The blessing withdrawn

Many years ago, my family and I went to live in South Africa for a year, South Africa is a beautiful country with many wonderful things to see and do, and the best part of all was the fact that I was going to get to spend some quality time with my family who lived there.

Before we went we sold everything that we owned, shipped a few things over, but we were debt free and just really had to pay for the rental of a vehicle as well as rent to my parents.

We were living very well and  because all of the extra money that we earned we got to play a lot more and my husband took some upgrading courses,  he also eventually found a job that paid a lot more money than what we were ever used to.

I was attending my childhood church at the time, and the people were all glad that I was back after being gone for a few years.

My parents were really enjoying the children and did not want us to move back to Canada at all, and for that moment, we had no intention of it, we had it too good in South Africa.

I remember feeling so very blessed at all that had been given to me, that it was not long before I started making jokes about how my husband needed to work, to keep me in the luxury that I had grown accustomed to.

Then the best part of our time came, my husband found a job, working just west of Cape Town at a Mining company.  He would work there during the week and come back and see us on the weekend. This arrangement worked well for a while but he was lonely and asked the company if there was any way for the family to be moved up with him.

It was not long before they said yes, and moved us into a resort not far from his work. I now had a maid, lived right on the beach, had a choice of a few swimming pools to pick from, ahh life was good!

I was enjoying the blessing of all these wonderful things, that I felt invincible, I felt that I was truly God’s “Golden child”

I know, you are shaking your head at this moment; I am too, as well as cringing at the thought of where this all eventually led to.

As time went on and my husband and I were living in this resort, our relationship really began to suffer, he was always angry, and withdrawn, playing video games all night long after he came home from work. I was lonely as I was there by myself with no friends or family and then when he came home, he would just ignore me.

I was miserable, here we were living in this beautiful place, earning lots of money, and yet I was still miserable.

It was not long before I cried out to God, and told him how miserable I was and laid before him all of the heartache that I felt as well as the hurts that I felt my husband had committed against me.

I did not realize that I had fallen into the same trap as a lot of Israelites had fallen into when they entered their promised land. I had slowly allowed pride to rise up in me over the blessings that God had given to me. I had then also taken my eyes off of God as my provider and put all of my focus on what my husband was bringing into the household every month.

God had warned the Israelites about this very thing many years before I fell into this trap; this is what God told them;

Deuteronomy 8:1-14

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers.  Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years; to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 

Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.  Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.   Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him.  For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land–a land with streams and pools of water, with springs flowing in the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. 

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.  Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day.  Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery

God warned the people, that when he had set them up in their new land, that there were to continue to follow him and obey him, they were to stay true to him, and if they did, they would be blessed in the land, but if they did not, they were in danger of becoming prideful and forgetting the Lord God, who had delivered them out of Egypt the land of slavery.

This fundamental principle, is what I had forgotten while I was down in South Africa, I thought I was above everything and everyone, because the lord’s hand of blessing was so evident in my life at that time. I had failed to observe God’s commands of “do not become prideful, because if you do, I will oppose you”

Well I was soon to learn that lesson, after a year of living in South Africa we decided to move back to Canada, and this is when the lesson started to really play out. We came back with enough money to last us a long time, but within a few months it was all gone, we ended up living in a friend’s basement, and having to rely on them for our basic needs.

My husband could not find a job anywhere; we did not have money for food, gas, school fees, nothing.

We were reduced to nothing. I even remember having this thought “I need to divorce my husband and find someone who would be able to provide for me and the kids” Yes, I was in a low point of my life I admit it.

It was not until a few months of this did we actually clue in what was wrong, and why we were even in this position. I believe that God put us into this position to discipline us and to snap us back into reality. The reality was that we had become so prideful in our situation and in the blessings that we were enjoying, that we forgot about God.

My friends, the lord reminded me of this this morning when I was praying, and I felt that I needed to share this story with you, If you can relate to this testimony in any way, I pray that you will humble yourself before the lord, repent so that the lord can restore you.

