Monthly Archives: November 2011

3. Treat all people the same

As we have learned last week, Joseph was born into a house filled with jealousy. His aunt was jealous of his mom due to his father's devotion to her and his mom was jealous that her sister had six sons and a daughter and she had only Joseph. But love Joseph she did and his father also. He was Jacob's favorite son by far. We don't know much about Joseph's early childhood, for when he is introduced in chapter 37 of Genesis he is already seventeen years old.

Now when he is introduced he is feeding the flock with his brothers. Upon returning home he brought a bad report about his brothers to his father. Whether they deserved that bad report we don't know, but judging by their character that we read about in the Bible, I bet that it was true. On the other hand it made him very unpopular with his brothers. Joseph was still very immature and didn't think through the consequences that his actions might have.

We are often in situations like that too. Often people disappoint us, do things that hurt us or simply do things that are not right. We then need to sit still, assess the situation, pray about it and ask God for guidance and even sleep on it. Most of the time we will take much better action, than when we rush head on into a situation and simply make matters much worse. I have experienced this several times in my life, where I was so sorry that I didn't just wait before reacting. If I had waited I would have been calmer and I would have handled the whole situation differently. Joseph's actions didn't win him any favors and if he was more mature I am sure he would have handled it differently.

Now Jacob on the other hand was mature, but he also didn't act correctly. The Bible tells us:

"Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son in his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors." Genesis 37:3

This was not right of Jacob. Yes, I understand that personality wise you might get along with one of your children more than the other, but you love and treat them the same. You should never differentiate between them.

Jacob didn't just secretly love Joseph more than the others; he also blessed him with a tunic of many colors. Such a beautiful tunic was unheard of in those days. His other sons being shepherds probably had dull robes with which they can look after the flock. But Joseph was special and received the best of the best. And this made his brothers mad:

"But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him." Genesis 37:4

Jacob's love for Joseph was no secret and it made life more difficult for Joseph. No doubt he liked the love and attention from his father, but it made his day to day life difficult with brothers who hated him and who couldn't speak well or positively to him.

Sometimes we do the same. Maybe as a parent we subconsciously treat the one child better than the other, or as a teacher you give the student you like a better mark than the others, or as a boss you want one of your employees to succeed more than the others even though they are not the best candidate for the job and so I can go on. We need to be careful not to give special privileges to one and not the others in the same position. At the end of the day we are not truly helping that person as the others will see it and treat them with disdain and maybe even make life difficult for them. Of course we cannot like all people the same, but we need to treat them the same when we are in a position of authority over them. Rather leave the promotion to God. He will lead the right person upward based on His divine plan for their lives. In HIs hands they are safe.

Father, please help us to behave in a correct and godly way. We don't want to react too quickly to people's actions towards us and we want to treat all people that we have authority over in the same way. Please help us with that. In our flesh we are weak and we cannot do it, but with You by our side all things are possible. Amen

2. God can bring good out of any situation

In order to understand the situation into which Joseph was born into, we need to have a look at his parents. His father was Jacob and his mother was Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel with all of his heart. The Bible tells us that he had to work seven years for her father Laban to get her as his wife. But his love for her was so strong that the seven years seemed like only a few days to him (Genesis 29:20). Finally the day came for their wedding. But Laban her father deceived him and gave him her sister, Leah, instead. Jacob was devastated, but Laban insisted that it was their culture to give away the eldest daughter first. A week later he gave him Rachel as a wife too. Jacob was thus forced through deception to have two wives. Now I don't know about you, but where more than one wife is mentioned in the Bible there is trouble. And this was no exception.

