My Purpose, God's Purpose?

While there may be some people who don’t normally think about their purpose in this life there are many who have plans and believe they know what their purpose in life is.  Early on they have set their minds to accomplishing certain things which may or may not be simply for themselves, but sometimes because of family expectations.  How often do you think people as a rule think about what they were created for and yet if we are honest with ourselves we realize that we all were created with a particular purpose in this life by the God who gave us life.  Do you ever wonder how many of us actually fulfill the purpose for which we were created?

Even when we realize there is a purpose for our lives most of us will find that we can’t by ourselves accomplish that purpose.  We need help, but where can we go to find that help?  Unfortunately there are those who will live and die without ever finding fulfillment or understand that they were not created for their own desires.  It is fast becoming necessary that we seriously look at where we are in a schedule not made by ourselves, but created for us.  While we, as humans, have certain talents we often fail to thank our Creator for His part in who we are.  Maybe it’s time for us to get serious about pleasing the One who gave us our existence and who rewards us according to its fulfillment.

In the book of Ecclesiastes we find Solomon stating To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven  (3:1), but Vernon McGee in his commentary states that this viewpoint of taking life as it comes is fatalism.  Have we today fallen into the same trap?  If things can’t be changed, why fight it?  You will have to admit in today’s world we have enough strife without adding to it by attempting things that can go no where.  So what is the answer, what can we do?

Our answer is found in the book of Revelation where John tells us that when war is made with the Lamb the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful (17:14).  That is good news and can make our hearts swell with the hope that is so often these days hard to come by.  You will have to admit that most of the news we hear and read about has a negative aspect.  It would seem that people are more interested in reading today’s dirt than it’s glory.  That seems to be what our newspapers fill our minds with and the TV finds that it’s viewers want to watch things having to do with violence of one kind or another.  How did we ever manage to fall so short of what our Creator intended?

Has joy and peace been discarded for filth and terror?  While it is true that many us try our best to be who we were created to be our world has continued to grow colder and darker as time passes.  Is there anyway to turn back our clocks, to return to the days we like to read about when people would help one another in times of strife, when smiles made people beautiful rather than constant trips to the beauty parlor?  To be honest there are still good times when people share with one another and love is enjoyed, but there are also many more incidences of evil because we have fled their presence rather than trying our best to change them.  Have we given up, deciding that change is not something we have any control over?

Let us challenge each other in these days to remember yesterday’s values and strive to put God’s Word to work in our world.

Crowns and thrones may perish, Kingdoms rise and wane,
But the Church of Jesus constant will remain;
Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that Church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise and that cannot fail.

When I Am Weak!

I can imagine you are already wondering why you would want to read something about weakness when you are trying so hard to avoid it.  You are not alone, all of us have times when we feel the need of strength and it does not always come easily.  However, it has always been available for us if we just remember where to find it.  We have probably had the experience of seeing for ourselves some who were in torment with no strength and some who seem to ride the waves so very easily.  We know who we would like to copy, but just how do we find their strength for ourselves?

Most of us have read stories of people with amazing strength, wondering how it could seem so easy for them and wondering why it is so hard for us.  Did our Creator make us so different and if so, just why?  We always like to read the stories about great strength, wishing for it in our own lives while not wanting to be reminded of those who cratered beneath its weight.  I imagine we sometimes wonder how we will face our turn when it comes. 

You have probably heard people say that we can always learn from reading history rather than just listening to words that are empty because we cannot comprehend them until the time is before us.  Maybe that is why our Creator chose to give us examples to study, opportunities to comprehend for ourselves before we would have to face similar experiences.  Unlike the fiction that we might choose to read today our Bible records real life events that not only happened, but were put down in God’s Word specifically to give us understanding and direction for our lives today.  God did not create strong and weak, rather He gave us the choice to decide which path we would take in our own lives.  However, this is not to say it is an easy decision as many of us know.  Shall we simply take another pill or can we learn some more concrete methods from a few hours of reading.