It was a year of great blessing as well as great misery, the misery of course was caused by us, but as I look back I am grateful to have walked through that and learnt a very valuable lesson.

The lesson is this, that God opposes the proud. He wants to bless us, but he also wants us to learn how to handle the blessing in a way that won’t make our hearts turn from him, and onto our own strengths.

We did eventually repent, and the lord did restore us and all that we had lost due to our foolishness, but I promise you, that I never want to find myself in that position again. I learnt that I needed to always have a heart that humbly walked with the lord, in good and bad, so that I could enjoy both seasons knowing that through it all, the lord was teaching, growing and bringing his blessings into my life.

Prayer

I pray that the lord will reveal both to me, as well as to you, areas of our lives where pride has gotten in the way. I pray that he will remind us that if we allow pride to flourish in our lives, we will be in opposition to his will for our lives. I pray that we will chose to walk humbly with the lord, so that we will be able to enjoy the blessings that he has for us. I pray that we will choose to seek the lord wholeheartedly all the days of our lives, walking humbly with him and enjoying all that he has for us.

In Jesus name,

Amen

Prayer

Have you ever had a conversation with someone? I am sure that you have, you probably have had many conversations over your lifetime. Just this evening, I spoke to my husband and children, communicating with them and sharing my thoughts and needs.

Throughout the entire bible we see people crying out to God, some out of ritual, some out of desperation, some out of bitterness, and some on behalf of other people. God promises in his word that he would not only listen to their prayers, but that he would actively answer them.

Jeremiah 33:2-3

 “This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it–the LORD is his name:   ‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’  

Jesus was asked by his disciples how to pray, this is what Jesus taught his disciples to do.

Matthew 6:5-15

   “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth; they have received their reward in full.   But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.   And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.   Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread.  Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.  

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 

Jesus told the disciples that they needed to be careful, not to be boastful in their prayer time; he did not want their prayer time to be a time to show off their “righteousness” but that they would instead be open and honest before him.

He encouraged the disciples to go somewhere quiet and there engage God in prayer. It is in that place that you can be real, open and honest with the lord, bearing your heart to him in all of its flaws hurts and trials.

King David gave us many examples in the Psalms of raw emotion before God, he shows that you can bring God your frustrations, hurt, anger, joy, triumph, despair, hopelessness, fear, depression, tears. The list of emotions that King David poured out over the Psalms is endless, but it went to prove, that he had a very real and open relationship with God, that is what he wants for all of us.

So, if you are not in the habit of talking to the lord, or even if you are, be sure to go to a place where you can be alone with the lord, and bring forth honestly all that is on your mind and heart.  I have found, that the more I do that, the more peace I feel, and the more I want to go back into that quiet place and set some time that it is just him and I.

Sometimes I will hear him speak to me, sometimes, it will be an impression that I feel in my spirit, and I know that it is God who is talking to me, sometimes, I will read something in the bible, and I will know without a shadow of a doubt that the lord wanted me to see that verse, as it lined up with my prayers.

It is a wonderful thing, to pray to the lord, and see how he answers you!

Then Jesus told the disciples, first acknowledge that God is your father in heaven, and give him the praise that his due his name, “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” God is holy and we need to remember that when we come into his throne room of grace.

Then he told his disciples, to ask that the kingdom of heaven, and all that is good about it, come to us here on this earth, and to pray that the will of God be done on earth, as well as it is in heaven; “ your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Why would it be important that God’s will be done on earth, I cannot even begin to explain the great importance of God’s will to be in our lives. But I do say that I know no better place to live out your life, than in the perfect will of God. Therefore praying that his will is done in your life is essential, to living your life on purpose for God.

The next principle that Jesus taught the disciples in this prayer is this; “Give us today our daily bread”    in other words, lord, please provide for our daily needs, the lord promised that he would do just that, as we are valuable to him and he loves us.  I have seen the lord provide in miraculous ways over the years for my little family, as well as for others, I know that he cares about the little details of our lives and wants to make sure that we are taken care of.

