Archive for tag: The three little pigs 2

16. The bricks in our lives (9)

Our houses (our lives) here on earth need to stand firm against all storms. We need to believe in Jesus Christ, we need to work on our relationships the Lord has blessed us with, we need to be God's Hands and Feet in this world and we need to look after ourselves. We shouldn't neglect any of these things; otherwise we might not be able to weather the storms coming our way.

Last week I reflected on the way we should get up in the morning. We shouldn't allow negative thoughts to ruin our day even before it started. We should vigilantly make a point of it, to start our day off with positive thoughts filled with the Word of God.

This week I would like to reflect on the opposite side of the coin. How do we end our day? Are we despondent? Are we angry with someone? Are we stressed? Are we disappointed with the way things turned out? Do we feel as if we will never amount to anything good?

Then I have good news, you can learn from your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes at some point in time, but winners learn from it. Use a moment just before you drift off to sleep to ponder the day's happenings. Ask the Holy Spirit to point out to you where you have gone wrong. Ask Him to show you what you should have done differently and learn from it. Practical experience is the best way to learn and grow. And the Lord wants us to grow and reach our full potential. He doesn't want us to look down on ourselves and walk around like failures. He wants us to continue, to run the race with our full potential and to reach the finish line with triumph. He made us to be the best mom we can be, the best friend, the best wife, the best daughter, the best aunt, the best in everything He has placed in our paths. He wants us to excel in our 'jobs' here on earth, He never wants us to give up. We should learn and grow. We have the Lord inside of us and therefore we have more potential than we can ever dream of.

Thomas Edison, who invented amongst several other things the light bulb, once said: "Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."

Winston Churchill also once said in one of his shortest speeches: "Never give up. Never ever give up. Never give up."

What a striking message. Never give up. Believe in yourself, believe that you can make it, and believe that you can be the best you can be. The Maker of the heavens and the earth is within you, He believes in you. Shouldn't you too?

Thank you Lord God for believing in me. Thank you for never giving up on me. Help me to always look up to You and continue with Your Purpose for my life. Help me to never give up on Your dream for me. In Jesus' Name. Amen

10. The bricks in our lives (3) (1)

We are discussing the bricks in our lives in order to have a fulfilling life, a life that can weather any storm and still come out strong at the other end. God should be our foundation and Jesus Christ our cornerstone. On this foundation and cornerstone we can start building our house. The bricks we use are our close family, our spouse, our kids, our parents, our siblings etc. These bricks are the most important (besides the cornerstone and foundation), because without them, the house will be pretty lonely. And without a deep relationship (which is the cement) with them, the house will battle to stand. It is only after getting our foundation and bricks and cement right that we get to another important aspect of the house, namely ourselves.

We need to live in the house and we need to be comfortable in this house. We need to be happy and value ourselves like God does. Now there are various ways of being happy with ourselves and I am going to discuss a couple of them over the next few weeks. But for a start know that inside the house you must look after yourself. As I have said before, your body is the Temple of God and what you do with it shouldn't be taken lightly. The other day I read Leviticus again and though I know that those rules are not related to us anymore, I realized something of God's character through reading it. God likes order, cleanliness and personal hygiene.

After reading Leviticus the Lord immediately reminded me to have a good look at my own Bible. It was totally falling apart after eighteen years of use. The hinges were coming off, there were papers hanging out everywhere and even the introduction was beginning to tear. It was actually a sight for sore eyes and I never did anything about it, because I thought that it was actually a compliment as it meant that I spent a lot of time working through my Bible. After all whenever someone saw my Bible, they will definitely know that I used it! But the Lord reprimanded me and I realized that it was a disgrace to Him. It didn't honor Him, it actually showed how arrogant I got with His Word and how I actually only focused on myself. I then took tape and bound my Bible again. I mended the introduction and sorted out all the notes I had inside. And you know what; it was actually such a blessing to me. It looked respectable again and ready to be used once more. And 'strangely' enough, I felt as if it 'spoke' to me again. The Lord likes order.

And it is the same with our bodies. If we are His Temple, we should make sure that our bodies are in the best condition as it can be. We cannot do with our bodies as we please if we belong to Christ, therefore I am not in favor of tattoos, piercing, smoking etc, because it defiles your temple. We need to look after ourselves and make the most of what the Lord has given to us. He is dwelling in us, and if He likes order, cleanliness and personal hygiene, then we need to shape up and make sure that our temples are nice places to live in. It has to be in the best condition that we can manage to have it in. Then we can be a good witness to Him, as our appearance is the first thing non believers see of us as Christians. We should be neat and be a representative of Him that will attract people to Him.

