Brown Paper Packages, Tied Up With String

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all have weaknesses that make us vulnerable and open to darkness in the world.  There is no doubt that Satan plays upon those weaknesses.  So when the false light of Satan comes before you with temptation, you must remember who your life belongs to.  You belong to God.

 

Because of our weaknesses, sometimes, we hear what we want to hear.  We may see what we want to see and feel what we want to feel.  We develop tunnel vision.  Just as Satan offered Jesus a kingdom and riches that really didn’t belong to him (Matthew 4:1-11), he presents temptations that offer us everything we want and expect.  We are certain that it is God answering our prayers.  It has to be.  It couldn’t be anything else because temptation comes dressed in a package that looks like a gift from God. 

 

For Samson, there was nothing more tempting than his wife and Delilah. (Judges 14, 15, 16, 17) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Judges%2014&version=NKJV

 

 

 

Here, is this wonderful gift, at your doorstep.  In your eyes, it’s dazzling and you know it will bring you good things.  You go tell your friends, expecting them to be as excited and happy for you as you are.  

 

Some people tell you that it looks like a suspicious package.  You better find out where it came from.  Some people are warning you to call the bomb squad.  It’s going to explode right in your face.  Others, whom you believe to be your friends, are waiting to see you fall.  Others keep quiet because they know you’re going to do what you want to do anyway.  The rest are just too afraid to say anything to you, because they are insecure in their relationship with you. 

 

Then, one quietly says, “I asked God and this is not what you need.”  You listen to the one who gives you Godly advice and pray.  Certainly, they’re mistaken you think.  You didn’t hear that from God.  Satan helps you find something wrong with that person.  There must be some sin or weakness blocking their vision and hearing.  Perhaps, they’re just jealous, mistrusting and insecure because they weren’t given this wonderful gift.  Perhaps, they’re just looking for attention and importance.  Of course, they don’t know enough about your situation; what you’re trying to do; and what you need and want, or what you’re capable of.  God is on your side. 

 

After some brief research on the origin of the package, you accept the tempting gift, believing you can control whatever is inside.  And… God allows it, because He wants you to grow.  He hasn’t forsaken you and He’s not trying to punish or mislead you.  You are in His hands, all the while, but He has to let you grow.

 

You open the package and see the gift.  Its light is mesmerizing; so mesmerizing, you don’t see the strings attached.  Almost everyone is mesmerized by it.  However, some are saying that you should put it back into the package and send it back where it came from.  But, they can’t offer you a satisfying reason or proof as to why you should return it.  You can see that it has promise and potential. 

 

And promise it does; to bring you more and even better gifts and riches; everything you’ve wanted and deserve.  It will even help those around you, in the name of God, because it just wants to see everyone benefit.  

 

You put your trust in the gift, because all you have to do is receive all that it has to offer and help those around you.  So, you continue upon your course to new and promising horizons.  You don’t know exactly what the gift’s plans are, but no matter, it will bring prosperity and blessings.  You have prayed about it and you are certain God approves (which He does); so, you decide to stay about it; unaware that, if your heavenly Father stops you now, what lesson will you have learned?

 

 

Yes, it is true; God’s blessings and gifts come in many disguises—even from our enemy.  However, when we look at Abram (Abraham), we find he would not let the King of Sodom give him gifts.  He said that he would not let anyone say that the King of Sodom made him rich.  Why?

 

Abram Blessed by Melchizedek Genesis 14:17-24 (ESV)

17 After his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King's Valley).

 

  18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 

 

 19 And he blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    Possessor of heaven and earth;
 

20 and blessed be God Most High,
    who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.  

 

21 And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” 

 

 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. Let Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre take their share.”

 

 

Abram knew that God supplies all his needs and desires, and to God, all the praise, honor, and glory should be given.  Should Abraham have accepted the gift and become indebted to him, believing he could control the King of Sodom and if need be overpower him with God’s help? Should he have been more concerned with making friends and allies at any cost?  Should he have risked his reputation? 

 

Cost comes in many forms: life, reputation; integrity; sin; separation from God; loss or corruption of loved ones; repayment; expectations; corruption, etc.  When God sent His people to war, He told them not to take any spoils or people that would cause corruption within the people of Israel or make them turn to idol worship.

 

Believers today believe they can accept gifts from darkness and not be changed. They believe their safety net is God’s approval and their ability to control what is within the darkness.  However, if you do not have control over the weakness the darkness has been sent to tempt and control, the darkness will conquer you.  We go through ordeal after ordeal because of the same weakness and fail.  This is why we are being tempted and tried again.  We refuse to take the time and work on the cause of our weakness.

