One day a very wealthy father took his son on a trip to the country for the sole purpose of showing his son how it was to be poor. They spent a few days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
After their return from the trip, the father asked his son how he liked the trip. “It was great, Dad,” the son replied. “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh Yeah,” said the son.
“So what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father. The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.”
“We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.” The boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “It showed me just how poor we really are.”
Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective.
Sometimes it takes the perspective of a child to remind us of what’s important.
“Lord, bend that proud and stiffnecked “I,” Help me to bow the neck and die, Beholding Him on Calvary, Who bowed His Head for me.”
The following are some of the features and manifestations of the self-life. The Holy Spirit alone can interpret and apply this to your individual case. As you read, examine yourself in the very presence of God. Are you ever conscious of:
A secret spirit of pride-an exalted feeling in view of your success or position; because of your good training or appearance; because of your natural gifts and abilities. An important, independent spirit?
Love of human praise; a secret fondness to be noticed; love of supremacy, drawing attention to self in conversation; a swelling out of self when you have had a free time in speaking or praying?
The stirrings of anger or impatience, which, worst of all, you call nervousness or holy indignation; a touchy, sensitive spirit; a disposition to resent and retaliate when disapproved of or contradicted; a desire to throw sharp, heated flings at another?
Self-will; a stubborn, unteachable spirit; an arguing, talkative spirit; harsh, sarcastic expression; an unyielding, headstrong disposition; a driving, commanding spirit; a disposition to criticize and pick flaws when set aside and unnoticed; a peevish, fretful spirit; a disposition that loves to be coaxed and humored?
Carnal fear; a man-fearing spirit; a shrinking from reproach and duty; reasoning around your cross; a shrinking from doing your whole duty by those of wealth or position; a fearfulness that someone will offend and drive some prominent person away; a compromising spirit?
A jealous disposition, a secret spirit of envy shut up in your heart; an unpleasant sensation in view of the great prosperity and success of another; a disposition to speak of the faults and failings, rather than the gifts and virtues of those more talented and appreciated than yourself?
A dishonest, deceitful disposition; the evading and covering of the truth; the covering up of your real faults; leaving a better impression of yourself than is strictly true; false humility; exaggeration; straining the truth?
Unbelief; a spirit of discouragement in times of pressure and opposition; lack of quietness and confidence in God; lack of faith and trust in God; a disposition to worry and complain in the midst of pain, poverty, or at the dispensations of Divine Providence; an overanxious feeling whether everything will come out all right?
Formality and deadness; lack of concern for lost souls; dryness and indifference?
Selfishness; love of ease; love of money?
These are some of the traits which generally indicate carnality in the heart. By prayer, hold your heart open to the searchlight of God. “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me” (Psalms 139:23-24).
The Holy Spirit will enable you, by confession and faith, to bring your “self-life” to the death (Romans 8:12-13). Do not patch over, but go to the bottom. It alone will pay.
Oh, to be saved from myself, dear Lord, Oh, to be lost in Thee; Oh, that it might be no more I, But Christ that lives in me. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).
~ Poem by Roy Hession author of ‘The Calvary Road’
“If we aren’t careful, we can be set up for failure and disappointment if we take our eyes off of our Provider and fix them on His particular means of provision”
“Sometimes God has to remove one thing so that we can be open to what He has next for us.”
“Sometimes God wants to use us first to comfort those in need, even when we ourselves are in need”
The word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. (1 Kings 17:2-7 NASB)
God clearly told Elijah to go to the brook, and Elijah obeyed. God miraculously provided for his servant there. And yet the brook dried up. Does that mean that Elijah did something wrong? No! I think it’s meant to teach us an important lesson: that God will always meet our needs, and He intends to use certain means for only certain times.
It is so easy to fall in love with the particular way that God is providing for us — a job we love, a friendship that is fulfilling, a routine that we really enjoy — but if we aren’t careful, we can be set up for failure and disappointment if we take our eyes off of our Provider and fix them on His particular means of provision. In all of our interactions with God, and especially in receiving good gifts for our needs from His hand, we should always seek to make sure that we are trusting God as our provider, and not starting to depend on the specific way He has chosen to provide.
I had a recent experience which helped me see this firsthand. There was a circumstance at work that made me feel that my job was in jeopardy. I was tempted to be anxious because the specific way God had been providing for me and family (ie, my job!) felt threatened. But God brought this story to my mind, and through it, He brought me to a place where I could confidently and restfully say, “(this person) would have no authority over me except what is given by God,” so I do not need to fear what they can do to my job, or the impact that could have on my life.
