God’s promises can sometimes seem elusive. We don’t always understand the path God takes to bless us, but we must always remember that God’s plan is perfect. If you had told me that my journey would take all the twists and turns that led me to where I am today, I would not have believed you. My plan was a straight line to success, not the scribbled line representing the path I have taken. What is most comforting is that Abram seemed to take the same type of path to his success. And God’s plan proved to be perfect even then. We are all here because of God’s perfect plan. We may not always understand the twists and turns, but they are there for a reason. My time on this earth is nothing more than a blink in the light of eternity. But God uses me whether I realize it or not. Being a willing participant is simply a bonus.
It never ceases to amaze me when men choose to trust in themselves more than they trust in God. Abraham, the father of Israel, was no exception. In Genesis 12, instead of trusting in God to keep him safe, he decides to lie about his wife to Pharaoh. Sadly, this is not the exception, but the rule in most instances for all of us. Instead of trusting God to deliver us, we make our own battle plans and then ask God to bless it. Maybe we should spend more time asking God to lead and guide us and less time trudging ahead down our own path and then wondering why things don’t work out as planned.
The story of Noah is one of the more interesting in the Bible. It is one of the prime examples of God’s judgement and grace combined into one. While God’s judgement is complete, He is also complete in His grace. God could have made the choice to completely wipe out the existence of man, but He chose to spare us even as He acknowledges in Genesis 8:21, “…every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.” Humans are sinful creatures. We are born with the desire to sin. But God spared our existence and ultimately provided a way to have a true relationship with Him through His love for us and His desire for what’s best for us.
The story of Cain and Abel is ultimately the story of every sinful act of our individual lives. If we cannot master the control of sin in our lives, it will ultimately control us. Prior to Cain’s murder of his brother, God says to him in Genesis 4:7, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” The same is true for every single sinful act and desire in our lives. Just as we must choose to turn from sin, we must also choose to turn to God and the righteousness He desires for each of us.
It’s been a while. Last year I decided to take a break from my daily reading and devotional in God’s word. And while the break did not produce any real negative circumstances, I recognize the need to spend time with God on a daily basis. I am not sure what form my daily devotional will take this year, but I do know I want to work hard to maintain daily communion with God.
This year, my plan is to work my way through the entire Bible in a chronological order. I have read the Bible from cover to cover in the past, but it doesn’t seem to have enough continuity to maintain an understanding of all the events. Following chronologically helps to understand the context of where God is going with history and His overall purpose.
So, today we start at the beginning with Genesis 1-3; the story of creation. There is so much to think about as I read this morning. Like, what was Adam thinking? What was Eve thinking? Why didn’t Adam name Eve until after their fall (Genesis 3:20)? All these questions make me think about God’s perfect plan. None of this was by accident or a surprise to God. He knew the necessity of creation and the need to create a system that allows man to pick him above all else or to pick something else. I guess reading the Bible everyday is a way I choose to pick God first. It’s not always easy and I am not going to lose my mind if I forget to read one day, but there is purpose and importance in picking God first and above all else when there is a choice to be made.
Work is hard, and we don’t always enjoy what we do, but we do it out of the necessities of living and supporting ourselves and our families. I heard a quote once that said “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” While this makes perfect sense, it is important to recognize that God gave us work and no matter how much you may love your job, it can be hard and frustrating at times. Once we realize it is ok to celebrate and enjoy the outcomes of work, we can learn to love and appreciate it especially during those moments of frustration. Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 6:18, Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun for the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot. It is our God given right and command to work, but he also allows us to take satisfaction in it.
We come into this world with nothing and spend most of our lives trying to gain as much money and possessions as we can, only to leave it all behind when we depart this life. In Ecclesiastes 5:15 Solomon says, Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs. He takes nothing from his labor that he can carry in his hands. For the most part we do what is expected of us and what is required for us to survive. But what if we spend more time looking for God’s will for our lives and working towards fulfilling His plan so that our short time in this life is truly fulfilled?
No matter how much we have, it never seems to be enough. In Ecclesiastes 8:10 Solomon observed that those who seek wealth obsessively never find the fulfillment it promises them; Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless. Wealth, while seemingly the answer to all our problems, never provides the promises we hope for. When we look at the timeline of our lives we spend the majority of our short time on earth working for an income and lifestyle that ultimately falls short of making us happy. Seeking God and His perfect plan for our lives is the only thing that brings fulfillment. Let’s not waste any more of our lives pursuing that which does not make us happy.
As I read Ecclesiastes 5:1-3 this morning, I could not help but feel this was timely in the light of our current cultural and social environment. Ecclesiastes 5:2 was especially instructional, Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. To all the Christians out there, remember who is in control. Nothing you can say outside of love will ever change someone else’s opinion. Only God can truly change people through the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Prayer and trust in God is more effective than yelling at someone on social media. God is in control no matter what you think and feel.
As I was reading this morning, I allowed myself to get caught up in a very distracting issue. It annoyed me and instead of walking away, I decided to engage. Two minutes later I read Ecclesiastes 4:6 and was immediately convicted, Better one handful with tranquillity than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Reaching for your pound of flesh when things don’t go your way will ultimately result in little to no satisfaction. It is much more fruitful to reach for peace than it is to get the last word. I recently turned 50, but it is apparent I have along way to go before I am truly wise.