It is a new year and we all have made new resolutions for this year. For us to see that we achieve them it is a CHOICE that we will make. I believe that end of last year, you did take stock of your life in the past year and noted the highs and lows in your life. If you haven’t done so, its not too late… As we(you) took a survey on your life, all of us can/did cite choices we made at certain points that set the course for our lives and put us on a path that has led to where we are now. Robert Frost expressed this so beautifully in his poem, “The Road Not Taken,” when he wrote,
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
The decisions we made yesterday shaped our today. And the decisions we make today shape our tomorrow. Have you ever noticed that tomorrow never comes? Whenever it’s tomorrow it’s today. So if you want to change your life you have to do it immediately. Procrastination has killed many dreams and precious experiences. It has allowed people to live a life of mediocrity, in agony, have a ‘what-ever’ attitude and live life below their highest expectations and aspirations. You can be, do and have anything you desire, but you have to decide now what it’s going to be that you want to become.
Our choices shape our lives, for good or for harm. We’re all familiar with the story of Mary and Martha, where Martha was all concerned with preparations for a meal and Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet for teaching. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). Jesus was teaching Martha and us about the importance of choosing well, of establishing the right priorities in our lives, so that we don’t have to live with the regret of poor choices. For those of us who have made poor choices in the past and are living with the consequences, we want to warn those coming behind us of the importance of making right choices, because they will be living with the consequences of some of their choices for the rest of their lives. And for those who are living with some poor choices, God is in the business of restoring us and giving us a hope and a future.
Can you think of a choice in your past that completely changed the course of your life? All of us can look back and identify choices we made which made all the difference. For some it was a choice for good; for others it could be a choice that you regret. Our choices shape our lives. Think about your choice of schools to or you attended, churches to join, jobs to take, places to live, friendships you chose, the mate you chose – the list is almost endless. They have shaped your life. It is critical for us to make good, biblical choices in order to avoid the inevitable consequences of poor choices.
Jesus said, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own” (John 7:17). We have a choice of doing God’s will or not. How do we know God’s will? Mainly by knowing the truth of God’s Word, and listening to the leading of God’s Spirit. God doesn’t force His will on us, but when we choose to do His will, we are making a choice that leads to blessing, that leads to a life without regrets. Have you ever been faced with a really difficult choice, but you knew it was the right thing to do? We make choices every day, and sometimes we have to choose the hard way rather than what looks like the easy way. Most of us are prone to choose what looks easy, but when we do, we have to live with the consequences. Maybe you’ve had to choose whether to keep your job by cheating or being dishonest, or put your job on the line by following principles of integrity and honesty. Maybe you’ve had to choose to let go of a relationship that was leading you in the wrong direction, and it was hard because you were attached to that person.
Moses was faced with a difficult choice. We read in Hebrews 11:24-26: "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ, as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward." Can you imagine what a difficult choice that was for Moses to make? He had all the wealth of Egypt at his beckon and call, and could have enjoyed a life of luxury and ease, as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter. But he chose to be mistreated because he understood that the pleasures of sin only last a short time, and then there is the price to be paid.
Oh, how many people have chosen the pleasures of sin, and then had to live the rest of their lives with the consequences. Satan makes sin look so good, but he never shows you the price you’ll pay until it’s too late. If you were given a choice between a beautiful, expensive piece of jewelry and a book on wisdom, which would you choose? In Proverbs 8:10-11 we read:"Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire can compare with her."
Our choices shape our lives, and yet we are prone to choose the thing that glitters most, when often the wisest choice would be something else. I think of the choice Solomon made when God asked him what he wanted, as he took the throne and become king of God’s people. Solomon answered God, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” God said to Solomon, "Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." (2 Chronicles 1:10 – 12).
Do you pray more for wisdom than you do for your physical needs? Our choices shape our lives, and wisdom is what we need to make good choices. How wise we would be to choose wisdom. You may be familiar with the passage from Joshua 24:15, where Joshua said to the people of Israel,"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord." The people of Israel were prone to serve other gods. They often made poor choices to live like the pagan nations around them, to blend in and be like everyone else. And Joshua puts it to them: “Choose whom you will serve.”
