A Jacob Experience, Part 2: The restoration

Sometimes I find it difficult to look inwards and see the things in me that I need to allow God to work on. God, however is gracious and compassionate. In His infinite patience, he waits until I come to the end of my own schemes and plans to show me a better way. To show me that what he has for me is far better and more fulfilling than anything I could ever come up with. This second part Jacob’s story tells me that perhaps, I am not the first or last to go through this process……

The first part of the story can be found here.

Jacob reminds me of how we often rely on our own plans, separate from God, to get us through life

In the past, Jacob had gotten by through schemes, tricks, and plans from his own heart. Jacob was a man who could craft a plan and make it happen! Two notable examples of how he used his well-laid plans to trick those closest to him are when he tricked his brother out of his birthright (Genesis 25:21-34), and how he tricked his father to bless him instead of this brother with the help of his mother (Genesis 26:34 to Genesis 27:1-29).

Jacob’s trickery caught up with him eventually. After tricking his brother Esau out of his birthright, Esau vowed to kill him (Genesis 27:41). To escape his brother, Jacob fled to Laban, his uncle, who lived in Haran.

Yet despite all this, God never gave up on him. Even as he was fleeing, God appeared and assured him that he was still with him, and God would honor the covenant he had made with his grandfather Abraham through him. Even when we are lost and far away from God, his promises to us still remain. He does not take back anything that he promised us. His promises never go back to him void.

For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return without watering the earth, making it bud and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that proceeds from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and it will prosper where I send it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

God’s love for us is so amazing, he never, ever gives up on us.

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However, Jacob still had to undergo hardships to change from being a deceiver into what God needed him to be – the father of many nations. In Genesis 29:14-29, we find him working for fourteen years after being tricked into marrying Laban’s first daughter Leah when in actual fact he had wanted to marry Rachel, the second born. And the hardships did not stop there. Laban cheated Jacob multiple times out of his wages (Genesis 31:7). The trickster became the one who was tricked. Yet in all this, God had not left him. Jacob had to endure hard labor and many years of working for his uncle. This was a consequence of his own actions, but God used it for good. Amidst all this, God caused Jacob to grow and increase.

Even when we are in a dark and difficult place, God can still grow and restore us.

Then the time of the great reckoning came. As he prospered, his in-laws became jealous and God told Jacob to go back home. Now remember that back home, Esau had vowed to kill Jacob, yet God is telling Jacob to go back.

By going back, Jacob would face a real threat to his life. His brother could very well kill him. For a time, it looked like his brother was out to kill him, as he came out to meet him with 400 men. Jacob must have been very afraid, and as always, he came up with a plan to appease his brother, by sending him gifts and splitting up his possessions to go before him. His plan was to meet Esau last, by himself after Esau had received all the gifts and hopefully had a change of heart.

As Jacob was busy planning all this, the angel of the Lord came and interrupted his plan. The Bible says that Jacob wrestled the whole night with God. Jacob refused to release Him until he was blessed (Gen 32:24-30). At this point, Jacob has started coming into a realization that only through God would he truly prosper. He needed to lay aside his own plans and start putting God first.

Jacob learned to involve God in his plans on his way back to where God needed him to be. This put him on the path back to restoration.

I learn from this that when I involve God, he will restore me to his original plan for my life. He will direct me on how to live my life, and live it abundantly.

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

My prayer today is that I may learn to ask God to reveal to us his plans for my life and that I may let him restore any areas in me that need restoration.

Involving God in our plans allows him to restore us, and helps us to soar higher and higher!

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In the next two parts of the story, I found interesting links between how restoration influences prosperity and ultimately plays a role in the fulfillment of God’s grand plan for mankind.

That’s what’s coming next week! Hope you find some time to read it 😊

May God bless you richly!

A Jacob experience, Part 1: The brokenness

This post is the first of four that will discuss what I have been learning from the story of Jacob recorded in Genesis. I hope you will find it an enjoyable, thought provoking, and encouraging read. This story reminds me of the goodness of God, and how He works over time, through multiple generations, despite our shortcomings, to bring his promises to pass.

