When we decide to serve God, we make a covenant vow to serve Him by putting God first. Often our desires get in the way and we focus on people, places, and things. We fail to put God first. It is then that He begins house-cleaning. The relationship that prevented you from obeying God, He removed the person from your life, God did it for His glory and your good.
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
Prayer: God, thank you for your divine intervention to remove obstacles from our lives. Please help us to always put you first. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
“For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,” says the LORD, “plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
When we commit to serve God, He allows us time to get rid of the things that interfere with serving Him. God says that His name is “Jealous.” He requires loving Him with all of our heart, soul, and mind. If we fail to remove the obstacles, He intervenes to remove the people, places, and things that prevent us from putting Him first. God removes the toxic relationships, the job that consumes our thoughts and time, and the worldly friends or habits that bring temptation into our life. Everything we love or give our time and attention to will either honor God or conflict with His plans for us.
“But forget all that— it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19
God’s ultimate plan is to reward us with eternal life. We can accept or reject His plans, but we cannot waver between our desires and His plans. Serving God requires total surrender, humility, obedience, and above all, faith.
Our daily prayer of “Not my will, but your will be done” keeps us in sync with God. Do not be surprised. The outcome of this prayer is the removal of people, places, and things from our lives. Remember to thank Him, and don’t look back.
Bible study: Isaiah 43
God, we thank you for removing the obstacles that interfere with having a relationship with you. Please give us the strength to move forward. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.
Testimony: Many years ago, I witnessed to an individual about the Ten Commandments, and He accepted the fourth commandment:
Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it. Exodus 20:8-11
The Test of Faith
The dilemma is that he was in his late 50s, and had longevity on his job of 12 years, but he had to work on Saturday. The loss of a job close to retirement age not only eliminated a much-needed paycheck, it also included loss of health benefits. I can remember the phone call as if it was yesterday: “Please pray for me. I have decided to speak with the General Manager and tell him that I am no longer able to work on Saturday. This may mean the loss of my job.” I did not console him. I asked if I could pray, and I prayed a prayer based on Malachi 3:10 [the test of faith, obedience, and God’s promise to supply all of our needs].
Fifteen minutes later, I received the follow-up call. The job requirement included working on Saturday. His manager advised him to think about the dilemma overnight, and they would meet the next day. The following conversation was the testimony of divine intervention. After our call, he immediately returned to the manager with his letter of resignation. I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24. God provides supernatural miracles that our finite minds will never understand. Not only did he keep his job, his performance evaluation included a merit raise.
We do not enjoy the perfect peace of God because we are interpreting the scriptures to fit our desire to possess worldly goods. Our careers, jobs, and bank accounts have become our idols of worship. God is no longer our Jehovah-Jireh. Our perception of God changes according to our presenting challenges. We are happy because we are in a “season of plenty.” The abundance of our finances (which all belong to God) has convinced us that we can do good deeds to make up for our disobedience of self-reliance.
“Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” Malachi 3:10
God was fully aware that the ability to work and provide for ourselves would result in separation from Him. Malachi 3:10 requires faith, trust, and obedience to God. Our part is the human effort of giving back ten percent of all increase plus an offering based on our love for God. Did God give you the blessing of saving money off of a purchase that was supposed to be $500, yet you only paid $200? Then God blessed you with $300, and ten percent is $30 tithe. Were you blessed with free items? Did you faithfully give tithe and offerings as thanksgiving for the free blessings? The storehouse that God is referring to is not our growing bank accounts.
You may say, “But I am struggling, how can I possibly afford to give 10% of my meager funds?” But without faith, it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Hebrews 11:6. Lack of faith leads to disobedience. We cannot receive the reward of eternal life possessing doubt, disbelief, and faithlessness.
The last five years of my nursing career brought about a change that I did not think was possible. I decided to give up working on the Sabbath. Yes, I am aware that illness is 24/7, and nurses provide much needed care. But working on the Sabbath was a distraction. I could not enjoy the blessing of serving God on the Sabbath because on Friday [preparation day], I had to include preparing for working on the seventh-day that God ordained as holy.
I had a tough decision to make. This was a management position that paid the highest salary that I had received in my nursing career. But it involved being “On Call” rotation for ten days, which equated to working two Sabbaths a month. Even so, my commitment to God superseded my job. I prayed, took the giant leap of faith, and resigned.
My relationship with God experienced an all-time high. Finally, I would enjoy the Sabbath again, a total focus on God, and receive the blessings of a spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional renewal. God truly rewards us when we put Him First!
Not only did God bless me with a work-from-home position as an auditor of Medicare records, but He also opened the windows of heaven and blessed me with a salary increase. Please know that the focus is not on financial gain. The requirement from God is that we seek Him first! You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. Exodus 34:14
Self-reliance also produces selfishness. We console ourselves by asking those in a struggle, “How are you doing?” Yes, we will offer to pray for them. However, we have no intention of helping them financially. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” Matthew 6:24. Providing for others financially is a requisite that God commands us to do, But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 1 John 3:17.
Our gifts to help those in need must originate from our love for God. Remember, many philanthropists donate money but do not serve God. Being a good person who performs good deeds is very different from accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Finally, self-reliance causes us to place ourselves on a performance scale. We begin to focus on doing the works of performing good deeds; donating clothing, distributing spiritual tracts and books, running errands, taking individuals to medical appointments, or to shop for food, etc. He saved us, not by the righteous deeds we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5
Pray and ask God to search your heart and reveal to you the works you perform to overshadow the sins of self-reliance and the love of money. Put God first! Cease the habit of rewarding yourself. Jesus has the greatest reward of Eternal life if we renounce our sinful desires.
In My Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?…John 14:2
Bible study: Exodus 20
Prayer: God, we ask you to search our hearts and reveal to us the sins that keep us from seeking you first. We ask this prayer in the Worthy Name of Jesus. Amen.