We have the same choices facing us today. Is it more important for you to blend in with everyone else, to take on the lifestyle of the world around you, or do you choose to serve the Lord? Our choices shape our lives, and we have to live with the consequences of our choices. If we choose not to serve the Lord, it may look like the right thing to do, but before long, you realize you’ve chosen a path of destruction and heartache.
Every day we’re faced with choices, little and big ones, where we have to decide whether we will serve the Lord or we’ll serve ourselves and take the easy way out. Decide now what you want to be and what you want to do and and be and do that now; all it takes is a decision.
5…and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!] 6So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5b-6
On Monday, someone sent me a story that I have been thinking of since then. I have likened the story to some situations that I have passed through and many times I felt that I can give up on God because it seemed that He had given up on me regards the situation… I bet you agree with me. I want to tell you this day… I have come to a conclusion that it doesn’t matter what you are going through or where you are, God won’t let you go. Let me share this story with you:
On a hot summer day in Florida, a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind their house. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore. His father working in the yard saw what was happening, and in utter fear, he ran toward the water, yelling to his son. The little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his father. It was too late. From the dock, the father grabbed his little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs.
That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two. The alligator was much stronger than the father, but the father would not let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard the screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And on his arms were deep scratches where his father’s fingernails dug into his flesh in his effort to hang on to the son he loved. The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said, "But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too, because my Dad wouldn’t let go."
You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too; not from an alligator, but the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep pain or regret. But some wounds are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of our struggle, he’s been there holding on to us. God just won’t let us go, no matter what we’re going through. You know, most of the times when we are at that point in life, we tend to think that God has forsaken us and He no longer cares about us. We tend to say the words that Jesus said on the cross… “Lord! Lord! why have you forsaken me? but I want you today to know that God can never forsake you and never will He.
We have many wonderful illustrations in the Bible of how God didn’t let go, even when his people foolishly waded into dangerous and sinful situations, sometimes out of ignorance, sometimes out of disobedience.
Think of Joseph… Through no doubt some childish bragging to his brothers, they decided to get rid of him, and sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph had done no great evil; he didn’t deserve to be so terribly mistreated, but there he was, a slave and a prisoner in Egypt… but God never let go of Joseph, because Joseph never forsook his faith in Jehovah God. And he was used by God to deliver many people, including his own family, from starvation. I wonder how many times, as he sat in that prison, he just wanted to give up. It looked hopeless, but God didn’t let go.
Think of Elijah. You remember the story found in 1 Kings 18, where Elijah challenged all the prophets of Baal, with great courage, and their pagan gods could not deliver them. Elijah triumphed over all that evil, proving that Jehovah God was the only true god. It was an incredible victory. But the very next day, brave Elijah becomes a coward, fearful of one woman, Jezebel, who had threatened to kill him. And he starts running out of fear for his life. Elijah no doubt would have been diagnosed by doctors today as having a deep depression, even as being deluded, as he ran for his life, but God didn’t let go, and with great patience and kindness, he nurtured him back to strength, taught him some wonderful lessons, and brought him out of that deep funk an even better man of God – relined like gold. I can so relate to Elijah, because I’ve gone through some depressing times as he did – and really for no good reason!
Are you there today? Has your faith failed you: are you full of fear? Are you in that kind of deep depression where everything looks hopeless, you feel worthless, and you’re sure that life is coming to an end – at least life with any meaning? I want to encourage you to know that God won’t let go of you. He will patiently guide you back to wholeness, as he did with Elijah. How did Elijah recover? He needed some rest and some nourishment, first of all. You know, when you are physically depleted, it will affect you spiritually and emotionally. So God put him in quiet place for some rest and nourishment. Then he reminded Elijah of who God is, he helped him get beyond the pity party he was having, and then he sent Elisha to be his companion and co-worker. God never let go Elijah, and if you are his child, he will not let go of you. David wrote: "For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock" (Psalm 27:5).
Just as this young boy foolishly and ignorantly dove into the dangerous water where this alligator lived, we as children of God sometimes foolishly dive into dangerous situations, not knowing what lies ahead. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. The bible says that the enemy of our soul, Satan, prowls about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Peter goes on to say, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith… And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast" (1 Peter 5:9-10). If you feel like you’re in the alligator’s swamp right now and they’re ready to take you under, remember that God has said if you are called to his eternal glory in Christ, he will himself restore you and make you strong again – after you have suffered a little while. God is not going to let go of you.