There is of course the other side of the coin where people focus too much on themselves and think too highly of themselves, but then we need to go back to the foundation of the house. Is the foundation right? Is the cornerstone right? Is the bricks and cement right? We need to put all these things in order before focusing on ourselves once again.

We will have a more in depth look as to how we can make sure that we are in the best condition that we can be in. But for now know, that it is not sin to look after yourself, you have to. Your temple needs to be holy, because if it is, you will have a much more intimate experience with God. He will enjoy being there and you will love having Him. You will also attract lost people to God, which is in fact our most important job here on earth.

Lord Jesus, please help us to look after ourselves. Help us to organize our time in such a way that we have time to look after ourselves and be a lovely temple for You to live in. Amen

5. The straw in our lives (4)

We have discussed a couple of things that can waste our time and be regarded as straw in our lives. In other words things that will wither away the moment something serious happens in your life. I think there are many 'straws' and you can probably name a couple that I am not even thinking about right now, but my main aim in writing this is for you to start thinking about it and noticing it when the 'straws' pop up in your life to steal your time and to drain you even more. That is the main aim of the devil. He wants to steal your time, drain you to a point of giving up and most importantly cause you to drift away from the Lord and from spending quality time with Him. That is ultimately all he wants, he wants you far away from the Lord drifting around in this life with no aim, no foundation and no hope for a better future.

John 10:10, "The thief's (devil's) purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My (Jesus') purpose is to give life in all its fullness."

The devil, amongst other things, wants to steal your time. He wants to fill your life with straw and whenever you go through a crisis he is going to laugh at you when you fall flat without any support/foundation.  But even more than that he is going to be so pleased when you start blaming the Lord for the crisis, blaming Him for not supporting you through it as you think He should. He simply loves it when we fall away from God and God's best for our lives.

Wasting time is an art for some people. It has always amazed me at work the big difference in time it takes for different people to do the same task. I know we are not all the same, but sometimes the discrepancies is just mindboggling and when you start watching those that take the longest you'll be amazed at how they can waste time. Typically they will slowly get up from their workstation and stroll over to make coffee, then they will stand there and drink it, then they will strike up a conversation with anyone who comes past, then after a while they will stroll back to their seats and check their email, they will then email their friends and thereafter catch up on the latest on Face book, then they will stroll over to the restroom and stay there for 20 minutes, then they'll stroll back and check their email again and so it goes on and on. Sounds familiar? And the worst part is that they will work long hours just to show their boss that they 'put in the extra mile' while back at the ranch they wasted most of the day! And now their family is paying for it, because they come home late.

The Bible warns us against wasting time and being lazy:

'Lazy people don't even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find." Proverbs 12:27

"Yet, we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and wasting time meddling in other people's business. In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we appeal to such people - no, we command them: Settle down and get to work. Earn your own living." 2 Thessalonians 3:11, 12

Don't allow the devil to steal your time. Don't waste another minute just breathing air. Do your work to the best of your ability, and spend the rest of your time on more important things. Make the bricks in your life the main priority. We will get to the bricks a little later, but I am sure most of you can guess that the most important brick is the Lord and thereafter your family. Make them your main focus and pray that God will give you the strength and the wisdom to avoid wasting time.

Dear Lord, You are our main priority. Forgive us if we waste time on mindless things. Give us the strength to say 'no' to things consuming our time and to rather focus on our relationship with You. Amen



4. The straw in our lives (3) (1)

We have been discussing the different things in our lives that take up our time unnecessarily. These are things that will not stand the test of time when we truly face storms in our lives. There are so many, but I am simply touching on a few. Another one that most of you most probably have guessed is the television. Let me explain.

3. The television

I know most of us love the television, love watching movies and love to relax in front of it. Now once again, that in itself is not bad. Television could be an excellent source of information and could also be used to bring family and friends together to watch certain events, such as the Olympic Games, World cups, concerts etc.

Now as I said, I don't have a problem with television per se. I love watching sport, especially rugby and tennis, as I enjoy encouraging my favorite team/player. But I have a problem with it in two areas, number one, when it takes the time of your family and number two when you passively allow any and all information that presents itself into your mind. Let me explain.

I don't think my first reason needs much explaining, but let me just clarify. We as a family stopped our satellite television at the end of last year and I cannot tell you how much more time we have for one another now. My husband comes home from work and now he has time to play with the children outside, we sit at the table and eat and tell one another of our day, we even have time to read inspirational books and we feel sleepy by the time we go to bed and not have flashes of what we just watched on television disturbing our rest. We will activate the television again when the rugby season begins, but then we will discipline ourselves to watch only the game and maybe enjoy a movie/ programme together over weekends.