Leah hated Rachel, for Jacob didn't love her as he much as he loved Rachel. And in turn Rachel started to hate her sister, because Leah easily conceived and bore Jacob many sons, whilst she herself was barren. In desperation she insisted that her maid servant, Bilhah bear children on her behalf. Apparently Jacob didn't learn from the mistake that his grandfather Abraham made by doing the same thing. I am sure you all know how Sarah couldn't conceive and how she also told Abraham to have children through her maid servant Hagar. And once Hagar conceived the strife began. It was truly a mess and it brought many so much heartache and pain. This situation with Jacob was no different; he was in the middle of a battle between the sisters. First Leah bore four sons to Jacob, then Bilhah bore two sons to Jacob, then Leah saw that she was beginning to lose, so she gave her maid servant Zilpah to Jacob and she bore him two sons. Leah continued on her winning streak by bearing Jacob another two sons and a daughter. All in all it was eight sons for team Leah and two sons for team Rachel. The bitterness and strife was just terrible and the children could also feel the tension and the competitiveness amongst them all. It was in this milieu that Joseph was born, Rachel's own son. Jacob loved and adored him more than all his children, because Joseph was Rachel's own son, his beloved wife. But more on that later.

I don't believe that God planned this strife amongst the sisters and I know for certain that it didn't please Him. But He used this situation to work out His plan of salvation. God works in the number  twelve. You will notice it in so many things, for example Jesus had twelve apostles, the New Jerusalem has twelve gates, there are twelve months in the year etc. And here amidst this strife He started the twelve tribes of Israel from the twelve sons of Jacob (Joseph's brother, Benjamin was born later).

For me personally their family set up looked like a mess. Two wives, two concubines and twelve sons and one daughter, with Rachel and her two sons as the favorites. It is a recipe for disastrous relationships. But God used this to start His nation Israel. The brothers certainly weren't outstanding citizens if you read about their lives in the Bible, and yet God used them to bring forth a mighty nation, a nation through whom would come salvation to the world.

We might also find ourselves in difficult situations sometimes. Some of them might be our own doing and some may not, but it is so reassuring to know that God can even use these situations to turn them around for our good. The situation might seem bleak to you and the future not that bright, but God can use it all to bring His purposes to pass. All we need to do is to surrender to Him and to walk this road trusting Him explicitly like Joseph did. We will have a look at that, but for now know that God can turn your situation around and bring forth diamonds out of it that is a blessing not just for you, but for others as well.

Father thank you that despite all the terrible situations around me that good can come from it. I leave it in Your capable hands and know that You know what is best. I look forward to walking this road with You. Amen

1. There is only one way to go and that is UP

I am so excited to start with our new series on the life of Joseph. God placed Joseph specifically on my heart and I truly believe that it is because He wants to teach us many lessons, especially now as we have all experienced so much loss on different levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of us lost our health, others lost loved ones, and others lost a whole lot financially, whilst others lost so much time with loved ones as well as doing what they loved to do. All of us lost something along the way, even if it was just our freedom to be able to do things when we want to do them and where we want to do them.

Joseph lost a whole lot too during his lifetime. He lost his freedom, he lost his family, his homeland, in fact everything he held dear and on a material level he just had the clothes on his back. And later on he was even thrown in jail for something that he didn't do. He literally had nothing left and nowhere to go. I don't know about you, but I don't know anyone who has literally lost everything. Everyone has lost something, but no one has lost as much as Joseph. And as you all know, once he hit rock bottom, there was only way to go and that was UP. We will go through all the details in the coming weeks, but for now I would like to start this series by motivating you that God is by your side through all of this.

God never ever left Joseph's side. However I can just imagine his emotions throughout his lifetime. He must have wondered how God can allow his brothers to sell him as a slave. He must have wondered on the road to Egypt if he will ever survive this. He must have wondered where God was when he was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and sent to prison for something he didn't do. He must have wondered where God was when he stayed in prison for years, and the people that he helped in prison forgot all about him. He must have been at a very low point there in prison. Far away from everything and everyone he loved with no future and no way of getting out. BUT GOD! God never left his side and in the end in hindsight everything worked out just as it should. Joseph learned lessons that he would never have learned in other ways and he was placed in a position where he could be exalted in a moment's notice. He was given a position of influence where he could influence a whole nation. God had a plan and He was with Joseph every step of the way.