But why does he allow us to suffer a little while? Unlike the story of the father who fought to save his son, God is not helpless against Satan. He could deliver us sooner rather than later, and we puzzle as to why he doesn’t fight back for us, don’t we? There are various reasons that God allows his children to endure suffering, but in every instance it is to bring us to maturity so that our lives will bring glory to God. In writing about suffering, James said. "Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy" (James 5:10-11).
James reminds us that, as we look back to the suffering saints of old, we consider them blessed who persevered through suffering, and he uses Job as an example. In other words, James says. "Get the big picture here. Look beyond your momentary pain and consider what God is doing through your suffering." Whether your suffering is a result of your wrong doing or someone else’s, or it’s just the hardships of life, it didn’t catch God by surprise, and he intends to use it for your good. He is not going to let go of you, so hang on and trust him. He is a trustworthy God. God will never let go of you. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior of your life, he is committed to you and will keep you for all eternity. Jesus said. "My sheep listen to my voice: I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: no one can snatch them out of my hand, My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one" (John 10:27-30).
Maybe you’re thinking, "Yeah, but you don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve committed a sin, knowingly, and I’ve wandered far from God." That may be sadly true, but it doesn’t change the promise that Jesus gave us. Your own disobedience and sin are not strong enough to break his grip on you. I will remind you of David, a man after God’s own heart. You can’t go much further wrong as a believer than David did, committing adultery and murder. He tried to cover it up, to bury it and forget it, but until he confessed it and admitted his guilt, he was the most miserable person alive. That’s always true for a believer. If you are living in willful disobedience to God’s principles, as a true child of God, you will be more and more miserable until you come to full repentance. Psalm 51 serves as a reminder of David’s agony because of his sin.
None of us can escape the consequences of our sin, whether believers or not, but nothing can separate a true believer from God’s love. Not even our sin. I want to encourage you to come back to God with a repentant heart, with a commitment to forsake your sin and walk in his way, and he will restore to you the joy of your salvation, just as he did for David.
In Romans 8:38-39 Paul says “For I am convinced neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” My message is very simple, but very encouraging and comforting to you. It is, “God won’t let you go.” If you belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ, nothing can separate you from him and his love for you.
God won’t let you go. You can count on it.
7 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD.” Haggai 1:7-8
Every time someone embarks on doing something, he/she sits down and counts the cost and plans how they will go on with the plan and execute it to the last detail. Same case applies when you want to build a house – You sit down, count the cost and then go ahead. Jesus echoed this in Luke 14:28 and said “For which of you, wishing to build a new house, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it?” When you have figured out the cost, then you start collating the materials slowly till you have enough to kick start the project. I have come to realize one thing; that physical principals are a replica of Spiritual principals and you can not evade them no matter how hard you try – You will always have to follow and fulfill them for you to get what you need.
The Lord speaks to the children of Israel and reminds them that the temple laid in ruins and they themselves lived in well furnished and paneled houses. God was not happy with this and thus He withheld his blessings from them. As you will see in verse 7-8 of the book of Haggai, God is fiving them a remedy/solution to having their blessings. Apparently, we all fall in the same category as the children of Israel. We want certain things and blessings but instead of that, we rush to fulfill our desires first then we come and finish up God’s agenda.
When God was talking to the Israelites about his temple being in ruins, He meant the physical temple by then… but putting this passage in the context of today’s world, you will realize that we do not mind so much about the church buildings that we attend or go to to worship… instead, God’s temple today is our hearts. There are 3 questions that I asked myself as I was digging the word of God is that:
1) What is the status of God’s temple in me?
2) What does the Lord say when He looks at my heart?
3) Is it in ruins or is it a place that God can inhabit?
In answering these three questions, you will be able to understand the state of your heart and know what you need to act upon. The bible says “As in water face reflects face, So a man’s heart reveals the man.” Proverbs 27:19. Do not be deceived, you life will be an evidence of who you are in the inside. Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that “The upright (honorable, intrinsically good) man out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart produces what is upright (honorable and intrinsically good), and the evil man out of the evil storehouse brings forth that which is depraved (wicked and intrinsically evil); for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.” Jesus put it clear that the heart will always give out what is stored inside of it.
