Make the plans, don’t plan the results!

“Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. 17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:13-17 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.4.13-17.NASB1995

“Make the plans, don’t plan the results!” Oh, how many times I’ve heard that ….. and ignored it! In verses 6, 10, 16, James points out how we need humility in regards to the future. James begins this passage with the phrase “Come now”. He’s telling us, “Pay attention!” Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed. In Romans 15, Paul is planning to go to Spain, “by the will of God.” Plans are good; planning – and counting on your results – is not.

The problem is the plans we make without God. It is presumptuous, and without prayer, the plans are made with boasting and arrogance. It is good to plan, but realize that the future is UNKNOWN. Read Job 7:6-7, 14:1-2, Psalm 39:4-5, 102:3, 102:11, 103:15-16. Someone remarked about life: I was awake, I blinked, and it ends. We can’t “bank” time.

“Now my days are swifter than a runner; They flee away, they see no good.” Job 9:25 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/job.9.25.NASB1995

So what do we do? Verse 15: Submit our plans and aspirations to the LORD. Also Proverbs 3:5, 16:1, 19:21 “IF the LORD wills… !” Deo valente, means God willing (DV). Read Paul’s letters. Acts 18:21, 1 Corinthians 15:7, he uses “God willing” and “if God wills” frequently. Acknowledge God’s Sovereignty over all life. Write your plans in pencil, not in ink. Begin each day in prayer, thanking Him for His help and guidance. Remember, He is in control. Make the most of today. Enjoy it. Life is not a right, it is a gift, a daily gift from God.

As followers Christ, we know the right things to do. It is wrong, a sin, to not do what we know is right. The most important plan we can ever make is the plan for eternity. A foolish person is someone whose plans ended at the grave.

Stealing My Identity

Recently I was told that calling myself a native American was offensive. I was born in America; therefore, I am a “native”. I’m not Apache or Hualapai, or Choctaw or Sioux (although I do have some Cherokee and Delaware blood), so does that negate my native status? What am I, then, if not a native American? Am I “native” to another land?

When are we going to get over this obsession with labels? “Black” America…. why do you feel the need to identify by the color of your skin? If I call Navajo friends “Red” Americans or Indian Americans, would they be offended? Probably. How about calling my friends of Hispanic or Mexican descent my “Brown” American friends? Or my friends of European descent, my “White” friends? I think this would be considered wildly offensive by most people! I could say I’m a European American, but what is the point?

I’ve written about this before, but it is really going beyond any common sense. Congress is having laws introduced calling for segregation, and the Democratic “leadership” is actually considering it. What was the Civil War, that War between the States, fought for!? What did Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King die for? They died for freedom for all Americans of all colors, to end the disparity, and to unite us. Now people want to go backwards!

You may have dark skin or light skin; kinky hair or curly or straight – blonde, brown, red, black, and all colors in between; a big bent nose or a flat nose or a pointed nose, big ears or small; blue, green, brown, hazel, or black pupils; or your ancestors may have come over on the Mayflower, or by foot across a land bridge into the North American continent thousands of years ago. Here’s the truth, straight from the Word of the LORD:

“So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 1:27‭-‬28 NASB2020

https://bible.com/bible/2692/gen.1.27-28.NASB2020

We all share the common ancestry of the original man and woman. We are all one tribe! I am human, descended from the original couple, and I am a native American. I don’t claim membership in any particular tribe, but I don’t begrudge anyone for being proud of their ancestry, or for claiming it. My ancestry is such that I could claim to be a European American, or German American or Irish American, but I prefer to known as an AMERICAN. Proudly proclaim that you are Chickasaw or Choctaw or Paiute or Hopi, claim your Hadzabe or Zulu heritage, Kirwan or Osraige, Aniza or Saluba, but don’t tell me I’m not native American! I wasn’t born in any other country but America, and I am 100% American. By definition, I am native.

Native: (adjective) being the place or environment in which a person was born or a thing came into being: one’s native land.

Dictionary.com

There’s a song by Imagine Dragons that goes like this:

It’s been a long time coming, coming
Seeming like we all been running, running
Feeling like the wild west, gunning, gunning
Listen to our elders shunning, shunning

All we see is faces, color, color
All the other races, other, other
Why couldn’t you just be my brother, brother?
We don’t have to kill one another, kill one another
All around the world, we are one, we are one
All around the world, we are one

So where did we all go wrong?

“…. He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,”
Acts 17:25‭-‬26 NASB2020

https://bible.com/bible/2692/act.17.25-26.NASB2020

Can it be any clearer than that?

All Things…

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”
1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬12 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1co.6.9-12.NASB1995

“And so the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a SAVIOUR, who is CHRIST the LORD.”
Luke 2:10‭-‬11 NASB2020

https://bible.com/bible/2692/luk.2.10-11.NASB2020

Thank GOD that JESUS was born! Merry Christmas, everyone!

Fear, or Freedom

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.
Matthew 10:26 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/mat.10.26.NASB1995

In a 1956 sermon on Matthew 10:34, Martin Luther King Jr. explained, “Peace is not merely the absence of tension, but the presence of justice.”