Today God also has a plan for us. He has a future and a hope for every one of us. He has led us through this pandemic and has taught us so many things. I will expand in future weeks on a couple of things that I have learned. But God has been patient and kind. And I truly believe that He is going to use all these things that we have learned for our benefit in future. And not only our benefit, He is going to use us to help others going through the same struggles. I know that our loss and our pain will become our victory. He is going to use it in mighty ways.

In any job interview you can be sure that work experience counts a lot. People with experience in certain areas, plus the qualification, will most certainly have a great chance of getting the job.  We all have the qualification as children of God, and we are all busy getting experience in many areas of our lives. And soon, we are going to be unleashed in our specific jobs where we will make a huge difference in many people's lives. I look forward to it, don't you?

Yes, we have lost much, but we have gained experience and if we learn from that and move on, God will use it for our good. I can't wait to see how He works it all for our benefit and for the greater good of all.

Father thank you that our lives are in Your hands. Even what we have lost, You will count it as gain for us and use it to bring glory to Your Kingdom and Your Name. Hallelujah, what a wonderful God we serve. Use us for Your glory! Amen

112. God's perfect timing

I listened to a teaching by Joyce Meyer the other day and she spoke about the fact that we are never alone. God is always with us, in every circumstance and in all situations. He is our best friend and we can share anything with Him. He is always by our side and He will never leave us nor forsake us. We can rest assured that we are always cared for. She then mentioned something in passing that made me think and dig deeper. She said that God didn't take the Israelites on the shortest journey from Egypt to the Promised Land; He took them the long route. The shortest route from Egypt to the Promised Land was an eleven day journey. But God didn't take them that way, He took them the long route that would have taken them two years (in the end it took them forty years, but it was due to their own disobedience). Why did God take them the long route instead of the shorter one? Because He knew that once they arrived in the Promised Land they would need to fight the inhabitants of the land and they weren't ready for it. Also they didn't really know Him and His ways, so He needed to teach them that and strengthen them in Him, before they met all the other 'gods' of the inhabitants of Canaan.

The same is true of us today. God often takes us on the longer route in our lives. We want things to be instant, we want things to happen quickly, but more often than not it doesn't. This can truly be frustrating. I have had many promises from God take years and years to materialize and some haven't even yet. It is easy to lose hope then and to get demotivated, to doubt and to wonder whether you heard correctly from God. But the thing is God is preparing us for what lies ahead and He cannot set the plans in motion for our lives if we are not ready for it.

I want to discuss two aspects to this, first of all in the real life events of the Israelites God prepare them for battle against their enemies. Now God could have sent a plague and killed off the enemy forces in one swoop. He could have stepped in and do all the 'fighting' on their behalf. But He didn't. He wanted them to show their obedience to Him and He wanted them to grow stronger through it all. Of course He helped them as we see with the walls of Jericho, but they still had to do their part. The walls didn't just fall down. They had to walk around it and not just once, but every day for seven days and on the seventh day seven times!! And then they had to shout and only then did the wall collapse. And after the wall collapsed, they still had to enter in themselves and fight. God didn't just let all the occupants die after the fall of the wall. No, God wanted them to fight and to learn to trust Him in the process. The same is true of us. Yes God can sort out all of our problems with no effort on His side, but He wants us to do our part, He wants us to trust in Him, to walk with Him and to exercise our spiritual muscles so that we can be warriors in His Kingdom. God doesn't want us to stay babies in the faith, He wants our muscles to grow and become stronger, so that He can use us mightily for His Kingdom!

Secondly, God sent the Israelites on the longer route so that they can get to know Him better. And today He wants us to get to know Him better as well. He cannot and will not release us into our ultimate purpose if we do not know Him and His ways. For if we don't then we will do more damage than good. He wants us to read our Bible, to spend time in reflection and prayer, to learn more from Biblical teachers so that we can be grounded in our faith in Him. So that when He releases us into His ultimate purpose for our lives, we will be ready to shine and to make a huge difference in the world around us.

