We like to know everything. When there’s an accident, we are rubberneckers because we want to know what happened. Perhaps we are concerned for the possible injuries, but we also want to know what happened. When something big happens in the news, we want to know what happens. Some of us find ourselves glued to the television set. We like to know how everything works, and because of great advancements in technology we are able to see our heart as it pumps blood, research our family history with online records, and even search for information for school reports with a click of a mouse.
But we cannot know everything. We don’t have all of the answers right at the moment. There are times in our life when God’s plan does not make sense to us. We all have had those moments when we don’t understand. We often ask God for understanding. We often ask God why. We often seek answers.
Today’s passage asks why we try to understand everything as we walk along the path God has directed us to take. If we trust the Lord, where He takes us should be fine with us. We do not need to understand every little thing. We simply need to trust Him. We walk in faith trusting in His great, perfect plan. As you trust more and stop trying to know every single thing, you find more peace in the simplicity. Some of the pieces may not seem to all fit together, but one day God will show you the finished work. What a beautiful picture that will be for us!
“The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?” – Proverbs 20:24 [NLT]
The best part of everything that was discussed in this Proverb is making reference to the first of the harvest. Yet we could actually look at all areas of our lives and consider this “best part of everything.” It can really put things in perspective for a person when reflecting upon things with this phrase. There is no better than the best. The best part of everything—that means every single thing.
So do you give God the best of your time? Do you give God the best of your talents? Do you give God the best of your work? Do you give God the best of your relationships? Do you give God the best of your finances? Every single thing. The best part.
Today evaluate how well you honor the Lord. Where are you giving your best? Where can there be improvements? How can you do more to honor the Lord?
“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the best part of everything you produce.” – Proverbs 3:9 [NLT]
“To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.”
– Daniel 1:17 [NIV]
Today’s verse says that God gave Daniel and his friends the knowledge and understanding. Now in this passage, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are all supposed to eat what the king has commanded. It was from the king’s table so one would believe it to be good—fit for a king. However, Daniel “resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine,” and he asked if he could eat his own diet of food (v. 8). The official agreed to let Daniel and his friends eat what they wanted for ten days. After the ten days, they were “healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food” (v. 15). This could cause some people to have problems digesting.
So often we look at Daniel and his friends going against the king’s rules and following a special diet of vegetables and water. We conclude that these vegetables and the water provided the four young men with better nourishment, as the passage states, and that is what we take from this passage. However, we cannot forget that it was God who gave these men the knowledge and understanding. God was and is at the forefront.
There are times in our own lives when we use our God given gifts and resources and find great success. We start to attribute this success to our hard work, our talents, etc., but we need already remember that God gave us everything—God gets the glory.
Today remind yourself of what God has given you and take the time to thank Him.
At some point in life we begin to question if we are making an impact in the lives of others. We go through periods where we doubt or wonder if we are making a difference at all. The problem is that with having such a huge social media network and newspapers and television programs all over the globe, we see others that are doing such grand things and we might not be building a children’s hospital in a third world country or speaking about Jesus at a large conference in a huge stadium.
We need to be mindful of the fact that every single thing that we do for the Lord, whether it is something our human minds see as large or small, to God, it is a great thing. I do not see anywhere in the Bible where it says that God will rate what we do on the attention it gets on the 6 o’clock news or the grand nature of a project. Every single thing that God calls us to do matters to God—it’s not about the job itself but the heart of the person doing the job. Being fruitful can result from being a door holder to a housekeeper to a pastor to a truck driver who shares the Gospel along his route.
On a recent trip, I was waiting in line to use the restroom when I got in a conversation with a lady waiting in line behind me. We did not say much but we shared for a bit. The conversation lasted only a few minutes. Two hours later, we arrive at our hotel and checked into our room. As we begin unloading the car, the same lady I spoke with earlier was outside in the parking lot asking me if I was following her because both our families ended up at the same hotel hours later. I’m not sure why God had us meet up again but I’m sure He had a good reason. But I do know that she likely would not have remembered me if I would have kept facing front, not said hello, and walked out like I was never there at that gas station.
Today I challenge you to connect with people. Don’t walk through the grocery store while on your cell phone. If you are doing business with a bank teller or a cashier, smile and address them by their name. If you are taking your dog for a walk, say “hello” to those you pass. With these simple gestures, we can share Christ. Remember that God uses everything you give Him.
Don’t forget that you are part of “a chosen people.” You are special to God and if you give Him something, He will take it and use it for His glory.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9
“For the word of the LORD holds true, and we can trust everything He does.”
– Psalm 33:4 [NLT]
A friend of mine is a teacher and she explained to me how she has her students walk as a group to get to their bus. The children each hold hands with each other and they walk forward following her. They don’t look around to see the traffic, the people, and the dangers around them. They simply trust her and walk forward with all eyes on her. This type of trust we are to have in God. We are to have this faith where we give it all to Him and do not think a second more about it. We are to have this faith that causes us to simply do as He asks with no questions asked, not concerning ourselves with the result because we understand He is faithful and has promised us a hope and a future.
