Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 in the Message Bible says:
“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot.
“Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work.
“It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. . .”
Reading and re-reading theses verse again. . .we knew God was giving us a powerful revelation we were to share with His children.
Here are seven questions to help us discover God’s plans for us.
1. Where do you want to go?
The key to success is to determine why you are where you are. . .where God wants you to be. . .create a plan to get there. . .and start where you are with what you’ve got.
Hosea 14:9 in the Message Bible says:
“If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll learn this inside and out. God’s paths get you where you want to go. Right-living people walk them easily; wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.”
“God’s paths get you where you want to go.”
Your destination is not the product of a greedy boss, a self-serving supervisor or even, a government bureaucrat.
Our ability to move from where we are to where He wants us to be. . .is determined by our decision to follow His instructions as best we can daily.
The children of Israel didn’t learn to obey His instructions on the way they should go. . .and Jeremiah tells them the consequences of their behavior.
Jeremiah 4:21-22 in the New Living Translation says:
“I have told you today, but you won’t obey anything the Lord your God sent me to tell you. But now, you need to know that you will die in wars, famines, or plagues in the place where you want to go and live.”
I’m sure that’s one journey. . .you and I never want to take.
The opening words found in the first sentence of Hosea 14:9 in the Message Bible which I read earlier says:
“If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this. . .”
I’d say. . .that’s pretty clear. God wrote down instructions to help us. We need to know that even if applying the Word to our daily lives is not easy, it is better than the consequences.
You only need to go to a store or restaurant to experience that undisciplined children are not just grievous to parents but to all who are around them.
Action Assignment: Write down exactly where you think you are in life. . .in the six major areas of your life (Spiritual, Family, Financial, Mental, Physical and Social.) Next, write what you think your next step should be.
2. What’s the best way to live?
Let me be very clear. . .the best way to live is not according to what you think. . .but what He thinks.
Psalm 25:12 in the ERV says:
“When people choose to follow the LORD, he shows them the best way to live.”
When we begin to follow anyone or anything other than His direction. . . we will not only settle for less than His best. . .we may get lost along the way.
When you're driving down a road you’ve never been on before . . . you need a GPS.
Your GPS will keep you from wrong decisions, wrong turns and thus avoid time delays.
When traveling the road of life, you need a different kind of GPS (God’s Positioning Satellite).
Psalm 139:5-6 in the Message Bible says:
“You know when I leave and when I get back; I'm never out of your sight. You know everything I'm going to say before I start the first sentence.
“I look behind me and you're there, then up ahead and you're there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can't take it all in!”
The best way to live. . .well, it’s simple. . .seven words. . .READ YOUR BIBLE. . .DO WHAT IT SAYS.
Psalm 32:8 in the Amplified Bible says:
“I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”
Seeking Him daily is the best way to live.
3. How do we take care of ourselves?
I’ve discovered. . .not to my surprise. . .or probably that of anyone else. . .there are some really Goofy people on the internet.
I did a Google search for the phrase “take care of yourself” and found some strange definitions.
The most interesting said the expression was an instruction for people to take care of themselves. . .because nobody else would.
So I decided to check the most reliable source I know. . .the Bible.
There are three verses which I feel give you the Alpha and Omega on how to take care of yourself.
First, 1 Peter 5:7-8 in the Amplified Bible says:
“Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
“Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”
This scripture reveals how to take care of yourself. . .mentally, spiritually and physically.
Second, Philippians 4:8 in the Message Bible says:
“Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized.”
Being selective. . .being scriptural in what you think about is the best way to take care of yourself mentally.
Finally, 3 John 1:2 says:
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
I also like the Message Bible translation of 3 John 1:2 which says:
“We’re the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health—that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul!”
The best way to take care of your health and your wealth is to prosper spiritually.
4. Does God want us to have a good time?
The answer to that question is an absolute YES.
I’d like for you to turn in the Gospels to the Book of Religion . . . chapter one verse one which says:
“Thou shalt not laugh, have fun, nor shalt thou smile all the days of thy life.”
You can’t find it? It must be in there somewhere because for years churches took that approach to religion. I use the word religion because that’s all it was. It wasn’t about relationship.
Praise God, times have changed.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 in the Amplified Bible says:
“1To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
“2 A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,
“3 A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,
“4 A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”
The Word of God says there is a season for everything. . . which includes: planting, healing, building up, laughing and dancing? Does that sound like having a good time?
Colossians 3:17 in the Message Bible says:
“Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.”
I choose to thank God and Praise His Name for the good times. Grief comes to everyone but there are still plenty of good times too.
We can have a good time. . .every day because we know it’s a day that the Lord created.
“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Every day is filled with infinite possibilities, unknown opportunities and as yet, undiscovered divine connections. . .if you expect it to be.
I do. . .and it is.
5. How do we make the most of whatever job you have?
It’s truly sad that seventy-percent of the people who have jobs. . .don’t like their jobs. This is especially sad in today’s job market. . .when many people feel they don’t have any other options.
Many workers will never be promoted because they don’t have a scriptural understanding of work.
Here are four reasons why you should make the most of your job.
First, work is a gift to you personally.
Ecclesiastes 3:13 in the Amplified Bible says:
“And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.”