 

When you belong to God, God is not going to let you keep something you have to control.  He doesn’t want you to have a man, woman, job, or anything else that you have to control or that will control you.  God is the God of freewill, order, peace and joy.  He doesn’t try to control you and He doesn’t want you trying to control anything or anybody else. 

 

When God wants to bless us, God gives us what we are ready for; what we are able to take care of, appreciate, and share.  That doesn’t mean there is no work involved.  It means that God knows you have the will, desire and spiritual maturity to maintain the gift and to appreciate the Giver and the given.  If God has not raised you up to the point you believe you should be or given you what you think you should have, perhaps it is because you have not allowed Him to spiritually mature you to be able to sustain and appreciate that blessing.

 

Let us not think in terms of financial prosperity only.   A poor person can be spiritually mature and rich in many things and still be economically poor.  They build a mansion and wealth in God’s new kingdom.  We are all given different paths and circumstances to lead us to the Kingdom of God.

 

Will God let us prosper from the mesmerizing package? Yes, He might, for a reason.  God knows how to use and control Satan.  There is no doubt that what Satan has intended for evil, God can indeed turn to good.  Then, is it right to believe that it is not a bad thing to accept the package? No, that is not what I am saying.  Remember, Satan tempts you to turn you against the Lord and there is always a price to pay.  He loves to bring packages with strings attached. 

 

David and Bathsheba

 

2 Samuel 11:26 (NIV)
26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

 

2 Samuel 12:10-14 (NIV)
10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.’  
 

11 “This is what the Lord says: ‘Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 

12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.’”
 

13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.”  Nathan replied, “The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.”

 

God doesn’t want us to yield to temptation; to take the bait that welcomes Satan in through the door.  He wants us to humble ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit to grow us, so that we are not tempted. He wants us to abide in Christ so that darkness and temptation will be revealed to us.  In Christ, we will be delivered and overcome.

 

If we are unaware of our weakness, then often we must go through temptation and trial to bring it out in the open.  However, when you know you have a certain weakness or tendency and continue to fall because of that weakness, you are not surrendering to God.  Moreover, can we get closer to God, if we do not surrender all? 

 

If you have prayed about your weakness, rest assured, God is working a plan.  Be it so, you can also rest assured, Satan knows of your weakness and will continue to try to destroy you and those around you.  It is selfish and unfair to those around you to continue to do as you please. 

 

When, Satan gives you a gift or allows you to prosper, He robs you of something else.  It is this unforeseen calamity that brings us into our fall.  He robs us of our health, family, friends, happiness, integrity, freedom, our mind and body and anything else that will attack, injure, ruin or kill us.  We become ineffective vessels for God and our relationship is torn.  If he can’t get to us, he attacks those around us until we are miserable and unable to help them.  Will we love ourselves so much, that we will allow others to be destroyed?  

 

When we are attacked, we want to put all the blame on Satan, because we are afraid or too proud to look at ourselves.  Often we believe that Satan is trying to prevent us from receiving what God wants us to have.  Yet, we must look inward.  Look at our emotions and motives, our actions and expectations; and our walk with God. 

 

The biggest clues come from when we talk about this wonderful package we’ve received.  We need to play back what we’ve said and think about it.  Are we enamored; charmed by someone we admire and want to be like? Are we trying to pattern ourselves after them?  Are we wrapped up in the praise and compliments we’ve received? Ask yourself, “Am I willing to give up everything at this moment and surrender all to God; not worrying about what it would do to my reputation, my friends and family, my job, or my ministry?  Am I willing to put Isaac, a promise and gift from God, on the altar and sacrifice him?  Do I trust God to put a ram in the bush?” 

 

Where is your faith?  If you don’t accept this package or opportunity, man, woman, or friend, is there fear that this chance may never come again?  Are you trying to limit the power of God?  Do you find yourself changing your behavior or thinking to insure that what you want will happen?   Are you prone to deception or impulsiveness?  Do you put off organization and effective planning?  Are you struggling with pride?  Have you been a good steward over what God has already given you now and in the past?  What have you done to take care of and increase that which you have been entrusted?  Are there incomplete or mismanaged projects and things that need your attention?  Are you easily distracted away from one project, when you see the promise of another?  Maybe there are people and relationships that need your attention.  Isn’t it worth taking a look inward before you open the package? 

 

We are quick to sweep dirt under the rug and stuff soiled clothing in the closet, to get on with our lives in hope of better things to come. We believe God will let us keep going on as we are and move us on to something better.

 

I have heard many sermons about Abraham sacrificing Isaac, but very little or nothing is said about Abraham being freed.  We are led to focus on Abraham’s virtues of faith, obedience and trust in God.  Yet, He was being freed, also; but freed from what?  

