Waiting at the Traffic Lights
We all dislike the inconvenience of traffic lights. They stop us mid-journey and delay us from reaching our destination. However, think of the chaos on our roads without them.
In our busy lives we can become so impatient to reach our destination that we grow irritated with life’s many red lights. Sadly, when interruptions make us frustrated, it is the first sign we are losing our graceful way. It won’t be long before we are so preoccupied with our own plans that we are completely insensitive to the destinations of others.
Instead, we should take every delay as an opportunity to relax and look around – otherwise, we will never enjoy life’s journey because we are so focused on reaching our destination. God is in control of all life’s traffic lights. We should be confident of reaching our objectives at precisely the right time – even allowing time to show compassion and consideration to other travelers. (Philippians 4:11-13)
If we continue to speed through life’s red lights, God is the policeman who stops our reckless driving to avoid a fatal accident. He gives us a ticket (divine discipline) to remind us there are other drivers on the road-of-life who also have very important destinations.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him. To the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25-26.
Life is Just a Game
Games come in many forms and can be played on boards, play-stations or computers. They are lots of fun but the outcome has no value in the real world. We may monopolise the board, create the strongest character, win countless victories and collect all the treasure – but as soon as the game is finished, all those treasures and victories are meaningless.
Life is like a game. What we monopolise in this life will not help us in the afterlife. We may accumulate much wealth, we may win prestigious awards and achieve great things while we live, but when we die these things instantly become meaningless. God has told us not to strive for earthly-wealth, but acquire treasures that have eternal significance, (Mat. 19:27-29)
Life on earth is temporary – our afterlife in heaven is eternal. We don’t see it now, but our eternal state is the existence that we were designed for. Unlike human birth, how we start our new eternal-life is dictated by the personal decisions we make now.
While on earth, our number-one priority should never be temporal promotions, investments, power and security because when life ends all these worldly things will be as useful as ‘Monopoly’ money. We should stop playing games with our life when there are very real opportunities to gain riches in heaven which God guarantees we’ll keep for eternity. This is done by following our Lord, Jesus Christ, and choosing God’s plan instead of our own.
Matthew 6:19-20 states: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
School of Life
School is a place or institution for learning, teaching and testing.
Life itself is the school we attend before graduating to eternity – it is certainly a place of learning, teaching and testing. While alive, we are in attendance – but being present doesn’t mean we are paying attention. As with any school, our choices determine whether we pass or fail. If we have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ we immediately get a pass (to Heaven). If we fail to believe in Christ and reject God’s gift of salvation, sadly our eternity will be Hell.
Those who graduate to Heaven still have to receive their final grade – somewhere between A+ and D-. The overall grade will be determined by, firstly, how we fared in life’s many tests of thought, people, system, prosperity and adversity. Secondly, it will be decided by the various Christian assignments we completed in life. The results will reflect on how attentive we were in class (our understanding of God’s Word). If we skipped class and failed to complete our assignments, we can’t expect to receive good marks (rewards).
On final graduation from life (through death), when we stand before God’s throne for our report, we will wish to hear the Supreme Principal of the Universe say: ‘Graduated from the School of Life – WITH HONOURS.’ (Matthew 25:21)
Uneasy Rests the Crown
We assume it is good to be a King. He has power, great riches and people vying for his attention. While this may be so, the King is also a regular target of those constantly trying to steal his wealth and usurp his power. The truth is, with all his riches and power; he cannot buy privacy or peace of mind.
We wrongly assume that if we reach our personal aspirations of attaining fame, power or riches, happiness will follow. We think our problems will easily be solved, that people will finally recognize and celebrate our success and we can eventually relax in our prosperity and applause. Regrettably, this is usually the start of our problems, the beginnings of misery and a time of great personal attacks.
The truth is: For every action – there is a reaction. The greater your impact – the greater your opposition. For every person who claps you on the back – there is another who stabs you in the same spot. The greater your size – the bigger the target you make. Once you have a crown – there are many that wish to take it.
Prosperity is one of life’s hardest tests; it breaks more people than it makes. So, what is life’s ideal environment?