We are all keen to make sure that the mortal or physical man is looking nice, handsome/beautiful, healthy and well nourished (Paneling the house) whereas the spiritual man is starving. This is what God was mad about with the children of Israel. They never minded the state of their hearts. This is the same issue that Jesus had with the Pharisees. He told them “… Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the plate, but inside you yourselves are full of greed and robbery and extortion and malice and wickedness.” Luke 11:39. And so many of us are like the Pharisees. From the way people see us from the outside, we are perfect and doing well, but when God looks inside our hearts, He sees rotten people full of all sorts of evil and sin.
Paul reminds us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and he dwells in us. This is what he says: “… didn’t you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don’t you see that you can’t live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. God desires not only for us to keep our bodies as clean and holy places for him to dwell in but also, He more so desires to be glorified through us. This is what He tells the children of Israel in Haggai 1:8 “Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,”
The minute we disregard working towards nourishing our Spiritual person, he will starve and eventually die. And the minute he dies, it then means that the Holy Spirit deserts us and thus we are like spiritual corpse walking around. It is at this point that we tend to think that whatever we are doing is in line with the purposes of God only to realize that the Spirit departed form us long time ago. I pray that we will not be like Saul whom the Spirit of the Lord departed from him and thus David had to come and play the harp so as to soothe him. (1 Samuel 16:14, 23).
What is it that you are entangled with so much that you have neglected your spiritual man till he has starved? What is that that is of so much importance that growing up your spirit man? You may ask then, how do I take care of him? There are only two things that you need to do so that your spiritual man is alive and well nourished:
Read the word of God – it is through reading the word of God that you will be rooted in God and everyday as God speaks to you through his word, you will be established. In order to grow faith, one must begin by a careful examination of the Scriptures.
Spend time in prayer – As you speak to God and allow God to speak to you, your spirit man will be in tune with God and thus you will grow.
It is the high time that we sat down, count the cost that we have to pay to follow Christ and building our house of faith in him. Jesus said in Luke 14:26-28 that we all need to pay the price of following him and this means that there are some things that we ought to forsake and forego so that we can follow him. Some of these things will not be easy to forego, but with discipline and determination, we will make it! take time, evaluate your heart and know where you stand and its current condition. Remember “the health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.”
2“Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.” 3Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6“ You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” 7Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD. 9“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. 10Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. 11For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” Malachi 1:2-11
The desire of every person, every man is to make sure that he lives in a beautiful house and provides a shelter for his family. I have travelled and visited places and one thing that intrigues me is seeing beautiful mansions and I realize how people have invested in them. Coming nearer to you and me, in the houses that you and I live, we do our best to make sure that where we live looks beautiful, appealing and awesome to everyone who visits. I too do the same. If you visit me, I promise you, you will be in a comfy place. One thing that you need to know is that, the need for comfort and having a nice house hasn’t started a few generations ago, it has been since the biblical times. Don’t think you are alone.
People invest so much when it comes to building residential houses no wonder many people in this country have turned to real estate business. The time and resources they invest is so much till one’s focus and priority is on the building till it is complete. This how the children of Israel were at this time that God speaks to them through prophet Haggai. They had returned from captivity in Babylon and their main focus was supposed to be of rebuild the temple of the Lord… but you will realize that they had other concerns and priorities rather than rebuilding God’s house. You will realize what the prophet says in verse 2: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the LORD’s house should be built.” This tells you clearly that they minded about their dwelling places and restoring what the Babylonians had destroyed.
Their lives were built around caring for their own families rather than God’s concerns. The ‘paneled’ houses were not normal back then. They sound rather luxurious. By mentioning them, it is like God was emphasizing to what degree they have regularly made wrong priorities. For us it might be those entertainment centers, video rentals, etc. which all have taken away our time and attention on God. Or perhaps it is those luncheon buffets, corporate affairs and jobs or fancy cars that have drawn our hearts to stray away from God. Idolatry occurs when man serves man’s or his own interest first rather than God’s.
