Not long ago, I heard from a man who had gone through a long period of trial and turmoil. He had been working in a distant country just to find a job to support himself and his wife, but when his company let him go, he fell into despair. He eagerly sought the Lord for His provision and guidance, and enjoyed the support and encouragement of godly friends. After a year of joblessness, he was blessed with a job in his home country, and several months later, he was promoted to an executive position. He and his wife rejoiced when the Lord blessed them with a baby girl. This man told of how their happiness faded when their baby contracted a serious illness, and he lost his job. He knew in his heart that his troubles were related to his lack of communication with the Lord during his successful years, and his pride over his personal accomplishments. He described how disappointed he was with himself, and he said that if he could turn back time, he would not make the same mistakes again. He asked me to pray that God would give him another chance to regain his career, and grant his child a complete recovery.
As I thought about this man's situation, I recalled King David's description of his own folly in Psalm 30, where he writes: "When I was prosperous, I said, 'Nothing can stop me now!' Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain." (Psalm 30:6-7 NLT) David lost his focus. As he became more and more wealthy and successful, he began to focus more on his blessings and accomplishments, and less on the God who promoted and prospered him. David goes on to describe what happened when his foolishness resulted in the loss of God's favor. "Then You turned away from me, and I was shattered." (v. 7b) As the king realizes his mistake, he is heartbroken and despondent, and he wisely and humbly turns to the Lord. "I cried out to You, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy… Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord." (v. 8, 10) To his credit, David does not let his pride or foolishness stop him from admitting his mistakes to God, or seeking His mercy and restoration. We know that the Lord hears and answers David's pleas because the psalm concludes with, "You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever!" (Psalm 30:11-12 NLT)
In numerous places in the Bible, God warns His people against taking pride in their accomplishments and achievements at the expense of their relationship with Him. In Deuteronomy 8, Moses reminds the Israelites of how the Lord humbled them in the desert by causing them to rely on His provision. He tells them, "He did all this so you would never say to yourself, 'I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.' Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful... But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God…you will certainly be destroyed." (Deuteronomy 8:17-19 NLT) When we neglect the Lord, His ways, and His Word, we forfeit His divine protection and provision, and we make ourselves vulnerable to Satan's strategies to "steal, kill, and destroy" what we hold dear. (John 10:10)
The Bible reveals that God wants us to take these things to heart. As the Apostle Paul wrote: All these things happened to them as examples - as object lessons to us - to warn us against doing the same things; they were written down so that we could read about them and learn from them…" And he issues this admonition: "So be careful. If you are thinking, 'Oh, I would never behave like that' - let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin." (1 Corinthians 10:11-12 TLB) You and I must remain on guard at all times. We have an enemy who is dedicated to doing his level best to draw us away from God and His good plans and purposes for us, and it's absolutely imperative that we give the Lord first place in our lives in every respect. If you can identify with the man who wrote me, I urge you to turn to God in heartfelt repentance right now, and to seek His face and His favor. When you do, you will discover how eager He is to give you a fresh start and a new beginning!
Prayer: Lord, I regret all the times that I have lived my life neglecting You, Your wisdom, and Your ways. Please give me a new opportunity to serve You with the wholehearted devotion You desire and deserve. Guard me from pride and self-sufficiency, and teach me how to live my life with a humble reliance upon You. Show me how to put You first in every area of my life so that I can enjoy all the protection and provision You reserve for Your faithful ones. Thank You that as I do my part, I will experience more victory and blessing than I have ever known!
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