Every set of circumstances has its own set of tests. Being rich or poor, famous or unknown, powerful or insignificant has its own set of problems. We must quit looking for ‘Heaven on Earth’; it does not exist. God never said that Heaven would be found in the Devil’s world. (Ecc. 2:4-11)
Happiness is a state of the soul, found in a spiritual environment. It is an inner capacity that has little to do with outward circumstances. If you are not content in the circumstances you find yourself, it is unlikely you will be content if your circumstances change.
We were designed to have a relationship with our Creator. When we honestly start trusting in God, knowing He is working all things together for good, we also start relaxing and gaining that inner peace the Bible promises – no matter what our circumstances.
The Apostle Paul states in Philippians 4:11: “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” And David states in Isaiah 26:3: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”
Children love toys and playing childish games. As they grow into adulthood it is natural for them to put aside childish things. As parents, we shouldn’t demand they instantly grow up. If we take away their toys before they are ready to give them up of their own accord, we can unwittingly do more harm than good.
Just as a child does childish things, so do new believers do spiritually immature things. However, in the spiritual-life we are sometimes guilty of demanding that new believers ‘give up this’ and ‘stop doing that’ in order to be instantly more mature. Sadly, Christian legalism has stopped many people from knowing our Lord Jesus Christ.
We should show more parental tolerance and allow people to grow spiritually in their own time (John 16:12). We shouldn’t concentrate on the childish things they are doing, but lead through example and extend grace for them to grow under God’s guidance in God’s time. As they become spiritually-mature they will automatically give up their childish things – not for the wrong reasons of guilt, pressure or bullying, but because God has revealed something much, much better.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11.
The Life of the Party
We all like to be invited to a party or a celebration. It is a time to put aside our cares to honour someone or something special in our lives. Whether it is a birthday, a wedding, an anniversary or simply a get-together, we plan to have a good time. In our quest to make merry, we avoid rude and depressing people and seek the ‘life of the party’ where people are joyful and carefree. Naturally, we want to celebrate with those who are celebrating.
God is hosting an event called, ‘Time’. He has called us to be the ‘life of the party’ and rejoice in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. He has arranged the catering, brought the gifts and paid the costs. All we need do is choose to attend. Even in our darkest hours we should turn on the lights (remember God’s grace and provision) and celebrate. God understands that every party has broken glasses (tragedies), but He has said He will pick up the pieces and clean up the mess (if we let Him). God has taken away all our excuses for being miserable. He commanded us to cast our cares and worries on Him and celebrate as if every day is Christmas (because it is).
God has asked just one thing. When people pass by and see us celebrating, we should invite them in saying, ‘The Host welcomes all guests – there’s no charge, the bill has been paid – walk through the “Door of Christ” and give your cares and worries to the Host.’ (Psalms 13:5-6)
Cursing the Rain
We quite often curse the rain for the inconvenience it may cause us. Yet, without that rain we would surely die.
Many circumstances may arise in life that impedes us from reaching our objectives. As frustrating as these situations may be, we must remember God is in control of all circumstances and His grace abounds. If He has allowed rain to fall on our parade, there is a divine reason. But often we can doubt God’s good intentions even to the point where we curse Him.
Do we trust in God? When we get frustrated that things aren’t working as we planned, it is a sign we have lost focus on God and His plan.
King David penned many of his songs of praise when he was being hunted in the wilderness. ‘Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.’ (Psalm 107:1)
Job, under extreme adversity proclaimed: ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’ (Job 13:15).
It’s easy to praise God when things are going our way, but people really take note when we still praise God as things are falling apart around us.
We must remember in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, God’s grace always rains down upon us. Maybe it’s time that we put down our umbrellas and started singing in the rain.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
To see our reflection we need a mirror and another basic component – light. If we stand in front of a mirror in complete darkness we won’t see our reflection. In partial light our reflection is vague. If we want a true reflection of ourselves we need to place ourselves under full light. Alternatively, if we want to imagine we are film star material, we should stand in dim light, hide our flaws and show our best side.