 

We know that Genesis 15:6 (KJV) says: 6 “And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”  However, did Abraham abound in righteousness and fear of the Lord?  Abraham needed to be freed from weaknesses that would separate him from God and prevent God from laying the foundation needed to build a nation.  Abraham’s foundation had to be strengthened; so God could build upon it.  Today, through God’s grace and mercy, we stand upon that foundation.

 

When God starts chipping away, breaking you down, remolding, sculpting and building you, be not dismayed whatever betide.  God is taking care of you.  He is preparing to build something better, stronger, enduring.  When friends turn their back on you.  God is making you dependent upon Him, alone.  What better friend to have.  What a friend we have in Jesus.  God will take care of you.  Maybe He is not building a nation, but He is building a temple for the Almighty God to live in and use to rebuild a nation to His vision and glory.  Be not dismayed whatever betide.  You are a child of God.

 

 

2 Corinthians 7:1 (NIV)
Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

 


From Abraham, was to spring forth a nation of God's children; free in truth and spirit; free in holiness and righteousness; a nation that would belong to God and only to God--a nation that must put God first.

 

Abraham was a man of faith and he was a prophet.  This was Abraham’s calling in life.  Like all prophets, he must belong to God and only to God.  He must always put God first.  Nothing should interfere with His work for God. 

 

Yes, in following God’s directions to sacrifice Isaac, Abraham showed great faith and that he would not withhold anything from God.  He was willing to surrender and sacrifice all.  In return, God freed him, of those weaknesses he allowed to distract, trouble, and lead him astray. A nation was born; a nation unto which God would one day offer His own Son in sacrifice to free all from sin and give them abundant and eternal life. And now, today, through the sacrifice of Jesus' blood and the gift of God's Holy Spirit, Christ can remove all within us which separates us from our love of God and putting God first and foremost in our lives.

 

God does not build, until the foundation has been firmly laid; a foundation had to be laid in Abraham; fear of the Lord and humility.  God demonstrated that all belongs to Him and the Lord will give and the Lord will take away.   God knew the people Abraham and Moses would have to lead; stiff-necked people; those of little faith; those who would criticize; those who could not see the vision and believe; those who would be ready to turn back to Egypt.  If you want to lead, let God rebuild you and bring you to your knees.  Let him strip you of all the things and people that you think you need; when all you need is God.  God will send the faithful.  God will prepare for what is ahead.  God will send the the warriors to conquer.  God will send the  workers to build; the intercessors to intercede; and the angels to watch over.  You must keep your eye on the vision and trust always in God for everything; going to Him first and always.

 

When God shows us favor; when He gives us our heart's desires; sometimes we tend to believe we can do as we please; we can put other things and people before Him; forgetting that without Him, we are nothing.  Sometimes, we tend to live life, as if we will not suffer the ill-fate or heartaches of others; nor will the wrath of God be upon us.  Fear of the Lord gives us wisdom in many things. On his journey, Abraham would need wisdom. He would need humbleness.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 
Proverbs 15:33   The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.

 

Abraham set out at the beginning of his journey to protect himself by telling what he believed to be, just a little white lie (part of the truth) in saying that Sarah was his sister.  (Genesis 20:1-3)  It does not mention that Abraham’s actions were directed by God.  Abraham lied about Sarah.   Abraham listened to Sarah to go in to her handmaid, Hagar.  Abraham first banished Hagar and Ishmael to please Sarah.  No doubt, Isaac was the apple of his eye; his promised heir, upon whom God’s covenant fell.  As much as he loved him, he could not put him above and before His love and fear of God. 

 

Yes, Abraham believed God, but he believed that he could operate outside of God's righteousness.  Abraham’s fear of man interfered with his ability to walk in righteousness, as God’s prophet.  He did not fear God, as he should.  Did that change? Yes. But God had to test and purge him. God allows us to be tempted and tested when we need to be purged of our weaknesses and sin.

 

In the midst of our tribulation and chaos, something must happen to stop us from allowing Satan to destroy us.  God must bring us to our knees.  God wants us to be able to see beyond the aesthetic; to recognize the façade; and see those things and people that do not reflect the character of Christ and God.  So, He allows disillusionment to set in.  The package, the gift, the woman or man, the job, the place, the dream was not all that you thought it would be.  It did not bring you all you thought it would bring.  All or much may be lost.  They have turned their back on you.  Now, God might decide to take everything away.  What can we do?  What should we do?  We must humble ourselves, as Abraham did.  We must make a decision.  We must make a choice.  What will we give up?  What will we surrender?  What will we sacrifice?  What will we allow God to extract to free us? Hallelujah!

