How to Thrive Through Financial Difficulties

When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow.                                                                                                                                                                                      Genesis 26:12-13 (NLT)

thriving

Are you in a financial famine? Or do you say like many do, “I need more money.”? The above scripture often touches our hearts during financial difficulties and rightly so. It reminds us that God is still in control even when the world around us is falling apart. It also reminds us that we are not forgotten by God and that He can and is able to bring us out of any financial trouble we may be facing.

This account of Isaac’s encounter with God occurs during an economic hardship that affected many. There are a few principles we can take from this part of God’s word that would help during challenging financial times as well as when we experience financial increases.

 

Be open to hear from God. Be open to hear the most unusual and seemingly illogical instructions.

Gen. 26:2 -3, “Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.”

God wants to be an integral part of your life. Even in times of financial difficulties God wants to relate to you and to help you through the rough roads.  He wants to encourage and direct you so that you would prosper through life.

As God speaks to Isaac He gave a command with the promise of His presence and of His blessing, “I will be with you and bless you” (Gen.26:3).

Just as He did with Isaac, He is willing to do with you. He wants to direct your life and be with you all the way as you carry out His will and in the process of life bring blessings to you.

 

Obey. Do what God tells you to do; even when it doesn’t make sense to you.

The blessings God gives goes beyond the person and the material. They extend beyond your generation. Imagine that – because of your relationship with God your family is blessed for generations. As God’s oath to Abraham was transferred to his son Isaac and to Isaac’s descendants, so does His blessings to you reach forward to your family for generations to come.

 “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Isaac learned that well and obeyed God and stayed where he instructed him to (Gen. 26:5-6).

Think about this. Does it make sense?  Imagine you have the opportunity to go where the economic climate is better. Or you have a job offer or business opportunity opened to you in another country and the prospects indeed look promising. As you ponder and pray about it, God tells you – “Don’t go; stay here with your family.”  What would be your first response? Human as we are, we would think much about it and even question God. Although we know God wants what is best for us when a good thing comes along we might think that God is holding us back. In some cases, we may even think that it is the enemy trying to dissuade us from receiving the blessings of God. This is a tough one. But obedience to God is always best. Obedience to God is key to life and financial success.

 

Speak the truth at all times.

I like the Bible. It shows how much God is willing to relate to us even in our sinful state. The relationship of imperfect man with a perfect and loving God rings throughout.  Sometimes when we are in difficulty (like Isaac being in a strange land) we tend to put up defence mechanisms to protect ourselves. From a financial perspective, during difficult we may lie to the creditors or avoid taking their phone calls. But there is no need to do this when God is with you.

When Isaac’s lie was discovered, it actually resulted in his safely being guaranteed by the very people he feared would kill him. Telling your creditor about your loss of income and your inability to repay as required can actually open the door for some relief. I have heard of cases where the debt has been cancelled! The creditor may be able to give you a longer grace period or offer an alternative that would help until you get back on your feet financially.

Don’t be afraid to be honest. God will honour that.

 

Take action to create wealth.

Gen.26:12-14 really encourages me to move forward with my goals regardless to what the economic forecasters as saying.

 You don’t have to wait for the external conditions to improve or change in order to make an internal shift and take decisive action. If you wait you will likely never achieve your goals.

Isaac’s action to plant during the scarcity was a step of faith which God honoured. Not only did he reap 100% of his crop but his cattle and his household increased so much that his neighbours noticed it. When you move forward in faith – whether to change your career, work towards a promotion that doesn’t seem likely or start a new business or even find an extra income stream – God will prosper you and those around you will see it too!

 

Avoid relationship conflicts.

When you begin to prosper (while others are still facing financial challenges) not everyone will be happy about your successes. Some will want to learn from you while others will envy you and try to sabotage you in some way. This is what happened to Isaac. Each time he succeeded in digging a well and finding water – a much-needed commodity then – his “friendly” neighbours came to stake their claim on it.

The blessing on your life may cause others to envy (Gen.26:14), to fear you (Gen.26:16), to quarrel with you, to steal from you and to try to frustrate you (Gen.26:19-22). You may experience conflict in one way or another with friends or family members. People may think that your good fortune is undeserving. You may have ‘sudden’ friction between you and others that didn’t exist before. You may find that people just attach themselves to you to get what they can from you and not because they genuinely care about you. It’s unfortunate but this is how some respond.

The important step you must take in times like these is to let go and let God and not to react rashly to what others are doing. Isaac gave up what he and his servants had worked hard for but in the end they prevailed. So don’t despair. Don’t fight your enemies. God will make room for you and make you fruitful where you are (Gen. 26:22).

 

Finally, be patience, peace (shalom) will come.

