Controlling the Future

I like science fiction.  I don’t know what that says about me, but I do.  The idea of projecting where scientific discovery might take us fascinates me.  I like the adventure and the jolt to my imagination.  Fantasizing future worlds, even alien worlds, has occupies a fair portion of my personal time.

Yet the science fiction stories, where man goes back in time to reshape the future, point to the complexity of manipulating the intricate details of the progression of time.  Change one little occurrence and the entire future of man is impacted.  We can predict, but there are too many factors for us to have complete control over the outcome.

Now, imagine someone able to create a universe, create humans to live in this universe, and set the ball rolling toward a planned outcome.  To add to the complexity of the task, he gives the humans freedom of choice.  During the unfolding of his plan, he intervenes occasionally knowing exactly how this will affect the outcome.  Remember, his interventions usually involve humans who are continually deciding about their actions and reactions to their situation. 

The greatest intervention this creator makes is sending his son to live among humans with the plan to redeem them.  They need redemption because they have violated the prime directive to act in love and, within their freedom of choice, have chosen to injure their fellow humans. They have also turned their back to the creator and denied his very existence.  He accomplishes his redemption plan right on schedule and continues on to his planned outcome. 

The outcome he plans is for all those who receive his redemption to live forever in eternity with him.  Not all of his humans will accept the offer, but every one of them has the choice to receive redemption.  The only one who could put together such an elaborate and complex plan is the all-powerful, all-knowing, creator God.

Read: Genesis 1-3, Job 38 – 41, & Revelation 21 & 22

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WHO IS MORE RELIABLE?

I read on internet news that Social Security benefits may end in 2016.  This is bad news for anyone depending on the government to provide for them.  “The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  This is from Psalm 34:10.  Is this statement true?  Can you bet your life on it?  Basically, I’m presenting here the contention between the institutions of man and the creator of the universe.  Who is more reliable?  

I’m going with the creator of the universe.  Governments have risen and fallen throughout history, but the sun has risen every day since the beginning of creation.  That’s reliable!  Are hard times coming?  Yes, they are coming.  For many, hard times have already arrived.  Put your hope in the Lord.  God may use a government program to help you or the endless selection of other resources at his disposal.  God is infinite and all powerful.  The governments of man are not, and they are ultimately in God’s control.

My encouragement today is to not let rumors and predictions upset you.  Remember the reassurance of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path.”  Put your trust in the infinite all powerful God who loves you.  Nothing else can compare with him.

NO

No is an interesting word.  It is almost universally understood, but it is not our favorite word when spoken in response to a request.  However, no is a very useful word.  For instance, “No, you can’t play in the traffic,” is a valuable use of the word no.  When raising my children I often used no in response to their appeals.  They didn’t like it, but the no answer gave me time to think about the repercussions of their request.  They were delighted when the decision was reversed.

My Heavenly Father has said no to me a number of times.  I recall an incident some 25 years ago.  I had discovered an opportunity to apply for a teaching job on California’s central coast.  I love the central coast, and my wife grew up there.  So I applied for the position.  One night while I was waiting to hear from the school, I had a dream.  In the dream, my wife and I were on a roller-coaster. Before the thrill of the big drop, the tracks took a flat weaving diversion.  We had stopped the car and gotten out to redirect the tracks to go immediately to the drop. When I awoke, I knew this dream was from the Lord.  As I prayed, the Lord showed me that the dream indicated I was rushing ahead of his plan for us.  The next day, I got a call for an interview.  I declined.  I put the tracks back where they belonged and got back in the car.

The Lord had said no, but it was only for a season.  About ten years later, we had the opportunity to move to the central coast and spend a productive five years there.  We had finally reached the big drop.  Who knows what would have happened if I had ignored the Lord’s caution and moved there too soon?  Only he does.  Isn’t it good to know we have an all knowing father that says no?  He knows what is best for us, and we can trust him.  Even when he leads us down a difficult path, he walks beside us.  His path is the best path.  I don’t always like the direction he sends me, but I am always blessed when I follow him.

THE HOPE IS STILL ALIVE

A while back I wrote in my diary, “Today I’m 60, but I’m going to live forever so I’m just a kid.”  I haven’t felt much like a kid since I wrote this, but the hope is still alive.  One of my old flippant sayings when confronted by a health conscious (health food nut) person was, “I don’t get my new body till I wear this one out.”  I want you to know I’m doing well with the wearing this one out part.  However it’s not as fun as it once was.  The wearing out is now quite painful, but the new body hope is still alive.

Sunday morning I found myself doing what I used to think was a strange activity that old people did.  I was reading the obituaries in the newspaper.  Not only was I reading them, but I was emotionally involved in reading them.  The short assessment of a person’s life was somehow hauntingly relevant.  As I sense the nearing of life’s end, I think, “What might be written about me?” What in my years was good and what was bad?  Fortunately, most obituaries focus on the good.  The family usually keeps the bad to themselves.  Woo, I say as I contemplate this.