Now I am not saying you should all switch off your televisions. If you love watching documentaries/news/educational programs/sports etc, by all means do it. Just keep in mind that your family comes first and if these programs take excessive time, analyze your situation and make the changes needed to give your family the time and attention they deserve.

My second problem that I have with television is that it influences your mind. I am not going into much detail about your mind, as I can write a whole book about it, but for now know that your mind is a battlefield between what the devil wants to put in it and what God wants you to think. There are so many verses in the Bible about your mind, and it all boils down to the following:

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do." Proverbs 4:23.

In other words, guard your thoughts, as it will affect your actions and ultimately your whole life. Now when you are watching television, you want to lay back and relax and not think of anything else. But the problem is that you put your guard down and passively allow everything on the television to enter your mind. It dulls the brain and allows things in, that you would under normal circumstances not entertain in your mind. These thoughts would slowly worm their way into your mind and strategically place them wherever your weakness is. For example you are not happy with your body, now you will see beautiful women on the television and automatically feel inferior. Or in the soapies you will see the perfect model of a man and you will start to compare him with your husband and begin to feel that your husband is not good enough. You will see affairs prevalent in almost every movie, it will start to look attractive to you and lure you in to possibly doing the same thing. You will hear curse words being spoken and the Lord's Name used in vain, and before you know it, one slips out when you are angry. Or you worry easily and now on the news you see all the devastating things going on in the world and you tense up and sleep with the lights on, because you fear the worst to happen to you. I can go on and on, but I am sure you get the picture.

My point is this, be careful what you place in your heart.  Be careful what you watch, it becomes your thoughts, your thoughts come out of your mouth and influences what you do, your actions can become habits and your habits build your character, essentially who you are. So in actual fact, wrong images on television can influence your character and pull you away from the Lord and all He has for you. Be careful. Rather focus on what is good and pure and of good report, it will build you up, fill you with the joy of the Lord and give you peace which surpasses all understanding.

"Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." Philippians 4:8

Lord Jesus, help us to look up to You and seek You in everything. Help us to discern different images on television and only look at what is good and pleasing in Your sight. You are our Lord and God and ultimately we would like to grow closer to You and leave out everything that could hinder our progress. Amen

3. The straw in our lives (2)

We are busy with a series about the three little pigs. And we have been asking ourselves the following question: What are our lives built out of, straw, sticks or bricks? I spoke last week about the first straw that I believe can fill up our time, and that is the internet and social media. I truly believe that if left unguarded, it can quickly replace the more important things in our lives. And when the first storm in our lives blow, the time spent on the internet will not help us to weather it successfully.

The second thing that I would like to discuss which can consume time unnecessarily is people.

2. People

Now let me explain this carefully. Here I am talking about people that can waste your time and wear you down. I am not talking about the people closest to you that form part of the bricks in your life. After all Jesus said that the second biggest commandment is to love one another and our great commission is to go out and tell people about Jesus and His wonderful saving power. So I am not saying that you must forsake that, but I would like to talk about friendships and there comes a time when it is better to break a certain friendship than to keep it. Let me explain at the hand of examples. I have heard countless times people say something to the extent of:

"I don't really find any joy in spending time with this person, but before I know it we have a coffee date. Afterwards I feel drained and I didn't enjoy it at all, but I couldn't say no." or

"I feel that we have had a relationship for 10 years already, I cannot accept that we have grown apart. Even though I don't enjoy our time together anymore, I am going to keep the friendship going." Or

"Before I can help myself I am at the coffee machine at work gossiping about some of the people in the office. I don't really have time to gossip, but before I can help myself I am there catching up on the latest news." Or

"I know that person is not good for me. Whenever we are together we do things that we normally wouldn't do on our own, but I can't muster up the courage to get that person out of my life." Or

"I know I need to spend more time with my family, but I need to interact and spend time with these guys in order to be promoted."

Now I don't have to tell you this, but I think you all realize deep down that when the real storms and difficult times in your lives come, these 'friends' will wither away like dew in the sun and at the next coffee break at work they will be gossiping about you.

We all know inherently that we should let them go, but I know that it is sometimes easier said than done. But the fact of the matter is that they are not good for you. They might not be 'wicked' people, but they do have an influence on you. When I started working I worked at a company where it was the norm to get drunk at every social event (and there was a lot!). And you know what, even though I didn't join them, it was not before long I began to accept their behavior and be less appalled by it. I started to accept it as the norm and not the exception. I even thought it was funny at times. And later on I realized that they were having a very bad effect on me. As a child of God I wasn't supposed to join them at every social and stay until late with them, because it was not good for me and it was not good for my relationship with the Lord.

