And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NLT)

I will advise and watch over you, says the Lord


5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and depend not on your own understanding. 6 Seek His Will in everything you do, and He will show you which path you should take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
8 Thus says the Lord; “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you,” (Psalm 32:8)


I have read the above verses over and over for the past few years with the intention of aligning my thoughts with God’s word, but every time I had an important decision to make, somehow, I just couldn’t trust anyone, not even God.

So I started wondering why it was that I couldn’t trust God and His guidance if He is the one who blessed me with my life to start with.

Fortunately, after a period of prayers and fasting, I heard a voice telling me to be humble and depend not on my own understanding. It repeatedly told me to stop being wise in my own eyes and listen. He wanted me to know that there is God who knows better than me and who is willing to guide me along the best path way for my life.

Honestly speaking, I felt bad, because back then I did not realize it was my pride that was stopping me from placing all my trust in God, and as a result, most of the things I tried doing, I was never able to get the results I was expecting. How foolish I was!

A few days later, I purchased a Bible app with comments, and going over the comments of the aforementioned verses, I found that I was not alone struggling with pride.

It is part of our human nature to be overprotective of our interests. Our tendency is to avoid at all cost the interference of someone else in our private matters, including God.

Because of our pride, we tend to want to do it on our own so we can say, “I did it”. But as always, we are wrong. We should at all times, trust and depend on God even in the small matters. He knows better than us. He is a better judge of what we want than we are, because He can see beyond our eyes reach.

I tell you this to say, placing your full trust in God, is the best decision you can ever make; and always remember, God’s time is always the right time.

You see, I left my home country when I was just a teenager. Later, as a grown man I settled to live in a foreign land. For many years I did all that I thought was good before God to make money, with the intention of one day going back home to visit my family, but I never had enough cash to even purchase a plane ticket.

But thanks be to God, He gave me the grace to patiently wait for His time. He was patiently preparing me spiritually while at the same time creating the necessary conditions for me to receive His blessings. God was ready long ago. It was me who actually needed time to grow spiritually for what I would later experience in my life.

So when the time was up, when God saw that I was ready, He allowed me to have enough money to pay for the plane ticket and even have some extra money to purchase presents for my mother and my siblings.

But that was not the issue.
When I arrived at the airport of my country, my old school mates picked me up and took me straight away to a street frequented with prostitutes. When I got there, I saw many beautiful ladies. My friends did that because in their minds, they thought I was still the old me who was always after women.

It was at that point when I realized that I was no longer the old me. With God’s grace, I was able to say, thank you for taking me to this place, but no, thank you. They didn’t believe that of course, and honestly, neither did I.

Afterwards, they took me to the place where I was supposed to stay. Once in my room, the first thing I did was kneel at my bedside and prayed before God the Father, through Jesus our Lord, and thanked Him for His protection and guidance. God was there with me the entire time, and He has never left my side. Praise be His Name forever!

This entire situation made me remember a story that my wife told me some time ago, about a butterfly struggling in its cocoon. I decided to look it up online and the same is detailed below.


Cocoon and the Butterfly

Once a little boy was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.

The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat.

One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.

The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out.

At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress!

The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back. He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged!

As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.

But neither happened!

The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings.

It never was able to fly…

As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong his mother took him to talk to a scientist from a local college. He learned that the butterfly was supposed to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly.


As you can see, just as it is with the butterfly story, the same principals apply in our daily spiritual lives. As you go through life, keep in mind that struggling is an important part of any growth experience. In fact, it is through tough moments in our lives that cause us to grow spiritually.

It is clear then that we will never fully understand God, but His intentions are never to harm us as many of us may think. We have a loving Father who cares for our wellbeing.

He is more interested in saving our souls than giving us all the riches of this world, especially if that can lead us astray. Just as it is written in (Jeremiah 29:11) saying, for I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

I would further add that the future and hope referred to in this scripture is not only in relation to this world but also refers to a lasting future and hope with God in the next life.


Let’s Pray
Father God,
Thank you for your promise that you will guide us along the best pathway for our lives.
Thank you for your promise that you will always advise us and watch over us, in Jesus Name. Amen.

Esau sells his Birthright, a reflection on Self-Control


32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?” Genesis 25:32 (NLT)

The story about Esau selling his Birthright starts on Genesis 25:27-34.
The Bible tells us that as the boys grew older, Esau became a skillful hunter, an outdoorsman, while Jacob was of quiet temperament, who preferred staying home and shepherding flocks of sheep and goats.

One day, when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry; and seeing his brother Jacob preparing some food, he asked if he could have some of it.

Jacob accepted but with one condition. He was willing to give the stew to his brother only if he had sold his birthright. Uh! Did Jacob actually have to demand birthright in exchange, for just a plate of food? Weren’t they family and aren’t they supposed to be helping each other? You may ask.