I could get lost in these thoughts, but what I wrote on my 60th birthday is the real truth.  I have the promise of eternal life in Christ Jesus.  I’m going to live forever.  The assessment of this short beginning time is recorded by the eternal God.  He makes the final evaluation.  Praise be to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  The bad is forgiven and forgotten because the most significant act of my years was receiving the great gift Jesus purchased for me on the cross.  The worth of my other acts is in his hands.

Life has seemed long, but when I look back the part that has passed went by rather quickly.  There is still more to come.  I relish what remains.  And, the hope is still alive!

SIBLING RIVALRY

Have you ever felt like God’s favorite?  God has a unique way of making each one of his children feel special.  He knows us intimately and speaks to us individually in a personal specific manner.  No one else knows us this well.  He is never condemning even when correcting us.  Therefore we should rejoice in our close relationship with God, but we should also be aware that this intimate closeness is available to all who will receive him.

Being special to God does not in any way invoke superiority in comparison to others.  For us humans who carry a sinful nature, this is an important caution.  We want to be special, but in our fallen state, we feel it necessary to prove ourselves superior to others.  I’m better than so-n-so because _______.  It’s easy to fill in the blank because we’ve all been there.  However, Christ died for all of us.  We each get the full power of redemption through his shed blood.  Nobody gets or needs a greater portion.

As the principal of a Christian school, my position had a great deal of responsibility and prestige.  The young man who cleaned the building had a different position.  We were both called of God to fill our respective positions.  Was one job superior?  Not in God’s eyes.  We were both walking in what God had set before us.  With God there is no favoritism. (See Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9).  We were equally important in God’s kingdom.  Both of us were created and gifted to fulfil our purpose for Him.  We were also equally loved by God.  In God’s eyes we were and are his special children.

God is able to have an infinite number of favorites.  We are each one God’s favorite.  We are all special to him.  In the family of God there is no need for sibling rivalry.  We need only to love one another and trust our Father to provide what we need.  He created us with a special purpose in his kingdom.  As he directs you through your life be content.  You are unique and special in his eyes.

VALUABLE INSIGHTS

Situations come upon us from time to time in which prior information would be quite valuable.  Say you come upon a situation where two people are engaged in a quarrel.  What should you do?  If you don’t have much income, but you’re living comfortably, should you still give to the poor? Are you a person who has to have something to say about every subject?  A wealthy but stingy man invites you to dinner, should you go?  At work there’s a group of party animals that go out 3 or 4 times a week.  They spend the next day talking about the great time they had. When they invite you to join them, should you go?

These are just a few of the situation addressed in the Book of Proverbs.  Our God has provided us with a rich source of information for our daily lives.  Proverbs is not outdated wisdom, but it is full of wisdom for all times.  Provers contains 31 chapters.  By reading a chapter a day you can read the whole book in most months.  Try filling your day with rich practical information for your daily decisions.

You can find valuable insights into the situations I mentioned above by looking at these verses:

Proverbs:         26:17,  21:13,  21:23,  23:6-8,   23:20-21        {these are listed in order}

IT IS NOT EASY, BUT IT IS TRUE

What I write about in this blog is founded on the belief that God, as described in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, created the world we live in.  Therefore it is reasonable to look to him for guidance.  Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to, “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.”  Jesus tells us (see Matthew 6:25-34) not to worry about what we will eat, or drink ,or wear, but to focus on the kingdom that God is building, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to us.

In the parable of the sower (Matthew 13: 1-23) Jesus warns us about focusing on the cares of this world.  He explains to his disciples that the seed sown among the thorns is about the cares of this world.  He says, “But the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it (the message of the kingdom) making it unfruitful.”  The worries of this life keep us distracted from the direction God would have us go.  We are then unfruitful.

I believe with all my heart that these scriptures are exactly how I should conduct my life.  Yet, this is not easy.  Every aspect of our American culture wars against what these scriptures teach.  I’m supposed to be proactive and make it happen.  I’m supposed to seek wealth.  You’re still doing that job?  Can’t you find anything better?  “Well the Lord wants me here” I respond sheepishly.

Friends and fellow Christian aren’t much help either.  When asked, “What are you going to do about this?”  My answer, “I haven’t heard from the Lord yet, but I’m trusting that he will direct me in this,” gets some interesting reactions.  They are often speechless, at least to my face.  Would Christians talk behind my back?  “Aren’t you worried about that? “  I am asked.  “No, Jesus said don’t worry.”  That answer is definitely a conversation stopper.   So, there are cultural and peer pressures, but the greatest pressure comes from within.

Guilt is a big one.  “I should be doing something about this.”  I’m now seeing the cartoon with the black devil on one shoulder and the white angel on the other.  The devil is pumping guilty thoughts in one ear and the angel is reminding me of scripture.  I know what the scriptures say, but……  That “but” is always troubling.  Did the Lord already tell me, but I missed it?  God helps those who help themselves.  I know that this is not in the scriptures.  My flesh is always warring against my spirit.  Now that is in the scriptures.

Trusting in the Lord to take care of things is not easy, but He has shown me over a life time that his word is true.  He is my provision, and he does guide my path.