God’s Direction – 1st Place!


Most of us desire to know God’s direction for our lives.  We want to know, what, how and where to do the will of God.  In our prayers, we ask God to open the doors of opportunity and close the doors He does not desire for us.  When we read Scripture, we long to hear from God to determine the exact direction He desires for us.  However, when we do not hear or see the direction we think God has for us, how do we react?  Do we get frustrated and stop praying?  Do we get angry at God and “take some time off” from our relationship with Him?  Or do we stop and ask ourselves, why is it that God isn’t speaking?  Is there something in our lives that He wants us to focus on before giving us the direction we long for?

Thousands of years ago, Israel had been taken captive by Babylon.  God had ordained this as Israel was living in sin.  After some time, Persia then overtook Babylon and took the Israelites captive.  During that time, Nehemiah (the Israelite cup bearer to the king – and prophet) saw Jerusalem in shambles.  He prays to God about this and God moves the heart of the king so that Nehemiah can go and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

During the process of rebuilding, there were many who opposed the Israelites from rebuilding the walls.  God continued to move the heart of the king and under Nehemiah’s direction, the walls were built and completed.  Then more opposition came.  And this is where Haggai, the prophet, comes in.

Haggai was given the task, by God, to motivate the Israelites into working on the temple.  The Israelites were scared at first and then became comfortable with their surroundings.  Over time, they saw some success and began building and taking care of their homes.  Yet, even as they worked on their own homes, the temple was still in shambles.

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’  Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” – Haggai 1:2-4

Many times, as new believers, we are excited to be in this new relationship with our Creator.  We confess our sins, read the Scripture – looking for His direction and we spend time in prayer (even if we don’t understand how to pray, we still spend the time trying).  As time goes on, we see the successes of focusing our attention on our relationship with our Creator.  Maybe, you received an unexpected raise or a new job (that you were praying for) came your way.  You begin to see how God operates and the rewards you get for being obedient to Him.  But then…. you get comfortable.  Without realizing it, your prayer life begins to wane.  Reading Scripture becomes more of a chore than of a pleasure and you become very comfortable right where you are.  This is where the problem begins.

You notice that life isn’t all that exciting anymore.  Yeah you’re a Christian, but so what.  You go to church once a week and pick up your Bible on occasion.  You pray at meals or when you have a problem, but other than that, your prayer life is eh.  Suddenly, one day, you begin to notice that the job God had provided to you no longer seems to be that exciting anymore.  It’s okay, becomes the thought process for everyday living.  So what happened?  Why has life become so boring, so mundane?  Simply put, it is because we forgot about our relationship with God.

The Israelites were getting comfortable.  But they also wondered why things weren’t going the way they thought it would or should.  Have you ever worked so hard, yet you feel like the results are just mediocre?  You work and work and work, and in some cases in ministry, only to never be satisfied or see the fruit of your labor?  You read and pray for months only to never be satisfied with what you are reading or hearing?  This is what the Israelites were doing.

Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways.  You have planted much, but harvested little.  You eat, but never have enough.  You drink, but never have your fill.  You put on clothes, but are not warm.  You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” – Haggai 1:5-6

Because Israel had not put God first, God allowed them to never be fully satisfied.  Have you ever felt, you are never satisfied?  I know I have.  And as a child of God, us never being satisfied should be warning sign to us.  Not being satisfied means we have placed God second and other things first.  We have allowed the cares of this world to supersede that which God commanded… “I am the Lord your God.  You shall have no other gods before me.”  In essence, we place an idol where God should be.

When we place God second, it is not to say we don’t believe in Him, but we say through our actions, we can do better.  We tell the Creator of everything that we know more and can handle whatever it is we are going through.  Let me encourage you today by saying, none of us have a handle on our lives.  None of us really understand what we go through and why we go through it.  Our minds are great at lying to us, convincing us that we do not need anyone.  When we place God second, we shouldn’t wonder why life isn’t going well.

Placing God first in everything isn’t easy.  We have a tendency to work very hard for little reward.  But when we place God first, we still work hard but God gives the increase.  We plant the seed of His Salvation into the lives of others by loving them and telling them about Jesus Christ.  We water the seed of His Salvation when we go through the hardships with others, praying for them when they cannot.  But we cannot harvest what is not there.  Only God gives the increase.  Only God makes His Seed into a living plant.  Only God can grow the fruit.  We benefit from the harvest, but God does most of the work.

Unfortunately, we have a desire to try and force the fruit to grow.  We water more.  We add fertilizer over and over again.  We place lamps around the plant on the cloudy days.  We work and work and work, only to find ourselves exhausted and dissatisfied.  We then blame God, others and even ourselves when things don’t go the way we desire.

So how do we get out from underneath this pitfall?  How do we place God first?

Well that’s for next time.  Until then, God bless and encourage someone today.

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From the Darkness…


Coldness surrounded her without compassion.  As she opened her eyes, darkness surrounded her, like a cloth smothering life itself.  Why she felt the pressure of fear and terror, she couldn’t understand.

Around her felt cold and wet.  Sounds that placed fear in the souls of men overwhelmed her ears.  Creaking, stepping and scratching could be heard all around.  It was as if nails were carving out the walls as if trying to escape the horror.

“Why is it so dark and cold?” she asked herself.  She didn’t understand where she was or why she was there.

Her surroundings started to feel tight.  Walls closing in at a slow pace and without escape.  The floor and ceiling started to collapse around her.  Fear and terror overcame her emotions.