He then told his disciples, to ask for forgiveness and to extend forgiveness to other people.” Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.”  God is adamant that we do not hold grudges against people, that we release them and walk in love. I believe that the reason that this is so important is that when we don’t forgive an offense, we end up, bitter, full of hatred, mistrustful and downright miserable. God says that if we choose not to forgive others, then he will not forgive us our sins. I don’t know about you, but I love the freedom that comes with not having to have my sin hang over my head like a death sentence. In Christ I have been forgiven and set free from that sin, therefore because it has been given to me, I am obligated to extend forgiveness to others.

The next principle that Jesus taught was; “And leads us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”  To be able to ask the lord, not to be led into anything that would cause us to sin against him is amazing. That he would deliberately take us on a different route that would allow us to steer clear of temptation is awe inspiring to me. Lord, deliver us from the evil that surrounds us daily.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I want you to realize that prayer is not a scary thing, nor is it something that we need to neglect. The bible is clear that we are to pray for one another, that we are to pray for God to send people into the field to bring in the harvest of souls. We are to pray that God would provide for our needs, deliver us from evil that surrounds us, and that he will help us to not willfully sin against him.

We can pray for increased passion to worship him, for him to increase our faith, for him to help us to choose righteousness over evil and for us to keep our eyes firmly on him.

Whether you choose to take a walk to pray, or write in a journal or go to a secluded place, the lord is always ready and waiting to hear from you, to lead you with his word, and to bring joy and peace into the depths of your spirit.

Cry out to him today, and if you feel intimidated start reading the book of Psalms to see how King David ran to God for everything and see how God delivered him.

My favorite prayer Psalm is,

Psalm  84:1-12

How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!  My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God.  Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young–a place near your altar, O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.  Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. Selah,

 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah,  Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.  For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.   O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you

Take a moment right now and turn this Psalm into a prayer before our Heavenly father.

 

 

 

The Privilege of never being alone

Do you sometimes feel that you are all alone, that there is no one in the world that cares about you, or if you would suddenly die one day, there would be no one to mourn your death?

I remember feeling like that, even though my life was full of people, I often felt very alone. Trapped in my own little world of pain and suffering and not really able to communicate to people what I really thought or felt.

I would get mad when I would have coffee with a friend, and not once would they ask me how I was doing, or what was going on in my life, it was all about them and how they were and what they were feeling. It was exhausting and I hated the fact that there was not a soul around who really knew the intimate me.

Who I really was, what I liked, why I cried for this or that, what I liked, what I remembered and what was precious to me, seemed just my burden to carry, because no one around me truly cared, I mean truly cared to really get to know who I was.

That was until one day, I realized that I was not as alone as I had thought I was, the bible teaches us, that when Jesus was about to be crucified, he told his disciples that he would not leave them alone in this world like orphans, but that he would send his Holy Spirit as a comforter and a teacher, and he would bring them and all future believers into fellowship with God the father.

John 14:16-18

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you

So as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have the assurance that the Holy Spirit will come and take up residence within my heart forever. I am therefore never alone and I am always connected to God my father, through the Holy Spirit.

The bible also tells us that there is not a place on this earth that we can go and hide from God.

Psalm  139:1-18

 For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.   Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.   You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.   Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?   If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.   How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!  Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. 

The realization that God knows every intimate detail of my life is amazing, I no longer felt that I was alone in the world, with no one to care that I had had good and bad experiences and that I would one day die.

I felt so loved and appreciated, and I realized that people do not need to know all of the intimate details of my life, just as long as my heavenly father does, he still cheers me on, he even loves me, in spite of knowing the bad things I have ever done, as well as the good things.

I am intimately known by the creator of the universe. I praise the lord for that!

So my dear friend, if you are thinking to yourself “that is good for you, I am still lonely”

I have good news for you, all you need to do, is to believe believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord, and is sent from God, and he is God’s son, then the bible promises that you will be given the gift of eternal life.

When we do that, the Holy Spirit, comes and lives in your heart (Spirit) immediately, and forever. You will never ever be alone again, you will have a constant friend and companion who will lead and guide you.

