My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow.
There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like.
I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence.
The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence.
Photo by Jad Limcaco on Unsplash
If you’ve interacted with people in your life, you’ve been hurt by someone at some point. The people closest to us seem to hurt us the most. When we get hurt, the easiest thing to do is let that pain turn into hate and bitterness. We want to hurt them back worse than they hurt us. If we’re not careful, the pain inside of us can consume us. I read a story this week of a 73 year old who found a high school classmate and killed him because of how he hurt him over 50 years ago. He lived his whole life wanting revenge for the pain this person caused him.
In Genesis, Abraham’s son Isaac had twins, Jacob and Esau. Esau was very hungry one day and Jacob had prepared a meal. He asked for some of it, but Jacob made him pay for it with the birthright which meant he would inherit his father’s wealth. Later, when Isaac was about to die, he summoned his firstborn Esau to bless him. He sent him out to kill something wild and cook it first. Jacob found out, and beat him to it. Esau hated Jacob for it and wanted to kill him. He let the anger consume him and the only way to console himself was to plot revenge.
In Genesis 27:40, Isaac told Esau, “You shall live by your sword, And serve your brother; However it shall come to pass when you break loose [from your anger and hatred], That you will tear his yoke off your neck [and you will be free of him]” (AMP). If you’re still carrying the pain from someone hurting you, it’s time to break loose from it. Get their yoke off your neck. Forgiving them is the way to do that. Ask the Lord to help you. I know personally this is easier said than done. It’s a process that starts with you forgiving in your heart first. The pain will go away and a scar will remain, but you will be free.
Photo by niu niu on Unsplash
Have you ever had to start over at square one? It’s one of the most frustrating things there are. After you’ve done the work and made progress, something happens and you have to start over. I’ve had to do that in life, with dreams God has given me, with work and in relationships. I don’t have many pet peeves, but doing work I’ve already done is one of mine. It’s redundant, but I’ve learned to not look at what I’m having to do over. Instead I focus on the outcome. The work is worth the payoff in the end.
After Isaac inherited all of Abraham’s wealth and land, people became jealous and didn’t like him. They poured dirt into the wells that Abraham had dug and forced him to leave that area. Genesis 26:17-18 says, “So Isaac left. He camped in the valley of Gerar and settled down there. Isaac dug again the wells which were dug in the days of his father Abraham but had been clogged up by the Philistines after Abraham’s death. And he renamed them, using the original names his father had given them” (MSG).
I’m sure Isaac was frustrated, but he did the work anyway. I believe that’s what you and I need to think about today. You may be frustrated at how clogged up life is at the moment. You may feel like you’re at square one with the dreams God planted in you. Don’t quit or give up. Do the work with gladness and push forward. There is a reward and times of refreshing coming, but you’re going to have to do the work. It may require sacrificing other things, spending more time in prayer, reading the Bible or fasting, but God’s rewards for you are on the other side of your obedience. Pick up a shovel and start digging.
Photo by Nastya Kvokka on Unsplash
Years ago I owned a childcare center. There were times when the classes would get chaotic (keeping 20 two year olds behaving all day is hard work). The most effective way to quiet them and get them todo what you wanted was through positive reinforcement. The teacher would find someone doing what they wanted and say, “Oh I love how Tarissa is sitting!” Suddenly another kid would do what she was doing in order to be recognized. If you really wanted results, you’d praise her with words and give her a reward for obeying. In no time flat, all the kids would start mimicking her behavior so they could be recognized and receive a reward.
So many times, we think of God as someone who is up there waiting to punish us for doing wrong. I believe He’s more like a patient teacher who uses positive reinforcement to help us down the paths He has for us. There are rewards and blessings that He has for those who obey His Word. Yes, there are consequences for disobedience, but God motivates us through rewards. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate being rewarded for doing what’s expected.
Here are some Bible verses on the rewards God has for us.
1. And without faith living within us it would be impossible to please God. For we come to God in faith knowing that he is real and that he rewards the faith of those who passionately seek him.
Hebrews 11:6 TPT
2. For God will reward each of us according to what we have done.
Romans 2:6 GNT
3. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:9 NLT
4. Watch yourselves, so that you do not lose what we have accomplished together, but that you may receive a full and perfect reward [when He grants rewards to faithful believers].
2 JOHN 1:8 AMP
5. Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.
James 1:12 MSG
Photo by Mikito Tateisi on Unsplash
To me, one of the most challenging things God has spoken to anyone in Scripture is in Genesis 12:1. “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you’” (NLT). He was 75 years old at the time. He was well established, and yet God asked him to pack everything up and go to a destination that would be shown to him at a later time. His faith in action is inspiring to me. The Bible later says that his faith was counted at righteousness. That’s a faith we should all aspire to have.
Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus spoke something very similar to all of us. In Luke 14:31 Jesus said, “So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” Every one of us who follows Christ is given the same call that went out to Abram. I believe it’s God’s reminder to us that this place is not our home. Everything we have here is temporary and we can’t take it with us. We must be willing to let go of earthly things so we can receive from God the spiritual things that matter for eternity.
My wife and i try to keep an open hand for the things we have. When your hands are open to God, He can place things in them and take things out of them whenever He wants. Faith is trusting God with all you have and with the direction of your life. You may not get to know the destination. You may he asked to walk away from everything that’s familiar to you. God’s greatest blessings are stored up for those who are willing to give God whatever He asks for and for those who follow Him wherever He leads. What are you willing to let go of should God ask for it? Pray that God would help you keep an open hand and heart.
Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash
Recently I was talking with a lady I have known my entire life. She was sharing how her grandfather had a garden, her father had a garden and how she and her husband have a garden. She’s worried because she doesn’t see many people after her generation planting gardens. The art of digging into the earth, planting seeds in their season, watering the seeds, keeping weeds out, tending to the growing plants and bringing in a harvest is being lost. Some are ok with the thought of that being a past time, but with it goes a lot of understanding of scriptural principles too.
Whether or not people continue to plant gardens, the law of sowing a reaping will still be true. Will the next generation understand what sowing and reaping is if they never plant anything? If they never plant anything, will they understand the time and dedication it takes to reap a harvest? If they don’t understand what it takes to bring in a harvest, how can they be expected to work in God’s vineyard? Jesus said, “Pray that the Father would send laborers to work in the vineyard.” The idea of labor is hard work.
God is looking for people who are not afraid of hard work. Ones who know that to get a harvest, it takes tilling, sowing, tending and watering. People who know that just bringing in the harvest is not enough. There’s more work to be done after you bring the harvest in. Once the harvest is brought in, you have to prepare the land for the next planting season. The work of the Kingdom is like that, it never ends. It’s a continuous cycle just like the garden. We must continually be about our Father’s business. We must always be tilling, planting, watering, tending and reaping. Our work won’t be finished until he comes.
The more we plant, the bigger the harvest we can expect. My friend told me that her husband planted 18 pounds of potatoes and got 500 pounds in the harvest. Imagine if he had planted a hundred pounds! The harvest we are seeing in our churches is small because we haven’t planted enough. It’s time we began to sow the Word of God into the lives of others bountifully. We then need to water that Word with prayer. We can tend to it by having conversations that are godly and uplifting. When the time is right, those souls will be ready for a harvest. It won’t be just them, but their families too.
Photo by Neslihan Gunaydin on Unsplash