In order to see a true reflection of our spiritual self we need a mirror and light. The mirror is the Word of God and the light is God Himself. We may have the mirror (Bible) and look into it every day, but unless we have a personal relationship with God and let Him light up all facets of our spiritual life, then we won’t see ourselves as we truly are (a mirror is no good in darkness). Without God’s light we can easily hide the flaws and emphasise only our best side. We may convince many people we are spiritual superstars, but God knows we are just another ugly Christian who refuses to step into the light.
A God-botherer is a term of ridicule given to Christians to define someone who is always annoying God (usually by people who don’t believe in God). But if God could be annoyed, what would really be bothering Him?
God is the Author of all creation and Supplier of all things necessary for our daily survival. He governs all the laws of science and directs the traffic of the universe. It is a gross understatement to say God is busy. We certainly don’t want to be guilty of bothering Him. So, does God get annoyed when we seek Him in our times of trouble, or would He rather we ‘not’ acknowledge Him in any way?
God is never bothered when we make constant requests, when we come to Him with all our problems and chat with Him continuously– in fact, He commands it (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
The truth is we bother God when we rely on Him to keep us alive moment by moment and yet have no interest in who He is and what He has to say.
We bother God when we depend on His grace and mercy yet have no grace and mercy for others.
We bother God when we reject His priceless gifts, most importantly the gift of salvation. God humbled Himself and became a man (Jesus Christ) to pay the ultimate price to wipe clean the debt of the sins so ‘all’ may have eternal life. (Philippians 2:5-11).
Yes, it’s a fair question to ask ourselves – are we God botherers? Lucky for us: The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. (Psalms 145:8)
Baking a Cake
Some cakes look great with a cherry on top; however, its taste should never be judged by its garnish. If a cake is made with sickening ingredients, no amount of decoration will make it appealing to taste.
A person’s life should not be judged by its decorations like fancy clothes, house, car, etc. It should be measured by the richness within. I think we all know this, yet we still spend much of our time trying to accumulate material things simply to impress others. Yes, garnishing ourselves with fancy stuff does impress shallow people and, at best, all we have is superficial relationships. If misfortune takes away our material decorations, those friendships will go with it.
We should ask ourselves: are we trying to cover our empty life with garnishes? Do we really think fancy stuff will hide our inside failings? How will our loved one really remember us? If we are filled with selfish pride, bitterness, a judgemental attitude and a lack of integrity, no matter how we decorate our life nobody in their right mind will want a slice. True, they will come to us for a cherry but, rest assured, not for the cake.
To make our life fondly remembered (for the right reasons), we must refer to the ultimate recipe book (the Bible) written by the supreme Chef (God). Inside are all the ingredients needed for an enriching life: integrity, grace, compassion, tolerance and inner peace. When we start using Christ-like love, people will be drawn to our life no matter how it is decorated (rich or poor). Inevitably, people will start asking us for our recipe – our life has now become a witness for God. (John 15:11, Romans 14:17)
After a long night of drinking, a foolish young man hoping to impress his mates jumped into his car and sped around the neighborhood. Before long, a telephone pole jumped out in front. His horrified mates pulled him from the burning wreck and called an ambulance, but it was clear he only had minutes to live. Crowding around him, his mates heard him gasp his final words, ‘I’d pay anything NOT to have done that.’ His mates all agreed… his dying words were very wise in hindsight.
Wisdom is beyond price. Ask anyone in hindsight how much they would pay to reverse the foolish act that led to the death of loved ones. Ask the invalid in a wheelchair, crippled through their own stupidity, how much they would give to regain the use of their body. Ask the drug addict who has ruined their life, how much they would offer not to have started the habit. And ask the person infected from a one-night-stand with aids, the amount they would pay to reverse the decision of that foolish night.
Wisdom not only gives us the ability to do the right thing but, more importantly, the discernment not to do the wrong thing. God invests large portions of the Bible in teaching wisdom – our attainment of which is said to be more precious than gold, silver and expensive stones. It is interesting to note that we give priority to educating our children in ways of becoming successful and wealthy, but neglect the lessons of becoming wise. (Proverbs 3:13-16)
When we are born, we are hopelessly dependent creatures. As babies, our every need must be fulfilled by another.