While it is true that in today’s world it is highly unlikely we will ever have to face a lion’s den, which is as tough as we can imagine, that is just exactly what Daniel had to do.  He distinguished himself above the governors and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him; and the king gave thought to setting him over the whole realm (6:3).  Needless to say, this created much jealously among those who felt left out and so they set about to end this situation in any way possible.  While we don’t have any such dramatic possibilities in today’s world we still have the capacity to cause death to those who defy this world’s laws.  We do know however, or should, that the laws of God supercede any laws of mankind and will never be overcome.  So it looks like we should get more serious about whose laws we are really concerned with.

After Daniel defiled the world’s law King Darius made the decree that in every dominion of my kingdom men must tremble and fear before the God of Daniel…His kingdom is the one which shall not be destroyed, and His dominion shall endure to the end (6:26).  Somehow over time we have labeled those words as simply history which obviously has changed.  However, we should know that some things never change and no matter how we think we have advanced in today’s world God’s Word has never changed.  Just maybe we should rethink our objectives and possible rewards before it is too late. 

So this Daniel prospered in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian (6:28).

Our God, our Help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come;
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal Home.

What Did You Say, Lord?

Have you ever felt like a thought you might have came from somewhere other than your own mind?  I know it sounds strange and once upon a time I, myself, wouldn’t have understood what you were saying, but I know at this point in time that I am not a writer.  I could never explain it so that you might understand, but the one thing I do know is that I am ever so grateful.  It has caused me to wonder how much in life we miss when we are so busy that we don’t have the time to listen to the One who created us.  Believe it or not, I just had a bath and I was ready to hop into bed and instead I find myself sitting at the computer simply to make a note which I might think about tomorrow.

Yes, it is now tomorrow and I am back to tell you what I think I know.  Don’t sigh, it makes my heart sing and I am learning a lot.  Our Lord has always given instructions to His people, it is simply that our hearing has lost a lot over the years.  If you spend much time in the Bible you will read how often He talked to His children; He led and guided their actions for many years before He finally sent His Son to make things more plain.  However, as the years have passed we should be able to recognize that we are losing the benefit He gained when He sacrificed so very much.  I wonder why we keep putting something so important on the back burner.  Maybe it is past time when we should take another look at yesterday and consider what is really important and what is not.

As far back as the book of Psalms, we can read I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.  Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you (32:8-9).  I must admit we never think about how much we will miss of life if we simply do not listen for His voice or read the Word He left us.  Just maybe that should be one of our major considerations each morning when we wake up.

Solomon told us first in the book of Proverbs to take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life (4:13) and other wise men instructed us to apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to words of knowledge (23:12).  We are so busy these days with our lists I doubt we make time for study and yet that is the only way we will truly grow in wisdom.  Maybe we should consider rearranging our time to gain wisdom which will result in actually giving us more time.  Sounds like a smart idea to me.

I know that life has so much more to offer today than it did in the days of our forefathers.  And yet when you are able to view the whole picture you will come to realize that people are still born and still die without having reached the pinnacle that our Creator intended.  Can we change that, do we want to and will it really make a difference in the life that we live?  I think it will and I know it is what our Creator desires.

Most of us will recognize that we are rapidly reaching a point at which the choices will no longer be ours.  They are going to be taken away from us by the evil that is working hard against what our Creator intended.  We have a choice – we can either let it happen or we can show our true color by refusing to be a part of such a bad decision.

Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be, ever, only, all for Thee.

Bugs - Everywhere!

I wondered this morning as I was throwing away another dead bug just why they are even a part of our lives.  Fortunately for me I have a great bug killer in my sweet, but smart Danny.  He keeps watch at night to protect the mama he loves.  That caused me to contemplate why we even have these varmints.  God made this world for perfection so why should we have bugs.  Just maybe it is because we have let our eyesight become faulty.  Maybe we are not seeing things the way our Creator intended.  Just maybe we have become like some of the characters we read about in our Bibles – totally focused on what we ourselves can control.  Shame on us!

