It’s always interesting to see how God uses our disobedience to work in His plan. Even when we deliberately choose to go against God, He finds a way to make it all work. With Abraham, this was no exception. Though he and Sarah chose to make their own path in delivering an heir for Abraham, God still blessed them and Ishmael in the long run. There were still consequences, but God used it all for His purpose and managed to bless Abraham and his descendants. The same is true for all of us. We are all imperfect and mistakes neither define us or dictate our ultimate path in this world. The key is remembering that God’s plan is perfect, not necessarily our path.
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.
Our significance comes from God. All of us start the same way and none of us get out of this life alive. In Ecclesiastes 3:20 Solomon says, All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. Even the richest man to ever live ended up returning to dust from which he came. This is not said to discourage, but to encourage us and remind us that the impact we have in this life lives on when we trust in God and follow his ultimate plan. Our impact lives as we take part in His perfect plan and are willing to be used by him.
There is a saying we are all familiar with, “Timing is everything”, and in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Solomon clearly gives us hope to know God has a perfect plan for those who believe and follow Him.
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
God’s plan and timing are perfect. The key is to learn to find peace and comfort in waiting on God’s plan. It may not be what we want at the time, but it is perfect.
We can learn a lot from Paul’s final words in his letter to Ephesus. In Ephesians 6:19 he asks for prayer, Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel. We all need prayer; even Paul needed it. When we talk about leading a bold and fearless life for Christ, it is important to note it doesn’t come easy unless we have the Holy Spirit helping us. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your fear and ask God to help give you strength. Through Him we can do anything.
In all we do, no matter how small or insignificant, we should approach it with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 10:11 to Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. The Armor of God is outlined in Ephesians 6:14-18, 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Let us remember the importance of including God, through the Holy Spirit, in all we do. His plan is perfect and the more we are guided by God, the smoother the road and understanding of our path.
God does not tell us to avoid contact with unbelievers; quite the contrary. We are called by Christ to love others as He loved us and to lead them to Him. However, we are to be an influence in this world and we are to guard ourselves from being influenced by it. In Ephesians 5:6 Paul says, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. We must always remember that the promises of this world are fleeting and hold temporary satisfaction and fulfillment. It is through our love and obedience of God that we are able to make an eternal impact on those around us.
The knowledge of Christ and a relationship with Him are two separate things. In Ephesians 4:21 Paul reminds the Ephesians of this, Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. As believers who have a relationship with Christ, and who study His word, we are taught the truth of who Christ is and how we are to be a reflection of Him. We have no excuses when we believe in these truths. If we fail, it is because of a conscious decision to rebel against what we know is true.
We all have our good days and our bad. We all sin and make mistakes. The body of Christ is there to support us in our times of need, just as we are there to support the body of Christ when others need us. We do this because we have a common love created and supported by the love Christ has for us. In Ephesians 7:16 Paul says, From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. As individuals we have our weaknesses, but as a body of believers we are strong and have very few gaps in our faith. If we were all a little more open to understanding how we can work together as a body of Christ, we would all be stronger in our faith and stronger in influence and deed.
The unity we experience as believers should be prevalent and obvious to those around us. Ephesians 4:4-6 Paul says, 4 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. In reality, many times we experience anything but unity. We focus on majoring in the minors and fail to look at the big picture. If we cannot see the “big picture” message of Christ, which is to love God and love others, then we fail our mission from Him. We need to focus on the things that bind us and not on the things that divide.