Making Plans

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit,” whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? It is just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” But now you are rejoicing in your boastings. All such rejoicing is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, it is sin – James 4:13-16

How many of us make plans way ahead in the future? And how many of those plans end up going nowhere? Why does the Bible liken making plans to boasting? It could be because we are doing so without consulting God. We act as if we are in control of our destiny when He is the One who is. As Christians, we should make our plans based on what God wants or think is best not what we want. He may have much better plans for us. Take the prophet Jeremiah. What would have happened if he had made plans for a career, travel or marriage? Those plans would have come to nothing because God already had plans for his life.

Remember the Tower of Babel? The people had the bright idea of building a tower so high that it would reach heaven. What were their reasons for building the tower? “…let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). They wanted to stay put instead of going abroad and populating the earth. In other words, they were making their own plans which were outside of God’s will. They were boastful in thinking that they could do things their way instead of God’s way.

Nothing is wrong with having plans but they must never be contrary to God’s will. To them, it seemed reasonable to stay where they were and build up a city instead of going out into the world to start new lives. There are times when we want to stay put but God wants us to step out in faith as He did with Abraham. And there are times when we want to go places but He wants us to stay put like Jeremiah. We have to be attuned to what God wants for us so that our plans will line up nicely with His perfect will for us.

It is always best to say, “if the Lord wills…” when it comes to making plans. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that God approves of your plans and will bless them?

arm-desk-hand-58457

The Waters of Life

She thought of the sea as one’s life.  Never static. Always moving.

Sometimes it was calm and others time it was choppy.  Before she

found Christ, she wanted to remain in the shallow waters where it

was safe.

 

She didn’t want to be swept away by the currents of change or the

rough waters of trials and tribulations.  She didn’t want to be pulled

out to sea where she would have to struggle to keep afloat or to be

swept under because she was tired of treading the water.  Besides,

she was not a good swimmer.

 

Many times she walked along the beach alone with her thoughts

watching the water as it swelled and surged unto the sand, coming

as far in as it could before it rolled back out.  As she watched this

fascinating cycle, these words came to her mind, “When He assigned

to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His

command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth”  (Proverbs 8:29)

 

God was in control.  If He would put a limit on the sea which

to her was a mighty force of nature, untamed and scary, He

could do anything.  He could help her to overcome her fear

of life with its ups and downs, hardships and heartaches

and to trust that no matter what it threw at her, He was

there to sustain her.  Everything had a limit–including

the trials that everyone will face.  There were times

when she would be in the shallow waters and other

times when she would be in the deep.  It was all

part of life.

 

Now she could look at life as she looked at the sea and no longer

be afraid.  She had her Anchor to hold on to.  He will carry

her through the currents of life.  He promised, “For I, the

Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you,

“Fear not, I am the one who helps you” (Isaiah 41:13)

woman staring at the sea

Sources:  Blue Letter Bible; Open Bible

Forsaken and Abandoned

A father of the fatherless, a defender of widows, Is God in His holy habitation – Psalm 68:5

It’s heartbreaking to see how widows are treated in South Asia.  They don’t receive the care, love or support that widows in North America do.  Instead they are blamed for their husbands’ deaths and abandoned by their families.

A widow is stripped of her colorful clothing and forced to wear a white sari because her status has changed from married to widowed.  The glass bangles she wore to let the world know of her marital status are smashed into tiny pieces.  The privilege she once enjoyed as a married woman has been taken away from her simply because her husband died.

A widow is not in control of her own life.  Her eldest son is.  And she is one of the lucky ones if she gets to sleep in a tiny corner of his house.  Can you imagine, you raised your child–cared for him as best as you could with what you had and years later when you are a widow, that child controls your life and treats you like an animal?  I have seen dogs and cats treated better here in North America.  They get to sleep in warm beds.  Yet, we have widows in South Asia sleeping in corners.

Can you imagine your mother, sister, daughter or you being sent out of the family home and forced to work for a few cents a day at a temple or beg on the streets just to survive?  This is the sad reality for widows in South Asia.  They don’t have the skills or tools that would help them to earn a living so they are forced scrape by as prostitutes, beggars or daily laborers.  If they are mothers, their children are forced to work instead of going to school.  Those who wander while their mothers work are vulnerable to abuse.

Widows are shunned and degraded.  Their lives are filled with pain and struggle.  Poverty and hopelessness are burdens they carry everyday.  They need to know that there is a Savior who is willing and able to relieve them of these burdens.  They need to know that He loves them and wants to deliver them from their despair.  They need to hear the Good News.  They need hope.

Widows - Gospel for Asia

I encourage you to open your hearts to the struggles widows face everyday and to pray for them. Pray that they learn about the One who knows every detail of their lives and cares for them.  He doesn’t blame them for their husbands’ deaths.  He wants to provide for them.  He wants to change their circumstances so that they no longer have to beg or degrade themselves in order to feed themselves and their children.   Pray that they will be able to earn an honest living to support themselves and their children.   It would be especially good for the older widows to have their own small businesses.  Pray that their children will be safe and that they get to learn about Jesus’ love through Bridge of Hope centers, Sunday schools and vacation Bible schools.  Widows need to be in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable sharing their struggles, strengthen their faith and foster relationships with other believers.  They find this kind of environment in Women’s Fellowship groups.   Pray for these groups who reach out to widows by visiting them at their homes and inviting them to meetings.  Pray that God will provide them with more opportunities to encourage and share Jesus with these women who are forsaken and abandoned by their families. They have this promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day – 1 Timothy 5:5

Pray for Widows

And the LORD shall help them and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, And save them, Because they trust in Him – Psalm 37:40

 

Source:  Gospel for Asia

God is in Control

Look up in faith and not down in despair.

One morning I found myself thinking about Job.  When looking up the word adversity in the dictionary, one can almost expect to see Job’s name right beside it.  He went through more than many people would go through in a lifetime, yet he had these things to say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; “Blessed be the name of the Lord”; “Shall we accept good from God and shall we not accept adversity?” “You have granted me life and favour, and your care has preserved my spirit.”; “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.

The story of Job teaches us several things.  Satan is not in control, God is.  God allows certain things to happen in our lives.  He allowed Satan to take away Job’s possessions, his children and his health.  God allowed Job to endure much pain and suffering through no fault of his own.  In spite of his situation, Job did not curse God.  No matter what we are going through we are to praise God.  God is to be praised at all times.

Praise God during the bad times?  Personally speaking, this would be hard to do.  Instead of giving praises and thanks, we would most likely break down and cry, asking God, “Why me?  Why have you left me?  How could you do these things to me?” We would be in so much pain that we would want to either curl up and die or seek comfort.  We would wish the problem away.  But this is not how God wants us to deal with adversity.  He wants us to focus on Him instead of the problem.  Like David, we should ask ourselves, “Why am I so sad?  Why am I so troubled?  I will put my hope in God, and once again I will praise Him, my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

It helps to remember that life here on earth is temporary.  Suffering is temporary.  God promised us that He will wipe away all tears from our eyes; that there will be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying nor pain.  All the heartaches we endured here on earth will be among the former things, which will pass away.  It helps to remember that God is greater than any adversity.  When we keep our eyes and minds focused on Him we will overcome just as Jesus did.  When Peter took his eyes off Jesus as he walked on the water, he began to sink.  We too sink into despair and hopelessness when we take our eyes off God.

The book of Job teaches us that God is in control of all the affliction that befalls His people.  Affliction shapes us, fine-tunes us.  God uses trouble to test our hearts.  God reveals both His and the devil’s purposes.  While Satan sought to disprove that Job was blameless God sought to build up Job’s character.  God brings us to places where we would not otherwise have reached had we not gone through trials.

Going through trials makes us ask questions, appreciate the good times and make us stronger.  We learn valuable lessons.  We learn patience, endurance, humility and God’s purpose for our lives.  We see that we are not exempt from suffering.  Suffering cannot be avoided.  God wants us to take the bad with the good.  Strength comes from hardships, difficulties, trials and tribulations.  These help us to see what we are made of and the areas God wants to work on.

Job is a fine example of patience and this is what I need to have more of.  God is teaching me to be patient; to wait on Him; to trust Him to fulfil His plans for my life. Trials also show us who our true and faithful friend is—God.  Job lost many friends and the remaining ones attacked him instead of comforting him. God is there through thick and thin.  He convicts us not condemns us.  He does not desert us when things are going bad.  All through Job’s suffering God was there.

Another lesson to learn from Job is that we don’t question God. God doesn’t owe us any explanations as to why suffering takes place.  Instead, we are to ask, “Lord, what are You trying to teach me?  What is it that You want me to learn from this?”  Or say, “Lord, You brought me to this and I know that You will bring me through it.  You are in control”.  As we go through the valleys in life, let us remember to praise God.

Encouraging Words: Your Daily Devotion

Recently I have subscribed to receive daily devotionals for Women and today I received this encouraging devotion.

today’s versefrom the New Living Translation
“I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth!
He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber.
Indeed, he who watches over Israel
never slumbers or sleeps.”Psalm 121:1–4

encouragement for today

The psalmist looks to the mountains, seemingly so strong and stable. Can his help come from there? No, his help comes from the One who created those mountains and the whole earth and heavens besides! When tempted to trust only in earthly things, go to the true Source of any power and solidity there is—God. The One who constantly watches over you and all of his people, without even a nanosecond of a pause, is eager to come to your aid.—Diane Eble, author of Abundant Gifts: A Daybook of Grace-Filled Devotions

 

This is so true.  God is the One we turn to when we are hurting or need help.  Countless times I have turned to Him when I am hurting or am troubled.  He is always there, just ready to step in and offer a helping hand.  He cares about us.  We are His children.  He is the loving Father who longs to pick us up when we fall or enfold us in His arms when we need comforting or the shoulder we cry on.