You will realize that God gets candid and very clear with them and tells them the reasons why they were going through what they were going through – it was simply because of the wrong priorities and choices that they had made. God asks them a question and then gives them the consequences of their choices. See this: 4“Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” 5Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways! 6“You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:4-6. Whenever we have our priorities not right, you need to know that there are consequences that come along with that. May it be spiritually or physically! In this case, the children of Israel, they were under a curse from the Lord because of their ignorance.
How many times have we suffered just like the children of Israel simply because of our wrong priorities in life? We have placed our desires before God’s and thus we are on the receiving end and the best that we can do is murmur before God asking him question. You will realize that the areas in which the Israelites suffered were the same areas that we also suffer a lot. They are:
- Labour/work – God told them they plant but harvest little. God has promised to bless the work of our hands (Deuteronomy 15:10; 16:15) but you see here that God was not blessing the labour of their hands.
- Health – They ate and drank yet they did not get filled or have enough and thus you know that once you do not eat well, you are at a risk health wise. It is the promise of his word that we will enjoy divine health. In Exodus 15:26 and Deuteronomy 7:15 - the Lord promises not to bring unto us the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians.
- Shame – They clothed themselves yet they weren’t warm. In other words, shame was looming on their faces and heads.
- Finances – This is the most common and sensitive of all. You can imagine working and at the end of the day/month, you get your wages but when you go to budget or even use, you realize that you have nothing in your hands. And I know many people are in this category and many are the questions that we tend to ask God.
If we had our choice, we would never want to experience anything else but God’s blessings. Why is it, though, at times we actually do not experience His blessing but instead find ourselves in desperate situations? Surprising enough, difficult times is a way God speaks to us. God uses such circumstances to alert us to pay attention to something going on in our lives. The fact that God is our loving father, He will always make sure that even if we loose track, he will bring us back on track in a loving manner but you need to know that there is always a cost to pay. God gets our attention by actually withdrawing His blessings. Instead of blessings, we have curses. God wants to speak to our lives’ situations. He actually tells us to consider our ways (Haggai 1:5, 7). Are you feeling as if you are in a tight situation? What are you wrestling with? What particular situation or lack of something causes you to miss that peace of life? More than often these tights situations touch our financial situations, but they affect our lives overall just like it did with the Israelites.
What priorities in our lives have caused us to give less than we ought to God’s work whether it be in money, time or effort? This is a question every family, church or individual will need to face some day. Many good works have been intended, but not done, because men supposed the proper time was not come. If we labour only for the meat that perishes, as the Israelites here, we are in danger of losing our labour; but we are sure it shall not be in vain in the Lord, if we labour for the meat which lasts to eternal life. If we would have the comfort and continuance of temporal enjoyments, we must have God as our Friend. For every difficulty we face in life, we are suppose to look up to God and ask Him if this is because we are disobedient in some way. This is wisdom. The foolish man never gets the connection. He goes at full pace into worse and worse situations.
It is the great concern of every one, to apply the necessary duty of self-examination and communion with our own hearts concerning our spiritual state. Sin is what we must answer for; duty is what we must do. If any duty has been neglected, that is no reason why it should still be so. Whatever God will take pleasure in when done, we ought to take pleasure in doing. Let those who have put off their return to God, return with all their heart, while there is time. Hearing what God wants us to do is one thing, but our response to God’s message makes a world of difference in what happens next in our lives.
19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” 1 Kings 19:19-20
This is 2011… 2010 is gone and we need to say goodbye to the same. Some of us are still living in the shadows of 2010 and in real sense, they haven’t moved on. We are actually saying goodbye to the 2nd week of January and we need to have settled in the new year knowing that the past year is gone and not coming back. It is so bad to see some of us who are still struggling with the occurrences of last year which is long gone. I know there are bad and good things to remember about last year and I would advise, leave what is not worth remembering and keep what is worth remembering. Do not carry unnecessary baggage into this year.
For some of us, last year wasn’t one of the best memorable years; some lost their jobs, loved ones, some of us were sick and ill had accidents and incidents, there were heartbreaks and disappointments along the way but on the flip side of the coin, you will realize that in one way or another, the good things that happened to you last year outweigh the bad things. God has given you good health to be able to cross over to this new year and enjoy what God has in store for you and me. One thing I can promise you about this year, it’s that God is going to change your life, direction and elevate you to another level… Hold on to Him and you will see this. You will be a testimony of what God can do. Isaiah says in Isaiah 43:18-19 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” I love how the message bible puts it… it says "Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?”