God did not choose to “dry up the stream” in my case, after all, but I felt it was an important test to ask me what I’m focused on: my Provider, or His provision.
*We can absolutely count on God to provide for the need though, even if the particular way He’s provided is removed.* Seeing God’s faithfulness to Elijah helped give me rest in the midst of my own trial.
The story continues:
Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” (1 Kings 17:8-9 NASB)
It’s amazing to realize that God had already arranged to provide for Elijah, before He even allowed the brook to dry up. What I see here is that sometimes God has to remove one thing so that we can be open to what He has next for us.
And I’ve seen this is my own life too. One simple example is that last year we had some dear friends move away and have to leave our church. I was disappointed at first, as I really felt they were folks God had provided for fellowship and had thus spent a lot of time with them. But now I can see that God had other plans for my life and how I spend my time, and I probably wouldn’t have been as open to new members or to new opportunities to serve if God hadn’t removed the thing He had originally provided. He needed to get rid of the “brook” in order to introduce me to the “widows” He’s currently using to meet my needs.
Praise God for knowing our needs even more intimately than we do, and for supernaturally providing for us in ways we would have never even dreamed of!
The last thing I see in this story of Elijah is there’s an interesting “plot twist!”:
So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” (1 Kings 17:10-12 NASB)
Elijah obeys God and goes where He leads, only to find that the widow isn’t able to meet his need after all. This brought a question to my mind: What do we do if it looks like the “provision” God has led us to is really a dead end? Like there’s no water in the “new brook” after all?
Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.'” So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah. (1 Kings 17:13-16 NASB)
What I see from Elijah’s response is that sometimes God wants to use us first to comfort those in need, even when we ourselves are in need. Elijah had such complete trust in God his ultimate Provider that he was undeterred by the fact that she didn’t have any bread! And instead of being disturbed that this woman whom God had sent him to was empty handed, he was perfectly at peace, and could minister to her from the rest he had found in His true Provider: God. So he immediately comforts her with the comfort that he’s been given — that if God has a plan to feed him through her, then He certainly has a plan to feed her too — with no concern whatsoever, being convinced that what God has promised He is also able to perform.
What a blessed ministry of encouragement can flow through the one who has surrendered completely to trust in his/ her Heavenly Provider.
An American investment banker was taking a much-needed vacation in a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. The boat had several large, fresh fish in it.
The investment banker was impressed by the quality of the fish and asked the Mexican how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.” The banker then asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican fisherman replied he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.
The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
The Mexican fisherman replied, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos: I have a full and busy life, señor.”
The investment banker scoffed, “I am an Ivy League MBA, and I could help you. You could spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats until eventually, you would have a whole fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to the middleman you could sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You could control the product, processing and distribution.”
Then he added, “Of course, you would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City where you would run your growing enterprise.”
The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”
To which the American replied, “15–20 years.”
“But what then?” asked the Mexican.
The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You could make millions.”
“Millions, señor? Then what?”
To which the investment banker replied, “Then you would retire. You could move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”
An award winning animated movie by viral fox called ‘ticket without a seat’ based on the simple acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion; and how one’s perception of life can change how you live it and thrive therein.
If we are not careful, we will spend an entire lifetime wishing for the things we do not yet have. So often I myself am guilty of this, so today I want to encourage you not to wish one more minute of your precious life away. We must carry hope with us. In fact, Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “hope deferred makes the heart sick.” We must hope and pray for the good things God has in store for our lives, but we must also embrace right where we are because today is a day you will never get back. If we do not guard our hearts diligently, discontentment will rob you of everything good in your life if you allow it too. But we can fight discontentment by digging up the things in our heart that shouldn’t be there and replacing them with good things.
There are many roots of discontentment, so today I want to challenge you to find the cause of those roots, dig them up, and plant seeds of thankfulness and gratitude. You don’t have to worry about your future because God already has it written in the palm of His hand. And if God is already there, you can bet it’s going to be something wonderful. Bitterness, envy, and anxiety breed discontentment, but thankfulness breeds contentment. Gratitude will overflow into every area of your life.
Practice thankfulness in this moment, no matter what your situation may be. Just as the apostle Paul spoke about in Philippians 4:8, set your minds on whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, honourable, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Don’t allow discontentment to rob you of today’s blessings.
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