One school of thought concerning the future of the earth is that God is in control and all things are working together according to His plan. Another view is man’s plan – that it is totally up to humanity to save the planet.
The United Nations has created a plan called “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development.” The plan proposes seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals:”
These all appear to be worthy and noble goals. However, to implement these desirable goals on a global level would call for vast global concessions. In order to achieve this equality, the wealthy and powerful nations would have to diminish and help the poorer and weaker nations to increase. National sovereignties would have to surrender to global partnerships. Who would govern and control this new global entity? Who would decide how to equally share the wealth and power? Who would ensure equality and justice for all?
The Bible predicts just such a government with a global leader. We are watching Biblical prophecies unfold just as the ancient prophets foretold. These are indeed interesting and momentous times.
There is much concern about the future of our planet and its people but there is a great divide as to what must be done and how to accomplish it. The next few articles in this space will explore two very different schools of thought concerning our world and its future. One plan is man’s plan and the other is God’s plan.
On June 13, 1992 a consortium of 178 nations met in Brazil to consider the future of the planet. A plan for “Global Sustainable Development” was formed and approved. It was called Agenda 21 in consideration of the fast approaching 21st century. More meetings were held in 1997, 2002, 2012 and the plan was revised and updated as new realities were encountered.
The United Nations building in New York City hosted a meeting on September 25-27, 2015 to further refine the plan. Seventeen “Sustainable Development Goals” were approved for the benefit of the “people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnership.” The new expanded plan called Agenda 2030 is admirable and ambitious and the goal is the to be fully operational by the year 2030.
The ambitious “Green New Deal” recently introduced to our House of Representatives and Congress basically follows the same path as Agenda 21 and Agenda 2030 proposed by the United Nations.
Though these plans contain some good and worthy goals, the problem lies in how to implement them. In order to comply by 2030, these programs can only be implemented by drastic intervention by global heads of government.
In our next article we will discuss how the Bible predicts just such a global government.
“Faith begins where Reason sinks exhausted.” (Albert Pike)
To the untrained eye, it had to be the most unorthodox move in the armed history. The fact that a kid with no combat training had squared off against a giant even the king’s most would not challenge was one thing. But to do it without a shield? The battalion must have whispered to one another as he walked by. Hadn’t the king provided him with armor? But David won one of the most decisive victories in military history, all without the aid of a shield – to the untrained eye, at least.
So why did David reject the armor of his king? Perhaps, being as covenant-minded as he was, he recalled God’s words to Abraham as Saul’s men adjusted the ill-fitting armor:
“I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)
Perhaps he realized that with God as a shield, Saul’s armor was not so necessary after all.
Years later, David, now king, would find himself on the run from a son who had not only betrayed him but who had also amassed an army against him. Perhaps he thought back to that same moment with Goliath – the moment he had prepared for battle by laying aside his terrestrial shield, when he wrote in Psalm 3:3, “
Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head.”
As we move through life, we tend to collect pieces of armor to keep us safe from all manner of pain and injuries, physical and personal. Even so, even our greatest armor cannot always keep us safe. Still, as we face our greatest battles, we can cast our eyes to the hills and exchange our earthly shields for a divine one that will never fail not only to defend us but also to lift us in our hour of greatest need.
True love is an awesome and beautiful miracle. It is not wimpy or weak but rather robust and strong. This time of the year, we are surrounded with so many thoughts and opinions on love. In many ways, love has been commodified – turned into something we can elicit with the purchase of the right product.
And yet love is so much greater. It is the most powerful emotion and the purest motive. The Apostle Paul, with his characteristic God-given inspiration, paints a beautiful portrait of love. To the troubled church in Corinth he writes:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever… There are three things that will endure – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love. (I Corinthians 12:4-8, 13)
As our society reinterprets and even cheapens love at times, let us never forget the true, beautiful, and unselfish nature of love. After all, it is the very essence of God.
It must have been terrifying – possibly one of the most frightening moments of her life. She had been in a similar spot just before meeting the king. She had had no idea how he would feel about her and whether he would love her or shun her. But somehow this moment was worse. She was attempting to see His Majesty without having an invitation. Even though she was married to him, if his temper was fowl on that particular occasion it could cost her her life.
And so Esther made her way to the throne room, heart pounding with each tentative step. Would he send her to her death? Her eyes were fixed on the golden scepter in his hand. If he raised it, she would be granted an audience. If not, it could mean her death. She prayed silently to the God who had seen her people through every trial through the years. She needed His help now more than ever – the fate of the entire Jewish nation hinged on this moment. And then the king saw her. He immediately raised the scepter and welcomed her into his presence. It was a pivotal moment. It signaled the beginning of salvation for God’s people.
There is something intimidating about walking into the presence of royalty. Whether they are surrounded by armed guards or have a scepter that signals our life or death, monarchs are famously unapproachable.
And yet the King of Kings makes Himself available to us at any moment. We do not have to wait for a scepter to be raised or for a special audience to be granted. In fact, our King pursues us. He leaves His throne to reach for us in our lowest and darkest moments. We have the incredible privilege to be able to walk into His presence whenever we need Him. What an awesome God we serve!
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
In a world where it seems bigger is always better – especially in the great state of Texas– it can be so easy to dismiss small things. We focus on the big moments in life: births and deaths, doors that open and close, triumphs and tragedies. While acknowledging pivotal landmarks and milestones, may we continue to keep the smaller things in mind as well. While we may define our lives by the big moments, the actual living of it takes place in the smaller ones.