It was the best decision that I ever made, I pray that you too would take that step of faith today and come to Jesus so that he will become your most intimate friend and confidante.

Romans 10:9-11

 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” 

Take the step of faith today, and you will never have another lonely moment ever again.

The real reason that we work

On Sunday I was talking to a very good friend of mine and we were talking about the various things that the lord had been teaching each of us, and how those things had impacted our lives for the good. One of the things that we had spoken about was our general attitude towards tasks that we had to personally do.

Now, it was not long ago that I would mutter under my breath about having to “do this or that” and bemoan and begrudge the whole thing. All the while thinking to myself how unfair it was that I had to do it, and didn’t my family see the load that I was already carrying, and didn’t they understand how hard my life was, and on and on.

I know, I sound like a two year old, but much to my shame I thought that way, often going out of my way to leave things for others to do. I even stopped baking for the family because I did not like how the baked goods would disappear so quickly.

Ah yes, the selfishness of my heart!

Well, as you can imagine, I could see this particular fault in everyone else but myself, it would annoy me to no end when my kids would only do a half job of what I had asked them to do. I would watch them wait for the other person when it came time to do the dishes, just in case they ended up having to do more of the task than the other person.

I would try to discipline and teach them, when these things happened, but alas, it went nowhere; that is of course until the lord started showing me, what was dwelling deep down in my own heart.

Ah! That is all I have to say, it hurts to see that what you have been trying to correct in another person, you yourself are doing.

Matthew 7:1-5

Judging Others

  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Yes I was being a hypocrite; I was delighting to see what was wrong with everyone around me but myself.

Thankfully God, in his great love and mercy, will not leave us in that state of heart, and he set about changing my heart. At first I did not recognize what he was doing, until later I realized that I had indeed had a change of heart, and this time my change of heart lined up with what the bible taught as a correct behavior and attitude to have in connection to work.

Ephesians 6:5-9

Slaves and Masters

“  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.”

The bible teaches us, that we need to work, and serve others wholeheartedly as if whatever you are doing, you are doing for the Lord.

Now, you would think that I would have known this many years ago, I did, and I even taught it to others, but I did not always apply it to my own life. Father forgive me!

Thankfully, the lord, has been doing a new work on my heart and has been showing me, where my attitude has been wrong, and where I need to choose to serve instead of demand that I be served.

After I had spoken to my friend, I read a devotion out of the Daily Bread, written by Bill Crowder, and it was written on this exact topic. I knew then that the lord was highlighting this to me once again, and I needed to share it with you.

Bill Crowder wrote:

In the Late 1660s, Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to re-design St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. According to legend, one day he visited the construction site of this great edifice and was unrecognized by the workers. Wren walked about the site, asking several of the men what they were doing.

One worker replied, “I am cutting a piece of stone.”  A second worker responded, “I am earning five shillings two pence a day.” A third, however, had a different perspective: “I am helping Christopher Wren build a magnificent cathedral to the glory of God.” What a contrast in the attitude and motivation of that worker!

If we do our work merely to earn a paycheck or satisfy a supervisor, we will fall short of the higher motivation – doing our best as evidence of our devotion to God.

It was after reading this that the lord confirmed to me the heart change had been taking place inside of me, I had gone from being selfish and self-absorbed in all of my tasks, to taking great joy and having great satisfaction completing tasks set before me, because I did them out of devotion to God.

I have found that now I have more peace about the tasks that I put my hand to, I even experience a new found joy, because I know that even if I am cleaning toilets or sweeping my kitchen for the tenth time that day, I do it all out of a devotion for God.

Let me tell you of the change that has taken place in my household, because of my change of attitude. My children have seen that I don’t begrudge helping and serving them, and they are in turn are learning to work with the same attitude as the lord has helped me to learn.

Please understand, that this attitude has not made me the servant of the household, my children still have tasks that they are required to do, but it has taught us all, that we can have a joy in both the mundane and the bigger tasks that God sets before us to do.

Remember, no matter who signs your paychecks, you are ultimately working for God!