Though the wicked is shown favor, He does not learn righteousness; He deals unjustly in the land of uprightness, And does not perceive the majesty of the LORD.”
Isaiah 26:10 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/isa.26.10.NASB1995

Pray, people. Pray for each other. Pray for people you don’t like. Pray for that person who is determined to be a thorn in your side. Pray for our nation, and pray for the world. That’s it. Just pray.

We The People….

I’m reading a book set in 1860, before Abraham Lincoln was elected President, and the controversy of slavery. It wasn’t just slavery, but a way of life for the southern states. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was popular in the North and loudly disputed as lies and falsehood in the South. Our nation was divided by state, but also within families. Parents were divided, children, brothers, sisters, cousins were adamant that their side was the right side. We know from our history that this led to the Civil War, a terrible, bloody war that destroyed families and lives. North v. South; the Republican antislavery party v. the Democratic proslavery party.

Think about that for a minute. How close are we to something very similar today? Once again, we have families divided over issues like abortion, the Black Lives Matter movement, mask and covid shot mandates, Critical Race Theory in schools, more government control/Socialism v. less government control/Freedom. Defund the Police. What’s right? What’s wrong? Is it a conspiracy theory if it’s true? All Christians should be united on all of these issues, shouldn’t they? Seems like we should be, yet I find myself at odds with Christian family members and friends over just these issues! I ask, how can a Christian support taking the life of an unborn baby? How is a person more valuable because of skin color? Should a government be able to tell me I must mask up or take a shot when the science doesn’t support it? Yes, we should “render into Caesar what is Caesar’s”, but at what point is it too much?

Many, many people are literally preparing for a civil uprising to protest against tyranny. Peaceful protests are already occurring in many cities across our nation. Personally, I’m afraid that in order to stop the tyranny occurring in our capital, it’s going to require more than these peaceful gatherings, but I continue to pray that our leadership will get the message and make the changes needed. Are Christians involved in this movement? Absolutely. Unfortunately, there are also many others involved in the violence that is happening throughout the nation.

What can we do? I believe in being as prepared as possible for this recession we are swiftly headed into. It is critical that Christians unite in prayer for our leaders, and for guidance from God on what to support, and how to support it. I try not to engage in debate with family on subjects that I know we feel strongly about, but I cannot completely back down when I know that my beliefs are biblically correct. The only answer I have to the question is to pray. What would God have me do? We each have to be patient and pray and wait for His guidance. If His answer is to resist tyranny, then that is what I will do, to the best of my ability. Remember, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against the enemy.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.
Ephesians 6:10‭-‬13 NASB199

https://bible.com/bible/100/eph.6.10-13.NASB1995

How much do you REALLY need?

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife or his male servant or his female servant or his ox or his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:17 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/exo.20.17.NASB1995

How much do you REALLY need? Covetousness is the violation of the first commandment – whether other gods, another’s goods, or restless dissatisfaction with our life. It hides in our hearts: “covet” is repeated for emphasis, and it is comprehensive – it covers everything. Instead of looking at others possessions, we should be thankful that our neighbor has what they have. It’s okay to have desires, but not when it becomes an obsession. “If only…” is one of the most destructive phrases in existence. In Joshua, chapter 7, covetousness cost Achor his life. Paul warns the Corinthians about covetousness:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬10 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1co.6.9-10.NASB1995

The thirst for more – having wealth is not the problem, but when the wealth owns you, that is the problem, when the focus is always on “more”.

“Then [Jesus] said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”
Luke 12:15 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/luk.12.15.NASB1995

Cultivate contentment, not complacency. Be satisfied; subtract ungodly desires, add dependence on Christ. Contentment defined: The learned, divinely empowered ability to be satisfied with the providence of God in any and every circumstance of life. (1 Timothy 6, Hebrews 13:5 Philippians 4:13) Through the Strength of Christ, we can be content. SEE what you have and be thankful.

“Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:9‭-‬15 NASB1995

Thanksgiving, even when we don’t feel like it!

“Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.”
James 5:13 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jas.5.13.NASB1995

As Americans, we are especially blessed. Even with all of the ridiculous shenanigans (I’ve always liked that word) in Washington and around the country, we really are blessed. That said, I know there are many who are struggling and suffering, and my heart and prayers go out to them. I’ve never been particularly good at being thankful in the midst of suffering, or being cheerful in times of stress. Pretty much the opposite… and definitely not like James tells us:

“This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger;” James 1:19 NASB1995

https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/jas.1.19/2932

Here’s another one, this time from John.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
1 John 4:7 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/1jn.4.7.NASB1995

That’s a verse I really have to work on applying in my life! Coming up on Thanksgiving, with Christmas following close behind, I find that this might be the thing I struggle most with. I think most families have that person that we struggle with liking….. or even tolerating. God knows, and He is very clear on this. After all, being fully aware of the plans the Pharisees had for Him, and knowing that Judas would betray Him, Jesus showed love to them. He showed love to the thief on the cross next to Him. I am to reflect the love of God by showing love to everyone around you whether they deserve it or not.

