“God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecc 12:14 NKJV
One of the chief attributes of God is His omniscience. It’s a word comprised of two parts. The first part, omni, means “all,” and the second part, science, relates to knowledge. That means He is an omniscient God who knows everything you say, everything you think, and everything you do. The story is told of a wealthy grandfather who got fitted for a hearing aid. When he went for a routine checkup his doctor commented, “Your family must be happy to know that now you can hear.” The grandfather said, “Actually, I haven’t told them about the hearing aid. I just sit around and listen to their conversations—and I’ve already changed my will twice!” God wants to bless you, but sin and disobedience can keep that from happening. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, he tried to conceal it. But God exposed him. In God’s eyes the only thing that’s worse than sin is your unwillingness to own up to it. Finally David came clean and prayed, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight” (Ps 51:4 NKJV). Then he added, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (v. 7 NKJV). Note two important words: “hyssop,” which spoke of a branch dipped in blood during Passover, and “wash.” David needed a spiritual bath and God gave him one. The fact is, God knows your “every work…whether good or evil,” and no matter how badly you’ve failed He will cleanse you, forgive you, and restore your joy.
“Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”Ps 139:14 NLT
We search for significance in different ways. We think that if we can connect with someone special, we’ll become someone special. Or we try to outlive life. When the billionaire realizes he will run out of years before he runs out of money, he establishes a foundation. We have kids for the same reason. One day, when we die, we hope our descendants will remember “good ol’ Dad” or “sweet ol’ Mom” and we’ll extend our lives via theirs. The famous atheist Bertrand Russell said, “I believe that when I die my bones will rot and nothing shall remain of my ego.” You say, “He can’t be right.” He’s not! Jesus said, “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Mt 10:30 NKJV). We monitor other things like the amount of money in the bank, gas in the tank, and pounds on the scale. But hair? We style hair, color hair, cut hair, but we don’t count hair. God does. God planned you, knows everything about you, and loves you. The Psalmist said: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God” (Ps 139:13-17 NLT).
“You are Mine.” Isa 43:1 NKJV
Do you remember the hit song by Dean Martin, “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You”? Such lyrics bottom-line our deepest concern. We want our lives to matter, to mean something. Our deepest fear is of coming and going—and nobody knowing! We strive with our lack of education, our spot on the financial totem pole, and our looks. That’s why it bothers us when a friend forgets to call, or a teacher forgets our name, or a colleague takes credit for something we have done. We crave attention, drop the names of important people in conversations, and put flashy hubcaps on our cars. Fashion designers tell us, “You’ll be somebody if you wear our jeans.” So we go out and spend half a paycheck on a pair of Italian jeans. But then—horror of horrors—the style changes from tight to baggy, faded to black, and we’re left wearing yesterday’s jeans, feeling like yesterday’s news. Simply stated: You can’t outsource significance. It’s an inside job. Your sense of significance must come from someone you trust, someone you know will never change, someone who knows the worst about you and always believes the best. And there’s only one such source: God. So read on: “Thus says the Lord, who created you…who formed you…Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned…For I am the Lord your God…you [are] precious in My sight” (vv. 1-4 NKJV).
“As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word.” 1Pe 2:2 NKJV
How does a newborn baby desire milk? With an intensity you can’t imagine unless you’ve heard the midnight cry! The fact that you’ve worked hard all day and are tired, or that you fed the baby just an hour earlier, doesn’t matter. An infant’s agenda is about as focused and uncluttered as you can get. He or she wants to eat—right now! When was the last time yourspiritual stomach growled so much at midnight that you just had to get up and feed your soul on God’s Word? Here’s how Peter addressed the issue: “Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious” (vv. 1-3 NKJV). Note the words “if…you have tasted.” When you’ve tasted the real thing you can’t get by on junk food. Your spiritual taste buds won’t let you. Note, not only can you not ignore a baby’s hunger, you can’t fool their sense of taste. When you start mixing stuff into their formula that wasn’t meant to be there, their taste buds and stomach will reject it. Ever hear the phrase “projectile vomiting”? Junk food is designed to fill a need with a quick fix that may carry you for a while, but it doesn’t provide any real nourishment. And you can tell when you’re spiritually malnourished and underdeveloped. Peter says the symptoms are malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking. So open your Bible today and pray, “Lord, give me a hunger for Your Word.”
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” Col 3:2 NIV
Today we’re big on the concept of instant gratification and acquiring more stuff. But “earthly things” lose their appeal once the bill arrives and the interest on your credit cards starts piling up. When that happens, blessings can turn into curses and rob you of the joy of living. One pastor says: “Materialism doesn’t satisfy because it’s tyrannical, and human beings were born to be free…We find we don’t own the house—the house owns us. We’re married to a mortgage. We become slaves to gadgets and garments. After they’re purchased, delivered and installed, we enjoy a fleeting sense of pleasure, but they still dominate, dictate and demand, ‘Press me, polish me, patch me, paint me, prune me, plaster me!’ We spend our best years and the bulk of our money working for ‘things,’ until… we’ve no time left to pursue life’s really enjoyable avocations: visiting friends, having fun, and going to church…no time to do good deeds, see places, or visit the people who give us the greatest inner joy. Paul says, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’ (1Ti 6:6 NIV). And to experience that contentment you need to count your blessings every day and thank the One who made them all possible.” Jon Walker writes: “Assume there’s an imaginary line dividing what you can see from what you can’t see—the temporal from the eternal. Our objective-in-Jesus is to look upon the things ‘above,’ so we can understand that what we see and feel is not a full and accurate measurement of God’s reality…people are eternal beings, and decisions that seem insignificant now, when seen in the fullness of reality, are of eternal significance.”
