Watch Your Step
A daily devotion for February 11th
1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.
2 Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.
3 As a dream comes when there are many cares,
so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
4 When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. 5 It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it. 6 Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. And do not protest to the temple messenger, "My vow was a mistake." Why should God be angry at what you say and destroy the work of your hands? 7 Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.
8 If you see the poor oppressed in a district, and justice and rights denied, do not be surprised at such things; for one official is eyed by a higher one, and over them both are others higher still. 9 The increase from the land is taken by all; the king himself profits from the fields.
10 Whoever loves money never has money enough;
whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.
This too is meaningless.
11 As goods increase,
so do those who consume them.
And what benefit are they to the owner
except to feast his eyes on them?
12 The sleep of a laborer is sweet,
whether he eats little or much,
but the abundance of a rich man
permits him no sleep.
13 I have seen a grievous evil under the sun:
wealth hoarded to the harm of its owner,
14 or wealth lost through some misfortune,
so that when he has a son
there is nothing left for him.
15 Naked a man comes from his mother's womb,
and as he comes, so he departs.
He takes nothing from his labor
that he can carry in his hand.
16 This too is a grievous evil:
As a man comes, so he departs,
and what does he gain,
since he toils for the wind?
17 All his days he eats in darkness,
with great frustration, affliction and anger.
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God (Ecclesiastes 5:1a)
Learn to let God be God; that is the first thing He declares to us. The lessons of life will fall into place when you learn that. God is in charge of life, so let Him be in charge; take these lessons from His hands.
The place to learn that is in the house of God. When you go there, guard your steps; in other words, enter thoughtfully, expect to be taught something. In ancient Israel, of course, the house of God was the temple in Jerusalem. There sacrifices were offered, and the people were instructed about what they meant. There the Law was read, and the wisdom of God about life was given to people; this marvelous Old Testament was unfolded, with its tremendous insights into the truth about life, about what humanity basically and fundamentally is. The temple was the only place in the land where people could learn these things. In our day the house of God is no longer a building. We must be clear about that. You, the people, are the house of God. What the Searcher is saying is that when you gather together as the people of God, be expectant; there is something to be learned.
Second, he says, listen carefully. A fool is somebody who glibly utters naive, ingenuous, and usually false things. What the Searcher clearly has in mind here is our tendency to complain and murmur about what has been handed us in life. When we gripe and grouse about our circumstances, we are really complaining against God. We are complaining about the choice God has made in His wonderful plan for our life. We will never learn to enjoy anything that way, not even our pleasures, let alone our pain. So, he says, listen carefully, for among the people of God the truth of God is being declared; the wisdom of God is being set forth.
A man said to me,
I have been going through a painful experience this past week. I learned to see myself, and it horrified me. I saw things in myself which I despise in others. That is encouraging. There is a man who is learning truth about himself.
Lord, forgive me for my glib attitudes when I come into Your presence. Teach me to guard my steps and listen carefully to Your words.
Life Application: What is the first thought that pops into our mind when we ask: Who is in charge? Have we learned to let God be God and to humbly inquire and listen to His wisdom?
From your friends at www.RayStedman.org
Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.