- God cares about the nitty gritties and the grand details of your life. (1 Pet 5:7)
- He will perfect everything that concerns you. (Psalms 138:8)
- He is the author and finisher of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
- Your life can glorify God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Delighting in the Lord results in fulfilment of your heart’s desires. (Psalms 37:4)
- The Lord will straighten your paths if you submit to Him. (Proverbs 3:6)
- His word will guide you and light your path. (Psalms 119:105)
- Everything works together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28)
Have you ever had to wait for something? Something you really needed, or wanted? Doesn’t matter what it is anyway, as I’d like to focus on the ‘wait’.
WHAT DOES THE WORD SAY?
This too shall pass:
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away. (Matt 24:35). All these things will come to pass, including the stuff we have to wait for that are causing us so much frustration.
…….in the world, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33). We don’t expect a honkey dory existence here in this fallen world. Even Jesus, the son of God, went through tribulation. It’s just a reality of life. A reality we must accept. Ask God to give you grace to accept this fact of life. Having that awareness right from the time you wake up; shifts your focus from your feelings of disappointment to what God has to say about the situation.
You never walk alone:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13)Waiting brings about feelings of loneliness. That inner voice, again. The one you’re left with when everyone’s gone, the voice over that plays when you look at yourself in the mirror. The voice you’re left with after browsing social media that tells you that everyone’s life is fabulous and that you are the most miserable being that walked the planet. That is far from the truth.
All for a greater glory:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2 Cor 4:17). This post was borne out of my own period of waiting. Had I not waited; I would not have written this. Something good came out of it. And I assure you something good will come out of your wait in this lifetime. Open your eyes and see God’s goodness despite your wait. Even better is the fact that our trials are for a far greater glory.
Eyes fixed on Jesus:
Looking to Jesus the founder and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:2). Can we fix our eyes on Jesus when life gets awry? How many of us really keep our eyes fixed on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith as we wait? Do we forget what it means to be in the faith race? He is perfecting our faith each step of the way.
The ultimate wait:
And this is the promise that He hath promised us, even eternal life. (1 John 2:25). Are we not all waiting to enjoy eternal life? To meet God? To experience the infinite joys of heaven? Is that not what we wait for ultimately? Over and above employment, a life mate, a child, and whatever else our hearts ache for? Friend, I pray that your heart may be encouraged as you wait. And that God will give you the grace to stand as you wait for eternal life.
There she was
All grown up and free
How wrong she was
She just couldn’t see
Caged to her own perception
Of what life should be
Stumping out the flame of conviction
So she could be
Free in her own eyes
Yet less wise
Where is daddy’s little girl?
There she goes
Clutching on to the whirlwind
Of her very soul’s foes
Caught up in the grind
Her days full of chaos
Forgetting to hold the hand
That brought her to life
Her one woman band
Yet so much laden with strife
Having let go of daddy’s hand
Where is daddy’s little girl?
Her very life she did resent
Wrought with drama
To daddy she would present
The sum of her traumas
But only at the tail end
Of phone conversations
And rantings with her friends
The initial sensation
Gave her a glimpse of recompense
Thus begs the question
Where is daddy’s little girl?
Cast thy burdens upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee: He shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psalms 55:22)
I’ve come across the cast-your-cares scripture a couple of times, but the verse above caught my attention. Here’s something to think about: would you place a load on a surface that could not sustain it? Would you put your bulky travel case on your fragile glass stool? I doubt you would. You would want to be sure that you’re placing your baggage on a surface that can withstand the weight. Which brings me to the question: Why are we casting our burdens on God? Because He is more than able to carry that weight.