For some of us, we need to pray a totally different prayer this year. We need to ask God to open our eyes so that we can see what He sees. This is the prayer that Elisha prayed for his servant Gehazi in 2 Kings 6:17. Gimel prays the same prayer unto God in Psalms 119:18 and tells God to help him see the wonderful things and promises in his Law (the Word of God). There are so many promises for us in the Word of God but we tend to stick to the few that we have known over the years. Get to read the word of God when you have and open heart and you will realize the many things that you are supposed to claim as a child of God and say ‘goodbye’ to a life of struggling.
You will realize that when God calls us to take us to a higher level, there is always SEPARATION. You will need to say ‘goodbye” to some things and some people as well. This is not always easy but whenever someone separated himself, his destiny changed for the better. In the scripture above, Elisha asks Elijah to give him time to go back home from the fields and bid his father and mother ‘goodbye’ then follow him. In Genesis 12, we see again God calling Abram and tells him to leave his father’s house. In Acts 13:2, while the disciples were worshiping, God speaks and tells them to set apart Paul and Barnabas for he work God had set for them. Again we see separation. In all these instances, you will realize that when all these men obeyed and followed God, their lives never remained the same.
This year has been dubbed the year of “ELEVATION”… but we need to realize that elevation calls for Separation. When you lift something, it means that you are detaching it from where it was before and attach/place it somewhere else better. Thus, for God to elevate you, you need to be ready to be detached from wherever place you are and from the things and some friends whom you have been attached to and get ready for something new. Some of us we have gotten used to one place, one environment and doing the same things over and over again until when someone talks of something else, we think it’s a new invention… brother sister, do not settle for the norm, go higher; do not settle for less, move out of your comfort zone… Say ‘goodbye’ to the norm.
The bible tells us that Elisha went and slaughtered the oxen that he was using to plough, destroyed the yoke that he was using as well and used it as firewood to boil and roast the meat of the oxen that he had slaughtered and invited the people to eat then he set out and followed Elijah. Later on, we see Elisha receiving a double portion of Elijah’s anointing. Elijah did 16 miracles in his life and Elisha did 32, double of what Elijah had. What if he hadn’t left his ploughing business?
Some of us we are stuck in some things; with some friends and maybe in some areas of residence and also workplaces whereas God has clearly spoken to us and telling us to move on and advance to better places or other areas in our lives. We are adamant and ignorant. Some of our friends are not adding any values to us; in any case, they are draining us out but we are still stuck with them… The Lord says… Say ‘goodbye’ to them. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord.” You may be wondering, if I leave the friends I have, it will take me a while before I make new ones; some things you have gotten used to, some routes name them…
God looked at the children of Israel and realized that they had gotten used to the environment around the mountain until they forgot that they were supposed to move on and go to Canaan the promised land… It is then that He spoke to Moses and told him “The LORD our God said … “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance…” Deuteronomy 1:6-7. This is the same thing God is calling us to this year!! God has set up blessings for us and He is awaiting us so that we can partake of them. This will not be until we have cleansed ourselves and left some of the things that are entangling us!!
What is that held you back or is holding you back to your past? A relationship, a friend, parents, job name it… this is the high time that you need to rise up and say ‘goodbye’ to such things and people. Realize that God has called you with a higher calling and you need to take it seriously. If you are trusting for a shift in your life; Spiritually and physically, you need to know that you will need to be separated – you need to bid farewell and say ‘goodbye’ to some things and people. As I said earlier… elevation/promotion calls for Separation. Even in the secular/corporate world, when one is promoted at a place of work, the people he/she moves/interacts with changes. Same case when someone gets married, they no longer hang out too much with single people; same applies to you!! Now that you have been called with a higher calling with a greater destiny, thus you need to mingle, interact and join yourself to people with the same calling as yours.
8“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!’10 Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:8-10
Today’s world is a fast moving world and things are happening so fast and rapidly that unless we are careful, we will be passed by. Every person is so busy minding his/her own business and time to check on our friends, loved ones and even our own families is becoming less and less each and every day. One thing that we need to realize is that “These are the Last days”. This is what Paul said to Timothy and we also need to be on the lookout because these are the days that we are living in. his spiritual son: People will be lovers of themselves and money and forget others. It is so bad that we have neglected the most important part of our calling as Christians to make sure that we take care of others as well as being our brothers keeper.