You see, both Esau and Jacob knew that birthright was a special honor given to the firstborn son. It included a double portion of the family inheritance along with the honor of one day becoming the family’s leader.

Esau, as the oldest son, had the option to sell his birthright or give it away if he chose to do so; and in so doing, he also knew what would be the consequences.

He also knew he would be losing both material goods and his leadership position, if he chose to give it away. So, it is not as if he was uninformed of the benefits or consequences to assume that He was being tricked.

Esau had other options as well. He could have gone straight to his mother Rebekah and asked for food if he really wanted to eat; but instead, in Genesis 25:32, his response was:
32 “Look, I’m dying of starvation!” said Esau. “What good is my birthright to me now?”

Here we see how Esau traded the lasting benefits of his birthright for the immediate pleasures of food. Meditating on this verse, one may wonder; was Esau actually dying of his starvation, or was it just an exaggeration?

However, if it was an exaggeration, it is clear that he acted on impulse, satisfying his immediate desires without pausing for a moment to think what would be the consequences in the long run.

By trading his birthright, Esau showed disregard for the spiritual blessings that would have come his way if he had decided to keep it.

And here are the questions:

  • Can we judge him? Of course not…
  • How many of us are just like him?
  • How many of us fall into similar situations every time we see something we like and we won’t stop until we get it, despite the long-term consequences it may have?
  • How many of us have destroyed families, have left fatherless or motherless children, for seconds of pleasures?

Just remember how Ahab, king of Samaria went home disturbed and angry, where he even turned away from food, only because Naboth the Jezreelite, refused to sell his vineyard that was close to the king’s palace; and as a result, Jezebel, the king’s wife plotted evil against the poor man, just for a piece of land. 1 Kings 21:1-16

Here is where the grace of self-control comes into play.
You see, very often, because of our self-centered nature, lack of self-control, envy, greed or don’t care attitude; we tend to make permanent decisions to relieve temporary problems.

We forget about everything else and all its consequences, if we can only get what we want at that exact moment.

We lose perspective, every time we allow our evil desires to wage war within us. So the best way to avoid it is by comparing the short-term satisfaction with its long-term consequences before we act.

We should, most of all, beg Almighty God, that with his mercy, He may bless us with the fruits of the Holy Spirit, just as it is written in Galatians 5:22-24; “but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”


Prayer
Father God, thank You for blessing us with self-control. Please allow us to be less self-centered. You know well how weak we are and evil minded we can be. Thank You for Your Holy Spirit who was sent to guide us and keep us safe from all danger and even from ourselves. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

You will reap what you sow - that is the Law


[7-8] Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit. (Galatians 6:7-8 NABRE)


Though God is not the author of the evil or of the bad things that happen in our daily lives, He allows it so we can see how Holy and Just He is and that He cannot and will not contradict His own principals.

He wants us to understand that from the time the world was made, there were and still are a set of rules and regulations (The Laws of Nature) that all creation are governed and should live by.

That is why in Galatians 6:7-8, Scripture tells us to learn the truth about the word so we won’t be misled and as a result, mock the divine justice of God.

The “Law” as part of creation, puts everything in harmony and clearly points out that we will always harvest what we plant.

It tells us that those who live selfishly only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But for those who live to please the Spirit, having in mind that this is just a temporary world, will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So chose do to right.

Then what? Are we to blame The Law? - Of course not. The Law is Holy. It sets standards on how all creation should live. We are the one who should humble ourselves and live according to God’s guidance.

Why did God then give us free will? You may ask.
God is a loving Father. He wants us to obey and love Him out of love for Him and not because He is forcing us; Just as any earthly father would want their children to do the same.

So it is clear that most of the bad situations we end up in are the result of our own misbehavior and lack of love among us. But we are not alone in this; we can always call on Him day and night, for God is willing to guide our steps all the way to salvation.

But we must be willing to listen to His call and follow Him. We must be humble enough to say “I’ve had enough Lord”, I can’t take it anymore, I am willing, please help me.

And just as it is written in Psalm 91:14-16 saying, thus says The LORD,
“I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.
When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.”

That is God’s promise. He will surely do it, but you must ask devotedly with a humble heart. We must understand that whatever God says, He does it, so be mindful of His word; depart from evil ways and do good.

It is no secret that we all face personal problems in one way or the other, and some people may ask: Why struggle for salvation if some of us will end up in hell anyway?

Why want to be in that group anyway?
Please know that Jesus did not die just for a few of us, He died for everybody. Salvation is for all souls as long as that soul is willing to choose to do right before God.