The time will come as you continue to prosper and you handle relationship issues well that God will cause even your enemies to be at peace with you.  Why? Your godly response to them (even when they do you wrong), will cause them to acknowledge that the Lord is with you (Gen. 26:28-29). They will want to make amends with you. Being at peace with your enemies will make the financial successes you receive even more pleasant.

Isaac’s situation takes us through the stages from financial struggle to success giving us some insight in how we should respond in times like these. The essence of this is that we should have a relationship with Christ, follow His leading, take action and live out the Christ life as He want us to.

7 Ways to Receive Your BreakThrough Part II

This is the short version of a message I shared at church. Be blessed!

BreakThrough

BreakThrough

Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?”

And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim.  And they left their images there, and David and his men carried them away.

Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the Lord, and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” And David did so, as the Lord commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.                          2 Samuel 5:17-2

4. Be willing to wrestle with God all night.       —Gen. 32:22-32

Jacob wrestled with God all night to receive his breakthrough. For him it wasn’t about money; he was wealthy. He needed a transformation in his life. His breakthrough was about getting a blessing that would change him from the inside out.  Jacob held unto God all night until He blessed him. And God blessed Him and changed him from being known as a trickster or swindler (someone who couldn’t be trusted) to being a prince with God.

What life transformation do you need? Are there areas in your life that remain stagnant or become worse? Do you have character issues or a reputation that stains you wherever you go? Are you willing to stay up all night seeking the Lord to receive your breakthrough? To wrestle with God is to passionately pursue Him and have an encounter with Him that changes your life and perspective. Maybe seeking God in the night season when there are no distractions and you can fully focus on Him is the answer to your breakthrough. Don’t let go until God blesses you.

5. Your heart must hold onto the promise. Speak God’s word over your life not matter how bad it looks.         —Joshua 1:8

Abraham believed God for his breakthrough – to have a son and become the father of many nations. In Gen. 12:1-3, the Lord gave Abraham (then Abram) promise that he would be the father of many nations. Years passed and in Gen. 15:1-6, Abraham confronts God about the promise because the only heir in his house was his servant’s child and Sarah wasn’t pregnant yet. God assured him of the promise, made a covenant with him and changed his name from Abram to Abraham (father of many nations). God also gave him a visual – the stars – to help him understand the vastness of the promise. Then Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness. When Abraham is about to sacrifice his only son (Gen. 22), God reiterates His promise with two visuals – the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore. All those years, can you imagine, Abraham had to hold that promise but God gave him the tools to do it: his new name along with the visual of the stars and sand. In everyday conversation he was being reminded of the promise every time someone called his name. He was being reminded of the promise when he felt the sand under his feet and gazed at the stars at night.

To get the breakthrough you have to hold unto the promise (the word God gave to you). You have to hold to the Word – meditate on it day and night and live it out in your life (Joshua 1:8). You have to keep speaking in faith what God promised you (Heb. 4:14) – be it healing, deliverance, or another promise He has for you. Jesus’ ministry to you is to bring to past the word you speak concerning yourself that is according to the will of God. Therefore be careful what you say – not only in the prayer closet but in your daily conversation. You must hold fast (keep speaking) that confession until your breakthrough happens.

6. Examine your heart (rather ask the Holy Spirit to examine you) and ask for forgiveness where you have fallen.       —Psalm 51

Nothing severs our relationship with God like sin. Sin not only brings a barrier between you and God but it stops the blessing (Deut. 28:15-68). David is an excellent example for us. He wasn’t a perfect man, yet God calls him a man after His own heart. I believe one of the reasons he says this of David is because he was quick to repent whenever he faltered (2 Sam. 12:1-15).

Today, though we are under a better covenant than David was we too sin at times. However, God is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you (give you the ability to overcome the temptation) from all unrighteousness (1 <st1:bcv_smarttag>John 1:9). Don’t let sin come between you and the wonderful relationship you have with God. Be quick to forgive and be quick to ask for forgiveness. It is needed to continue in right relationship with God and to experience your breakthrough.

7. Don’t just call on Jesus but believe that you will see the glory of God.          —John 11:1-44

Mary & Martha called on Jesus for their breakthrough; they wanted their brother to be well again. However, as scripture points out Jesus delayed his visit for a few days and by the time he reached there Lazarus was dead. But His intention was still to restore Lazarus though dead. He encourages Martha – at her objection to have the stone removed from the tomb opening – to believe and she will see the glory of God (vs.40).

Often times we accept our sickness or problems quickly and are ready to give up. But your sickness or problem is not meant to end you but to honour God and promote His glory. (vs.4). How? When God gives you your breakthrough you will by all means praise Him and tell others what He has done for you. Ask God to show His glory in your life. Why His glory? Because the God of the breakthrough can make the impossible become possible and real to you. He can destroy the works of the enemy and bring you the breakthrough you need.

