Monthly Archives: October 2010

Go about your business

Daniel 12:13

As for you, go your way till the end.  You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.  NIV

This is the very last verse in the book of Daniel.

Daniel has been shown the future, in fact, he has seen the end of the world as we know it.  Throughout chapter 12, he asks when the things that he has seen will come to pass.  He isn’t given an answer that he can understand, which must have been pretty frustrating.

Then, this verse, “And you?  Go about your business without fretting or worrying. Relax. When it’s all over, you will be on your feet to receive your reward.” MSG

So, that’s it.  God has a plan and it will all play out in His perfect time.

I’m not to worry or to fret about what is to come … I should be aware of the things that He has planned, but, not live my life looking for them, or anticipating them, or, above all worrying about them.

Instead, I should go about my business, focusing my energies on the here and now … looking for ways to love God and to love others as He intended.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Daniel, Old Testament, Worry

Invest in the eternal

Ezekiel 7:12

The time has come, the day has arrived.  Let not the buyer rejoice nor the seller grieve, for wrath is upon the whole crowd. NIV

This verse is part of a broader set of verses in The Message which reads, “”Judgment Day! Fate has caught up with you. The scepter outsized and pretentious, pride bursting all bounds, Violence strutting, brandishing the evil scepter. But there’s nothing to them, and nothing will be left of them. Time’s up. Countdown: five, four, three, two… Buyer, don’t crow; seller, don’t worry: Judgment wrath has turned the world topsy-turvy. The bottom has dropped out of buying and selling. It will never be the same again. But don’t fantasize an upturn in the market. The country is bankrupt because of its sins, and it’s not going to get any better.” MSG

Pretty dire stuff!

Buyer, don’t crow … seller don’t worry.  I think that’s so interesting.

How often have I “crowed” about a deal?  Several weeks ago, I spent 11 days in a very small town in rural Texas.  I had my days all to myself while the family I was visiting tended to their daily obligations — work and school.  I combed all the little shops and enjoyed poking around in bakeries and coffee shops.

I found a matched set of three stained glass windows, with which I fell completely in love.  On the last day of my visit, the store posted a thirty percent off sale.  Now, those windows, which already were an insanely good deal compared to what I’d buy them for here … were “buy two get one free!”  Or, at least that was how I justified the impractical purchase.

Stained glass windows are both heavy and fragile … a shipping nightmare.  To top it off, the town was so small that it didn’t have a pack and ship … in fact, the woman that I asked had never even heard of a “pack and ship” store.  When I explained the concept, her response was, “what a great idea!”  Followed by, “Nope, we don’t have one of those.”

Buyer don’t crow.

My great deal actually worked out to cost about the same as if I had purchased the windows here, due to the ultimate shipping cost.  But, I’m still marveling at the find … three matched is pretty rare in my experience.

Seller don’t worry.

I always worry, when selling something, if I’ve gotten the best price … even if it’s a garage sale where I’m selling things that I obviously no longer want or use, I wonder if I’m getting the best price I can.

I love these verses … they speak to where we are today.

Just this week, one night on the news, there were a series of terrible  catastrophes reported … an earthquake and tsunami followed by a volcano eruption in Indonesia, a storm causing unprecedented barometric lows in the middle part of the country that spawned multiple tornadoes and much destruction, a cholera epidemic in Haiti, and a bed bug infestation at the United Nations.

There is a countdown … while we may not be at five, we are closer than we were yesterday to the second coming … closer even than when I started this post early this morning.

What I buy and sell is temporary … my investments need to be in the eternal.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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“Don’t worry,” and “There’s nothing to worry about,” are two entirely different things

Jeremiah 28:9

“But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord, only if his prediction comes true.” NIV

I skipped over this verse for some reason.  I didn’t realize that I’d skipped it until this morning.  Yesterday, I had made it all the way to Ezekiel in the listings of the word, “worry” in The Message.  Today, I’m back in Jeremiah, where this verse reads, “So any prophet who preaches that everything is just fine and there’s nothing to worry about stands out like a sore thumb.  We’ll wait and see.  If it happens, it happens — and then we’ll know that God sent him.” MSG

Jeremiah is speaking here, against the false prophet Hananiah.  Chapter 28, in fact, is called “The False Prophet Hananiah” in my NIV version of the Bible.