The psalmist wrote, “God is our shelter and strength, always ready to help in times in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).  Peter encouraged us to cast all of our anxiety on God because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

There are times when God is the only One you can run to.  He knows what is going on.  You don’t have to tell Him.   And He is in control.   He is that Rock of strength you can cling to when you feel like you are sinking or unable to cope with what’s going on in your life or around you.  Sometimes there is no other where to look but up.  And remember that God is able and very willing to come to your aid.  Just let go and let Him.

Eleanor Roosevelt

Earlier this month when I was reading about African American women who made a difference so that I could feature them in the special issue of Notes to Women newsletter, one name kept popping up–Eleanor Roosevelt.  I promised myself that I would do a little writeup on her.  And here we are.

“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world” (http://www.udhr.org/history/biographies/bioer.htm).

She basically believed that charity begins at home.  And she reminds me of something a friend once said to me.  “The difficulty in following Jesus’ command is that we often pick and choose who we decide is our neighbour. We see our neighbour as the starving, AIDS infected person in the Third World or the orphan in a war torn country, needing our love and care but often perceive the homeless in our community as undeserving of our love.”

Eleanor’s childhood was a dreadfully unhappy one.  Her father was an alcoholic who was disowned by his family. Her mother, renowned for her beauty, was distant from her daughter whom she nicknamed “Granny” because she seemed to her old-fashioned. After Anna Roosevelt died of diphtheria in 1892, Eleanor, age eight, was raised by her maternal grandmother. She rarely saw her father thereafter, and he died of drink in 1894 when she was ten. These traumatic experiences affected Eleanor for life and she would harbor a constant yearning for unconditional love (http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/roos-elex.htm). 

Life didn’t improve much when when Eleanor married Franklin, a distant cousin and they had six children.  Eleanor had to deal with her overbearing mother-in-law who apparently told her grandchildren that their mother only bore them.  She tried to control Eleanor, making her daughter-in-law feel utterly dependent.  

Then Eleanor found out that Franklin was having an affair with Lucy Mercer, her secretary.  She offered him a divorce, but he declined for the sake of his political career and because his mother threatened to disinherit him if he did.  He and Eleanor never shared a bedroom after that, but their working relationship was respectful, for the time (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/FranklinDRoosevelt).

Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady to be more politically active, involving herself in causes like Civil Rights.  Perhaps it was because there was lack of charity in her own home that made Eleanor want to reach out to her community.   From early adulthood Eleanor Roosevelt dedicated herself to liberty, justice, and compassion for all.

Racial injustice came to her attention only after she reached the White House.   By that time, she was already active in promoting other groups’ causes. Before she married Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1905, she worked with the immigrants at the Rivington Street Settlement House. During World War I she helped improve conditions for US servicemen.When Franklin fell ill, leaving him crippled, she once again found herself standing up for someone whose value to society was doubted, this time her own husband. The 1921 experience deepened her concern for society’s unaccepted. Later the same decade she began her work promoting women’s causes. Women had just gained the right to vote, and Eleanor encouraged them to make the most of that right and run for office. 

After leaving the White House, Mrs. Roosevelt found herself more free than ever to promote equal rights for African Americans. During her final years she continued fighting as hard and fearlessly as ever. On at least one occassion, the Secret Service warned her not to keep a speaking engagement on civil disobedience. The Ku Klux Klan had put a price on her head and the Secret Service said they could not guarantee her safety. Undeterred, she traveled with another lady and her revolver. Such was her determination, independence, and courage right up to the year she died.

Mrs. Roosevelt was not always successful, even despairing at times of making any progress at all. And not every one of the causes she championed, such as the United Nations, turned out to be all that she hoped. But she used every ounce of her influence, charisma, and political capital for the causes in which she believed. Right or wrong, she fought zealously and courageously, and in most cases the world is a better place because of those fights. This zealous First Lady’s support moved African Americans’ cause ahead by decades
 (http://www.blackhistoryreview.com/biography/ERoosevelt.php).

Eleanor Roosevelt came a long way from being an unhappy child and dependent woman to becoming a champion for women’s and civil rights.  She was committed to what she believed in.  

Be inspired by this remarkable woman who endured so much but in the end gave so much because she cared about the rights of others. 

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one

Eleanor Roosevelt

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