8. Step outside the norm or the status quo. Ignore what others may say.          —Mark 10:46-52

Bartimaeus needed a breakthrough – he wanted what he never had before – the ability to see. He was known for who he was – a blind man begging on the road side. Vision is something we take for granted but for him not being able to see meant living below standard and having to beg at the wayside in order to live. No vision was darkness over him – no work, begging all the time, being out in the scorching sun, being snubbed and ridiculed. Bartimaeus wanted more and saw the opportunity when he heard that Jesus was passing by. He was not willing to let this moment pass him by. He yelled out to Jesus until he got his attention. He ignored the naysayers and kept shouting until Jesus took notice of him. Then Jesus asked Bartimaeus … “What do you want me to do for you?”

Is there something in your life that you’ve never had before? Have you thought about how your life and those around you would be better if you could have your breakthrough? Maybe you need a clearer vision your purpose and help to get you started on that road but it’s hard to see or conceptualize and you need God’s direction. Hmm… What do you want Jesus to do for you? What breakthrough do you need from Jesus today? What is it that will get you on the path that God has ordained for you?

What are you willing to do for your breakthrough?

Will you pray and weep until your voice isn’t even heard or wrestle all night with God (pleading in desperation) to get your blessing. Maybe you need to mix your prayer with regular fasting, or make a vow to the Lord in advance of the breakthrough. For you, it may be as simple as asking God for direction or strategy or it may require boldness and faith doing to do what you’ve never done before.

Whatever the need, we all need a breakthrough – our countries, our churches, our families, and ourselves. Let’s pray to get the breakthrough coming….

Don’t forget to share with others to encourage them in the Lord.

7 Ways to Receive Your BreakThrough Part I

This is the short version of a message I shared at church. Be blessed!

BreakThrough

BreakThrough

Now when the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to search for David. And David heard of it and went down to the stronghold. The Philistines also went and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. So David inquired of the Lord, saying, “Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?”

And the Lord said to David, “Go up, for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into your hand.”

So David went to Baal Perazim, and David defeated them there; and he said, “The Lord has broken through my enemies before me, like a breakthrough of water.” Therefore he called the name of that place Baal Perazim.  And they left their images there, and David and his men carried them away.

Then the Philistines went up once again and deployed themselves in the Valley of Rephaim. Therefore David inquired of the Lord, and He said, “You shall not go up; circle around behind them, and come upon them in front of the mulberry trees. And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines.” And David did so, as the Lord commanded him; and he drove back the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.                          2 Samuel 5:17-25

What is a breakthrough?

David described his victory over the Philistines like the powerful force experienced when water breaks over the banks of a river or like a tsunami that washes away everything in its way. In honour of the Lord he renames what was once called the house of the giant (Valley of Rephaim) to the Lord Who breaks through (Baal Perazim). Where the enemy (the Philistines) thought they were strongest because they had their baals (gods) with them, God proved even stronger!

Today you don’t fight the physical war against people but a spiritual one against the enemy of our souls. We fight against the attacks of the enemy – sin, sickness, failure, lack or poverty, defeat or oppression of any kind. These problems are like the enemy’s floods that are meant to carry you away or to destroy you (Is 59:19). However, when God is the Lord of your breakthrough for you, He advances over and above the enemy’s flood. The Lord pushes back the enemy’s flood of trouble, sickness, lack, and all negativity with the flood of His blessing, goodness, love, favour and every good thing you need in life.

** God wants to give you a breakthrough in those areas of your life that the enemy appears to be the strongest.

Do you need a breakthrough?

  • Is there a need that is long overdue?
  • Have you been waiting on the Lord for a long time and nothing seems to be happening? Do you need God’s hand on your life?
  • Are you pregnant with a vision, dream or desire that seems to mock you?
  • What is your need? To be healed, to have a house of your own, to be relieved of the burden of financial debt, to have a positive income stream to help provide for your family, to see family members come to the Lord…?

Whatever the need, the Lord your God, is the Lord of Your breakthrough. The Word shows us what others have done to receive their breakthrough from God. Let’s see what you can do to receive for your breakthrough?

1. Ask the Lord what to do. Be prepared to seek the Lord.         —2 Sam. 5:17-20

David needed to fight and win the battle against the Philistines who had come after him. So David (as he often did) asked God what to do before going out to battle. He realised that he was in a better position whenever he consulted God. He not only asked what to do but he did as God directed. God gave him strategy on how best to defeat his enemies.

For you to receive your breakthrough you need to ask God and then step out in faith and in obedience to do as God said. God is the Master Strategist and has the upper-hand over the enemy, follow His leading and you will be victorious and rejoice.