I do believe that our Creator intended for us to grow in knowledge and awareness, but I also believe He intended to be an active participant in our thoughts and activities.  Have we become so busy that we forget we are not acting alone in His world?  Just maybe we should get a little more serious.  I think what I have gathered from my reading is that God created mankind for companionship.  Somehow or another we have simply gotten off track and we find ourselves so busy with worldly affairs that we never realize that we are not functioning as we should.  Just maybe it is time to reevaluate whatever time we have left.

If you think about it God has never gotten too tired to try once again.  You can read about the numerous lessons He has provided for our learning in different degrees.  We might think Jonah in the belly of the whale a little overdone, but we can read for ourselves – I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me (2:2).  Even after He had sent Jesus into our lives He still made efforts to show His people how very much He loves us.  When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead we can read His words in the book of John – I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die (11:25-26).  Even after Jesus, himself, was crucified and raised from the dead we have still failed to understand how far our Creator would go to save those He created.

You might wonder whether we will ever learn.  As we look at our world today our thoughts turn to just what will happen next.  Our knowledge of evil and its weapons has grown to the point that there is not much further we can go without blowing ourselves up.  Where will we go next and just how long will our God actually give us before He says “enough”?  Many in today’s world are looking for the Rapture of the Church, but we can’t really know just how far our Creator’s thinking will let us go before He makes that decision.  Yes, it is true, that He is long suffering and desires for us to know and love Him as He first planned, but we don’t seem to be doing a very good job of learning from history and our own life experiences.  They walked and talked with Him while we only have their lessons on paper.  Is it enough?  Is there more for us if we would just do our own searching?  We won’t know unless we try. 

So what is the answer, friends?  What part is our individual part to play?  Can we afford to step back and allow someone else to decide our part for us?  Opportunities present themselves to each of us in different ways at different times, but we all have a part to play, one predetermined before we were born.  The challenge is to discover that part and then to gather our God-given talents and pursue that part with every ounce of energy we possess.  Will we accept our challenge and will we pursue it in God’s predetermined way and in His time?

Our God, our Help in ages past, Our hope for years to come;
Be Thou our Guard while troubles last,
And our eternal Home.

Our Most Important Need!

Life has so many needs and I doubt there are many who will admit to not needing anything.  But if we are honest do we actually know what we really need, not want but have to have for the life we long for?  Needs are an automatic built-in from the days of our beginning.  Babies need to be fed if they are to live, we must have a roof over our heads if we are going to stay dry and of course, we must have money with which to obtain the many necessities of life if we are to exist from one day to the next.  But do we ever stop in our busy days to consider what is really important for our day to day existence?  It really doesn’t take long for us to realize that there is something, intangible at first, that is necessary for us to feel fulfilled.  Is it something that will just appear when the time is right or is it something we have to search for until we finally realize it has always been available to us? Matthew told the people of his day For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him (6:8).

However, as most of us will learn over time people like to be needed.  It makes them feel good.  Do you think it is any different for our Creator?  He not only wants to be loved by us, but He also wants to be needed and if we have any sense at all we are aware of the fact that we are not adequate for all the situations we encounter in this life.  We need a Father who can help us in our time of  need.

Today’s world is considerably different than it was in the time of Jesus.  Luke tells us in the book of Acts that nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they were distributed to each as anyone had need (4:34-35).  In today’s world we are more likely to agree with Paul who told us that my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).  However there are still things that need to be addressed to truly understand Paul’s statement and we find that answer in the book of Hebrews – Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (4:16).

Can you imagine how different our world could be if we were truly a generous people.  And before you start to argue with me think about the ways in which we can be generous even when we are without funds.  Encouragement always helps people in need, but so does the knowledge that we have a God who does care and there are many who simply do not understand the blessing that we, as believers, have.  Will sharing what we know be of any real and valuable help?  Of course it will, especially if we help those in need to understand that there is a throne of grace that welcomes them in their time of need.