If you don’t have that “special” person in your life, I almost envy you. However, if we are honest with ourselves, I expect that we have that someone whom we don’t like. Whether their actions or their personality. You, or I, might even be that person to someone!

LORD, Father God, I bring this to You today, and pray that You will take the resentment and anger and frustration from me, and help me to show Your love to that person. It’s only through YOU that I am able to do this. Let me be a blessing to that person, so that they might see Jesus. Amen.

Repent, for the LORD is Near

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NASB1995

https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/2pe.3.9/691

Have you seen people wearing placards and crying “Repent! The end is near!”? Hae you read the story of Chicken Little crying “The sky is falling”, or Peter and the Wolf, who cried “Wolf!” so many times so that when the wolf really came, no one believed him. Are we like that? Christians crying that “The end of the world is here, Jesus is coming, Jesus is coming!”, and now unbelievers just scoff?

People are so dramatic….. or should I say we are attention seekers and drama queens? God will come when He comes. Even Jesus couldn’t tell us exactly when He will return. Read Matthew, chapter 24. Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the end of times, in response to their questions. Mark also documents these words of Jesus in Mark 13.

“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/mat.24.36.NASB1995; https://bible.com/bible/100/mrk.13.32.NASB1995

Should we even talk about the end times? I think it’s good to read the Scriptures so that we know what will happen, but we do a disservice to ourselves and to the world when we speculate on the when. Focus, instead, on the fact that Jesus is coming again, and whether or not you are ready.

“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. Therefore, be on the alert—for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—”
Mark 13:33‭, ‬35 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/mrk.13.33-35.NASB1995

Billy Graham answered the question of why God keeps secret the time of Jesus’ Second Coming. He says “…. the Bible does tell us that certain events must happen before His return — many of which seem to be taking place today. For example, Jesus said that “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world … and then the end will come” – Matthew 24:14. Why hasn’t God revealed it to us? Suppose you knew for certain that Christ’s coming was still several centuries away. What difference would His return make to you then? Probably very little. But because it could happen at any moment, we should have a sense of urgency to do God’s will. Jesus said, “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me” – John 9:4. Make every day count for Him.” (From https://billygraham.org/answer)

That’s an incredible statement. Make every day count for Him. Maybe, it’s a challenge. What will you do with it?

Who Is A GOD Like You?

Deceived. Denied. Abandoned. Deserted. Lied to. Ignored. Lied about. Awkward. Hurt. Introverted. Rebellious. Angry. Lashing out. Acting out. This is me. This was me. I have endured them, and I have lived them. I did them to my parents and family, to friends, and to God. People who did these things to me became objects of loathing and derision. Why should I ever speak to them, let alone forgive them?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/jhn.13.34-35.NASB1995

In what sense is this commandment “new”? The old command was to the Jewish people to love their fellow Jews; the new command from Jesus is to love ALL people, regardless of nationality, love one another as disciples of Jesus. The old was to Love as you love yourself, but the new is to Love as Jesus loves you.

Wait! You mean, love those people who abused me???

“You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD.”
Leviticus 19:18 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/lev.19.18.NASB1995

Jesus gave us a new proof of Love; a new pattern. In His time, the Hebrew slaves were not required to wash feet because it was the lowest of tasks, but Jesus did it. He performed a humble service, the lowest of low, to demonstrate His love and devotion to His friends, but also to the one who would betray Him. These acts that can be seen, to show visible love to all peoples, are what we are called to do. It doesn’t mean that we literally need to be running around and grabbing people’s feet to wash them, but we are to use humble, visible things. The Apostle John wrote a lot about Christian love for one another: John 15:12 “This is my Commandment…. Greater love has no man than to lay his life…”; 1 John 4 “This is love: …”; John 13:5-15.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (not selfish or self centered) “…do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Show the love. It is a verb, active, through attention and service, act as ‘slaves’ to the LORD. Love = to live for. SERVE.) “Rejoice in hope, [because you are] patient in tribulation, [because you are] constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” [Don’t entertain to impress; hospitality is sharing practical Christianity. Acts 4:34 “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” When we are cursed and maltreated, bless and love them] “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” [Not by fixing anything, but just being there, even when rejoicing is harder when it is something that you want that doesn’t happen.] “Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own estimation.” Romans 12:9‭-‬16 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.12.9-16.NASB1995

Agree on the basics. Be humble – think of yourself less, not less of yourself. Befriend the unimportant; make them feel important. Be open and willing to say I am wrong, I am sorry; admit to not knowing everything. If Jesus is truly your Lord and Saviour, He says that “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:35 NASB1995

“You can give without loving but you cannot love without giving.”

– Amy Carmichael

“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in unchanging love.” Micah 7:18 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/mic.7.18.NASB1995

“….. everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”

Victor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning, 1946

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
Romans 5:3‭-‬5 NASB1995

https://bible.com/bible/100/rom.5.3-5.NASB1995

He IS. He was, He is, He will be. He has always been. He will always be. Alpha and Omega; Beginning and End, only without a beginning or an end! He IS.