2. Make a vow or commitment to do something for the Lord. —1 Sam. 1:1-20

Hannah desperately wanted a child. Being taunted by her rival about her barrenness didn’t make it easy to bear. Hannah poured her heart out to God. She wept her prayer and made a vow to the Lord to give back when she received her breakthrough. She offered to God the thing she wanted the most – a child. What a commitment!

What about you? Don’t be reserved. If you have to cry, then cry but let God know your burden and express your desire to Him (vs.10). If you are as determined as Hannah was about receiving her breakthrough, maybe you too need to make a commitment to the Lord. Is there an area in which you’ve been meaning to serve but haven’t yet? Is there something you will sacrificially vow to give to the Lord? I’ve seen friends vow their first pay check to the Lord when they needed an income stream and God blessed them. What can you vow? Make a vow to the Lord and when you receive your breakthrough be sure to follow through.

3. If you want to get something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done before and fast your prayer.         —Esther 4:13-17

Esther fasted and prayed to save her life and those of the Jews. She did something she never did before – she risked her life for the sake of her people by going before the king uninvited. However, before she took that risk, she and her people prepared themselves – they fasted and prayed to God for three days. Why? She knew only God could touch the heart of the king and give her favour with him.

Do you need to take some risk? Do you need to mix your prayers with fasting? As Jesus said there are some situations that would need prayer and fasting to bring deliverance, to be resolved or for breakthrough to come. Examine your life and the circumstances you are experiencing? Have you tried different ways to deal with your problems but they still prevail? Consider spending time in prayer and fasting. Even a commitment to skip a meal for a season would help bring light to your situation.

Next week, I will share the second part of this message.

Don’t forget to share with others to encourage them in the Lord.

God Already Done It… Your Success Assured

Done!

Done!

Have you ever realized that God speaks in the past tense especially when He is talking to us about a present situation we are dealing with? Yes, God speaks to our present like it’s in the past. Or rather as though He has already seen and already taken care of the problem. He has an interesting way of assuring us that everything is alright; that He is aware of our problems and that He has already taken care of them.

Although it does not make sense to our limited human logic, the Lord tells us what He has already done. It’s like He saying, “Oh I’ve already taken care of that! You don’t need to worry about how it looks now. I’ve got everything under control.”

As we read through the Word, it is sometimes hard to imagine the challenges people were facing and yet God was saying, “Oh, I have already solved that problem for you!” Even now in our lives, when in the midst of a difficult – sickness, lack of money, a troubled relationship, a wayward child and many others  – it is sometimes hard to hold on to the promises of God.

God is always ready. Nothing surprises Him. He has prepared well in advance to solve our problems, fight our battles, provide our needs, heal our bodies and give us success in all areas of our lives.

Already Provided

In Genesis, the account of creation, God shows us that He is an All-ready God who has taken care of all our needs.

And God said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Genesis 1:29

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. Genesis 9:1-3

Already Own

When God made a covenant with Abram, He gave him a promise that went beyond him (to descendants that he would not see) and He spoke it as already done. God promised to give them land and He spoke this to Abram:

“On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates …” Genesis 15:17-19

Throughout Israel’s journey to Canaan, God reminded them that He had already given them the land to own. Numbers 33: 53 “you shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land and dwell in it, for I have given you the land to possess.”

Already Succeeded

Joshua was facing battle with a formidable force, yet God says to him, “And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor.” Joshua 6:2

Even again Ai, God spoke to Joshua in a similar manner, “Now the Lord said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.” Joshua 8:1

Really, now. Joshua had not even started to fight yet but God said he’d won the battle. Hmm, when God speaks we ought to take Him at His word. From that word and Joshua’s obedience to do as God instructed, Jericho was sorely defeated and so was Ai.

What promise do you have what instruction has you been given? Step out in faith and you will win!

Already Answered

There is no limit to what God has already put in place for us. Even when it comes to our many and varying prayer requests, God answers like they have happened. Look what He says to King Solomon who asked for wisdom to lead Israel, “Behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days. So if you walk in My ways, to keep My statutes and My commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 1 Kings 3:12-14

Isn’t God amazing? He does more that we think of asking (Eph. 3:20)!

Already Healed

Before the coming of our Lord Jesus to the earth to fulfill God promise of salvation, God tells us through Isaiah that we were healed.

Surely He has borne our griefs (sicknesses, weaknesses, and distresses) and carried our sorrows and pains [of punishment], yet we [ignorantly] considered Him stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God [as if with leprosy]. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needful to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole. Isaiah 53:4-5

Today, those in Christ can hold to this promise of healing as being already done since Jesus did it on the cross where he bore of sicknesses and diseases through the stripes he suffered.

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 1 Peter 2:21-24

Believe God’s Already…

We tend to speak based on what we have experienced. We speak of “have done” based on the past – what God has done for us that we have seen, heard, tasted, smelt, touched. The kind of experience that David mentioned in Psalm 21:2  “You have given him his heart’s desire, and have not withheld the request of his lips.” David praised God for the wonderful things He had done in his life. Yet, you can hold to this word. It is a wonderful promise.