We are so busy these days trying to fill our hours with the things we, as individuals, need that, face it, we forget to involve ourselves in the things that would please our Lord and Saviour.  If our time, as many of us believe, is getting shorter maybe we better start considering the time that we have left in which to accomplish our Lord’s work.  Can we afford to continue putting off until tomorrow?  I am not at all sure that has not ceased to be an option.  Maybe we should simply ask our Father what He would have us do!

We kneel, how weak! we rise, how full of power!  Why, therefore, should we do ourselves this wrong,
Or others – that we are not always strong – That we are sometimes overborne with care -
That we should ever weak or heartless be, Anxious or troubled – when with us is prayer,
And joy and strength and courage are with Thee?  -
Richard C. Trench

Open My Eyes!

Truth – what is truth?  Often things we can’t or don’t choose to see are still real and do exist.  Should we get more serious and observant as we walk through our days?  Are we accomplishing what the Lord put us here to do?  Often today we see people around us who seem to be wearing blinders.  We think we shouldn’t have to worry about tomorrow before it gets here.  How wrongcan we get?  Should we think more about tomorrow as it draws nearer?  Just maybe there is a reason why we should.  I know if we are going to take a vacation trip we always prepare for what we are going to take and what we don’t want to miss seeing while we are gone.  Is our most important trip any different?

The truth – it is the most important trip we will ever take and we should already be considering what we want to take with us and what we will want to say to our Lord when we get there.  Will He be proud of us and our lives or will He be disappointed because we skipped something that really was very important?  And how can we know what was important to Him?  Well, one answer has been already made available to us – it is found in detail in our Bible where the Lord saw to it that all that was needed to be said would be said.  Have we gone over it as we do with our other trip lists?

You don’t need to answer that because it probably is not any different than my own answer.  I hate to admit it, knowing what I know, but it has a way of getting put off until tomorrow.  How sad!!

I think I better start making some major changes right now.  Lord, help me to do just that because I really am looking forward to seeing you one day and understanding all the things that I don’t currently understand, but can you wait just a little longer.  I still have quite a list in front of me that I have yet to accomplish.

Gee! I think I actually do understand.  A list can always be put off until tomorrow, but this list is not a regular one.  It needs to be started on ahead of time if we are to accomplish it, sorta like the lists we make ahead of time for Christmas when something has to actually be made or accumulated.  Is there still time, will You help us to get this list right and in time?

Yes, I understand that there is a right and wrong time for everything.  Your Word tells us that sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matthew 6:34).  What then do we consider and how shall we go about bringing it to mind?  Oh!!  You have already given us the answer.

You gave it to those of the Old Testament who only heard Your Word through the prophets. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).  The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever (Isaiah 40:8).  So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

Many years have passed since those days, but the Word of God has never changed and the disciples who followed, listened and learned from His Son, Jesus, whose words were recorded for us today -

Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death (John 8:51).  Is that plain enough for us today?      

Open my eyes, that I may see glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key, that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, ready my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

Home Maintenance

During this heat wave we have been having many of us have had to deal with some home maintenance of one kind or another.  I just had to had a new capacitor for my air conditioner as the heat burned up the one I had.  I did thank the Lord that I didn’t have to replace the whole unit.  However, the Lord must have decided to use this to bring my thoughts around to some other important types of maintenance which we often neglect even when we are reminded.  You’re right, I am talking about our internal maintenance, the things we need to do to keep our bodies and minds functioning in the way the Lord originally intended.  Just like the rest of our life we manage somehow or another to put off the things we know we really need and should do.  You’re right again – I am talking about the spiritual aspect of our lives.  And just for you to know I am no better about that than many of you.  There is always tomorrow.  Really? Could it just be that I am wrong again?

Paul tells us in Romans – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (12:1).  You would have to admit that is pretty specific, but how often do we consider it.  He tells us once again in 2nd Corinthians that God in Christ… has committed to us the word of reconciliation (5:19); for He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (21).  Obviously we have always been bearers of reconciliation between the world and our Creator; we just have not fully accepted the job we were originally given.  Maybe we should get serious about our home maintenance (the bodies created for our spirit’s performance).