Work helps you discover and use dominant qualities in your life. It exposes you to other people and allows you to learn the art of communication. . .speaking and listening to others.
Even if you don’t like what you’re doing at the moment, view it as a steppingstone to your next promotion.
Second, your work is a gift from God for others around you.
1 Corinthians 12:25 in the Contemporary English Version says:
“He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others.”
When others see you do your part and more ... it inspires them to become a gift to others and maximize their potential.
Your work creates life, movement, progress and energy.
You are meant to be an example of excellence to others not a detriment.
Galatians 6:4 in the Contemporary English Version says:
“Do your own work well, and then you will have something to be proud of. But don’t compare yourself with others.”
Third, your work is a gift of God to your family.
The way you work becomes the example your family will follow.
My parents have incredible work ethics. Their example taught me the value of work and the reward of seeing a job well done.
If your only experience was just “getting by,” you can be the one who stops the generational curse in your family. Excellence is more often caught then taught.
Fourth, you should be ready, willing and able to go the extra mile.
Matthew 5:41 says:
“And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain…”
The extra mile is never crowded that’s why it leads to larger dividends.
Fifth, your work should become increasingly effective.
Proverbs 1:5 says:
“A wise man will hear; and will increase learning.”
Sixth, your work will position you for recognition and advancement.
J.C. Penny said:
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I will give you a man who will make history. Give me a man without a goal and I will give you a stock clerk.”
Seventh, you should always remember who you’re working for.
Ephesians 6:7 says:
“With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.”
6. How should we feel about starting small?
Start where you are with what you’ve got. Let God do the rest.
The New Century Version of Zechariah 4:10 says:
"The people should not think that small beginnings are unimportant. . ."
Small things, when properly managed, can bring an amazing reward.
Luke 16:10 in the Message Bible
“[God Sees Behind Appearances ] Jesus went on to make these comments: If you're honest in small things, you'll be honest in big things; If you're a crook in small things, you'll be a crook in big things. If you're not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store? No worker can serve two bosses: He'll either hate the first and love the second Or adore the first and despise the second. You can't serve both God and the Bank.”
For a moment, I want to focus of the part of the verse that says:
“If you’re honest in small things, you’ll be honest in big things.”
Let it sink in. . .and become a part of who you are. . . it is an important key to future rewards.
Luke 6:10 in the Message Bible also says:
“If you're not honest in small jobs, who will put you in charge of the store?”
How a person responds to menial tasks is most often a reflection of how they will perform when given even greater responsibilities. This principle reflects both in your personal and professional life.
There are folks who feel that performing certain tasks is beneath their dignity or skill set. Not according to the Word of God.
You and I must show ourselves faithful where we are. . .if we want to receive the greater opportunities and rewards.
Plus, when I’m faithful in small things. . .God rewards me with His blessings and favor.
Matthew 25:21 in the New Century Version says:
“The master answered, 'You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.'”
Luke 19:17 in the New Century Version says:
“The king said to the servant, 'Excellent! You are a good servant. Since I can trust you with small things, I will let you rule over ten of my cities.'”
Never think that what you do is insignificant or not noteworthy. When you do the best you can with what you’ve got. . .God notices and remembers.
Story of answering the phone.
7. Where does your job come from?
I grew up believing that we endure the trials and temptations now . . . for the greater reward later.
A song that I heard quite frequently as a boy was “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home,
Swing low, sweet chariot,
Coming for to carry me home.
Sometimes I'm up, and sometimes I'm down,
(Coming for to carry me home)
But still my soul feels heavenly bound.
(Coming for to carry me home)
The song was written by a Choctaw Freedman. . .meaning an African American who had been enslaved with the Choctaw Indians.
Knowing his circumstances makes it easier to understand the words. He may have been imprisoned on this earth but His eye was in keeping his spirit heaven bound.
In 2011, Governor Mary Fallin of Oklahoma signed a law making it the official Gospel Song of Oklahoma.
Back to the point. . .once again. . .the verse in Ecclesiastes 5:20 in the Message Bible says:
“It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. . .”
That’s what I’m experiencing and daily expecting more of God’s joy in the now. By applying His Word, we will experience His joy.
I’m reminded of another gospel song written by the great Shirley Caesar.
This joy that I have the world didn't give it to me
this joy I have the world didn't give to me
oh this joy I have the world didn't give it to me
the world didn't give it and the world can't take it away
The holy ghost that I have the world didn't give it to me
oh the holy ghost that I have, the world didn't give it to me
the holy ghost that I have the world didn't give it to me
the world didn't give it and the world can't take it away
Now that I’ve taken you down memory lane. . .let me share three scriptures with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11 in the ERV translation says:
“Now, brothers and sisters, be filled with joy. Try to make everything right, and do what I have asked you to do. Agree with each other, and live in peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Do circumstances. . .bring you joy? Where does your joy come from?
John 17:13 in the Amplified Bible says:
“And now I am coming to You; I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them [that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts].”
God’s desire is for you to be filled with joy, peace and the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:12-13 in the Message Bible says:
“There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope!
“Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!”
God wants us to experience all the benefits, joy, peace and power He’s made available to us. It’s not based on our circumstances but on our relationship with God.
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