Please don't make the mistake that the Israelites made. God's longer route for them was two years instead of eleven days. That was His plan and it would have worked out perfectly. BUT they didn't listen and they didn't trust Him. And because they didn't, their longer route of two years became a much longer route of forty years. Plus only two adults who left Egypt, entered into the Promised Land, the rest died in the Wilderness. Do not allow that to happen to you. It is possible to totally miss your calling in life if you do not spend time with God to grow spiritually, if you simply want to take the easy way out each time and are not prepared to stand and fight. You can also singlehandedly postpone your calling with years and years if you do not take your spiritual growth with God seriously. I beg you to rather stay close to Him and allow Him to take the lead. Then yes, it might still take time and it might still be a longer route, but then you can know that it is the best for you and that you will arrive at your destination not a moment too soon or too late, but just in time. God's timing is perfect, trust in it!

Father I know we do not always appreciate the longer routes that we need to take in our lives, but we realize that the longer routes helps us to grow and to develop our spiritual muscle. Help us to be patient during those times and to trust You with all of our hearts and minds. We know that You know best. Help us with the growing process and keep us close to You. We pray it in Jesus' Name. Amen

111. Grow up

As I mentioned last week, God told me to go out every morning and to spend some time amongst the trees in our garden. At first I was skeptical, but it turned out to be the best time ever. I experienced God in such a profound way, simply by standing under the trees. Every morning it feels as if I am surrounded by Him and that He is telling me that He has everything in my life under control. I needn't worry, if I am rooted in Him and if I receive water and nutrition from the River of living water, then I would flourish and be blessed in all aspects of my life.

But I must be honest; it didn't feel that way to me. I really felt as if things weren't going my way, plus during this pandemic time I felt as if I was being tested in every single front of my life. God's Word and His promises that we read last week didn't feel real to me, as if it was meant for someone else. Then one morning God showed me something. He told me to have a closer look at the trees in our garden. And once I did, I saw something. Every place where the trunk split into branches there was a mark. Sort of like a stretch mark. I walked from tree to tree and lo and behold, all of them had it. And I realized that every time that the tree grew, it was a painful process and it left a mark. But growth for the trees were necessary, they cannot thrive and flourish without growth. To be honest if a small tree didn't grow after being years in our garden, we would have taken it out by now, as we want shade, privacy and the cheer joy of big trees. We want trees to grow and bless us in the process.

And I realized that it is true of us too. God wants us to grow. We cannot stay immature toddlers in the faith. What a toddler can get away with, a grown man certainly can't. If a grown man were to throw himself on the ground and kick and scream if he doesn't get his way, he will be placed in a mental home, whilst a toddler will merely be disciplined as he doesn't know any better. The same is true spiritually. We cannot stay toddlers in the faith, we simply cannot. It is embarrassing to God and it does His Kingdom a whole lot of damage. He wants us to grow and become the spiritual leaders that He destined us to become. That is His dream for each one of us. And once we are, it is not only very beneficial to us, but to the furtherance of His Kingdom as well.

But to grow is painful, it is not always pleasant and it can be truly uncomfortable at best. It may leave scars and it may challenge us. But the process is necessary. For you see the higher you grow, the more influence you have, and the more influence you have, the more responsibilities are given to you. And God wants to make sure that He can entrust you with it. So small tests come around so that God can see with how much He can entrust to you. And these tests and trials can stretch you to your limits, but know that the ultimate outcome is good. God promises that He will make ALL things work out for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28). ALL things. Good things and bad things, trials and tribulations, all of them. But then we must love God and follow Him with all our heart. We must be grounded in Him and His Word and all He has to offer us. Then the growing process will be a learning curve, leading to more and more of Him and His goodness and grace, Hallelujah!

Be grounded in God, knowing that He knows best! Grow by reading His Word, doing His Word, spending time in His presence, drinking in His pure living water and talking to Him throughout the day. Then stand still and watch Him at work in your life. It is truly amazing, a humbling experience. God really knows best, so even if things do not work out as you had planned, rest assured that it will work out for the best.