Here goes part 1…

From Abraham to Jacob, three generations later

The story of Jacob in the Bible has a rich legacy. Jacob was a son of Isaac, who was a son of Abraham. According to the Bible, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Abraham was called by God, walked with him, and ultimately through his lineage, the world received Jesus Christ. 

God gave several promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-7). One of the main promises given to Abraham was that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand in the sea. To Abraham, Isaac was born. Isaac then had two sons, Jacob and his brother Esau. In Genesis 43, we now find Jacob as an aging man who is now a father of 12 sons and daughters.

Most of us are familiar with this story but indulge me for a minute. In Genesis 43 the scene as it is unfolding through the eyes of Jacob is a difficult one. Jacob thinks his second last born son, Joseph is dead. A great famine is ravaging the land and the only place that has provision is the land of Egypt. His sons have visited Egypt once and had a strange encounter with the ‘Lord of land’ (Gen 42). This ‘Lord’ had accused his sons of being spies, and told them not to return to Egypt without the one brother they left behind to prove that indeed, they were not spies. This one brother left behind, Benjamin was the one remaining son borne to Jacob’s beloved wife, who had died in childbirth (Gen 42:38).

The brokenness: To save one or to save many?

At this point, food is running out for Jacob and his family. His entire household faces imminent death by starvation unless he agrees to release his last-born son, Benjamin, to go and meet the ‘Lord’ of the land of Egypt. Benjamin, his clear favorite, is a source of hope and joy for Jacob, and the Bible tells us that their lives were intertwined (Gen 44:30). I often wonder how I would have reacted if I was the one in Jacob’s shoes, being asked to release the very thing that is so dear to me. How would you have reacted?

Imagine how heartbreaking it must have been for Isaac to have to choose between losing his last born son, or having his family face death by starvation!

Jacob’s reaction was one most of us can relate with. He said:

“You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” (Genesis 42:36).

But was everything really against Jacob?

If we read the rest of the story, we find that in actual fact, all these things that seemed to be working against him, were for him. They were all divinely designed, though not in a way a man could understand, to save him and his family.

Sometimes, in what seems like a season of brokenness, God is setting you up for even greater and better things!

Whether or not our season of brokenness is caused by our own wrongdoing or external factors, God can still use it to bring his plans and purposes to pass.

God never wastes anything thing that happens to his children. What was meant for harm, he can turn around for good. He who began a good work in us, is faithful to complete it.

“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”

Philippians 1:6, NIV version
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Like a stack of blocks, it will all come together one day, like a beautiful, God-designed tapestry. Just hold on and be strong in Christ!

Surrender that leads to Power

Come unto Jesus

Give Him your life today

Come unto Jesus

Let Him have his way

Come unto Jesus Lyrics, Dallas Holm

This song reflects my heart’s desire today: That I would learn to truly go to Jesus, for everything big and small. That I would truly learn to trust Jesus, when the darkness before me threatens to overcome me. That I would learn to run to Jesus, when trials and temptations surround me. That I would put Jesus first, when all the things in my life are fighting for my attention.

There is so much power available to us as Christians. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead resides in us through the Holy Spirit, our helper. We see this in the letter that Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, recorded in the book of Ephesians. See a snippet of the same below.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms”

Ephesians 1:17-20

God longs to demonstrate his power through us. But it starts with laying down our lives. It starts with putting God first and truly letting Jesus be Lord of our lives. In every area of our lives.

We cannot do it on our own. Only God can help us to truly surrender. That is the beauty of salvation – God shows us what to do, then gives us the ability to do it. He alone shows us what we need to surrender, and how to surrender it. His power is made perfect in our weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness….”

2 Corinthians 12:9

All he needs is a heart that is willing to surrender. Not a heart that knows how to surrender, just one that is willing to surrender.

When we surrender, He shows us greater things. When we surrender, He demonstrates his love and power through us. When we surrender, He gives us strength for today, and a bright hope for tomorrow.

God is faithful, and nothing gives Him greater joy than to show up mightily on our behalf.

