Have you ever stop to consider all the things in your life that was beyond your choice? Things that you had no control over. You had no choice who your parents were. You did not decide what country you would be born, You did not choose if you were to be a boy/girl.
But I think the most important “unchangeable” in your life is the time period you were born. You could have been born during the Colonial period of our country or the great expansion westward or any other time but God has chosen this time for you to exist. And the question we must ask ourselves is, “Why now?”
In the Book of Esther, we read the story of a poor (but beautiful) Jewish girl who becomes the Queen of Persia. It was only through the providence of God that she became Queen! When the Jewish nation was about to be wiped out; her uncle had this to say, “… And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? It was Esther’s time to make a difference.
God has ordained that you to be born at this time. The goal of every Christ-follower should be to discover the purpose for their being placed here now! Where does God want you to make a difference? You are here for such a time as this!
When it came time for my mother to give me birth; she went to our local hospital. Our hospital was considered small by most standards but they were quite capable. It just so happened that I chose a very busy night to come into the world. There were no rooms available, so they put my mother in the hall, placed a portable curtain around her for privacy and there I came into the world. [True story] Is it any wonder that I have dealt with feelings of rejection all my life?
But seriously, I have always felt that somehow I never quite measured up. I am not trying to solicit sympathy just stating a fact. In school, I never spoke to the popular kids fearing rejection. I always felt inferior to ministers that pastored larger churches. But when I read Mark 1:11, it changed my thinking about myself. God said of Jesus, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry; He hadn’t preached His first sermon or performed His first miracle, so how was the Father pleased with Him?
Most people assume that God’s approval is based on their ‘personal performance,’ But the truth is found in the words, “You are my Son..” God found pleasure in His personal relationship with the Son. God is not impressed with all activity but He is pleased when we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
How freeing to know that I do not have to reach a certain level of performance for God to be pleased with me. God loves me for who I am, not for what I do.
As we get closer and closer to the respective parties choosing their presidential candidate, we are going to be swamped with a variety of polls. I will be the first to admit that I do not understand the polling process. Who is and who is not qualified to conduct polls? How are people selected to take the poll? How accurate are they? I do know that polls can fluctuate tremendously. One day Candidate A is ahead by 10 points. Tomorrow he maybe behind 5 points.
I realize that polling is a recent phenomena but it got me to thinking; what if a poll was taken as concerning Jesus Christ? How would He rank? People’s opinions were varied. Jesus Himself took His own poll. “Who do people say I am?” Mark 8:27 And the survey said:
- Some say John the Baptist
- others say Elijah
- and still others, one of the prophets.”
Polls are often decided by the mood of the masses:
Jesus knew that the people planned to come get him and make him their king. So he left and went into the hills alone. John 6:15
They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,“Hosanna! “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the king of Israel!”John 12:13
SOUNDS LIKE JESUS IS AHEAD IN THE POLLS! But wait; polls have a way of changing:
But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus. Matthew 12:14
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Mark 15:14
I do not take much stock in polls/surveys. After all it isn’t a donkey or elephant that can save America. Only the Lamb of God can!
There is no question that technology is changing our world and nowhere is that seen more than in military weapons. In a little over 200 years we have gone from black-powder weapons to rifles that shoot around the corner without exposing the soldier to the enemy. In Vietnam, I wore a flack vest that was heavy and cumbersome but today’s “body armor” is light weight and can be worn under a business suit without being detected.
With the rise of ISIS, we are made more aware that there are forces trying to destroy Christianity. Our own country is consistently trying to pass laws that would take away our religious freedom. Our grandparents knew that “this world is not a friend of grace.”
The Bible repeatedly told the Church they were in a spiritual conflict:
for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh… 2 Corinthians 10:4
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 2 Timothy 3:12
I am afraid that many Christ-followers are not even aware that they are in a spiritual battle. 2 Cor. 2:11 They do not understand they have a real enemy that is committed to their destruction. 1 Peter 5:8
But the good news is we can be victorious, through Jesus Christ. Romans 8:36-39 God has provided us a special armor that we can defeat our enemy. Ephesians 6:13
Just recently it was brought to my attention that the fourth commandment, to keep the Sabbath, has been getting some “bad press.” While the other commandments are the subject of many sermons, Sabbath keeping is pretty much ignored. And yet, this commandment takes up an entire paragraph, while the “biggie” commands only use five words. God does not waste words. Apparently, He puts a lot of importance on the subject.
Volumes have been written on keeping the Sabbath but due to my limited space, I want to share some of the truths that I have recently discovered.
- All living (and some non-living) need rest. In our culture, overwork is celebrated by some and demanded by others. People in agriculture tell us that even dirt needs to rest. (See Exodus 23:11) Pastors violate this principle of rest more than any other profession. Doctors tell us that pastors have one of the highest rates of heart attacks due to stress.
- God gave us this commandment so that we would take the time to develop intimacy with Him. I need to be reminded of what He wants me to do and of His kindness and goodness toward me. ““Be still, and know that I am God;…” Ps 46:10
- While we do benefit from keeping the Sabbath, the Sabbath is to center in God and not ourselves. God intended that we spend quiet time with Him and ask questions such as: “Lord, am I putting You first in my life?’ “Am I hearing Your voice?” ” Am I leaning on Your wisdom?”
If you don’t take a Sabbath, something is wrong. You’re doing too much, you’re too much in charge. You’ve got to quit, one day a week and just watch what God is doing when you’re not doing anything. — Eugene H. Peterson
One of the the most useful bits of knowledge I have gleaned from life is the importance of balance. There must be balance between work and family. There must be balance between studies and recreation. Chapter three of Ecclesiastes is all about balance. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens..” Verses 1
One of the keys to a fulfilled life is not only knowing which season of life you are in but also accepting that it. I went to the doctor today and he reminded me that my body is aging and I cannot expect it to respond like it did when I was forty. It is a fact that I have to accept and live with it.
Balance sometimes means understanding that not all wrongs will be made right immediately. King David learned this fact. In Psalm 73 he struggled with the prosperity of the wicked. He lamented the fact that there seemed there was no punishment for their wickedness. But God gave him understanding [balance] in verse 17 “Only when I came into God’s holy place did I finally understand what would happen to them.”
God is a God of balance. He will right wrongs and bring justice. God is in control and He never makes a mistake! “…Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Genesis 18:25
We sometimes hear that the cause of a plane crash was pilot error. Pilots are human and humans do make mistakes but sometimes pilots experiences a phenomenon called vertigo. Vertigo is actually a state of temporary spatial confusion resulting from misleading information sent to the brain by various sensory organs. The pilot’s brain and emotions tell him one thing but his instruments are telling him something different. Your senses may tell you are flying level, when in actuality, you are in a dive!
You can overcome the effects of vertigo by relying upon your aircraft’s instruments. They are the best insurance you will ever have. Your emotions scream out that the instruments are wrong and don’t rely on them. But in that situation; you dare not trust your emotions!
In life, sometimes our thoughts and emotions can be misleading. The lyrics to a song once said, “how can something that feels so right. Be so wrong” Often our “natural man” is totally opposite of what God wants from us:
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
Some people think they are doing what’s right. But what they are doing will really kill them. Proverbs 14:12
The only way to keep from having spiritual vertigo is to trust the instruments (The Bible.) Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my pathway.