The Works of God #264

1  Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2  And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3  Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4  I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. (John 9:1-4)

 

Sin is not passed from parent to child (see Ezekiel 18:4, 20). Physical disability is not divine punishment for some previous wrong. This man’s blindness became a great opportunity for God’s power to be shown in him. Jesus healed his blindness, demonstrating He is the Son of God. If you struggle with a physical disability, the lesson is not to expect a miraculous healing. Rather, it is the assurance that by putting your faith in the Son of God, He will do something even greater than that; He will heal your soul of sin. In Christ, you can endure and prevail over your present struggle in the flesh (read 2 Cor. 12:7-10). Do God’s will now, and when all is said and done, you will have life eternal.

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Not by Faith Only #263

21  Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22  Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23  And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24  You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. (James 2:21-24)

Abraham was “justified by works”. Does this mean he earned the right to be called “the friend of God”? No, by no means. That would require works of sinless perfection (see Romans 4:1-4). His “faith was working” when he obeyed God to offer Isaac on the altar. His working faith showed that “Abraham believed God”, and his faith (that was “working”) was “accounted to him for righteousness”.  Do you not see, as James clearly says, that a person is not justified by “faith only”, but by a faith that “works”? Faith that takes God at His word and does what He says is the faith that God blesses with justification. Oh, that the false theologian twisting of the Scriptures would be laid aside for the simple truth of the word! We can never earn salvation because we have sinned (Rom. 3:23). However, faith that will not do what God says will never save. Be sure your faith is obedient (works) like Abraham’s faith.

Before the Silver Cord is Loosed #262

6  Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the well. 7  Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. 8  “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 12:6-8)

With the passing of years and the inevitable decline of body and mind, we all will finally slip the silver cord upon which our life hangs, and we die. How crucial it is, then, to remember your Creator in old age as well as in youth. The certainty and finality of death testifies to the vanity of life “under the sun”. If life on earth is all there is to being human, then we are left without hope and ultimately unfulfilled. When you live without God, “all is vanity”. But, a life lived with God fulfills your life’s purpose. Are you ready to die? That depends on how you live. “Fear God  and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13).

Childhood and Youth #261

9  Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, and in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment. 10  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, and put away evil from your flesh, for childhood and youth are vanity. 1  Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:1)

Youth is a great blessing. Strength, vitality, the newness of life and a yearning to learn, grow and mature form the building blocks for development to adulthood. But youth can become a stumbling block to a mature faith. The temptations of pride coupled with haste have taken many young people down paths of pain and sorrow. So, learn from Solomon and be wise about being young. First, rejoice in your youth – enjoy being young! Always remember you live before God and will answer to Him for all the choices you make. Then, remove sorrow from your life by putting away sin. Also, remember God now, not later. Putting off following God until later does not make it easier, but harder, to turn to Him. Youth does not last. So, while you are young, choose wisely.

Set Your Heart on Fearing God #260

10  Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11  Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12  Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13  But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God. (Ecclesiastes 8:10-13)

Solomon observed that at times it appears the wicked prosper. However, it would be foolish to conclude on appearance alone that wickedness is preferable to holiness. It may seem that wicked is preferable because justice is not speedily applied. When this happens, evil people choose evil, thinking they are above accountability. But, in the end it will not be well with the wicked. The person who fears God will reap great blessings while the wicked perish. Remember: Evil people live for the moment, but the holy ones fear God and live for eternity. Which do you choose to be?

The Vanity of Pleasure #259

1  I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with mirth; therefore enjoy pleasure”; but surely, this also was vanity. 2  I said of laughter—“Madness!”; and of mirth, “What does it accomplish?” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-2)

Having wisely deduced that material possessions neither satisfy the flesh nor the soul, King Solomon also considered whether the purpose of life could be found in pleasure. There too, he found “this also was vanity”. Many still run after the pleasure this life affords, making it their priority. Yet, “even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief” (Prov. 14:13). Pleasure does not prevent life’s sorrows, and it certainly cannot prevent the soul’s demise due of sin. Enjoy the good pleasures of life, but keep them in perspective. True and lasting joy is found in the Lord Jesus Christ – the joy that “no one will take from you” (Jno. 16:22).

Materialism and Life #258

10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; And this was my reward from all my labor. 11  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done And on the labor in which I had toiled; And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

King Solomon was wise, wealthy and powerful. In wisdom he considered the purpose of life in an effort to know “what was good for the sons of men to do under heaven all the days of their lives” (Eccl. 2:3). He discovered that indulging his pleasures and rewarding his labors did not satisfy his deepest yearning for fulfillment. He worked hard and he rewarded himself with material goods. By doing so he learned that material things are only temporary and cannot fulfill life’s purpose. Honest labor is good, and to enjoy the fruit of one’s labor is honorable. But, acquiring material goods is not the defining objective of life. Material things can never satisfy life’s purpose for those who are made in the image of God. Finding life’s meaning in material gain is like trying to catch the wind. “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Eccl. 12:13).