Father, thank you that You never leave us nor forsake us. Thank you that You are always there for us and that You help us through the growing process. We thank you and are humbled that You are always by our side. Amen

 

 

110. Lessons from trees

I am busy finishing off my book, The Tree of life. God has been unveiling many interesting things to me concerning the Tree of life and how we can apply many of these principles to our lives. It has been a fascinating study and I have learned so much from it. I will let you know when the book is published, as I do believe that you will find it very interesting too.

Now after this study I started getting so many messages from trees. God told me to connect with the trees in our garden on a daily basis. Now before you think I am weird, just hear me out. I just decided to obey and to see what God will reveal to me. I didn't know what I should do. So I just started to go out to the garden every morning. We have a lawn with seven trees, so for the first week I just went and stood under the trees. I just soaked up the quiet, the rustling of the wind in the leaves, the birds chirping and stood and watched the sun rising. That was all I did, but it was magical. As I just stood there beneath the trees, I started to soak up the serenity and the peace of just being in nature. Every morning I started to look forward to going outside and just standing outside underneath the trees.

I quickly realized that God is within nature and reveals Himself through nature. So by standing in nature every day, I am soaking up Who He is. I am becoming a part of Him. I started drinking in more of Him just beneath those trees. The birds above were singing glory to His Name and the wind was caressing me with His Spirit, assuring me that He is always there for me. The wind spoke into the deepest part of my being, and I could feel Him imparting wisdom to my soul. This morning ritual truly became a lifeline of connection to God. Just me and Him.

It was then that He reminded me of Scriptures where He compares believers to trees. Allow me to share just a few:

"Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers." Psalm 1:1-3

"The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree; he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God." Psalm 92:12-15

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:7, 8

I just realized there and then standing under the trees that God wants me rooted in Him like these trees. He wants me to flourish, to grow and to be able to bear fruit. He wants me to be planted by rivers of living water so that I do not have to fear drought; that I do not have to be anxious about anything. I know that Jesus is our river of living water, He Himself proclaimed it in Jerusalem (John 7:37, 38), so I know that He wants us close to Him, drinking in His living water, thriving as we go.

We can be blessed like trees standing firm in the Word of God, receiving living water from Jesus Christ, looking towards the sun, our Father in Heaven. We can have the birds singing joyfully in our branches, spreading His Word as far as they go. We can provide shelter and shade to those in the world who desperately need it. We can truly bring comfort to them. We can stand tall and be noticed as children of the living God, a testimony of His goodness and grace.

We can truly be blessed and flourish as these verses tell us, BUT we need to grow in Him. Next week I will write about that.

Father, thank you that You promise in Your Word that we can be blessed and flourish so that no drought can come against us. Thank you that we can always bear fruit to the glory of Your Name. All this is possible if we stay close to You, our true source of nourishment. We love You. Amen

109. Be the vessel God wants you to be

Thank you for walking this journey of the life of David with me. I wrote this series from beginning to end in 2019. So each week when I posted a devotion, I didn't even know what I was going to post. It was a surprise to me as well. And week after week the devotion spoke to my heart and I learned so much. It just shows you, that it was His Spirit who wrote these devotions, not me. He sees the future and knows exactly what we need to hear at that time.

In 2019 I didn't know that something like coronaviruses even existed. I never suspected that we will ever have a total lockdown and that we will be tested in so many ways. But unexpectantly it did. Our finances was tested, our relationships, our true goals in life, our dreams, our academics, everything. On the right and on the left, tests came our way. In the process I know I have learned a lot about myself, weaknesses in my life was laid bare and areas where I needed to work on was revealed. It is a process that I would much rather have avoided, but if I wanted to grow and be all that I can be I had to go through it. And I am sure I am not alone in this.

I saw a video clip the other day of a preacher doing pottery on stage whilst preaching. He showed the audience that getting the clay ready to be made into pottery was a very painful process for the clay. It certainly wasn't comfortable, but the clay needed to be rolled and squashed and pounded in order to be ready for the potter's wheel, ready to be all it could be.

