Give Attention to Reading

Read through the Bible with friends

James 4-5: Don’t Let Tomorrow Mess Up Today

James 4:13-17 is a reminder I need today.

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’–yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (ESV).

I recognize the point of this passage is about relying on God and understanding that I cannot boast as if to say I am somehow by my own power going to ensure that I survive another year and by my own power will make sure the business I conduct is profitable. However, where this struck me today was the reminder that the reason such mental games are foolish is because I don’t even know if I’m going to be here tomorrow.

My problem is often the very opposite. Instead of thinking about how successful I’m going to be over the next year, I can get bogged down in worries. “Oh no, the economy is failing. What will that do to my income or my retirement or…” “Oh no, my kids are growing up and I know they are going to be faced with all kinds of temptations. What am I going to do about that?” 

One of the crazy “Oh nos” I have happened last night. My wife took the car to go to the store. It was raining like crazy and she lingered. Suddenly my mind was filled with fear that something bad had happened, at any moment the police were going to show up and now I was going to be a single father of four children. Actually, nothing happened to her. She showed up at home just as usual. However, this morning as I was stuck in traffic I started thinking about that scary possibility and I actually began to be filled with fear as if it were already true. How crazy is that?

The fact is, someday my wife will die. It may be before me or after me. It may be while the kids are at home; it may be after they are on their own. The thing is, it has happened today. She is at home right now doing her part of our family work. Why let all the possibilities of tomorrow over which I have no control mess up today.

You see it works both ways. I shouldn’t let my arrogance think I am going to ensure some success is going to happen apart from God’s will. At the same time, I shouldn’t let my fears about what might happen tomorrow send my today in a panic. Rather, I should just rely on God and pray “As the Lord wills.” Then, each day, I can rely on the strength He gives me to make it through whatever happens today.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

November 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, Faith, James, relying on God, Surrender | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 12-13: God’s Grace is Sufficient for Us

 

31, ESV)

"They shall mount up with wings like eagles..." (Isaiah 40:31, ESV)

One of the great things about the world wide web is that it is world wide. I don’t want to make the mistake of acting like everyone who reads this is American like me. However, American is the framework from which I come. I hope that folks from other countries don’t have the problem I’m about to describe. I think we American Christians sometimes allow our American citizenship to dictate our approach to life more than we do God’s word.

 

In the good ol’ U S of A, we are taught to be independent. We are taught to pull ourselves up by our boot straps and make it through the tough times. If we are going to rely on God it is only for the really tough times when we just need Him to give us a little push to get us over the hump we just can’t seem to climb. I recall being in the family conference area in the emergency room of a local hospital where one of my dear sisters was grieving the loss of her husband. This was on top of several other life tragedies she and her family had faced in the past year. A friend and co-worker, who was also a Christian thought he was helping this sister by telling her, “Sister, you can do this. You’re strong enough. You can make it.” Then he prayed, “God, our sister is going through a tough time. She just needs a little help. Help her see she is strong enough to make it through this.”

I couldn’t contain myself. As soon as this well-intentioned brother left, I knelt beside my grieving sister and said, “I know this brother meant well. But he is wrong. You aren’t strong enough for this. We’re not strong enough for this. We can’t make it through this stuff. But we have a God that is strong enough to get you through.” And then I grabbed the little Bible they had on the side table and read II Corinthians 12:8-10.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (ESV).

The reason so many American Christians struggle is because we have this idea that we are really strong enough for most things and that we only need to rely on God for a little nudge on the really tough stuff. The fact is, we need to recognize apart from God we can do nothing. I remember in a series I presented on prayer another well-meaning brother commenting that one of the problems we have in prayer is asking God to do things for us that we can do for ourselves. My question is which things are those? After all, it is through God that we live and move and have our very being (Acts 17:28). If our very life and ability to move comes from God, which thing is it that we can accomplish all on our very own? 

We need to get over this idea that we are strong enough for anything. We need to recognize that we are weak and powerless. The only way we can have any victory at all is to simply surrender ourselves to God and His will. We need to just throw ourselves on His grace because it is sufficient. 

Consider one great contrast–Moses. When Moses simply supposed that everyone would understand he was God’s chosen vessel to deliver the Israelites, he ran from Egypt in fear with his tail tucked between his legs. However, when he believed he was too weak and couldn’t possibly be the man to lead Israel, God brought great victory through Him. We have to realize we are only able to stand because of the legs God has given us and simply surrender to Him. His grace is sufficient, our strength isn’t.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

October 6, 2008 Posted by | Christian Living, II Corinthians, Powerlessness, relying on God, Surrender | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment