Onward and Upward?

If you were a CEO, would you hire those who are goal-oriented, ambitious, hard-working, and who make definite progress toward their goals? The people described in Genesis 11:1-9 were like that. They had big plans, they were dreamers and doers, they were movers and shakers, highly-motivated, industrious. They knew how to make things happen.

Only one problem: God was not pleased.

Opposed by God

They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city . . .” (v. 4). God said, “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language . . .” (v. 7).

They said, “. . . let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (v. 4). “So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth . . .” (v. 8).

Verse 4 says, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city . . . .” Verse 8 says, “. . . and they stopped building the city.”

“Man proposes, but God disposes” (Thomas à Kempis)

Why did God bring their building project to a grinding halt? They had said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (v. 4).

“. . . for ourselves . . . for ourselves . . . .”

Today we know far more than the Babelites about how to get things done. If we have their attitude, can we expect God’s blessing?

“Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled . . .” (Matthew 23:12).

Ultimately, all human efforts apart from God will fail (Psalm 127:1; James 4:13-17).

Who always has the last word?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Facing the Future: How?

As I approached the tracks on Park Street I heard a train. My first thought was, if only I had left the post office a little sooner I would have made it across before the train arrived. Shutting off the engine to save gas, I prepared for the wait.

I watched as the locomotive rolled by, followed by a tank car, followed by another tank car, followed by . . . . But that was it! The entire train consisted of only one engine and two cars. I was delayed less than a minute.

Outcome unknown

Sometimes things do turn out better than we had expected, don’t they? Murphy’s Law doesn’t always operate. Hooray!

Life is an adventure. We never know what’s around the next bend. Since we don’t know, can we afford to make big plans without taking the Lord into account? James tells us that people who plan big while assuming they can definitely do what they intended are actually arrogant (James 4:13-17).

On the other extreme, do we tend to worry about how we’re going to have enough to meet tomorrow’s needs? This indicates a lack of faith (Matthew 6:25-34).

If we belong to Christ and if we keep our priorities straight, He promises we will have our basic needs met (Matthew 6:33). What an anxiety reducer!

Avoidable pitfalls

Looking to God as we face the future saves us from two errors. On one hand we’ll avoid pride in our planning—failing to remember that we can accomplish what we’ve planned only if it is the Lord’s will.

On the other hand, we’ll not forget we have a loving Father who takes good care of His children—as we seek His kingdom first.

These two errors have one thing in common: they both fail to take God into account. When we remember Him we’ll be neither arrogant nor anxious.

With Him beside us we can face the future with both humility and confidence—whatever may come down the track.

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Thoughts from a Railroad Crossing

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Years ago I was waiting at a railroad crossing on Wellington Street in Greenville. How long the train was I couldn’t tell, but it would go east for a while, then west. Back and forth. Back and forth. Over and over. Over and over.

Finally three Kansas City Southern locomotives came into view. They were pushing the train, and it looked like my wait was about to end.

Nope. They stopped, then back and forth some more. I strongly suspect a switchman somewhere was making up a train. I could have turned around anytime I wanted but decided to stay awhile and observe. (It’s a good thing I did, because it provided the thoughts for this post!)

From where I sat all I could see were a few cars at a time. If I could have had a bird’s-eye view of the entire string of cars, it would be clearer as to what exactly was going on. Lacking that, I could only trust that whoever was in charge of all this to-and-fro business must know what he was doing.

In a similar way, we can see only a small segment of reality. Our perspective on life is extremely limited. Often life doesn’t seem to make sense. But if we could just see the Big Picture . . . .

Help for our limited perspective

One benefit of Bible study is the broad view of life it provides us. From the Scriptures we learn that something big is indeed going on, not only all around us but also behind the scenes.

The Bible does not answer all our questions nor explain every mystery. But it does furnish enough light so that we can see that life is not meaningless and it is definitely going somewhere.

Even the painful reverses of life are part of the process. The long enforced waits have their place too in the Grand Scheme of things. They teach us patience. They teach us trust.

The Source for all we lack

God is in control and He has a plan and it is good! We can be part of His plan anytime we are ready to cooperate with His will.

On one of the freight cars that passed back and forth that afternoon, someone had written, “Trust Jesus.”

Yes, let’s trust Jesus—enough to obey Him (Matthew 7:24-27; Hebrews 5:8-9).

Trusting Him equips us daily to deal with whatever may come down the track.

 

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