But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
Does your heart have God as its anchor and the words and example of Christ Jesus inspiring you? If so, the hope of dwelling forever with God is real to you. This eternal hope removes all doubt that God cares for you and you discover his encouragement, empowerment, and equipment to face every inevitable challenge in this lifetime. And, all this is God’s gift for the asking because he wants you to experience life with him, and to witness to all who may ask for the reason of the hope you have within you.
So these questions remain: Are you prepared each day to explain the reason for the hope that resides within you? Do you know the heartfelt words that will testify of Christ’s influence on your life?
Our testimony before others is not about quoting scriptures or singing hymns of praise but sharing in your own words what it means to have God as the anchor in your heart! “Being prepared” is not intended to be a motto, but a new way of life for every born-again, child of God.
A man cannot help others unless he can learn to help himself, and having God as the anchor of one’s heart is the beginning of always being prepared to respond to others in need.
The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.” What does a man gain for all his efforts he labors at under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets; panting, [it returns] to its place where it rises. Gusting to the south, turning to the north, turning, turning, goes the wind, and the wind returns in its cycles. All the streams flow to the sea, yet the sea is never full. The streams are flowing to the place, and they flow there again. All things are wearisome; man is unable to speak. The eye is not satisfied by seeing or the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. Can one say about anything, “Look, this is new”? It has already existed in the ages before us. There is no memory of those who came before; and of those who will come after there will also be no memory among those who follow [them]. Eccl 1:1-11 (HCSB)
We all want to be different, or at the least, uniquely special. However, though we may be unique in many ways, we all travel the road of life the well-traveled and well-marked road of life prodded by many long before us, and many more will assuredly follow us on this same road. The choice we get to make is how we navigate this road of life among all the others who share the road with us. Let us be clear; there are no new paths to choose, just enticing highways with dead-ends should any of us choose to wander off onto our ways. God declares there is but one way to follow him. All other ways are futile and paths of destruction for any of us who decide to navigate our ways.
Look at the world around us; see how God’s creation share his unique, undeniable hallmark. Even nature’s winds and waters behave specific ways, just as the stars and planets have predictably paraded in the heavens as reliable guides for millennia without deviation. The living creatures on land, in the waters, and in the sky migrate and roam the planet in their never-ending cycle of life as well.
However, God has given mankind an inquisitive mind. Unlike the rest of creation, man has the innate nature to pursue the unknown and seek the untraveled as a challenge. When we fail to check with the Creator along the way, our eyes and ears become preoccupied with the prospects of the new, the uncharted paths, we tend to perceive them as new to us, but is not nascent to God. It is a simple fact we too often ignore – nothing exists outside Creator God’s will, ways, and wisdom.
So what must we do? Is futility a trait of maturity? We mature as we realize just because something appears new to us, nothing is new to God. The moment we assume we have captured an original idea, a uniquely created revelation of some truth within our mind, we usurp the role of God in our life. Our life should be a constant pursuit of expanding our understanding the absolutes and realities that flow from our Creator by his grace and will. He alone knows what we are capable of comprehending and benefiting from for his higher purposes. Therefore, as we stumble and bumble our way along the road of life, seek daily to uncover and embrace the discoveries found through exploring God’s will, ways, and wisdom. Trust God alone, and never our selfish desires and understanding…because on our own, we can only claim to discover the dead-end that waits for our arrival! Life awaits all who trust God’s sure ways and perfect will. But God created us with a choice to choose? Do not let futility rule your life.
If You Are Going to Sin, You Might as well Be Happy
An oracle against the Valley of Vision: What’s the matter with you? Why have all of you gone up to the rooftops? The noisy city, the jubilant town, is filled with revelry. Your dead did not die by the sword; they were not killed in battle. All your rulers have fled together, captured without a bow. All your fugitives were captured together; they had fled far away. Therefore I said, “Look away from me! Let me weep bitterly! Do not try to comfort me about the destruction of my dear people.” For the Lord God of Hosts had a day of tumult, trampling, and bewilderment in the Valley of Vision; people shouting and crying to the mountains. On that day you looked to the weapons in the House of the Forest. You saw that there were many breaches in [the walls of] the city of David. You collected water from the lower pool. You counted the houses of Jerusalem so that you could tear them down to fortify the wall. You made a reservoir between the walls for the waters of the ancient pool, but you did not look to the One who made it, or consider the One who created it long ago. On that day the Lord God of Hosts called for weeping, for wailing, for shaven heads, and for the wearing of sackcloth. But look: joy and gladness, butchering of cattle, slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat, and drinking of wine. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” The Lord of Hosts has revealed [this] in my hearing: “This sin of yours will never be wiped out.” The Lord God of Hosts has spoken. Isaiah 22:1-14 (HCSB)
How many times have your heard, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”? It is most commonly heard among those floating in and out of fad diets. Once any of us resign ourselves to not being able to stay committed to eating and living healthy, we not only jump off the wagon with a whoop and holler, we push the wagon right off the nearest cliff and feast upon our true desires without and further guilt. These words of submission offer justification for our inner self to be free to do what it innately thirsts and hungers after whenever we provide no checks or constraints upon our impulsive desires. However, somewhere during the morning after our revelrous bacchanalian celebration, we begin to regret our sloven stupidity, because we recognize sooner or later the consequences of our selfish and reckless abandon do catch up to the horrible emotional choices we made.
In fact, I believe, hangovers and upset stomachs are God’s sense of humor at play within our lives. And, then there is the headache that arises about a month later when the credit card bills arrive reminding us of the literal lavish expense of our rash, unrestrained pleasure-seeking revelry. Yes, there are consequences for all our choices, long after we have forgiven ourselves for our stupidity.
A tragic point to this kind of regret and remorse with long-lasting consequences was as a teacher in high school I witnessed the results of “pregnancy pacts” going around among many of the young girls. They decided it was somehow cool to get pregnant. They bragged with each other about who they chose to be the father from among the evidently more than willing eligible young men. Neither the young girls nor the boys stopped and consulted the wisdom of their parents or other responsible adults before acting out their ill-conceived choices. Sadly, as time passed, each young girl discovered the consequences that made them the real losers in such a pact. The boys admitted that they were not ready to be a father, but openly boasted they fathered one. The girls learned they could certainly bear a child, but each struggled as a mother because each admitted they still needed her mother to console and help mother her own child. What about all the innocent people who got drawn into the pact unwillingly? What about the parents of the ill-prepared mother and father, who are forced to deal with their kid having a kid? Last but certainly not least: the innocent child? How sad such a hasty, ill-conceived idea was hatched as such a wonderful plan! Sadly, it was nothing but a “lose-lose” pact based upon the rationale of “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Now, years later, I wonder about all those former students and their children who are entering school somewhere themselves.
If only God’s people in Jerusalem had consulted the Lord of Creation? If only they had trusted in His plan for them and realized God would have protected them from the threats of their enemies. How different history would have been!
Because our choices have consequences, just like the people that Isaiah addressed long ago, we should always consider God’s will, ways, and wisdom before we decide to climb off the safety and security of his wagon. Undoubtedly, there will be far less heartache, headache, and stomachache in our life by remaining safely and securely onboard. How much better our choices when we can identify the real consequences!