He then places this pounded clay on the potter's wheel to make a beautiful pot. But he took a small pebble and placed it in the clay, and lo and behold, the whole piece of clay couldn't be made into a beautiful pot, it actually literally fell apart. The pebble needed to be taken out, otherwise the clay could be rendered useless. And the preacher said, it is the same for us. The pebble represents scars from our past that comes back to haunt us. It can be anything, from rejection, to abandonment, to alcoholism, to divorce, to abuse, you name it. It is scars not dealt with, and if we do not deal with them, then we can never be the vessel God intended us to be. We need to allow the Potter to help us to take out the pebble, we need to heal. He will help us every step of the way, as He desires for each one of us to become who He destined us to become. And we can only do that if we heal from past hurts, forgive where we need to and let go of bitterness. Then He will form us into the most beautiful vessel useable for His Kingdom.

The process doesn't end there though, we need to be placed in fire, in order for our vessel to become strong. Once again, it is not the most comfortable process, but one that needs to be done so that we can be the best we can be. For instance how do you develop patience? By going through frustratingly slow situations. How do you exercise and develop peace? By going through difficult times. We are strengthened by circumstances coming against us. But even when we are going through the fire, remember that God is with us, just like He was with the three friends of Daniel thrown into the fiery furnace.

I truly believe that God didn't bring this COVID-19 crises upon us, but I do believe that He is using it to strengthen us, to show us areas where we need to develop as well as past hurts that we need to deal with once and for all. He wants us to be the best that we can be. And if He needs to use a crises like this to develop it, then so be it. May we all come out of this COVID-19 pandemic, stronger than ever before. May we become the vessel that God wants us to be, so that we can live for His glory and exalt Him on high wherever we go. At the end of the day, being the best we can be is not just the best for His Kingdom, but for us as well. He has good plans for us afterall, plans to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). He wants us to prosper in all things, but first we need to work on our soul (3 John 1:2).We need to become the vessel He destined us to become. So do not give up hope, when rough waves come and threaten to engulf you, stand strong. God is with you and will never allow you to drown. Just hold on to Him and allow Him to form you into the best YOU you can be.

Father thank you that You dream big about us. Thank you that You see the bigger picture and that you are filled with love and compassion for us. Take us and form us into the vessel You want us to be. And then use us for Your purposes. Give us the strength and the patience to continue no matter what. We love You. Amen

 

50. Stay close to God

Last week Solomon was crowned as king by David. And David, on his dying bed gave Solomon some advice. And the most important piece of advice was that Solomon must walk in the ways of God. And we know today that that piece of advice is still just as applicable to us today. We must be the super heroes today who will walk after God and in His ways. Therein lies true eternal and everlasting life.

After this piece of advice David died peaceably in his bed. He had a long and full life.

This has been an amazing journey for me and I hope for you too. This is the 50th devotion on David and I truly hope that it has blessed you as much as it has blessed me. So today I would just like us to have a look at David's life in summary.

David trusted in God since the days of his youth. As he was looking after the sheep he conquered lions and bears in the Name of the Lord. God loved him and noticed his faith. God sent Samuel to anoint David as king. His brothers and father didn't think much of him and were surprised that he was crowned king. But as we know, he didn't become king immediately. This was the start of a long journey for David. His experience with the sheep, led to David conquering Goliath. He trusted God inexplicitly. This act exalted him to a different level and into the house of the king, Saul. There he learned a lot of all the intricacies of being king. But Saul became jealous of David and tried to kill him. David had to flee.

David fled to the wilderness and God sent men who were down and out to him. God turned those men into mighty men and He used them to help David. It was more or less thirteen years since David was anointed king, until he finally became king. But in that time of waiting God had to teach him to trust in Him and His perfect timing, He taught him how to lead people, He taught him about war, He taught him about survival and following Him no matter what the circumstances. It wasn't all that easy for David to learn all these things. In fact David was at his lowest point in his life, right before he became king. The Amalekites conquered and burned down Ziklag where David and his men lived. They took everything David and his men owned, including their wives and children. When David and his men returned from the battle where they were, they discovered they had nothing. These mighty men broke down and started crying bitterly. They even plotted to kill David. So David at this point had literally nothing; no money, no possessions, no family and no friends. He only had God. And instead of being angry towards God, David turned towards God for help and comfort and God exalted David. Within a couple of days David and his men had retrieved all that they had lost and even more. And David was crowned king over Judah. He had to wait another seven years before he was crowned king over all of Israel, but he waited patiently and trusted God without wavering. He was indeed an amazing man.

