Who Is In Charge?
A daily devotion for February 14th
1 A good name is better than fine perfume,
and the day of death better than the day of birth.
2 It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of every man;
the living should take this to heart.
3 Sorrow is better than laughter,
because a sad face is good for the heart.
4 The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
5 It is better to heed a wise man's rebuke
than to listen to the song of fools.
6 Like the crackling of thorns under the pot,
so is the laughter of fools.
This too is meaningless.
7 Extortion turns a wise man into a fool,
and a bribe corrupts the heart.
8 The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
9 Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.
10 Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?"
For it is not wise to ask such questions.
11 Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing
and benefits those who see the sun.
12 Wisdom is a shelter
as money is a shelter,
but the advantage of knowledge is this:
that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.
13 Consider what God has done:
Who can straighten
what he has made crooked?
14 When times are good, be happy;
but when times are bad, consider:
God has made the one
as well as the other.
Therefore, a man cannot discover
anything about his future.
When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future. (Ecclesiastes 7:14)
Prosperity and adversity both come from God's hands; a wise Father's heart has given them to you. In the words of the hymn,
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
God has given all events to us, the Searcher declares. We must then learn to accept and understand that God has chosen these for us out of love and wisdom. They have a special purpose. God has designed life to be full of the unexpected so that we might realize that we do not control our future.
We are not in charge of life. The great satanic lie that subtly comes at us a thousand times a day is that we are gods, we are in charge, we can plan, we can direct, we can control. Because within the freedom of will that God has granted us there appears some truth to that, we easily believe the rest--that we are in ultimate control of everything. But the lesson of the Scripture, driven home again and again, is that that is not true. God is in charge. What He sends us is always designed to benefit. This is the clear teaching of the Scripture, both in the Old and the New Testament alike. Even though adversity may have painful aspects, we are to understand that it comes from a loving God and be grateful for it. An unknown poet has written,
When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man;
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part,
When he yearns with all his heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch his methods, watch his ways—
How he ruthlessly perfects
Whom he royally elects.
How he hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows, converts him
Into trial shapes of clay
Which only God understands.
While his tortured heart is crying,
And he lifts beseeching hands.
How he bends but never breaks
When his good he undertakes.
How he uses Whom he chooses,
And with every purpose, fuses him,
By every act, induces him
To try his splendor out.
God knows what he's about.
Father, I see that all things come from Your hand. Thank You that I can trust that even when I feel hammered and hurt, You are shaping me into a vessel of beauty and honor.
Life Application: Life is full of the adversity. Does this make us anxious or fearful? Have we discovered and trusted God's wisdom and love or do we try to control our future?
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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.