But God speaks of “have done” even before we experience it! He is telling us, “I have already done it for you.” It is almost strange to talk this way but like God – we should speak what is even though it is yet to happen (Romans 6:17). That is faith talk.

God already said, “It is done”. He has already solved our problems. Therefore we must speak like He does; like we already have it. So when we are faced with a problem we should speak to ourselves and say, “Yup, God has already done it.” Believe in Him and His promises. He has the power to perform the “Already”.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (Rom. 6:20-21, NIV)

Are you fully confident that God has already done for you what you long for?

7 Ways to Make the Most of Your Life

tomorrow starts now_22836421_sLook carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. — Eph. 5:15-17 (AMP)

It has been a while since I have submitted a blog post. Even though I had many ideas about what I wanted to write and even jotted them down, the inclination to write wasn’t there.

For months my family and I have been dealing with the care of my mother who recently went to be with the Lord. As I dealt with the passing of my mother, the Lord impressed upon my heart the importance of making the most of the time we have. During this time, two truths have stood out for me all the more:

1. No one knows the day, hour, minute when they will say goodbye to time and hello to eternity
2. We often have no idea what an impact we have on others but the ‘little’ things we do or by what we say

As I reflected on the above scripture and others, my question was, “How can we who are still here on earth make the most of our time?” Here a few things I have learnt from God’s word and from reflecting on my mum’s life:

  1. Live intentionally.    Eph. 5:15-17

We have to live purposely and act wisely in all we do. This decision alone can bring us to success. Having no purpose, living aimlessly and witlessly, it not what God intended for us. My mum was always looking ahead. She set her goals and worked, saved and prayed towards them and thankfully accomplished them.

We must also know and do God’s will. We have to start with the basics: acknowledge our sin, ask Jesus to be Saviour and Lord over our lives. This is the beginning of living intentionally. Live as He instructs you to do in His word. As you continue seeking Him, He will direct you into your purpose. Just obey because whatever God plans for you is good.

  1. Prayer effectively, fervently and always.          Jam.5:16-18

Mum always liked writing. There was a note for everything. Her view was that if you forgot you could always refer to your notes. But recently I discovered that she did not just write notes but she wrote prayers too. One prayer note I found read something like this, “Lord I need Your ability today to do whatever You need me to do. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.”

Prayer is a constant effort – pray within your heart, write your prayers, verbalize your prayers. But whenever and wherever you are, PRAY. God will certainly answer.

  1. Work hard but in all of it honor God.        Col. 3:17

We should make to best of what we have and be a blessing to others in whatever way God has called us to do. Mum worked hard all her life. We heard the childhood stories of carrying water and helping her mum press clothes. She worked her way from being a maid to an Executive Housekeeper and even after taking early retirement, she kept herself busy. But in all of the hard work, she loved her work and was ever thankful to God.

We have to nature of God and should also like and enjoy work. Whatever you do, when you do it, do it well and God will be pleased with you and bless your work.

  1. Play too. Enjoy life. Enjoy what God has provided for you.    Eccl. 3:13-13

As much as Mum worked hard, she also enjoyed life. Every opportunity to celebrate particularly with her family, she did. It does not mean she did not face her challenges, she certainly did. But she recognized God’s blessings on her life and her family’s and saw it fitting to enjoy and appreciate them.

  1. Give much and you will be blessed with more.  Acts 20:35

Mum was a giver, a constant one at that but yet she never lacked anything. What the scripture said in Prov. 11:24-25, it was true of her. She generously gave but yet had all she needed and wanted.

Mum gave to those she knew and to those she didn’t. As her child, I have seen lives blessed by her giving and for myself have learnt well the joy of giving to others. When you give, you are God’s hand of blessing to someone else in need. And you are blessed all the more for it.

  1. Fulfil destiny. Serve God’s purpose in your life time or generation. Acts 13:36

David served the purpose of God in his generation. I think my mum did too. Personally, I think she made a decision to leave this earth when she did. She wasn’t a pastor and even heavily involved in regular church activity but she served others well. As I looked into the congregation who attended my mother’s Farewell, and I listened to the stories of those who knew my mother, I saw a woman who served and blessed others. She provided for their needs in some way or listened as they shared their troubles and offered sound advice to those willing to accept it. Oh, that we would follow such example. Serve God by serving others.

  1. Love a lot. It’s the best gift from God to you and the world.  1 Cor. 13

My mum made it a point of saying, “I love you” to me and my siblings whenever she ended a conversation with us. She showed her love by always remembering the special days in our lives or by doing unexpected things for us. But she just didn’t show love to us but to others – there was always some assignment she had for one of us to take something for someone or do something for them if she was unable to do it. During her sickness she thought of others and sought ways to help them even if it meant asking one of us to help because she couldn’t.