THE ACT OF CASTING:
God has, in His infinite wisdom and love, blessed us with the immovable and exquisite treasure of His word. He speaks to our hearts in the beautiful language of scripture. I absolutely love every word and detail. There are no leftovers or crumbs as far as scripture is concerned. The bread of life is a feast. Every word of it. Believer, delight in God’s word. The ribbon that ties in the whole idea of how God will sustain us and how we as righteous people will not be moved is the act of casting our cares. Looking at this particular verse, we’re charged to “CAST” our cares. It takes some effort on our part to offload the cargo (burdens, worries, anxieties, hardships) off our shoulders and give them to the Lord. Detaching ourselves from our unplesantries is not an easy task. Each heart knows its pain and you know yours only too well. Who knows how long you’ve had your baggage but you? The aftermath of your upbringing perhaps, emotional/psychological trauma, current circumstances? There’s none on this planet who understands you but God. He knew you before He laid the foundations of the earth. As a fisherman casts his net unto the sea, cast your cares unto the Lord. The master of it all. It’s easier said than done but well worth the effort. Just let it go.
Don’t be hung up on earthly relationships and unmet expectations. God is not a man. He cares enough:
- To put your tears in a bottle. (Psalms 56:10)
- To perfect everything that concerns you. (Psalms 138:8)
- To exchange your burden for an easy yoke. (Matthew 11:30)
- To give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
- To watch over you without shutting his eyes. (Psalms 121:3)
- To watch over your going out and coming in. (Psalms 121:8)
- To offer you eternal life.
It’s never easy to let go of our burdens much as they’re unpleasant. But we have seen the importance of casting those cares upon the Lord. So here’s the promise:
- He will sustain you. (Psalms 55:22)
- He will not suffer the righteous to be moved. (Psalms 55:22)
- He will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Be encouraged as you journey in faith; cast your cares and catch the promise.
Today is the ninth day of the eighth month of this glorious year. The number 8, according to bible numerology, is representative of new beginnings. I don’t know about you but I like the sound of that. The fact that I have a new beginning in Christ and that God loves me enough to grace me with a fresh start over and over again makes me want to leap up in joy and dance. I love a fresh start; a new year, a new month, a new chapter, a new day. I have yet another shot at having faith the size of a mustard seed. That faith is all I need to walk with my head held high.
How has 2016 been to you thus far? How is your walk with God? Are you enjoying an intimate friendship with God or is He a distant acquaintance? Mine has been a rewarding year so far and I intend to commit the rest of the year to delighting in God.
Currently, I’m renewing my connection with God by doing a month-long study of the book of Psalms. It is in this very book that we see David, a man after God’s own heart, cry out and say,
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. [Psalms 51:10-12]
We are well aware of the garbage that surrounds and threatens to get into our heads and hearts. We also know that the heart is the seat of all wickedness. It is imperative that we strive to walk daily in devotion; otherwise it will be garbage upon heaps of garbage.
There is a confidence that comes with walking with God, a joy in the privilege of His presence; a restfulness in the face of life and its many rigours: be it decision making, trials or dilemmas. There is a wisdom that comes with knowing and fearing the Lord. A glow of salvation on the face of he/she who trusts God.
I desire to walk in God’s purpose. I desire to delight in His salvation and in Him.
What fresh start do you desire today?
Share your thoughts.
If you’re sad, confused, anxious, depressed, uncertain, fearful or feeling alone, read on.
If you went to sleep feeling like there was no one to talk to and had no where to turn, read on.
If you feel more hopeless than you’ve ever felt, read on.
If you feel like no one would understand, and just want to lock yourself up and cry, read on.
If you feel like the only solution for you is Jesus appearing to you and holding you in a warm embrace because you hurt so much, read on.
If telling yourself not to give up is no longer enough, read on.
If you feel like your life lacks meaning, depth and rhythm, read on.
Dear friend, my heart breaks for you, whoever you are, wherever you are.
Don’t feel like a wuss. Don’t feel like you should handle it better and that you should have spiritually outgrown such feelings. We all feel messed up sometimes. It’s the result of living in a fallen world. I’ve had my days where I just want to stay in bed and nurse depression. I know how it feels. I’ve been there. I know how life can beat one down. I know how it feels to wonder whether it’s the devil or the lack of dependence on God. You wonder whether situation X, Y or Z has all that power to knock you down to where you are right now.
Take a moment and meditate upon this verse:
The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed nevercease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.Lamentations 3:22-23
HE IS FAITHFUL.