Later on in his life a few deeds were recorded where he didn't walk in God's ways. But the amazing thing was that he was quick to repent and to follow God wholeheartedly again.

David was a man after God's heart. Why? Because he always trusted God and followed Him, no matter what the circumstances tried to convey. And this is what we must do as well. God simply want us to trust in Him and follow Him. We can throw away the list of do's and don'ts and just abide in His presence, just be in His presence. That is all that God desires. He wants us close to Him, in love with Him, filled with Him to the brim, consumed by Him. He wants us to never leave His side. That is what David did and God used him in a mighty way. Today He also wants to use you. Allow Him to; stay close so that you can hear His whisper. Then you can know that all that He has planned for your life will come to pass. Rejoice in that and all the good plans that He has for you:

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Father thank you that You taught us so many things this past year using Your servant David as an example to us all. We have learned so much from him. We also want to be children after Your own heart. We want to spend time in Your presence and just be with You. With You lie all the answers to this life, as well as Shalom peace. Thank you for that and that it is freely available to us all. We love You. Amen

49. Be a superhero for God

Last week we learned that David sinned in taking a census of the fighting men. He wanted to do that in order to glory in his own power. God then punished Israel with three days of a plague that He sent. Seventy thousand people died in the process. David repented immediately and offered sacrifices to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah. The plague stopped. David was always quick to repent, to turn to God and to do whatever it takes to rectify his mistake. We can also learn from him and should always turn to God and listen to His voice instructing us on the way forward.

David was getting older and the time had come for him to have a successor. He had promised Bathsheba that Solomon will be king in his place, but he never formally decreed it. Then Adonijah decided that he must be king instead. He proclaimed himself king and had many of David's trusted advisors follow him. But this was not God's plan. While Adonijah was partying as the self-proclaimed king, David organized that Solomon be crowned king and all the people of the land followed him. All that followed Adonijah fled and Solomon became king. Adonijah himself feared for his life, but Solomon declared that if he proves himself to be a worthy man, he will live, but if wickedness is found in him he will die. Unfortunately this happened later on and Adonijah was executed.

So Solomon became the next king of Israel, but before David died he gave Solomon some last piece of advice. And the first and best advice that he gave Solomon was:

"And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn." 1 Kings 2:3

David gave the secret to an abundant life to Solomon. This was the most important advice ever given to Solomon. Unfortunately Solomon didn't do that. He was a wise man and God was mightily with him, but he took many foreign wives. And he built temples to their gods to appease them. And this in the end led him to worship these false gods with them. God wasn't pleased, but He didn't punish Solomon due to His love for David. He split the Kingdom in two with Solomon's son Rehoboam. But that is a story of another day.

The message for us today is that we must walk in God's ways as David did. God's ways are loud and clear in the Bible for us. In those days they were not as fortunate as we are today. They didn't have all the technology at hand to always have a Bible close by. They had to trust what others told them and read to them. But we don't have to. We are so privileged; I don't think we always appreciate it as we should. We can delve into God's Word and learn His ways. We can learn more about Him and spend time with Him on a very intimate level. We are truly so fortunate. But unfortunately when something is easy, it doesn't attract us as humans that much. Think of all the extreme sports doing the rounds these days, the harder and more extreme the better. We then give those guys a badge of honor and revere them as if they are super heroes. When in fact the super heroes are those that really dig into God's Word and take the diamonds for their daily walk with God. Super heroes are those that defy this world and walk on the narrow pathway leading to life everlasting. They are the ones sold out to God, those who will stand up in this evil world of ours and proclaim His majesty no matter what the cost.

