Archive for the “Cursed Life” Category

When everything seems to be going wrong, we don’t like to think it might be our fault. “You did your best” a well-meaning friend might say. Or “sometimes things just happen.” Or perhaps they look at your circumstances with you and commiserate “it is what it is.” Well, yes, that’s obviously true – it is what it is. But why is it what it is? Sometimes it is what it is because we’re outside God’s will. The wise person steps back when everything seems to be going wrong and asks the Holy Spirit to lead them in examining their life.

The book of Haggai reminds us that our actions have consequences and sometimes it really is our fault.

The Israelites just couldn’t seem to get ahead:

5This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! 6You 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!
Haggai 1:5-6 (NLT)

Been there, done that! Didn’t have money to buy a T-shirt.

“Let me explain further”, God says:

3Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai: 4“Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? … 7“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: Look at what’s happening to you! … 9You 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. 10It’s because of you that the heavens withhold the dew and the earth produces no crops. 11I 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 1:3-4, 7, 9-11 (NLT)

God is very gracious. He doesn’t point out a problem without giving a solution.

8aNow go up in to the hills, bring down timber, and rebuild my house.
Haggai 1:8b (NLT)

He also promises blessings for obedience.

8bThen I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the LORD. … 18“Think about this eighteenth day of December, the day when the rebuilding of the LORD’s Temple began. Think carefully. 19I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn. You have not yet harvested your grain, and your grapevines, fig trees, pomegranates, and olive trees have not yet produced their crops. But from this day onward I will bless you.”
Haggai 1:8b, 2:18-19 (NLT)

Is your life a mess because of your own actions? Maybe you’re using all your money for your own benefit and not giving to God the tithe (tenth) that belongs to Him. Or perhaps you’re using all your time to pursue your career or leisure instead of spending an appropriate amount of it to get to know God better? Or just maybe you’re allowing things into your life that you clearly know are inconsistent with God’s plan for your abundant life.

God used the prophet Haggai to point the Israelites in the right direction. The Holy Spirit will do the same in our lives. The question is “will we listen and respond.” It’s up to each of us to choose God.

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I’l bet many of you know Jeremiah 17:7-8. It’s an often quoted passage. I love to read it.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (NIV)

Did you know that it follows Jeremiah 17:5-6? I’m guessing maybe you didn’t. Or at least you don’t know verses 5 and 6 as well as you know verses 7 and 8.

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. (NIV)

This is not the only place in Scripture where God clearly lays out the basis for blessings and curses. I’m so thankful He does that. He doesn’t make me wonder what it takes to gain His approval. And He doesn’t bury His instructions in the middle of complicated discussions I can’t understand. He says simply “This is what the Lord says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man…But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…”

Such a simple statement…sometimes so hard to implement. I’m afraid that I put my trust in mere humans more often than I think. I may not consciously turn my heart from the Lord, but there is a subtleness to turning our hearts away from God and toward humans or things humans have made that creeps into my daily life.

When I need to finish a work project before the end of the day am I trusting in my own strength or am I trusting in the Lord? When I have to see a doctor, am I trusting in the doctor or in the Lord? Don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not suggesting that I don’t work hard to finish the project or that I don’t see a doctor when I’m sick. But even doing those things, I can have an attitude of trusting God or trusting in man.

What keeps this attitude alive in you from day to day, moment to moment? Here’s 7 ideas. Pick one or two and begin to practice or work on improving in that area:

  1. Start every day by greeting the Lord and acknowledging Him as sovereign over all that will happen that day.
  2. Train yourself to pray often — when things are going well and when things are falling apart. Quick sentence prayers connect you to God on an ongoing basis.
  3. Put things in front of you that will remind you to look to God. That might be a note in your DayTimer or on your bathroom mirror, a screensaver on your computer, or a bracelet around your wrist. Use anything that will remind you to seek God.
  4. Learn to see God at work and in nature. Learning to see Him requires looking for him, so train yourself to look for Him by pausing several times to look around and ask God to reveal Himself to you in your surroundings. (Yes, that means pausing from your busy-ness.)
  5. Read about spiritual formation and spiritual disciplines. Try any of these books: The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. There’s an updated version in modern English. The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg Celebration of Disciplines: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
  6. Stop reading and practice what you’re learning!
  7. Be grateful. I think grateful goes beyond thankful. It’s easy to be thankful but grateful goes all the way to the heart. The difference in the definition of these two words in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary ( is interesting. Here’s an example:
  • thankful: conscious of benefit received
  • grateful: appreciative of benefits received b: expressing gratitude
  • Additional definitions carry the same theme — thankful is a consciousness of benefits while grateful is an appreciation of benefits. I want to not only be thankful for what God has done, is doing and will do; I want also to be grateful.

I love the illustration God uses earlier in Jeremiah: “As a belt clings to a person’s waist, so I created Judah and Israel to cling to me,” says the LORD.” (Jeremiah 13:11a, NLT).

Lord, we were created to cling to You. Help me to cling to You every minute of every day!

Let me know if there are things you’d add to my list of 7. Which of the 7 is easiest for you? Which is most difficult?

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