“He will empower you with inner strength.” Eph 3:16 NLT
For fifteen years Dr. Robert Schuller’s secretary Lois battled cancer, and for every one of them she served God faithfully. Schuller writes: “I don’t think I ever met anyone more courageous. Some days she was so ill…getting out of bed took all the strength she had! She’d deliberately fall out of bed, walk on her hands and knees to the bathroom, reach for the sink and pull herself up. She’d force herself to get dressed, stumble into the kitchen, drink some water, eat a dry piece of toast, search for her purse, and walk to the door. Perspiration pouring off her forehead, she’d look at her husband and say, ‘Well, Ralph, I think I can make it now.’ Then she’d get into her car and drive to church. She was always there before me, and when I arrived with my usual greeting, ‘Good morning, how are you?’ she’d always smile and say, ‘Great!’ I never knew until after her funeral what she went through…Only God can give you that kind of courage.” The Bible says, “From his…unlimited resources [God] will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” There are many ways to say it, but none more eloquent than the hymnist Annie Johnson Flint, who put it like this: “When we have exhausted our store of endurance; when our strength has failed ere the day is half-done; When we reach the end of our hoarded resources our Father’s full giving has only begun. His love has no limit…His grace has no measure…His power no boundary known unto men. For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”
“Be very careful, then, how you live.” Eph 5:15 NIV
Three more questions you should ask yourself are: (1) Am I making the most of today? “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity” (vv. 15-16 NIV). Only by focusing on what’s required of you today can you prepare for tomorrow. If you don’t do the right things today, tomorrow will be spent fixing today’s mistakes. You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. Only by asking yourself, “Am I making the most of today?” will you be able to keep yourself on course, and make a course correction when you’re not. (2) Am I taking time to think? One of the wisest things you can do is take time to think. This is especially important if you’re action-oriented and goal-oriented. We like to feel we’re making progress, moving ahead, and getting things done. But in order to do the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, you must take time to evaluate what you’re doing. Are you? (3) Is my life pleasing to God? Enoch is remembered by these words: “He…pleased God” (Heb 11:5 NIV). What a testimony! Jesus said, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mk 8:36 NKJV). Regardless of what you accomplish, your supreme goal should be to please God. And to do that, you must spend time with Him in prayer and reading the Scriptures. In prayer you talk to God, and through the Scriptures He talks to you. That’s a winning combination that never fails!
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Mk 10:43 NIV
Two more questions you should constantly ask yourself are: (1) Am I willing to serve others?You say you want to be a leader? Why? Until you answer that question with the right motives, God won’t promote you. Sometimes we just want to be in control. Other times we don’t want to pay the price for success. We just want the perks that come with it: a corner office, a higher salary, a respected title, and the admiration of others. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” Leadership puts you in a position to take care of your own needs first—to set yourself up—before helping others. That’s always a temptation, and it’s always wrong! You must genuinely care about people and help them to reach their potential. When you do that you’re honoring God, and He will honor you. (2) Am I doing what I’m called to do? “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us” (Ro 12:6 NIV). Samuel Johnson said, “Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess…and gain applause which he cannot keep.” If you’re harboring a mental image of the qualities talented people are supposed to have and you don’t possess, you’ll have a hard time finding your true strengths. Henry Ford remarked, “The question, ‘Who ought to be the boss?’ is like asking, ‘Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?’ Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.” To succeed in life, you must know what God gifted you to do.
“Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” Pr 4:7 NIV
Like any good parent, God wants His children to succeed. But to succeed in life, you must periodically ask yourself two questions: (1) Am I committed to personal growth? “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Keep reading, keep learning, keep asking questions. A Chinese proverb says, “He who asks is a fool for five minutes; he who doesn’t ask remains a fool forever.” Some of us are like the little girl who thought she’d exhausted the subject of mathematics once she learned her twelve-times tables. When her grandfather asked with a twinkle, “What’s thirteen times thirteen?” she scoffed, “Don’t be silly, Grandpa, there’s no such thing!” Your hunger for wisdom and knowledge determines your future. In order to keep giving out, you must keep taking in. (2) Am I enjoying what I do? You’ll never fulfill your destiny doing something you despise. Passion lies at the core of true success and fulfillment; it’s the spark for your fuse. It energizes you when those around you grow tired. It helps you come up with answers when others cease to have creative ideas, and strengthens you when they drop out. It gives you courage to take risks while others crave security. When you lose your passion two things happen: First, you fail to pursue excellence. Second, you jeopardize your integrity, because you’re tempted to take shortcuts and compromise by settling for less than God intended. One leader says, “What generates passion in you is a clue to your destiny. What you love is often a clue to something you can achieve.”
“Don’t try to disclaim responsibility.” Pr 24:11 TLB
A woman went shopping one day and came home with a very expensive dress. Her budget-conscious husband was very upset and demanded to know what on earth possessed her. “The Devil made me do it,” she replied sweetly. He asked, “Well, why didn’t you say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan’?” “I did,” she replied. “But he said it looked great from the back as well—so I had to buy it!” Satan is an expert at distorting the truth by getting us to blame circumstances and other people for our mistakes; that way we never have to take responsibility. But as Albert Ellis observed: “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You don’t blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize you control your own destiny.” Florence Nightingale, hero-nurse of the Crimean War, said, “I attribute my success to one thing: I never gave or took an excuse.” When a winner messes up, they admit they were wrong and ask for forgiveness. When a loser makes a mistake, they immediately look for somebody or something to blame. The Bible says, “Don’t try to disclaim responsibility by saying you didn’t know…God…knows you knew! And he will reward…according to [your] deeds.” David constantly prayed about his shortcomings, and his honesty helped make him “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1Sa 13:14). Instead of denying and defending your mistakes, take responsibility, learn from them, and move on. That’s how you grow!