July 31, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO HOLD US ACCOUNTABLE

Ecclesiastes 11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes: but know thou, that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment. 10 Therefore remove sorrow from thy heart, and put away evil from thy flesh: for childhood and youth are vanity.

Solomon had a way of always keeping perspective about the future. While he talked much about enjoying the fruit of our labor, enjoying our youth, and enjoying the blessings of God, he always kept in mind how little those things mean in light of eternity. He always had a sense of the fact that God would hold us accountable. I grew up being taught that same principle, and I am also trying to teach it to my children. I knew growing up that whatever I did, my mom and dad were going to hold me accountable. If I was disciplined at school, I would face another discipline at home. If my Sunday school teacher had to get on me for not behaving, my mother would deal with that immediately. If my parents heard through the “grapevine” that I had been involved with, or part of, or even associated with ill-advised activities, well you know what I happened. Let’s just say they kept me “accountable”.

Solomon says here to enjoy your life, especially when you are young and have the energy. He says to “let thy heart cheer thee”. Do not burden yourself down needlessly with worry and stress, enjoy your days. Trust me, when you get older, you’ll have plenty to stress about. Solomon says to walk in the “ways of thine heart”. In other words, it is ok to follow your heart, but do not let it lead you where you should not go. He says to enjoy the sight of thine eyes. The day will come when your eyesight and hearing and muscles and energy will not be as good as they once were. Solomon tells us that these are good days, and should be enjoyable days, but you must keep something in mind. “For all these things God will bring thee into judgement”. There is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself, but remember, God will hold you accountable for the decisions we make and the actions we take. God is able to that. He has the right.

Because of this, we are told in verse ten to keep our “attitude” right, and our “actions” right. That is, our heart and our flesh. You see, we can make some very wrong decisions based on very “vain” desires and motivations. It is right to enjoy your life, but it is wrong to enjoy it in the wrong way. You and I need to enjoy the things that God has brought into our life, but God has never given anything to one of his children for them to use to satisfy vain flesh. I encourage you today, just remember that we are accountable to God. Just because you are a believer, it does not give us the right, or a free pass to do whatever we want with no consequences. While I am convinced that God is able to do limitless, miraculous things in our life, I am also convinced that He is able to keep us accountable. Let’s remember that today.

July 30, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE

TO SEND OUR BREAD BACK

Ecclesiastes 11:1 Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

One thing about bread, if you are going to make it yourself, it takes a little work and time. We have fancy machines now that make it a little easier at home, but baking bread takes time. God uses “bread” as an illustration here because you and I feel that we have worked hard for “our bread”. We get up early to go to a job that we do not necessarily love, we pay bills, buy insurance, try to get enough to get groceries, and struggle to save enough to maybe go on vacation this year. We see what money we have as “my bread”. God even calls it “thy bread”, but everything we have really belongs to God. God is the one that gave it. We could not do anything to make money, keep money, or accumulate money without God. We owe everything to God. How dare we think that it is “my bread”.

So, God says to “Cast thy bread upon the waters”. “Cast” means to “separate from your treasury and care”. You and I have a hard time letting it go. We will come up with every reason and excuse to hold on to it. I would love to give you some principles today about “casting” our bread:

CASTING YOUR BREAD REQUIRES TRUST

Casting on waters means that you are relinquishing ever bit of control and giving our resources over to God’s control. That means where it goes is controlled by God. That means how it will be used is controlled by God. That means how your needs will be met without this bread is controlled by God. That means whether or not it comes back is controlled by God. You see, casting our bread upon waters requires trust in the sovereignty of God. That is what is so hard about it. It is difficult letting it out of our control, but when you and I really trust God, we will.

CASTING YOUR BREAD REQUIRES PATIENCE

God says that once you and I cast it, we will find it “after many days”. God does not say that our faithfulness in giving will be rewarded immediately. God just says that it will be rewarded eventually. Sometimes it is immediate and sometimes it is not.

* Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

This passage says, “it shall be measured to you again”, not “maybe”. We will continue in the next devotional with more principles, but I want to encourage you today to consider “casting your bread upon the waters”. It will require trust, and it will require patience, but if you want God to be able to bless your life miraculously and faithfully, it will require you to “cast thy bread upon the waters”. You can choose to just hold onto it, keep it, accumulate it, and be stingy with it. But dear friend, if you do, you will miss the miracle of God bringing it back to you in miraculous ways.

July 28, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO KNOW WHAT WE DO NOT

Ecclesiastes 11:5 As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.

When my wife and I found out that our third child was going to be born with a rare heart defect, we were needless to say heart broken. Little did we know that this was just the beginning of obstacles that our “little guy” would face right from the moment he was born. God gave us many verses in those early days and has continued to give us verses along the entire journey. When you face “heavy” burdens, burdens too heavy to carry, you begin to cling to every word in some verses. This is one verse that God gave me before our son was even born.

There is so much in life, and about life, that we just do not know. We cannot fully comprehend how God gives breath to a human being. We know a lot about the human body, and anatomy, and physiology, but we cannot create breath. God still has the corner on that market.

We are told that you and do not control or really comprehend the whole process when a baby grows in the womb. We can view on a TV monitor what is happening as a baby grows, and we can diagnose issues with amazing technical advancements, but God still decides the process. Only God knows why some children are born with vision defects, hearing defects, physical defects, or even heart defects. Only God knows why some babies are born with Down syndrome, dwarfism, diabetes, cancer, muscular dystrophy, etc.