As we grow into children, we are self-absorbed and seldom put the needs of others before our own.
As adolescents, we are frequently selfish, but through enforced discipline (from parents, school and society) we begin to understand the world does not revolve around us.
As adults, our goal is to be mature enough to put the needs of others before our own. If we can’t, we are said to still be, ‘childish’.
Christianity is all about growth. It is a slow process of changing from a dependent, self-centred Christian (who always expects compassion, sensitivity and toleration – but shows very little), to a mature Christian who has developed the spiritual-strength to put the needs of others before their own.
When we first become a Christian, we are said to be ‘born again’. Generally, we show all the traits of a spiritually baby and need a lot of help and tolerance.
As we grow in the Christian-way-of-life, we will become spiritual children. At this stage, we are often self-absorbed, intolerant and judgemental. Hopefully, by the time we reach spiritual adolescents, we are getting over ourselves and starting to exhibit Christ-like traits.
As we enter into spiritual adulthood we leave childish thinking behind. We develop a personal sense of destiny; a happiness not dependant on people and circumstances; and a relaxed attitude of grace, service and strength. We cease to be occupied with self and are now occupied with the Person of Christ.
God is patiently waiting for us to grow up. As spiritually mature adults we can take on adult responsibilities and God can finally use us in powerful ways. One of those ways is bringing immature Christians into our life for us to baby-sit (encourage, nurture, lead and tolerate).
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 1 Corinthians 13:11
Clash of Schedules
A lady had an important job interview, a school reunion and an exciting date all in the one day. To fit it in, she scheduled everything to the last minute; however, on arriving at the bus stop she found that all bus drivers had scheduled a strike.
To reach certain objectives in life it’s imperative to plan ahead. Yet, have we stopped to consider that at certain times our schedule may be interfering with God’s schedule? God is the busiest Being in the universe and has a very tight agenda. God is trying to bring the best outcomes for you and me whilst respecting our human freewill. He knows our needs better than we do and has arranged everything to happen at exactly the right time and place.
When God suddenly brings certain circumstances or people into our lives, it may be a huge inconvenience to us and our plans, but we must be flexible and understand that these situations have arrived on cue – according to God’s schedule.
We should ask ourselves: which schedule is more important – ours or God’s? Are we too busy with our own plans to have God interrupt us with His?
It’s good to have a disciplined routine, but at the same time we must remember to be sensitive to life’s daily interruptions. We should not be so timetabled that there is no room for God’s unfathomable schedule. When things don’t work out to plan, we should relax in the knowledge that God is working something into our circumstances that will ultimately be for the betterment of ourselves and those around us.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 5: 5-6
Eyes On The Road
When driving a car, our eyes must always stay on the road in order to reach our destination. Certainly there are times we need to glance down to check gauges and make minor driving adjustments, but if we take our eyes off the road for an extended time we are sure to have an accident.
As Christians, God has commissioned us with a higher purpose for life with wonderful results that continue into eternity. We accomplish that purpose by keeping our eyes on Christ and our Heavenly destination. But as with driving, our attention must be divided between watching the road and watching our gauges. We all need to attend to the things of this life, like obtaining food, clothing and shelter for ourselves and family.
A problem arises when we are overly distracted by the details of life and get our eyes on attaining wealth, success and such. Ironically, we can quickly lose focus of God in our drive to secure comfort. When our eyes are off our eternal destination, it should come of no surprise when our spiritual life comes to an abrupt stop.
In eternity, if God asks why our spiritual-life crashed and brought no glory to Him, it will be embarrassing to admit we took our eyes off the Christian objective because we were too focused on personal objectives or texting the mundane things of this life.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
Committing Spiritual Suicide
Suicide is the act of deliberately taking one’s life. Also, suicide can be defined as an intentional or unintentional act causing separation from a political, professional or social life. Simply, suicide is an act of separation.