At the beginning of the chapter, Hananiah claims to have a word from God.  He tells the people that all will be restored, and that God will break the yoke of the King of Babylon.

Jeremiah responds that he wishes that were true, but, that all of the prophets who have come before them have prophesied the opposite.  Later in the chapter, God tells Jeremiah that Hananiah is a false prophet, and, by the end of the chapter, Hananiah is dead.

So, here’s the interesting thing … Jeremiah basically says, everything isn’t going to be all right … there are definitely bad things coming … things that would merit worrying over, if one, like me, were a worrier.

But, commanding us not to worry, as God does over and over again throughout the Bible, is no where near saying “there’s nothing to worry about.”  There’s lots to worry about, we just shouldn’t spend our time here doing that.

Even when very bad things happen, we are called to trust God and to step forward on faith with Him.  Regardless of my changing circumstances, God never changes.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Sin can cause it …

Ezekiel 4: 16b-17

“The people will eat rationed food in anxiety and drink rationed water in despair, for food and water will be scarce.  They will be appalled at the sight of each other and will waste away because of their sin.” NIV

As I’m working my way through the listings of the word, “worry” in The Message, some of them don’t say, “don’t worry.”  Instead, like this verse, they deal with the consequences or causes of worry.  The Message translates these verses, “The people will live on starvation rations, worrying where the next meal’s coming from, scrounging for the next drink of water.  Famine conditions.  People will look at one another, see nothing but skin and bones, and shake their heads.  This is what sin does.” MSG

This is prophecy of some time in the future from when Ezekiel is writing.

I do not know if these things have come to pass, or if they are still to come, but, the interesting thing about them to me is the linkage between worry, and sin.

It is clear, here, that sin caused the worry.

I can never live a sinless life … that’s why I need a Savior.  But, to the extent that I am legitimately working to live each day for Christ, if I am earnestly seeking His will and obeying His commands, it stands to reason that my sins will be fewer … and likely my worries, lessened.

I’ll have to think about that today.


Filed under Ezekiel, Old Testament, Worry

Don’t dwell on what might happen

Jeremiah 49:23-24

Concerning Damascus:

Hamath and Arpad are dismayed, for they have heard the bad news.  They are disheartened, troubled like the restless sea.  Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her; anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor. NIV

If I were more of a Biblical scholar, I might know more about Hamath and Arpad.  I don’t.  But, I can certainly identify with them.  Bad news is often disheartening, and troubling.

The Message translates the last part of verse 23, “their hearts will melt in fear as they pace back and forth in worry.”

As I think about it, bad news of things that already have happened makes me sad, but, it doesn’t usually worry me … unless I begin to consider the consequences of the bad thing.  Bad news about things that might happen is often troubling …

It seems to hold true … if I will remain focused in the present, my present, with God … my worries will be mitigated, perhaps even eliminated.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Things may get worse before they get better

Jeremiah 45

This is what Jeremiah the prophet told Baruch son of Neriah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, after Baruch had written on a scroll the words Jeremiah was then dictating.  “This is what the Lord the God of Israel says to you, Baruch: You said, ‘Woe to me! The Lord has added sorrow to my pain;  I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.'”

The Lord said, “Say this to him: ‘This is what the Lord says:  I will overthrow what I have built and uproot what I have planted, throughout the land.  Should you then seek great things for yourself?  Seek them not.  For I will bring disaster on all people, declares the Lord, but wherever you go I will let you escape with your life.'” NIV

That’s it.  That’s all of chapter 45 of Jeremiah.

I don’t ever remember reading this before.  I’m certain that I saw it when I read through the Bible in a year, but, it’s so short … five verses … I completely missed the sentiment.

Baruch is an important example.  He’s clearly feeling sorry for himself.

The Message translates verse 3, “These are bad times for me!  It’s one thing after another.  God is piling on the pain.  I’m worn out and there’s no end in sight.” MSG

This last week, my Bible Study group studied Unit Six of Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God.  There, Blackaby addresses “The Silences of God.”  He eloquently uses the example of Lazarus to illustrate an important point, “God will let you know what He is doing in your life when and if you need to know.”