But it starts with surrender. Is there something you need to lay down at the feet of Jesus today? Is there something you need to release and surrender to God? Is the Holy Spirit whispering to you today about that thing saying, “Let it go….leave it….walk away….?”

Surrendering to Jesus activates Power in our lives!

The power of the Holy Spirit works in us and through us when we surrender to Jesus. There is an overflow of peace, joy, clarity of direction and purpose that comes when we let Christ lead, and the Holy Spirit be our guide. I get excited thinking about the great things that God wants to do for us, and in us. We are his children, and no good thing will he withhold from us!

“…..how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:11

The first step however, even before we ask, is to surrender. Let’s take a moment today to just surrender. To turn our eyes back to Jesus, so that he can work in us afresh today. That he may reveal his plans and purpose for our lives. That we may receive all the great gifts he has for us. That his power may be stirred up within us.

Here is my prayer for today. For myself and anyone else who needs to surrender.

Lord Jesus, I lay me down at your feet today. I come with a heart willing to surrender all. At your feet is the most high place. May you be honored, may you be glorified and may your power be seen in a mighty way in my life. May your power be seen in the lives of every heart that is surrendered to you. May our lives be filled with great testimonies of how you have come through for us in mighty ways. All for the glory and honor of your name, Jesus.

Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world! The more we run to him, the more we will receive revelations, divine direction, wisdom and power to be all God pre-ordained us to be.

Thank you God for the power and victory we have in Jesus!

Brokenness and restoration

I heard some very strange noises outside my window. It was as if someone was violently breaking the earth, shaking the foundation that holds our little apartment.

Naturally, I rushed to the window to see. I live on the third floor, so death through crushed rubble is a very possible reality if something were to happen to our building.

Luckily, nothing was happening to the building. They were just fixing the road. Now this was no patchwork job, they literally broke up the tarmac on the road. All the tarmac was heaped together in the middle of the road, with a bulldozer carrying away the broken tarmac.

You see, our road has been full of potholes for quite some time. Potholes so big that they looked like craters. The local government has continually tried to fix these potholes. The fixes worked, but only for a time. The fixes did not address the real issue, the broken drainage system under the road that allowed water to seep in and destroy the road. Eventually they realized that while it might be costly, fixing the drainage was the only solution to permanently fix the road. And the only way to get to the drainage was to break up the top layer of the road.

“Sometimes what is on top must be broken to fix what is underneath”

Our Christian walk can be like that. From how things appear in the natural, it looks like everything is breaking. A job is lost, a child is ill, loved ones walk away. Difficult things happen and life as we know it changes. But what if, just what if we allowed all these difficult things to stop us, and slow us down, so that God can break through our ordinary lives and draw us closer to him?

Now God does not send suffering our way. He loves us and wants nothing but the best for us. That said, sometimes he allows suffering to come our way. But even then, he stays with us, and remains our comfort and hope.

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me”

Psalms 23:4

God is looking to restore us from our brokenness. Like that tarmac road, if we allow God to have a look at what’s underneath, the real people that we are when no one is looking, he will restore us. He will heal our brokenness. He will rebuild us from the inside out. He will hear us when we cry and heal our land. We can be the hope and the light that the world needs in these trying times. But God needs to start with us.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will heal their land”

2 Chronicles 7:14

I pray that the Lord starts with me.

May the brokenness in me and around me bring me to my knees in humility. And may our father in heaven hear my humble prayer, restore us and heal our land. Will you join me in prayer today?

Good things are coming, just wait for it!

Have you ever seen real, natural honey dripping? Because it is very thick and viscous, it takes time to move when one is pouring it out. This quality of honey becomes especially pronounced when there is very little left.

Honey teaches me patience. It reminds me that sometimes we have to wait for the good things to manifest in our lives. It does not mean that the good things are not there, they just might not get to us as quickly as we thought they would.

Sometimes it seems like the promises that God has for our lives are on hold. Almost as if they have been lost or forgotten. But this is never the case. God can never forget his promises to us. He loves us with an everlasting love. He plans things out in our lives. Because we live in a fallen world, sometimes things do not go as expected, but trust God. He has you in the palm of his hands.

