Why

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ (Col 2:8).

While attending various universities and teaching at some, I have met some truly brilliant people. I have also encountered some while at the grocery store, at church, in books, or on TV. I have come to the conclusion that a brilliant mind can be a blessing or a curse.

I remember hearing about a philosophy professor whose final exam consisted of one question, “Why?”

Many of the world’s most amazing thinkers would answer that question with high-sounding nonsense.

Even people like DaVinci, Einstein or Hawking would all fall short if their only knowledge and resources came from the spiritual powers of the world. Human or worldly thinking at its best is still empty philosophies; the power is not only limited, but also deceitful.

God’s ways (keep in mind that He’s the creator) do not align with the ways of the world. If a person answered by saying, “to have, do, and try everything this world has to offer,” he would find himself responding like Solomon who actually did have, do and try everything—“It is all in vain, as senseless as chasing the wind.”

Answering our own “Why?” is so important because it serves as a filter for making choices. God’s word tells us that the only thing that will ultimately satisfy our souls is being in a relationship with Him—to know Him personally and intimately. Our “why” must begin with God.

I’d like to end with Ravi Zacharias’s “why” clearly extracted from scripture. “My longings, my hopes, my dreams, and my every effort have been to live for Him who rescued me, to study for Him who gave me this mind, to serve Him who fashioned my will, and to speak for Him who gave me a voice.”

 (1 John 4:9, 2 Tim 2:15, Josh 24:14, Acts1:8)

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Good vs Best

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding (Prov. 3:5).

I recently read a devotional by Oswald Chambers and, with one word, he really challenged my thinking and fine-tuned my understanding concerning this familiar scripture. He said, “…lean not on your own ‘righteous’ understanding.” Well, we know that worldly thinking is sometimes unscriptural, and we know this applies to carnal perceptions for sure. But have you ever considered that our understanding could be upright and scriptural, but still not be what God had planned at that moment?

This may be a simplistic example, but it helped me to grasp the concept. Once, while preparing for company (you know what that’s like), I asked one of my children to empty the dishwasher. When I came home, the dishwasher was still full, but the house was picked-up. Well, that was a very good and much appreciated help, but my immediate need required full use of the kitchen. Likewise, our service, even if it is righteous and scriptural, may not further God’s plan.

And sometimes the good gets in the way of the best. We may choose a direction to go or a service to do that may be really worthwhile. We may even pray for God to bless our efforts, when in fact, He may have an even better plan. That’s why we’re told to seek His righteousness, and in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct our paths.

Be Courageous

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deut 31:8).

 The above verse was Moses’s charge to Joshua as he entered the Promised Land. Many of the Israelites were heading into an unknown territory; and for some who had spied there, it was a land of giants who weren’t going to give up their land without a fight.

God often sends believers into unknown or unfamiliar territory. It may not be to face a physical fight, but rather to talk to someone, do something, or take a step of faith outside of our comfort zone.

But if we are following God’s will—His urging—we will experience His faithfulness time, and time again.

Not only will He be with us, but He will have gone before us clearing the path, softening hearts, doing whatever needs to be done so that our His mission will be successful.

Why should we be afraid or discouraged? What we consider set-backs or obstacles may just be there to keep us within the borders of His perfect timing. Through it all, we can be assured that He will never, ever abandon us.

 

Good and Perfect

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows (James 1:17).

 I don’t know where today’s entry is going to go. I had an idea and wanted to meditate on the first part of this verse, but when I looked it up to correctly quote it, the second part jumped off the page— the Father of the heavenly lights, Who does not change like shifting shadows.

Many people had an unstable parent whose behavior was so unpredictable that the same behavior would be praised one day and cruelly punished the next. They lived in a constant state of caution, apprehension and insecurity, never knowing what to expect. And many had (or are) a parent who tries to be consistent and follow biblical principles, but very often falls short.

But God IS consistent, consistently good. Consistent in kindness, mercy, grace, patience, justice…and love. We can be comfortable in knowing that what is pleasing to Him today won’t bring about a chastisement tomorrow. We can be assured in knowing that when He disciplines us, that it is 100% out of love to mold and teach, not to punish.

Well, I guess I never got to discuss those “good and perfect gifts.” Our focus shouldn’t be there anyway, but rather on the One who does not change like shifting shadows, the Good and Perfect Giver.

Enlarging Our Heart

I have chosen the way of truth (Psalm 119:30a).

Have you ever heard the story of the three blind men describing an elephant? One touched its side and said that it was like a wall. The next touched its trunk and said that it was more like a snake. The third felt its ear and thought it like a fan.

We might find this story amusing, but we do it all the time. Our perception of reality IS our reality. We can’t really trust our minds or hearts because they are often clouded by past experiences, hurts, desires, and our sinful nature. True reality can only be found in one place—God’s word. He knows the big picture, what the whole elephant looks like.

And I love verse 32 which says that as I pursue His truth, He will “enlarge my heart.” How much hope is in that verse! This is God’s desire because as we develop more understand we also find delight (v35), and turn away from selfishness (v36), and turn away from worthless things (v37).

God wants to enlarge our hearts, our capacity for the delight in knowing Him, loving Him, and enjoying His fullness. He expresses this clearly through prayers in Scripture, meant for not only the early church, but for us today.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

And He richly rewards those who seek Him.

 

God is Good

You are good, and what You do is good (Ps 119:68a).

There are quite a few verses throughout scripture that woven together, describe God’s goodness and what our response to His goodness should be. In Romans we are taught that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and who have been called according to His purpose. We sometimes experience a disconnect when we think, in our eyes, ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here)            can’t possibly result in anything good.

A buzz phrase today is “to be intentional” and that is a fitting way to define God’s goodness. It is purposeful, never meaningless nor random. God’s purpose, to conform us to the likeness of His Son, is a much greater good than our comfort at the moment. Our definition of good is both temporal and temporary rather than spiritual and eternal.

This brings us to another challenging verse about God’s goodness, Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ______ (insert your own tragedy or challenge here too)     .  This verse certainly requires some prayer and study. But we can know–we can be absolutely sure–that God’s actions are motivated by love, and that the end result will be worth it, and good.

Going through tough times is tough. But God’s word gives us promise after promise of His faithfulness in walking us through trials, in giving us strength, in giving us endurance, in supplying everything we need.

His grace is more than enough.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow (pursue) me all the days of my life.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Heb 10:23).

Once we make the decision to follow Jesus, every part of our life is affected. Oswald Chambers states, “The Holy Spirit cannot be accepted as a guest in merely one room of the house—He invades all of it.”

This is good news! Even if we spend three hours a day on our knees or reading scripture (I’d like to say that this is me, but I’m nowhere close), even if we did, that would only be a very small percent of the day. So many, many other things are happening. But if the Holy Spirit is present like He says He is, they are all “Spirit-ual” activities.

The challenge for me is to let Him lead…then for me to follow. And it does require time for prayer and scripture reading to hear His voice. If there is a dry spell where we are not given explicit direction, we can still chose to live righteously in our typical daily routine because He’s in that room, too.

If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is (2 Tim 2: 13).

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Corin 1:9). 

Thank you, Lord, for Your ever-presence. You’re here at times when I beg for direction and intervention; and You’re here when I arrogantly think that I can handle things. I am grateful for Your faithfulness especially during those times when I’m not.