In Ezekiel 18: 30-32, God tells us that He will judge each one of us according to our conduct. He tells us to repent and turn away from our evil ways, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to us. He asks us to cast away all our transgressions which we have committed and make ourselves a new heart and a new spirit; for He has no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, “Therefore, repent and live.”

But we must be willing to come out of it; and seeking God’s help is our only way out. The only way out is through the cross of Jesus Christ.


Let us pray:

Almighty God, Father of Love and Mercy.
I know I am weak. My heart is willing to change.
I am willing to choose to do right, but I can’t do it on my own.
In the Name of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, please help me and show me the way out. Amen.

Is God's Time Always the right time


11 For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. 13 You will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart, 14 I will be found by you, says the LORD… (Jeremiah 29:11-14 “RSVCE”)


It is our human nature to get frustrated when things don’t work out on our time table. It is our tendency to get upset to the point of even losing our faith in God when things don’t happen when we want it to happen.

Very often, because of our lack of patience and trust in God, and most of all, our lack of humility, we tend to make our own decisions, prescinding God’s guidance in our lives, “even though it is Holy and full of wisdom.”

As a result, undesired events start happening around us that we are not able to fix.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to end in that manner; because our God is a loving Father.

In Jeremiah 29:11 God tells us to trust in Him with all our hearts - to trust Him even with our own lives. For He knows the plans He has for us, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and hope.

God promises us to be there with us if we seek Him wholeheartedly. He promises to hear our prayers when we call upon Him and pray to Him with humility and a sincere heart.

Remember how the Scripture tells us about Abraham, in Genesis 12:2-4
Abram was 75 years old when he was first promised by God to become a "father of many nations."

But that promise did not happen the following day, it was after 25 years later that He saw God’s promise happening. Abraham was a 100 years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Genesis 21:5

Amazing right?
And why did God take so long to allow Sarah to conceive? Was He out of resources?
He could make it happen right then, right? After all, He is God right?

Well, God is never out of resources. His ways are not our ways. They are better than our ways, and His understanding is beyond our comprehension.

God’s plan for the salvation of mankind was not a random thing. It was strategically and wisely planned in advance. It was a set time. It had to be according to the way He intended it to be.

And this is when Rebekah comes into play.
She was an Aramean virgin girl who later became the wife of Isaac and the mother of Jacob; and Jacob was the one who later became the father of the twelve patriarchs, from which our Messiah was born.

Rebekah was the daughter of Bethuel, who was the son of Abraham's brother Nahor. (Genesis 24: 24-28).

So according to God’s plan, Rebekah had to be included in it and old enough to get married; and Isaac had to be 40 years old to marry her. Not younger or older.

The number 40 has a special meaning in the Bible, even though some people or even scholars may say otherwise.

The number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial, probation or it may also represent the start of a new generation. Additionally, 40 weeks is the standard period of gestation, meaning the time that it takes for a baby to be fully formed in the womb in order to be born.

So here we see how God, by His infinite knowledge and understanding, full of wisdom, causes things to work together and in harmony, achieving the end for which He desired it to be..

But here is an amazing event;
Even though Rebekah was included in God’s plan for the salvation of mankind, He made her barren.

And how is that? Many may ask!
In the book of Jeremiah 29:12-14 God tells us that He will be found by us if we seek Him with all our hearts. He will hear our prayers if we, with a humble heart, call upon Him and pray devotedly.

This is to illustrate how importante prayer is in our lives. It tells us that even Isaac, the son of God’s own direct promise, also had to pray. He had to plead to God so his wife, who was barren, may conceive. (Genesis 25:21)

It also tells us that it doesn't matter in what situation you may be living now in life, a sincere prayer to God can change the course of our lives.

The New Testament also tells us how Jesus Himself prayed to God the Father, being He the very incarnation of God Himself. That's why He said, "When you pray, go into a room by yourself. After you have shut the door, pray to your Father Who is in secret. Then your Father Who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:6 New Life Version (NLV) Take special note that He says "when you pray" and not "if you pray."


Recommendation to all of us:
Instead of saying, well God, you didn’t come / or help me when I most needed you, then fine, I don’t need you anymore, I will do it by myself kind of attitude; we should instead humble ourselves and patiently wait on God’s time, because God’s time is always the right time.

Yes, many may say “easy said than done,” especially when you are going through tough times and in whatever situation you are in, seems forever.

Then we should pray that with His mercy, He may give us the grace of patience so we may be able to wait for when He sees fit. After all, He is an all-knowing God.


Prayer:
Heavenly Father, all knowing and merciful God.
We thank you for guiding our steps in the way only You know how.
We know that your time is always the right time. With your mercy, grant us the grace to patiently wait on you, and in the meantime, show us the way out, every time we encounter difficulties in our lives. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.