Planning is important. The Bible tells us that before we start building something, we would certainly want to count the cost (Luke 14:28). Even so, planning is not everything. If you can only think up great ideas, but can never see them to completion, what good comes from the ideas?
In Proverbs, we read that good planning and hard work lead to prosperity. This means before we set out to do something, we should plan it out and use good discernment. When we have our game plan in place, then we should work hard to see it through. If we live this out, we will be prosperous.
Today, consider how you can be a better planner or how you can best follow through. Ask God to reveal any shortcuts you are attempting to take in life. Thank God for the opportunities He has provided to plan and work to glorify Him in everything.
“Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5 [NLT]
Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]
I was walking Max the other morning. He is quite the rabbit chaser. The second he notices a rabbit, he wants to go hunt it down. However this morning was different. The rabbit stood still. The rabbit never had to run for cover. There was a big dog in the yard ahead that caught Max’s attention. He became fearful and that fear caused him to focus on the fear and miss out on his “fun.”
Fear can cause us to not take chances. Fear can cause us to act differently. Fear can cause us to cower down. Fear can cause us to second guess ourselves. Fear can cause us to not reach our full potential. Fear can cause us to miss opportunities.
For many years of my life, I was very fearful. I let fear rule different areas of my life and it caused me to be enslaved by fear. It also caused me to miss out on a lot of opportunities. God has a lot for you. Yes, YOU! There’s work to be done. There’s doors to be taken. There’s a need to stand firm. There’s a reason to speak up. Do not let fear rule you. Remember what God promises. Remember Who your God is and remember He is a big God, a faithful God, and that you have no reason to fear.
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10 [ESV]
This morning I passed by a dumpster filled with items from a house that is currently undergoing renovations. Out of the corner of my eye, I was able to spot a large box of books lying on top of the other discarded items. The books looked brand new and many of them were titles that were once found on the best sellers list. For a moment I thought of how those books and so many other items within the dumpster could have been used by someone instead of going to a landfill. I imagined if the items were donated to a church or another charity, the good that they could do for some lives. Then my mind started to focus on how we are all so guilty of getting things and tossing them out.
We have become a society that is so very good at getting rid of things. We toss out clothing because we have plenty of other items in our wardrobe. We toss out food because we had so much food, that we did not have time to eat it all and it went bad. We toss out relationships because it takes work and sacrifice for marriage and friendships to find success. We toss out opportunities because we do not desire taking risks on challenges. We toss out money with gambling or with purchases we don’t even want or need. We toss out pets because we bought them for their cuteness without thinking of the time investment. We toss out technology because something new came along. We toss and toss.
Then I thought of those who do not have anything to toss, those who are lacking the basic needs of life. There are people who are not able to eat tonight. There are people who have lost their family, their friends. There are people who do not have shoes or clothing. There are people who do not have all of the advantages and opportunities. There are those who do not have money to toss away. There are some who are sick, some dying. There are some who are slaves, yes slaves, on this very day in 2013. I could go on and on.
I cannot give any answers of how we can fix all of these things. I do not have the answers. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to tossing out things. All I can say is that I know Who has the answers. I know that all we can do is look to God for the answers of what we can do in our own lives to be His hands and feet, and to share His love with those around us and to be who He called us. We can start here. “He has told you, O man, what is good: And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8 NASB). Let us start there.
This morning it was drizzling but I still faithfully took my dog for a walk. As we continued up the street, I noticed that there was a newspaper that was poking through the plastic covering that the delivery person used for protection. In a quick moment, I passed by thinking that the newspaper would get all wet and perhaps I should pick it up and put it under the safety of the porch roof. But instead, I did nothing. I left it where it was and made excuses as to why I could not do that simple act. As I was a few blocks away, I started to feel regretful for not taking the opportunity that was right before me. It was a simple act of love that did not happen.
I think that too often there are opportunities presented to you and I, and I personally know that there are times in my life when I make excuses to not take action. I have heard many excuses as to why help cannot be given to someone, to the church, to a family in need, to a cause. Though this world is a hectic place and our schedules get busy, I think of how Jesus was walking toward one person when another person came in need of help. The lady reached out and touched His garment, and although He was on His way to pay a visit to the daughter of Jairus, He stopped and spoke to this woman (Mark 5). I remember how even after He was teaching at Capernaum and most likely tired from a busy day, He went back to Peter’s house to settle, only to still continue healing and reaching out to help others (Mark 1).
We will not always reach out. We will find ourselves making excuses. We will say we are too tired, too overwhelmed, too busy, too focused elsewhere, too unworthy, too untrained, too afraid. The list could go on and on with excuses I’ve given or heard. Thank God that He never makes excuses.
Today I encourage you to be the person who puts the newspaper on the porch. I pray that when you notice that you are making excuses for something that you can easily do before you walk away so that later you won’t be feeling guilty that you did not do more. Edmund Burke once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
“Do not neglect to do what is good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” – Hebrews 13:16 [ESV]