Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What lies ahead for 2013?

Knowing the future is a very powerful thing. If we knew exactly what was going to happen, we would be able to play the stock market very profitably, buy property in the right places, make strategic decisions with 100% confidence. In fact every decision that we would normally make on a day to day basis would be affected, if we had a true knowledge of the future. 

God has put into all living beings, a survival instinct. For us humans, our interpretation of survival is affected by the most pressing need at the time e.g. money, protection, health, food,  warmth, friendship, peace, rest etc.

Knowing the future and having the wisdom to make the right decisions that lead to our survival, ensuring all our needs are met, is something we all strive for. The reality however is that for most of us, for most of the time, we don't know the future. Therefore, sometimes we don't know what the right decision is on a particular issue.

Fortunately, there are many things that we need to make decisions about for which we can obtain guidance, either from the Bible, or from others who are further down the road and they can give us advice. Of course we have to be careful about who we take advice from because not everyone will give the correct advice. Using our logic, common sense, experience, and gut feel, we process all the inputs, wait on God, listen for His voice and then need to take a step in faith. 

The "waiting on God" part, is an important step in the process because we need help in discerning the different voices. The leading of the Holy Spirit is usually gentle and peaceful, He gives us that sense that this is the right thing to do. If we don't wait for that peace, we run the risk of being led by our own selfish desires and falling into the trap of the enemy.

One thing we can be certain of is that the Holy Spirit will never lead us in contradiction to the Word of God. There are some very powerful guiding principles that will help us discern the voice of the Holy Spirit that we can find in the scriptures. The book of Proverbs, for one, is a good place to start looking for guiding principles. Another good place to find life principles is to study the parables of Jesus. There is one particular parable that we must take note of. This can be found in Luke 12:13, "The Parable of the Rich Fool". Jesus goes on to explain what He means by this parable, from vs 22 onwards.

The Parable of the Rich Fool

13 Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”
16 And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’
18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’
21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Do Not Worry

22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life[b]? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Bible is clear that God wants us to prosper, but this is not at the expense of others. Godly prosperity is not equivalent to materialism. When one becomes so disconnected from the poor and needy and live an insular lifestyle, not really being concerned to help them, not having love and compassion for the needs of others, one is surely on a slippery slope. The true test of our love for God is our love for others, especially those in need. God wants us to prosper so we can help others. We are meant to be blessed to be a blessing, not to to be selfish and squander wealth on our own lusts.

With a clear balanced understanding of the scriptures, taking especially close notice of what Jesus has to say in the Gospels, we can find some genuine guiding principles that will help us discern the voice of the Holy Spirit and make good decisions in 2013.

We dont always know what the future holds, but if we put our trust in the One who holds the future, if we take His word to heart and not just be a hearer, but a doer, we will build our lives on a solid foundation and when the storms come, our lives wont fall apart, they will be able to withstand the storm. We can therefore be assured that our future will have a good outcome because He has good plans for us. The key to a successful 2013 is staying close, living under His wings, being so close that we can hear His heart beat, i.e. having a true intimate relationship with all three members of the One God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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