God has called us to impact the world and change it. I have always been challenged by this scripture this year. Paul said that we are living letters to be read by people (2 Corinthians 3:2-3) and you need to realize that people are either drawn to you or repelled from you by what they see you do. Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? …“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Thus, you need to know that you got a great impact in whatever you, say and how you conduct yourself wherever you are!
When it comes to valuing and adding value to other people, we need to know that we can only give that which we have. There are a few lessons that we can learn from the passage above; things that the woman knew and was aware of.
She was a steward – The woman knew what she had and how much. She was careful to know that she had ten silver coins. The work of a steward is to take care of something and make sure that it is in good shape, health etc. When you leave your child with your house help, you are trusting that she will be a good steward and make sure that you child is well fed and she will take good care of the baby. Thus the same thing with God. Peter tells us in 1 Peter 4:10 that “As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor]. You Need to know that whatever you have doesn’t belong to you! God entrusted it to you so that you can be a steward.
The Woman was careful to know what she had and how much/many! that’s why when one was lost, she knew that one was not there! If you are not a good steward, you will never know whether something is lost or not. A good steward takes note and checks on all what has been put under him so that he will be accountable in the last day before the master. Remember the parable Jesus told his disciples about the talents in Luke 18:9-14? God expects us to be faithful stewards and to give an account of whatever he has entrusted to us.
She gave value to each piece of silver that she had – The woman knew the value of each of the Ten coins and she did not extol one above the others. She values each and every coin just as she valued the other. What does this mean? We also need to have the same value for everything we have and everyone that we interact with. The problem with us is that we have classes and we tend to devalue some people because of their class, work they do, what they own and their physical appearance. This is wrong. Jesus came to save us all both the Jews and the gentiles so, why think that some people do not deserve what others have? I challenge you this year to value everyone the same and give the same value to everyone just as you would have liked them to do the same to you.
Jesus said… ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39. Many of us want to be loved but we do not want to love back. You receive what you give… never expect to get what you haven’t given. Everyday is an ideal day to give and to receive; but I challenge you start by valuing others and honouring them. Once you do that, you will see even how people’s perception of you changes and the relationship value that they had for you changes too. The woman still had great value of the lost coin and knew that once she got it, it would still have the same value as it had before it got lost.
When she realized that she had lost one coin, she lit her lamp and swept the whole house just to get the lost coin. She went an extra mile in search of the coin. The woman knew that even though the coin was lost, the value was the same. It was just that the coin was useless and un-useful where it was because it was in the wrong place. This is the reason that made this woman go to an extent of lighting up her lamp and sweeping the whole house in search of just one coin that was lost. This was motivated by the fact that she valued what she had and again by the fact that she was a good steward of whatever she had. Are you a good steward of what you have been entrusted and what value do you have for what you have? Once you realize this, you will know that it is not just the physical things but also people who live around you! You need to love them as well.
This is what we need to realize for our brothers and sisters who are lost in sins and other places. You may have friends, loved ones and even relatives who are struggling with issues and habits and addictions and lost in various places. You and I need to know that they have their value still there and intact and can be retrieved. God knew the value that He has invested in all of us and that’s why, he couldn’t sit down and look at us perishing in sin; thus, He sent his only son Jesus to come and be the sacrifice for our atonement and salvation from sins.
You need to know that you and I were lost and someone came to look for us because they knew the value in us. If you do not take the initiative to reach out to the lost, then who will? Take an initiate, and reach out to someone just as someone reached out for you and brought you back to the fold. Unless you realize the value in someone, then you can not value him/her… but Jesus urged us to love one another just as we love ourselves. If God could sacrifice this much for us and give his only son, so, we also need to be like him and sacrifice as much as we can to reach out to our lost brothers and sisters.
I challenge you this year…
- Be a steward – Know what you have and who is around you.
- Know the value of each and everyone and
- Make sure that none of them is lost this year and if lost, take an initiative to reach out to them.
May this be a VALUE ADDED year for you and your friends.