My Bible reminds me that God knew us, even before we were formed and born. He has good plans for our lives. Plans for good and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope.

“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you….”

Jeremiah 1:1

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

That is my comfort when I look at my honey jar. Good things are coming. For weeping may last the whole night long, but joy comes in the morning. His promises are true, sure, and they will come to pass. This is why I know without a doubt, that good things are coming.

God will see us through these difficult COVID times and turn our wailing into dancing. All in his time.

You turned my wailing into dancing, you removed my sackcloth, and clothed me with joy!

Psalm 30:11

We have a reason to smile and dance today. Good things are coming, just wait for it!

Hearing God in tough times

If one googles “How to hear God in tough times” a lot of things come up. Some are uplifting, some are a bit strange. It’s difficult to know what is what sometimes.

I’m learning that sometimes it helps to go back to the old school way – cracking open a book. I came across this great book by Kenneth E. Hagin, Following God’s plan for your life that gave me an answer so simply, I couldn’t believe that I had never seen it this way.

It is nothing new or profound, but how he explains it is the difference. As a Christian, we are often taught that we need somebody to explain this whole Christian thing to us. While this is true to some extent, there is a basic truth from the Bible we can hold on to, to help us on our journey towards hearing God in tough times: Hearing from God is possible at all times. Jesus made it possible when he died on the cross for us.

When Jesus died on the cross, the veil was torn. We can now hear God directly, in our own personal quiet times.

Matthew 27:51 says “At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.”

What was this moment? This was the moment that Jesus took up our sin and iniquities, and died on the cross for us. In the Old Testament, under the old covenant, only priests could enter the temple and commune directly with God. Everybody else had to work with what God told the priest, and rarely were messages personal.

Under the old covenant, it would have been very difficult to access God directly and hear a specific individual word to get you through a tough time. But thank God for Jesus! In the new covenant that Jesus established by dying on the cross for us, we can now access God directly. He is willing and eagerly waiting to commune with us.

How do I know this? Hebrews 10:19-22 tells us that Jesus provided a direct way for us to draw near to God, through him as our high priest.

…..and so dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus…..

Hebrews 10: 19, New Living Translation

How then do we get to that place where we can hear God in tough times?

This is where Kenneth Hagin’s book gave me a practical, heart moving idea on how to do this:

Start by Praising God. It will still your heart and allow you to hear him.

Jesus left us a helper, the Holy Spirit. He speaks to us, deep within us, but sometimes His voice can be drowned out by the chaos we find ourselves in. I find that this happens a lot to me when I have not been spending enough time just being still before the Lord. Even when our bibles are open in front of us, our minds can be racing in a hundred different directions, not being still to hear the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit.

During such time, divinely inspired praise and worship can help to calm us and bring us to that place of stillness. This can be your favorite psalm from the Bible, or that gospel song that takes you to a better place. Linger in His Presence, loving him and worshipping him for all that he is and all that he has done for you. Sing your song, praise God and see him speak to your heart!

Through Jesus therefore, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.

Hebrews 13:15

Ministering to God in praise and worship helps us to quiet our minds and emotions, and be still before him. God is waiting to speak with us and direct us during our tough times. Will you try praising him to get that breakthrough?

Bringing hope to life beyond COVID 19

I have every reason to thank God in this season. It has been confirmed through multiple tests: my husband and I are now corona free! Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!😊😊😊

Truly this illness was not unto death for us, but to give a testimony of the goodness and greatness of God.

*Happy dance* We celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord!

So what next? Where do we go from here?

There is still much left to be done. I am reminded of a story I once heard about a hummingbird, told by a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from Kenya, the late Wangari Maathai. The short version follows below:

This is my challenge now that the worst is over for me. What can I do to help others around me to get through this? Who can I help, and how, with the little that I have?