At the point of salvation (belief in Christ) we are given a spiritual life. As time passes and for various reasons, many Christians commit spiritual suicide – they separate themselves from a personal relationship with God. It may be due to undergoing tragic circumstances and thinking that God doesn’t care. Or, maybe life hasn’t measured up to expectations and a grudge is held against the Creator. Then, either by a wilful act or slow indifference, we commit spiritual suicide and separate ourselves from God.
As Christians, we can never lose our salvation – that’s eternally guaranteed (John 3:16, Eph. 2:8-9); however, when we deliberately separate ourselves from a relationship with God, we also destroy all future opportunities of advancing in the spiritual life. When we do this, we are the losers – not God.
Yes, we may have justified our spiritual suicide, but so do those who commit physical suicide. The good news is, unlike other forms of suicide, spiritual suicide is not permanent and can be reversed. Every day is a new opportunity to renew our relationship with God. Like the prodigal son, no matter how far we have fallen God will welcome us back with open arms.
Given time, God can heal any wound we inflict upon ourselves. We just need to ‘phone the helpline’ – start praying to God and trusting in Him. If we do this, we once again give God the opportunity to work in all our circumstances, both good and bad, for our eternal betterment and His eternal glory.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Buy Now - Pay Later
Apart from God’s gracious gifts, everything in life has a price. Don’t be fooled – we seldom get out of paying. We either pay beforehand or pay later, often with interest.
Buy now – pay later, may be an acceptable concept when buying goods in life, but “paying later” is to be avoided when it applies to our physical body. If we don’t find time to exercise or eat the right food, then we will pay later when our body gets sick and fails.
That which is true of the body is often true of the spirit. We may say we believe in God and are a Christian, but if we don’t find time to study God’s Word, to trust in Him and utilise His power, we will certainly pay a price later when life’s many problems break us.
We live in a fast-paced world filled with mental break downs, depression and suicide. We are all running up accounts of stress that must be paid some day. We can save much grief and avoid mounting debts if we simply remember – prevention is better than the cure. God says we should be without fear and worry, and our burden should be light (Mat 11:30) – but here is where we go wrong, we fail to hand our problems to Him.
Each day we should put aside a little time to be with God and exercise our trust in Him. Yes, this is difficult as we have so many other distractions vying for our attention – but what is the alternative? If we keep running up debt we will eventually become spiritually bankrupt. We will never have the inner peace promised in the Bible. We must give our mounting debt of stress, fear and worry to our Heavenly Father and sincerely trust that He has the resources and solutions to resolve them. “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
For generations, people have dressed in their Sunday-best clothes to go to church. On arriving home, they place their Sunday-best neatly back into the closet – not to be worn again until the next service.
Often as Christians, we can be guilty of putting on church-personalities as we would our Sunday-best clothes. When in a Christian environment, we are bubbly, friendly and seemingly without a care in the world. We use the right spiritual words and catch-phrases and all our actions are carefully pious. But as soon as we arrive home, we take off our Sunday-best-personality and put on our normal hang-ups such as discouragement, guilt, resentment and depression.
We should consider why we do this and who we are fooling. God has commanded our life be without hypocrisy, not to put on a disguise to keep us socially acceptable. God sees and knows us as we really are. We can’t fool Him with our church-going personality. Yet for some strange reason we feel that if our fellow Christians think highly of us, God will too. The truth is we gain nothing of value by fooling our peers and often it is the very thing that stops us from having an honest relationship with God. (Romans 12:9).
Last Dying Thoughts
A man collapsed from a heart attack. As he lay there reflecting on his life you can bet he wasn’t thinking, ‘Oh, I wish I worked more’.
Usually, people’s last dying thoughts are about their relationships. Concerns over promotions, unpaid bills, petty squabbles, or gaining wealth are so insignificant when weighed against death, yet we spend so much of our life concerned with the insignificant.
True, we need to attend to such matters on a daily basis, but sadly we often give the mundane too much priority and neglect things of ultimate importance. As unpleasant as the thought may be, we all die. We should live every day as if it were our last – for it might be. We shouldn’t wait until our death-bed to be concerned about things that are truly significant. We learn from the Bible that our wealth is temporary, but relationships can last forever.
