Wednesday, December 30, 2009

R.E.A.L. Women's Devotional - Resolution

New Year's resolutions are always well intended, but seriously, do we really ever keep them? I don't even remember what my resolution for last year was. Most likely it was to lose weight. That probably ranks as the number one resolution for most people. I'd like to propose a new resolution and the following is what prompted me to write this.

The past two weeks as I have been closing in on the last books of the Old and New Testament. There were few verses that caught my attention. The first was in Habakkuk and the second was in Haggai. The passage in Haggai was a bit disturbing to me, yet I feel like this is what happens. It says this, "'This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.’”(We get distracted on our own desires) 3 Then the Lord sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4 “Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? 5 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6 You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! 7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 8 Now go up into the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord. 9 You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, while all of you are busy building your own fine houses. 10 It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. 11 I have called for a drought on your fields and hills—a drought to wither the grain and grapes and olive trees and all your other crops, a drought to starve you and your livestock and to ruin everything you have worked so hard to get.” (Haggai 1:1-11 NLT) More times than not, it seems like my pockets have holes or at least our bank account has one.

Then a few books back, I recalled reading Habakkuk 2 and it was the last line in verse 4 that the Lord reminded me of. Verse 4 says, "'Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.'" (Habakkuk 2:4 NLT) That word "will" was a huge eye opener to me.

You see in Haggai, the Lord showed me that they had neglected to seek the Him first. God's people were so consumed with taking care of themselves and providing their own desires and trusting in their labor. It was the "I will take care of myself" syndrome rather than trust God and keep him first. When the Lord told Habakkuk that the righteous will live by faith that means it is a done deal. As a follower of Jesus who is "in right standing with God" (righteousness) then we have no other option than to trust the Lord with everything. God said we will, and this is not negotiable. Hebrews 11:6 says it, "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (NIV) See it is our faith that brings the reward of our labor, not our physical labor. We kind of get that verse from James that says "faith without works is dead" a little misinterpreted. (James 2:26) No, we can't just sit around and expect to be waited on, but I think works is about trusting and believing in the Lord. That is working faith. When He does open the windows of Heaven, it's being thankful and then asking Him what He wants us to do with those blessings rather than what we want to do with it. I believe God gave us luxuries in life, but when they get priority over Him, they are no longer blessings, but curses.

As we move into a new year, this is an opportunity to make a new New Year's resolution. The new resolution being, that this year I will be challenged to live by a new level of faith. The kind of faith that is pleasing to the Lord. A faith that I will not worry or be fearful of "not having enough", even if it looks impossible. Remember Jesus said in Matthew 19:26 "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." We need to live beyond the natural man of understanding and live in the spiritual man of understanding. We've experienced God's faithfulness to our church over these past few months. Here is where the "you" comes in with living by faith. You have to believe that God wants to see you prosper, physically as well as financially. Let's commit to being obedient this next year to doing what the Lord commands, that we will live by faith. As it says in Malachi 3. If we are obedient to bring the whole tithe, not a portion, into the storehouse, He will open the windows of Heaven and pour out so much blessing that we will not have enough room to store it. This is the only time the Lord tells us to test him. When God says He'll pour it out, it's not like standing in one of those glass boxes where money is flying and you have one minute to grab as many dollars as you can. No, it's God's promise to give us more than we need, if we choose to make him first and trust him first and not in our own works. Let's resolve to live walking in a higher level of faith in this new year. I can't wait to see what 2010 holds for each one of us. He will reward those who seek Him with all, not a portion, of their heart. That's not a one year guarantee, but a life time guarantee.