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5 Sep

My friend Mike Atkinson emailed me (Dawn) some predictions of headlines from the year 2059. Among the predictions:

  • Baby conceived naturally! Scientists stumped. (LOL)
  • Castro finally dies at age 112; Cuban cigars can now be imported legally, but President Chelsea Clinton has banned all smoking.
  • George Z. Bush says he will run for President in 2060.
  • Postal Service raises price of first class stamp to $17.89 and reduces mail delivery to Wednesdays only.
  • 85-year, $75.8 billion study:  Diet and exercise is the key to weight loss. [No fooling.]
  • Supreme Court rules punishment of criminals violates their civil rights.
  • Average height of NBA players is now nine feet seven inches.
  • IRS sets lowest tax rate at 75 percent.

I’m not sure whether to laugh or say “ouch” at those predictions ... especially that one about the tax rate!

I read with interest the 29 predictions made by John Elfreth Watkins, Jr.,  in December 1900 in The Ladies Home Journal. Some were right on, such as the fact that wireless telephone and telegraph circuits would span the world, and electricity would be used instead of coal for heating and cooking.No Mosquitos

Others were funny, such as his prediction that there would be no mosquitoes or flies, or that we would eat peas and beans as large as beets, or strawberries as large as apples. Watkins said there would be no “C,” “X,” or Q” in our everyday alphabet; they would be abandoned as unnecessary.

The Bible gives lots of predictions about the future, and students of biblical prophecy have learned to read the “signs” of the End Times.  Even people in the world who do not believe the Bible consider others’ Predictionspredictions, such as the prophecies of Nostradamus or the Mayan calendar and its dire predictions for 2012.

We humans are naturally curious about prophecy and predictions, because we want to know the future ~ we want to be prepared.

But some people are totally preoccupied with predictions out of fear.

Jesus answered the disciples concerns about “the end of the world” in Matthew 24:3-14. He shared various signs and He didn’t paint a pretty picture of things to come, but in the midst of His description, Jesus gave this word of comfort (v. 6): “see to it that you are not alarmed” ~ not frightened or troubled.

This is always the balance of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:1 tells us that “perilous times shall come,” but the Bible also tells us, in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  We’re not to fear these scary times. We can respond with a calm, disciplined, strong mind if we keep a biblical perspective. We know who wins. We know the One who can empower us to respond in love and confidence, and the Spirit of God gives us the wisdom and strength to stand against the lies of the enemy in our generation.

Face it. As we get closer and closer to the End Times described in the Bible, we’re going to see more signs of His coming, and some are scary ~ like increasing wars in the Middle East, more weapons of mass destruction, the growth of a one-world power, and economic struggle that will lead to a global economy. I heard so many End Times Posterpredictions about the economy in the past weeks that my heart beat faster and I started thinking about how to “prepare” in case of disaster (and that’s not a bad idea).

But always, we need to remember that ~ no matter the circumstances ~ God is in control, and He loves and cares for His children. Anything that touches us is by His design and for His ultimate glory, and He gives us the power to endure in suffering. And if we suffer to the point of death, it’s a win for the believer. We get to spend eternity with God!

I love Jesus’ words in John 14:1. Jesus understood His disciples concerns about the future and where their Master was headed. He told them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.” (Amplified Version)

Jesus said He was going home to prepare “a place” for His followers, and He promised the Holy Spirit would come to indwell, comfort, and guide (v. 26). But Jesus didn’t stop there. He bequeathed to the disciples (and to us) a special gift ~ His peace (v. 27). It is not the peace the world offers, but supernatural, God-blessed peace.

And then Jesus said something (in the middle of verse 27) to encourage them and us: “Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]” (Amplified Version)

Jesus wants us to respond to the predictions of troubling times in a way that is very different from the world. The world will naturally fear ~ maybe even panic. We see this in Luke 21:26, which tells us men’s hearts will fail for fear (they will faint in terror or worse) when they see the events of the End Times come to pass.

Perfect PeaceBut we who know God must respond in surrender to and trust in Him, and as we trust, an amazing thing will happen. Isaiah 26:3 says it well: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Psalm 112:7 says it another way ~ we will not fear “evil tidings” when our heart is “fixed [steadfast], trusting in the Lord.”

So when “evil tidings” ~ scary predictions ~ come, do something positive to focus in the right direction. Pray. Call out to God, your deliverer in trouble (Psalm 91:15-16). Memorize Bible passages about God’s provision and power. Sing to the Lord of your trust in Him. Read scriptures that will remind you of His goodness and care for His own. Remind yourself that the “spirit of fear” is not from Him, and choose to cast it out of your life by faith. Claim the promises of scripture.

May God give us all great freedom from fear in these days and those to come as we learn to lean hard on His loving care and faithfulness.

The Best Laid Plans

12 Jul

Four Greek LettersTrevor Lund of Expectancy Ministries ~ “Rev Trev” ~ loves to tell stories about his daughter when she was a little girl. He wrote about how NOT to teach a three-year-old Greek. (6/23/11 newsletter)

“Taiessa was three,” Lund wrote. “She was saying words like ‘indubitably’ in the correct context, Greek Alphabetbut on occasion had trouble saying words with ‘th’ and mixed ‘d’ and ‘g’ sometimes. We would correct her when it was necessary, and she was usually eager to say things correctly … that is unless she heard herself say it correctly.

“I had it in mind to teach her the Greek alphabet. She didn’t have a firm grasp of the English one,  mind you, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to teach her Greek, French, Hebrew, and possibly Latin (if I could learn it first) before she went to kindergarten. I’d let the teacher handle the basics.

“On one fine day, I got her excited about learning the Greek alphabet, so I began:  ‘Taiessa, repeat after me.’

“OK, Daddy!”

“Alpha, Beta, Gamma…”

“Daddy, it’s GRANDMA, not GAMMA!” she emphatically insisted.

“The best laid schemes of mice and men….”

Indeed, the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong.

A scripture verse that comes to mind is Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” In other words, we may make plans in our hearts and even act on them, but it is God who controls the outcome. (See Proverbs 16:9).

Many people have used the folksy quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” Kenneth Boa, president of Reflections Ministries, says, “We could add to it, ‘If you want to hear him laugh even louder, tell him how much you know.'” (1)

Pride of knowledge is a subtle root problem in much of our planning. We simply think we know everything! Sometimes this pride leads to boasting.

James gives us some insight on this: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes….” (James 4:13-14a; 15-16a).

Our proper attitude in making plans should be to make the wisest plans we can, but also to keep our hands and hearts open to any changes God wants to make. There’s no room for boasting God'sWay-MyOwnWay signabout our plans (Proverbs 27:1; Luke 12:18-20). There’s no room for presumption over what is going to happen; we need to trust God and give all of our expectations to God. 

When it comes to planning, we must be careful that we have no personal agenda except to obey, serve, glorify, and please God. Our attitude should be humility and dependency on Him. We must acknowledge His sovereignty over our lives. Jesus came to do all that the Father asked Him to do (John 4:34; 6:38) ~ He had no other plans. He said “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). “Not my own way, but your way, Father” ~ that should be our desire as we consider our plans.

The scriptures say, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3). The “best laid plans” are those plans that are fully surrendered to the Lord.



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