CRE 1: How people develop2

Life as a God given gift

Isaiah delivered a blistering rebuke to the haughty ones of his day who chided, “He [God] made me not” (Isa. 29:16). One of England’s top scientists, Sir Fred Hoyle, once compared the accidental development of higher forms of life to the probability of a tornado roaring through a junkyard and assembling a 747 jet plane.

There are a couple of prime implications involved in the realization that life is a gift from God.

First, human life is a sacred essence, bequeathed to those who are made in the very image of the Creator himself (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6). No person has the right to arbitrarily take the life of another person. Only the Lord himself can authorize such an action (cf. Josh. 6:21). Let those who labor under the illusion that a woman has the liberty to destroy her pre-born child contemplate that issue with the greatest of gravity.

Second, when one reflects upon the fact that his life is a gift from heaven, he cannot but ponder the purpose of his existence. Isaiah declared that man was fashioned to glorify his Maker (Isa. 43:7). Why, then, do millions live as if Jehovah has no claim on them?

Solomon seems to have explored the meaning of his existence in the waning days of his life—as set forth in the book of Ecclesiastes. In retrospect he surveyed the folly of his youth, as he aimlessly sought for some “key” to happiness. Every “under the sun” (i.e., earthly) solution that he sought proved to be a dead end. Ultimately, he concluded that the purpose of life is to reverence God, and submit to his commands (Eccl. 12:13). In no other way can Adam’s children find contentment.

Treasure your gift of life. Use it to extol your Creator. In such a pursuit you will discover that which is blessed—both in time and in eternity.

Life Is God’s Gift to Man. What We Do with It Is Our Gift to God. 

Remember in the Book of Moses in verse 10, “And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man.” We are not limited to what we see. We have greater powers and possibilities than we think we have. In the hands of God, we can rise up to such heights that we will amaze ourselves and others.

Let me give you a warning. If we take the credit, we lose the Spirit. If we take the credit for our accomplishments, we lose the support of heaven, and come crumbling down. “We are left unto ourselves.” That wasn’t the reason Moses had this experience, “Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.”

We are nothing, in reality, by comparison with the divine. But in the hands of the divine, we have such glorious possibilities. Don’t anyone within the sound of my voice think that you are limited. We are not here to outperform other people. We’re here to overcome our own self-imposed limitations. We’re all blessed with beauty. We’re all blessed with character. We’re all blessed with wonderful gifts, because we’re divinely created.

Image result for Life as a God given giftJob, in his suffering, appears to have dwelt on this thought more than most men do. His day seemed to pass quicker than a “weaver’s shuttle” (Job 7:6), or a single breath (Job 7:7). His days appeared to rush by like a courier with an urgent message (Job 9:25), as a “swift ship,” or like an “eagle who hastens to the prey” (Job 9:26). He saw man’s days as “few.” He was rather like a flower that blossoms and then quickly dies, or as a rapidly passing shadow (Job 14:1-2).

As we move forward, don’t let the things of the world distract you from the things of lasting worth. Have an eternal perspective. Recognize the power in yourself and the strength in your life. The poet R.L. Sharpe expressed it in an interesting manner. He said:

Isn’t it strange how princes and kings,

And clowns that caper in sawdust rings,

And common people like you and me

Are builders for eternity?

To each is given a bag of tools,

A shapeless mass and a book of rules.

And each will build, ere life is flown,

A stumbling block or a stepping stone.

What will I make of my life? Will I make something magnificent—not to boast of any personal achievement, but to boast of my God. What are you going to be? What are you going to do? What will you become in this great journey of life?

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain”: whereas you know not what shall be tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a vapor, that appears for a little time, and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall both live, and do this or that” (Jas. 4:13-15).

Perhaps, though, the most haunting of all thoughts is the reality that we’ve let life slip away quickly, having neglected so many grand opportunities for advancing ourselves spiritually and for helping others. Oh, if we could but rescue some of those times.

As we arise each fresh morning, we could scarcely better start our day than to contemplate the brevity of time, and the value of the day before us. Apart from the contextual point in James’ admonition, there are other thoughts upon which one may reflect as he considers the question: “What is my life?”

A One-Time Experience

There is another aspect of “life” that is worthy of contemplation—especially in this age of bizarre religious theories.

It is the reality that one lives his earthly life only once, and he would be wise to make it count. As an unnamed woman from ancient Tekoa once said: “For we must needs die, and are as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again” (2 Sam. 14:14).

Image result for Life as a God given giftWhile in biblical times there were very special episodes of resurrections (to confirm divine revelation — Mt. 10:8; cf. Mk. 16:17-20), clearly they were not the norm. The rule was (and now always is) that, “it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Death is the universal experience that is the consequence of human rebellion (Rom. 5:12).

Another sobering aspect of life is its dramatic uncertainty. The aged Isaac once expressed a sentiment that is applicable to most of us: “I know not the day of my death” (Gen. 27:2). The Lord warned the Jewish nation that should they rebel against him he would scatter them afar, and, he promised, “Your life shall hang in doubt before you” (Deut. 28:66). Is that uncertainty not true for each of us?

A Time For Preparation

The Bible emphatically stresses the idea that life on earth is a time of preparation for one’s eternal destiny. When the wicked northern kingdom of Israel persistently ignored the divine chastisements designed to soften their hearts, the prophet Amos warned of a terrible judgment to come (Assyrian captivity). His language was: “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Isa. 4:12). Only by genuine repentance and conformity to the will of Jehovah could they avoid this disastrous encounter (cf. Isa. 5:4, 6, 14-15).

Peter once asked Jesus if he would describe the character of one who is considered to be a “faithful and wise” steward. The Lord provided an illustration to drive home the point. In concluding the matter, the Savior suggested that servants to be so honored would be those who had “made … ready” (cf. Lk. 12:47). This is what life is about.

In the final state of earth’s affairs, the glorified church is depicted as the Lord’s wife. Here is the key expression: she “has made herself ready” (Rev. 19:7).

God the source of life and happiness

So often, our happiness in life is a product of our circumstances:…our financial status, the degree of our influence, the state of our health….

True joy, the joy that comes only from the Holy Spirit, transcends our circumstances and places a shield over our hearts, protecting us from our egos, our selfish ambitions, and the insurmountable heartache that so often occurs in the wake of tragedy.

Related imageThis is why we often see joy manifested in the life of a Christian during life’s most difficult circumstances.  It is this unshakable joy that the world cannot understand…. A joy that drives out depression and anxiety, and eliminates the fear of being misunderstood.  A joy that allows us to face down life’s  most difficult challenges and proclaim “it is well with my soul…”

To David, joy was not circumstantial.  It stemmed from a relationship with the Father that allowed him to forfeit temporary gratification over and over again.

To the Christian, joy is an indicator of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit…(cue the “Fruits of the Spirit” song from children’s church), and we must never allow ourselves to draw from the empty promises of this world in the pursuit of the joy that only the Holy Spirit can provide.

Our joy may feel small today, but as I am experiencing firsthand, it will begin to grow as we realign the priorities of our life to accomplish a single objective: the Glory of the Father.  As this becomes our focus, our thoughts and desires will align His through prayer, meditation, and worship,

 

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