In life we usually consider that we can wait until needed to remodel or improve our performance, but a lot of the time when a situation arises it is too late to prepare our best solution which means we often settle for something second best, often realizing that is not what we really wanted and wishing we could go back and have a do-over.  And yet, we also will continue to repeat the same mistake over and over and wonder why we don’t learn.

It’s a good thing our Lord is patient.  The Psalmist reminds us when we so often forget that The Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment.  He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness (Psalm 9:7-8).  That does give us the final picture, but we still have to walk through today before we will arrive in tomorrow.  Maybe we should concentrate on being more diligent and heed the words of Timothy as he admonishes us to Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2:2:15).

The biggest problem we have as we read these words and understand their importance for our lives is numbering our days.  We have a bad habit of assuming that tomorrow will be soon enough and yet we should remember that we are not guaranteed tomorrow.  If it is important to be done, it is important for today.  Putting off until tomorrow is a bad habit many of us have accepted as our right and privilege, but it was never God’s intent.

As we become more aware than ever before that our world is in serious trouble and we can no longer count on a large number of tomorrows maybe we should start becoming more aware of a saying we have long known – sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. 

Philip Yancey would remind us of something that needs to be taken more seriously – Faith no longer travels by the word. It moves by the deed.

I Will Follow You

Most of the time when something is written we assume that it is accomplished.  You might already have the confidence you need because you know the Written Word.  However there are those who have read it, but not taken it to heart, not realizing that it is the absolute truth.  Is it too late for them?  That is where we, as Christians, should be busy.  We should be eagerly involved in the future of all God’s children for He loves us all.  What can we do, we can’t make them adopt it?  You are right we cannot force truth on people who are not ready, but we can attempt to draw them in by our actions and our words.  You might think that a waste of time because we cannot change stubborn people, but you also cannot know which ones are on the edge, which ones need a simple word of encouragement or understanding.  So what will you do?

While it is true most of us have a full schedule of things to do have we forgotten that our Lord has only one list and that is to save His children, all of them.  What do you think His master plan is?  His Word gives us explicit direction – Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15). 

With today’s world and its expectations we all cannot seriously consider traveling to the ends of the earth to spread the Gospel.  However, we all can see that there are those in our lives who do not know what we profess to know.  What about them?  Cannot we take a little time from our busy schedules to help them find the right way, the only way to the salvation of their souls?  Surely that is not too much for Him to ask of us when He has already sacrificed so very much.  You might be one of those who feels awkward to do so, but does that really matter?  You have asked Him to save you and He readily agreed.  Cannot you pass on the favor He has so graciously given you?

At this point you are probably wondering how you decide who to speak to and what do you say to make them stop in their tracks and listen for just a few minutes. If you seriously want to do this, you simply ask your Father for His direction.  Believe it, He will tell you how and what to say.  It means much to Him to save as many as possible and also to see His children fulfilling His will.  He always has the future in mind, a time when all His children will know and love Him.

The world we live in today is speedily coming to the end of the road.  All of our knowledge has taken us sadly to our own extinction.  We have learned too much about evil and getting even and too little about where we would like to end up.  However, we still have another day.

The most important thing to do is to move what often ends up last on our list to the top.  We need to make our eternal future more important than simply what we need and must do tomorrow.  We, sad to say, have learned entirely too much about how to put off until a later date.  Sometimes we even lose the lists designed to remind us of unfinished chores.  We must get more serious before it is simply too late.

Isaiah records that in that day the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and for mourning, for baldness and girding with sackcloth (22:12), but the people chose instead, joy and gladness, slaying oxen and killing sheep…let us eat and drink for tomorrow we dieThen it was revealed…by the Lord of hosts, surely for this iniquity there will be no atonement for you, even to your death (13-14).  Are we being as foolish as our ancestors?

For the past there is forgiveness; for the present there is divine companionship; for the future there is absolute assurance – L. Nelson Bell.