January 2019 Pulpit Ponderings

Searching for some enlightening theme to allow reflection for the New Year, I was impressed by what Michael Bolin contemplated about the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 and I used some of his thoughts to express my own.

A boy told his father, “Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hung over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?” The dad replied, “Two.” “No,” the son replied. “There are three frogs and one decides to jump, how many are left?” The dad said, “Oh, I get it, if one decides to jump, the others would too. So, there are none left.” The boy said, “No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.” Does that sound like last year’s resolution? Great inspiration and great resolutions, but often times we only decide, and months later we are still on the same limb of do-nothing.

 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace. What does the worker gain from his toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-13.

 

Solomon is telling us that God has a plan for all of us and a cycle for everything we are planned to do in accordance with His will. To do all that our life demands of us we must find balance.

The first thing you have to do, if you are going to have balance in your life is: You have to discover your PURPOSE. What is your purpose in this world? This is the core question of our lives. If you have not thought seriously about this, you have not taken life seriously. Many of the problems in people’s lives would be settled if they understood their purpose in life and lived it out. The Bible says, “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord” (Romans 14:8). If it is true that we belong to the Lord, then we have the obligation to live for the Lord. As the Word says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our lives are not our own. They do not belong to us. We belong to God.

The Bible says, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12-13). Your purpose is to live out and fulfill the purpose of God for your life. He is working to unfold that plan in your life, and your responsibility is to cooperate with his work in you. The Bible says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The grand purpose of your life is to know God and have an ongoing relationship with him that brings him glory in the way you live your life. The Bible says, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). What is your purpose? It is to know God through his Son Jesus Christ and live for him. Your purpose is to do as much good as you can do for him and others. You are not here to serve and please yourself; you have a higher calling. If you don’t understand your purpose, then your life is built on the wrong foundation. And if your life is built on the wrong foundation, it does not matter how magnificent the structure is, it will crumble and fall.

Your primary purpose here is not to be successful or have a wonderful career. Your purpose is not to be happy in your earthly accomplishments or earn a lot of money. Your purpose is not even to find love and have a family. The Bible says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). It is not that these other things are bad, they are not, it is just that they cannot come before the main purpose for which you were created — to know God and glorify him with your life. When you get that straight, then the rest will all fall into place.

The second thing you have to do, if you are going to have balance in your life is: You have to establish your PRIORITIES. You may have a firm grasp of what your real purpose is in this world. You may understand that your life belongs to God, and that you are to live for him rather than yourself. But now you need to understand God’s specific plan for you. Begin by asking yourself, “What are my gifts? What are the specific talents and interests that God has put into my life? How can I use these to fulfill his purpose for me in this world?” The reason that these questions are important is that you may be doing many good things, but you may not be doing the things that God has in mind for you. Your area of interest may be the gift God has given you to promote growth and influence for His kingdom.

Setting priorities is not about choosing between what is good and what is bad. That has been settled when you decide to live out your God-given purpose in life. Priorities have to be set when the choice is between what is good and what is best — between what will be beneficial and what is actually God’s will for you. He has made you with particular interests, skills and gifts. Go in the direction of your interests and gifts, because this is how and why God has created you. It is about getting the most from your life. Setting priorities helps you to trim down your involvement to a reasonable level.

The third thing you have to do, if you are going to have balance in your life is: You have to make your PLAN. You can understand your purpose and set your priorities, but if you have no plan on how to make it happen, it will never happen. Nothing is going to happen until you make it happen. It is too easy to let life sweep you along and your agenda be filled with the urgent little things of the day. If you are not deliberate in planning out your life, your life will drift, and life will “just happen.” You want your life to happen on purpose. If you can’t get everything done, it is because you are trying to do more than God wants you to do. You have just enough time to do what God wants you to do.

 

 “15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” – Ephesians 5:15-20.

 

It is important to take the time to sit down and write out your life purpose. Put your priorities down on paper. Make a plan to fulfill those priorities and make them happen. Begin to say no to some things and cut out other things. Make sure there is enough time for the important things. Pencil in time for God and for ministry to other people. Your ministry may be encouraging someone over the phone, baking a pie, singing a song, teaching a class, witnessing to your neighbor, writing a story, leading a group, going with a jail ministry team, working with children, youth or the elderly. Your ministry will be unique to your personal gifts and calling, and you will have time for God to use you because you have made a plan.

I ask you to consider if the New Year could actually speak to you and this is what it said;

 

“Howdy! Here I am, the New Year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time. I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months. All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination. All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires. All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not have — these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose. I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”

 

“Happy New Year!”

 

His Peace and Blessings to all of you, as you continue to believe, have hope, and do the work of the Lord.

God bless you, your families, and our church, always!

 

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” – Isaiah 52:7

 

As Always, In His Grip …Shalom Aleichem (Peace Be Unto You) …

 

Until the Nets Are Full,

Your Most Obedient and Humble Servant,

Pastor Buddy