One more point I’d like to add is this:

Give thanks in every thing and in every day.    1 Thess. 5:18

Life does not always go the way we want it to but every day we arise from our sleep is a new day God has given to us. He is showing us His new mercies to us every morning and displaying His faithfulness. For that, we ought to give thanks and make the very most of every opportunity to do good in whatever way the Lord would want us to.

As we make the most of every opportunity we will have success; we will fulfill destiny.

Are you doing the best with each day God gives you?

Does Your Money Pockets Have Holes?

“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.”’”

Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?” Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!

“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.”

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 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. “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. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For 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.”

Haggai 1:2-11 (NKJV)

Ever wondered why life is so challenging or why you struggle financially? Is it frustration to keep working so hard but not see any substantial progress?

Have you ever considered if your service to the Lord is lacking in some way? Are your priorities about you only and not about God and honoring Him in all you do? Are you more concerned about building your life than seeking the kingdom of God?

In reading Haggai, I realized that we too can fall into this trap and not even realize it. We could be so focused on building our house (our lives, our careers, our wealth, etc.) that we miss the mark and put God on the back burner of our lives. We could be found having an “I” attitude and not be God-centered people.

Today, I’d say to all of us, “It is time for us to build the kingdom of God.” We may not have a physical structure to build such as a church, hospital, clinic, teaching center or library for people in need. But we do have a spiritual building to construct – the body of Christ. How do we do this? First, know Christ personally, intimately, feelingly. Next, make Him known – to compel others to come into the kingdom.

We can build God’s kingdom through preaching the gospel, teaching His word, sharing His love or caring for those in need. We build when we actively participate in different ministries within our church such as administrative work, hospitality, prayer or intercession, cell groups, and so on. Whatever part we play it would please God to see us building His kingdom.

I’ve just given a few ways we can build but often times we don’t want to do anything because life is just too busy. What are we so busy doing:

  • Building our houses or doing some kind of home improvement (vs.3)
  • Working and trying to make more money which never seems to amount to enough (vs. 6)
  • Socializing with friends – which often takes priority over spend time with God or with our family

If we examine our daily activity, the honest response we should have is “Lord forgive me for focusing so much on me and so little on You.”

If we consider our ways as Haggai said we would realize that we are often banging our heads against the wall, or striving so hard in life and making no substantial progress. There are Christians who can attest to the words in Hag. 1:6 which I summarized in this way – Spinning the wheel of no progress. You invest a lot but receive a little return. No matter how much you eat or how special your meals, you never feel satisfied. As for clothes you think you must the latest fashion or you want more. You work hard but the money is never enough. Frankly as soon as it is earned it is gone.

Then we wonder why we struggle so much.

In my book Financial Empowerment, I share some of the reasons why we financially strapped but in this word the Lord really brings to light our heart motive. We look out for ourselves more than others. We take care of ourselves more than we seek ways to serve God by serving others. In other words, we walk in disobedience to God and fail to please Him.

The lack or financial struggle some of us experience is a directly result of our unwillingness to serve God. Put it another way, (vs.10) the blessings of God are withheld from us because we focus on serving ourselves more than God who deserves to be glorified.

If you are facing financial challenges, I urge you to examine yourself. Consider your ways. Then have an attitude like the psalmist David and ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and cleanse you. Be willing to ask for forgiveness and turn from doing things the I-way to the God-way.

Consider these questions and let the Holy Spirit search your heart and heal you:

  • Are you busy building your house, your life or your career while God’s business goes unattended?
  • Do you care for the widow, father the orphan, feed the hungry, aid the sick, witness the love of God to others, or even help build or maintain the house of God?
  • Are you so caught up with your life, finances or businesses that you forget to serve the Lord?
  • What is it that is keeping you from God’s service but still not satisfying you?

These may be hard questions but necessary. Sometimes we need to step back from life and take a hard look to see where we have gone wrong. The blessing of doing this is that we have redemption through Christ to lift us up and bring us back to a heart of worship towards God in everything we do. As we align our will to God’s; He will set our lives in order and pour out His blessings on us. Your financial struggle will be over and you will find joy and peace in the house of God.

Think Prosperously

God's plan to prosper you

What kind of thoughts normally enter into your mind? Are they good or bad? When someone compliments you, do you counter it with words like, “Really, I don’t think so,” or “That’s nice to say but I am not really like that.”? When you are pursuing your goals do you often think that you are going to fail?

Prevailing negative, demeaning, limiting, unhealthy and sinful thoughts have a way of entering into our minds quite easily:

The world system: We are bombarded daily with negativity via television, radio, newspapers, internet, organizations and people.