Scripture focus: Jeremiah 29:13
I recently walked into a bookshop in search of a book that would speak to me. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted at that point but I knew that I would know it when I see it. So I scanned and scanned and saw a few titles that brought me back to sanity. First off, there is a sea of authors and titles out there. There were innumerable titles on ‘devotion’, and I thought to myself, ‘Why not go and actually spend time with the Lord instead of reading about it? Why not just step into the actual activity without having to read 67 ways of how to do it? Why not just do what you can in your capacity?’ We don’t give ourselves enough credit. I then realised that I didn’t need a book. What I needed was to spend time with my Maker. Another thing, there’s so much information and there are plenty of online resources. It’s all well and good to have a community of believers in the blogging/writing/vlogging ministries. But I’d encourage us to grow our relationship with the Lord first rather than rush to sign up for yet another plan, yet another email list etc. Let us stick with the basics by allowing the Holy Spirit to minister to us first.
This hit me hard: The only way to grow in your walk is, not to read books upon books or blogs upon blogs, but to experience the Lord for yourself through consistent prayer, Bible study and fasting.
Ask. Seek. Knock.
I once was young and now I am old, but I have not seen a righteous person forsaken or his descendants begging for bread.
‘Encourage’ and ‘exhort’ are two words we are familiar with in our Christian walk. I’m all for encouraging and being there for each other whether it’s in fellowship, online fora or any other social media platforms. 80% of my writing ministry is tagged as ’empowerment’. I’m a huge hope fanatic and my heart breaks the most for people who have lost hope in their lives, whoever they are. And more often than not, I’d love to hear this hope message replayed over and over again, for the benefit of others as well as myself. It’s no wonder that the greatest gifts are faith, hope and love. I’d like to go on and on about hope. However, rather than butter you up with a couple of xoxo’s, I’ll serve you up the real truth as to why you’re completely blind to God’s hand in your life.
#1 YOU FORGOT ABOUT TIMES AND SEASONS
Refer to my post breaking through seasons for more insight on this.
Ecc 3:8 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
#2 YOU HAVE A DISTORTED VIEW OF TRIALS
We sometimes expect a miracle in our most heart-wrenching circumstances but we tend to forget that they will come to an end. They always do. It’s easy to forget that our glory is eternal and it is unseen.
2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
#3 YOU FORGET WHO GOD IS
He won’t always work in the way or in the time we expect. He is not subject to time and space….. He is the Living God. Trust in His infinite wisdom. Trust in who God is.
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.
#4 YOUR HUMAN NATURE GETS IN THE WAY
The bit I want to focus on here though is the disease we suffer from called, ‘What’s in it for me?’ There always has to be some gain for us in whatever we do. And we want it here and now. Patience is not our strongest suit.
Jeremiah 17:8 The heart is deceitful above all things. Who can understand it?
Refer to Mark 7:21 for your heart’s mirror.
#5 YOUR NEIGHBOUR GOT A MIRACLE AND YOU DIDN’T
It’s noble to rejoice with your friends/colleagues in the face of answered prayers but its also foolish to expect the same miracle to happen to you. Covetousness, another one of our signature human traits, is utterly and completely disempowering. One reason for depression is unfair comparison with others and as Christians we are not immune. Rejoice and celebrate others’ achievements but guard your heart from envy.
Proverbs 14:30 A heart at peace gives life to the body but envy rots the bones.
#6 YOU’VE MADE AN IDOL OUT OF YOUR NEED FOR GOD’S HAND
I’ll court controversy here by declaring that I have a problem with breakthroughs especially where one is so fixated. You want something so badly that your relationship with God is hinged on whether he brings it forth or not. The heart wants what the heart wants but can we trust it anyway?
Exodus 34:14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a Jealous God.
#7 YOU’VE UNDERESTIMATED THE TIME YOU SPEND WITH YOUR MAKER
The issue with us, as mentioned earlier is that we want stuff here and now. The healing, the baby, the job, the restored relationship, the miracle. We want it now. We forget that we need to sow the seeds of prayer and let the Holy Spirit intercede for us in order for them to bear fruit. We forget that our time spent with God is precious. We forget that his word is perfect and finer than gold (Psalms 119). Just because you’ve been praying and haven’t seen answers doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Far from it. Sow those seeds and let your patience be made perfect.