God graciously gives us time to consider things of ETERNAL significance – like Christ, salvation, our relationship with our Creator and our relationship with family and people.
We should take time to question: If I was dying now, what would be my dying thoughts? Interestingly, those same thoughts should probably be our ‘daily living thoughts’. (Ecclesiastes 2:4-11)
Roller-Coasting Through Life
A roller-coaster is a thrilling ride at an amusement park where you speed along an erratic track that rises, curves and drops. Since you are not in control you have two options: grit your teeth until it’s over – or sit back and enjoy the ride.
Let’s face facts; we are on a little planet spinning completely out of control. Everyday could be our last! When you factor all the variables, each day we live is truly miraculous – a gift not to be taken for granted.
Yet many of us are unhappy. We are frustrated or frightened with all the things in life that are out of our control. We put so much effort into trying to control our various circumstances, the people around us and what others think of us. Then, just when we think we have it under control – it all unravels.
Life is like riding a roller-coaster; it has many ups and down with lots of unexpected twists and turns. Some don’t enjoy the ride because they can’t control the direction in which they’re heading. Like the roller-coaster, life has no steering wheel, but this does not mean it is out-of-control. God has designated a route for each of us to travel and His plan has many dips, curves and rises.
To fully appreciate life, we should give up trying to control the direction it takes and simply sit back, trust in God and enjoy the ride. Remember, with all its ups and downs, life is just a short amusement ride before entering eternity.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
A man saw a mother duck and her duckling crossing a busy road. Without a second thought he jumped in front of the traffic. Tragically his good intentioned deed caused a car pile up that ended in loss of lives and countless dollars of property damage.
All of us soon learn that a good intentioned deed can often have tragic results. We mean well, but do not take into account the variables. Fortunately, God knows all outcomes. At times He allows certain adversities to take their course in people’s lives to give those concerned the opportunity to come to Him and grow in grace. It is in the struggle that makes the strength. Yet, when we see people in difficulty we are inclined to rush in with our aid inadvertently robbing them of their chance of growth. Many of us have a sense of heroic that impulsively charges into people’s troubles, shouting, “I WILL NOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!”
What have we done? We have come between them and God. Our sympathy and sudden interference may cost more than we know. This is not to say we should do nothing. But before jumping in with well-intentioned aid and advice, we should ask ourselves: do we know the facts? Is our aid and advice needed or even wanted? Are we taking sides? Are we making ourselves a crutch so people lean on us instead of God? Is our desire to help from our own impulsive-nature or is it Divinely-inspired? If in doubt we should seek wisdom from God – He has a way of turning tragedies into triumphs. (James 1:5)
Exposure is defined as the act of exposing, laying bare or leaving unprotected. Exposing ourselves to the sun will eventually leave an impression on our skin. In photographic terms exposure is the act of allowing sunlight to fall on a sensitive plate. The longer the exposure – the deeper the imprint. An over-exposed photo is known as a ‘washed out’ impression.
Everything we do, watch and read leaves an imprint on our soul (our sensitive plate). We should choose carefully what we expose ourselves too. If we bombard ourselves with undesirable television programs, publications or music that promote violence and pornography it will leave a deep impression on our souls. That imprint will eventually twist our ‘norms & standards’ rendering us unable to normally interact and relate to people in personal relationships – before long we will become socially ‘washed out’.
God wants us to expose ourselves to His Word – daily. When we constantly think Biblical Truths, the image of virtue, integrity and grace will be imprinted deeply on our soul. It will bear a striking resemblance of our Lord Jesus Christ who is the physical manifestation of God Himself. The result: inner happiness, confidence and a non-judgemental, relaxed-mental-attitude regarding all circumstances in life.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:5
Parents soon learn that when the TV is on their children’s productivity immediately drops. The only way to get their kids to do their homework, chores or exercise is to switch the TV off.