“Why is this happening to me?” she cried out.  “Help! Someone help me!”

The pressure from above, below and sides crushed not only her mind and soul but her body as well.  If that wasn’t bad enough, drips of water collided with her head.  One by one they smashed her head as if mocking her, torturing her, beating her into submission.

“Help”, she again cried with vigor and fear.  “Someone help me!”

Hours felt like months, days like years and yet her situation never changed.  Darkness, coldness, wetness and terror spent adequate time with her.  She fought and fought, but the more she struggled, the less she could move.  Tighter and tighter her surroundings became.  What was she to do?  How was she to escape?

“Help me, please”, she cried with less vigor and hopelessness.  “Please someone, anyone!”  However, no one ever came.  No one ever heard.

She could feel something move by her feet.  “What was that?!” she cried.  It was as if something or someone else was there, beneath her.  Back and forth, she could feel the thing moving.  “Stop it and leave me alone!”, she exclaimed.  However, the thing continued.  Creeping under her, torturing her mind, tormenting her soul.  Why wouldn’t it leave her alone?

Time passed.  How much, she could not be sure of.  It could have been days, weeks or months but she would never know.  Every moment she stood, never laying down to rest.  Sleep was being deprived by the constant dripping of water on her head.  Even if she tried, she couldn’t sleep.  Not even a short rest was possible.

Then she heard the thing again.  This time it was beside her.  Scratching past her while it passed, the thing never said a word.  “What is it you want?  Why won’t you leave me alone?”, she yelled out.  Crying and struggling to catch her breath, she wept, “Please someone, please help me.”  But no help ever came and no one heard her voice.

One day, she heard a voice say, “Now it is time…” but the rest of the words seemed to be hidden.  “Now it is time?”, she questioned in her mind.  What time?  What did the voice mean?

A few moments later she heard, “Come on out and…” but the rest of the words she couldn’t understand.  She thought to herself, “How can I come out when I cannot move?”  She struggled with the hope and anticipation of hearing the voice speak.  Suddenly, movement surrounded her.  Fear overtook her once again.  It was then she decided to act upon the voice’s words.

She began to move.  Pain took over.  Her body started to fall apart.  The more she moved, the more she felt like something tearing her apart.  Her legs ached, her arms numb.  Now what was she supposed to do?

Suddenly, the dripping water changed.  This time, the drips became a stream.  The small stream was refreshing.  As it poured down her face, she stuck out her tongue to gain some refreshment.  She drank and drank all she could.

Within a few minutes, the refreshing fluids stopped and she could instantly feel strength capture her once again.  She moved her arms and legs once again, except this time with vigor and hope.

In a single moment, she realized she could move both her legs and arms without hindrance.  She began to claw her way.  She felt the walls.  They were soft and moist.  She started to rip away at the walls.  When she realized more room was available, she decided to reach for the ceiling.  It was then she realized it was moist and soft, like the walls.  Hope turned into strength as she pounded her way through the ceiling.

Suddenly, a light peered through the ceiling, like a laser beam steadily pointing in a single direction.  “I’m almost free!”, she exclaimed.  As the light became larger, her struggle became lessened.  It was then she could feel the warmth.  It felt good.  Blanketing her, hugging her entire being.  It was then her strength turned to peace.

Finally, after days of digging and struggle, she felt a wetness overcome her.  Pounding her, beating her as if to push her back into captivity, she struggled all the more.  She refused to go back.  She refused to succumb to the pressure of the water.  “I will not go back!”, she exclaimed with anger.  Her resolve continued as the water pounded.  The warmth of the light continued while the water pushed but she would not give up.

The water stopped its beating and the light continued to nourish and provide warmth.  She enjoyed where she was but realized there was still more to do.  She began to once again to dig her way out.  She planted her feet firmly on the ground, and moved her arms once again to free herself from her confinement.

As she pushed the last of the ceiling away, she could see the source of the light.  It was a big round object in the sky.  Then the voice said, “You see, I have given you life.”

“Who are you?” she asked.

“I am your Creator.  You will give pleasure to the one whom I have given you.”, the voice said.

As she reached for the object creating the light, she tried to free her legs, however she could not.  The more she struggled, the more it took hold of her.  She cried out, “I am not free yet.  Please help me get free.”

The voice then said, “But my dear, you are free.  Your legs are to stay where they are as they will help you in your quest.  Only until you are fully grown will your legs be no longer needed.”

What did the voice mean?  She then looked around her.  It was then she noticed her arms were green.  She felt her face and it was soft.  She asked, “What am I, voice?”

The voice responded, “Your name is Rose.  You will give pleasure to the one who picks you.  Your fragrance will please the hearts and minds of men.”

She thought and thought.  Then why the struggle, why the torture?  She asked, “Why did I feel trapped and afraid?”

The voice said, “Oh Rose.  You weren’t trapped or tortured.  I placed you there.  I gave you water to help you grow.  Although you felt scared and afraid, I was watching over you, caring for you, giving you exactly what you need.”

It was then Rose felt contentment.  She understood the pain was the only way for her to experience the benefits she now had.  Warmth from the sun and nourishment from the water were the only things she needed.  The voice had given her everything she needed, even though it hurt.

Like the rose, we struggle to get out of our pains and hurts.  We cry out and no one answers.  We dig but cannot move.  Remember the Voice knows and will supply everything we need.  It is only through the struggle do we realize our worth in the arms of God.

God bless and encourage someone today.