Praising while Rebuilding

(Click here to listen to the podcast for this blog post)

‘And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD…’ (Ezra 3:10).

With the completion of the foundation, persons were ‘praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good …’ (Ezra 3:11).  The people were thankful to God for the progress that had been made.

But wait a minute, that was not all that was going on.  In the midst of the praises there was also weeping.

How could it be? The older men who had seen the previous temple ‘wept with a loud voice’ (Ezra 3:12). There was sadness that the new foundation did not show prospects of the magnificence of the first building.  I can imagine that as they wept that they thought of the glory days of times past and some even may have wanted to return to those days.  Yet in the midst of the weeping there were others who were just so thankful that they had reach that far; thankful that they had been able to rebuild a foundation on which they could move forward.

A few things came to mind as I read:

  • there would have been valuable things of the past that the older men would have cherished;
  • there were valuable things of the present that the persons praising were thankful for.

From the older men’s responses, there was pain and maybe even regret about the things and circumstances that would have caused them to have to reach the point of rebuilding a new foundation.  Thankfully, there were persons among the group who were able to hold onto the vision of the possibilities in God of what could happen with the new foundation; they were ready to continue the rebuilding process.

In this story there are lessons for us all. To:

  • be thankful for what we had in the past;
  • not forget the past, but learn from the past;
  • with God’s help be careful with the resources that we have been given, to avoid losing the important things;
  • not allow the pain from regret to prevent us from enjoying the blessings that God has for us today and tomorrow;
  • embrace the present foundation that God has provided and be thankful for all the rebuilding that God has been doing and continues to do in our lives.

So now, as you move forward, I encourage you to:

  • learn from the past and with God’s help seek never to repeat past mistakes;
  • lean on God’s wisdom and not your own;
  • in God’s strength cherish and embrace every opportunity that He has provided for you to build on, recognizing that ‘the foundation of God standeth sure’ (2 Timothy 2:19), the only foundation that cannot fail and will never need rebuilding.

In Psalm 34:1 we are told, ‘I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth’.  So let us remember at every stage of our lives to praise God continually, and not wait until the tasks are done or the goals are accomplished.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

When it is Time to Climb

(To listen to the podcast for this blog post click here)

I had been picking the leaves from my moringa tree for a while.  When I stood beneath the tree, I was enjoying the ease of picking the leaves from the branches within my reach.  However, over time, I needed to tiptoe and stretch to pick the leaves.

When I looked up into the tree, I observed that there were many leaves outside of my reach while I stood beneath the tree.  So to reach the leaves on the higher branches, I would need to safely climb the tree. 

Then I thought, isn’t this similar to what can happen in our lives?  We can reach for the ‘low hanging fruit’ which of course is good, since we really don’t want any of the fruit to go to waste.  But because these ‘low hanging fruit’ are in abundance for so long, we may actually forget that there are other ‘fruit’ a little higher in the tree.  But to get to the other ‘fruit’ we would need to stretch ourselves, then we would need to climb beyond our initial comfort level.

As I thought about my moringa tree, the questions came to mind:

  • In what areas of my life is God calling me to go higher, to press on and to experience the growth that can only occur with me climbing and taking on new challenges?
  • What fears do I need to let go of to embark on the journey of growth?

The reassuring thing for me was that the leaves in the moringa tree were within my vision, within my view.  The only thing that separated me from getting to the leaves was climbing the tree.  Similarly with some effort, we will experience blessings from the growth opportunities right in our sight.

Let’s ask God to show us the ‘moringa leaves’ He wants us to go after today, for His honor and glory.  Let’s ask God in what areas He wants us to press on, like we are reminded of in the hymn ‘Higher Ground’.

So once again, my question to you is, what ‘moringa tree’ in your life do you need to climb today?  Remember with the vision in view, God provides the tools and strength for us to go higher.

God’s Guidance

Anyone who ever got lost and can remember the amount of time that it took for them to find their way back would possibly appreciate receiving guidance from someone who knows the way.

Similarly, as Christians we recognize the value in not having to face the unknowns alone while we travel on our life journey – not having to ‘figure things out’ all on our own. In Psalm 25 verses 4 and 5 we read, ‘Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day’ (KJV). This text provides us with a wonderful assurance.

So during the day, while we are at home, on the road, at the supermarket, at work – wherever we may be – like the psalmist we too can ask God to show us the way. What ever decisions we have to make, we can depend on God to teach us, to help us to find truth amidst all the noises and all the chaos that may be happening around us. The psalmist recognized that he could not save himself but needed to depend on God to save him.

The way that God has led us in our individual lives in the past is a present testimony of God’s involvement and concern for each of us. Though our life experiences may not all be happy ones, it is comforting to know that God can take even the difficult times in our lives and make something beautiful, and can even use our situations to help someone else who may be going through something similar to what we experienced in the past.

When I think about sharing with others about God, I think of the reality that though there are so many things we may not understand about how God leads us, we can be like the man who was once blind (John 9:1-38). He was asked lots of questions regarding how he was able to see, and he recounted how he received his sight to those who questioned him. Though he was asked the question several times by those who doubted, the man did not stop from telling what he knew – he was not stopped from telling how he was led by Jesus and healed of his blindness.

In John 9:25 we are told that the man (once blind) declared, ‘… one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see’ (KJV). This was his firm and undeniable statement, when he was asked to give an account of what had happen to him. God gives us His children the same privilege to share with others what He has done for us.

So as we are led by God each day, let us live the truth that He reveals to us, being a source of encouragement for another traveler along the journey of life.