So yes, I know it is difficult, but at the end of the day it is more important to honor God than people. But don't just take my word for it; let's see what the Lord says in His Word about friendships.

"The godly are cautious in friendship, the wicked lead them astray." Proverbs12:26

"Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm." Proverbs13:20

"Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with scoffers." Psalm 1:1

"Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can goodness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the Devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?...Therefore, come out from them, says the Lord. Don't touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:14-15; 17 - 18

I guess I can go on with more verses as there are quite a number concerning this issue. The point I would like to make is this. People are social beings and we were created that way. And when you do social, make sure it is with someone that will build you up, that will make you feel refreshed after the chat, someone that is positive and especially someone who loves the Lord and that will be there when the first storm comes to rock your house. Someone that will support you through thick and thin.

Don't waste time on people who only wear you down and who take up your precious time, instead focus on those people that form part of the bricks in your life. But I will talk about them later, for now, choose your friends carefully; they have a major impact on your life.

Lord Jesus, please give us the courage to end relationships that are not good for us. Give us the desire to spend time with You instead. Help us to prioritize and rather spend quality time with the people closest to us, those who are truly important. Amen

1. Building with eternity in mind

The next couple of weeks we are going to discuss the story of the three little pigs. I know it might sound strange to you that I chose a topic like this for my devotions, but please bear with me. You will be blessed by all the lessons we can learn from them. I know I have been blessed just writing it under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Now I am sure that most of you know the story of the three little pigs. But for those of you who don't, in short it is about three little piggy brothers who still lived with their mother. When it was time to leave the house she gave them some advice, told them to build strong houses for themselves and saw them on their way.

The first piggy was a bit lazy and took the easiest route. He built himself a house of straw. He finished the house very quickly and immediately started to live there. It was not long before the wolf in the vicinity smelled the little pig and without any trouble blew his house away in order to eat him. Luckily for the little piggy he was quick enough to get away from the nasty wolf.

In the mean time the second little piggy made a little more effort in building his house. He used sticks to build his house. He took a bit longer than his brother did in building his house, but soon enough he was finished and enjoying his completed product. Once again it was not long before the wolf sniffed him out and with a little more effort blew his house away as well. The wolf was very hungry by now, but the little pig managed to escape amongst the heaps of sticks lying around.

The third little pig was wiser and had more resilience than his brothers and decided to build a proper house with bricks and cement. He took much longer than his brothers did in building the house, but he made sure that everything was hundred percent in place with a proper foundation to support his structure. Eventually he finished his house. He was so impressed with his handwork and enjoyed living there. In the mean time the nasty wolf was almost starving from hunger and smelled the piggy from afar. He hurried over to his house and tried to blow the house down, but as much as he tried he couldn't even make a dent in any part of the house. He realized he had to make another plan, and before long he saw that he can climb onto the roof and wriggle himself down the chimney into the little piggy's house. He didn't waste any time and immediately put his plan into action. But the piggy was one step ahead of him; he realized what the wolf was planning to do. So in the meantime he put a big pot full of boiling water in the fireplace and when the wolf came down the chimney, he gave a loud yoooowwll as his bum burned with the boiling water. He immediately rushed out of the little piggy's house, never to return.

The two other piggy's heard the noise and rushed to see what had happened. Their brother was glad to see them and invited them to come and live with him which they readily accepted. They all lived happily ever after.

Now you may wonder why I am telling you this old story. Well, I am going to talk in depth about the lessons that we can learn from these three little piggys and the choices they made. But for now, stop and think for a moment, what is your house - in other words, your life - made of? Is it built with straw, sticks or bricks? Do you spend most of your time on straw, sticks or bricks? Think about it, I will discuss it in more detail over the next few weeks, but sit back somewhere during this week and answer the question for yourself. Jesus came and told us that we must build our house on a solid rock; otherwise our house will collapse at the first storm that comes our way. On what is your house built? With what is it built? Are you spending most of your time on things that have no eternal value, the straw in this life? Or are you building with bricks? I am sure you all inherently want to say your life is full of bricks, things that will last even if the wolf comes and tries to take it away. But is it really? Is that where you focus all your time and attention? We will work through it during the next couple of weeks, but be honest with yourself. Being honest is normally the first step towards change. May this change be one that glorifies Him and help you to serve Him better.

Father, we want to build houses that will last. We want to focus on things that have eternal value and not on the straw of this life. Your Word tells us that we must focus our attention on what is going on in Heaven and not on what goes down here on earth. Please help us to do just that. In Jesus' Name. Amen

"…set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honor and power. Let Heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth." Colossians 3:1, 2