Our sinful nature: We have an uncanny yet natural tendency to think and act negatively too. Even when we have accepted Christ our negative thoughts and ways can continue to prevail unless we constantly renew our minds.

Our immediate environment: Have you realized that when you were younger, you believed you could do anything and actually did most of the time? But as you grew into adulthood, your mindset shifted. Our family, friends, work colleagues and other people have shaped our belief system. The sad thing is we have learned from most of them to simply let life happen and don’t seek to change. Or someone told us not dream too big or try too hard at anything because they don’t want us to get disappointed if we fail.

The reality is this; we kill our dreams within before we even get started. We believe more in lie that in truth. We think we will fail more than succeed. We expect to struggle and not to prosper. But the truth is God wants the best for us. Recently, the Lord really impressed on my heart to diligently counter every negative thought of frustration, setback, failure, and lack with His Word. His Word is filled with promises of positive outcomes, success, prosperity, abundance, good health, strong families, great relationships and more. Regardless of the negativity around us, God actively works to bring everything in alignment to His will and for our benefit (Gen. 50:20). As a child of God, your focus should be on succeeding or prospering in whatever you are doing.

A few weeks ago, I was sharing with a friend about my book and the effort I need to put into marketing and promoting this work. As I was outlining the industry suggested time lines to begin seeing a certain level of success with the book, she stopped me in my tracks. She reminded me that although it is good to learn the market and how it works, I must view this all from God’s perspective. I should do the work and trust God to prosper what I am doing. I should always put God in the midst of everything I am doing to have good success.

Psalm 1:1-3 says that if we don’t do evil but find or have pleasure in God and His word, He will make us prosperous in what we do. He will bring our work to maturity or cause it to be successful. Other scriptures like Joshua 1:8, Jeremiah 29:11, 3 John 1:2 remind us to connect with God, know His word intimately (eat, drink and sleep His word), live out loud His word and He will cause our lives to prosper.

God’s Word says you can succeed in life but do you believe this truth? You can say all the right words. You can do all the right things. But what you believe determines what you will achieve and receive. Remember, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” Furthermore, God blesses you based on and above what you ask or think.

Therefore approach everything you do believing that God will help you to succeed. Rearrange your thoughts to accept that whatever you do shall prosper. Think prosperously.

How do you counter thoughts of failure? What helps you to keep thinking in line with God’s good will for you?

5 Qualities of a Different Spirit

But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it.

Numbers 14:24 (NKJV)

What kind of spirit do you have? Would God say that you have a different spirit to other people? Would your family say that you have a good spirit?

God described Caleb as one who had a different spirit. He was compared his character to the ten men who went with Joshua and Caleb to spy out the Promised Land. Other translations interpret the words “different spirit” as different attitude (NLT, GW) or another spirit (KJV). Whichever way you look at it, Caleb and Joshua because of this spirit or attitude they had were able to receive the promise of God.

In Numbers 13 and 14, we can learn from Joshua’s and Caleb’s actions what it means to have a different spirit. Some of the qualities they expressed were:

A Conquering Attitude – These two were courageous warriors. They were willing and ready to fight.

“Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”    Numbers 13:30

A Positive Outlook – Caleb and Joshua saw the possibilities or the opportunities that were ahead of them instead of focusing on the negative.

But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying: “The land we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land.”  —Numbers 14:6-7

Faith in God – They had complete trust in God to help them succeed. They believed God would do as He had promised.

“If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’”        —Numbers 14:8

An Awareness of God’s Presence – Joshua and Caleb knew that the Lord was with them and therefore consider their enemies as already defeated. They recognized that with the presence of God any battle was already won.

“Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them.”              —Numbers 14:9

Wholeheartedly Serve the Lord – An attitude or a spirit such as theirs comes with this very important quality (Numbers 14:24). No measure of success can be gained without this attribute. It is on account of their different spirit and their full service to God that both Joshua and Caleb not only survived 40 years of wandering in the wilderness but received their inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 14:6-15).

The spirit of Joshua and Caleb wasn’t negative in any way. They weren’t fearful of their enemies. They didn’t speak negatively and transfer the spirit of fear to the people of Israel. Instead they spoke with confidence and tried to encourage others not to fear but to believe they could make it with God’s help. What an attitude!

Their attitude is one to imitate if we want to receive the promises that God has for us. If we want to succeed in our Christian walk and experience God’s best then we must work on our attitude.

We must ask God to impart such a spirit in us. This type of spirit has staying power to make it through the tough times. When we carry what God called a different spirit in us, we are likely to overcome all and live victoriously.

Aim for a different spirit.