Prosperity is the greatest distracter to growth in the spiritual life. When all is going well we often take our eyes off the ‘eternal goal’ and lose ourselves in the details of life. Before we know it, a stimulating social life, acquiring more wealth and accolades, or playing with expensive toys and trinkets takes up all our time and energy.
Here is God’s dilemma – like any good parent He desires prosperity for His children; however, God knows that without capacity, prosperity will simply be a distraction to spiritual productivity and advancing in the Christian life.
The only way to bring many sons and daughters to Glory is to moderate life’s prosperity or remove it altogether until capacity is developed. This is not to say that God only prospers the mature Christian; there will always be different levels of prosperity and adversity throughout our Christian life. Furthermore, when considering prosperity and adversity, we must factor we live in the Devil’s world and everyone within it has a sin nature.
It’s natural to want prosperous circumstances, but it’s not likely God will rain prosperity on someone who has no capacity, especially if that prosperity is a distraction to growing in Grace. “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2
When we dive into the ocean with our eyes open but without a diving mask, our vision is blurred and we can’t clearly identify the objects surrounding us. However, when we put on our goggles, the sea world suddenly comes into focus. We can now appreciate the ocean’s beauty in a way we couldn’t before and can quickly identify what is friendly and what is not.
Life can seem pretty vague. For many of us, we journey aimlessly through our lives trying to find sense and purpose to something that seems pointless. When we accept theories of evolution and atheism, our worldview becomes a Godless universe. We have accepted that our existence is a random accident and if there is a purpose to our life, it’s simply to breed and then expire. Everything becomes relative – right and wrong becomes blurred and we lose the ability to properly identify what is good or bad.
Today, many people are in a funk. Depression is an ever-present shadow. Life is endured not embraced. People have lost their focus and their way, but sadly few will change because they are wise in their own understanding.
Yet, if we look at life through the Word of God (the Bible), everything takes on a completely different appearance. We will see things with a clarity that could never be attained relying on our own sight. Suddenly, there is understanding as to why certain things happen. We can discern beauty in a way we could never appreciate before. We can identify right from wrong thus avoiding many snares. We can also see a purpose and meaning to our existence.
God never intended us to travel through life disorientated and vulnerable to every danger. He gave us His Word to see clearly. The choice is up to us: we can either go through life relying on our own understanding or put on God-goggles and observe things through His eyes. When we start seeing our circumstances and other people from God’s perspective, we quickly develop patience and grace; things cease to bother us; we are more relaxed and life becomes so much better.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.Proverbs 3: 5-6.
Counting Our Blessings
It’s those times we go without that give us capacity to fully appreciate what we have. The joy of food is greatly enhanced when we have missed a meal. A moment of health is fully enjoyed when we have endured a long sickness. And we certainly adore those first sunny days after a long winter.
It’s hard to count your blessings when you have always had them. The angels were created in perfect environment receiving blessing after blessing from God. They did not know suffering, pain or death. Instead of being grateful, a third of the angels became resentful and rebelled (Isa. 14:13-14, Rev. 12:4). We can see this same pattern repeated in humanity. History shows that a generation born into prosperity usually becomes an ungrateful generation with entitlement issues.
Appreciation often comes when we are deprived of something – ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’. Ironically, it is through adversity that capacity for joy is built.
God is not the author of suffering and never intended it for angels or humanity; however, He allows the repercussions of free will to take its course (both individual and collectively), so we can build a frame of reference to appreciate His unrestrained blessings in Eternity.
For those who accept God’s free offer of salvation (through Christ), there will be no more adversity after death. God can rain his blessings on us as He originally intended; and due to life’s lessons we will have capacity to enjoy them. With our understanding of pain, loneliness, heartache and death, we will have an everlasting frame of reference to appreciate, health, love, joy and eternal life.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
NOTE: These amazing Bible illustrations were created by Free Christian Illustrations. In conjunction with our partnership with Free Christian Illustrations, Bible IQ received express permission to provide this creative content on our website. Free Christian Illustrations is an amazing organization with a similar Bible-focused and Kingdom-building mission and we encourage all of our readers to visit them at www.freechristianillustrations.com.