Featured

Dealing with Change

When we are experiencing multifaceted changes, our minds can easily go into overdrive – trying to cope and find ways to regain some form of regularity.

When things become unpredictable, it is natural and easy to feel helpless.  But we find the courage we need by being anchored in Jesus Christ, who does not change.  How are we anchored in Jesus Christ?  By daily spending time praying to God and prayerfully reading the Bible, asking God to reveal Himself to us.

In Psalm 46:10 we are told, to “Be still, and know that I am God…” (KJV). This Bible verse encourages us to look to God who is the source of our strength and who has the answers for all our problems.

Though there are many things outside of our control, as we depend on God, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the practical things we can do. 

So as you reflect on your current situation, for each change that has occurred identify: the challenge(s) created; the solution(s) required; and what you can do now to face the challenge(s).  Then prayerfully start to put the actions into practice however small.

In the midst of uncertainty, when our focus is redirected to God, we experience assurance and comfort.

Diverted but not Distracted

‘Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ’  (Philippians 1:6, KJV).

In life we don’t know what important unplanned events we will face, so we always need to adopt a somewhat flexible approach. However we know that mentally this is not as easy as it sounds.

Who likes to be delayed?  Who likes to rearrange their plans? But in life, many times we face things that delay us from what we originally intended to do.  We desire stability and control of our lives, and it is not easy to accept that we don’t understand or have the answers for many things that happen around us. Delays are a reminder that we can’t predict our outcomes. Delays sometimes cause us to have to divert our attention to other things. But it is reassuring that we can depend on God who knows the future. God gives us the courage to deal with the challenges that are created from changes and not lose our way.

With all that has been happening these days, many people’s schedules and plans have been affected. It is a time of great uncertainty, and there are critical things to address at the current time.

Though we don’t know the future, there are still somethings that we can do now.

It is reassuring to remember that, irrespective of what we go through, God who created the world has not forgotten us.  God will finish the work that He has started in each of us.

Jesus heard the cries of Mary and Martha on behalf of their brother, Lazarus. Jesus did not forget Lazarus (John 11:1-44) and He will not forget us. Click here to hear the song Four Days Late.

Be Blessed

Embracing Identity

Sooner or later, everyone must confront the question of identity. Our level of confidence and understanding of who and whose we are affect every aspect of our lives.  This revelation can mean the difference between us living a fulfilled life or just getting by.

In Galatians 4: 6 & 7 we are told, ‘and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

What a privilege it is to be able to call God – the Creator of the universe – Father.

Years ago, one of my spiritual mentors helped me to understand the significance of being a child of God, and she shared with me the hymn, ‘I’m a child of the King’.  The words are below:

I’m a Child of the King

Once I was clothed in the rags of my sin
Wretched and poor lost and lonely within
But with wondrous compassion the King of all Kings
In pity and love took me under his wing

Oh yes, oh yes, I’m a child of the King
His royal blood now flows in my veins
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing
Praise God, Praise God, I’m a child of the King

Now I ‘m a child with a heavenly home
My Holy Father has made me His own
And I am cleansed by His blood and I’m clothed in His love
And someday I’ll sing with the angels above

Oh yes, oh yes, I’m a child of the King
His royal blood now flows in my veins
And I who was wretched and poor now can sing
Praise God, Praise God, I’m a child of the King

The hymn was written by Bro. Claude Ely.  Over the years, this hymn became like an anthem for me. 

By pondering on and taking hold of this wonderful thought, we understand more the value that God has placed on us.  Then this reality influences every decision that we make for the good. 

I like to listen to the Gaither Vocal Band’s rendition of this hymn (Click here).

So remember, you are a child of God.  Embrace your identify in Christ.

Be Blessed.

Embracing Growth

(To listen to the podcast for this blog post click here)

For us to move forward, we need to go through a change process and we need to grow.  At times, being prepared for any situation (including changes) starts with our frame of mind and the attitude that we adopt. Thankfully God who knows everything gives us insights into how He desires to transform our thinking to bring our thoughts in line with His thoughts, and He provides all we need to achieve the changes.

God’s Word is a precious source to help us spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, mentally, socially and physically.  In the same way a gardener understands that plants need water to thrive, we seek care and nourishment for these different facets of our being.

When there is limited rain fall, some vegetation are able to maintain a green look and also continue to grow.  The answer at times is in the root system.  If some plants get accustomed to receiving water from the surface of the ground, the roots will not be encouraged to go deeper; so if the surface water supply goes, the plant will struggle to survive.

Could it be that this can be applied to our spiritual life?  Could it be that keeping the Lord’s Word in our hearts can be liken to letting our spiritual roots go deep; so deep that in times of stress and uncertainty the spiritual reservoir would have been established deep in our minds?

As we keep God’s Word in our minds each day, in an attitude of prayer, our connection to God and our spiritual root systems will develop.

We are to seek God – the source of our strength.  Though the connection is invisible to the human eye, the connection is discerned by our spiritual eyes; spiritual eyes that are developed as we partner with God.  Let us determine to submit to God, and do the part that He has asked us to do as He continues to develop us and reconcile us to Him.

To your continued growth.

Pathway to Growth

OPI_2020

Each day is a gift from our Heavenly Father. The precious gems of truth contained in the Bible helps to revive us and empower us to rise above every challenge and to succeed in Christ. We may not understand how it is done, but we can be sure that our minds are changed and our steps are going in the right direction when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit.

A thankful spirit reveals the pathway to growth.   In thankfulness, continue pressing on and upward in Christ.