Psalms 73:28 But as for me, it is good to be near God.
#8 YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT AN OAK OF SPLENDOUR IS
Kindly refer to my post beauty for ashes for more on this.
Isaiah 61:3 To appoint to them that mourn in Zion, to give to them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.
#9 YOU’VE BEEN HANGING WITH THE WORLD
Hang with the world long enough and you’ll begin to see things from a world view. If you never want to understand what God’s will entails, conform to the world.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- His good, pleasing and perfect will.
#10 YOU’VE ALLOWED DOUBT TO CREEP IN
Other than His son and our Savior Jesus Christ, I can’t think of anything else the Lord has so blessed us with more than the promises rife in His word. If Abraham was alive today he would punch you for thinking that God doesn’t keep his promises. Has God issued you with a father-of-nations promise yet you have no child? Hang in there. He NEVER goes back on His word.
Romans 4:20 Yet He (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God.
Seek God’s heart; not His hand.
THE GOLDEN HOUR:
Your ever dependable alarm goes off. What’s your most likely response? Is it:
A. “Arghh!!” As you hit the snooze button several times to a point where you know it’s plain ridiculous.
B. “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it”; as you skip out of bed with a bounce in your step. (Hmm, maybe, I should cut down on those girly animations I watch).
My likely response is both. Some days I’ll be woken up by God at wee hours of the morning and other days I’ll struggle. Nonetheless, I’m learning about the glory of dawn and I’m more than glad to share that with you.
The morning is the beginning of a new day; a strange land that you have never been to, a place that was nothing more than an illusion when you went to sleep. The morning is a marvel, a golden chance to seize the day by immediately going into God’s presence before anything else captures your attention. Check in with God before you step into your day. Is your to-do list jam-packed? Commit it to God. Make your plans but allow God’s perfect will to take precedence.
The preparations of the heart belong to man, But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the Lord and they will be established. (Proverbs 16:1-3)
I encourage you to seek God, no matter the hour.
A prayer for the morning
Dear God, thank you for this day. Joy has come. The morning is here with the message of your undying love. You have kept me and defended me, fought my battles and preserved my life. You neither sleep nor slumber. You watch my coming in and my going out. Lord, I have never been here, this is a new place. As promised in your word You have gone ahead of me. Give me the grace to stand in paths that you’ve already walked on and approved. I need you to hem me in from the front and back and to have your hand above me. I need a touch from you, nothing else would do. I am not condemned for I am in Christ and I am a new creation. I will walk by Faith and not by sight, always lifting my head unto you for the world is full of lies. I set my eyes above, where you reside, where truth, restoration, deliverance, wisdom and fullness of joy reside. I reaffirm my commitment to you and I declare that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than in your everlasting arms. Thank you Jesus, I’m now ready to face my world. You’re my delight. Abide in me as I abide in you.
My current study of the book of Judges has brought to light insights on the subject of idolatry: then and now. Please read my post Who’s your daddy as it provides a good background.
A VERY BRIEF WALK THROUGH HISTORY:
This book, set in 1086-1004 BC, contains a history of divinely inspired leaders whose direct knowledge of Yahweh empowers them in their task which is judging and leading the Israelites. The Israelites had not kept their end of their covenant and had not entirely conquered all the land that they were supposed to. They had turned away from God and……’everyone did what was right in his own eyes’ (17:6, 21:25). We observe a pattern replaying itself throughout the book:
1. The people interacted with foreign nations and engaged in idol worship thus abandoning God.
2. God punished them by raising up a foreign power to oppress them.
3. The people cried to God for deliverance.
4. God, in His eternal mercy, would raise up a deliverer/judge who would lead them back to righteousness.
5. They would live freely up till some point where they would fall back into idol worship and the cycle would begin again.