I want to be that little hummingbird in my community, in this generation. I can start here in this blog by sharing some encouragement and hope, and hopefully add more good things as I go. If one person smiles and gets to know the love of God and the freedom in Jesus through my words, that’s enough for me 💕

It may be a big dream but I believe that together we can make the world a happier, more positive and unified place. One person at a time. One step at a time.

In what ways are people helping each other around you during these difficult times? What big or small thing has made you smile today?

Isolating faith

I recently learnt about this idea, isolating faith. It was explained to me as a point that comes in one’s walk of faith where God has to separate you to continue building you as a believer.

It sounds like a strange thing, a least it did to me at first. But when I looked deeper in the Bible, I saw that this often happens. One example that comes to mind is Abraham (initially called Abram), often credited as the father of faith. God told Abraham to leave all he knew to follow him.

The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you”

Genesis 12:1

The following two verses in Genesis 12 (read more here) continue talking about how God will make Abraham into a great nation. Reading all the verses together, one can see that isolating faith is the first step towards God’s promises for our lives.

Lightbulb moment – isolating faith opens the door to great promises!

The only problem is that life doesn’t often happen this way. I find that when God asks me to separate by doing things differently, leaving some habits, stepping out even when I am afraid, the promise that will come after is not clear until I actually do what I need to do.

Isolating faith for me is often God saying, “Obey first, then I will show you the benefits of obedience.”

God continually raises us to be better. He raises us to demonstrate the fruits of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control. He raises us to use our gifts and talents in a way that pleases him and makes the world a better place. But to get there, we will experience isolating faith. Great things never happen if we continue doing the same old things in the same old way.

Isolating faith: This is God’s way of calling us to our next level!

My encouragement today for the next time this moment of isolating faith comes your way – embrace it. No eye has seen, no ear has heard or mind understood what God has in store for you! He is in it, to win it, for you.

All you need to do is take that step of faith. What lies on the other side of that step is amazing!

Hope Beyond COVID 19

Before I faced the COVID 19 virus (my husband and I both have it as mentioned in a previous post), thinking about the virus and all the devastation it is causing was creating a sense of anxiety and panic for me.

The impact that this virus has had on both those who get it, and those who are affected emotionally and economically cannot be understated. Some of us go through the physical pain of the virus in our body, some of us go through the emotional and mental anguish of watching loved ones suffer, some of us go through the economic devastation of having jobs terminated, uncertainty of where the next meal will come from or what the future will be after this pandemic. The most unfortunate of us go through all of the above, sometimes all together.

This pandemic has affected us all, either physically, emotionally or economically. Sometimes in all the above ways.

But even then, just like in the days of Elijah when God was not in the mighty wind, massive earthquake or blazing fire, sometimes what we need to re-ignite hope is a still, small voice.

Sometimes God comes through the chaos in the form of a still, small voice.

I am no longer afraid or anxious despite the chaos and uncertainty COVID 19 has introduced. We can, and we will rebuild again. God created us with so many gifts and abilities that we have not even began to understand. Sometimes we have to be shaken to the core to release those gifts. He is ready to equip us with great strength and resilience to keep moving despite everything this virus throws at us. All we have to do is ask. Ask him to help us to look beyond the chaos and the pain and to help us see that he has been there with us all along, carrying us when we couldn’t walk.

God will give us strength, hope and strategies to move on beyond COVID 19. This I believe without a doubt.

Joy in the journey

My husband and I tested positive for COVID this week. It has been a hard reality to come to terms with, especially because we have two small children, but it is the reality we are living in now.

Is it difficult? Yes. Is it physically and mentally draining? Yes. And yet, somehow, there is joy in the journey.

God never allows anything in a believers life that does not work together for good. Even as some moments have led us to question if tomorrow will come, we have continued to see God’s very present hand in our lives. Our friends and family have rallied around us, supporting us physically, mentally and emotionally. It has been a time of strengthening and deepening bonds. A time that reminds us of what really matters – family, friendship, love. These are the things that are bringing us joy during this journey.

And so we continue on this journey. Every day takes us a step closer to beating the virus. Every day we are reminded of how precious life and the people around us are. Every day we will continue thanking God for the joy he is bringing during this journey.

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