Master of Your Own Destiny?

I criticized a book recently in one of my reviews because the author said someone was the master of their own destiny.  The Bible teaches us that God is in control, and we are not.  However, I discovered this quote today that reminds us that we are in control of one thing — our attitude and how we respond to the things that happen to us.

“It is a proverbial saying, that everyone makes his own destiny;  and this is usually interpreted, that every one, by his wise or unwise conduct, prepares good or evil for himself:  but we may also understand it, that whatever it be that he receives from the hand of Providence, he may so accommodate himself to it, that he will find his lot good for him, however much may seem to others to be wanting.”  Wm. Von Humboldt (Prussian philosopher)

Jesus tells us that we will have problems.  The world is infected by sin, and so are we. We can never be good enough or wise enough to avoid the consequences.  Nothing will keep us safe.  However, we can have contentment when we place our trust in Him.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

He has our ultimate good at heart.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28

Elisabeth Elliot, a missionary who went to live with the same Ecuadorian tribe who killed her husband had this to say about our destiny:

“I found peace in the knowledge that I was in the hands of God.  Not in the confidence that I was not going to be killed.  Not in the false sense of security that God would protect me, any more than He protected my husband, the four missionaries, or Honoria (a man who was speared) from the wooden lances.  Simply in knowing that He held my destiny in His two hands what He did was right.”

Expect trouble– and when it comes, don’t trust yourself, trust the one who made you.  He is the master of your destiny.

 

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Keep Loving One Another

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. ”   John 14:9-11

This favorite children’s song, based on the verses above, tells us that when we keep loving one another, we are not only being obedient to God, we will be filled with joy.  Who can you love today?

A New Commandment

I found this hymn recently, and since it goes with our monthly theme, I decided to share it this morning.  It’s based on John 13:34:

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

 

Words of Life

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. John 6:68

I seem to be a bit hung up on the idea of “words” this month.  We sang this hymn in church recently, and it really appeals to me, so I thought I would share it on the blog.

It was written by Philip Bliss.  At 25, Philip was an itinerant music teacher making only $13 a month.  In 1869 he formed an association with evangelist Dwight Moody and by 36 he was earning a fortune with  the royalties received from his compositions.   He gave much of it away to charity.  “Wonderful Words of Life” was produced in 1874 for the first issue of a religious paper named Words of Life, published by Fleming H. Revell in New York City, NY.  Two years later, he and his wife were killed when seven cars of their Chicago-bound train, while they were riding their Chicago-bound express through  crashed through the trestle of a railroad bridge and plunged into the river below.  This song had its first hymnbook appearance in the 1878 Gospel Hymns No. 3, edited by Ira David Sankey.   Listen and enjoy these wonderful words!  You can’t hear them too often.

I’m Too Good for This

“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘LORD,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your LORD and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” John 13:13-17

Face it,  ladies, aren’t there times when we all feel that we’re too good to waste our time serving others?  Changing diapers, packing lunches, scrubbing the toilet — these are not generally seen as tasks that fulfill us or enrich our lives. Taking time to listen to a whiney teenager, visiting an elderly relative who rambles on and on or cheerfully assisting our annoying boss can become tiresome and irritating. Sometimes we feel unappreciated.  Does anyone even SEE what we’re doing? The effort we put into making somebody else’s life a little smoother? The things we put up with in order to help somebody else?  In the verses above, Jesus reminds us of two things:

  1. He himself was willing to serve.  He was God, yet He not only washed feet, He gave his life for ungrateful, sinful wretches like you and me.  We should never be unwilling to serve others when we reflect upon His example.
  2. When we serve we will be blessed.  Maybe we won’t be blessed with worldly recognition or wealth, but we will be blessed by loving relationships.  Plus we will receive the recognition that really matters when we hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant” from Jesus, our Lord.

Remember, nobody wishes on their death bed that they had spent more time accumulating stuff.  Nobody remembers their parents or friends fondly because they were rich or famous.  In the end what matters most are the many, small, caring deeds we do for others.  The things we think are go unnoticed.

So serve cheerfully.  Develop a servant’s heart. You’re not too good for this.

Who Do I Look Like?

As saints of God, we’re all part of His family.  In any family, there are resemblances.  Maybe you have your mother’s eyes, or your father’s temper.  Maybe you and your sister are like two peas in a pod, with similar talents and interests.  Maybe you and your cousin could pass for twins.  So today I’m pondering — what member of God’s family do I look like?

I’ve always felt an affinity for Nicodemus.  You’ll find his story in the 3rd Chapter of John.  Here’s how it starts:

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council.  He came to Jesus at night ….” John 3:1-2

I like to obey the rules, so, like Nicodemus, I can see myself identifying with the Pharisees.  He was curious (definitely me) and he wanted to learn more about this Jesus, but he came at night … because he was also cautious, not willing to make an impulsive commitment in front of others (well, me again).  He had his position to think of, after all.

Jesus doesn’t scold Nicodemus for his caution.  He recognizes him as an honest seeker and answers his questions.  Then we don’t see Nicodemus for a while.  When he reappears later in the story, Jesus is before the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus, attempts to defend him (he’s not stupid — I don’t think I am either– and he can see his associates don’t really have a leg to stand on). Yet, he is rebuffed and he doesn’t persist. (Did he think, “I tried, but there wasn’t anything else I could do?” — Have I said things like this to justify myself when I’ve failed to defend Christ vigorously? hmmm–for sure) Then after Jesus is crucified, we see Nicodemus again.

“….Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus.  Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jews.  With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.  He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night.” John 19:38-39

The crucifixion was a catalyst for Nicodemus.  He saw clearly now who Jesus was, and he declared himself as a follower.  I wonder if he worried that he had committed himself too little and too late.  Sometimes I think about that, too.  I have often have good intentions, but it’s hard for me to surrender everything and follow quickly.

Yes, I’m alot like my brother Nicodemus.  I honestly want to know Jesus, and I believe He is the son of God. (that makes me a saint). However, I can be overly cautious, worried about what others think, and slow to respond (that makes me a sinner).  Thankfully my debts have been paid in advance by the One who loves me and knows me through and through.

I’m challenging our other writers to think about and post an answer to this question as I have — Blogging sisters, who do you look like?  I really want to read your answers!

 

 

An Environment in Chaos

“Behold, the hour is coming, indeed, it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.  Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart;  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:32-33

Right now my environment seems to be in a state of chaos.  There was a major leak in the condominium above ours which called serious damage to our bathroom and kitchen.  We cannot live there until at least some of the rebuild work is completed–we are essentially homeless.  Even as I say this, I realize our blessings are great, because friends with a finished basement have taken us in, and we are able to go to our daughter’s apartment to cook and wash our clothes.

Our problems are minor in comparison to the troubles facing many in our world.  We have food, clothing, a roof over our heads,  and caring friends and family.  Yet we’re unsettled.  We can’t find things when we need them;  our routines are disrupted.  We feel a loss of control and security.  Satan loves this sort of thing, because it distracts us from God’s presence.  My prayer life has dwindled and the other morning I cried for no real reason — I simply felt frustrated and fed up with our situation.

In the verses above, Jesus tells us these times will come.  We need to expect them and not allow them to disturb our peace in Him.  We are never alone, never truly homeless, because He is with us, and He has overcome any chaos the world can create.  When our focus is on Christ, any problems in the environment recede.

Does your environment feel chaotic?  Turn it over to the Prince of Peace.  He loves you and so do!