That’s so powerful.  Everything comes from God.  I was created by God.  I live and breathe because it is at his pleasure that I do so.  He can and will use me to accomplish His purposes if I’m willing to submit to His will and obey.  When I do, things will not be easy, but, miraculous results will occur.

Along the way, like Mary and Martha and Lazaraus, I’m sure to be frustrated, impatient and discouraged.  But, if I will wait upon the Lord, if I will look for His results and His perspective, like Lazarus and his sisters, I will be moved to a new level of expectation, of faith and of trust.

As Lazarus lay dying, Jesus received messages about his condition.  After Lazarus had been dead four days, Christ finally arrived, only to be met by one of the sisters who is beyond frustrated.  She is so angry … if Christ had come, her brother would not have died.  She knew Christ could heal the sick.  When He raised her brother from the dead, He used this experience to expand her perspective of his power beyond that which she had imagined.

Blackaby’s point is that God will do this for us, if we will listen and obey.

Baruch isn’t listening.  He’s feeling badly about all of the frustrations of his own life … his own life, which God promises to spare.  Verse 5 says, “Things are going to get worse before they get better.  But don’t worry.  I’ll keep you alive through the whole business.” MSG

Things may get worse before they get better … but when they get better, they will be so much better than we could ever have imagined!

That’s what I’ll think about today.


Filed under Jeremiah, Old Testament, Worry

It’s all going to be ok!

Isaiah 37:33

Therefore this is what the Lord says concerning the king of Assyria.  “He will not enter this ciy or shoot an arrow here.  He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it.” NIV

I’m continuing to search for verses containing the word, “worry” in The Message translation of the Bible.

There, this verse reads, “Finally, this is God’s verdict on the king of Assyria:  “Don’t worry, he won’t enter this city, won’t let loose a single arrow; Won’t brandish so much as one shield, let alone build a siege ram p against it.” MSG

This is a time when God, who knows all things, chooses to reveal a bit of the future.

I really like science fiction.  As a kid, I loved 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and, of course Star Trek.  I absolutely love the notion of time travel, and some of my favorite books, and movies play with that concept.

But, as much fun as it is to read about the possibility of not being bound by time, I wouldn’t like it.  I tend to think that if I knew one, sure fact about the future … I would worry about the rest, and I would be so focused on the ifs and the whys and the wherefores that I would successfully miss the experience of my own life.

It’s good that God provided this reassurance … He knows best.  There are times that I would like to be told with certainty, “This is all going to be ok.”

But, as I think about it, I am told that.  My future is assured and my present is pleasant.  This is all going to be ok!

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Who knows what’s coming?

Ecclesiastes 8: 5b-7

And the wise heart will know the proper time and procedure.  For there is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s misery weighs heavily upon him.   Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come? NIV

I think these verses are interesting.

There is a proper time and procedure for every matter, though a man’s heart weighs heavily upon him …

The Message translates that, “the wise person obeys promptly and accurately.  Yes, there’s a right time and and way for everything, even though,  unfortunately, we miss it for the most part.” MSG

I remember the first wedding I went to.  I was nine, my cousin was getting married (my FAVORITE cousin) and she asked me to be a junior bridesmaid.  Everything about it was magical to me.  I loved having my dress made, and preparing for the trip to her town.  When we arrived, she gave me a little charm bracelet with one charm that had a little picture of a junior bridesmaid on the front.  It  was engraved.  Below the picture it said, “Junior Bridesmaid,” and on the back, it had the date of her wedding.

I wore that bracelet for months … it was like a little medal.

I remember the rehearsal, and how much fun everyone seemed to be having.  And, there was a junior groomsman.  They showed us how to link arms as he walked me down the aisle after the practice wedding.

On the big day, everything seemed like a dream come true.  My mother did my hair, and I got to hang out with the “senior bridesmaids” before the service.  My cousin had never looked prettier.

I loved the reception … I loved how she and her new husband cut their cake, and that she threw her bouquet and someone got to catch it and take it home!

It was years before I attended another wedding.  When I did, I was surprised at the similarities between it and the very, very special wedding that my cousin had.  As time went on, and I went to more and more of them, I realized that all weddings were pretty much the same.

There’s a right time and way for everything …

Most of life isn’t like a wedding … but, perhaps it should be.  There are certain steps that we all must take, and, for the big transitions, we’ve developed a “right way” of doing them.  We have ceremonies and rights of passage … christenings, baptisms, graduations, funerals … but, there are many things in life where there are no ceremonies.  We’re left to figure them out on our own.