 

We must root out those things separating us from the love of God.  I’m not talking about God loving us.  God still loves us, throughout our circumstances.  But, are we loving; giving glory, honor and power to God?  Do we fear His wrath?  Or are our eyes still glued to the world, people we think we need, things we think we need; allowing our weaknesses to control and consume us?  Do we belong wholly to God?  Have we allowed our weakness to give us to someone and something else? Will we repent?  Will we allow God to deliver us from our bondage and be strengthened through Him? 

 

For most of us, those are just too many questions to ask before we make a decision.  We have grown use to and dependent upon God digging us out of the ditches we dig for ourselves.  We act, but we dare not question our actions, in fear that the truth will be revealed. 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes we can not see truth as it relates to our lives.  We want our FAITH, our work and our lives to be validated, but we choose people and things, instead of God, to validate us.  Why?  Vanity?  Greed? Selfishness? Pride?  Sometimes, yes, but it all boils down to— you don’t belong completely to God.  You are trying to please yourself and/or man and not God.  Instead of abiding in Christ, you’re dragging Him along, making Him watch you do everything and go everywhere you want to go.  Yet, it is God’s love for us that has already validated us and should compel us to walk in holiness and righteousness; following Him. 

 

 

PUTTING GOD FIRST, ALWAYS

 

Yes, we often accept brown paper packages, tied up with string, for many reasons.  We must allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to us those reasons and our weaknesses that gave in to them.  Has our faith and trust been placed in the world?  Has our pride made us forget who we are and who we belong to; making it easy for Satan to change us; to lie to us; to hurt our feelings; to make us believe we are somebody else or nobody.  Have we forgotten that a kingly ransom was paid for our lives, when God gave His only begotten Son to die for us?   When we were undeserving because of our sins,  Christ died that through Him, our life would become worth living. 

 

God is the beginning and the end of everything; the Alpha and the Omega.  So, should He be in every aspect of our lives.  God has freely given us the most precious and valuable gift we could ever receive to help us—His Son, Jesus Christ.  When we are searching for answers, identity, or love, we should first look to Christ

 

Through Christ we take on a holy robe, which cleanses us, making us worthy and deserving of being called Children of God.  As we look through His eyes we can resist sin and temptation.  We can see those strings Satan has attached to reel us in to him.  Satan can bring us down so low we believe that our lives aren’t worth living.  He will whisper in our ear just what we want to hear or give us just the right thing to make us follow him. He knows just the right moment and time to hurt us and belittle us; to have others turn their back on us.  AND THAT TIME IS WHEN GOD IS TRYING TO BUILD YOU UP!!!!

 

When we receive worldly gifts, it is so easy for us to forget about God and how much we need Him.  It is so easy to forget how much he has done for us.  It is so easy to become covetous or worry more about what other people think of us.  The brown paper package makes us feel important.  It distracts us from our purpose; our identity; and what God would have us to do.  

 

Christmas is a wonderful time.  Yet, it can be the most distracting and depressing time of the year.  At a time when we should put God first because of His gift to us, we put Him last.  It is part of the strings attached that we don’t see. 

 

When the New Year began,  many people began the year by making resolutions or vows to improve their lives; only to find they could not keep their resolutions, because they acted upon their own will power and not the will and power of God. 

 

This year can be the best year of your life.  God wants to bless you, because you are His child.  Yes, you are somebody, but understand that you are nothing without God.  By putting God first in your life, this year and for the rest of your life, you have acquired a kingdom.  You have a greater purpose and a divine plan made just for you.  You have His Holy Spirit and you will never be alone.

 

Acknowledge His presence in everything you say, feel and do and you will feel His love surrounding you.  Let Him use you as a vessel to do His will; to make the lives of others easier and brighter.  Spread His word wherever you go and let your Light shine so others will know…of His goodness, His mercy, His grace and His love.  Put God first in your life!  Keep your mind on things above!  Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all else will follow.

 

Father?  Jesus?  Why can’t we truly understand what it means to belong to You and abide in You?  We are like little children who want to go outside and play.  We don’t want to surrender all of ourselves.  We believe that time is ours to keep.  We look to others to be faithful to us, but we don’t know how to be faithful to You. 

 

We cannot coexist with our brother, because we don’t know how to coexist with You.  All around the world, people claiming to know You, kill each other because they believe they are more righteous than their brother.  What am I asking, Father?  I am asking for an awakening, in Jesus name; an awakening of those asleep in darkness.  I am asking for an awakening of those whose own tortured lives must cause misery to those around them.  Yes.  I understand that some things must be.  Then, what am I to do?!

 

Hold up the Light.  Hold up the Light.  Father, help us to understand that even one candle held up in the darkness shines enough Light to lead someone out .  When others do not believe and doubt us and Your Power over us, let us not be afraid to hold up our one little candle against the darkness; being ever faithful and ever so close to You; that one little candle is the Light of the World.  Amen

 

By the grace and mercy of God,

Your servant,

mishael