My wife and I would have done anything to prevent our son from birth defects that brought heart surgeries, invasive procedures, daily therapies, growth defects, and muscle defects. But we did not control that, create that, or even understand it. There are just some things we will never know. And there will be many things in your life that you will never know. All we know is that God “maketh all” and understands all. We do not. Today, you may be struggling with some things that you don’t know. You want answers, reasons, and explanations. May I give you a little insight? If God did tell you and explain everything to you, you still wouldn’t be able to understand it. Even if God tried, our human minds could not comprehend. We may not know or understand “all” things, but we should be thankful that we serve a God that does. Do not demand answers from God. We wouldn’t understand even if He told us.

July 27, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO USE THE PROSPERITY AND ADVERSITY

Ecclesiastes 7:14 In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other…..

I love “days of prosperity”, don’t you? Who doesn’t? It is wonderful when things seem to work out right, when we find blessings around every corner, when we all get good reports at the doctor, and when all our plans seem to fall into place. Even God tells us to enjoy these kinds of days. We should be thankful when good things come our way. We should appreciate every blessing that God sends our way. If you get a raise at work, enjoy it, and thank God for it. If you receive an unexpected Christmas bonus, let God know how thankful you are and enjoy it. If you are able to purchase a home, or get a new car, be happy about it and give God the praise.

Unfortunately, we sometimes always find a negative in there somewhere. Despite all the blessings, we still have negative outlooks. We say things like, “yes it was good that this happened, but I doubt it will last long”. Or we will say, “it is about time something good finally happened to me”. We can be so cynical sometimes. God said to enjoy days of prosperity, not find a negative somehow in it.

Then we come to the dreaded “days of adversity”. We have all had those. These are the days where it seems you are trying to get a square peg in a round hole. Where it seems that everything has come against you. While God says to enjoy the “day of prosperity”, He does not say to hate the “day of adversity”. God says to “consider” during the days of adversity. God says to stop and think things through. Do not be rash with your words, or negative with your attitude. Do not be too quick to feel victimized, or even agitated with the circumstances that God has seemed to send your way. Stop, and “consider”.

* Proverbs 14:29 ….he that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.
* Proverbs 21:5 The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want.
* Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God:

Our verse says that “God also hath set the one over against the other”. If all we had were days of prosperity we would be spoiled brats. If all we had were days of adversity, we would be broken and useless. God uses both in our life. If you are in days of “prosperity”, enjoy it my friend and thank God for it. If you are in the opposite today, do not be too hasty. Stop and “consider” that God is using it for your good.

July 26, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO DO THE TALKING

Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.
2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

We are given instruction in this chapter about how to conduct ourselves in the House of God. It is applicable to every area of our life because we should conduct ourselves this way whenever we are in the presence of God. As believers, we now have the Holy Spirit of God living inside of us, so we are always in the presence of God.

We are to control ourselves in the House of God. “Keep thy foot” means to conduct ourselves appropriately and keep control of our words and our attitude. We are to be ready to hear what God has to say to us. We should be ready to sacrifice to and for our Lord. In other words, our time in God’s House should be all about Him, and not about us. But you knew that already. Solomon deals greatly, however, with our tendency to have a lot to say. He says we should be “ready to hear”, and to “not be rash with thy mouth”. He says our heart, if we are not careful, will “be hasty to utter” things before God.

You see, we sometimes are very opinionated, and are very high on our opinions. We think we have valuable things that we need to convey. We even have things to tell God sometimes, as if He needs our input to make a Him aware of things. We think because of our knowledge, or vast church experience, or our extensive education, that we need to talk more than we need to listen. I love how Solomon pretty much tells it like it is. “God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” You and I would be much better served to “let God do the talking”. We need to hear what God has to say, but no one really needs to hear what we have to say. God is above us, over us, and bigger than us. God is in heaven, and we are here on earth. He can see more than we can see, and God knows more than we will ever know. We must keep our heart, our mind, our attitudes, and our mouths under control. We must humble ourselves before God. We must resist the urge to spout off our mouths, fix everyone else’s problems, and to point out everyone else’s faults. We must be “ready to hear”, and to “let thy words be few”.

I am persuaded that He is able to do the talking!

July 25, 2018

I AM PERSUADED THAT HE IS ABLE:

TO DO A WORK THAT WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND

Ecclesiastes 8:17 Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further; though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.

Could you imagine beholding “all the work of God”? Solomon had spent his life searching out wisdom. He had spent his life trying to figure out the reason of and for everything. He had seen the work of God in his dad’s life, in his family’s lives, and in his own life. The more he observed what God could do, the more certain he became of one thing. A person cannot figure God out. A person will never understand the plan, the reason, the power, or the greatness of God.

Solomon says first that a “WORKING” man cannot comprehend the greatness of God. “Though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it”. You can work and work and work, but never somehow figure out why God does what He does. We think the more we try to manipulate things, man-handle things, and make sense of things, we will suddenly know why everything has happened the way it did. It is not going to happen.

Then Solomon says the “WISE” man cannot figure out the ways of God. “Though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.” Don’t you love the Word of God. Though a wise man “think” to know it. We “think” we can “outthink” God. Let me make sure we all understand one thing. If we could figure out God, and know His ways, then we would be at the same level of God. God would not be God. One of the things that makes God who He is, is that He knows things we do not know. Solomon spent his life trying to learn things that only God will ever know. That is what makes God who He is. All the “work” and all the “wisdom” will never help us figure God out. We just have to trust Him and be glad that the Creator of the universe that knows everything, just happens to love us with unconditional love. He wants what is best for us, so we need to rest in that.

The more we see the work of God, the more we realize that we will never completely understand His plan, His ways, or His reasons. So, let God be God, and you be you. We cannot figure out God, but God has already figured us out. He knows more, so let’s just trust more. He has this.