It is at those times, when, perhaps, we are most vulnerable to making a mis-step.  It is at those times that our misery weighs heavy upon us.  We hurt someone’s feelings, we behave selfishly, we make a poor decision.

As I look back at my life, my worries seldom stem from the ceremonial moments.

The last sentence in these verses seems to address that … no man knows the future.

It’s good that we don’t have a playbook for life.  It’s good that we don’t know everything that will happen before we get there.  Not knowing allows us to live in the moment, and to truly trust God.

It’s true that as we look back at our lives they will all have been pretty similar, but, the unique moments that each day holds are what makes every day an adventure to be lived, and, they are what makes each of us who we are.

I’ll have to think about that today.



Filed under Ecclesiastes, Old Testament, Worry

Trust … and obey

Ecclesiastes 8:5a

Whoever obeys his command will come to no harm NIV

Trust and obey …

Two sure remedies for worry.

There’s an old hymn that I have sung and heard sung all my life, “Trust and obey, for there’s no better way, to be happy in Jesus, than to trust and obey.”

This is a song that is on of a variety of hymns that are usually sung at the point in the service that in my religion is called, “the invitation.”

At this point in the service, I am sometimes moved to pray for others who have not yet made the decision to follow Christ, or, I may be contemplating things that God has put on my heart as a result of the sermon, or, I might be thinking about all the things I have to do to get ready to teach Bible Study, or worse, just wondering what I’ll have for lunch.

Regardless, even though I’ve sung this song, maybe 50 times in my life (and that’s a pretty conservative estimate), I don’t think I’ve ever seen those words as clearly as I do this morning.

I find that I have a lot in common with the originator of this sentiment at this point in my life.  I did some quick research on the Internet.  Turns out, John Sammis, who wrote the song, was inspired by the testimony of a young man who ended his story with the words, “I’m not quite sure, but I’m going to trust and obey.”

Powerful words.

I looked up the rest of the hymn:

When we walk with the Lord, In the light of His word, What a glory He sheds on our way!

While we do His good will, He abides with us still, And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, Not a sorrow we share, But our toil He doth richly repay;

Not a grief or a loss, Not a frown or a cross, But is blest if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove, The delights of His love, Until all on the altar we lay;

For the favor He shows, For the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet, We will sit at His feet, Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;

What He says we will do, Where He sends we will go; Never fear, only trust and obey.

I’m not the first person to have faced uncertainty.  I am not the only one of God’s children who worries.

A dear friend said to me this morning that God is really teaching her to live in the moment.  She said that if she thinks only about her present, she is supremely happy with her circumstances.  The worries come only when she begins to look down the road ahead of her, where the future is all but clear.

We agreed that living in the moment was God’s intent for us.

So, on this gorgeous fall morning, I will enjoy the crisp air, and delight in the magnificent display of color that God has put all around me.  I will obey His commands, and I will trust that He has the future under control.

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Don’t back out

Ecclesiastes 8:2-4

Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.  Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence.  Do not stand up for a bad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases.  Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, “What are you doing?” NIV

Hmmm …

In The Message, these verses are translated, “Do what your king commands; you gave a sacred oath of obedience. Don’t worryingly second-guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant. You’re serving his pleasure, not yours. The king has the last word. Who dares say to him, ‘What are you doing?'” MSG

Don’t worryingly second guess your orders or try to back out when the task is unpleasant …

I’ve spent a lot of time asking God what he wants me to do with my life.  Likely, more time asking than truly listening for an answer.

When answers do come, I can’t second-guess them.

Some of what I must do here is unpleasant … trials I must endure … things that will surely teach me and prepare me for what my future holds, or that will benefit others in ways that I may never see or understand.

I can’t back out just because I’m tired, or bored, or worried … life is not a game of monopoly … you can’t just push back from the table and ask, “Who wants pie?”

Each day must be lived to its fullest potential.  We are here to serve God, to please God … not the other way around.

God, the ultimate King, has the last word … who am I to say, “What are you doing?”

That’s what I’ll think about today.

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Filed under Ecclesiastes, Old Testament, Worry