Which brings me to the next part.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN THEM AND US:
The only thing that separates us is the era. We are all human and thus joined together by the following factors:
- Our hearts are prone to evil. (Genesis 6:5, 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9, Mark 7:21-22)
- We struggle with sin. (Romans 7:19)
- Our consciences have become so numbed that the consequences of sin are not a strong enough deterrent to keep us from sinning. (2Timothy 3:5)
- We are quick to forget how God delivered us from the oppression that previously ruled us. Following the Israelites’ disobedience, God, in his hot anger, would sell them into the hands of foreign nations. We can all give testimonies of how living apart from God has brought us pain. The burden of sin is regret, shame and guilt. (Deuteronomy 9:7-8)
- We have the gift of redemption; in that there is always a chance to be forgiven, restored and used mightily of God. The choice is all ours. God is quicker to forgive than to punish. We are recipients of God’s eternal grace.
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT:
I mentioned earlier that one similarity between us is the fact that we defy God’s word. Sounds a lot like a replay of what happened back in Eden, doesn’t it? Same script different cast. As we well know, Adam and Eve were told that they could eat of all the trees save for the one in the middle of the garden (Genesis 2:16-17). They broke this one command. The same thing applies to the Israelites and us. We break the first and greatest commandment which is:
Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might’ (Deuteronomy 6:5).
The commandment succeeding this one addresses idolatry.
‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3).
We go ahead and engage in the worship of images that are not God. We entrust our hearts to seemingly harmless alternatives.
NATURE OF GOD VERSUS NATURE OF IDOLS:
There is nothing I can say or write to fully capture the nature of God. I doubt if the most eloquent tongue can serve justice to who God is. However, this is just a guide to help you see the difference between God and idols:
- God is invisible whereas idols are visible.
- God-worship brings about eternal pleasure whilst idol worship brings temporal pleasure.
- God is the source of all good things whilst idols can never be the source of all good things.
- God-worship fulfils that innate desire to connect with something greater than ourselves while idol worship leaves us hollow and more incomplete.
- The pluralistic worship of idols promotes confusion. I chuckled when I read Judges 8:9-10. The foreign gods were a handful. The god of this, that and the other. I have no idea how the Israelites, whose tradition and faith was founded in a monotheistic worship of Yahweh, pulled it off. It must have been so confusing for these people to move from worship of one God to many.
- Idols give a sense of fulfilment of an immediate need while God fulfills our very reason for existence. He is ALL-satisfying.
So the question is, why do we still yearn for pleasures outside God? Our human nature doesn’t make it any easier on us. We are prone to temporal, tangible and sometimes ridiculous pleasures. We buy into the lie that since we haven’t seen God, He must not exist or He must be a distant fragment of our imagination. Sometimes we feel like a deep relationship with God is the preserve of religious people. More often than not, we try and fit God into our illusionary ideals.
REMEDY FOR IDOLATRY:
- Keep the right company:
The Israelites’ idol worship almost always begun with their interaction and intermarriage to foreigners. In Deuteronomy 7, they were commanded not to make covenants or show mercy to the inhabitants of the land they were to possess. Just as we are commanded not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). Take delight in the law of the Lord and not in the ways of the wicked (Psalms 1:1).
- Serve one master:
No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You can not serve God and mammon. (Matthew 7:24)
- Maintain spiritual focus:
Fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of your faith. (Hebrews 12:2). Ask God to unite your heart to fear Him (Psalms 86:11).
Forget about man-made images that can neither see nor hear; forget about men (and women) who change and lie. Forget about material things that will waste away. Face the TRUTH. He is the One True God; then, now and forever more. He is who He says He is, the Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega. Face the truth of who God is.
The deepest longings of our hearts can not be filled by any created person or thing. Develop a hunger for the One True God. Seek Him until you find Him. Do not envy the wicked but be zealous for what is good. Do not walk in the way of the wicked, but delight in the law of the Lord (Psalms 1:1-2). Taste and see that He is good.
The timeless beauty about this comparison between us and the Israelites is the ever enduring fact that God doesn’t change. He is a covenant-keeping God. He is not bound to any time and place so He is the same faithful, merciful, loving Father to all generations: past, present and those to come.