Are you a super hero in the world's eyes or in God's eyes? For if you are one in God's eyes your super hero status will continue past this world unto heaven. There you will be honored and revered and given the crown of salvation. And that life will continue way past this present one.

Come, the time has come to get dressed in the armor of God and fly as the super hero that you are. God wants to take you higher and higher. Get ready for action.

Father, thank you that You are always there for us, supporting us and leading us unto Your ways everlasting. We never want to deviate from Your plan for us. Help us to walk on the correct pathways for our lives. Amen

48. Listen to God's voice

Last week we had a look at the mighty men that helped David to reach his goal of becoming king. They weren't valiant, mighty men to start off with, but they became mighty through the power of God helping them to make David king. Today God also supplies mighty men and women in our lives to help us to reach our goals. They might not seem 'mighty' in the eyes of the world at first, but with His strength and power they become mighty to help us on our journey. Do not shun the help that God brings over your path, but be grateful for the people that He sends to help you. You cannot succeed alone.

David was safely on his throne and they had peace on all sides. God helped them to achieve that. Then the Bible tells us that Satan tempted David to sin. David decided to take a census of all the fighting men that he had in all of Israel. He wanted to know the might of his army, without looking to God as the mighty Power behind his army. The sin was therefore that David wanted to glory in his own power and not God's. Joab tried to talk David out of it:

"Now may the Lord your God add to the people a hundred times more than there are, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king desire this thing?" 2 Samuel 24:3

But David wouldn't listen and sent Joab out to count. This took nine months and twenty days. They counted eight hundred thousand valiant men in Israel and five hundred thousand valiant men in Judah. And the Bible tells us that David regretted that he had ordered this census:

"And David's heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly." 2 Samuel 24:10

This is just like David. He quickly repents from sin and turns to God. I love that. He never turns away from God, but always towards Him. No wonder he was a man after God's heart!

Now God had to punish this act of David as Jesus hadn't died yet for their sins. But God in His grace gave David a choice. Either 3 years of famine, 3 months of running from their enemies or 3 days of plague sent by God. David chose the three days of plague. As he said it was better to fall into the hands of God than into the hands of his enemies. Seventy thousand people died in the process. It was a very sad day! David fell before the Lord and asked God to leave the innocent alone and to rather punish him. God then gave instructions through Gad, the prophet that David should offer to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David immediately listened and did just that. And there the plague stopped.

"And David built there an altar to the Lord and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the Lord heeded the prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel." 2 Samuel 24:25

And on this spot Solomon built the Temple of the Lord. It was there that God withdrew His threat from the nation. And it was there that David humbled himself and offered prayers for the people. This place became a symbol of offerings and prayers offered in humble obedience.

David always listened when the prophets spoke to him. He was always ready to repent and to do whatever God said through the prophets to rectify things. David had to hear God's Voice through the prophets, because he didn't have His Spirit within him as we do today.

Today we can hear God's voice through His Spirit. But do we listen as David did? Do we act as quickly as he did when God speaks to us? We all have the ability to hear God's voice, but mostly we don't make the time to listen. We rush around, we are kept busy on a daily basis, and we are swamped with so many things cluttering our lives and the sounds around us keep on increasing and the demand on our time keep on screaming at us. And in the process we don't hear God's voice whispering to us. He wants us to calm down, to make time for Him, to hear Him loud and clear. We can if we make the effort. God wants to speak to us, He wants us all to hear His voice, but are we willing to make the time? Are we willing to give up certain things in our lives in order to listen. And when we do hear, do we act and obey as David did? Do we put all things aside and do what the Lord has placed on our hearts? I think we seldom do. We should rather follow David's example and leave everything to follow God and to do what He has told us to do. I can promise you that it will be worth your while.

Father thank you that we can know that You are always talking to us, always whispering Your truths. We simply need to pause and listen. Thank you Father for all Your goodness. We want to slow down and hear Your voice loud and clear. Please help us to do so. Amen