The celebration of a wedding anniversary is possible because two people have striven for at least a year to recommit themselves to love. They have worked through challenges and celebrated tiny joys along the way. The celebration of a birthday commemorates thousands of moments that have made that life possible. If there are loved ones there to celebrate alongside the birthday boy or girl, it is because efforts have been made throughout the year to sustain those relationships.
As we reflect on the things that give our lives meaning, may we celebrate the big things but not forget about the small ones. The tiniest of smiles can bring joy into the heart of someone in tears. A gentle touch of the hand can bring healing into a broken life. A small step can be the beginning of a monumental journey.
As we progress quickly through this new year, take the time to dream big but never underestimate the value of small dreams as well. Whether you are saving the world or simply helping a fallen robin find his nest, your efforts are not in vain.
He was lame from his birth. As a mature man he was carried daily and placed at the gate of the Temple to beg for money to sustain himself.
As the two men approached the gate, he raised his voice and his vessel with anticipation, hoping to receive something from them. One of the men spoke up with a voice of compassion, commanding him:
“Silver and gold have I none but such as I have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
Reaching down and grasping his right hand the stranger lifted him to his feet. For the first time in his life he was able to stand. With shouts of praise unto God, he went walking and leaping into the temple.
Though he was only expecting a few coins in his cup he received a miraculous healing and a brand new life.
Like this lame man at the Beautiful Gate, we can safely trust in Jesus. He is a God of abundance and He will exceed our expectations every time.
I wish that there were some wonderful place
In the Land of Beginning Again.
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.
I wish we could come on it all unaware,
Like the hunter who finds a lost trail;
And I wish that the one whom our blindness had done /
The greatest injustice of all
Could be there at the gates
Like an old friend that waits
For the comrade he’s gladdest to hail.
We would find all the things we intended to do
But forgot, and remembered too late,
Little praises unspoken, little promises broken,
And all the thousand and one
Little duties neglected that might have perfected
The day for one less fortunate.
It wouldn’t be possible not to be kind
In the Land of Beginning Again,
And the ones we misjudged
And the ones whom we grudged
Their moments of victory here,
Would find in the grasp of our loving hand-clasp
More than penitent lips could explain…
So I wish that there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes and all our heartaches,
And all of our poor selfish grief
Could be dropped like a shabby old coat at the door
And never put on again.
Her daughter’s suicide fresh on her mind, Louisa Fletcher must have wiped away a few tears as she penned the words to her most well-known poem, “The Land of Beginning Again.” And, as it often happens, from great pain stems the inspiration for great courage.
For all who have wished for a fresh start, Isaiah 43:19 offers the beautiful promise that God:
“will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”
With a God whose specialty is crafting beauty from ashes, our feet may cross into the Land of Beginning Again with the simple act of letting Him do what He does best.
Little Jim was known for two things: his slow mind and his tender heart. When the time came for the church Christmas pageant, his Sunday School teacher cast him as the innkeeper. Although he only had one line, someone in the front row sat ready to help in case he forgot it. He had spent weeks whispering it to himself:
“No room in the inn.”
His moment to shine came when Joseph and a very pregnant Mary hobbled across the stage. They stood tall and delivered their lines perfectly. “We are looking for a place to spend the night.” Proudly, Jim remembered his line:
“There’s no room in the inn.”
But Joseph did not give in so easily. He begged and pleaded and Jim was moved. He looked at his prompter, suddenly unsure of himself, but obediently repeated his message: “There’s no room in the inn.” Joseph pleaded more ardently and this time Jim’s eyes filled with tears. He looked at his prompter once more, hoping for a different line. With trembling lips and a shaky voice, he whispered,
“No room in the inn.”
As Joseph argued, Jim’s resolve continued to weaken. Ultimately, however, he made the pageant director proud as he held fast to his single line. Finally, as Joseph and Mary turned to leave, Jim’s compassionate heart could take no more.
“Wait, Mary!” he cried out, to the director’s chagrin. “You can have my room!”
How different Bethlehem might have been if Jim had indeed been the innkeeper. Two thousand years later, as innkeepers of our own hearts, we often open our doors to things that clamor loudly but ultimately have little value. Sadly, our lives can become so cluttered with debris that even as Jesus knocks, we only wish we had room.
Neither Hollywood nor Broadway would ever come calling for an actor like Jim, but our world is in desperate need of others like him. As we move into this Christmas season and beyond, may we learn the art of welcoming in the things that truly matter in life.
There is something unnerving about a waiting room. No matter how comfortable the seats, how trendy the décor, or how fabulous the magazines, our attention is always focused on the door that will lead us into the purpose of our visit.
The people of Judah found themselves in a millenia-long waiting room. God had told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations but Abraham had to wait until old age before his son was born. God told Moses that he would be a great deliverer but Moses spent eighty years waiting for the chance. God told David that he would be a powerful king but he had to fight a number difficult battles before it was possible. When God’s chosen people fell captive to the empires of the age, He raised up prophets with yet another promise: I will send you a Messiah.
Their time in the waiting room would end with the opening of a door they never saw coming: a baby born in a little town called Bethlehem.
Their waiting room time, while long, served a purpose. Judah had struggled with faithfulness to God but it was in their waiting room that they committed fully and completely. They developed a system to educate their children and established synagogues – the very places that would eventually be used to spread the gospel of the long-awaited Messiah.
Waiting rooms are not the easiest places to stay but they provide a valuable preparation space.
We sometimes forget that while we are waiting, someone is preparing everything for us on the other side of the door. During this holiday season, whatever waiting room you may find yourself in, remember that He has promised to prepare a place for you. Let us determine to make the most of our personal waiting rooms until He opens the door and calls our names.