclaimer: The above writing does not belong to me. Article taken from Your Best Life Now Study Guide: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, by Joel Osteen.
Personal Note: Thanks, Joe for forwarding me this article at the right moment! It is truly amazing how God speaks to us through angels (whom I called my friends). May God Bless You! :)
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