Six Blessings of Obedience

Then Samuel called the people together to the LORD at Mizpah, and said to the children of Israel, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.’ But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes and by your clans.”       —1 Samuel 10:17 -19

When Israel wanted a king to rule over them like the other nations, God was not pleased. He told them because they wanted to be like the rest of world, they were rejecting Him. Samuel called their act one of great wickedness (1 Samuel 12: 17). This scripture shows us the importance of having Jesus not only as our Savior but as our King.

So, who is your King? What have you exalted higher than God? Which of God’s laws have you rejected in preference for the world’s way? Have you adopted any views of the world system? Have you compromised God’s laws in any way just to fit in?

Sometimes in our walk with God, we may make compromises or we may not adhere to His word in some way. We realize that areas like forgiving, lending and not expecting repayment, giving, praying for our enemies, expressing brotherly love to all, etc. often pose challenges to our way of being, thinking and living. We quickly learn that God’s laws are very different to how the world operates.

But the choice is ours. When we choose to live by Jesus’ ways, we are making Him the King of our lives. The decision to live out loud for God – knowing His word and applying it daily in our lives proves best. As we read Deuteronomy 28, we see two different results: (1) living by God’s commands brings more than enough blessings in our lives and (2) there are dire consequences of rejecting God and disobeying His laws.

It is necessary that we then walk in righteousness, and experience great peace and joy (Romans 14:17). Having Jesus as King in our lives brings us many blessings:

Presence of God– The abiding presence of God is in us.“If you love Me, keep My commandments.  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15-17)
Peace– We will have great peace in the midst of life’s troubles.“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Protection– God will fight our battles and defeat our enemies.“Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chronicles 20:14)
Provision – He will sufficiently supply every need in our lives.“As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.” (1 Peter 1:3)
Prosperity– God will empower us to be wealth creators and distributors.“And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” (Deuteronomy 8:18).
Power– As Jesus’ king-priest, you have authority over the enemy.“Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 28:1)

God is graciously blesses us when we are obedient children. Our obedience to God determines the level of success we experience in life. God promises that when we obey Him and let Him be the King of our lives, He will overtake us with blessings (Deuteronomy 28:2). Can you imagine that – God’s blessings running ahead of you before you reach the next stage of your life!

Take time to look at your life and ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are not allowing God’s rule in your life. Ask for forgiveness. Make a 360 degree turn away from being in charge or doing things your way to obeying God. You will be all the more blessed for this – having His peace and joy.

Let Jesus be king in all your life and receive the blessings of obedience.

7 Strategies to Overcome Your Problems

Recently a friend encouraged me to read and pray based on the story of King Jehoshaphat. As I did, the Lord pointed out clearly how we can overcome our problems if we use this example to guide us through the battles of life.

1. Run to God in Prayer

Oftentimes when confronted with a problem our human response is to feel overwhelmed and fearful. This is what the enemy wants to do – strike fear in the hearts of the unbeliever. But we should take Jehoshaphat’s example to heart – although he was afraid he quickly sought God in prayer.

2. Fast in the midst of Prayer

Fasting tells God that He is more necessary than the necessary food you eat. Fasting isn’t a show to the world but a cry for help to God. Fasting gets God’s attention more readily – He sees your sincerity and that your need is urgent.

3. Gather Support

Don’t fight alone. Involve others in the battle you are fighting. You may call your family to fast with you or have family prayer until you see the victory. You can join with a close friend to pray over the situation. Remember, one can chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight (Deuteronomy 32:30; Joshua 23:10). There is power in united prayer and fasting.

4. Receive the Word of God

God will speak to you and to your problem; you need to have listening ears and a receptive heart. His word can come at any time – through a sermon, a song, a friend or personal Bible study. When you get that Word from God, you just accept it.

5. Worship God

One beautiful aspect of this story is the people’s immediate response to God’s word in worship even though the battle wasn’t yet won. Please hold on to God’s promise of victory and do not question it at all. Just worship and praise God in the midst of the challenge and when you’ve triumphant over the enemy.

6. Obey God

There is a part for all of us to play in any problem or challenge we face. God will give us the breakthrough and He will use our obedience to His word to do it. Just as these people followed the instructions God gave them – though not the typical warring instructions – they did it and won a fight they didn’t fight! So you to, “Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”

7. Expect to Win

Be like the people of Judah and go out to battle singing praises to God. They knew they would win because God was fighting for them. When God fights for you, you are destined to win and you will receive abundant blessings.

Conclusion

Even if fear comes, we can overcome it and win the battle if we follow this and other numerous examples given to us in God’s word.

Don’t be afraid when trouble comes. Ask God to fight on your behalf. With Him you will win!

Encourage yourself and others: What has been your response when faced with a problem? How did God work for you?

Special Note: I know that I haven’t exhausted this topic. Take the time to read 2 Chronicles 20:1-29 and pay close attention to Jehoshaphat’s pray, the word the Lord gave to him and how he encouraged the people to trust God. Then take time to pray according to this Word.