A big issue is that faith should not be seen simply as having faith in the power of God. These kids weren’t following the teacher because she had power to keep them out of danger. Danger was certainly possible. They followed her because they trusted her. They trusted her because she was a person of good character. She never let the kids down and they remembered that as she led them onward. Though God is all-powerful, if our faith in Him is only in His power, we will have a problem. Oswald Chambers saw it this way: “Faith is unbreakable confidence in the Personality of God, not in His power… We must have confidence in God over and above everything He may do, and stand in confidence that His character is unsullied. Faith stands under all tests—‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.’” (“If Ye Shall Ask”). If we only have faith in God’s power, and not in His character, we will never fully follow God or fully trust Him.
This past summer I was challenged to walk in faith. I could not walk forward simply trusting in God’s power. I had to trust His character. I had to trust His promises. I had to trust His Word. Yes He has the power to do anything in His will; however, is it in His character to use His power in a particular situation or will He sit back and not use this power He has so that we are able to spiritually mature from the circumstance? If we have faith merely in God’s power, where is our faith when God choose to not use His power, when God chooses to be silent? To have faith in God’s character is to truly trust God, to trust His Word and to trust His promises. Knowing that God was leading me forward, I was able to walk in faith trusting in Him. Perhaps He would use His power to take care of anything that would arise, but that didn’t concern me. I trusted Him—I trust God. He didn’t use His power, but He was faithful. He did what He promised. Job trusted God, not simply God’s power. Abraham trusted God, not simply God’s power.
Today I ask you, do you trust God? Do you trust God so much to walk forward even if God may choose to not display His power? Do you have confidence in the character of God? Could you handle trusting God even if you were to be worse off than Job during his time of great trouble? Is your faith in God simply in His power or do you truly trust Him?
My kids come to me all the time, asking me questions that I do not know how to answer at the moment. My daughter will ask me how many people live in Africa. My son will ask me the name of the 23rd president. I never frown upon them asking me questions, even the ones I cannot answer off the top of my head. I will openly admit that I Google it. I have even applauded my children for taking initiative to search on Google for items, because I want them to seek information when they have questions.
When I was younger and I had questions, I would go to the library, look through the card catalog, and find books or encyclopedias on the subject. I would read till I found the answer. Now today we have the Internet, and with the ease of a search engine, we are able to have information at our fingertips. Sitting in front of a computer screen, with fingers on the keys, you can feel like you are the smartest person in the world. Click, click. You know the answer. Click, click. Easy solution.
Life isn’t filled with easy solutions though. God left us with His Word. Some people call the Bible an instruction manual. There are people who believe the Bible should be consulted over any important issue. I am one of those people. I read my Bible daily, and if something arises in my life where I am lost, I pull out my Bible. Reading your Bible daily is a great habit to get into, and I doubt you will complain about it later.
Now when you are searching on Google for answers, there are chances that you may get the wrong answer. You have to look at the site you are led to and make sure it’s reputable. You wouldn’t want to look up medical information on a site about race cars. Just as you would talk to a car mechanic regarding your car, you hopefully would desire to seek a well-known medical source base for an answer.
You may be asking yourself why I am bringing this up at all. If we are looking for a reputable source, and we are considering the Bible our life manual, then it should be cut and dry. We read the Bible; we have our answers. I’m not going to argue about reading your Bible. I encourage reading. I challenge the interpretation. I challenge whether you are allowing the Holy Spirit to move within as you are reading.
Some people read the Bible for what they want. I know people who are sinning, who look for a verse that says what they are doing is not so bad, or is forgiven, and then they are satisfied. They got what they wanted. They feel better. They misinterpret or twist Scripture so that everything is okay. I have even witnessed some people saying they will find out what they need to know by paging through the Bible, and where they stop— that is what they are supposed to read. It’s like the Bible itself is not sacred, and the great Book doesn’t hold anything but some random verse on some random page that some higher power stops you at as you play Bible roulette.
The Bible can and should be consulted over any life matters. I recommend getting a reputable translation you are comfortable with for your better understanding. I have my preferences with translations; however, I don’t want to force you to side with my favorite translations. I am partial to the New American Standard Bible, but I usually recommend the New International Version. Most scholars point to the N.I.V. translation. I find it’s important to look at the publisher as well. Zondervan has a stellar reputation. And no, I am not being paid for an endorsement; Bible scholars will agree that they are founded on providing the best.
My main issue, is not necessarily the translation of Bible being used, but how the Bible is being read. The Bible is not just any book– it is THE BOOK. It is not to play games with or to be looked at for the meaning you want it to have in your life. The Bible is God’s Word. He left us His Word to read, to remember, to teach, and to guide. We cannot handle it like a Google search and pick and choose links. We cannot say we like a verse that says we will be blessed, but we don’t like a verse that says we are to give our life as an offering. It’s not selective reading.
Finally, when we read, it’s okay to consult commentaries and other references; however, it is vital that we consult the Holy Spirit above all. We were left the Spirit to guide us– allow the Spirit to do just that, and you will find that the Bible is such a great gift from God. You will not get all the answers, or even some of the answers you were seeking right away; however, continuous Bible reading and communication with God (prayer) is important and it is transforming.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 [NASB]